Hartman's opinions about public relations are his own, but his experience with PR people are hardly unique. After a while, most journalists tend to view PR people not as resources but as obstacles and annoyances. That may be unfair to true PR professionals, but it is a fact. We should also point out that Hartman did not equate publicity with PR: his column was about the process by which one company got its story in INC. Nor did he endorse "pay for placement." Rather he said he didn't care how Roth got paid; what mattered was that Roth did his job well. As for his invitation to company owners to contact him directly, well he says he's coming up with some good stories.
You may recall a column Paul Hawken wrote for us a few months back on the subject of problems in business. Businesses will always have problems, he argued, so you shouldn't even try to eliminate them because you can't. Rather, the goal should be to make sure your company has good problems as opposed to bad ones.
Well, this month, we have a good problem: too many thoughtful letters from readers. That's certainly better than having too few, but it is definitely a problem in that we don't have room to publish all we'd like to. Instead, we'll have to settle for a sample, with apologies to those writers we don't mention.
What surprised us most was the overwhelming response to three articles in our April issue. We often get flooded with mail about one piece -- Jim Koch's "Portrait of the CEO as Salesman" in March, for example. But seldom do we have two articles, let alone three, that strike a letter-writing chord among large numbers of readers. It was also interesting to note how different was the response to each article. Our cover story, "Heartbreak Hill," clearly touched deep emotions, eliciting some of the most passionate letters we have ever received. We've decided to feature them in our new Focus section (below). In the future, we will be using this section each month to conduct a dialogue with readers about a specific issue raised in letters to the editor.
There was also a torrent of mail in response to Curtis Hartman's public-relations column, "Behind the Scenes," and virtually all of it came from PR people. One caller said Hartman deserved a Pulitzer Prize. Most of the others thought he deserved a pie in the face. Overall, the indictment of Hartman ran to four counts:
4) Companies would be crazy to do their own public relations, and Hartman was crazy to suggest it.