Gini Dietrich

How “No Comment” Has Edelman In Trouble

By: Gini Dietrich | January 25, 2011 | 
116

Uh oh. Edelman is in trouble again…this time over a media request from Ragan about Best Buy On. Mark Ragan, who most of you know if you’re in the PR industry, asked one of his reporters to contact Best Buy to interview them about their new On, the new “magazine” they’ve created for customers. Mark, like a lot of us, see the trend of companies becoming publishers and wanted to know more about what Best Buy is doing in order to provide a case study to his readers.

A seemingly simple request that Best Buy (and Edelman) should jump all over because a) it’s an unsolicited request for an interview that will make them look good and b) it provides the opportunity to take a leadership position in content marketing. Mark, according to his words, admits Ragan isn’t the New York Times, but they do have more than a quarter of a million readers. Pretty darn good exposure, if you ask me!

Here is, according to Mark, what transpired earlier in the month:

Wednesday, Jan. 5: Reporter Matt Wilson sends an e-mail to address on Best Buy’s media contact page. He receives an auto reply stating that someone would reply within “one business day.” So far, so good.

Friday, Jan. 7: Matt calls phone number listed on contact page to follow up. No one answers, so he leaves a message on voicemail.

Monday, Jan. 10: The PR agency Edelman responds, but sends information on Best Buy’s new buyback program—not the video network.

Matt responds to clarify that he’s preparing a piece on Best Buy On. The agency responds by sending Matt a link to an Advertising Age story. Matt replies that he’s read the AdAge piece but still would like to interview someone.

Tuesday, Jan 11: Edelman rep tells us in a one-line e-mail, “Unfortunately we do not have anyone to comment on this.”

Come on! And we wonder why the PR industry has such a bad perception? Two steps forward; four steps back, it seems. My guess is this was a junior-level employee who didn’t know the right way to respond and was busy so didn’t take the time to think. But then the employee’s VP, Ryan Richert, had to step in and write an apologetic email to Ragan (which he published and you can find at the end of the story).

Coming from the big agency world and then starting my own company, one of the biggest complaints I often hear from clients and prospects is that people running their accounts on the agency side are too young and too inexperienced.

We have an intern program, but those young professionals don’t have contact with the media and they don’t have contact with clients. They first learn the basics of their jobs and, after three promotions (account coordinator and assistant account executive) to account executive, they begin to interact externally. I believe this is one of our biggest key differentiators, when it comes to competing with the big agencies (and one of the reasons they love to hire someone who has worked for Arment Dietrich). And, everyone here, no matter their level of expertise are taught clients first, then media (which includes bloggers), then everything else.

It’s not that hard. A reporter wants information and comes to you for it, you help them. It’s your job. And, like Ryan says in his apology email, if you can’t provide the information, you explain why, not leave it with “Unfortunately we do not have anyone to comment on this.” Where I come from, “no comment” is not allowed.

Thanks to Shelly Kramer for sending me the original story yesterday morning.

Thanks to Kerou for the image.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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116 Comments on "How “No Comment” Has Edelman In Trouble"

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johnfalchetto
5 years 6 months ago

Still there is hope, some agencies will tell their clients they suck.
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/washington-media-group-tunisia-pr-firm

johnfalchetto
5 years 6 months ago

Still there is hope, some agencies will tell their clients they suck.
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/washington-media-group-tunisia-pr-firm

JulioRVarela
JulioRVarela
5 years 6 months ago

Here is the issue in my opinion: brands don’t see this as value yet. Like I tell people, do you want to be on a site that gets 600-700 unique views a day? No? What if you do the same interview with 30 of those blogs? That’s 21,000 views a day and 600,000 a month and 7.2 million views a year. Does that work for you?

JulioRVarela
JulioRVarela
5 years 6 months ago

Here is the issue in my opinion: brands don’t see this as value yet. Like I tell people, do you want to be on a site that gets 600-700 unique views a day? No? What if you do the same interview with 30 of those blogs? That’s 21,000 views a day and 600,000 a month and 7.2 million views a year. Does that work for you?

bdorman264
bdorman264
5 years 6 months ago

No, that would be a ‘come on, man’…………..

Too corporate, too layered up, no one wants to take responsibility in fear of losing their job. Everything moves so fast you still need to be responsive in a non-negative way. With the advent of social media it doesn’t take long for word to spread, good or bad.

Differentiators, that’s what it is all about; it is what we strive for in my industry as well. We don’t want to look like ‘all the rest’.

bdorman264
bdorman264
5 years 6 months ago

No, that would be a ‘come on, man’…………..

Too corporate, too layered up, no one wants to take responsibility in fear of losing their job. Everything moves so fast you still need to be responsive in a non-negative way. With the advent of social media it doesn’t take long for word to spread, good or bad.

Differentiators, that’s what it is all about; it is what we strive for in my industry as well. We don’t want to look like ‘all the rest’.

BobReed
BobReed
5 years 6 months ago

Readership comparisons are simplistic and ignore the value of how complex and interweaved conversations are now. The value of every voice confirms the efficacy of the Long Tail.

BobReed
BobReed
5 years 6 months ago

Readership comparisons are simplistic and ignore the value of how complex and interweaved conversations are now. The value of every voice confirms the efficacy of the Long Tail.

rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago

I think it simply comes down to customer service over all – no matter who it is you provide the best answer and customer service you can – if you don’t know the answer tell them you will get back with them ASAP & go do your research!!

Needless to say…somebody’s in trouble now…wouldn’t want to be the person that didn’t take the time to figure it out!

rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago

I think it simply comes down to customer service over all – no matter who it is you provide the best answer and customer service you can – if you don’t know the answer tell them you will get back with them ASAP & go do your research!!

Needless to say…somebody’s in trouble now…wouldn’t want to be the person that didn’t take the time to figure it out!

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 6 months ago
I don’t know why, but I’m still amazed at this. In this day and age, particularly for a company as big as Best Buy, and an agency as big as Edelman, this should never happen. Mindboggling. This is one of those situations I’ll be sharing with my college students as I teach a Social Media Marketing course this Spring. What it comes down to is that you can have the most customer service and social friendly company in the world, but you have to make sure the agencies,and others that you hire, share that same philosophy. They need to be… Read more »
KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 6 months ago
I don’t know why, but I’m still amazed at this. In this day and age, particularly for a company as big as Best Buy, and an agency as big as Edelman, this should never happen. Mindboggling. This is one of those situations I’ll be sharing with my college students as I teach a Social Media Marketing course this Spring. What it comes down to is that you can have the most customer service and social friendly company in the world, but you have to make sure the agencies,and others that you hire, share that same philosophy. They need to be… Read more »
lisagerber
lisagerber
5 years 6 months ago

It strikes me as an issue of just not being prepared. and it goes back to the big agencies and corporations, as you mentioned – they are not nimble and able to respond to the unexpected. Putting a junior level person in that position aggravates the situation.

lisagerber
lisagerber
5 years 6 months ago

It strikes me as an issue of just not being prepared. and it goes back to the big agencies and corporations, as you mentioned – they are not nimble and able to respond to the unexpected. Putting a junior level person in that position aggravates the situation.

lisagerber
lisagerber
5 years 6 months ago

@johnfalchetto holy cow!!! if that isn’t an extreme, (albeit very real-life and very appropriate) case study on firing your client, I’d be hard pressed to find one anywhere!

lisagerber
lisagerber
5 years 6 months ago

@johnfalchetto holy cow!!! if that isn’t an extreme, (albeit very real-life and very appropriate) case study on firing your client, I’d be hard pressed to find one anywhere!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@JulioRVarela I agree brands don’t see it like that BUT if the PR firm (Edelman) knows the value of a media outlet (Ragan), why don’t they have the ability to counsel their clients on the value…just as you’ve outlined it? I’m 99 percent certain it’s because an inexperienced person is answering the Best Buy media inquiry emails.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@JulioRVarela I agree brands don’t see it like that BUT if the PR firm (Edelman) knows the value of a media outlet (Ragan), why don’t they have the ability to counsel their clients on the value…just as you’ve outlined it? I’m 99 percent certain it’s because an inexperienced person is answering the Best Buy media inquiry emails.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@lisagerber @johnfalchetto Holy cow is right! First of all, why is any American agency working with a nation in such flux (but I guess that’s beside the point)? But best of all…haven’t we all wanted to tell a client to go jump off a bridge in a very public way? This is awesome!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@lisagerber @johnfalchetto Holy cow is right! First of all, why is any American agency working with a nation in such flux (but I guess that’s beside the point)? But best of all…haven’t we all wanted to tell a client to go jump off a bridge in a very public way? This is awesome!

mikecollado
mikecollado
5 years 6 months ago
For such an important (and budget-consuming) marketing strategy, it’s interesting that companies and their agencies tend to fail on the basic blocking and tackling. Who knows how many chances to influence a discussion or do damage control have been lost because those opportunites fell into a balck hole or were bungled at the point of contact… Oh, and I can top “no comment” – as a tactic to dodge a journalist who was pursuing an unflattering story, our team was counseled by a junior-level PR account manager to not say “no comment” but rather to promise but never deliver a… Read more »
mikecollado
mikecollado
5 years 6 months ago
For such an important (and budget-consuming) marketing strategy, it’s interesting that companies and their agencies tend to fail on the basic blocking and tackling. Who knows how many chances to influence a discussion or do damage control have been lost because those opportunites fell into a balck hole or were bungled at the point of contact… Oh, and I can top “no comment” – as a tactic to dodge a journalist who was pursuing an unflattering story, our team was counseled by a junior-level PR account manager to not say “no comment” but rather to promise but never deliver a… Read more »
johnfalchetto
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich @lisagerber Sorry not directly relevant to your post, but when I see PR fails I also like to point out some wins. This is one.

johnfalchetto
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich @lisagerber Sorry not directly relevant to your post, but when I see PR fails I also like to point out some wins. This is one.

TravisMClemens
TravisMClemens
5 years 6 months ago

Wow! I can’t believe anybody would think that’s a proper response. Too often, people are scared of journalists, so they try and avoid them. That only makes the situation worse.

TravisMClemens
TravisMClemens
5 years 6 months ago

Wow! I can’t believe anybody would think that’s a proper response. Too often, people are scared of journalists, so they try and avoid them. That only makes the situation worse.

punchakpr
punchakpr
5 years 6 months ago

I have to stand up for this junior PR person. Yes, they definitely made a mistake. But this mistake could have been easily avoided if Edelman had a mentorship scheme or something similar in place. Quite likely this person is only writing, not asked to listen in (let alone participate) in strategy meetings, and is charged with a limited variety of tasks. No wonder they overlooked the opportunity.

punchakpr
punchakpr
5 years 6 months ago

I have to stand up for this junior PR person. Yes, they definitely made a mistake. But this mistake could have been easily avoided if Edelman had a mentorship scheme or something similar in place. Quite likely this person is only writing, not asked to listen in (let alone participate) in strategy meetings, and is charged with a limited variety of tasks. No wonder they overlooked the opportunity.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@punchakpr Totally agree with you! I didn’t want to get into the issues with the big PR firms and mentorship, but that’s precisely why we don’t give you access to the external world until you’re an AE. You just haven’t had the time to develop the expertise until then.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@punchakpr Totally agree with you! I didn’t want to get into the issues with the big PR firms and mentorship, but that’s precisely why we don’t give you access to the external world until you’re an AE. You just haven’t had the time to develop the expertise until then.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@TravisMClemens I think you’re right…so many of us look at media relations as cold calling or sales and never have the proper mentorship to do it right…and build relationships.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@TravisMClemens I think you’re right…so many of us look at media relations as cold calling or sales and never have the proper mentorship to do it right…and build relationships.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@mikecollado Wait. You were counseled to never return a call?! Did they want you to go through the firm first?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@mikecollado Wait. You were counseled to never return a call?! Did they want you to go through the firm first?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@lisagerber I wonder, too, if they decided internally that Ragan wasn’t worth their time and that was their response? Or were they just not able to get someone on the phone (which leads to a bigger issue)?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@lisagerber I wonder, too, if they decided internally that Ragan wasn’t worth their time and that was their response? Or were they just not able to get someone on the phone (which leads to a bigger issue)?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller Such a great point! It’s about a culture fit and about business growth…as partners, not as company and agency vendor. If Best Buy wants Edelman to answer their media inquiries, my guess is there is a process. Likely Best Buy decided Ragan wasn’t worth their time, but there should have been an explanation. And that goes to inexperience more than anything.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@KenMueller Such a great point! It’s about a culture fit and about business growth…as partners, not as company and agency vendor. If Best Buy wants Edelman to answer their media inquiries, my guess is there is a process. Likely Best Buy decided Ragan wasn’t worth their time, but there should have been an explanation. And that goes to inexperience more than anything.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@johnfalchetto Totally agree! I’m tired of all the PR fails.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@johnfalchetto Totally agree! I’m tired of all the PR fails.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@bdorman264 Come on, man! 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@bdorman264 Come on, man! 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@BobReed So, so true. You never know where dismissing 250,000 readers is going to end up netting a gazillion negative impressions.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@BobReed So, so true. You never know where dismissing 250,000 readers is going to end up netting a gazillion negative impressions.

punchakpr
punchakpr
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich Your training scheme makes a lot of sense. I’ve experienced both ends of the specturm (great mentorship and none at all), and nothing can replace good mentorship and training. Most of us junior PR people realize this too and try to find more senior people to lend us a hand.

So, if there are any PROs who have a junior working for them and happen to read this – why not invite them to your next planning meeting?

punchakpr
punchakpr
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich Your training scheme makes a lot of sense. I’ve experienced both ends of the specturm (great mentorship and none at all), and nothing can replace good mentorship and training. Most of us junior PR people realize this too and try to find more senior people to lend us a hand.

So, if there are any PROs who have a junior working for them and happen to read this – why not invite them to your next planning meeting?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@rachaelseda You’re right – someone is in trouble! But I like that Ryan responded to Mark and apologized (even if it might be seen as too late). Not being there, my guess is it’s somewhere between what @bdorman264 says about not wanting to get in trouble and what you say about doing your research. Perhaps Best Buy didn’t want to speak to Ragan…there is just a better way to handle it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@rachaelseda You’re right – someone is in trouble! But I like that Ryan responded to Mark and apologized (even if it might be seen as too late). Not being there, my guess is it’s somewhere between what @bdorman264 says about not wanting to get in trouble and what you say about doing your research. Perhaps Best Buy didn’t want to speak to Ragan…there is just a better way to handle it.

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich @punchakpr This is a larger scale version of what I hear from businesses that don’t want to give their employees access to Facebook. “We don’t trust them”….A) what does that say about your hiring practices, and B) what does it say about how you have trained them?

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 6 months ago

@ginidietrich @punchakpr This is a larger scale version of what I hear from businesses that don’t want to give their employees access to Facebook. “We don’t trust them”….A) what does that say about your hiring practices, and B) what does it say about how you have trained them?

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