Why You Will Never Get Hired at Our PR Firm

anne_buchananToday’s blog post is courtesy of Anne Buchanan of Buchanan Public Relations, our PRGN partner in Philadelphia, PA. Anne offers her thoughts about gratitude and courtesy during the interview process and always remembering to say those two important words that can make or break an interview: “thank you.”


Why You Will Never Get Hired at Our PR Firm

We had an experience today at our agency that has left us shaking our heads. Actually, what we experienced was what Yogi Berra famously referred to as déjà vu all over again.
The upshot is that a (probably unsuspecting…make that clueless) young lady has just ensured that she will never receive a job offer from our firm.
I am sharing this story to make a point. The point is: Everything counts. Especially when you are job hunting.
Here’s the story, which has repeated itself a number of times over the years at our firm. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Several months ago, I got a call from a friend of a friend. The FOF, it turns out, had a niece who is attending college locally, studying communications. Would someone at our firm, the FOF wanted to know, be willing to have an informational interview with her niece, to give her a sense of what a PR firm does and how she might best prepare for a career in PR?
We’re nice people. We try to help almost anyone who asks in the right way.
Of course she can contact us, I replied. Here’s my email address.
Several weeks later, we received an email from the college student, asking general questions about breaking into the business, applying for an internship, tips for her job search, etc.
I asked one of our senior employees to respond. She wrote a long and thoughtful reply to the student – three fat paragraphs worth. She also copied another employee who manages our internship program. She, too, wrote a lengthy reply to the young lady.
Neither received a single acknowledgement of their message. Not a thank you, not a that was really interesting and helpful – nothing.
Our employees commented on this at the time. You see, we remember these things. We remember how much time and thought we put into responding, and we notice when we don’t hear a word back.
Today, a new development in the saga: the same young lady wrote again. This time, she had a long list of questions she needed answers to – in order to fulfill a class assignment (BTW, this will be the subject of a future blog post…stay tuned!).
This young lady does not realize that she has no capital in the bank to finance this request.
We may answer her questions (tersely). We may even take the time to explain to her how her lack of common courtesy has doomed her permanently to the black list in our very detailed memory bank.
What we are unlikely ever to do is hire her.
The lesson is simple. You can almost never be too courteous. Thank everyone whose path you cross during your job search. (Yes, even the people who weren’t that helpful to you.) Thank them for their time. Thank them for their willingness to meet with you.
You never know when that person might be on the other side of a hiring decision or be in a position to recommend you.
PR people tend to have long memories. You don’t get far in this business if your recall is weak.
Make sure the PR professionals you meet with have no reason to remember you with anything other than positive thoughts.

What do you think? Has saying “thank you” become a lost art?  


Post your comments and thoughts below and email us at [email protected] and [email protected].

5 thoughts on “Why You Will Never Get Hired at Our PR Firm

  1. Anne — this is so true. Thank you! (And I’m not just saying that because you told me to) –Jordana

  2. Anne – I cannot tell you how on target this post is. I think technology has taught all of us some bad practices. We think technology can take care of everything for us. But we forget that the business of doing business – first and foremost – is with people. And people are human. A thank you goes a long way towards kindling a relationship (which is, after all, what public relations fosters). Thank you for reminding and educating all of us how important this simple task is.

  3. Ann – this is great. I honestly believe colleges need to start teaching business etiquette classes to graduating seniors—knowing how to communicate during the interview process is essential. It is also so important in day-to-day business practices as well. Today I sent a thank you note to a writer for mentioning a client and my thank you email helped generate another placement. That said a thank you can go a long way…

  4. Anne & David – sadly not an isolated case. This is an issue that crosses all borders. Being a master of technology does not remove the need for common courtesy – or for that matter the ability to communicate face-to-face, write well and pick up the phone to clients, journalists, stakeholders etc. Ahh, that feels better!

  5. Anne – always a good reminder, even though no one should need it. I find that a hand written thank you tends to go even further than an emailed thank you in many instances.

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