Into the black hole: pressroom response times

7 September 2005

A survey of online pressrooms conducted by IBM in Spain has found that, for the most part, the companies responsible are OK at publishing information like press releases. Unfortunately, the staff behind them seem to be shrinking violets with little inclination to answer even simple emails. You will need to scroll down to page 78 of the report or so to find how bad things can get and it is not pretty.

For the report, the IBM team found a reporter to go and ask the companies a few simple questions using the email address or web forms provided in the online pressroom. Seventy per cent of the companies could not be bothered to reply. French companies stood out even among this sorry lot with a 100 per cent no-response rate. Even among those that managed a reply, two out of three took three or more days to come up with any form of answer.

The survey tried to probe one or two reasons for the failure. In 8 per cent of cases, the published email address was just plain wrong. The report does not say what happened with the other 92 per cent of non-respondents but I can hazard a guess. Suffice it to say that if an online pressroom does not have named contacts with email addresses, I will often ring the company rather than type something that will probably disappear into write-only memory. That is the case even if it means using directory enquiries or some other way of digging up a useful phone number. The alternative is simply being prepared to write three messages in succession, assuming that there is sufficient time to do that and still leave time for an interview to be set up.