Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
Marcom & PR: Discretion, not Thanks, defines the Equation
February 17th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
Those who play in the world of big business are fully aware of the risks: Layoffs are part of the landscape. Yahoo is currently organizing a reduction of upwards of 1500 people as part of an attempt to put its financial house in order; the oil giant Schlumberger is letting ten thousand go, per the company’s January announcement; and Silicon Valley’s original anchor tenant, HP, is in the process of letting tens of thousands go as that organization attempts to right its own ship of state.
These pink slips notwithstanding, there is another type of layoff that is also part of the ebb and flow of big business in the modern era: The small layoff, the letting go of an individual or a small group within a larger department, not for performance issues but because the company has decided to go in a different direction. And it’s within this type of thing that folks in Marcom and PR often get caught up, yet nobody talks about it.
Because absolutely no one knows better than the folks in Marcom and PR that when they are let go, their future employment depends on their utter and complete discretion, their ability to keep a stiff upper lip and move on, their willingness to embrace the pink slip, pack up their desks, surrender their employee badges, and head for the exit with grace and style. Or, if they are employed by an external PR agency, to do the same without even the benefits of a severance package.
I mention all of this because, as a journalist, it is not unusual to receive a notice from a Marcom or PR someone who is moving on. Their email is always gracious and well composed. It often lets me know who, going forward, will be my contact within the company they no longer serve, and it almost always includes personal contact info for the individual so we can stay in touch. After all, networking is 99-percent of the solution for finding more work. In addition, the farewell email almost always thanks me for our past encounters and praises my work.
None of this is easy for the person whose paycheck is now in question, but nonetheless the Marcom/PR person who has been let go makes it look as if it is. And that should not be a surprise, because making outreach and communication look easy is what these folks specialize in.
Remember, these are the people who grease the skids, who arrange the meetings, who prepare the company employee who is about to face the press with info for the interview, and who sit in during the interview, taking copious notes and providing careful guidance for the conversation. Particularly if the company rep leaves out an important point or is presented with an unexpected question. The Marcom/PR folks are also the ones who keep an eye on the clock, close out the meeting at the appointed moment, and offer to be quick and effective if any additional information is needed by the journalist after the fact.
Most importantly, it’s the Marcom and PR folks who infuse the company rep with courage prior to the meeting, and the meeting itself with courtesy – gently and constantly encouraging all involved to conduct the discussion with dignity and good cheer.
At this point in my life as a journalist, I have conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews – most of which were organized and choreographed by the folks in Marcom and PR. And because of that, I know for a fact the bulk of these interviews have been prompt, informative, and effective thanks to the efforts of the people who assembled them and made them happen.
Over these last few months, a number of the Marcom and PR people I have worked with through the years have moved on – with or without the benefit of a pink slip. I would be less than discreet if I actually named any names, but many of you reading this know who some, or possibly all of them are.
And hence, it is the intent of this brief blog to say thank you to these people. To let them know that their professionalism and positive contributions to the evolution and continued success of this industry has not gone unnoticed, by this author or the thousands of people who have depended on them to get the story of that evolution and success out there. To help craft and maintain the public face of the companies we report on, so the image of those companies is maintained at 110-percent at all times.
I cannot adequately communicate the respect I have for all of these people. They write quotes for company press releases and get no attribution, they write press releases and get no attribution, they write whole articles and get no attribution, sit in on meetings and act as if they are not there, and deal with all manner of fallout when things do not go right.
It seems a thankless job from where I sit, but the truth is – when it comes to Marcom and PR, it’s discretion and not thanks that defines the equation and I cannot change that.
Except this once when I say to all of you, thank you. I have been very grateful for all of your help over the years, and continue to be so. Best wishes for your future endeavors.
Tags: Marcom, PR