Friday, July 24, 2009

I don’t have that information. I’ll get back to you. When’s your deadline?

I ran into something I’ve rallied against today; a public relations practitioner without a journalism background and recently out of school. Yet I was taken aback by the professionalism of Caitlin Owens of Los Angeles’ ID PR.

She almost immediately used the words of a long time professional on me. See the headline! She added, Yes, I’ll get that out today. She did forget the When’s your deadline?, but I’ll give her slack on that. I heard it in her voice. The phone call lasted about three minutes – she knows how to manage not only her time, but mine as well. I was so impressed I asked where she went to school and whom she studied under.

When I went to the University of New Mexico in the last quarter of the 20th Century, the top three schools were University of Missouri at Columbia, which if you go to its site proudly boasts 100 years of journalism. It was the dean of journalism departments when I was in school. UNM battled with University of Southern California – Ms. Owens’ school – for second place at the time I was studying. Glad to see it is STILL producing outstanding communicators.

Unfortunately UNM did not keep its reputation. I believe at one time in the ‘90s the journalism school even lost its accreditation. It did graduate 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner Pete Chronis. I studied under Tony Hillerman, Pulitzer Prize winner John Hightower and had an excellent education. Even the author of Hotels for Dogs, Lois Duncan Arquette, had the pleasure of putting up with me as a student. She recently wrote, “I remember you.” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t complimentary.

After a spate of dealing with lameos in the communications world, it was refreshing to run into Owens. I could go on with stories of how the producer of the nation’s most influential radio show, record companies, television awards shows and others have shunned my communications. This includes this response from a Phoenix public relations firm on a matter Owens was dealing with, “Unfortunately we will not be able to add you to our press list, as we require being part of the Phoenix Film Critics Society as one of our acceptance parameters.” I’ve gotten similar answers from one of the largest record labels – the material Owens was so grateful to send – and Celebrity Fight Night’s adverting agency. They don’t understand 21st Century communications.

Here was Owens on the phone in a professional manner. She wasn’t ignoring a blog in Technorati’s top 8 percent as “unwisened” Phoenix agencies have. See what I mean about lameos?

Bet she has no problem with “social media,” either. Maybe, like me, she doesn’t see it as anything other than another communications vehicle like white papers, town halls, press releases (why do all the lameo agencies focus on that?), grand openings, premiers and other forms of communicating. She has a LinkedIn account – so I’m confident she views “social media,” including Twitter just another form of communicating with your various publics.

Yes, it is refreshing to run into a professional and let me acknowledge her accomplishments. Unfortunately, Ms. Owens, I forgot to mooch those standups of Vanessa Hudgens and Alyson Michalka. Also, you are so professional, you should now refer to yourself as a Marketing Sociologist to differentiate yourself those lameo PR practitioners.


2 comments:

  1. Until the product or service is delivered, isn't that like saying "the checks in the mail". I'll come by tomorrow for what I envision will be an exciting update.

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  2. Princess (one of the wisest business leaders around):

    No. I feel it is better to ask a journalist – even (especially) bloggers – what they need. Ms. Owens was real good at her job. To test how knowledgeable I was on the subject or to see if I was a fly-by-night blog, she asked what specific songs I needed from the movie. I had already posted Vanessa Hudgens’ Everything I Own and a partial clip of Alyson Michalka’s Amphetamine. So I informed Ms. Owens I needed clips of Someone to Fall Back On, Lovesick and I Want You to Want Me, all Bandslam songs by Alyson Michalka or 78violet (Lovesick). Ms. Owens took the time to check her sheets, and it checked out. You can see all non-Alyson Michalka Bandslam songs (okay, maybe one or two by other artists are missing) at http://tweenmusic.blogspot.com/2009/07/bandslam-soundtrack-songs.html

    (one other note – I would never break a copyright and create a full length video as what was done to Hannah Montana Volume 3 http://tweenmusic.blogspot.com/2009/06/hannah-montana-3-soundtrack-radio.html or Ashley Tisdale’s Guilty Pleasure, which was for sale on Ebay about a month ago and has not been released yet. It is called journalistic ethics.)

    It is better than the unknowing public relations/communications firms who have no grasp of 21st Century communications rapidly dismissing bloggers like Celebrity Fight Night’s advertising firm, or a firm working for Bandslam’s Phoenix premier who stated, “Unfortunately we will not be able to add you to our press list, as we require being part of the Phoenix Film Critics Society as one of our acceptance parameters.” I’m sure that would not have been their noise if I said I was with Rolling Stone.

    The best part of all this is Ms. Owens took the initiative without needing to talk to her boss.

    One of my favorite customer service stories is – I bought a suit at Dillard’s (mid-80s). Six months later the back pocket of the pants ripped. Took it back, thinking Dillard’s might sew it for me. Walked up to the clerk and he said, “Pick out a new suit.” I asked if he needed to talk to a manager or something. He said no, he was empowered to make that decision. Today I have two closets full of clothes, most of them coming from Dillard’s.

    Ms. Owens demonstrated that breadth of customer service and that’s what impressed me the most. Her boss is privileged to have someone like that. This isn’t a plug. I never knew who she was until shortly before noon Pacific time today. It’s called – and Princess you have an MBA and you do this – delivering excellence.

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