We are in Time Out! Big thanks to the fabulous Katie McCabe, and you can check out our listing HERE.
It was only supposed to be friendly – an fun marketing ploy from a scrappy start up. Instead, we ended up telling our most coveted client to fuck off. As marketing strategies go…well, it’s punchy.
Along with author Amy Baker, I am the co-founder of The Riff Raff, a writers’ community that champions debut authors and supports aspiring writers. We hold monthly events where debut authors read from their work, aspiring authors get advice for their own masterpiece and everyone has a jolly good time.
Of course we wanted to get listed in Time Out; anyone who has ever started anything wants to get listed in Time Out.
Our emails had gone un-answered (I get it, they’re busy) so I decided to send them a goody bag filled with all the things that represent a The Riff Raff event: two incredible debut novels; a mini bottle of bubbles (things can get boozy); a notebook and pen (to start that novel you’ve been dreaming of) and some fancy chocolate, because, y’know – it's fancy chocolate.
It didn’t even occur to me to look inside the notebook. I picked it off the shelf of a well-known high street stationer (guesses which one on a postcard, please) and put it into a pretty gift bag. Off it went with the courier. I got an email to say it arrived.
All that was left to do was sit back and wait for Time Out to get in touch.
And they did. Sonya Barber, the now outgoing news and events editor, sent us a Tweet. SHE SENT US A TWEET! I scrabbled to unlock my phone, desperate to see what she had said.
“Thanks for the gift bag,” her message began (she got it! She likes it!) “err, did you mean to send me this?”
And there was a photo of the first page of the notepad, on which some chancer (I guess they were testing the pen?) had written ‘fuck of’ in swirly blue ink.
Fuck of. It took a minute for my brain to understand what was happening. Surely, I hadn’t just sent a gift bag to the editor of Time Out telling her to fuck of. And yes, that’s fuck of – not even grammatically correct.
But yes, that is exactly what I had done.
I immediately tweeted back, profusely apologising and explaining that I had no idea I was sending such a profane pad. I started writing Amy a message in my head, apologising for defiling our brand.
But Sonya was not offended. In fact, she thought it was hilarious. Then a couple of her colleagues Tweeted that they found it hilarious too. Sonya started following us. Had I inadvertently put us front and centre with the very person we’d be chasing for weeks?
Well yes – and no.
We hoped our mess up might be enough to get us into Time Out – just a lisitng, a mere mention – but each week we scoured the pages to find we still weren’t there. Yes, we’re new, and yes we’re different, but we figured that might work in our favour?
I contacted the lovely digital editor, Ellie Walker-Arnott. But nothing. Nada. I had told Time Out to fuck of and it still wasn’t enough to get us in.
Disheartened, I returned to more conventional marketing strategy, sending through our press release for this week’s event on Thursday 12th October, and consoling myself that maybe #fuckof had just been too extreme.
But this weekend our Twitter buzzed. Sonya is leaving Time Out (good bye, Sonya, god speed!) and in her honour, her colleague Katie McCabe has had the offending offensive framed.
Time Out, if you are reading this, please put us in your magazine. Our events are awesome: lively, friendly, inspiring. We’ll give you free tickets.
Come on…we’ve already told you to fuck of once.