Toronto Mike'd is Now a PR-free Zone

I've recorded 236 episodes of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. Once a guest has agreed to visit me, we agree on a day and time to record. Every single time I've dealt directly with the guest, this has gone smoothly. Almost every single time I've dealt with the PR Rep instead of the guest, it's been disastrous.

I'm not referring to times my guest has had to clear their appearance with their organization's PR department. Every guest I've had from the CBC, for example, has had to do this and they've all been approved without an issue. I'm talking about the few instances I've only corresponded with a PR Rep.

The first time was when I had Ash from USS over. I arranged his visit with Ash's PR Rep. Typically, I like 60-90 minutes with a guest, but Ash's PR Rep told me I had precisely 30 minutes. Ash (and his PR Rep) did show up and we had a great 30 minutes. I actually stole an extra four minutes, but let's keep that between you and me.

It's been all downhill since then. When Christopher Ward was promoting his book about MuchMusic, I dealt with PR for the book to arrange his visit. I did my homework, loaded up my sound clips and prepared for Christopher's visit. It never happened as his PR Representative cancelled at the last minute because they "couldn't fit it in".

It was the first time a scheduled guest had cancelled. It ticked me off because I schedule my busy life around these visits and was essentially blown off for something bigger. To Christopher's credit, he heard of my disappointment on Twitter, pled ignorance and agreed to do a full episode with me via Skype. We left the PR company out of that one.

Then, there's what happened to me last last week. I had been dealing with Hugh Dillon's PR Rep about his appearance next week. Everything was set up when I received an email telling me I only had 30 minutes with Hugh. I phoned the PR Rep and pleaded for 45 minutes. She agreed. Then, I said "you're not going to blow me off for something bigger, are you?" She laughed and promised me she and Hugh would see me Wednesday.

The very next day, I received the email below. If you're not fluent in corporate speak, something bigger came along and the independent broadcaster in his basement studio got shafted. I won't hold my breath waiting for the "circle back".

hugh-dillon

I'm all but certain Hugh Dillon is ignorant to all of this, and I don't blame him personally. In fact, everything I've heard about the man suggests he's a great guy, and I was really looking forward to our conversation. After all, I'm a fan.

What I've learned from all of this is that my podcast never feels more like a job than when I'm dealing with PR Reps, and I can no longer trust a guest will actually show up when I haven't spoken to him or her directly. As a result, I will no longer play this game. If I haven't corresponded directly with the guest, I'm not scheduling the guest. Toronto Mike'd is now a PR-free zone.

This decision may cost me some big name guests, but it will help me keep my sanity and save me from aggravation. When you're an independent podcaster broadcasting from his basement, you know where you stand with these people.


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Comments (17 - click here to join in!)

Beatts

Excellent decision.

Don't lose the passion.

May 13, 2017 @ 9:59 AM

Mark H

That is probably a sensible position Mike. Keep getting guests who want to come in and it'll hopefully translate into more engaged guests and better numbers. Then you'll have the PR flacks banging down your door and you'll be able to dictate terms.

I guess if I was a dude who loved to give constructive criticism (and I am that dude according to my wife), I'd say rather than a blanked ban, I'd say just keep a list and refuse to do business with those firms that do not respect your time. At some point you're going to want the guests who are big enough to need those PR flacks and you should try to build those bridges with good reps who are respectful. It will become a symbiotic relationship where you build a rep as a solid place for their clients to promote and you'll get good guests who will translate into growth.

May 13, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mark H

There are so many firms, though... and I now feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football.

So long as I have some correspondence with the actual guest, via phone, email, text, Twitter, Facebook or smoke signals, I'll happily book them. :)

May 13, 2017 @ 10:06 AM

Michael Hum

Without a doubt, the entire interview would've been about what Hugh is doing now and in the future, not about his musical past. A pre-interview might have been in there too.

Too bad and good luck Mike.

May 13, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Michael Hum

In the rare instances I've dealt with PR Reps, I've never let them dictate the content. With Ashley Buchholz, for example, I asked him what I wanted to ask him and didn't seed a single question from the rep. I was going to do the same with Christopher Ward and Hugh Dillon.

May 13, 2017 @ 3:20 PM

Blind Dave

I wonder how many entertainers (using the word as a whole for the various industries) actually know & understand how much the PR policies tick off and alienate media, social outlets & fans.

PR. Another oxymoron.

Great decision, Mike. Live your passion! The guests who truly understand will be there.

May 13, 2017 @ 3:30 PM

Rob J

Never mind all that: Does this mean more, or less Elvis?

May 13, 2017 @ 4:07 PM

Lou Schizas

That's why they are referred to as PR hacks.

May 13, 2017 @ 4:44 PM

Rick C in Oakville

I'm with Mark H, don't close the door, it is just how the media world seems to work, even Humble and Fred get stiffed occasionally.

May 13, 2017 @ 4:45 PM

Cambo

So... any luck with Buck Martinez's "rep"?!

May 13, 2017 @ 11:10 PM

The Voice of Reason

Mike, does this mean that Irvine or Cheryl may be up coming guests?

May 15, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

Phil

Good for you Mike. Publicists are so 20th century both in attitude (pitting major media against the value of social and DIY media) and the service they provide. In my experience, artists become dismayed when they hear what is being done and said on their behalf.

May 15, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Cambo

I have yet to extend an invitation to Buck. It's not that I don't want to have him on, it's just that I've yet to figure out how to contact him.

May 15, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Arturo

Back in the day I was part of a big media campaign in which I had a media handler. All I can say is that it can be just as frustrating for the 'subject' to have a handler as it is for the media to deal with them. I didn't like not being able to talk to the media directly. I never got to do a pre-interview when I had the handler which was frustrating because a lot of the questions were out of left field whereas when I didn't have my handler, I felt much more prepared for the interview when I was able to speak to the producer/host before the interview. But I also felt restricted to. I always hated being on-camera looking out of the corner of my eye hoping my handler wasn't cringing. I also felt like the producers and talent was more relaxed when they weren't dealing with my handler. Needless to say I'm happy those days are behind me!

May 15, 2017 @ 7:01 PM

Cambo

@TM

Would Hazel Mae's rep be able to help you out, or perhaps Rogers themselves?

May 16, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Cambo

The joy of having Hazel on is that I never had to deal with her rep (if she even has one). I always spoke directly with her.

But you make a great point. Since we're friendly now, I should ask her to pass along my invitation to Buck.

May 16, 2017 @ 10:52 AM

Gary M

In a lot of cases, the celebrity claiming dismay at the PR person's actions is faking it. It's in the textbook under "good cop, bad cop".

May 19, 2017 @ 7:01 PM

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