IF THERE is one remarkable thing I have learned from working with and observing social media activities over the last few years, it is the almost universal focus on the pursuit of meaningless numbers, writes Nigel Tomkins, a self-styled ‘old-school’ journalist who prefers truth over trash.

Mine’s bigger than yours seems to have developed a different meaning in these hyper-inflated times as barely a day passes when aircargoeye.com is not approached by some unsolicited, cheap ‘lead-generation’ offers or quick-fix ‘Viagra’ SEO improvements.

You already know what I am referring to: those artificially inflated numbers that herald a company’s success but which in fact have been trawled and scraped from the bowels of the internet, using devices that don’t care about where the numbers come from. Systematically, they can apparently increase a business’ numerical status – in various forms such as followers, likes, connections, readers, re-tweets, so-called ‘unique visitors’ etc – but they are numbers which are only there to deliberately create false impressions and neither bring nor indicate any true added value.

And yet, there are many air cargo industry suckers who regularly fall for these cheap tricks. Remarkably and ironically, they include companies that proudly specialise in digitalisation and electronic advancement. The guilty list noticeably includes disruptors, GSAs, airlines, data companies, analysts and some promotions specialists. Why is it that they are unable to differentiate between the inflated charlatans and the genuine? Is it because they are part of the problem?

The shysters’ aims, of course, are to profit from giving the impression of enhanced size and scale – but, in truth, they have nothing to do with adding any real quality.

This sorry state of affairs is increasingly evident in the air cargo public relations field that, as a result of the global pandemic, has sadly suddenly become infested by a swarm of in-house, untrained press release ‘writers’ and poor communicators or, even worse, semi-literate people who happen instead to possess some key-word skills and meta-data experience. And then there are some other small-time PR agencies (not all) that regularly let down their clients by disseminating some extremely poorly written press releases that, more often than not, contain factual inaccuracies and uncorroborated, misleading comments and very often miss the entire point of the story.

This worrying communications gap is at the same time adding to a lengthening string of ‘wall-paper’ journalists whose reduced publications seemingly copy and paste any press release that comes their way, with no attempt at verification or corroboration, and with not a chance of it being re-written and re-focused in the readers’ best interests.

Guilty parties – both suckers and practitioners – can be found everywhere in the airfreight world and especially in India, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, including Singapore and Israel. Also amongst them are air cargo industry associations, both profit- and non-profit, which now handle their own PR and whose response to critical comments (like these) is generally to just ignore them.

At aircargoeye.com we see evidence of this poor communications syndrome almost every day. At some point, when the time is right, I shall publish a name-and-shame list of the worst culprits.

Meanwhile, I will let you into a secret about how some so-called airfreight-related events pull in advertising or ‘sponsorship’ revenue. They do so from supporters who are seemingly incapable of working out the truth even though there is a simple short-cut remedy for most informed observers. It requires just a glance at the proposed line-up of speakers and moderators (a list which often includes their images), followed by a brief study of the event’s headline agenda of subjects. Finally, ask yourself how many of these people are not there with the primary goal of force-feeding you with ‘nice’, glossy stuff about their companies or themselves, earning as much PR coverage for their businesses as possible. Or so they think.

Then give it a miss.

You may not agree with some or all of this blog rant. However, be warned that an industry which is incapable of communicating well with its customers and suppliers is an industry facing fundamental problems. Sadly, the air cargo industry is getting the quality of media coverage it deserves.

Read more of Nigel’s blog posts here