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Recently I approached a well-known internet personality about an interview. I wanted to discuss a new website he had launched and get his perspective on the market it's competing in.

Interview requests are always hit-or miss; sometimes you never hear back. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and received an immediate response.

Long story short: upon confirmation that he was excited to do an interview (and wanted to include his partner in the interview), I sent along my questions, as the subject's assistant had agreed to conduct the interview by email.

A few days later, I got an email from the subject requesting a phone interview. I agreed and suggested some options for setting it up.

After that, the subject and his assistant disappeared. I sent several follow-up emails, which have all gone without response.

These things happen and while it's frustrating to spend time preparing interview questions that disappear into a black hole, I understood that this person is very busy. Interviews that were agreed to don't happen for many reasons.

While I'm not going to name the person I was to interview (that's not important), I will say that I was especially surprised since he's wildly regarded as an expert on using social media to build business. If this is the way he handles PR, I thought to myself, is the reputation deserved?

PR is a valuable tool for any business, especially a new business. It can expose new users/customers to your offering, help you build buzz and lead to other media 'hits'.

Although good PR isn't 'free', when results are achieved, the value of the media you receive can far exceed the amount invested in both time and money. That's why so many businesses spend lots of time and money on PR.

So you don't want to screw up your PR, right? Here are 5 valuable tips to ensure that you don't make the same mistakes my subject made:

Respond. When someone provides you with an opportunity that will expose people to your business, respond. Even if you can't provide what they're asking for, a response is a professional courtesy that has a tangible benefit to you: you'll continue to get contacted. If I request a comment from you, for instance, on a story relevant to your industry, I'm far more likely to contact you in the future if I hear back, even if it's to say "I don't really have anything I can add."

Follow through.
If you commit to doing something, whether it be an interview or sending along information, come through. After all everybody likes someone who delivers.

Don't leave people hanging. If you absolutely have to break a commitment, do it in a professional manner. If you're busy and need to postpone, say so. If you have to pull the plug, cancel and apologize. Whatever you do, don't be a flake. It reflects poorly on you and the business you run.

Walk the walk.
If you're known as a social media expert, for example, being as responsive as customer service at Big Company Inc. isn't going to give someone confidence that you're really an expert. That reduces the odds that you'll be contacted as such in the future.

Needless to say, I won't be asking the subject mentioned here for any more interviews but with this post, I've hopefully turned his loss into your gain.

Photo credit: erix! via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 18 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2429 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Kasia

Really good article and a story like many others. Wonder when people will start taking PR seriously and not let things like you described happen... such a waste of time.

over 7 years ago

Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, MMU

Great, sensible down to earth advice which I will take on board for my own blog about selling skills for digital media.

over 7 years ago

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Listorbit

Sounds Good even picture is also good.

over 7 years ago

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Craig McGill

Since posting has the person got back in touch with you? Is it possible they were having a bad day? Also, surely if you don't name the person then others will still get in touch with them over their reputation and boost it so unless you name them, the status quo stays the same...

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Craig,

No this person has not. Although he's been very active on Twitter. Which is a suggestion I should have included: you can't claim to be busy when you have time to tweet. :)

I'm not interesting in naming names for something that many of us are guilty of. The purpose of this article was to hopefully prevent others from making the same mistake.

over 7 years ago

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Steve Ellis

I'm happy to join the chorus who complain about shoddy PR people, when it is justified and the industry deserves to take the flack.

This example seems more about a basic lack of personal courtesy and possibly poor business prioritization, that can sadly be found in any area of business life, rather than anything relating to the specific faults of the PR industry.

over 7 years ago

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Claire

Hmm, Patricio has done the right thing by not naming the person is probably unfair. Even though perhaps they deserve it. We don't know what the situation is for them. The likelyhood, is yes they may be ignoring you, and yes they should have had the decency to reply, but all people who are high up tend to be ignorant and arrogant these days, it tends to be expected of them now.

These people aren't nice, especially as they had to do stuff like this to get noticed when they were growing. But they forget about this, and don't care anymore!

I would forget them and move onto someone who has time, and create a fantastic article not just about your interview with them, but also how nice they were, and allowing time for you!

over 7 years ago

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