Sometimes, honest feedback isn’t exactly what you want. When you put on a new dress, for instance, and your partner says your bum looks elephantine. Or when you’ve spent hours cooking something only for someone to remark that it tastes a bit odd.
Although unhelpful comments aren’t exactly what you want, if you are a journalist there’s something you want even less – and that’s silence.
Before newspapers were put online, and readers were invited to comment, journalists rarely got feedback at all – other than an occasional letter from Mrs Ruffled of Tunbridge Wells. We put stuff out there, and didn’t expect anything back.
What we have always expected, though, is for PRs to get in touch. If a they have spent months, or weeks, trying to persuade you to cover something, and you do, and then there’s a glaring silence, it feels not just weird, but unprofessional.
Not only does it indicate that the PR hasn’t seen it – and so isn’t on top of their game. Or that they don’t understand the nature of relationships – and keeping conversations going. But also that they don’t have very good manners.
It’s not paeans of praise that we expect. Or lavish hand-written notes (although I still treasure those from Karl Lagerfeld and Rosita Missoni that adorn my office shelves). Or flowers (there are enough of those in the neighbouring fashion department to keep us all happy).
Just an email will do: an acknowledgement that they’ve registered the coverage, and that the hours of my life I’ve spent reading their press releases, interviewing their clients and crafting a story haven’t gone unnoticed.
The words Thank You not only acknowledge the work that’s gone into a story, but open up another new dialogue. And who knows what new stories that might lead to…