I’m treading into tricky waters with this blog post – but it’s been on my mind of late, so here goes… I’d like to talk about the value of a response – be it an email reply, a returned call, a text – anything to know your message hasn’t simply gone out into the void…
I want to start out by admitting that this is something I need to work on myself. While I try to respond to email and phone calls, let’s face it – we all get swamped, and it gets to the point where it’s next to impossible to respond to everything. In fact, I received a (thankfully) friendly follow-up call last Friday from someone who had both called and emailed me previously. As of Tuesday night, I regret to admit that I still owe her a response. So, I’m definitely not living in the proverbial glass house and throwing stones here.
However, I also know how much I appreciate it when people get back to me. For instance, I sent emails out late on Friday to five different contacts inquiring about a location for an upcoming event. I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to the two that got back to me on Monday. Thank you for your follow-up! I’m not pointing fingers at the other three – perhaps they don’t work on Mondays, or they just had an overwhelming to-do list at the start of the week. But the prompt responses by the two I heard from certainly made them stand apart from the crowd.
An area where this gets especially tricky at times is in the give and take between PR people and media (reporters, bloggers, etc.). PR people send out (hopefully well-targeted) pitches in the hopes of receiving a response. Ideally, that response is “yes, we can’t wait to interview and write about your client.” But “no’s” are valuable, too. Any answer is better than no answer at all when a client is eager for feedback, especially when I will likely continue to follow up with the reporter until I get some sort of definitive (or otherwise) answer. And at the same time, reporters reach out to PR contacts when they need to talk to spokespeople, etc. They need responses, too, often ASAP. PR people have clients clamoring for answers, while reporters have deadlines they have to meet. Both parties need replies, and yet complaints are common from both sides that they’re not getting them.
This problem is definitely not limited to PR people and the media. In general, it seems that everyone has gotten so busy these days that email replies and returned phone calls fall by the wayside. Alas, I don’t have a brilliant solution. I wish that I did. All I can do is try to do my part by committing to answering each email and/or phone call within 24 hours (quicker for inquiries from reporters). And I can hope that everyone else out there will do the same. I’d also like to hear suggestions – from other PR people, reporters, etc. How do you handle overflowing inboxes and voicemails to ensure that messages don’t go unanswered?