Last week I had an assignment that required me to contact a variety of organic pest control companies. Let me say right off the bat that a surprising number of them don't have any contact information for their media or PR person. This seems very strange to me. A company of any size should have a media/PR email address or phone number on their contact page, for those of us who wish to bypass the general mailbox and get what we need by deadline.
But–okay. I got through to most of them somehow. Then it came time to contact GardensAlive, and that's where things got really weird.
I had already begun thinking that something was amiss with this company. I've been ordering their organic fertilizers for years, not to mention assorted sprays and slug baits and what have you. For many years, I was actually quite a regular customer, placing an order once or twice a year.
So a couple weeks ago when I bought a potted citrus tree, I thought I'd get my citrus fertilizer from them, seeing as how they sell so many specialty blends. (Strawberry fertilizer! Root crops fertilizer! Fruit tree fertilizer!) The only problem was that the fruit tree fertilizer information said that it was formulated for "most" fruit trees. Well, if any fruit tree was going to be the exception, it would be citrus. So I called to make sure before I ordered.
And I got the call center. Sounded like India. And a customer service rep who assured me the fertilizer would be fine for my trees, until I pressed her on what "most" didn't include, and pressed her again, and finally she went and asked somebody and came back and agreed that, as I suspected, "most" meant "except for citrus and avocado."
So. I was already pretty sure this company had gone off the rails a little, and I wasn't surprised that the website gave me no media or PR contact information. No company headquarters. Just that call center phone number. Here's how the call went:
"Hi, can I speak to somebody who handles media or marketing for your company?"
"We don't have anyone like that. We're the call center."
"Well, can you give me a number I could call? A corporate office, maybe?"
"No, there is no corporate office number. You can write a letter and send it to (some address in Indiana)"
"Write a letter? I'm on deadline. How about an email address?"
"No, there really isn't. If you want to reach them, you have to write to that address."
"So let me make sure I understand. If you have a reporter on deadline who wants to interview someone about the company or the products, they have to write a letter on a piece of paper and put it in the mail?"
"Can you pass a message on to the marketing person for me?"
"We can't. And there really isn't a marketing person. We're a catalog company. We don't do any marketing or PR."
"So there's no one who would talk to a reporter anyway?"
A call center staffed by people who don't know the products? An outright refusal to give media interviews? No social media presence? I don't know–what do you make of this?