You Could Leave a Message…But Why Bother?

Brett Arends writes in today’s Boston Herald about the pathetic state of American PR offices.

“Media offices where everyone has left by 4:51 pm on a big news day.

This sort of stuff would be a disciplinary offense in any decent public relations office in the U.K. But it’s amazingly common over here. And it isn’t just Boston. It’s true in New York and elsewhere.

The odd thing is that in most areas professional standards over here, I have found, are much higher than over there. But not in PR. Of course this isn’t universal. There are many good public relations people around, people who are professional, hard-working, competent, helpful and friendly.

But plenty of other press officers actually seem affronted if they ever have to talk to the press. There are people in this town paid $100,000 a year or more to say “no comment.”

That’s $50,000 a word.

Some companies employ whole teams of apparent mutes.

I call them “Radio Shack PRs” because they could be replaced, without any loss of functionality, by a recorded message on a Radio Shack answering machine.

“Hi, you’ve reached the company’s media relations department,” the message would say. “We’re never in our office, we don’t know anything, and even if we did we wouldn’t tell your readers. You could leave a message, but why bother? We won’t return your call anyway.

Have a nice day!’ What do these people do with their time?”