It would have been wrong of me not to comment on the Sir Martin Sorrell news this week, so rather than continue the trend of saying how wonderful he was – undoubtedly he was a fantastic businessmen who transformed the ad industry and developed a business that consistently delivered revenue and profit – or how he was difficult to work for, I wanted to pick up on something he did that really resonated with me and links seamlessly with something I have seen over the last couple of months.
In all the times I met or spoke with Sir Martin, while editing Media Week, he was always very pleasant and when I moved to Festival of Media he was always open to speaking at the events and working out he or his team could be part of the event. But the one thing that stuck with me was his ability to get back to every email sent by a human – maybe he got back to some bots too – as soon as was possible, and the fact that he didn’t mind handing out his email in front of 1,000s of people at conferences was really refreshing.
Not only that, but it’s a reminder that manners are free and it’s courteous to reply to people no matter how short or long the answer is. Yes we are all busy, but it’s important to take the time to remain courteous and polite to those that ask questions, or from whom you have previously requested information or services.
In an industry obsessed with delivering transparency we need to take a long hard look at how we deal with one another first in order to find a solution to this problem. I find it remarkable that in the last few weeks the number of people who lack basic manners, or don’t have honest intentions has risen considerably.
What do I mean by this, well over the last few weeks there have been a number of cases – in our company and in other businesses – where information has been requested and deals have been agreed, only then for the requester to go silent and not reply to emails, phone calls, or any other type of communication.
What then happens is the chaser spends time and effort attempting to regain contact with the requester, when a simple reply from the requester would have sufficed, whether or not it is positive or negative response.
Everyone is an adult and old enough to take both good and bad news, so don’t be scared. It’s much better to have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ instead of the silent treatment before the inevitable ‘no’ weeks or months later, which more often than not leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s about being a responsible adult.
Effectively it’s time for everyone to be honest and open, and then perhaps as an industry we can move forward and begin to understand how we can then create a more transparent sector to work in, but first we need to follow the Sorrell mantra and be as courteous as possible.