Pick up the Phone—Sheesh!

When to call or Email

One of the biggest barriers to great catalogs is poor communication. Poor communication between the merchants and the creative team and poor communication between Copywriters and Art Directors. (There is probably more bad communication in other areas, I just don’t see it.) Because catalogers all know that the press date doesn’t change, we develop a heads down mentality that propagates the myth that faster is better and an email will do the trick.

If it needs discussion—call.

Great products and great stories go hand in hand. You won’t find great stories in an email. You won’t develop a strong relationship with an email. Call with questions that require more than one line of explanation. If you are pressed for time and don’t want to get caught up in chit-chat start with “Hey I just have a quick question about —.” Don’t phone if you need a list of new products, a list of changes, or anything that will need to be proofread, tracked, approved, or verified. Using email instead of calling to cover your ass is foolish. Be brave, do great work, use your creative energy for good things. Send a confirmation email about your call if you need to document the decisions reached or the ideas exchanged.

If it needs to be proofread, tracked, approved or verified—email.

Email is the easiest way to ask a question, but it isn’t always the best. We have become overly dependent on emails and this has lead to a lack of connection between merchants and creatives. Send an email when you need to get trackable, checkable specs, sizes, colors and other specific information. Don’t ask about thoughts, concerns, feelings or creative execution in an email. It’s pointless, and in the end, after several rounds of “What I was trying to communicate was—”, you are going to have to call anyway. Just call.

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The Catalog Blog covers opinions and information on all things catalog. Have something to add? Leave a comment below. Catalog University is devoted to helping you get ahead in the fun and fascinating world of catalogs. If you want even more information about cataloging, including FREE Pub Talks, be sure to sign up for the Cat-U mailing list. We will never share your name with 3rd parties.

Sarah Fletcher
Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.
Co-founder Catalog University


  • Jeff Ryan (@19oaksdude)

    This makes me want to pick up the phone to tell you how much this was needed 🙂

    • Catalog University Blog

      I’m glad you liked it. I often think of Dave Barry’s comment that the internet is like a CB radio with more typing.