I am sending a copy of Hartman's article to all my clients with the suggestion they call him directly. I am telling them not to worry whether they have a story, just talk about how great their companies are, and Hartman will take an hour or so with each to explain what's good and what's not, and what the magazine wants.
All magazines suffer from the deluge of untrained and inexperienced people entering the public-relations ranks. In their defense, those people are constantly being pressured by clients and employers to keep calling because "we got to where we are by being aggressive." The problem is less that they waste Hartman's time than that they fail to stand up to their bosses.
So I thank Hartman for a solution that makes everyone happy. He will be happy with all those calls. Company presidents will be happy to have a way of talking to INC. And PR people are off the hook with both.
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.