Monday, February 26, 2007

P.R. Agencies: Public Enemy No. 1

As a longtime freelancer, there's not nothing I dread more than when I call a company for either an interview or art and I get referred to an independent public relations company. Maybe I'm exaggerrating in my mind, but I feel like 80 percent of the time, I have to make multiple calls to get what I want from them (versus in-house p.r., which is almost always fast and on point).

First off, they often have that crazy, annoying I'm-all-that-and-a-velvet-rope attitude, like everything is an exclusive club in New York, and um, is YOUR name on the guest list. You know, all that smile-in-your-face shit, meanwhile the dagger is always within reaching distance.

Bitchiness aside, they're often unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of their clients' industry and it's a pretty sure bet that unless you're writing for some very well known consumer mag (or Women's Wear Daily--back when I did some freelancing for them, I was amazed by how lightening fast EVERYONE got back to me, including typically tough-to-reach retailers), they're not gonna know your publication and are going to make you send/e-mail them something to prove you are worthy of their precious time.

If I were a manufacturer or retailer and HAD to farm out my public relations, I would DEFINITELY call from time to time and pretend to be some reporter looking for information. Just don't be suprised if you call and discover that two different people handle the account and neither one seems to care about it or, even better, everyone is out at the office because they're busy pulling together a party for a really important client, which, btw, is most definitely not you.

UPDATE: This post, btw, was inspired by a call I made to a p.r. agency on Thursday of last week. When I didn't hear back from them on Monday, I called backed Tuesday morning. Not surprisingly, the woman I originally spoke to wasn't there and wouldn't be all day. I was told I could speak to a second p.r. person, who never got on the phone, but instructed the receptionist to tell me to send my request by email. When I told the receptionist that I had already done that and now planned to called the company directly, the receptionist quickly called back p.r. person No. 2, who relayed back to me that she would call back shortly. Here we are a day later and I have yet to hear a peep out of anyone at the agency.

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