Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dealing with PR People

The days of a magazine editor and publisher are all different. Often, I liken them to a ride on a roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs.

Yesterday was one of the down days - at least it would have been if I had let "annoying" situations get to me. Lately, I've noticed many of the "down" days are caused by PR people who seek complimentary space in the magazine I produce but do nothing to create a good working relationship with me.

Example One: I had placed a call to the 30-something public relations director of a large hospital here in Houston a week ago. Since that hospital gets lots of "free publicity" in Houston Woman Magazine I thought it was time the two of us met. (It would have been nice for the overture to be initiated by her, but that's another story.) Anyway, almost a week after leaving her a voice message, I receive a call from the PR director's "12-year-old" assistant, asking, "I work for 'so-in-so,' she wants to know what you want?" Needless to say, I no longer wanted anything. Not a single thing!

Example Two: I had a conversation (via email) with a very nice woman with a large PR firm in town - in fact, one of the biggest in the country. I had just published an article about one of her firm's clients. When I suggested the firm order a subscription to Houston Woman Magazine, so she would see what we had printed, I was told: "We will consider, but we cannot possibly afford to subscribe to all of the publications in Houston."

Considering a one-year subscription costs $30, and the space I just devoted to her client would cost a paying customer (advertiser) $3600, her response was not well-received. Neither will the next press release I receive from that firm.

Example Three: I got a call yesterday from a woman with another well-known Houston PR firm. An article about one of the firm's clients had run in Houston Woman Magazine last fall. She was just now getting around to trying to get some copies. She called to see if I would mail her two copies - and her client five copies.

I responded by telling her, "I can do that; back issues are $10 each."

She replied, "Wow! That's $70. Can you waive that for me?"

These situations wouldn't be so annoying if they were isolated cases. But, they are not. This sort of thing happens all the time. And, not just to me. All editors and publishers complain about the lack of professionalism in some parts of the PR community.

So, instead of getting upset about it, I've put in place a new policy: If a PR professional doesn't subscribe to Houston Woman Magazine (and actually see what we print), we will no longer be working with her/him.

This policy may not increase our subscription base, but it sure will cut down on the amount of mail I read each day.

Bottom Line: Mutual respect and professional courtesy still matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment