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.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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