Rant Against Voicemail Day
I was scrolling through the lunch-time HARO email the other day being a good book publicist looking for stories that might be applicable for my authors, when one query, about people who hate voice mail, caught my eye. (Yes — an article is being written about people who hate voice mail.)
Once upon a time, around the time Attila the Hun was laying waste to the Urals, voicemail was indeed a handy tool. Then came email. And text messaging. And call logs. And Twitter. And the carrier pigeon. Perhaps not quite in that order.
Chronology aside, I’ve noticed people who leave me voice mail messages tend to fall into one of three groups:
1) People I know / have worked with. Which is fine, because not having to painstakingly listen to a message (sometimes multiple times) to catch a phone number and / or address really sweetens the pot.
2) People who can’t be bothered to write an email message. I’m not surprised when I call someone and they pick up the phone sounding like they’re in a rush. I do feel a bit put out, though, when someone calls me and theysound like they’re in a rush — you’re making me take time out of my day to talk to you and all you want to do is … not talk to me? These people tend to leave voice mail messages along the lines of, “My name is John Doe. I’d like to interview your author Jane Smith. Call me back at 555-1212.” And so commences a highly inefficient and even more annoying game of phone tag in which you have to figure out, in the most time-consuming manner possible, availability, interview details, contact information, etc. (Hint: this information can all be transmitted in one email message, although it would take, say, more than 10 seconds to write.)
3) Interns and assistants who’ve probably never used a land line until their current position, but who’ve been told by their superiors to “call the publicist” for a copy of a book / to request an author interview or other information. Sometimes, those of us born before 1980 prefer email too, especially when you have a lot of detailed information to impart.
Although I may be particularly outspoken about voicemail, you know there are others out there who agree — like some of the journalists we pitch, for example (or literary agents receiving hundreds of queries from writers). So for those of us working in book publicity (and those of us not), we should think before leaving voicemail messages: does it make sense? Sometimes the answer is “yes,” but don’t assume that because it’s easy for you to leave the message that it’s easy for your recipient to get it.