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According to the Institute of Public Relations, 70% of the PR workforce is made up of women. This means that most cases of “inappropriate” behaviors that I hear about involve females. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard of male PR professionals being harrassed too — it’s just that most victims have been women. Regardless, when the PR workforce puts their cell phone numbers on everything they send out you can see where the opportunities for deviant behavior exists.
One of the things they don’t teach you in your public relations courses is how to deal with stalkers. This isn’t to say that PR practitioners are celebrites (in fact, most PR people will tell you they prefer NOT to be in front of the camera, but prefer working “behind the scenes”), however, they do develop a “following” of sorts.
We teach our PR students to be accessible to the media and their publics at all times. Often, this means putting their cell phone numbers on news releases sent to reporters, social media releases posted on websites and on business cards handed out to anyone they network with. This accessibility can often result in the wrong kind of attention -usually in the form of blocked number harrassing phone calls, hang ups or heavy breathers.
Despite what the media and movies tell us, stalkers are not cool.
So this post will address a few things that PR professionals can do to deal with “stalker-y” types who get ahold of their cell numbers.
*57 Call Trace
This is a feature provided by your telephone company. If you begin getting you can report it directly to the authorities using *57. Keep in mind that *57 only works from a landline. If the person is calling your cell phone then you can call your cell phone service provider and have them put a trace on your phone. Both options result in the number being reported to local law enforcement.
Blocking Private Calls
This is a service provided (usually for a fee) from your phone company. This makes it so that any anonymous or private phone numbers will not be sent to your phone.
Reverse Phone Lookup
Want to find out who is calling you? Do a reverse phone number look-up. This only works if the caller’s number is shown (with no caller name) on your phone — it won’t worked for private or blocked calls. This video from Chris Rempel discusses how to do a reverse phone lookup.
Get the Low-Down on Your Stalker
Afraid your stalker is trying to take the step from harrassing phone calls to getting to know you personally? I’ve had a few people who knew “a bit too much about me” when introduced. As in, more than what is printed on my resume or website. This spooked the heck out of me. Turned out, this person had been calling my phone and hanging up for months, had asked friends about me and had taken the next step by meeting me and introducing himself.
Want to become more informed about your stalker? This lovely site, Spokeo.com, can help you find out more about him/her (for a small fee). It can tell you your stalker’s age, gender, address, email, occupation, neighborhood, income, education, ethnicity, photos, social profiles, etc. It can also tell you their online shopping behaviors, magazines they purchase, movies they rent, etc. This information can be used to identify a stalker. Simply drop into conversation recent movies you have watched and see if they match….
Finally, if you want to give your stalker a taste of his/her own medicine, might I suggest a little thing I call “tech revenge.” Put your stalker’s phone number on blast on your own social media. Recently I received phone calls in the middle of the night from an unidentified number. I put the number on a Twitter post using the hashtag #techrevenge. Several people re-tweeted it and some even called it themselves. Nothing like pranking a stalker:)