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".
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.