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A creative blog by Tracy Larrua on The Whole 9

Tracy (or Trace, as friends call her) Larrua lives and works between Hawaii and L.A. A seasoned pr/marcom specialist who has worked primarily in the hospitality and entertainment industries, she enjoys teaching her “Get The Word Out” pr workshops and volunteering her time with non-profits. When not glued to her sassy MacBook, you can find her relaxing at the beach, enjoying live theatre, or at a BBQ with friends.

PR Pet Peeves

First, let me start out that I held back for awhile from even penning this.  But it happens too often in the realm of communications so I thought I’d bring the subject up.  What am I yakking about?  What can easily get my marketing blood boiling?  Well, its my PR pet peeves.  But hey?  I thought if I shared a few of them with you all, that maybe other folks out there could relate (because you know- in the public relations industry, you relate with the public) and might have some pr pet peeves of their own that they would like to voice.  So, I say we bring it out in the open.  Maybe something good will come out of this.

PR pet peeve #1:  Returning phone calls or emails in a timely manner (or at all).

What’s the deal with people nowadays?  Is it really too hard to ask to return a phone call, or an email, in a timely and professional manner?  Especially in a work or project related situation that is time sensitive?  Has the recession got you down so much that you can’t even tap a few numbers out on your smart phone?  I experienced that recently with a sort of famous person (through marriage) who I literally brought, on a silver platter, an amazing promotional partnership.  What happened?  This person never called back.  This person never emailed back.  I mean, you can take one minute out to say,”…Hi Tracy-  I just wanted to let you know that I’m slammed but have brought this info to the board for consideration…”  Instead, said person came back to me several weeks later stating that they were ready to get involved.  I then informed them that it was too late, and unfortunately, the opportunity went to… their competition.  You snooze?  You lose.

PR pet peeve #2:  Listening to your voicemail.

This one makes me nuts.  You see, the reason God invented voicemail, was so that when you can’t speak to the person you are trying to reach, you then have the opportunity to leave a brief (note, brief) voicemail stating your name, phone number, and what the message is regarding.  It may go something like this:  ”…Hi XXXX, it’s Tracy. I’m about to step into a marketing meeting for the rest of the afternoon, but I wanted to let you know that the client is interested and would like to receive a bid from you by Monday…”  That’s it.  See, voicemail was made to help make people’s lives a bit more efficient.  Instead, what happens is that the person who was supposed to get the message, looks down at their phone later, sees my name and that I’ve called, which then makes them just hit their re-dial button, so that they can call me back instead of listening to said instruction on voicemail, to say, “…Hi Tracy!  What were you calling about?…”  thus-  wasting more time.

PR pet peeve #3:  The miss-use of electronic gadgetry aka the cell phone.

Because our society has become so much more A.D.D. than before, and because people are on a “need-to-know-it-now!” basis, the cell phone, which was supposed to be our friend, has now kind of become… enemy #1.  Here’s an example:  Let’s say you’re sitting at a lunch meeting with four other colleagues.  Etiquette is that you simply announce that you may have to take an important call, and when the call comes in, that you will step outside to take said call.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  It seems that manners and basic consideration of other people’s time have gone out the window.  I’ve been in meetings where every single person has their cell phone on the table, as if it has a permanent place setting next to the fork and knife.  And if that’s not enough, instead of being present in the meeting, everyone is constantly looking down [note: see previous blog on "The Look Down Generation."] to make sure they aren’t missing out on anything.  Here’s my rule:  unless you’re wife is about to give birth, or some other similar emergency, you turn the phone off and pay attention.  Period.

Ok, I shared you mine.  Now share me yours;)

  1. I am right there with you with the cell phone thing. I always turn my cell phone off when I’m out for the courtesy of EVERYONE. I hate hearing people’s call in the grocery store, bank, walking down the street, and it’s even worse when you’re out with a friend and they interrupt your time together to take a call. Honestly, turning off my phones when I’m out is NICE — in this day and age it’s almost nice to seem unreachable, but most people I know like to know that they’re always wanted, and it’s so RUDE when I want to spend time with them in person.

  2. My pet peeves include:

    1. People who leave long and rambling messages at a snail’s pace and then when they get to their phone number they leave it at warp speed one time — ensuring that you will have to listen and re-listen (and usually listen a third time) to their damn message to get their number.

    2. People who return phone calls in which you asked for specific information and just say “This is such and such, give me a call.” No, how about you leave the info on my vm so I don’t have to give you a call.

    3. People who return emails that have a list of questions that need to be answered in a timely manner so that THEIR project gets done on time and correctly with an email that says “Sounds good.”

    4. People who are on their phones when they’re in public places (stores, post offices, banks, etc.) and especially those who can’t put their phone down to be courteous to someone that is taking their money. Have you ever noticed how these people are never talking about anything but the most mundane of things and are usually bitching about something or someone. Keep your gripes and your toxic energy to yourself people!

  3. Great read! I totally agree with you on all of these, but I really hate it when you do finally get a call back from somebody, that is supposed to be answering a question you left for them, but they instead end up just shuffling you off to ten different people with ten different answers, and you are even more confused about your problem that you were previously! That grinds my gears worse than anything. That, and I just love when I can overhear somebody else’s phone conversation because they are talking so loud that the whole world can hear them… It is like haven’t you heard of using your INSIDE VOICE! Oh and don’t get me started on War and Peace voice mails where the person talks so fast and give so much information you need to literally have a professional senior courtroom stenographer to repeat back the minutes for you!

  4. i think cellphone answering/texting options and email/facebook/etc. programs have made it ok NOT to be in immediate touch. and one of my pet peeves is when people sweat me because i didn’t jump and answer them instantly.

  5. thanks all for your comments. and yes, i am with you on all of these above!!! i know what you mean about how people sweat you when you don’t pick up their phone call that instant, etc. i often laugh at that because before, when you didn’t have cell phones, you left a message and then you called back when you can. but now, because everyone uses their cell phone as their landline, i think people expect that your phone is glued to your hip, or on 24/7. me personally? i use my phone during “work” hours. i also turn my cell off at night for several reasons: to re-set the phones settings and to disconnect from the world. hey, just because i have a cell doesn’t mean i’m having a relationship with it. its there to help with communication and the convenience, but it certainly does not run my life.

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