The Most Powerful PR in the World – Bad Word of Mouth

Posted by Alexander Irving under Building Authority, Editorial Insights, General, Ramblings, The PR Mindset

At Lightning Speed in Today’s World.

We just got our October issue of Beauty Industry Report (BIR) and immediately noticed Editor Mike Nave wrote the ‘Guest Columnist’ column himself this month.  That’s unusual.  Obviously, he had something important to say.

Mike’s topic was about bad PR.  He was annoyed.  Annoyed enough to need to share it.  I reprint it (with his permission) in this post because there is no link to his ‘subscription-only’ newsletter on the web.

This is an excellent lesson in ‘silent’ bad PR.  Mike isn’t making public the name of person who was the straw that broke the camel’s back that kicked his pen into gear, but when asked, he was willing to share it … with a friend … off the record.

The Lesson?

It’s what you do, not what you say, that is your best, and worst, PR.  And, just because your name or company doesn’t appear, doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. Good … or Bad.

Mike Nave publishes The Beauty Industry Report (BIR).  It is the only executive newsletter serving the professional beauty industry, including manufacturers, reps, distributors, associations, chain salons, day spas and top independent salons, with behind-the-scenes information about the people, products and companies meaningful to its readers.

Mike is also a 40 year veteran consultant in beauty industry marketing, sales, distribution and industry communications including e-commerce related activities.  You can contact Mike at

Although Mike’s newsletter is not written to salon owners, stylists, colorists, nail techs and estheticians, it is without a doubt the best source of ‘insider information’ you can find for ‘who is doing what (and to whom)’ in the professional beauty industry.  You would be wise to consider subscribing.

Here’s the editorial …

Please Return My Call!

I hope it’s not a sign of old age, but my patience level is lower and my time has become more valuable, as I have less and less of it.  As a result, I feel compelled to write about appropriate good business practices or just plain common courtesies related to responding to phone calls and email.  Not responding either to a phone or an email message is bad business in any economy; in today’s climate, it’s suicidal!

I am sure you, like me, get some emails and voice messages to which it’s clear there is no value in responding—an email from Nigeria saying you’ve inherited millions of dollars or a message from someone pitching Genie Garage Doors. However, it’s mind-boggling to me how a number of beauty industry executives simply do not respond to any form of communications.

There have been a number of times I have called a company to request specific information and received no response.  I have no problem with responses, such as, “I am not interested,” “This is the not the right time,” “I am not the right person to answer that,” that are straight communications.  I’m talking NO response at all.

When email was invented, I thought one of the big advantages was the ease with which it provided the recipient to respond quickly, and I dove in head first. In retrospect, I made a mistake in assuming that this “improved” method of communication would eliminate the past phone calls that were not returned. It hasn’t, and the heart of the issue is low tech and basic—it’s all about courtesy.

I shared my thoughts with Greg Sheperd, PhD, the dean of College of Communication at Ohio University, who made the following observation, “I think some folks believe that technology so changes the character of communication that the rules of politeness we know so well, and follow in face-to-face interactions so naturally, somehow no longer apply. But they do.  Just because the social encounter is now initiated through email, it doesn’t mean those rules can be violated. A non-reply still suggests you and your wants don’t matter to this person. And you are, as a result, almost sure to be ticked off. No matter the manner of communication, ticked off people typically don’t become good customers, make good employees or remain good friends.”

If you find yourself being bombarded with emails and, out of frustration, find yourself just ignoring or deleting them before you even read them to get them out of your inbox, you might find that my approach is helpful to you. Under the ‘all mail’ folder section in my Inbox area of Outlook, I set up three separate folders: Hot Emails (respond in 24 hours or less); Warm emails (respond within 72 hours); Cold Emails (answer whenever or delete). With this system, I can quickly manage my email list without feeling overwhelmed.

I close with this quotation:

“Even if I am busy when I come to my office and there is a note that says somebody has called, even if I have five minutes to spare, I call back,” says Vladimir Putin, former president and current prime minister of Russia. I cannot believe there is anyone in the professional beauty business who is busier than he is.

How do you feel about people who do that?

Please Return My Call!

3 responses to “The Most Powerful PR in the World – Bad Word of Mouth”

  1. lynn says:

    A very good reminder for us all! The problem is how to address “overload” in e-mail and even sorting sometimes doesn’t work. Some days I just long for the days of snail mail and regular office phone calls that were less intrusive and compartmentalized. Those are the days when I get 100+ emails while out for a morning of meetings, and wind up in overwhelm when I return at 2 pm. Oftentimes, they are from a group of people (a network or club or professional organization) responding to issues in rapid-fire succession . . . simulating conversation, but NEVER ONCE picking up the phone. There has got to be a better way . . . . .

  2. I get around that number as well Lynn, especially with the blogs I follow. We’re all suffering email overload.

    One of the difficulties with being a ‘solver’ instead of a ‘stater’ is that staters can dash off short emails stating the issue saying “we need to discuss it” instead of “when are you free to talk to discuss this?”. Solution replies take forever to type (and you have to figure them out all by yourself).

    Suggestion? How about a reply you send that says, “too much for email…call me tomorrow morning/afternoon at 2pm.”. Do that often enough and people will get the message.

    At least you do reply. 😉

  3. kathleen says:

    I agree with Lynn on the “NEVER ONCE picking up the phone” part…the actual voice you hear enhances any conversation.
    And I like Alex’s “too much for email…” response; gonna use it!
    Yeah, at least you do reply!