I was recently invited to attend a dinner hosted by the California Olive Committee, well at least I thought I had been. The public relations firm handling the event was quite possibly the most unprofessional and unorganized bunch I have ever come across and unfortunately it reflected poorly on the California Olive Committee. Here’s what happened and I have to say that it left a bad taste in my mouth.
2:28 p.m.: Received an invite with a personal note as follows:
Hi Michael ,
Would love for you to join us next Wednesday night!
-Signature <name removed>on behalf of the California Olive Committee
I thought okay, the event is next week so why not go? I write back the following at 3:51 p.m.:
Hi <name removed>
I would love to attend — my office is a block away. One question though — given my food allergies (gluten and shellfish) will there be a problem? I don’t expect to be able to eat everything (totally used to that) but just wanted to make sure that there would be some options. Just thought I would ask.
I received no response until 7:53 p.m. the same evening (I had actually not expected to hear back until after the weekend) and it was a form letter thanking me for my interest in attending but stating that there were no spaces left. Huh? Now I fully understand that space if often limited but let’s face it – I was likely a late invite asked to fill a space that opened (and that is absolutely fine). But, if you are going to invite a person in any capacity you should give them more than an hour or so before giving away their space. I responded questioning how it is possible to be invited and uninvited in about an hour and have only received radio silence since.
I am also thinking that because my response detailed my food allergies that perhaps it set off an alarm with the organizers but you know what…just say so. I am always upfront about my food allergies and if there was a problem I would have hoped that the organizers would have addressed them rather than just sending a cold, generic “thanks for your interest” type e-mail. There are protocols for handling events of any scale and clearly the folks I dealt with could use a refresher course.
So California Olive Committee, while I do love your olives, I also thought you would like to know how you are being represented by those contacting people on your behalf.
Note: Just found out a dear friend and fellow blogger was also invited and shares the exact same food allergies as I do and also got a generic thanks for your interest response. Beginning to think they just could not be bothered by food allergic guests.
Update 6/27: Nearly three days later, finally heard back from the PR company that they had an internal communication issue that resulted in more invites going out than dinner spaces. They did try to apologize but I am afraid it is too little too late. Enough time wasted on this…moving on.