I sure hope newly-declared gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik didn't clear his schedule this morning to talk with radio and TV stations across the state about his candidacy--because it won't be happening. Seconds after Gronik announced his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination in 2018 via an email press release, Governor Scott Walker sent out a fundraising email to his donor list claiming Gronik is "out of touch"--and that was literally the case on Tuesday.
That's because the contact person listed for Gronik's campaign was not answering her phone--all day. We tried calling the number from the Newsroom 12 times between noon and 6pm. Every time it rang ten times. Then a recorded message told us that the person with that number had not set up a voice mail account--so we couldn't even leave a message. Email was a dead end as well, as the announcement came from one of those "press@" addresses that doesn't actually go back to a real, live person--but just serves to send out scheduled emails.
Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon in our field nowadays. We receive plenty of press releases via email with contact people and numbers--only to find out that "they are on vacation this week and won't be back until next Monday--and they are really the ones you need to talk to". I usually picture these PR folks sitting on a beach somewhere or at an airport terminal typing out these press releases--and sending them to us before flipping their laptop closed and going back to sipping on a mai tai or boarding their plane. Obviously, they are using the programs that can schedule when you send an email--even if you are not on your computer at the time.
But it still begs the question: Why "alert the media" if there is no possible way for us to get ahold of you to talk about what you thought was so important in the first place?
It's actually a bit of "old school print mentality" mixed with "new school PR techniques". Back in the day when newspapers drove the media cycle, you could provide them with a printed "quote" and they would use it word for word like they actually talked to you. PR folks are still comfortable with that--as it doesn't open anyone up for follow up questioning that might require getting away from talking points. The modern touch is to send out a high definition video--or an "edgy" selfie--that we are supposed to use for "electronic media purposes".
It turns out that Andy Gronik did an "exclusive interview" with the Associated Press yesterday--that the rest of us are supposed to use for our stories. I'm just surprised they were able to get in touch with him.