Way back in the dark and distant past, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Automated Trader was no more than a glint in some humble spear-carrier's eye, there were management consultants who preached the virtues of profile-raising. This tended to be done, in those early days, by a combination of rock- throwing and shouting. But gradually, over time, other techiques developed. Fire was invented, and then hot dinners, and shortly afterwards, the Annual Round Table And Dinner For Our Friends In The Media.
There were guest speakers, who invariably started with a joke about how little they knew about the evening's specialist subject, and there were often prizes. On a typical evening, everybody would come away with
a paperweight and/or a pen with a logo on it. A key evolutionary step came when a particularly wise, clever, witty, beautiful/ruggedly handsome management consultant realised that certain elements of the evening's entertainment could be bottled, crated and sent direct to those Friends in the Media [I prefer 'Magazine Editors' here - Ed] without anybody having to root out the black tie and find a babysitter.
And that would have been the happy ending, except that the whole management-consultancy business began to get competitive. Fragmentation happened. The ones with red spectacle frames went into advertising, while the ones who could keep a crease in their suit trousers began to work on the first, pre-tech spreadsheets and organograms. Public relations, PR, was slow to develop, because until printing was invented, every draft of every press release had to be hand-drawn by a monk with a paintbrush, who insisted on illuminating the first letter with flowers and drawings of angels. The client-approval stage just wasn't economically viable.
But they got there, and this is where we fast-forward to this month's peek into the future. Modern PR, like chess, has developed a number of classic moves over the centuries, and like some of the classic chess openings, these PR moves have names. There's the easily misused I've- Got-A-Great-Story-For-You opener, right through to the old-style Djathing-Wegotime-Franuther-Boddle endgame. These days, there's also the wildly popular (and perhaps over-used) My-Client-Has-Done-A-Survey-That-Will- Give-You-A-Great-Headline gambit. Which is where we start peeking.
There's a PR outfit in Gloucester, UK, called 10 Yetis. We haven't asked them about the name, not least because we appreciate their tact in not bothering us with
questions about automated trading. More interesting is that whenever this group of yetis is not foraging for nuts and berries, it spends its time researching the mating habits of IT professionals. And financial professionals. And others. But no, we haven't put any of their pictures up at the website.
Yes, we are going to mention a survey, and yes, this is being written in the run-up to Valentine's Day. The survey was conducted for a client of the yetis called www. intotheblue.co.uk, and the headline finding is that - we're quoting here - "the standard IT guy might have more to offer than fast-moving opposable thumbs." Apparently, "geeks" (still quoting) are "the most romantic men". [Being a yeti seems to be a female-dominated profession.] You probably don't want to know where brokers appear
in the rankings, and if you're on the sales side, you really shouldn't be reading this at all. Go shopping. Fourteenth of February. Put it in the diary for next year.
The future? Yes, sorry. These yetis spend a lot of time looking at IT people, IT guys at least, and what they've also found is that "IT workers are the most adventurous". They book "adventure-experience holidays", mainly involving paintball guns, and when they play online games, which they do a lot, they tend to like "first-person shooters".
The yetis are not suggesting a direct correlation between programming talent and holiday adventurousness, but if you're visiting the IT department to recruit somebody, rather than because you want a date, go for the one wearing camouflage fatigues.
And yet. And yet. The future may be paint-splattered, amorous and handy with MATLAB, but we're wondering whether there isn't more going on in those quiet rooms, humming with technology, than just romantic dreaming and holiday planning. As the yetis' survey concludes, "it would seem that IT workers are developing themselves into an army of super covert, gun-capable soldiers."