Update on Life in Public Relations Hell Book

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I wanted to give a quick update on the status of my Life in Public Relations Hell book based on this blog. I am thrilled to share that this weekend I completed the first draft of my upcoming book.

I love how it is coming together. It is turning out to be an epic novel — 55 chapters and more than 600 pages — detailing the funny, crazy, strange, heartbreaking tales from my long-time public relations career.  As you can already tell from my blog, I hold nothing back in the frank and honest way I describe the up and downs of working in public relations.  Not all of the chapters in my book will end up on my blog as I will save some exclusively for my novel.

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I plan to take a short break before starting on the second draft of my novel.  I am planning that this novel will need about 9-10 drafts before it will be ready to share. So, that should take me about a year or two before my novel is ready to publish on Amazon, etc. 

So far, it has been an incredible journey exploring my angst, heartbreak, frustration and honest feelings about my PR career and the public relations industry overall through my novel and this blog. I can’t wait to share as this will be only the first volume of many planned novels depicting my public relations experiences.

In the meantime, please return to my blog periodically as I will be sharing a new post of a chapter from my upcoming novel each month or two as I work toward completing a final published book.

JW

 

 

Exclamation Points In Pitches and Press Releases!

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Another one of my big pet peeves in public relations is when my colleagues have used exclamation points in press releases and media pitches. It seems like overkill to me, and even worse appears cheesy and hokey like marketing, sales, and advertising copy.

Why is it a big deal?

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I can only imagine media people getting a lousy pitch or lame press release full of exclamation points and laughing and mocking the PR practitioner or agency to their colleagues before deleting it. There’s no worse way to ruin your reputation as PR practitioner than with bad writing, but then you add in exclamation points and it can only make you look worse.

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My goal in public relations is trying to write as much as possible like the media in my public relations writing. The media are the main audience of our press materials after all. Do you see news and feature articles from the top publications full of exclamation points? No. The best journalists and their editors know better.

Now I have no problem with fiction authors using exclamation points in their prose where appropriate. I just think it has no place in public relations writing.

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So it is no surprise when I joined the Yilmaz Agency, the team’s pitches and press releases used exclamation points quite liberally. I would take the exclamation points out in my editing and my colleagues – mostly clueless Millennials — would put them back in even after I told them that they were not needed in PR writing. Even Lulu didn’t get it at first. I mean for years she must have had lame press releases and pitches go out with exclamation points all through their copy.

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The worst culprit was the whiny Millennial, Andrew, who worked in the Chicago office. His writing was bad enough as his pitches and even press releases read like lame, slick marketing and sales copy, but it seemed he couldn’t write a sentence without using an exclamation point. It was crazy. And he was also the most resistant to my suggestion to remove them even when I used to edit them out and include a comment in the word document of why I removed them.

When Andrew left our firm a few months after I arrived, he was still stubbornly including exclamation points in his copy, which I frustratingly would have to keep removing. I think it was doing it in defiance after a while. I can only wonder if this fool is somewhere at a company or agency still writing lame copy with exclamation points, oblivious to how he is marring his PR and client’s business reputation through a small, but important punctuation choice.

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Even Lulu finally agreed with me when I told her it would make us look foolish to the media and didn’t object when I removed the offending exclamation points from our agency’s PR copy. If there is one positive thing I did at Lulu’s lame agency, it was influencing her and our team to stop using exclamation points in our copy. A small victory, I know, but at least it was something considering the hell I went through at her agency.

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Now clients through the years have also been a nightmare about using exclamation points in their press releases. Some have balked about me removing them until I explained that it could make them look bad to the media and were better used in marketing or advertising copy. Recently, I had a sports app client send me back editing revisions to his press release and he added in exclamation points to emphasize claims he couldn’t prove. So my challenge was to urge him to not only take out the claims but also the embarrassing exclamation points. After some convincing, the CEO, who was a nightmare that listened to no one, backed off when I told him we not only don’t include unfounded claims in our press release, but we never use exclamation points. He only agreed when I stressed that it could hurt his reputation with the media.

I have had to remove exclamation points along with bad, hyperbolic writing from my client’s press release edits more times than I can recall.

It may seem like a small thing, but everything you do down to a simple choice of a punctuate mark can damage you and your client’s reputation with the media and business community.

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So to avoid looking like a PR fool that the media mocks, don’t use exclamation points in your PR writing!!

There. I used even two exclamation points, but this is a fictional blog after all.

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.

 

Media Relations Beatdowns

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Media relations is without a doubt the toughest and most frustrating part of working in public relations.

Many in the business I’ve known through the years secretly despise, dread and fear media relations as a necessary evil of PR. We know no matter what we do, our efforts will always be judged on our latest media campaign or placement. Even after more than 20 years in the business with an impressive track record of securing media coverage for all kinds of clients, I am still doubted daily by skeptical, clueless clients and even my colleagues and bosses. And if had a dollar for every time I heard an ignorant, clueless statement about media relations from clients and colleagues through the years I would be a wealthy man and would no longer need to work in public relations.

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Now there’s no denying the value of a strategic media relations program truly can’t be underestimated in helping build and shape a company’s brand or image.

Everyone in business knows they need media coverage, but very few understand how this is actually done. Too many think they have a great story or innovative product, but prove delusional in the end.

How to achieve impactful media coverage is still up to debate as media relations is hardly an exact science, especially in this ever-changing digital age and media landscape.  Everyone in business and the PR industry it seems has their own opinions, strategies, approaches, and ideas of how to secure lasting and meaningful media coverage for clients and I have found most of them are wrong.

You can’t finesse the media relations process, and you can’t guarantee media coverage no matter how slick your public relations plan, size of your team or how creative your pitch is.  The media has its own agenda and will choose or not to choose to cover your company or product on its own time table.

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Successful media relations is frankly about timing, just as much as it is about creativity and having a great story.

My former boss Lulu apparently never got the memo on media relations.

Lulu used to try an inspire our teams at the Yilmaz Agency to obtain media coverage for our clients through fear or what I dubbed “media relations beatdowns.”

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Lulu would attack at our teams in horrible conference calls for not achieving media relations results for our clients. Sure, it would scare our team into pitching the media even harder, and sometimes it worked, but it didn’t inspire us at all. It only built up resentment in our teams, especially with the younger staff members, and drove people to leave our agency in droves.

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Even worse, Lulu would try to emotionally manipulate us and make us feel guilty if we didn’t meet her crazy standards and tell us we were keeping her up at night by not securing media relations for her clients. It was like a personal affront to her if we didn’t make her clients happy, even though many of her clients were unreasonable assholes who took advantage of their close relationship with Lulu.

Now before joining Lulu’s agency, I was used to dealing with unreasonable pressure from clients and employers to secure top media relations. It came with the territory.

Lulu’s crazy media relations expectations were on a whole different level of dysfunction and made me eventually question whether I should be working in public relations at all.

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When I first joined her agency, I was quickly disheartened and became disillusioned with her weekly, almost daily mental beatdowns about a tech client with a sports fitness coaching application product that we had launched a PR campaign for. Like most clients, they thought their sports tech coaching app was unique and deserved major media coverage. Our team did secure impressive coverage from top media outlets such as Mashable, the Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and L.A. Times to name a few, but it took time as the media wanted to try out their sports coaching app. However, Lulu, even more than our client had no patience and blamed our team for the slow response to the client’s new product. To be fair, this was a small startup company without major national brand presence launching a new product that boasted to provide top fitness coaching in a convenient app. So naturally, the media that had been bombarded by numerous sports fitness apps from much larger companies, were skeptical and wanted to find out first to see if the product really delivered on what they claimed.

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I remember our team being excited, after many frustrating weeks of struggling to secure coverage for our fitness tech client, sharing a positive review and story from Mashable. Our client’s director of marketing, a clueless fool named Manda, was hardly impressed and sent us an email showing that the story led to no new sales over the weekend. That’s when I knew our client was a complete idiot. The main role of public relations to indirectly build a company’s reputation and brand exposure so when someone is ready to buy their product or service, they can make an informed purchase decision.

Public relations does NOT lead to direct sales and investment. 

 I can’t recall how many times I have had to tell clients of this unavoidable reality and still do even today.

Of course, Lulu didn’t defend us to our client and when I mentioned that PR doesn’t impact sales directly Lulu went ballistic and forbade me from educating our client of this uncomfortable truth about media coverage.

“You’ll come across as defensive,” she said.

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I disagreed as I told Lulu it was our role to be informed consultants for our client, not cowed, scared sycophants.

Lulu, who hated when anyone disagreed with her, told me I was wrong in front of the whole team – further damaging my credibility — and asked me not to bring it up again.

Let’s just say no matter our team’s efforts, and after many media relations beatdowns, we couldn’t make our fitness client, not to mention Lulu, happy.

When our client finally fired us several months later, I was more than relieved. Lulu was furious, resentful, and took it personally like a broken-hearted lover. She told us she had been up all night after she heard the news, and was so upset, she couldn’t sleep. It was crazy and embarrassing to pull this craven and insane guilt trip on us over a fucking lame PR client. It was hardly a surprise Lulu blamed us for losing the client because we couldn’t break through to the media. She said this even though we had secured more than 100 stories for this client, including many top placements, over the past year.

Honestly, not having much control over who or how many media covered our clients made these beatdown sessions all the more ridiculous and demoralizing.

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The post mortems we used to have at Lulu’s agency after we lost a client were by far the worst, I have ever experienced in my PR career. She never took any blame for her horrible management style or clueless strategic decisions. It was always our fucking fault even if the client we were dealing with and pitching were lame and had no business launching a product at all.

The fitness app client was in denial in a fiercely competitive industry. They, like Lulu, refused to realize that their company succeeding was always going to be a tough uphill struggle.

Unfortunately, this sorry episode of Lulu accusing her employees of letting her and clients down was repeated many times in the years I worked at the agency. It became a sad inside joke among us at the agency.

Far too many times, Lulu was strategically clueless.

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Everyone in PR knows that Fridays are the worst day to pitch the media and typically is when companies and politicians dump bad news. That didn’t stop Lulu, though. She refused to listen when we told her that pitching a business story (that wasn’t top breaking news) late in the afternoon Pacific time on a Friday during August?!! (or any time) would receive little or no traction among most of the business media located back east that had already started on their weekends.

Lulu forced us numerous times to create a pitch in a panic because some fucking client attacked us, and pitch it out late Friday even though we told her it would best to wait until Monday morning. As expected, when we got no results, she would blame us anyway.

“You guys didn’t pitch hard enough,” Lulu would say. “You can’t tell me no one responded at all. What I am supposed to tell the client.”

Well, you could tell the client that pitching on Friday when the media is gone is not advisable, is a waste of time and money, and will reap no results…

Lulu didn’t do that, of course. She just berated and pushed us to pitch harder even the team members that worked in Chicago and New York that were ready to call it a week and enjoy the weekend.

Unfortunately, there were no weekends when you worked for a workaholic freak like Lulu.

The worst and most ridiculous media relations beatdowns were over her long-time housewares client.

For many months, our team drafted numerous pitches about our client’s business story, but we struggled to get coverage.

Lulu went apoplectic about our difficulty breaking through. She pulled a lot of us from other work and clients to try and get this lame client business coverage as she was worried that they would hire another firm to take over their company’s business pitching.

During our horrible meetings about this client, Lulu would boast that she used to get coverage for this client just by “picking up the phone” not realizing that the industry had changed. Good luck trying to get a media person to pick up their phone as they all want to be pitched through email now.

In fact, I began to doubt the story of her media relations prowess when I secured the company’s first national business story – with a small business magazine – and got them included in a Wall Street Journal roundup story, which was another first.

As I described in an earlier blog, the low point in the pitching for our housewares client came when I secured a Forbes cover article for them, which they shockingly turned down.

Although Lulu kept pushing us to pitch our client’s business story after the Forbes debacle, I never took it seriously after that and just went through motions in my pitching efforts. I wasn’t giving Lulu or those fools any more of my talent or hard work on that account.

When the inevitable happened and our client hired another competing agency behind our backs to handle their business media pitching, Lulu flipped out and blamed our lack of media relations for losing the business.

Yet when I reminded her that this foolish client has turned down a Forbes opportunity, she just ignored me and said that wasn’t relevant and went on ranting about our so-called media relations failings for this lame account.

Lulu should have blamed herself for weak leadership and not realizing our client didn’t care all that much if we secured business stories for them. They had already hired a local agency behind our backs for business media outreach and they wanted to retain us only for product public relations.

I mean WTF?!! Knowing what your client wants is Public Relations 101!

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Yet the thing about Lulu she only listened to clients and other people selectively. She only heard what she wanted to hear and many times this meant she would be lost in her delusional notions and standards of what she felt was needed on an account. Sadly, those of us who had the misfortune of working for her were caught in the middle of this nightmare dysfunction.

When it came to working for Lulu it felt like having to deal with two unreasonable clients – an internal and external one.

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It was extremely demoralizing, to say the least, because no matter what we did for Lulu to secure top media coverage it was never enough and didn’t built any kind of trust with her.

You were always the idiot in her eyes even though I believe she truly knew nothing about media relations. She was a lying fake who had no clue how to motivate people except through fear.

Going through her media relations beatdowns did one good thing for me, though. It forced me to rethink the whole tenuous nature of media relations and how I would never pressure or attack people that worked for me over something as difficult and valuable to obtain as media coverage.

As I have learned, a little finesse, strategic and common sense, and a keen ability to recognize a great story can go a long way toward achieving media relations success.

No need to resort to ugly scare tactics.

 

 

 

 

VP of Panic – Saturday Night Panic Texts From Hell

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I’ve had my share of bad bosses, but the combination of Lulu Yilmaz and her vice president Miriam Letti at the Yilmaz Agency were by far the worst.

They questioned and micromanaged my every move to death. It was a suffocating and unfulfilling experience, to say the least.

Looking back on the crazy debacle years later I am still not sure how I got through the experience without losing my mind.

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Lulu and Miriam used to play a twisted good cop and bad cop routine with our agency staff.

Miriam, who I dubbed the VP of Panic for her panicking about every stressful situation Lulu (not to mention our clients) caused, was an obnoxious dark-haired Jewish woman in her late thirties, would come off as the reasonable and nice one, but it was all a lie.

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In fact, I suspected something was off during our first job interview via Skype that took months to set up. Miriam came across as over-enthusiastic and shallow, but even worse she lied to me about the company’s horrible, unsupportive culture, and her and Lulu’s extensive micromanaging of employees.

I basically found out later that Miriam was a shallow former TV producer, which explained a lot. She knew more about media relations than Lulu did, which wasn’t much, but her writing and PR expertise overall were suspect. Her writing was weak and not a strong as she thought it was.

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Actually, my first day at the agency I knew I was probably in trouble when Miriam criticized me for not having a strong demeanor or speaking voice during initial agency and client conference calls. To be fair, I was still learning about the agency and I was somewhat hesitant to inflict my experience and knowledge on people I just met.

Also, I am somewhat reserved anyway and not some slick TV performer, which is maybe what she was used to or expecting.

Despite her act of pretending to be so kind and understanding, Miriam’s mask would fall and she would panic and attack us when Lulu criticized the staff for not living up to her crazy standards. She never defended us to Lulu or had our backs. She was basically scared to stand up to Lulu and so she took it out on the staff.

No surprise that Miriam and Lulu were as thick as thieves as micromanagement queens.

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So, as you can imagine, weekends were a refuge for me where I tried to get away from Lulu’s and Miriam’s craziness. I was rarely successful as these freaks sadly never stopped working.

Miriam proved twisted in her own timid way as she would text me on Saturday nights and weekends with ridiculous demands that I knew from were coming from Lulu.

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One Saturday night early on in my time at the agency showed me what hell I had blundered into.

It was following a brutal and stressful week when two whiny Millennials, Carol and Andrew, left our firm during the same time and I had to take over their clients. So now I had to do a crash course on four new clients in addition to my own five clients. During one of the conference calls, our client, a phone case manufacturer, was very reticent and was bothered Carol had left. I had to navigate my way through this client landmine the best I could as I still learning about the client’s business. I thought it had gone OK, but Miriam had thought otherwise.

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As I tried to enjoy dinner at my favorite New York pizza place located in Long Beach, this freak Miriam began sending me panicked texts worried about my phone demeanor during the recent client calls. She was concerned if I could handle the extra work and that our client would lose faith in our ability to perform because of my reticent communication skills. I was beyond furious. I was talking with PR clients when this idiot was still a TV producer. I wasn’t some inexperienced fool that just came out of college or something.

Even worse was that fool Miriam ruined my Saturday night, not to mention weekend, right before heading on vacation to Cabo San Lucas for a week. Have a nice trip, fool, I bitterly thought as I texted her back that everything would work out and I would take of it. So while Miriam was enjoying the beautiful beaches of Cabo, I was left to deal with the ugliness of Lulu, who only seemed to get worse when Miriam was gone.

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Miriam not only wrecked my dinner and weekend but made me question whether I should even be working for her and Lulu.

That Saturday night I did my first pros and cons exercise on whether I should stay with the Yilmaz Agency and the cons filled almost two pages. It was obvious I had made a huge mistake joining the Yilmaz Agency only several months into the job.

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Another low point occurred when during my first CES with them a month later, Lulu and Miriam arrived in Las Vegas and began attacking me about my work for our e-commerce company client that I brought to the agency (and used to work for).

Several lazy millennials complained I was doing all the work on the account. Actually, I had to do most of the work as they were pathetic and I couldn’t let down my former employer with mediocre work. I had worked to bring them into the agency and assured them they would get the same great work I had delivered when I worked for their company.

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“Don’t you want to work as a team?” Lulu said. “Don’t you want help? I don’t want you doing all the work yourself. We need you on other clients.”

“Why don’t you trust your team?” Miriam chimed in. “They feel left out and that you don’t trust them.”

Honestly, I didn’t trust this so-called team of lazy Millennials to take our e-commerce client as seriously as I did.

I remember being so livid in the back of the taxi as they berated me and wanting to quit right there and leave, but I couldn’t do that to our clients not to mention my reputation as a PR executive. So, I told them reluctantly I would trust the team more and assign them more work. But I was beyond furious. I was still kicking ass for our e-commerce client while doing the same for the other three agency clients at CES, and I did this despite the lame help I got from my so-called teammates.

My days and nights were long and nightmarish at the Yilmaz Agency. Because of the West Coast time difference between Chicago and New York, my work day would start at 6 a.m. when I got up out of bed and tried to answer all of the phone calls and emails that were waiting for me. I had to do this still try to get to the L.A. office in a timely manner. It felt like I had already gone to work even before I did. Many days I dreaded getting out of bed and seeing the onslaught of phone, text, and emails on my phone.

My days were only made longer and more stressful because of Miriam and her constant micromanagement of my work. She would finish up at the Chicago office, and after eating dinner at home and putting her kids to bed, would send me a series of panicky reminder emails about client work.  After finishing my work and wanting to go home around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. PST, I would have to field all of these constant reminders and criticisms from Miriam which would keep me at the office even later.

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I also even remember once Miriam giving me shit about asking for the day after Christmas off?!! It is a dead media/public relations day with nothing going on and I hardly ever took days off anyway. She finally relented, but she made me feel like I was being an asshole about it.

A couple of months after I joined the agency, Lulu’s former husband Hasan Yilmaz did a consulting project to try and stop the ongoing and excessive employee turnover at the agency and interviewed all of the agency’s employees. The results were very critical of Lulu’s and Miriam’s heavy-handed management style.

According to Palmer, one of the few cool Millennials that worked in the Chicago office, Miriam started crying when the report was shown to her. Very unprofessional and so typical of her lame management style. She also didn’t change like Lulu following this damning report. They both blamed the employees for being ingrates and unappreciative.

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A year or so later, following a scare with a cancer diagnosis, Miriam decided she needed a less stressful position and took a job with one of our Chicago area competitors. She did this right after going to CES with Lulu and myself and pretended she was a team player and would stick around for the long haul. Unfortunately, I had to go on new business meetings with someone that was already preparing to leave. Not exactly professional, but hardly uncharacteristic of her phony ways.

However, I don’t fault Miriam for leaving as working for Lulu was not exactly good for someone’s health.

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Lulu went ballistic upon hearing the news, and after Miriam left, she began tearing her down even though she always praised her.

It was her typical line of attack. “I heard from clients that they were not happy with Miriam and her management…she had let a lot of things go lately.”

It was classic Lulu. Once you left her, you let her down. It was never her fucking fault for being such a horrible manager and scaring people away.

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I was glad Miriam was gone, but unfortunately, the person who replaced her months later, Dane Flynn, proved even worse as you already know from my previous blog.

Of course, I didn’t miss Miriam’s late-night panic texts and emails which was something Dane thankfully did not do.

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Panic just like fear is a horrible place to manage from and it always drives people away.

 

Big Agency Fools

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Bigger is not always better.

And get your mind out of the gutter…as I am not talking about sex.

As a strategy to bring more professional respectability to her fledgling small PR agency, my boss Lulu would hire managers and executives from big public relations agencies through the years.

It really didn’t work as most of them proved sadly to be what I called “Big Agency Fools.”

They weren’t a good fit for the fast-paced, bootstrapping nature of small PR agency life where we had to do everything from putting together media lists, writing releases, pitching the media, putting together proposals, and handling client relations.

These big agency fools were used to having 20-30 person teams to throw at a PR campaign. We had small teams of 4-8 people at the most.

So, these fools right away would show deficiencies in their writing, creativity and media relations skills.

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Two “Big Agency Fools” come to mind to illustrate this.

Jason Spinelli joined our firm to run the Chicago office from a large global agency. He was fine with managing projects and could push the paper — my phrase for handling administrative, non-creative tasks. Not surprising he quickly became close friends with Molly Paulson, the queen of our agency’s paper pushers that ran our New York office.

But when it came to providing creativity or knowing anything about media relations, Jason was clueless.

I saw this when he tried to write a lame pitch for our airline client. His press releases were also slick, empty and uncreative, but that was already the norm at our agency.

Jason was also decades younger than me which proved embarrassing when he tried to advise me about public relations, but most specifically, media relations.

I was securing huge media placements in the New York Times, CNN and other top publications when he was in grade school.

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Jason soon after realized he made a mistake and couldn’t handle the small agency workload and stressful life, not to mention Lulu’s craziness. Jason left our firm and made an odd career pivot into advertising and moved out west to intern?!! for an advertising agency. He hardly showed any sign of being creative while at our agency so I wonder how that worked out.

Jason was basically a nice guy in over his head, but Dane Flynn, who replaced our VP of Panic, Miriam Letti, was the worst of the big agency fools to join Lulu’s company while I was there.

From the start, I despised this arrogant faker who hid his skills deficiency in bluster and rudeness. Dane was a rude motherfucker from our first encounter.

He attacked me in a meeting in his first week at our agency about being too truthful with a client about our media relations efforts.

Our lame client was an online video sharing company that was trying to rival YouTube. Good luck with that. There’s a business graveyard of small companies that have tried to do the same thing through the years.

On behalf of our lame client, I contacted a top writer at one of the entertainment trades about doing a story about their launch and plans for the future. The writer said it was too early for the company to receive a profile and that she wanted to wait a couple of years to see how they developed in the highly-competitive online video industry.

Seemed like a reasonable response to me, and our client was OK with it as they were happy for the frank feedback.

However, this creep Dane was pissed off that I told our client what the writer had said in a previous meeting. This happened in a client meeting before the fool actually joined our agency.

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“If I was your client, and you told me that, I would have been offended,” Dane sneered. “I would wonder if I wanted to work with you anymore. I wouldn’t trust you to share my story.”

Unlike this fool Dane, I believe in transparency in client relations.

“I am not going to lie to our clients,” I told him. “I believe in providing them with honest media feedback.”

Dane did not agree and he forbade me to talk to our client honestly again about our media relations efforts as he took over lame leadership of the account. Lulu, of course, stayed silent and didn’t object to this fool’s ignorance.

At that moment, I knew Dane was a fraud that knew nothing about media relations, let alone client relations.

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He wanted to me to deceive our clients. I knew then things had taken another dark turn at our agency. It was no surprise when we lost our dumb video client a couple of months later. They actually said they were frustrated because we weren’t being open and transparent!! with them regarding our media outreach.

Soon after, Dane tried to bring client hour restrictions and big agency budget controls to our small firm. Essentially, he implemented big agency budget hell at our firm. Now we had to account for every fucking hour we spent trying to make our clients happy.

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Due to his big agency background, Dane was completely clueless that our clients hired a small boutique agency to receive more service, not less.

Even worse, this big agency fool would force us to go to our clients and say we would cut them off once we reached our hours limit unless they paid more.

We also had to send Dane weekly hours reports and then have horrible, time-consuming meetings about it.

In another one of Dane’s cost-cutting measures, the idiot convinced Lulu to close down our agency’s L.A. office.

I loved working in our office that was located in a high rise in the L.A. area. It felt cool being part of the bustling business community located near our office. We had a great view of the ocean as well.

So, I had to return working remotely from my home, which is I wanted to avoid when joining Lulu’s firm. Trying to do conference calls from my home across many offices was just one of the many challenges I faced working from home for our lame agency.

Another low point involving Dane was during my last CES visit with Lulu’s agency.

I met Dane for the first time in person and found him even more of an arrogant creep in real life.

I hate CES anyway, but having to be there with this idiot only made it worse.

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He walked into the CES suite of our consumer electronics audio client from Canada and was very standoffish and rude.

“Are you happy?” he said bluntly to our client, a nice Asian woman named Clarice, who was one of my favorite clients. “Are you getting what you want?”

She said yes and praised our work, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. She paid us $4K a month and Dane considered her small client not worth his time and he treated as such.

I felt so embarrassed as we left after five minutes of visiting with her as I had promised we would stay for 30 minutes and talk about how the show was going and her company’s upcoming meetings with the media.

Dane said to me as we left that our client was “kind of a cold bitch.”

I didn’t know what to say as she was quiet but a very nice lady. Not a bitch at all.

But what do you expect as Dane was an asshole after all.

Later we had drinks and he confessed to me that he didn’t have much respect for Lulu and Lorne (we were in agreement there) and that his favorite employee at the Chicago office was a whiny Millennial named Marissa Aslan, a Turkish woman that started working at our firm as an intern and later was hired as an account executive. Marissa was annoying paper pusher who couldn’t write worth a shit. Her pitches and press releases were barely passable, but apparently, she knew how to kiss Dane’s ass. They did share negative attitudes, though, so I was not surprised they got along. Marissa later cost us a client with a stupid email blunder, but I’ll get into that more in a later blog.

Later during our CES trip things went from bad to worse. We had booked our difficult tech client from France, who was exhibiting a smart shoe, for an opportunity on the Today Show. The client was hard to work with and wouldn’t send the shoe, which was still in prototype form, to the show via mail. They insisted on taking the shoe to New York themselves so Today could include it in a tech roundup show. Naturally, it was a logistical nightmare, but I had it under control. At least, I thought so, but Dane began sending me worried emails about my handling of the Today show opportunity.

I emailed him back “No worries” and that everything was being handled appropriately.

He shot back a rude email writing: “I know that ‘no worries’ is just a phrase everyone uses, but frankly, I am worried. I am very concerned with how you are managing this big opportunity.”

I was beyond pissed off. I used “no worries” to tell him not to be concerned that I was doing my fucking job and he used it against me. Another new low.

By the way, our client’s smart shoe was eventually featured on the Today Show and they were thrilled. Dane looked like the asshole in the end, even though he probably privately took credit for it and said it was his ugly management style that forced me to do my job. Nothing could be further from the truth as I have booked numerous huge TV placements even before that idiot Dane was in the PR business.

today logo

Another troubling development took place at the show when I was not invited to a CES dinner with Dane, Lulu, and Lorne. Lulu had always invited me to dinner while at CES to talk about the future, but now I realized I probably didn’t have one on her agency.

When I got back home from another successful CES where I had secured a lot of media for our smart shoe and audio clients, Dane called me. I thought I was going to be fired. In fact, I actually wished for it. Instead, Dane called to inform me that he was cutting my pay 50 percent so now I was making my lowest salary since the late 1990s. I was disgusted and shocked and determined to leave Lulu’s firm more than ever.

paycuts

I know it is not professional, but the pay cut was my breaking point. I didn’t quit but also didn’t give a fuck anymore. During the next six months, I started getting up late, missing meetings and worked my own hours. I no longer gave a fuck what Dane or Lulu thought. I dared them to fire me and put me out of my misery.

The way I looked at it if they were going to pay me a lot less, they were going to get a lot less of my work and dedication.

Yet I still took care of my client’s media relations needs and secured top media placements, but really that was for me as I launched an aggressive job search and wanted new media coverage for my updated portfolio. Unfortunately, I struggled to find a new job and was stuck at Lulu’s as they wouldn’t fire me. Essentially, I had become cost-effective and Lulu and Dane wanted my media expertise on staff in case we got new clients that needed top media coverage.

Early the following summer, Dane went on a long vacation. I was relieved as any day not dealing with his arrogant, stupid ass was a blessing. Apparently, the day he returned from his trip Dane got into an argument with Lulu and abruptly left our agency. The fucker didn’t even leave a two-week notice. Hardly professional considering all the fake professional BS he tried to shove down our throats during his time at our small agency. (I will have more on Dane’s ugly departure in a later blog).

jobquit

Although Dane was an unprofessional, insufferable asshole, he at least did one good thing. His quitting finally dissuaded Lulu to abandon her practice of hiring big agency fools and soon after she sold her company.

However, in a sad commentary about the PR business and business in general, after inflicting stress and damage at our agency, Dane landed on his feet and not long after was hired by a big agency again. So, the big agency fool had returned home.

Crazy. I can only imagine the ugly administrative fakery he is foisting on his new agency and colleagues.