Tell your assistant to call the journalist and say something like this: “Hello, Sam. This is Helen LeBeau. I’m Peter Bigshot’s assistant, and he’d like to speak with you. Please hold.”
When I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor two decades ago, my blood started heating up when I took one of these calls.
If I wasn’t on deadline, I’d sometimes hold until Mr. Bigshot came onto the line. But sometimes I’d simply hang up. By the time he or his assistant called back, I’d already made a mental note that this guy was a pain in the rear. The poor guy didn’t have a clue that he had sabatoged himself!
The error was particularly egregious if he kept me waiting or if his assistant simply chirped, “Please hold for Mr. Bigshot.”
Sending an assistant to fetch a journalist sends the message: “My Boss is important and his time is valuable. We don’t want to waste it. But we have no problem wasting yours.”
Thanks to Wall Street Journal health blogger Katie Hobson, known as @KatherineHobson, for tweeting this tip and reminding me about how much I hated these calls. Also see: