One day last week I was stuck in an all day meeting. Sitting at a conference table, eyes not on me but I certainly had to behave. I could sneak a look at my phone every now and then, but for the most part I had to be good. (Some of you were quite entertaining during my hiatus — thank you.)
Oddly enough there were also no computers that I could use in the building. That’s about as far off the grid as I like to go.
At one point in the meeting I got a Direct from a close twitter-friend (I won’t name her here since she’d likely blush for the rest of the day, but most of probably know who I’m referring to. If not, D me.)
Anyway, the message itself had a link pointing to a ‘security’ problem with my identity.
Explanation: For those of you who don’t know, my real identity is a very close secret. There’s a small handful of followers/friends who know my real first name and they don’t know who else knows it and know not to begin using it with me in conversation.
That is the cause of all the masked events, etc.
I do take this seriously, going so far as to have separate cell phones, email accounts, even paypal accounts for my identities (more on how to maintain a secret identity in a future post). When necessary I have other smoke & mirrors to pull out if I need a ‘real’ person to exist.
Anyway, obviously I was in a bind, and while I do have exit strategies for almost any fiasco, being stuck in a meeting wasn’t part of any of those plans (it is now).
Arms crossed, looking down while typing I asked this person drop a note to the person who could fix it. Certainly an odd request to begin with.
- Within 5 minutes of my request I got a note that she would.
- Less than 20 minutes after that I got a CC of the email sent.
- Less than 40 minutes after that I got a Fwd of the reply saying it had been handled.
- I stopped sweating.
The point of this post (besides so much navel gazing we all do on our blogs)? And “Is there a PR discussion in here? It’s tagged ‘PR’ Cog…get to it.”
This person, who I consider a real friend, not only let me know about the problem, but was able and willing to help handle….no make that singlehandedly handle it when I was in a bind — all in just over an hour.
Not only had she proven herself a good person and trustworthy in the past, but this went above and beyond – this is someone I know is reliable and can depend on in nearly any situation and someone I would go out on a limb for myself.
Can we all say the same thing?
- How many unanswered emails are in your inbox? I’ve got at least 3 I know of in my PR Cog account, and 2-3 more I need to initiate.
- Through your career, how often have you not called someone back on time (perhaps because the client told you to dodge or because it was a small outlet). Did you apologize afterwards?
- When was the last time you (either on your own or to cover for the boss) pushed back on a deadline for a “barely honest” reason?
- How many weeks have you been saying, “I’ll get to it later this week” to something started 3 weeks earlier?
We’re in a business where the client’s time is money (and possibly a few hits), the journalist’s time is coverage, and our own time is not ours from 9-5 (or whatever hours you work).
The best parts of this –
- There’s no experience required to do it, or teach it. Everyone from the intern to the CEO can master it and teach it to the other.
- There’s no learning curve — you can begin today and if you screw up, start over.
- It’s not a zero sum game — we can all do it and win without taking anything away from each other.
- It works in all sectors, at all agencies, and you can take it with you without it taking up space in a cardboard box.
Do the hacks on your call list know they’ll get a callback? The client an answer that’s not a dodge? The intern their shoes back? Once those members of our audience stop considering us reliable we’re of minimal use to them. In this quickly changing time and tone of our industry there are a few things that are still completely under our control — this is one of them — and we owe it to our audience and industry.