The Intern Review Process From Hell

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As with many companies and public relations agencies, the Yilmaz Agency had a six-month trial period before considering interns for full-time employment. This seemed simple and straightforward enough.

However, as with all things, the Yilmaz Agency had a skewed and crazier version of the standard intern review process. It was based on a 360 Review program where a group of coworkers is invited to provide feedback about a fellow employee’s performance. This is a departure from the traditional review method where feedback came from the manager to whom the employee reported. It seemed reasonable enough as the 360 Review is supposed to provide a more comprehensive overview of an employee’s performance across an entire agency or business.

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Yet when Lulu and Miriam tried to adopt it at our agency there was a serious problem, as they asked not only every full-time employee in the firm to evaluate a prospective intern hire, but they had fellow interns participate as well. So, they were asking young people, who still were learning the business, to determine whether we should hire a fellow intern. That made no sense as they had little experience in hiring or in knowing what made someone a quality public relations account executive.

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It also opened up the process to petty infighting among interns who were jockeying for long-term opportunities at our agency. Additionally, it left the door open to jealousy and other animosities where personal feelings among millennials, who were not fully qualified yet to judge someone’s work, could sabotage someone’s future career.

To add to the flawed intern review process, Lulu and Miriam asked everyone at the firm to provide feedback on an intern whether they had worked with them or not, which also corrupted the accuracy of the reviews.

This all came to a head during a six-month review of intern Liam Dahl, who worked with me at the L.A. office. Liam was overenthusiastic – almost to a fault – but his attitude was a breath of fresh air after the creepy indifference of previous intern, Don Caylak.

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Sure, Liam made some mistakes due to his inexperience, but he was a strong writer and showed real promise in media relations and actually secured placements for our clients. Liam also worked long hours and I had to eventually kick him out of the office when it was 8 or 9 p.m. It was a considerable improvement over Don who left at 5 p.m. every night no matter if there was still work that needed to be done.

Unfortunately, Liam ended up being a disloyal backstabber, but I will get more into that in the next chapter.

Despite my high assessment of Liam’s skills and his value to our agency, our co-workers loathed him. Maybe they were trying to get back at me, as I was also not well-liked at our agency. In Liam’s review, all of his fellow interns attacked his work, as did Molly in the NY office. Even that idiot Agnes, who didn’t even work closely with Liam, bashed him.

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I was furious and dumbfounded when Miriam showed me Liam’s internship review. She also had me read it in a meeting in front of Liam. It was beyond embarrassing. I objected to the rest of the team’s nasty evaluations of Liam and told her no one would know better than I whether Liam was a solid contributor to our agency. There was a lot of petty bullshit I read in my colleagues’ reviews of Liam’s work. Also, some of the fools that criticized Liam’s work were awful writers and couldn’t secure a top media placement if their lives depended on it. Additionally, I told Miriam it was ridiculous to have Agnes give feedback when she didn’t even work directly with Liam on accounts. Agnes was relying on hearsay or rumor in her case, which I told Miriam made the overall review process suspect.

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I had to fight hard against the objections of my colleagues, but eventually, Lulu and Miriam relented and Liam was hired. I also let them know that I thought the intern review process at our agency was deeply flawed and should be revamped or scrapped. I suggested that we should have top management make the call on hiring a prospective intern after talking to those the intern worked closely with, and evaluations from fellow interns should be either disregarded or not as highly considered in the hiring process. Lulu and Miriam reluctantly agreed and we went back to a more formal intern evaluation process going forward.

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However, no good deed ever went unpunished at the Yilmaz Agency.

Liam ultimately turned out to be an ungrateful backstabber, hiding his true malice toward me and the rest of the agency behind his smiling face.

 

The 10th Anniversary Debacle

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In her typical fashion, Lulu made a big deal about her agency’s 10th anniversary and drove everyone crazy about it. She put on an expensive party at a local hotel and invited a lot of people from the Chicago area, including our clients.

Our PR team had to treat Lulu’s anniversary as if it was a huge deal, too. She had us write a press release and pitch it aggressively to the local Chicago media, but also nationally. Not many of our media contacts cared, and Lulu, of course, was disappointed in the media’s overall indifference. However, we did secure some coverage in the local Chicago business media and in the Chicago Tribune, but Lulu was unimpressed. The prima donna was unappreciative as usual. We were taking valuable time away from other clients to pitch her fucking story.  It also meant I had to work with that idiot Agnes, who I mentioned in a previous blog, pushed all of the creation of the pitch to me last second. Lulu and Agnes completely revised my pitch into tepid garbage and overhyped bullshit about Lulu. The lame 10th-anniversary press release they had created was also not news to anyone but Lulu.

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I couldn’t help but wonder how Lulu’s agency lasted one year, let alone ten with her awful management style and constant stressful working environment. Maybe that was the real achievement, I guess. Lulu’s agency lasting in spite of her relentless ugliness and lack of support.

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Lulu praised and toasted us at the party, and said her agency wouldn’t have grown without our efforts but she didn’t seem all that sincere to me. We succeeded in our jobs despite Lulu’s lack of trust and encouragement, and I know this was the same before I arrived at her agency, as a lot of former employees had gone to work for larger agencies and corporations after they left her nightmare company. You could think of Lulu’s agency as a kind of boot camp for PR people — a miserable experience that made us tougher for our future career endeavors.

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The real problem for me at the anniversary started at the party when Lulu offered an open bar, but only finger food. We weren’t served a meal — I only had a slice of pizza earlier in the day — and foolishly, I drank too much champagne and wine at the anniversary party. I always make it a rule not to drink around work colleagues, especially freaks like the ones that worked at Lulu’s place. You can say something or do something that later will be used against you at work. It is best not to go there.

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Unfortunately, I did.

A group of my millennial colleagues arranged to keep the party going after the anniversary celebration at a nearby bar. I naturally wasn’t invited by these fools, including Agnes and Marissa. Palmer invited me along anyway much to the chagrin of Agnes and Marissa who were surprised to see me. I have no doubt that I was going to be a subject of mockery and derision along with Lulu and Miriam, but now they had to drink with me. Things seemed to go OK at first, but I continued to drink without any food foundation, as I like to call it. Drinking without having eaten was always folly for me and it was on this night as well. I don’t remember much about our agency night at the bar, but I do recall thinking at one point that Agnes, Marissa, and my other co-workers — except for Palmer — weren’t even cool and fun when they drank. In fact, their snotty, unfriendly and smug attitudes became even worse.

The next day I lamented partying with my younger co-workers as struggled through a horrible hangover at work. It was a nightmare.

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At some point, during a meeting about one of our healthcare clients, Agnes actually joked that “I couldn’t hang” in reference to my hangover. I laughed along with everyone else, but I was furious, as Agnes’ comment made me feel old and pathetic.

When I left agency later that day to return to Los Angeles, I knew something had actually changed for the worse because of my night at the bar, and my reputation and situation was already horrible at the agency. I felt old as I left for the airport.

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As I returned from the trip on the flight back to Southern California, I wondered how I was going to work the next ten days, let alone ten months or ten years, with such unsupportive colleagues at an idiotic agency run by a crazy fool, Lulu, and her sycophant, Miriam.

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It was a sobering and depressing thought, to say the least.

Lazy Millennial Whiners – “The Team Is Frustrated,” and A Regretful Outburst

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I have sadly worked with my share of lazy, arrogant and whiny millennials in recent years, but the young team at the Yilmaz Agency was truly in a class by themselves. They turned whining into a sad, pathetic sort of art form.

My younger colleagues, who were mostly based in our agency’s Chicago office, complained about the usual things such as working late, and on weekends, but they even bemoaned being tasked and challenged to do their jobs, including writing press releases, pitches, media relations, putting together media lists, competitive analysis, etc.

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Andrew’s constant refrain to me was the “team is frustrated.”

The young team that I managed for our sports app was headed up by Andrew and Agnes, the king and queen of millennial whiners at our agency who poisoned all the other young people on the team, including Marissa Aslan, the young Turkish woman who was Dane’s favorite, which I mentioned in an earlier blog. Marissa quickly became disillusioned as with the rest of the young team, and yet these entitled fools. were only starting their public relations careers. They hadn’t earned their hatred of the PR business as I had through years of disappointment, bad work environments, ugly clients, and terrible colleagues and bosses.

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So, naturally, this young group was difficult to manage and motivate, but Lulu didn’t help things with her scare tactics and heavy-handed management style. Actually, it was tough for us seasoned public relations veterans to take Lulu’s brutal honesty at times, but the young people at our firm freaked out over Lulu’s constant barrage of criticism.

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Even though they irritated me with their whining, the young people at my agency did have my sympathy as it related to Lulu. She was crazy and there was no easy way to deal with a boss like her except to eventually leave which many of our young interns and account executives did in droves.

Making the sports app account even worse to manage was an arrogant Indian woman named Payal Shiladitya, who ran the New York office before she quit and was replaced by Molly Paulson.

Payal was a shallow former entertainment publicist but came across as slick and articulate with an attractive British accent to hide her incompetence and how clueless she truly was. She couldn’t write worth a shit and her media pitches and press releases were also lame. It was soon apparent to me that Payal was also lacking in media relations skills. I had also heard from Lulu that Payal loathed working with tech and healthcare clients and it showed after a while in her writing and attitude.

The funny thing was when I first arrived at the agency Miriam thought Payal would eat me alive because she had a much stronger phone presence that I did in conference calls. Not surprising, as Miriam was a former local TV producer who championed slick performance over substance. Lulu and Miriam did praise Payal’s client relations skills in dealing with our crazy Turkish airline client, which was why I think they kept her around even though she came up woefully short in every other area of public relations.

However, it was how Payal tried to challenge my skills and experience and then dump work on me and the younger team with no consideration that began to piss me off.

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Payal also had no concept of teamwork as she was always trying to compete with me. The only problem was that she delivered no media coverage for our sports app client and tried to blame it on her lack of tech and sports experience and her heavy workload with our airline and housewares clients. We were all busting our asses so I told Lulu Payal’s complaints were lame.

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On a Friday, of all days, she dumped another last-minute pitch letter assignment on the team in Chicago. Andrew and several new interns called me to complain.

At the same time, Lulu was putting a lot of pressure on me to produce results for the sports app client and to manage the younger team’s dissension.

The following week during a team meeting on the sports app account I snapped and unfortunately berated Payal in front of everyone.

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“What do you think you are doing dumping last-minute assignments on the team?!” I asked angrily. “I know you’re swamped, but you don’t seem to have any consideration for our team’s workload. You keep passing off your work and saying you’re too busy to help. The team is frustrated with your attitude. Please don’t do it again without checking with me. OK?”

There was dead silence on the conference call line. You could have heard a pin drop.

“OK?” I asked again.

“I heard you,” Payal said coldly.

That was all she said before I quickly ended the meeting.

“OK.  Well, thanks for listening,” I said.

“Jake, Payal already left the call,” Andrew said. “Good job. Thanks for calling her out on her behavior. I hope she’ll change her ways.”

“We’ll see,” I said.

A couple of other team members also praised my outburst, but I was embarrassed by my unprofessional behavior. I should have told Payal privately about my dissatisfaction with her job performance.

When Lulu heard what I had done, she didn’t scold me, but in fact, laughed about it and said, “Jake, I didn’t know you had it in you.”

It was a page out of Lulu’s twisted management style, but my outburst I felt damaged my credibility with our young team, and they didn’t trust me after the call except for Andrew, who actually respected me more.

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I finally met Payal in person during my first visit to the Yilmaz Agency Chicago office about a week or so after the heated phone call. She had long black hair and was in her early thirties. Payal wore casual designer clothes as if she was trying not to overdress and be cool. When I first met her, Payal was talking Daniel Rizzo, a former TV producer and reporter that the agency hired for media relations, about the New York fashion world. I will write more about Daniel’s arrogant flakiness in a later blog.

It was hardly surprising that Payal was standoffish and borderline hostile toward me.

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I began our meeting that Miriam had set up trying to diffuse a potentially hostile and ugly situation by apologizing to speaking to her so bluntly in front of the rest of the team.

“It’s OK,” she said. “But why did you yell at me in front of the whole team? Why didn’t you just call me to talk about it? You made me look bad in front of our colleague…”

“I know and I regret doing that,” I said. “It wasn’t something I planned. My frustration got the best of me. I promise it won’t happen again.”

“Just call me next time,” Payal said.

Then Andrew weighed in.

“Payal, Jake was just expressing the entire team’s frustration. We feel you have checked out on the account and are passing on all your work to the junior people on the team without consideration of their workload.”

“I am surprised you guys feel that way, but I’ll be more careful about that in the future,” she said.

We concluded the meeting agreeing that we would communicate more openly with each other going forward. However, afterward, things only got worse as Payal withdrew even more from working on the account to focus on our larger clients.

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Not long after, Payal left our agency to return to entertainment PR. It was just as well as it was obvious to everyone at our agency that her heart was not into working on tech and consumer clients.

The whole sorry episode also showed me I was turning into the worst version of myself because of management pressure from Lulu.

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After that, I worked harder to avoid taking out my frustrations with the job on my colleagues. Although I must admit it was tempting at times, I didn’t berate anymore of my colleagues during meetings. I was already hated by many of my colleagues at the agency anyway, Why make it worse?

It wasn’t worth it in the end.

 

Cage Boy

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Lulu’s husband Lorne Whitney was also a piece of work. I privately called him Cage Boy as he used to be a UFC fighter years before. It was also a reference to his in-your-face management style I had the misfortunate to experience my last couple of years at Lulu’s firm. The worst thing of all is that Lorne was another obnoxious fool who knew nothing about public relations but he would still try to manage me on campaigns even though he wasn’t my boss.

Lorne was a tall, bald Caucasian man in his early forties with a muscular physique that he had maintained since his fighting days. He still looked the part of a fighter. Lorne seemed strangely distant when I first met him. I remember Lulu telling me that he hated to socialize, and not to take his cold attitude personally.

My first troubling encounter with Lorne occurred shortly after I joined the Yilmaz Agency. My small business magazine contact was looking for a cover story of their Orange County edition and asked me if I had any candidates. This was the same publication that featured our airline client in a cover story I detailed in my earlier blog about her photoshoot meltdown.

I ran the editor’s request past Lulu and she suggested Lorne would be a good candidate for the article. I arranged for Lorne to be interviewed for the story, and when the cover story came out Cage Boy was blown away. He sent me several emails praising me and he eventually had the article framed at his office and home.

“He’s never had anything like that,” Lulu said. “He wants to do something for you.”

I told her that it wasn’t necessary as I was just doing my job and trying to help her and him out. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but Lorne did.

I soon discovered the dark side of Lorne after he invited me as his guest to watch a UFC fight event that his company was putting on a Saturday night. I thanked him but I told him I already had plans and couldn’t attend. I actually didn’t have plans, but there was no way I was going to spend Saturday night with Lorne and Lulu after another horrible and stressful week at her agency. Fuck that. And on top of that, I am not a UFC fan.

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Lulu assured me that I didn’t have to go and it was OK if I had other plans, but I guess it was important to Lorne that I was there. He apparently was insulted that I had refused his invitation. After he sent me a short email saying that he understood and it was no problem, I never heard from him again for a couple of years. I didn’t care as dealing with his wife was bad enough.

As I soon discovered, no good deed went unpunished when it came to Lulu and even her family.

Fortunately, Cage Boy didn’t work with Lulu’s agency in my first couple of years there, as he had started a TV UFC company. Through years of public relations help and advice from Lulu, before I joined the firm, (not to mention free PR help from the agency staff), his UFC company was acquired by a large corporation for hundreds of millions of dollars. So now Cage Boy was rich, and he bought a huge home for him and Lulu in a gated community.  No doubt the money made him even a bigger asshole. Not surprisingly, he was forced out shortly after the corporation bought his company. Then he started hanging out around our agency, pretending to be a cool entrepreneur.

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Lulu told me she wanted Lorne to help us out to find clients and he started to join me and Lulu on new business meetings. Lorne would try to leverage his UFC business success to our potential new clients, who seemed impressed at first. Several clients that we secured from Cage Boy’s business leads soon realized he was clueless and it was all a front.

Lulu, unfortunately, started including Lorne in our agency’s client work. Lorne would say that “he knew nothing and that we were the experts” and then he would proceed to tell us how to do our jobs, specifically how to write pitch letters and press releases and new business proposals. He would put on the act that he was knowledgeable in business and PR but it was all an aggressive lie.

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Lorne was right – he knew next to nothing when it came to public relations writing, media and client relations — and he should have listened to our expertise. I wondered what he was doing there as he was only making a horrible situation worse.

The trouble began when Cage Boy edited and drastically revised our press release and pitch letter for a VPN client he helped us land. Cage Boy turned our creative but solidly written copy into slick bullshit writing full of hyperbole and claims. It resembled bombastic advertising copy, and he even included exclamation points, which I hate as you know from my previous blog.

He would tell me that my original version was great and that we were the experts of PR writing and then he would foist his lousy, hyped up copy on us. I didn’t know what to do as Lulu seemed to think it was OK.

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Then things got even more stressful when Cage Boy demanded we write five different pitch letters for our VPN client which was just fucking overkill. My team members in the Chicago office flipped out and I had to reassure them it would be OK, but I had to wonder.

Two days into the campaign, things took a turn for the worse when Cage Boy started pressuring us about securing media results.

“We got get them results right away or we could lose the client,” Lorne said in a panicked phone call.

“Lorne, we just launched the campaign. We have some promising responses, but securing media results takes time.”

“I know…but we have to be three steps ahead of the client,” Lorne responded. “You guys have to be more aggressive. I want a report every day on how we are making progress.”

“OK. The team is following up with the media and doing our diligence to uncover opportunities,” I said, thinking this guy was a fucking idiot. “We’ll keep you posted.”

I mean, come on. Cage Boy fucked up our PR materials and now he’s hounding us for instant results.  It doesn’t work that way. Media relations and PR were not like fighting in a fucking cage. You can’t finesse the media with a takedown move.

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Two weeks into their media campaign, our VPN client became unreasonable expecting instant coverage from top media such as the New York Times, L.A. Times, etc. They did this even though we had already received interest and coverage from several top tech publications including Mashable and TechCrunch.

Lorne didn’t defend our team’s work to our client and doubled down on his aggressive efforts to pressure us into securing media coverage. And, of course, Lulu didn’t support us either.

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Soon after, we lost the client over an email pitch fuck up by Chicago account executive Marissa Aslan (that I will describe in a later blog) and was relieved as I thought I wouldn’t have to work with Lorne again.

Unfortunately, one of Lorne’s business leads was the online video company that I mentioned previously had hired us to launch a PR campaign. Lulu wanted Lorne to take a hands-on role on the account, which led to more of his noxious micromanagement and pressure tactics. At times, working with Cage Boy felt like I was trapped in some horrible chokehold move. It was a deflating and suffocating experience as my long-time PR expertise was ignored and my creativity was stifled.

Then Lorne took it a step further as he tried to tell me how to speak to our online video client about a Wall Street Journal interview I secured for them.

I told our client that it took some convincing from me to get the reporter to sit down with an unknown startup company in a crowded tech space – online video – that was dominated by YouTube. I felt our client needed to know the work that went into securing a meeting for them with a writer at one of the top financial publications in the world. Our client’s CEO grimaced when I told them the writer was busy and almost canceled the meeting, but I persuaded her to sit down with them anyway at the paper’s New York offices. It was no surprise that our client was typical of many startups I have worked with where they think they have the greatest product or service ever invented and the media should just fall over themselves to cover them. Such delusional business attitudes run rampant in the tech world as I have discovered during the years. I’ve come to believe it is part of the DNA of those entrepreneurs that launch tech startups.  Apparently, this understanding eluded Cage Boy.

“You never tell a client something like that,” Cage Boy snapped when we got the elevator after the meeting.

“Lorne, I believe in being honest with our clients letting them know what the media thinks about their companies. I am not going to lie to them,” I responded.

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Who the fuck was this idiot? I thought bitterly as I struggled to control my anger. How would he know? Had he ever handled public relations at an agency? It was bad enough I have to deal with Lulu’s ignorant bullshit about PR and now I had to endure her husband’s moronic crap, too? I had been working closely with PR clients for decades and I knew what I was doing.

Lulu agreed with Cage Boy.

“You have to be more careful in speaking with clients,” she said.

Because of that incident, I was not allowed to attend any more in-person meetings with this client.

It also explained Dane Flynn’s hostility toward me concerning this client when he joined our agency a few months later. Cage Boy and Lulu no doubt told him about this incident with our client.

After a while, there were rumblings of discontent from my colleagues the Chicago and New York offices about how difficult Lorne was to work with. I also mentioned to Lulu that I felt Cage Boy was in over his head when it came to public relations work and I would prefer not to have to work with him directly.

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Lulu actually listened to us this time, and she decided that Cage Boy wouldn’t be involved in the day to day client work anymore and would only help us in new business meetings and searches.

I was more than a little relieved I wouldn’t have to work with Cage Boy anymore. After Lulu sold her agency the following year, Cage Boy wasn’t part of the deal. Last I heard Cage Boy was trying to put together a union for UFC fighters and he was getting pilloried by the sport’s leaders for being an untrustworthy scumbag who knows nothing about the fight business.

Mmmm…sounds familiar.

Cage Boy even put on a big showy press conference in the L.A. area to announce his lame UFC union.

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Even though I was actually based in L.A., Lorne preferred to work with people in our agency’s Chicago office and I was not involved in helping promote Cage Boy’s press conference. I knew by then Cage Boy was not too happy with my criticism about his work and attitude that I had shared with Lulu.

I didn’t care, though. It was just as well. From what I could tell nothing ever came from Cage Boy’s efforts. No surprise there. Cage Boy was like so many other clueless buffoons I had encountered during my PR career – so full of themselves and lacking in any real talent.

Cage Boy seems a fitting moniker for him in more ways than one.

 

 “I’m Full Greek”

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Of all of the smug and arrogant Millennials I had the misfortunate to work with at the Yilmaz Agency, Agnes Lekkas was in a class by herself.

Agnes, who was in her early twenties barely a year out of college, looked like a plainer, heavier version of the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” actress Nia Vardalos. Unfortunately, as far I can tell, Agnes didn’t have much of a sense of humor. What wasn’t funny was just how arrogant, condescending and difficult to work with Agnes turned out to be.

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I got my initial sad insight into this pretentious freak’s character during my first visit to the Yilmaz Agency’s Chicago office shortly after joining the agency. I had noticed Agnes had connected with me on LinkedIn and she said she was looking forward to meeting me during my visit. Agnes seemed nice at first. What a fucking joke.

After a horrible first day of my visit to the Yilmaz Agency Chicago office, where I had to experience in person the fools I was talking to daily on the phone with the sinking realization I had made a serious career mistake, I went with the team to a nearby bar. Strangely, most of the young staff, who had finally met me in person, remained standoffish and unfriendly toward me. Actually, they were borderline hostile even though they barely knew me. It felt like they had already judged me as another idiot. I was nice to them and gave them no reason to hate me, but I think they were angry at Lulu and taking it out on me. In fact, all of them, except for Lulu and Miriam, were young and barely out of school. It was like being at a bar with a Millennial clique but this was far worse. I had to work with these arrogant creeps.

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At some point, as I drank a beer (I didn’t order wine as I figured they might think it was a snobby, California thing to do) and wondered what I had got myself into, Agnes struck up a conversation with me. She wondered about my background as I look Greek, but I don’t have a Greek last name. I told her I was half Greek as my father was English and my mother came from Greece.

“I am full Greek,” Agnes remarked smugly.

I smiled at her, but I didn’t know what to exactly say to her strange comment. Congratulations, you arrogant fuck? Agnes’ response actually felt like a putdown, and yet it gave me a keen, early insight into her creepy, condescending nature.

I mean I was only “half Greek?” Was it a euphemism for her thinking I was only “half a person?” or “half a PR executive?” I don’t know. I never asked her, but let’s just say we didn’t have much to talk about after that. Even when she left and said she was looking forward to working with me I knew that was just a lie.

The “working part” with Agnes was even worse than I could have possibly imagined. Naturally, one of her close friends at the agency was the queen of the paper pushers, Molly Paulson. They were as thick as thieves in their mutual incompetence.

Agnes thought she knew a lot about public relations like Molly did but Agnes was mostly clueless when she started working on my team for our sports app client.

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Like many of her colleagues, Agnes was a mediocre writer, who drafted pedestrian press releases and lame, uncreative pitches.

Yet if you challenged her and tried to help, she would get defensive. I edited and marked up a couple of her lame press releases initially and she got offended. Unfortunately, Agnes didn’t listen as she continued to make the same writing mistakes despite my suggestions. So I just began to rewrite all of her writing and she eventually complained to Andrew, who was also on our team and told me she was frustrated with my rewrites, and even to Lulu. However, much to her disappointment, Lulu sided with me and told Agnes to improve her writing and to listen to me. That didn’t go over too well with Agnes, and it was the start of the rift that developed between us. There were other frustrating incidents where she would actually try to lecture me about media relations when I wondered why she wasn’t delivering results and doing basic follow up with the media. I mean I had been securing top media placements for decades. What was this idiot going to tell me about media relations?

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Maybe it was because it was me, and she regarded me with little or no respect, but Agnes always seemed to be talking down to everyone, even Lulu, during meetings and conference calls. Agnes was so fucking full of herself, it was almost laughable.

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Actually, after her dumb remark at the bar, I knew she was another fool that was going to make my job more difficult, but I had held out hope that my first impression could be wrong. It sadly wasn’t.

I began to dread working with her. Fortunately, after we lost the sports app client a few months later, I didn’t have to work directly with her on many clients at the agency.  However, every once in a while, Miriam and Lulu would bring us together on a project and I would be reminded of why I hated working with her.

After another horrible and draining 12-hour day, I finally arrived home to an email request from Miriam. She wanted me to help Agnes with a pitch for the Yilmaz Agency’s upcoming 10th Anniversary Party. I was exhausted, but I reluctantly agreed to help even though I knew it would probably be a nightmare if Agnes was involved. I soon discovered much to my dismay I was right as Agnes basically assigned the pitch to me with little or no supporting information. I had no press release or background to work from to develop the pitch as Agnes said it wasn’t ready yet to share. I asked her for more information, but apparently, she had checked out for the night as it was getting late in Chicago. So I had to cobble together a lame media pitch out of some information on our agency website and Lulu’s bio after midnight when I was too tired to even see straight. Agnes was of no help at all just essentially dumping the pitch assignment on me and bailing. Something she did other times as well. The phrase lazy Millennial came to mind as I furiously worked on the pitch. Even to this day, I would never dump an assignment on a colleague or an intern that worked for me without background information, a bio, and at least details about the event.

After I finished the pitch, I sent a brutal email to Miriam about how Agnes simply dumped the pitch on me with little or no supporting materials and it wasn’t the first time she had done this bullshit. Miriam asked if I had emailed Agnes about my concerns and I told her I asked for more information and received no response. I was not Agnes’ fucking manager. It was up to Miriam to confront her about her lazy behavior. I also knew Agnes would only get more pissed off if it came from me.

The following day Agnes sent an email thanking me for the pitch, but said she had to make a lot of edits. I told that’s OK as I didn’t have a lot of information to go on. I am not sure if Miriam ever brought up my concerns. I kind of doubt it.

A couple of years later, Lulu requested me to take Agnes’ place in managing an early morning satellite media tour for our housewares client. It ended up being a crazy all-nighter for me. I  had to leave work at 7 p.m. and try to get sleep for a few hours before getting up around midnight to head to a studio in downtown L.A. to work until 8 a.m. the following morning.  The day before I had to endure pompous phone conferences about the products with Agnes. In stark contrast with the 10th Anniversary pitch, she bombarded me with too much information. So fucking typical. I could never predict in what way Agnes was going to annoy me. So I had to essentially spend all night babysitting a difficult prima donna celebrity chef that was the company spokesperson on a satellite tour. Now mind you while I doing this, my own clients were being neglected and were complaining. Agnes was hardly appreciative or supportive of this fact, which didn’t surprise me.

The low point of the night came after the celebrity chef had messed up some of the product messaging for the company’s blender product in the first couple of TV segments and our client complained and called Agnes. She called me on my mobile phone and asked me rudely what was going on. I told her I had reviewed the messaging with the celebrity chef and she told she was OK with it.

“Jake, you got to get tough with her,” Agnes said sharply.

“I will. No worries,” I assured her.

“You better,” she said rudely. “The client is not happy. I am depending on you.”

Then she rudely hung up.

WTF?! I am doing Agnes a fucking favor taking time away from my sleep not to mention my clients and she is getting rude with me?! Unfortunately, the chef still didn’t care and stubbornly wouldn’t listen to me. Yet I must have got through to her somehow as the chef performed well to the client’s satisfaction for the rest of the tour.

After the satellite tour was over and everything went well, Agnes called to thank me for handling everything, but she never apologized for her ugly outburst. I was done with this freak after that.

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Sadly, Agnes continued working at our agency and I couldn’t avoid her entirely.

My last idiotic working encounter with Agnes came late in my stint working with Lulu after her agency had been purchased by a Chicago agency.  Agnes was managing a difficult weight loss client – having Agnes manage anything was already a nightmare proposition – and Lulu added me to the team as a media relations expert. I had experience working with weight loss clinics in the past so that was why Lulu tapped me for this. However, I knew something would inevitably go wrong and I would butt heads with the fool, Agnes.

After our team struggled for weeks to secure a story about our client opening weight loss clinics in San Francisco area grocery stores, I landed a huge story in one of the top newspapers in the area. The story actually ran on the front page of the business section of several the publication’s newspapers. I thought it was a major placement for our client, but Agnes was not happy with it, particularly as there was a factual error, but also our client criticized the “sarcastic tone” of the article. Our client asked us to contact the reporter about fixing the error, but they also wanted us to confront the reporter about changing her sarcastic tone and reposting a new, more positive article.

I refused and told Agnes I will ask the reporter nicely to fix the error in the online editions, but I will not ask her to change her story’s sarcastic slant. We are not in the censorship business?!!

“I know,” Agnes said. “You don’t have to do that, but we won’t tell the client that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her. “We’re just going to lie to our client?”

“It’s not lying. We’ll just tell her we followed up and the reporter refused,” she said.

“OK. I don’t agree with that as we should always be transparent with our clients,” I said.

“I know, but they won’t know anyway,” she said. “Just try to get the factual error fixed.”

I got the error fixed in the online version of the article, the reporter had no problem with that, but I never mentioned to the writer our client’s dismay about her edgy writing style.

I was not going to completely abandon what little PR principles I had left for Lulu and Agnes. That, fortunately, was my last encounter working with Agnes.

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In the end, Agnes was “Full Greek” as she so proudly declared, but to me, she was actually “Full Idiot.”

Brainstorms To Nowhere

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Like everything else, brainstorming sessions were also bizarre and frustrating at the Yilmaz Agency. In fact, I am not even sure if you could call these meetings brainstorming. It was more like a stressful idea challenge that went against all the notions of what brainstorming is supposed to be.

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In typical brainstorming sessions I had participated in the public relations industry, everyone would throw out ideas for a client campaign, product name, etc., and it would lead to further creativity. These were not fully formed ideas which is supposed to be the point of brainstorming. The best ideas or brainstorms could be combined to find an even better idea. I guess the other phrase is “spitballing” or essentially throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks. This I believe is why whiteboards are so popular at many agencies I worked at as it is easy to put down the initial rough ideas that could eventually comprise more expansive concepts and campaigns.

The Yilmaz Agency’s lame brainstorming meetings would usually start when Lulu, Miriam or someone on the team would ask to brainstorm for new ideas for a PR campaign. We would be asked to bring one or two ideas to the meeting. This seems simple enough, but as I soon discovered these ideas were already expected to be fully formed concepts. This already is not how brainstorming was done at other agencies I worked for.

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If you didn’t work out every angle of your idea, you would incur the wrath and criticism of Lulu, Miriam, and my colleagues. Molly Paulson was the worst, especially if it involved her airline or housewares clients. Molly would grill us over every aspect of our idea we brought to the meeting, expecting us have thought through every aspect of our contribution.

I believe this attitude actually inhibits creativity and is counter-intuitive to effective brainstorming. You want to share your ideas among the group so that others can build on them, not tear people down for not having a complete and finalized ideas. Molly would actually make us feel bad and uncreative if we didn’t have completed ideas to submit.  She would act put out and would embarrass us in front of the group. This was particularly hard to take from a paper pusher who was uncreative in every aspect as a PR practitioner. She also was awful in brainstorming ideas, offering lame ideas that she thought out every aspect of. Then she would shame us because we hadn’t done the same. In typical brainstorming, there are no bad ideas, but this was hardly like other brainstorming exercises I had participated in.

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Lulu, like Molly, was also hyper-competitive in our agency brainstorms. She was always out to get the best idea and to show up the rest of the agency. I will give Lulu credit here as she was a lot more creative than Molly, but their attitudes were still not conducive to bringing out the creativity in our entire agency.

I did most of these brainstorms over a conference call, which I don’t know was an advantage or disadvantage. However, at least I didn’t have to see Molly’s or Lulu’s expressions if they hated my ideas. I could already hear it in their voices.

I began to dread these brainstorming meetings, to be honest.

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I voiced my frustration about our agency brainstorms to my intern at the L.A. office, Liam Dahl, a Mormon backstabber, who I will write more about in a later blog. He said that what we did resembled “pitch meetings not brainstorms.” I had to agree. It felt like we were expected to have a complete idea even before we brainstormed for it. It was like what people have described pitching for movie deals or large PR and advertising clients. However, that is not real brainstorming to me. I don’t know what it was.

It actually made me resent being creative and I hated being made to feel inadequate if I didn’t spend hours coming up with the perfect idea for one of Molly’s fucking clients. I had a lot of clients of my own I needed to spend time on, too.

brainstormingnew3So, I began to offer very little at these brainstorms, as it is what Molly would do creatively on her own account work — provide next to nothing useful and just allow the rest of us to step up and provide ideas. I wanted to save my creativity for securing top media placements for my clients. I no longer fucking cared about it after a while and defied them to fire me over not providing extensive brainstorming ideas. I knew Molly bitched about it behind my back, but at least I kept my focus on what mattered – keeping our clients happy not proving I was, in fact, creative to freaks like Molly that didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies.

Crazy.

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Nothing at the Yilmaz Agency was simple or made any real sense. Brainstorming was supposed to be fun and creative, not stressful and ugly. It was like existing in a public relations “bizarro” world or an ugly work Twilight Zone episode that never ended.

 

 

Maurice Lemons – Worst HR Person In The World?

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 Unfortunately, I have had to deal with some lame human resources people during my PR career, but I think Maurice Lemons, who worked for Lulu when I joined the Yilmaz Agency, was by far the worst. It’s not even close.

It wasn’t just because Maurice was generally incompetent, and sometimes simple requests like office supplies or computer repair were ignored or took numerous requests to get responded to.

Maurice had a bad, standoffish attitude and it always felt like you were putting him out if you asked for anything even the most simple requests. It was even worse for me working in the L.A. office as I couldn’t just walk over and confront him. He could easily ignore my calls or emails as he did and I would eventually have to go to Lulu or Miriam to force him to do his fucking job.

I only met Maurice once in person when I visited the Chicago office shortly after joining the agency. He was a thin Caucasian man in his late forties. In person, Maurice was as I expected, as he was unfriendly and didn’t have too much to say. He was especially skittish around Lulu even though he was a complete fuck up at his job.

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Honestly, working for Lulu was undoubtedly a factor in Maurice’s lousy job performance, as she hardly inspired her employees. Frankly, Maurice just didn’t care. Shockingly, neither did Lulu. She attacked the rest of the office over every little mistake, but she looked the other way when it came to Maurice’s glaring incompetence and absenteeism. Maurice missed at least a couple of days of the week saying he was too sick to work. This was probably true as Lulu told me he was battling cancer. Actually, Lulu was afraid to fire him because of his cancer diagnosis.

Let me be clear — I have great sympathy with anyone fighting cancer and other life-changing diseases. Work is not more important than our lives no matter what Lulu and other bosses I worked for believe. And this why all of us at the agency cut Maurice slack for almost two years, although it was apparent, he had completed checked out of his job.

I asked Lulu why couldn’t Maurice take a few months off with salary to fight his cancer full time.  Although Maurice showed up for work, he struggled to pretend that he cared anymore. You couldn’t blame him even if it was unprofessional, but professionalism was pretty much non-existent at Lulu’s agency anyway.

We could have brought in a temp to fill his position as he focused on his health. That would have been the right thing to do for everyone involved, but Lulu never considered it. I think she was worried about paying Maurice a salary while he wasn’t there. She would rather have him tough it out and neglect his job duties not to mention his health. Profits over people. No surprise there.

Lulu’s hypocrisy of letting Maurice getting away with taking a paycheck for a lousy work performance undercut her management authority with the rest of us. It was like she has two sets of rules, one for Maurice and one for the rest of us. Our staff got no leeway from her if our performance was not up to her standards. She even fired some competent people while Maurice was still there, which only further damaged what was left of our agency morale.

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Maurice was an overall lousy HR person, but as a travel planner, he was a complete fucking disaster. Not sure why Lulu and Miriam didn’t realize it earlier as he screwed up their travel plans, too.

Maurice’s first travel planning fuckup for me happened on the way back my first visit to the Chicago office.

Lulu was on the warpath after our sports app client requested we put together a social media plan and we were behind schedule in delivering it to her. Lulu was unhappy with the first draft developed by our social media manager and she wanted me to rewrite it. She insisted that we get it to our client the next morning. Lulu didn’t tell me this until I was about to leave for the airport. I told her I would work on it during my plane flight home and get her an updated copy. Only one problem. That idiot Maurice booked probably the worst airline in the business for my return trip (probably Lulu being cheap, too) and they didn’t have Wi-Fi on the flight so I couldn’t work on the report until I got home later that night. I was so fucking pissed.

Even worse, when I landed I was bombarded with questions and requests from Lulu and other clients. Then on my drive home from LAX, the 405 was partially shut down and I had to take a time-consuming detour and didn’t get home until after 10 p.m. I was tired, hungry (I hadn’t eaten except lame airline snacks) and I had to rewrite the report and work past midnight and didn’t get to bed until close to 3 a.m. So I was exhausted and angry when I got back into the L.A. office the next morning. I called Miriam at the Chicago office and blasted Maurice for his booking me on a flight with no Wi-Fi. Of course, Maurice didn’t take my criticism too well and became even colder toward me than he already was.

Despite my bringing up Maurice’s lame performance, nothing changed.

A few months later, during a trade show trip to Denver for our e-commerce company client, Maurice’s travel planning incompetence struck again. He booked me in an awful hotel many miles from downtown Denver where the show was being held. At least, the hotel had Wi-Fi but it didn’t work very well. Also, it was embarrassing when I walked back from dinner with my client and found out they were staying at a nice hotel right across from the convention center where the show was being held. They asked me why I hadn’t done the same and I had to admit I didn’t know. It was so embarrassing and made our agency look cheap to our client. Both flights to and from Denver were also budget flights without Wi-Fi so I couldn’t get any work done. When I got back to the office, I drafted a long email to Miriam and Lulu and basically told them that I would handle all of my future travel plans and not Maurice. That didn’t go down well with Maurice either, but I didn’t care as Maurice didn’t care enough to set up simple travel plans without fucking it up.

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However, it wasn’t until Maurice fucked up one of Lulu’s business trip plans to New York and she missed an important flight and meeting that it all finally came to a head. He had also failed to remind Lulu about some important business taxes that needed to be paid after forgetting to relay the notes from her accountant.  So Lulu got hit with a nasty tax penalty as a result.

At last, Maurice was fired soon after for his overall horrible job performance, but it was too little, too late. Lulu’s credibility had been damaged with the rest of her staff.

As far I know, Maurice never sued Lulu. Despite his struggle with cancer, Maurice still had no viable case as he stopped performing his job in any kind of competent way long ago.

Sadly, the HR troubles at the Yilmaz Agency only continued. Lulu hired an African American woman named Bryanna Taylor to take over as HR manager at our agency. She seemed nice enough and was responsive to requests. However, something happened during the Chicago office’s move to new offices. Lulu was unhappy with how Bryanna had handled the move logistics and fired her soon after. It was abrupt and shocking as she had waited years to get rid of that loser Maurice.

Finally, in my last year at Yilmaz Agency, we got a competent HR person named Judy Davis, who actually started out as a temp. Just hiring a temp like Judy or trying out several people, could have shown Lulu and Miriam right away how lame Maurice was and maybe they wouldn’t have spent so many years supporting this fool.

I still can’t wonder if the clueless wonder, Maurice, is somewhere inflicting his terrible work performance on another company. I mean when the HR is bad at a company, things can only get worse.

Admittedly, Lulu brought the bad out in everyone, but I can’t even blame her for Maurice’s lame job performance.

 

 

PowerPoint Sucks

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I hate PowerPoint.

I despise everything about it.

I believe PowerPoint is difficult to use, and it is especially a nightmare for some like me who is not graphically inclined and lives for writing and creating words. My favorite business software application is Microsoft Word. So you get the picture, so to speak. I am a wordsmith who is beyond frustrated when I am forced to use this lame business software — PowerPoint — that wasn’t made for someone like me.

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Actually, when I joined the public relations industry in the mid-1990s, PowerPoint was the domain of salespeople and sales managers. No one used PowerPoint at the downtown L.A. public relations firms I worked for and we thought it was appropriately difficult to use and inefficient for our needs. We used Word for our proposals as it is so much easier to use and manipulating text and images is no problem at all. The only time I remember seeing PowerPoint back then is when some salesperson would visit our office pushing some office software, etc. and they would set up a slide presentation. Also, I do remember some hospital administrators using PowerPoint in presentations. But in the numerous proposals, I was involved with at the PR firm I worked at, we stuck with Word, which worked much better for us and we were spared PowerPoint design hell.

In fact, I don’t recall using PowerPoint at any of the PR agencies I worked at during

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the next decade. I do remember a freelance client in the late 2000s changing my Word proposals into PowerPoint slides, but it wasn’t a task I actually had to perform so I remained clueless in knowing how to use PowerPoint. I was more concerned with the writing content of the proposals, not the slick presentation. I also never used PowerPoint in any of the freelance proposals I sent to clients and no one ever said anything about it. When I joined another PR firm in the late 2000s, they also didn’t use PowerPoint for new business proposals.

Unbeknownst to me, somewhere along the line PowerPoint’s stature had changed drastically in the public relations and business worlds. PowerPoint became the defacto software program used in public relations proposals. Now, this wouldn’t normally be a problem, but it was in my case, as I had never used the program and was completely ignorant about even its most basic uses. Honestly, there were people out of college who could blow me away with their PowerPoint skills and they weren’t even graphic artists.

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Why is any of this important? Why I am writing about my disgust with a business software program?

Well, PowerPoint or my lack of ability to use this lame program, got me in trouble with my recent PR bosses and nearly cost one of my jobs. I am a fucking public relations person hired I thought to secure top media placements and run PR campaigns not some graphic artist whiz.

Crazy.

My first PowerPoint hiccup came when I joined a horrible e-commerce company in San Bernardino County as a PR manager.

Duke Brantley, the company’s marketing director, (who always hated me and wasn’t thrilled I was hired in the first place),wanted me to put together PowerPoint slides for a deck (corporate speak for presentation) we were going to present to our CEO to show the quarterly progress of our marketing programs. I was embarrassed that I had to confess to Duke that I had never used the program and he was both surprised and angry.

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“Jake, you need it for your job,” Duke snapped. “Take a look at some online tutorial for guidance or ask one of your colleagues to help.”

Duke made me feel dumb for not knowing how to use PowerPoint. Damn. It wasn’t anything I had ever needed until now as my previous employers were more interested in my writing, media relations and PR skills for securing placements for their clients than me using some fucking graphics software.

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Duke, who was an asshole I will write about more in a later blog, was adamant that I had to learn how to use PowerPoint. Through using an online tutorial, I was able to learn rudimentary skills to develop slides for our marketing decks. It was pretty basic slides I created, but even Duke was OK with it.

When I left the e-commerce months later to take a job with the Yilmaz Agency, I thought I was through with using PowerPoint. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Lulu, who I had mentioned in a previous blog, fancied herself an artist, and as a result, was even more critical than Duke about my lack of PowerPoint skills. It nearly cost me my job. This was being lost in PowerPoint hell to the extreme. Lulu was very critical of the presentations of our PR team’s PowerPoint proposals and lamented them as not being visually interesting.  These were huge 50-60 page proposals that would take days, sometimes weeks to prepare, which was agonizing for me, someone who had little or no skills in creating visually appealing PowerPoint slides.

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Even Molly Paulson, who managed our agency’s NY office, agreed with me how crazy it was for Lulu to expect us to be PowerPoint graphics pros. She said at her past agencies they would hire a graphic artist to work on the visual aspects of their PowerPoint presentations while the PR team honed the actual content. That made sense to me, but remember Lulu was crazy after all.

After Lulu mentally beat up me and the entire team over the look of our proposals for a Brooklyn e-commerce company and a healthcare client, things came to a head. Lulu confronted me in a heated private meeting and asked me how I could approve of such shoddy visual work on our proposal decks.

“Your head is not in the job, Jake,” she said. “How could you let such work go? Are you looking for another job?”

Honestly, I was looking for another job, but that was not the reason I was struggling with her high PowerPoint and proposal standards.

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“Lulu,” I told her. “I am not a graphic artist. I am a PR expert. I am not trained in using PowerPoint and other graphics tools or identifying areas where the visuals can be improved. That is not my skill. Is that why you hired me? To put together PowerPoint decks? That is not what I bring to your agency.  I mean look at all of the media placements and successful PR campaigns I have run since I got here. I didn’t know I was supposed to be a graphics pro, too.”

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Lulu finally admitted that she was wrong to expect me to be some PowerPoint expert and she backed off.  Going forward, she would actually run the deck past a graphics artist before sending it to the client and she stressed that she wanted me and the rest of the team to focus more on the content of the proposals.

However, that didn’t stop Lulu from occasionally dumping a 50 or 60-page PowerPoint proposal on me and rest of the team to work on during the weekend. But at least, I wasn’t responsible for the “look” of the deck.

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One good thing Dane did when he joined our agency was to convince Lulu to get rid of these huge, cumbersome PowerPoint decks and actually create our proposals in Word. I know Lulu didn’t like it as it didn’t appeal to her artistic side, but even she admitted that Word was a hell of a lot more efficient and easier to work with than PowerPoint when creating proposals.

Thankfully, I don’t have to use PowerPoint at my current agency as we use Word for our proposal documents. I don’t miss it at all.

Unfortunately, I still have nightmares about having to create huge PowerPoint decks again if I decide to work at another agency. I guess have PowerPoint phobia. Strange I know, but if I see a job listing where it states that I have to use PowerPoint I will just skip over the job opportunity.

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I want to spend time at work strategizing how to secure top media coverage and not putting together some fancy PowerPoint presentation to impress current and potential clients. This shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paper Pushers

It's a big misconception. Everyone thinks hell is all fire. Actually, it's all paperwork.'

I call them the “Paper Pushers.”

It is my private name for my colleagues in the public relations industry through years who are great at performing administrative tasks, coordinating accounts, and editing, but they can’t write worth a shit and overall lack creativity.

They are great at “pushing the paper” and making sure they stay on top of tasks, crossing every t and dotting every i, but they are pretty much useless when it comes to thinking out of the box and coming up with creative angles for PR campaigns, media pitches and press releases.

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Actually, they are mostly glorified administrative managers, but of course, they would never admit this.

They typically stay quiet during brainstorming sessions, offer little or nothing, but the paper pushers are quick to attack others’ ideas, though.

meetings-idiotHonestly, they wouldn’t last long in my previous profession of journalism where bad writing is generally not tolerated and will hold you back in your career.

It is hardly surprising the paper pushers have done well in the public relations industry, which is a sad commentary on what the business cherishes – slick, management over creativity.

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So, naturally, I have butted heads with my share of paper pushers during the years. They have rejected my creative ideas, gutted my pitches and press releases, and removed anything creative or interesting and replaced it with slick corporate writing. The kind of boring writing that ends up in the media’s spam and trash folders.

Admittedly, I prefer the creative side of public relations, finding interesting angles to intrigue the media through my writing and securing media coverage over the boring administrative task and client relations side of public relations. That doesn’t mean I am not capable of handling those tasks as well, but I just enjoy being creative and pitching the media more than pushing the paper.

I have worked with many paper pushers during my long career, but two past colleagues come to mind to illustrate my frustration working with these uncreative types.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, Molly Paulson was an uptight, paper pusher who ran the New York office for Lulu at the Yilmaz Agency. She also managed two of the largest clients at agency, an airline and housewares company.

Molly, who was in her early thirties, had an odd looking face and huge green eyes. She also had this bizarre wide-eyed expression on her face most of the time as if she was constantly surprised by everything that occurred. Now I realize it was probably a way for her disguise her contempt for me and many of my colleagues.

Molly wasn’t a dumb Millennial as with many of my colleagues at the Yilmaz Agency and had worked a number of years handling mostly music public relations. However, sometimes I had to wonder when she would suggest a strategy that made no sense, particularly when it involved writing or media relations.

Molly would constantly try to pick apart anything I would say.  It was subtle, though, as she pretended to be so nice when she first joined the firm, but I learned it was only an act to get something she wanted such as help on a project. She was no fucking ally. I believe she undermined and backstabbed me during my years at the agency. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to know for sure as I worked alone in the L.A. office during most of my time at the Yilmaz Agency.  Her contempt for me still came through in emails and our phone call and phone conferences. I dreaded working on accounts with her and was happy when I could avoid it.

Molly constantly questioned my writing — although she couldn’t write worth a shit – and my management skills. Molly was always looking for things I missed or a strategic decision I made she didn’t agree with. She actually told Lulu that she didn’t respect me and didn’t feel I brought a steady, experienced management approach to the job even though I had a lot more experience than she did in every area of public relations.

“Molly doesn’t feel you bring a strong enough management presence to the job,” Lulu told me.

I naturally was pissed off as I thought Molly was an uncreative public relations hack who did nothing more than provide empty, slick management skills to her position. She lacked real vision and creativity and hid this is busy work.

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Molly would also get frustrated when she thought I wasn’t handling an account as she would. She put me in charge of the U.S. media relations for our airline client and then questioned my every move. We butted heads eventually as she was clueless to effective media relations strategy on the account. At one point, we set up a schedule to reach out to the media with a different pitch almost every week. The problem is that we were pitching the same media over and over and they were getting sick of getting bombarded from our pitches and client news. A number of our media contacts began complaining to me about sending too many pitches in a short time. I told Molly this and she ignored me. It was when I realized Molly knew nothing about media relations strategy. She approached media pitching as she did every other part of her public relations job — she pushed the paper. The only problem is that you must avoid pissing off the media at all costs and sending them constant client news with no sense of timing is a sure fast way to get ignored. This is death to a publicist.

Yet it was Molly’s lack of creativity that stuck with me. I would work to come up with creative angles for our airline clients pitch letters and press releases and she would pick them apart and rewrite them into boring, cliched angles that had little or no chance of being picked up.

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I was relieved when we lost the airline client as I wouldn’t have to work with her micromanaging ass anymore. As you could imagine, both Lulu and Miriam loved that Molly had an obsessive attention to detail, but I thought Molly (as with Lulu and Miriam) always missed the bigger picture – the importance of securing media results for our clients and building their brand presence.

Unfortunately, before Miriam left, she put Molly on the team of a Canadian audio manufacturing client I was managing. Although she was only on the team to reach out to the so-called music media she had contacts with, Molly quickly questioned everything I did on the account. She wanted us to send out more pitches on the account even if we didn’t have any news to share. It was our airline client all over again. I was frustrated but this time I ignored her suggestions as she had mine. I was running the account after all.

Yet it soon became obvious Molly was also truly miserable at media relations. I knew this from working with her on the airlines and housewares clients, but in those cases, she could hide behind her administrative duties and spending a lot of time running these accounts as a reason for not delivering results herself.

After several months, Molly couldn’t secure a single placement for our audio client even though she boasted about having great contacts in the music business and that’s why she wanted to be on the account. By contrast, I had no trouble obtaining numerous high-profile stories for our audio client and I knew this really pissed Molly off. She eventually used the excuse of her heavy workload to stopping working on the account. I knew she really was embarrassed that she couldn’t deliver media relations results on an account in an industry she was supposed to be a past expert on. I had to wonder after that if anything she said was true and that her past experience was a complete lie.

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Molly also wasn’t as bright as she acted. Heavy technology accounts put her off. When Molly was put in charge of running a Turkish tech client – after a dumb Millennial that managed the account left for another firm – she was in a panic. She was having trouble understanding the client’s technology which was essentially business to business payment software for companies.

Suddenly, after years of being snotty toward me and stabbing me behind my back, Molly was very nice to me again. This time, though, I knew it was because she needed my help to help manage the Turkish tech client even though she would never admit this. Although that didn’t stop Molly from trying to micromanage me and rewrite all the pitches and press releases I had written for this client. She did this even though she knew nothing about the technology. Despite her paper pushing efforts, though, we eventually lost of the account anyway.

Sal Ramirez was another paper pusher that had the misfortunate to work with at my first PR agency early in my career. He was one of the worst writers that I have ever worked with, that is until recently when I started working with Millennials. He was even worse a writer than Molly. In fact, Sal had trouble with basics of press release writing, but he was not someone who just come out of school and had been working for an agency for years before joining our firm. I remember a friend of mine at a local newspaper lamenting how he received a press release from Sal that had none of the essential information you would expect from a press release – the where, what, why and how. It was such an embarrassment for our agency, but unfortunately our boss Jimmy Mears didn’t care. He liked Sal’s administrative skills and would tap me for the creative, brainstorming tasks.

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Sal would also ask me for help in rewriting his press release and pitches and adding a more creative flair. I, of course, I helped him as I am a team player, but Sal never seemed all that appreciative. Worst of all, he never seemed to improve and was still a crappy writer when I left the agency a few years later.

Clients liked Sal as he was solid in handling accounts, however, he was constantly coming up short with media relations efforts and I would have to be brought in to try to obtain coverage and save the account. It was ridiculous after a while as his accounts were always in “media relations trouble.”

Sal, like Molly, was also terrible in brainstorming sessions, providing little or nothing useful. Many of his ideas were clichés or borrowed too heavily from Hollywood movies. Yet he never hesitated to criticize other’s ideas, particularly mine.

I didn’t mock him or criticize his lame ideas, though, but no one ever used his suggestions and he knew down deep they were terrible.

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They say there is no such thing as a bad idea in brainstorming, but I believe Sal was an exception to the rule.

When I left the agency, Sal was determined to show me up. He and an obnoxious jock intern named Lance teamed up to come up with ideas for an upcoming obesity clinic’s event in San Diego where people would turn in their previous large pants to show off their weight loss. They came up with all of these odd and crazy ideas and taglines. Some were good, but mostly it was overkill. I even bet Lance came up with most of the ideas, Sal was so proud of what they came up with. Even though he didn’t say it – Sal was implying they didn’t need me for creativity anymore. He did this once in all of my years at the agency.  By contrast, I tried to bring a strong level of creativity to every account and do the same today, not just once in a blue moon like Sal.

Paper pushers or uncreative gutless wonders like Molly and Sal – that I have found at every agency or company I have worked at — are just more a reminder that I am in the wrong business that rewards slick, management skills over creative vision.

Team Juicing?

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Lydia was at again this week with her lame definition of teamwork.

First, there was her lame “Team Lunches.”

Now it is…Team Juicing?

One recent morning — around the time I wanted to head over to Starbucks for a late morning coffee — that freak Lydia invited MBA Boy and other team members — all millennials except for Code Boy  — to walk over to some local fucking juice place — right in front of me.

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It was no surprise as Lydia has no sense of manners and is completely clueless about building real team camaraderie and teamwork.

No doubt it was MBA Boy’s time to bash me, which is also hilarious as he has little more PR knowledge than Code Boy and Lydia to say anything.

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I constantly have to clean up his mistake-ridden press releases and pitch letters and deal with his lack of any strategic sense.

They also invited this strange freak called Nanci — another unfriendly Millennial intern poisoned by Lydia. All I know is that she fucked up a serious research project for a client — right before their campaign launch.

It was for a lame sports app bracket client. They claimed to be the only one to do what they do — but that was not true.

Nanci missed this in her competitive analysis research. After that critical fuck up, which I barely caught and shared with the client in time, I wanted nothing more to do with her.

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So “Team Juice” runs or “Team Lunches” or whatever you want to call it is pretty typical of this place and the diseased lack of social support I receive.

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I guess it is just me but I believe if you invite your colleagues to lunch or coffee, etc. you either invite everyone in the office or you don’t do it. Such clueless behavior is bad for workplace morale.

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Our agency has sadly become a Millennial bozo party of people who have no clue what business is, how to run it, and how to create a real team.

I fear for the future. I really do.