Who was right?
- Media Departments do not get recognized, rewarded, or goaled on helping college kids. They get their strokes from positive press in mainstream publications.
- Most professionals, especially PR folks, try to help out the college kid and donate time to do so, however possible.
- Media Departments and Executives at hot companies get SLAMMED beyond belief with emails and requests. They only way they can handle these is to prioritize and work ungodly hours. Even when doing both -- which is the norm -- they rarely leave the office with all calls or emails returned.
- All too often at hot tech companies, an "all-hands-on-deck" priority occurs for the media folk. Such priorities would bump a call from Obama, let alone a college student on deadline. Examples: an acquisition, and executive change, an earnings report, an analyst conference, or a new product announcement. When these things strike, the media folk often at work until midnight or later working doggedly to get the company's act, and message, together so they shine in front of the millions, or billions of folk who take notice when the news is out. PRIORITY ONE!
- When in the midst of especially slammed times, emails get shorter and more pointed by people who are generally giving and helpful.
What about Chelsea?
It stinks that she got handled in such a way. We all deserve more respect.
Kudos to Chelsea for calling the media department, following up and even sending an email to Steve Jobs!
I suspect this entire snafu could have been avoided if Chelsea's note had led more clearly with "what was in it for Apple" rather than "what was in it for Chelsea."
The timeless book,"How to Win Friends and Influence People"by Dale Carnegie provides a great foundation for how to get what you want in such situations. It should be required reading for all college students, and professionals alike.
As for Steve's curt reply, I get it. I've been in, and seen, the situation before. I understand what drives such replies -- not that I agree with them. (I once had a manager of mine tell a high maintenance shareholder to "sell his shares if he wasn't happy.") I like that Steve defended his media department, too. That said, I think we all agree that a different approach would have been ideal.
What's the Ideal Modern Approach?
It isn't telling the media department to take more calls, or even telling Steve how to reply to emails from the public better. I think it falls on re-exploring the modern "Media/PR Department" and truly respecting, from a business standpoint, the power of a single individual in today's networked age. Rank, geography, age, or size of media publication should no longer be the key factors determining who gets served and who does not.
The new model, I believe, broadens the role what is emerging now as company "Community Managers" within social networks. The new model respects the fact that the Chelseas of the world can have as much media "reach" as a mainstream journalist.
New Era. New Thinking. New types of departments to serve the needs of media brands of all sizes.
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What would such a modern department -- designed to handle the Chelsea-type requests look like in the future?
And as important, "What would such a department look like so that it could deliver a return on the investment for companies?"
Thanks for adding to the conversation. Companies of all sizes are struggling with this situation today. Trying to figure out the world of personal brands, social networks, Twitter-power, and the like, and somehow squish those new responsibilities into old-world department names like "The Media Department." We're all media today.
[Personal note: I spent about 20 years a high-tech spokesperson for a (mostly) hot tech company. Tonight, I'll be donating time to speak with a class of MBAs on how the thought-leaders of the business world are leveraging social networks for further success.]
- Polly Pearson
@pollypearson on Twitter