Update about the launch of Life in Public Relations Hell novel in 2022

I wanted to kick off a new year with an update about my upcoming novel exploring my life in public relations hell.

This year, I made great progress and I am working on finishing the 13th draft of my novel.  After I complete two more drafts, I will publish the first volume of my novel series later this year as a digital and paperback book. I also plan to look into Amazon’s new hardback book service with this book.

I love how my novel is coming out. I started this blog in early 2019 to cope with my growing dissatisfaction with my long-time public relations career. It has been a lifeline for me, helping me deal with my ongoing job frustration.

Finally sharing my frank views on the dark side of the public relations industry and just how nightmarish and heartbreaking it can be to work as a publicist or public relations executive has proved a liberating experience for me.

I was hoping to have my book out sooner but a combination of financial difficulties and the impact of the covid pandemic delayed my novel’s launch.

However, with recent developments and trends in the job market including the Great Resignation, this year is the perfect time to share my novel.

Once I publish my first PR hell novel next year, I will begin working on the second volume of my series for launch in 2023 or 2024.

Stay tuned for upcoming book cover reveals and other book launch details later this year.

Happy New Year!!

GP

Update on Life in Public Relations Hell Novel, Future blog posts

I started this blog in early 2019 to cope with my growing dissatisfaction with my long-time public relations career.

You can say it was a cry for help in a way.

I was finally sharing my frank views on the dark side of the public relations industry and just how frustrating it can be to work as a publicist or public relations executive.

The experience has been quite a liberating one for me and led to my creating an epic novel of the same name. My first draft was more than 700 pages, but I have split it into two books. I am making great progress on the first draft and I am on my eighth draft. I love how it is coming out and I plan to launch my novel sometime next year. I will be writing a series of novels about my life in Public Relations hell and I also have a rough draft of volume two as well.

My latest post on my blog, the Mormon Backstabber, will be the last until I launch my novel. However, you can get a good feel for my upcoming book’s content on my blog.

You can also check out my blog for updates on my novel and also follow my book’s progress on Twitter, too.

Stay tuned.

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

 

 

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.

 

The CEO That Turned Down a Forbes Cover Story

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A Forbes Magazine cover story is one of the most coveted media placements in public relations.

Most PR practitioners go their entire careers without landing one.

I still haven’t. However, there is the one that got away…

One time in my career…I actually had a client turn down a Forbes print cover article.

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Yes, you read that correctly.

He had no good reason.

He wasn’t going to be indicted for a crime or hiding any financial impropriety. At least, I don’t think so.

He was just being another idiot although I must admit this idiocy reached a new low in my career. I am used to having my ass busted for not securing media opportunities like this.

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Naturally, he was my boss Lulu’s favorite client, an emerging company in the housewares market. She built her firm on his company’s unlikely success story.

Yet our client was still overshadowed by older and more well-established brands in the housewares space. Frankly, our client needed this kind of national media.

However, a few months before, this same CEO, who I will call Rob Walker, was interviewed for an industry Wall Street Journal article and wasn’t all that impressed.

That should have been a sign of trouble ahead.

What’s worse is that I worked on landing this Forbes cover story for six months.

I reached out to business writer Rex Terrell with a pitch that Lulu actually rejected. Also, the pitch wasn’t favored by the uptight, paper pusher named Molly Paulson that managed the account for our agency. I will write more about Molly in a future blog.

They again didn’t like me focusing on how the company’s CEO built the company into a billion-dollar company through infomercials and hocking his homemade housewares products at trade shows.

As usual, Lulu and my colleagues were clueless.

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It took repeated follow up and staying in touch with Rex for months to make this story opportunity happen.

When Rex finally gave the word that he was planning a cover profile I was so elated. Lulu, Molly, and our team were excited as well. At least, they seemed to be.

Now, this media breakthrough came after months of Lulu verbally attacking our team in “media relations beatdowns” over this account. We drafted many different pitches about our client’s business story, but no one on the team could land any top tier interest except myself.

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 However, our client was strangely indifferent to the Forbes cover opportunity.

Nicole Williams, one of our client’s communications directors, sounded pleased, but she also seemed disappointed as well. This as we later found out was because she was trying to get the CEO to fire us and hire her friend that had a competing firm. We actually discovered that Nicole (and the CEO) had already secretly hired our competitors, but they couldn’t land anything like Forbes.

So naturally, Nicole also proved no help when the opportunity went south.

Also, Nicole told us that the CEO seemed nervous that the profile could expose a troubled family past at the root of his company. Actually, he had broken away from his family’s business to start his own. His business had become more successful than his family’s business causing a rift between him and his relatives. He was estranged from them and didn’t want them included in the article.

I explained this to the writer Rex and he seemed OK with this.

However, Rex wanted to fly out to the company’s Chicago area headquarters and spend a day at the company, which would include lengthy interviews with the CEO, company VP, and other top directors. He essentially wanted to develop a day in the life profile of our client’s company.

Nicole said the CEO and everyone else was OK with it and were excited to spend time with Rex telling the company story.

I must confess I had visions of a Forbes cover story eventually being featured on my Linked IN profile and as part of my portfolio (and to eventually help me escape Lulu’s hell).

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So, imagine my frustration and anguish went all of my hard work went to waste.

I had to inform him on the day of the interview that the CEO was having second thoughts and was seriously considering canceling the interview.

Unfortunately, Rex had already taken a flight from New York and arrived in Chicago the day before the scheduled interview.

Nicole told our team that the CEO couldn’t spend the whole day with Rex and he was nervous about him talking to the rest of his team.

She said he could only spend 90 minutes with Rex.

“Our CEO never spends that much time with anyone let alone a Forbes writer,” Nicole said. “He is also worried about him asking too many questions about his family and his past.”

I assured her that wouldn’t be the case, but the CEO wouldn’t change his mind and spend the day with Rex.

 What the fuck is a day to put your brand on the map with a cover story on the most respected financial publication in the world?

Ahh…then I realized once again I was working in bush leagues with fake, scared business people that had no bold vision. Not the first and nor the last time I am afraid.

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I was mortified when I had to tell Rex that he could only interview the company’s CEO for 90 minutes and he couldn’t spend the day at the company’s headquarters and speak with the rest of the team.

Rex was furious.

“Ninety minutes? I need more time than that with the CEO and his team,” he said. “This is a cover story and I want to get a feel for how the company operates during a day. I need more time. Can’t you ask him to reconsider? This is a Forbes cover story. I flew all the way out here from New York to see him.”

I told him I would try again, but Nicole told us the CEO wouldn’t change this mind and spend more time with Rex.

I don’t think Nicole cared either way and she didn’t push the CEO to do the story because she wanted her friend’s firm to take over our client’s business pitching exclusively.

Lulu and Molly also proved little or no help either in saving the story. Lulu, who had a long relationship with the CEO, could have picked up the phone and tried to convince him but was afraid to go over Nicole’s head and maybe lose the entire PR account business as we also did product PR outreach for the company.

This opportunity hardly mattered to Nicole who was already trying to sabotage the story and our firm’s standing with the company.

I was beyond embarrassed and pissed when I had to go back to Rex and let him know the CEO wouldn’t give him more time.

I apologized profusely, but he was not happy. How you could blame him?

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We acted like fucking amateurs and wasted his time.

Rex angrily went back to New York and had to inform his editors who canceled the story.

After all that work, we were left with nothing.

In the ensuing months, Lulu got annoyed if I even mentioned this Forbes debacle.

In fact, if I had been really bold and had balls, I would quit in protest over this latest sorry episode at our agency, but unfortunately, I still needed the paycheck. In retrospect, truly no paycheck or amount of money is worth this kind of hell.

Sadly, Lulu continued to push our team to secure business stories and I would tell her and team that we had a Forbes cover and they turned it down.

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We were not going to get a business story opportunity better than that.

Lulu and the rest of the team knew this, but they wouldn’t admit it.

Still, Lulu pushed the team to send out more business pitches on behalf of the client, but we were never able to match the opportunity I secured.

Also, after that, I only went through the motions and pretended to care about getting any more business opportunities for this loser CEO.

In an ironic twist, we were fired from the account’s business media outreach shortly after.

In the end, the damage had been done with the writer.

Rex never trusted me after that and ignored my future pitches even when he left Forbes for another business publication.

Do you blame him?

 

 

 

The Business Magazine Cover Photoshoot Meltdown

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I will call this the business magazine cover photoshoot meltdown.

I had worked more than six months to arrange for a business cover story for Azra Yalman, one of the general managers based out of the Los Angeles office of our airline client.

Now, this was a big fucking deal for our agency as I soon discovered as Azra also happened to be close friends with my boss, Lulu Yilmaz.

Azra, who was a Turkish woman in her early forties with black hair and brown eyes, would put on this timid act and pretend that she was so nice. She always acted so apologetic when reaching out to us with some crazy and unreasonable demand. Actually, it was a façade to hide that Azra was a horrible prima donna and narcissist just like Lulu.

When I joined the agency, there was a lot of pressure on me to find a business story for Azra focusing on her impressive rise through the airlines’ executive ranks. For a while, I received no interest until one of my business contacts was intrigued with her story and we set up an interview and photoshoot.

Interesting background on this as well. When I developed the pitch, I had several Millennials, who thankfully left the agency soon after, and Lulu, attack my pitch I had developed about Azra. They thought it was too personal and would never work. They changed it into some boring bullshit, but I sent my original version to the business editor anyway.  Apparently, I wasn’t such a fucking idiot after all.

So much for having supportive and knowledgeable colleagues. What a joke.

Yet an early incident should have shown me what I was in for with Azra.

During my first couple of months at Lulu’s agency, I had to attend a travel trade show in San Diego to support Azra and our airline client.

I had set up several interviews at our client’s booth and Azra seemed pleased overall with my work.

However, during one of the interviews on the second day of the show, I accidentally introduced Azra to a travel writer as “Azra Asaroglu,” which was her married name and was listed on all of her emails. She got divorced apparently and Yalman was her maiden name. In my defense, I was not told that she hated her married name or even that she was divorced (or even married for that matter).

Azra became livid although she didn’t say anything at the time. She just gave me the cold shoulder and acted strangely and standoffish for the rest of the show. I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t sure.

When I got back to the office, Lulu told me that Azra was offended that I had used her married name when introducing her and wondered if she could work with me again.

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I was disgusted and shocked and it was a rude awakening to the kind of nightmare I was in for with Azra and our airline client in general.

However, in the ensuing months, Azra warmed up to me again as I continued to secure media for her and had set up the business interview and photoshoot.

Azra also had a freaky public relations manager named Pam McKibbon, who was a haggard Caucasian woman in her early fifties that appeared a lot older. She was always hostile toward Lulu and our agency and acted as if we were trying to steal her job or something. It was a classic case of the PR person who worked inside the company being threatened by a PR agency. It is something I have experienced more times than I can recount during my long PR career. So, naturally, Pam was also unfriendly to me and was little or no help during the photoshoot disaster. In a later chapter, I will discover just how much of act Pam was putting on while working at the airline, but there was no sign at this time that she was cool or interesting in any way.

The business magazine sent a photographer I had worked with in the past while at another agency named Sherry Jenkins. She was a talented and experienced photographer in her early forties, who had also shot my own headshot. I was relieved to see her when I arrived at the airline’s L.A. office where we had arranged the shoot to take place as I knew she would make things go smoothly and she delivered professional work. Little did she or I realize the nightmare we had in store for us.

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The first sign of trouble is when Azra showed up for the shoot three hours late. This more than concerned Sherry who worried if Azra had forgotten all about it. I assured her that was not the case, but I checked with Pam anyway, however; she wasn’t much help.

“I don’t know where she is,” Pam said.

When Azra finally arrived almost four hours late for her own photoshoot, she acted strange and reluctant to participate. Then she kept calling someone on her phone and speaking Turkish. Later I found out she was calling my boss Lulu to complain about the shoot she was three and almost now four hours late for. This was so fucking rude and embarrassing that I had to apologize to Sherry several times, who was becoming frantic and frustrated.

Finally, after more cajoling from Sherry and myself, Azra began to pose for photos. Unfortunately, she kept resisting Sherry’s suggestions and kept holding up the shoot. After Sherry finally got some shots done, Azra retreated to her office to call Lulu again and to even check her emails.

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Sherry was beside herself.

“What are we going to do, Jake?” Sherry said. “I’ve been here more than five hours and only have a few shots done.”

Then I got a call from Lulu.

“Jake…what’s going on over there?” Lulu said harshly. “I keep getting calls from Azra that she is unhappy with the shoot and photographer.”

Unfortunately, Sherry overheard Lulu’s comment (another embarrassment), so I quickly walked outside the office and assured Lulu everything was all right.

“I hope so, Jake. I am counting on you to manage the shoot. We could lose the client if this continues.”

“No worries, Lulu,” I said. “I am taking of it.”

We could lose the client?!

It was bad enough I had to deal with our prima donna, crazy client, but Lulu’s scare tactics only made things worse.

It took a lot more coaxing from me to get Azra to resume the shoot, but unfortunately, she continued to resist the photographer’s direction.

Then the whole photoshoot went south in a horrible way that still haunts me when I think about it.

Sherry tried to get some lifestyle shots of Azra interacting with her fellow employees. She suggested that Azra pose for a photo with one of her younger employees, a dark-haired man in his early twenties, and Azra went ballistic.

“No!… I will not take a picture with him! I hate him!,” Azra shouted and then she stormed back into her office and called Lulu again.

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Then of course came the inevitable call from Lulu who berated me again and repeated her warning that “we were going to lose the client!”

Pam came up to me and told me that Azra had canceled the photoshoot, but after I apologized to Azra profusely she reluctantly decided to finish it.

But she repeated several times that “I won’t take a picture with him! I hate him!”

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The even more shocking thing was Azra was general manager of the office and west coast region for the airline and she still melted down this way in front a member of the media. Even more baffling is I thought Azra was the boss and the person she hated worked for her! Yet she came across as a powerless, petulant, and immature child.

Sherry naturally was mortified and kept asking me if Azra was OK.

How were either of us to know that we would offend Azra simply by asking her to pose with one of her employees?

Finally, after Sherry did some quick and simple set up shots with Azra posing with airline props and standing in front of the airlines’ logo, the nightmare photoshoot was over 10 hours after it was supposed to start.

Azra apologized to Sherry profusely and thanked her. Sherry said it was no problem but she still appeared shook up as she quickly packed up her photography equipment and made a quick exit.

I was beyond embarrassed and didn’t know what to say except to thank Sherry for her patience.

Azra thanked me too, but she didn’t apologize. She then went back to her office and called Lulu again, but this time apparently everything was OK.

Lulu called me as I was leaving and thanked me for managing the photoshoot and she shared that Azra was happy that I was there and excited to see how photos came out.

WTF?!! Azra basically loses her shit and puts me and the photographer through hell and she can’t wait to see the photos!??

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As drove down the 405 Freeway toward our office after my call with Lulu, I seriously pondered quitting. It was beyond a demoralizing experience and made me question what I was doing with my career but also my life.

After the business cover finally came out four months later, Azra was ecstatic and praised Sherry for her photos and was very pleased with me for setting it up.

Yet when Azra tried to book Sherry for another photoshoot, she refused.

Sherry told me later that she was disturbed by Azra’s unprofessional behavior.

“She really seemed angry and disturbed during the photoshoot. I am uncomfortable going through something like that again,” Sherry said. “I have done thousands of photoshoots with top CEOs and business executives and I have never experienced a meltdown like that.”

Azra tried to smooth over things with me by sending me flowers and chocolates at our office, which I threw out in a dumpster after I left work.

There was no way I was going to be bought off like that.

A few months later, Azra even sent me a roundtrip airline ticket to Turkey, which I didn’t use to my regret — I was too busy, overworked and broke to actually take a vacation — but in retrospect maybe it was for the best.

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No amount of gifts could take away the ugliness of the way she treated me during her meltdown.  Nothing could make up for me having to deal with her crazy ass.

My job was hard enough, but this was a craziness I could do without.

I had heard of horror stories from celebrity PR people having to deal with meltdowns like this on a daily basis, (another reason I avoid entertainment PR), but until you actually go through it, you have no idea how horrible such a client tantrum can be.

 

Not A Turkish Delight

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Working for a perfectionist is a special kind of hell.

I have worked for my share of micromanaging perfectionists in my long public relations career, but someone I worked for a while ago, Lulu Yilmaz, was by far the worst.

Lulu was a short blonde Turkish woman in her late thirties who ran her own firm, the Yilmaz Agency, with offices in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

She was headstrong, pushy, very opinionated, and hated when anyone on her staff challenged her.

Lulu also fancied herself an artist and had her lame artworks featured on the walls through her offices. It was truly pedestrian impressionist art to me and I don’t know shit about art. This artistic side of her proved a pain in the ass later when she would be very critical of our PowerPoint proposals as not being beautiful enough. I hate PowerPoint, but more on that later.

Lulu had experience in public relations, more than 15 years, but she knew next to nothing about media relations and couldn’t write worth a shit.

Even worse, nothing we did was ever good enough for her.

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You could have one of the agency’s clients on the Today Show or in the Wall Street Journal and it would never matter. You could never build up trust with her.

It felt like have a bank account flush with money one day, and empty the next.

Or it was like trying to build a house on a foundation of quicksand.

Lulu was also extremely blunt in her criticism, and many times, it felt as if you could do nothing right when working for her.

“Now, Jake,” she would say in a condescending tone of disapproval and disdain. “Our client is not happy.” Then she would follow with a litany of criticisms that many times were unfounded or unfair.

However, since she expected perfection, you could never hope to match the delusions in her crazy mind. It was demoralizing, to say the least.

Lulu used berate our teams in horrible conference calls that I called “media relations beatdowns.”

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Lulu would try to shame us and tell us we were keeping her up at night by not delivering results for her clients. Sometimes she would do this on Friday, and then demand we pitch the media, even though everyone knows in PR that this is the worst day to pitch and is usually when companies dump bad news.  Far too many times, Lulu was strategically clueless.

As I have also discovered unfortunately in this business at other agencies, our clients were always right in Lulu’s eyes (because they paid us) even when they were so obviously wrong. She was tough on her employees, but rarely, if ever, stood up to clients and defended our work. It was always our fault. However, this ignored our role as PR consultants, which is to educate clients about the PR process and advise them the best strategy to benefit their business.  Clients don’t hire us to be a “yes-man” or “yes-woman” agreeing with everything they propose. They hire us for our expertise, which is something Lulu would conveniently forget whenever we were criticized by clients.

Lulu had two coveted clients, an airline and a housewares brand (her first client), that she built her firm around. These clients abused us in so many ways but Lulu never took our side.

Also, we were always expected to drop everything to make sure these two clients were happy. It was beyond a nightmare.

At the end of my first year, Lulu declared that this is “the best team we’ve ever had at the Yilmaz Agency…”

I took pride in that initially until over the next year I sadly watched nearly everyone one of our staff leave our agency because of Lulu’s ongoing craziness and unreasonable demands. I then realized that this statement by Lulu was a lie and part of her con to try and keep us there.

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Even worse, she said the same thing at the end of my second and third year as well, but by then I had already seen through her manipulative bullshit.

Not surprisingly, the turnaround at the Yilmaz Agency was atrocious. When I joined the firm, there were around 35 employees spread out over the three offices.

In the following three years I worked for Lulu, more than 55 employees, (honestly, I lost count after a while), left the agency.

After someone left her agency, they were always in the wrong in Lulu’s eyes. “I heard bad things about them from clients…” was Lulu’s usual refrain.

As you could imagine, Millennials didn’t last long working for Lulu, and the ones that did became bitter and angry and difficult to work with.

God knows how tough I am on Millennials and their horrible work habits and attitudes, but they had a point with Lulu.

Lulu would work our younger staff late into the night on time-consuming proposals and projects, and on weekends and holidays, too.

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She once dumped a 57-page PowerPoint proposal project on me and the Chicago office on a Friday afternoon. We spent all weekend on the proposal, and we later got the client, but they fired us after a month because of a fuck up from one of the junior staff that worked in the Chicago office (that unbelievably went on to work for one of the largest PR firms in the world). More on that incident later.

When I joined the firm, the young staff was already in rebellion and complained bitterly about her horrible and unappreciative management style. I had many times wondered what I had got into as I had left of the worst PR jobs as I ever had as a PR specialist at an e-commerce company. Working at Lulu’s agency proved worse. I felt embarrassed that I had described Lulu’s agency as a dream job when I left my previous position at the e-commerce company on good terms. I had no idea how much of a haunting joke that would be.

Lulu used to play of sort of bad cop, good cop routine with her vice president Miriam Letti, who I later called the VP of Panic. Miriam, who 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. She was hardly nice as Miriam would panic when Lulu attacked the staff for not living up to her crazy standards. However, 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. I also remember once Miriam giving me shit about asking for the day after Christmas off?!!

Miriam was also a horrible micromanager who would finish her work 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.  This is where the time difference really proved a nightmare. 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. I will write more about her dumb ass in a future blog.

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Lulu’s husband Lorne was also a piece of work. I secretly 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 as well, even though he knew nothing about public relations. Fortunately, he didn’t work with the firm in my first couple of years there, as he started a TV UFC company/league. 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 company was bought 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. But I’ll return to Lorne’s story in a later blog.

Honestly, I couldn’t stand working for Lulu’s crazy ass. I am still not sure how I lasted more than three years working for this demented freak.

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The one time that I finally stood up to her and basically told her what I thought of her lousy firm, crazy management style, and cheap ways and quit, Lulu wouldn’t accept my resignation.  It was a strange reaction as she admitted to me that no one who worked for had ever spoken as bluntly to her as I had. So Lulu gave me a raise to try and appease me and everything was OK for a short while but then things went to back to the normal craziness a few months later.

Sometimes I think I was a masochist for having stayed as long I did working for Lulu.

It nearly ruined my career.

 

 

 

Cause of the American Civil War? More Millennial Ignorance…at Work

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It was another classic example of Millennial work ignorance, but one that still haunts me, and makes me wonder what all this technology is for if not educate us or at least enlighten us in some way.

Not too long ago while at work, I overheard our former social media manager Lark and the Indian tech geek Arushi talking about the cause of the American Civil War. They were unsure if the war was fought over slavery, an ugly and shameful economic system built on the stolen labor and the denial of basic human freedoms too many of us take for granted today.

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This was around the time of Charlottesville tragedy and people in our country were finally calling for the removal of public statues of traitor and slaver Robert E. Lee.  You can look up Lee’s history if you doubt where I stand on this. This an excellent article that destroys the myths of Lee and reveals his true history and views on slavery and racial matters.

Johnathan, a graphic artist, who grew up in the south, wondered why people wanted to take down the Lee statues. Another clueless Millennial.

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They have access to more information than any generation in history via the internet and remain ignorant of history and key facts about our country and the world.

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It is no wonder that all I ever hear Lark, Arushi, and the other Millennial fools around our office talk about is trivial bullshit. They rarely if ever talk about books, ideas, great music, films or TV. Their lives revolve around their phones and social media.

Pathetic and shallow.

Just as annoying is Lark and Arushi constantly talking about online videos.

“Did you see that video?” is a constant refrain from Arushi.

It is typically some trivial pet video or some other shallow clip.

Yet when it comes to an important subject like the American Civil War they remain clueless and yet the answers remain in the palm of their hand.

How did I get stranded in this ignorant Millennial work nightmare?

 

The Social Media Criminal

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I thought Lark was the worst social media manager I ever worked with, but his replacement, Danny Medina, was so much worse in ways our agency could have never imagined.

This two-faced freak proved to be a very savvy social media criminal.

It proved a costly hire for my boss — quite literally.

Danny was a short Latino man in early thirties with dark hair he styled in a strange pompadour. He wore denim jackets and pretended to be cool always smiling giving a thumbs up to everyone and he would call people “brother.”

It seemed so phony to me like he was trying too hard.

He also pretended to be a church-going, religious person and even said he sang in a traveling choir. I think that was a strategy to endear him to my boss who is deeply religious.

Something about Danny, his odd, overfriendly behavior as if he was sizing us up, gave me the creeps from the start.

However, he even had me fooled initially, as he pretended to be a capable social media manager although he had little or no experience. Yet could pull off just enough to keep our boss fooled with lame posts.

Soon after, he wasn’t communicating with me and he also had no knowledge or idea how to leverage my PR and media results in our client’s social media pages just as with his predecessor Lark.

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Some of our clients began bitterly complaining about Danny’s work, but he would quickly blame the clients. Now, this is a difficult thing for me to say, but in this case, our clients were right about Danny’s lame work.

Another odd thing I noticed, is that each work day Danny wandered far from our office wearing earbuds and talking on his phone sometimes for hours at a time. I would see him walking when I went to a nearby Starbucks for coffee. Yet he never stayed late to make up for his lost time. He always left around 5 p.m. like the other Millennials around our office.

We are both NBA fanatics and Danny tried to befriend me that way, too. He even invited me to a Lakers game which I refused. Even then something told me that no way was I hanging out with this freak.

My boss began to complain about Danny checking out on his job. Danny told him he was heartbroken about his girlfriend that had recently left him and went back to Chicago where he was also from. His mind not being on his social media job was apparently was all a ruse, too.

In another sickening development, Danny had befriended Code Boy and used to call him brother and they would give each fist bumps and high fives in the office.

Even worse, Code Boy and Lydia used to invite Danny to their fake team lunches. That gave me pause. Think about it. They hated me so much they would rather invite a creepy criminal to their fake lunches than me. It truly showed me the lack of character and true shallowness of Code Boy and Lydia, my unfortunate so-called co-workers.

Talk about a diseased culture.

Pretty crazy.

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Danny’s gig was finally up about seven months into his employment.

My boss started to discover social media advertising charges for Facebook and Instagram ads that he hadn’t authorized.

Actually, Danny had started his own NBA fan/news business on Instagram and Facebook using our boss’s credit card business to fund his new operation.

My boss also discovered Danny would use our office and address and even pictures of our office to convince people to sign up for his service and company,

All in all, he eventually stole about $2,000 from our company.

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When my boss got suspicious, Danny had already gone home for the night.

Danny didn’t show up the next day at work as he must have realized he had been found out as my boss wanted to meet with him about the mysterious charges.

Danny disappeared and we never saw him again. We figured he had done this at many businesses across the country and we were only his latest victim.

 

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Shortly after he left, we also began receiving mysterious emails from someone pretending to be our boss asking members of our agency to buy gift cards from Best Buy and send them to him. We have no proof it is Danny, but I wouldn’t put it past him.

Even this past week we got an inquiry from a minor league baseball team back east that said we had contracted with them to provide advertising services.

Only one problem. Our agency had no knowledge of it. Danny had created a fake email while at our agency to fraudulently use our company to contract services with this minor league team.

Not too long ago, someone also stole money out of our bosses’ business bank account. We are not sure if it is Danny but you never know.

One night after the whole thing went down, I had a strange conversation with Code Boy, who said it was too bad about Danny. He seemed sadder to me that he lost a fake friend than pissed about a lying criminal who had stolen a lot of money from his father.

Goes to show that you can never tell about people. I’ve had my reservations about social media managers in general, but I never figured anything like this.

Embezzlement?

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The sad part is we never found Danny to file charges against him. The authorities are still looking for him as well.

Danny is still out there somewhere trying to steal money from other unsuspecting victims.

Unfortunately, after Danny’s departure, my boss continued his familiar pattern of hiring inexperienced people for our agency’s social media services.

Sophia, a former Latina waitress in her late twenties, who recently graduated from college with little social media experience, was hired as our social media manager. She was actually supposed to be an intern in my PR department but we didn’t have any openings at the time. Unfortunately, Sophia has also proved to be somewhat clueless and uncommunicative and even goes on team lunches with Code Boy and Lydia.

She was somewhat friendly before the lunches, but now she despises me, too. I am not sure why as I have never been mean or harsh toward her at all. Sophia is also wary if I try to speak to her like she is afraid I will hit on her or something even though I have always been very professional and courteous toward her. Must be Lydia’s backstabbing poison again and maybe the lingering BS from the Brazilian Incident.

Sophia is smarter than Lark, although that is not saying much, and she isn’t trying to embezzle funds like Danny.

So I guess you could call that progress.