Instagram, twitter, facebook, email, Skype, SMS and phone – if you can’t get hold of someone in today’s overload of communication channels then clearly they must have passed to the other side, right?
Wrong. The most common complaint I hear in our PitchIt2Me workshops is ‘they never get back to me’, ‘they don’t pick up their phone’, ‘how many times do I have to leave a message before I feel like a stalker?’
This isn’t just referring to a PR trying to get a journalists attention either. It is journalist emailing PRs, PRs emailing clients and so on.
For many this is sadly common practice in their business. It may be due to work load, they may be in a conference, they may not have an answer to the question you are presenting, or they don’t like to say no or they have too many emails in their inbox.
But whatever the reason, the message is the same. My time is more important than yours and you are not a priority, whether that is true or not is irrelevent.
Let’s think of inter office or client to PR to journalist email correspondence as a conversation. If I asked you out loud you would acknowledge that I had asked. It might be ‘yes, I can do that straight away’ or ‘no, I don’t know the answer’ or ‘I’m really busy, I heard you but can I get it to you in an hour, a day, a week?’ You wouldn’t remain silent.
If you intend to do what is asked of you in an email don’t just go and do it without letting the sender know you have received the email and are onto it. Why? Because then the sender knows that part of the job is being taken care of and won’t have to email again and stress levels remain calm.
Don’t acknowledge and the sender is left with nowhere to go forward with their own work. You may not have the answer, the cheque or the artwork, but let them know you don’t have that.
Think about how good it is to receive an out of office message. Sure, you may be frustrated that you can’t get your work done because of it but at least you know the reason.
One challenge in a world of instant social media is the expected response time. Many of us are expecting almost immediate response when it simply isn’t possible for those who have excessive inboxes filled with others wanting immediate response. But sometimes things are urgent, there are deadlines, dates need to be adhered to. Then it is time to get on top of your communication.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the frustration of PRs trying to get a journalist to respond to a pitch and I applaud the editors who have automatic responses to emails that flood their inbox on a daily basis.
“Thanks for your email, I have received it. If it is a pitch from a PR then please know I will respond if I am interested. If you are a journalist pitching then please know that we do not take unsolicited pitches from writers that have not written from us before. If you are an approved writer then please send your pitch to [insert generic email]”
This is a good one because then you know they have a process in place for pitches and if you’re not getting a response then they don’t want your pitch so either pitch to someone else or improve your pitching.
Business is like a food chain. The person emailing needs the person being emailed to respond so they can then get back to the other person that emailed them originally putting a work chain of communication into action. This food chain can be two, three, four, five or six or more people long, but if one remains silent then everyone else is impacted.
Have you experienced communication shut down in your role or business? How do you handle it?