Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Saying Farewell to Voicemail

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When was the last time you answered the phone when an unfamiliar number flashed across your screen? When was the last time you made a phone call to a customer service line instead of sending an email or tweeting at a company? When was the last time you ordered food over the phone instead of using Grub Hub, Seamless or another online portal? I can’t remember the last time I did any of the above. The truth is the way we communicate is evolving.

In this week’s Friday Five – PRSA’s take on the week’s biggest news stories – we’ll discuss the ramifications of companies shutting down voicemail systems and share four other PR lessons we learned this week.

Here’s what we learned this week:

1) Voicemail is Down for the Count

Corporate giants like JPMorgan Chase and Coca-Cola are shutting down their voicemail services for good. Why? Three very good reasons: nobody uses it anymore, eliminating the service simplifies communication and it will save companies money. In fact, JPMorgan Chase believes shutting down voicemail will save the company a staggering $3.2 million.

What will this development mean for PR professionals? In terms of media relations, it could have a potentially big impact on pitching. If the “send to voicemail” option isn’t available, will it be harder or easier for journalists to ignore PR calls? With companies ending their voicemail service, we will be sure to see an uptick in email pitching, which means PR pros will need to do more to get their pitch to the top of the pile.

2) Former Obama Press Secretary is “Lovin’ it” at McDonald’s

It seems like every day an Obama staffer is snagged by big businesses. This week Robert Gibbs, former Obama administration press secretary, was named EVP and Global Chief Communications Officer for McDonald’s.

Gibbs, who is no stranger to controversy, may have a tough road ahead of him. According to PR Newser’s Patrick Coffee, the company announced that its sales had fallen for the 12th straight month. Gibbs will be facing labor issues (including a push for $15 an hour minimum wage) and health issues, with many Americans rejecting fast food in lieu of healthier food. While it is true that PR can’t fix a bad product, it will be interesting to see how a consistent and strong PR push affects McDonald’s bottom line.

3) There’s a Right and Wrong Way to Say Thank You

Following an interview, good or bad, it is always important to follow up with a thank you note. We’ve been told this many times. Yet often we are stumped. What exactly should be included in that note? Is a simple, “thanks for having me” sufficient? Is reiterating my qualifications too strong?

Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman shares what not to do, including not using a template and not making any dumb mistakes. After an interview for a public relations job, it is important to reiterate your experience. If you don’t have a particular qualification, the thank you note can be a great place to explain how you will make up for this glaring hole in your resume. What are your thank you note best practices? Tell us in the comments section.

4) Airlines are Finding New Ways to Cost us Money

The airline industry is a social media target for consumers, regardless of fault. While airlines cannot be blamed for a delay due to poor visibility, they often drop the ball when it comes to customer service when dealing with delays, lost luggage, etc. They have also been accused of raising prices on services that used to be free, such as checked luggage, certain coach seats in good locations and snacks on board. Now, it appears that International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants to shrink the size of the luggage you can carry on for free.

The IATA says that the move is to ensure that all passengers will be able to fit their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments. This still, however may lead to more customer service issues for airlines who comply, because in essence, it will cost more to the consumer. They will either have to purchase new luggage that complies with the new size, or they may not be able to fit all their belongings in the new size luggage and have to pay to check it. Either way, I can’t imagine this will help airline industry social media become a more positive place.

5) Internships are Changing to Fit Millenials

When I think about my first internship, all I can remember is handing out flyers on a New York City street in atrocious weather and making a lot of copies. I learned a lot, but it certainly wasn’t my “dream job” and I wouldn’t volunteer to do that job again on my off days.

Golin CEO Fred Cook, however, is changing the face of internships with his “unternship” program, according to FastCompany. As a part of an entry level recruiting contest, millennials are asked what they would do with a paid summer internship that allowed them to travel and gain life experiences anywhere in the U.S. What did the winner do? He is skydiving, running a Tough Mudder race, living with an Amish community and riding a bull, among other unique experiences.  Will this make for a better PR pro? Only time will tell, but in the meantime we’ll be watching.

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

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