Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Waiting For Godot ... Sucks

So, the good news is that we have something outrageous like 19 prospects in our pipeline. For a mid-sized PR agency, that's a lot of leads.

The bad news is that you take a meeting - you make your pitch - you do a good job - you get a big smile & a handshake and promises of "a decision by (date)" ... and then ... NOTHING. A gaping void of silence. You follow-up politely, once or twice; leave messages. NO response.

The smart PR Guy sighs, "Oh well, I guess we lost."

But actually, more often than not this complete lack of basic courtesy has had no hidden meaning: because, in fact, usually we found that we've WON.

Either way, I say: whatever happened to Courtesy? Professionalism? The Niceties? Whether leaning one way or another, how long does it take to give someone a quick head's-up? Even if all you have to say is, "Sorry, the decision was delayed - stay tuned," that's like manna from heaven these days.

You know, I think the Internet might have killed Business Courtesy.

Basically, everyone is moving too damn fast, don't you think? Too fast to remember or care about professional commitments, except to their immediate superiors. The always-on economy has turned us all into worker-bee juggernauts. We are always fighting fires...and as any firefighter would tell you - they don't show up at a fire worried about tromping mud on the carpet.

Similarly, as we tear through our to-do lists, we often forget the simple things that make a life in business more palatable. So, as for me, I'm putting: "Return every phone call within 1 business day" on my own list of to-do's.

(Just don't call me 'til April... I'm awfully busy!)


Blogger Flackette said...

I completely agree! The same thing has happened many times at my own agency.

When I was first hunting for an entry-level PR job, I applied at a small agency that I fell in love with and felt fairly confident that I got the job. I recieved a rejection letter about a month later, and although I was dissapointed, it wasn't the letter itself that annoyed me: it was the lack of feeling inside it. The letter started off "Dear Applicant," and followed with an assurance that although they had gone with another candidate, that they had been "very impressed with my skills." If they were so impressed with my skills, why couldn't they seem to remember my name?

It's true that business courtesy has fallen by the wayside to many people. Now I know how journalists get annoyed from such correspondence.

Your blog is one of my favorites. Thanks for all the wisdom!

March 15, 2006  
Blogger Jack Yan said...

But, at the same time, patience is a virtue that has been lost, too, whether it’s due to the internet or cellphones. Sometimes, waiting an extra day is not a big deal; similarly, if someone is five minutes late to an appointment, it might be due to traffic or one of those old-fashioned reasons. Even 15 years ago, people didn’t respond on the day in some cases, and we never thought ill of them—we simply excused them and, if we got really concerned, we investigated the delay, maybe the day after.

March 16, 2006  
Blogger PR-Guy said...

It's not the extra day, or two, or three, Jack - it's the extra WEEK or two that bugs me. ;)

You definitely have a point that email, cellphones, etc., have accelerated our expectations for instant answers...

"Somewhere in the middle lies the truth."

March 16, 2006  

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