Keep Your Word ... Credibility Is Everything
March 1, 2016
The word, "promise," is defined as a commitment by someone to do or not do something. Sometimes circumstances can cause someone to break a promise. It's unfortunate, but most times those who could not follow through usually try and make good on the original attempt.
Promises offer hope, smiles and a sense of a job well done. Such a verbal commitment to one person or many can potentially excite, sadden, demoralize, have a positive ripple effect, change plans for good or bad, or be a learning experience.
I learned early on in my career that the impressive credentials of others do not always lead to a solemn oath on the path of truth.
They Promised ... But ...
Whenever a promise might affect the livelihood of someone, I make it a point to follow through and not leave them hanging. I wish I could say that was always the case when I was on the receiving end of a promise. Years ago, a prospective employer flew me into a town and actually offered me the job. I was told everything was set and if I had any other questions to call on Monday. Well, after celebrating over the weekend, I called and asked a question concerning moving expenses. The owner had given me his private home number and his direct office line and had spoken to him before at both. The only thing I asked was how much they would contribute to my move and I was hoping they would cover all the costs. I also pointed out that regardless, I would be there and just needed a start date.
I waited for a couple of days and no phone call. I tried to call him, but both numbers he had given me had been changed. I then found out another guy got the job. Talk about being bummed out, not only did they renege on a promise, but I was never reimbursed for the plane ticket as promised. To this day I still have the cashed check I paid for the trip. I tried for some time to find out what happened; I did not demand anything and only asked a simple question. On occasion I still try and figure out what happened. In fact, I used to run into the owner at conventions and he still could not look me in the eye.
I can sympathize when a broken promise causes a domino effect and throws a plan off base. This week's column involves such a plan concerning an artist, an interview, and a publicist.
Tour Man: Recently I was out on a promo tour with an artist visiting radio stations, and things were going fine until the artist came close to giving me a heart attack by trying to back out of an interview with a big station.
Coach: How big?
Tour Man: Major-market big, I can't say or it would be my luck for it to cost me future opportunities to do promotional tours. I do this independently.
Coach: I understand, not that it makes a difference, but can you tell me what music format?
Tour Man: No, sorry, nice try.
Coach: Okay, how can I help?
Tour Man: In all my years, this kid seems to get it one minute and the next it kind of goes in one ear and out the next. I have had a lot of experience with concert and promotional tours, but this artist bothers me to a certain degree.
Coach: How so?
Tour Man: He's a person who seems okay on the surface, but he makes me uneasy. It's not a drug or an alcohol thing; I can't put my finger on it. But last month he almost cost me an industry relationship because my contact nearly lost his job over it. We had several commitments that day, but this was one was at noon. The artist was not sick or had company in his room, or at least as far as I know. I am sitting out front of the hotel and I get a call from his manager in New York saying the kid did not want to do the interview. We were already running late and I had just talked with the artist prior to the manager's call.
Coach: Was this the first time you had been out on the road with him?
Tour Man: No, and I had just talked to him on the phone. It was crazy. I had to make up a stall and call my friend and sensed something wrong. He had gone out on the limb to get this whole thing set- up. It was not just an interview, it involved the stations digital platforms and the PD had come in from vacation to do lunch as a special favor to my contact. It was about to be a mess when suddenly I got another call and things were fine; what the hell could have changed so fast? I am a pro and deal with a lot of crap, but this artist throws me off my "fix any situation" game.
Coach: Maybe he reminds you of someone or triggered an industry flashback to something that happened to you or around you?
Tour Man: My ability to last this long in the business is based on being able to read people and this guy is like a blank sheet of paper, I get no read on him and I have to work twice as hard to try and anticipate his actions. I tell you, I am exhausted and emotionally drained. Up until the little, "yes I will, now I won't, now I will" episode, I thought I had broken a barrier with him, but obviously not. I later tried to explain to him how bad it could have been if he had broken the promise of doing the station interview. There is a real disconnect and I am afraid if I go out on the road with him again, it could cost me my reputation. What do you think?
Coach: The only advice you need is your own, follow your mind, have a conversation with his manager and politely beg off any future road work with this artist.
Ramifications of Broken Promises
Our actions can affect more than just ourselves; you lose credibility and in business as in life, it's all we have. No one is too big or "too important" in the music or radio industries to break a promise without a good reason and an explanation of what happened. Think of others and not just yourself ... a promise is a promise.