April 17, 2009

     Returning a phone call is the basic business practice necessary to stay in communications with potential business partners, competitors and just to gather or receive Intel.

It seems that in the US Hispanic advertising, marketing and media Industry we have pick-up many bad business practices over the years, but not returning a phone call is right up at the top of the list.

Many vendors servicing the US Hispanic Market advertising industry will testify to this.

What most people do not realize is that they are EMPLOYEES.  Very few are owners of their own companies, business owners do return phone calls since it could immediately impacts the bottom-line.  EMPLOYEES do not realize that that at some point in their career they will need the network of non-returned phone calls.

Good rule of thumb, return calls within 48 hours.

Many times they need the network of not-returned phone calls more than the repetitious list of returned phones call.  Especially when they lose their jobs.

How many of you have received a call from someone asking about job opportunities after they have been fires or laid-off that never returned your calls?  Sure you remember!

You are never too busy to not return a phone and do not pre-judge a call.   It could make you a hero at work or get you your next promotion.  In our case, the US Hispanic Guru.

I have a list of people I would like to air out in front of all of you, to see if they are on your list as well.

One thing I have learned in 25 years in the business that everything circles back around.

Nobody is indispensable, untouchable and self-sufficient.

Not returning calls is NOT OPTIONAL.

Do you have any non-returned phones calls?

Gene Bryan


Are you keeping a score card? What is the criteria for these not-returned phone calls? Do they get 3 chances? 2 chances? Are you such a stalwart that you only give them one chance? I do have to agree with you as a whole. COURTESY and CAMARADERIE is quickly losing it's foothold as a standard in business. I don't want to admit that the times are changing for the worst but these things are definitely not priorities these days. I propose starting a campaign for being nice full of rainbows, unicorns and little sparkly stickers that smell like strawberries. (/sarcasm) Maybe what needs to be done is to out the flagrant offenders and maybe the ones that just forgot will take the hint. Thanks for the food for thought gene.

Gene: I know you have raised this issue before and it's a sore subject with many people. The bottom line is that it is very poor business etiquete not to return phone calls at some point. Everyone is very busy and with all the technology that we have at our fingertips it is just unprofessional. It takes a few seconds to text or e-mail someone and say "hey I am really busy right now with a project but how about if we talk in a week, a month or 3 months. There are individuals at agencies that I have called on for 6 or 8 months straight without a return phone call or e-mail. I might have important information that would make their job easier or an opportunity that they can present their client to show them that they are looking on their behalf but nothing. You would think I was pitching snow boots to an agency. I recently called to make an appointment with an agency and the reply was that they were busy in vendor meetings for the entire month of April. What am I ? The biggest lack of respect and unprofessional behavior is when you travel hundreds of miles and an appointment is cancelled or they relegate you to someone that buys local when I am selling network? Very frustrating to say the least. However we cannot broadstroke everyone with the same brush. There are many professionals in our industry who do return phone calls and really show an interest in what you have to say even if it's not a fit. My recomendation is that those executives pass along the good manners that they have to the new up and coming young turks!

You hit the nail on the head, and let's not even talk about unreplied/ignored emails. Maybe the communication schools should start offering Professional Courtesy "101".

Totally agree, hope people listen to the comment and change.

Thank you Gene for pointing this out. In my experience, I have witnessed that those who return phone calls are usually the ones that have risen higher in the ranks because they understand the importance of business etiquette in that area. They are the ones who have made friends and acquaintances and have built a reputation of professional integrity and courtesy. They are highly respected in the industry. Unfortunately, those that do not return calls are usually at the lower levels and they have a lot to learn in that area. If they would only understand that their lack of courtesy is hurting them in the long run, it would make such a difference in their career advancement. When you return calls, even just to say it's not a good match, you express that you regard that person enough to call them back and you have made a friend. Even if it didn't work out, that person will respect you for your professionalism. It's all part of bulding your brand. How do you want others to think of you? Let's all take the time to pick up the phone or write a quick email with a response. It only takes a minute or less but that responsive impression will last a lifetime.

Amen! After 25 years on the client side, I moved to the media sales side of the business, and I am amazed at the rudeness of my former peers. I may leave 3 or 4 voicemails and send half a dozen emails without a response of any kind. I would never think of behaving in such an unprofessional manner to anyone - I always return calls and emails even if just a brief email note. I long ago learned that good vendors were just about as important as good clients - and that my success was often built on the capabilities, insights and access vendors brought to me. I am active with several professional organizations - AMA and AdFed - and it never ceases to amaze me when those impossible-to-reach folks show up at a networking event looking for a job. And they're going to have a hard time finding one because they have failed to build a network of professional colleagues and have not showcased their talents through industry leadership and volunteerism. The morale of the story - be courteous and respectful to those who have taken the time and interest to contact you - you might well learn somthing of value, access new information and capabilities, and eventually meet someone who can add value to your business and personal and professional life. I've met many of my best friends, colleagues vendors and even customers by returning phone calls and emails. Hope to talk with you soon!

Gene, Thank you for having the gumption in addressing such an important, sensitive and much ignored subject. If I was to forward the list of offenders it would be long (and I am sure not surprising). I completely understand the nature of our business and how things seem to be put off for "mas tarde" . Yet, there is no excuse for poor etiquette. At the end of the day it is the relationship that does make the difference. Where it is easy to share the list of offenders (and gratifying), maybe it would be more productive and impactful to highlight the opposite. The individuals who go over and beyond consistently returning phone calls and engaging. Trusting that by doing so it would set an example and a message to our industry on where the standards should be. Ideally everyone in our industry would want to be on the Good list. Why not make it a competition and provide an award during the AHAA conference? Top of my list on proven outstanding communicators would be: Roberto Orci/Acento Robert Spallone/Conill Gustavo Carvajal/TVP Gracias for an engaging Blog

Never will understand why someone doesn't return a call. Especially when that person may help you or hurt you someday. No one gets that many calls!

I'd rather get an email than a call anyday, since I can respond to them at my leisure. However... the tone and substance of the call will definitely affect the return ratio. I get calls that only say "Hi, I'm Joe, from ABC Media, please call me at 555-555-5555" and, in many cases, the caller speeds through the phone number, making it almost unintelligible. What do you think are the chances of that call getting returned. Now compare it to "Hi, I'm Joe Smith, at ABC Media, I'd like to take 1 minute of your time to tell you about a new publication we're launching. My number is 555-555-5555, again, Joe, from ABC Media, at 555-555-5555. Thanks". Those calls get a 100% return ratio. I'd say, you want calls returned... make sure you make the call returnable.

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