The primacy effect -or- How I’m sleeping with Thrillist

It happens almost every morning. Right as I’m dreaming of Hogwarts and/or my latest crush, Hugh Laurie, it goes off. The blackberry sitting on my dresser. Not to be mistaken with the old flip phone that still serves as my alarm clock. No, it’s the blackberry’s -BING- letting me know someone has emailed me. I throw a heavy arm over to get it to check for the name I know I’m going to see.

Thrillist. Delivered promptly at 4:50 with everything I should be doing if I was a cool little socialite.

I don’t know what these things are. Because I’m never actually fully awake. Most of their emails come before 6 AM. Several have come before 5 AM. I may see one mention of a resturant I should check out, but usually at this point in the morning I’m so tired that I’m struggling to believe that my bed isn’t the plane seat I was just on in my dream. Usually I slump back into my pillows and fall asleep, phone still in hand. Email opened on the screen. Until the other phone goes off telling me that I have to get up.

Thrillist is banking pretty hard on the primacy effect, and although I’m losing sleep over it, I have to say it’s working. Theirs is one of the few magazine-ish emails that I open during the day. And I know their name. I can tell you what they do even if I can’t recite their chosen hotspots. I know they’re funny. I vaguely remember thinking something was witty (without actually laughing, mind you, because it was 4 something in the morning) before passing out again.

So it’s interesting to see when people send emails. A company has many options. Pull a Thrillist and hit them before they’re awake enough to ignore you. And be consistant with it. Or pull an Ad Age and pepper someone’s email with so many varaitions of your publications that a person can’t scroll without seeing something you’ve written recently. Or wait until later, hoping that recency effect is correct and that people remember things at the end of the list more. And by list, I mean an exhausting inbox.

My time as a publicist made me paranoid about email scheduling and sending emails in general. Forget Fridays, forget Monday mornings. Make it early, but not too early. You don’t want to compete with emails sent late the night before. Make the subject line snappy. Bullet or number if you don’t think they’ll read it. I’ve read Chris Brogan’s blog posts about it as many of us have. Handling a full inbox is pencil-gnawed-like-a-corncob stressful. So what’s right when it comes to timing?

I’m completely ignoring the people who don’t check email on their phones. In which case, Thrillist would be buried. But that’s not their audience. I’m their audience. They go after people who sign up for things like email magazines. The active and young. Excluding my friend Jamie who is so tech resistant that she doesn’t have texting, and my friend Alex who jokingly scoffs at people with “fancy” phones, everyone I know is armed with a blackberry, iPhone or something similar.

Thrillist might be on to something with primacy effect. I must say- it’s surprising that I don’t hate them. They wake me up and I’m not a morning person. And I’m an irrational brand-hater. I refuses to eat at Thundercloud Subs because I hate that damn jingle so much. And yet, I kinda like Thrillist. It’s part of my morning routine now.

So there it is. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a rendezvous with Hugh in the Gryffindor common room.

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10 Comments on “The primacy effect -or- How I’m sleeping with Thrillist”

  1. Breanna says:

    Couldn’t you put your phone on “silent” or something while you’re sleeping? It can’t be healthy to be jolted out of REM sleep like that every morning. πŸ˜‰

    You kids and yer fancy phones! Stay offa my lawn!

    ❀

  2. kellystonebock says:

    I could, except I set a back-up alarm clock on my blackberry. Yes, in addition to the other three on my old cell phone.

    I’m really not a morning person. You know this! πŸ™‚

  3. Great post Kelly. Why? Well, somehow you managed to convince me you LIKE getting interrupted at 4:50am each morning via email. That’s a powerful message coming from someone who claims not to be a morning person. This is almost like having a case study to show clients worried about email frequency and timing. Thanks for posting.

  4. Tolly says:

    Dan Gentile, the local editor of Thrillist Austin, is indeed a witty guy. He would totally love this post! I’m sending him the link, Kelly.

    I think Thrillist is also a master of the quippy email subject line. No email is good enough to wake me up at 4:50am, but if any WERE, it’d be Dan’s. Also: Thrillist has a policy of covering stuff no one else has covered yet, which makes the whole enterprise even more impressive. They can’t troll Yelp until they find something cool, they have to do things the old-fashioned way – make CALLS and stuff!

  5. Ray says:

    The Blackberry alarm still goes off even if the phone is on silent… At least mine does πŸ™‚

    • kellystonebock says:

      You underestimate my paranoia. What if a friend of mine was trapped under something heavy and could only email?

      Hey. I watch House. It could happen πŸ˜‰

  6. Bryan says:

    Hey Kelly! Remember me from UIUC? I’ve been keeping up with your blog since July and I have to say I enjoyed it so much, I decided to jump on the WordPress bandwagon. I posted my resume, and subscribed to your tales from Austin obviously. Keep up the great work, you got fans out there!

    • kellystonebock says:

      Brian of course I remember you! SAA love never fades!!! I’m THRILLED you have your own blog. I’ll be checking it out ASAP. Facebook/DM me what you’re up to- I’d love to hear! πŸ™‚ BTW my sister just started at U of I. Soo proud.

  7. Peggy Keefe says:

    Nice post! I too am an irrational brand-hater! I still avoid Quiznos because I hated the old commercials with the mutated talking rat things. Same for Nationwide’s current “world’s greatest spokesman.” I just want to punch him in the stomach phone, /not/ switch my insurance. (I think it’s partially from being an Adv major. I don’t want to reward bad work with my dinero.)

  8. […] been blogging, just this time it’s less about being woken up by my blackberry at 5AM (see Thrillist post) and more about teens and dating abuse. You can see my lastest blogging efforts at […]


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