Twice last week, I was phoned out of the blue by someone in PR (a different person each time). How outrageous! How impertinent! How dare they deem me to be so important as to merit a direct call? Is there no end to my suffering?
I jest, of course, but on both occasions it did feel like an intrusion. Funny, when you think about it. When I started out in PR, phoning was very much encouraged and email was considered the coward’s way out. In general, in those pre-WhatsApp days, indeed in those pre-iPhone days, as we dodged roaming Tyrannosaurus Rexes and lived in caves, giving someone a bell was de rigueur.
In 2021, it’s much less so. I was watching 21 Jump Street on Thursday and when Schmidt (pretending to be Doug) rings Molly, she says “I pretty much text, except for when a random old relative calls.” So there you go.
From the PR perspective, I fully get it. Swamped by work and dealing with some family emergencies of late, I’ve been atrocious at replying to emails (or any form of comms, in fact); given that, I can’t really complain about the bull-by-the-horns approach of chasing me more directly over the blower.
Even so, I didn’t answer either call. Not out of rudeness, although I guess it was slightly rude, but simply because it wasn’t a good time: I was racing a deadline and losing, or writing my first decent paragraph of the day, or putting on some fresh coffee. Twice I made a mental note to call back (or at least reply to the original email), and in one case a physical note, and then didn’t ring either person because I’m crap.
I guess, though, that the point is that if you ring me without any warning, it’s very unlikely to ever be that mystical ‘good time’. I reckon I have two or three good times a day, each lasting a few minutes, so statistically you’re onto a real loser. Far better, methinks, to text or email me requesting a call (even if you doubt my ability to ever reply to an email). If the call can be on my terms, then it’s much more likely to happen. I’d also suggest asking yourself, in a choose-your-battles kind of way, if it really is vital that we speak?
It’s well worth saying that while this applies to me, and doubtless some others, there are some journos who rather like it when a PR calls for a chat (at least, once that relationship is established). So take this with several pinches of salt and, perhaps, choose your call list carefully.
What Richard Thinks…
“This release on mountaineering hols from James went straight into my trend-pitching oven. It lacks for a sample price, but is otherwise nice and pithy.”