Thou Shalt Be Nice to the Media... Or Suffer the Consequences
I was at a trade show last week in my capacity as a magazine editor. In the midst of the show, a woman waddled up to me, introduced herself, and proclaimed in blunt terms: “I was supposed to have a meeting with you, but you blew me off.” She said this in a voice that was two sizes too loud, with my publisher and advertising manager standing next to me.
I looked at this woman and stated, with no degree of warmth: “I did not blow you off. Your publicist was supposed to set up a time to meet with me and he never did. I’ve had wall-to-wall meetings to this show, set up by publicists who had no trouble working within my schedule.”
The woman (a self-styled expert on a niche subject within the financial services world) was actually hoping to get coverage in my magazine. Do you think that is going to happen?
I’ve said this endlessly and I will keep saying this until someone listen: you never profit by pissing off the members of the media. Really, what is the point? Can’t a problem be solved with humor or sincerity, rather than by creating an adversarial relationship? Or if humor and sincerity can’t solve the problem, why not tap the auric power of silence and just let the problem shrivel up and die on its own?
In this particular case, it is compounded by the possibility that the woman’s publicist lied to her by claiming I had no interest in a meeting – hence her insistence “you blew me off.” After all, that accusation had to come from somewhere.
She also did not apologize when I informed her she was not on my schedule. So now I have two people on my low priority list: the big-mouthed woman and her bumbling publicist.
Am I acting in a petulant, silly and otherwise asinine manner? Of course I am – don’t confuse the religious icons on the column with little ol’ me. And guess what: I’m not the only media person who would respond that way. (But if I really wanted to be mean I could identify the guilty parties in this little story – and that would offer a mess of bad PR, no?)
The point of this little tale is simple: people remember kindness and nastiness with equal depth. Kindness works better. At my trade show, there were plenty of PR people who were respectful, courteous and professional to me and their clients are pretty much assured of quality coverage in upcoming editions of my magazine.
And then there was that woman with the big mouth. If you see her in an upcoming edition of my magazine, it means I had an acute shortage of news and needed something to plug the hole. But as for quality coverage, forget it – she shot herself in the foot when she shot off her mouth. That’s bad PR to the infinite power.
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book "The New PR" will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
The Media is a two-edge sword, I second, so much for the people behind the news making industry. Moreover, if only the mass at large or such is the example of this lady whom you talk about was able to contain herself and handle her communication etiquette better. Before really addressing you with her much anticipated exposure in your magazine (I would say she was mixing emotions with professionalism).
It would minimize - a probability - the occurrence of such or similar behavior if more articles or blogs featured this illness and how people get so paranoiac and loose their media exposure simply for messing with media and communication ethics. Would be good to given them some education and theory the public can put to practice, her on Amanda’s pr site.