Friday, April 24, 2009

What to do when your email goes down

This week we had a brief email scare.
Email issues are scary for anyone but to a publicist, an email hiccup is akin to a stockbroker losing his trading software to a power surge or a rural mailman losing his alternator on the first leg of his shift--tough to do your job well without it.
But it wasn't always this way--when did we start to rely so much on email as publicists?
Over the past year I have marveled at how much our jobs as publicists have changed. You know the reasons--from media conglomeration to social media platforms--being a good publicist now is as much about being a savvy social media advocate and strategist as it is giving a great phone pitch.
However, when you look at how much publicity has changed over the past 5-10 years, we have transitioned from an environment of almost exclusively phone pitching (don't forget the old fax pitch!) media contacts to email pitching.
Email is the perfect medium for pitching because it allows publicists to get their media contacts all the information they need in a format that they can manage amidst deadlines and other pulls on their time.

So, when a publicist's email goes down--even for a short period of time--it is a stressful event. As an author or publicist, what do you do when you have email problems?
Here are some tips for making the most out of a brief email hiccup:
- Write! We used our brief email hiccup to catch up on press materials for a number of campaigns. Email has a way of becoming a distraction throughout the day and having some down time to work on new pitches, press materials and other documents for our clients was a blessing.
- Get on the phone. We used the email issue as an excuse to talk with a number of media contacts. Although email has become a convenient way to pitch, it doesn't provide the same level of personal communication that a good phone conversation does.
- Catch up on projects that have gotten behind. Again, email can be a distraction and you can use the down time to catch up on projects that may have fallen behind.
- Use the hiccup as a reminder to back up your email files. Most of us use our email accounts to do more than communicate--we store information we know we will need at a later date. Thankfully, we backed everything up at our office but make sure you have similar protections in place.
Our world is changing--first email, then Facebook and now Twitter. For our parents it was letters, then phones and then faxes. We can get so caught up in these different technologies and the conveniences that they provide that sometimes we lose productivity in other areas of our business.
Our brief email issue allowed us to catch up on a few projects and reconnect with a number of media contacts over the phone. I think it was a blessing in disguise.
When your email goes down in the future, take a deep breath and look at it as an opportunity to catch up on other areas of your business.

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