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When Pr People Do Their Organizations A Disservice

Tony Silber By
10/13/2006 -02:00 AM

I should have been tipped off when the assistant kept e-mailing me. A few months ago, a very professional and pleasant woman e-mailed me about lunch with a corporate communications chief at one of the big New York consumer-magazine companies.

As it turned out, the communications person had to reschedule once and I needed to reschedule once, and the assistant did a great job of being the intermediary.

I don’t have a huge ego, but all along, I was kind of feeling that the contact should have been direct. Why did we need an intermediary? I call CEOs directly every day. In the public-relations business, it’s all about a one-to-one relationship, right? And I’m the editor and publisher of the magazine, after all.

So anyway, we schedule the lunch for this afternoon. After passing through the Midtown Manhattan office-building security, I went to a very nice private dining room. Where I waited. I waited 10 minutes. Then the corporate communications chief and a PR assistant came in and greeted me. Very pleasant.

But: They had no idea who I was, really. They were not familiar with Folio:. They didn’t know our mission. They didn’t know our circulation. They didn’t know at least one of the senior executives in their own company.

The lunch was great, but the conversation was awkward. "Do you cover what’s going on in digital," one of them asked me. About 45 minutes in, I started picking up the conversational cues that the meeting was over. I obliged. Fine by me.

The corporate communications chief and the PR assistant then left without shaking my hand or showing me the way out. I was left standing in the room. Clueless? Rude?

Hmmm. I thought these meetings were about establishing relationships.

Tony Silber By --

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