In working on my story about pro athletes who chose to remain in Western New York for the long haul, I enlisted the help of several teams’ PR departments.
I first reached out to the Detroit Red Wings to get in touch with team executive Scotty Bowman. The first word I got from the team was 24 hours later, when Bowman called me on his cell phone while driving to the NHL awards in Toronto.
I couldn’t track down Rick Dudley, so I reached out to the Chicago Blackhawks’ PR department. Some 48 hours later, in the midst of the frenzied first day of free agency – when the Hawks scooped up former Sabre Brian Campbell – Dudley called me for a 20-minute talk.
When I reached out to the Buffalo Sabres, I received one e-mail address (Larry Playfair, who never returned multiple requests for comment) and that was it. A similar query to the Sabres Alumni Association resulted in me submitting an e-mail questionnaire for them to distribute, and one player responding (Ric Seiling, who lives near Rochester and gave answers too short to use in the story).
Now, if two out-of-town clubs could get me people in such short order, would it hurt the local PR representatives to try a little harder? I realize we’re not the primary newspaper in town, but we still reach a lot of people, and such a lack of effort only makes them look bad. By helping us, they only would have made themselves look better, but it wasn’t to be.
The Bills’ PR office did better, as they got Mark Kelso for me, gave me Jim Kelly’s contact info (he declined the interview request) and tried unsuccessfully to get Thurman Thomas for me (they did not provide me info for him). Still, the effort is appreciated.
While I’m on this subject, let me express gratitude to Kelso, Harry Neale and Steve Tasker, all of whom were more receptive to phone calls made to their home, in some cases without prior notice. And thanks to everyone who took time with me during this three-part celebrity series, which was fun to write and I hope was fun to read.