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.)
WARNING: Don't Try this at home! As a 127 lb. amateur, I am going attempt to break Gonghong Tang’s 2004 record for the "clean and press." AND... as I will likely tear off a limb or cause a massive brain hemorrhage, I am then going to attempt to stick the landing and turn the whole bloody mess into a recommendation. Our subject today: David Weinberger's new book, Everything Is Miscellaneous: the Power of the New Digital Disorder.
Trust me, I am a little more than trepidacious. Why? Well, according to the press announcement, Miscellaneous:
"Charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture. In his rollicking tour of the rise of ‘miscellaneous,’ he examines why the Dewey decimal system is stretched to the breaking point, how Rand McNally decides what information not to include in a physical map (and why Google Earth is winning that battle), how Staples stores emulate online shopping to increase sales, why your children’s teachers will stop having them memorize facts, and how the shift to digital music stands as the model for the future in virtually every industry. Finally, he shows how by ‘going miscellaneous,’ anyone can reap rewards from the deluge of information in modern work and life. From A to Z, Everything Is Miscellaneous will completely reshape the way you think—and what you know—about the world.”
Yikes. My first and admittedly regrettable reaction was to get caught up in the title. A grueling rumination ensued. I wonder if he considered: Everything is Misplaced: Where are My Car Keys; Everything is Mischiato: Forgetaboutit; Everything is Meaningless: I think I am Gonna Kill Myself; and my personal favorite, Everything is Miasma: Fuck You.
Allow me to recompose myself. Seriously, this book is just not easily summarized. Even the rollicking "From A to Z” totally underestimates it. This is more like from A to #457 to the Zanzabar Platypus, batteries extra. Almost poetically, David’s logical order to his treatise is... well... whacked. Hurts my brain just to think about it (see hemorrhage above). And that's the problem; to examine it properly, one's got to first straighten it out.
Actually, for me—the total anal-retentive-neat-freak and card-carrying minimalist—that exorcise was close to irresistible frankly. I imagine the famous Dr. Nigel Higgenbottom compelled similarly by an almost overwhelming curiosity to treat a new virulent strain on Kalaupapa.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
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