----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Worst. PR Agent. Ever.

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Worst. PR Agent. Ever.

Okay, this is sort of about work, but it's not about anyone in the office, so I'm risking it. We don't have an official receptionist at my office, so when the phone rings, whoever's available grabs it. On Friday, that person was me. And that's how I found myself speaking with the worst PR agent ever.

First phone call:
Me: "Hello, X Publications."
PR Guy: "Um...hi. Um...this is Jeff from Leopard Communications. Um...you're a publishing company, right?"
Me: "Yes, that's right."
PR Guy: "So, do you have a dental magazine?"
Me: "No, we don't."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...so what do you cover?"
Me: "We have three titles that mostly deal with construction."
PR Guy [panicked]: "Oh...okay. Um...I have to call you back."

He called back a couple hours later, and lucky me! I was the one who answered the phone again.

Me: "Hello, X Publications."
PR Guy: "Um...hi. This is Jeff at Leopard Communications again. I think I spoke with you earlier?"
Me: "Yes."
[awkward silence]
Me: "How can I help you?"
PR Guy: "So, you publish magazines, right?"
Me: "Yes."
PR Guy: "Okay, well, um...I'm from a communications agency? And we have a lot of stories on a lot of different topics?"
Me: "Yes? What sorts of stories?"
PR Guy: "Well, like, retail merchandisers. We have a story about Saks, and you know, they're a major retailer."
Me: "We don't cover retail."
PR Guy: "Well, what about guns? Do you have any gun publications?"
Me: "No."
PR Guy: "And you don't have any dental publications?"
Me: "No."
[awkward silence]
PR Guy: "So, um, what topics do you cover? I'm sure we have something of interest to you."
Me: "We have a Web site. Maybe you should do some research on our publications before you try to pitch us anything."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...okay. Um...what's your Web site?"
Me: "It's XPublications.com"
PR Guy: "Okay, um...wait a minute. I have it right here. [Pause]. Wait...it doesn't work. Does that need a www in front of it?"
Me: "Well, it is a Web site, so yes, it does."
PR Guy: "Oh. Um...okay. Thanks.
Me: [Click]

Okay, now I know that PR agents are people, too, and that they are just trying to do their jobs, but as I understand it, their job is to get coverage for their clients. And in order to do that, shouldn't they try to be as ingratiating as possible to journalists? I mean, please. Would I call up a magazine that I wanted to write for and be like, "Um, yeah. Can you tell me what kind of topics you cover, because I'm far too lazy to actually do any research on my own or even do a basic Google search on your company"? No. I would not. Not unless I never actually wanted to work for that magazine.

And another thing, while I'm on the subject of annoying PR people. If you call me to give me your great pitch and I sound interested, make sure you can follow through. Because nothing annoys me more than thinking I've got a great interview lined up, only to call at the appointed time and have the person I'm supposed to be interviewing NOT BE THERE! Come on! These are your clients! Supposedly, they want the attention! Sure, they're high-powered executives, but I'm busy, too. I have deadlines! So if you set up an interview for me, make sure the interviewee is actually available. Otherwise, why should I trust you the next time you call?

Actually, there is something that annoys me more. Don't pretend like your pitch totally fits what I'm writing about when it clearly does not. If I'm writing an article about, say, oh, I don't know, high-tech cancer treatment facilities, DO NOT try to pass off your "medical spa" that offers microdermabrasion to bored housewives as a viable treatment center. Yes, cancer patients need pampering, too. But I think chemo patients are more concerned about, oh, I don't know, LOSING THEIR HAIR and puking their guts out rather than where to get their next Endermologie treatment. Oh, and just FYI, cancer patients aren't supposed to have any invasive cosmetic treatments while they're having chemo. Not even manicures. The risk of infection is too great.

So come on, PR people. Earn your money. Spend your time doing some research on how you can actually help my magazine. Don't call me three or four times to find out if I got your press release. Instead, spend the time writing a press release that's actually relevant to my audience. And hey, I do get busy, so you can call once to follow up. But usually, if I'm interested, I'll call you.

This has been a public service rant for PR people. Thank you.


  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Bruingirl said…

    Ummm....can you tell me how I can find google? Is that, like...umm...a website? I wanted to do research on your magazine, but didn't know how to do that. Ummm....I really like your magazine though. It's swell. I think I have a good piece for it.


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