Monday, February 13, 2017

Give it to me straight

If you're a PR professional, you may disagree with me. And I'd love to hear your viewpoint.

Six months ago, a local acquaintance asked me to help promote his book on business leadership. Most news media I contacted were enthusiastic, interviewing him on air, including his book in a newspaper column, or running op-ed essays he'd written about business conduct.

By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
 via Wikimedia Commons
Except one. An experienced news/public affairs broadcaster who initially expressed interest, asked to read a copy of the client's book, and then went silent. Didn't respond to emails or phone calls. Even when I asked co-workers at the broadcaster's station, who first said they'd been busy, and told me he'd get back to me.

Except he didn't. Nor did his producer. 

I hate giving up. But, after six months of unresponsiveness from the broadcaster, I decided to cease pursuing him. His head was elsewhere. I won't speculate where.

But any response -- even one declining to pursue the interview -- would have been professional. I've been at this PR game for more than a few years, and had turn-downs from media gatekeepers before. A simple "Sorry, we aren't interested in the book or the author" response, instead of silence, would have been okay. 

Instead, the broadcaster's lack of candor or communication over a six-month window resulted in a waste of time: his, my client's, and mine. Maybe that's fine for hiring managers who receive hundreds of resumes for a single opening, and simply can't respond to each applicant.

But broadcasters, like PR people, are in the communication business. The market in question isn't a crazy, hectic Top 20 media market; it's a small-to-medium size market where relationships matter. The broadcaster and I have worked together in the past. He should find 30 seconds to write or say, "Sorry, we can't use this in our show." Give it to me straight. 

If you have a different opinion, I welcome reading it in the comments section below. Thanks.