Media Relations Beatdowns

mediarelations3

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.

mediarelations1

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.

mediarelations2

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.”

screamingwomanabuse1

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.

screamingwomanabuse4

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.

abusiveboss2

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.

mashable

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.

employeemuzzle

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.

abusiveboss3

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.

badboss2

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!

badbossnew1

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.

notalwaysright

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

panic1

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.

micromanage3

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.

panic4

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.

d56aa0c167c27aea9dce18184c27e8be--people-make-mistakes-everyone-makes-mistakes

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.

micromanage5

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.

micromanage1

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.

panic7

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.

caboimage

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.

proconimage

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.

ces hell

“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.

panic2

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.

cryingatwork

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.

panic3

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.

micromanage2

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.

panic6

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

 

Big Agency Fools

fools-

 

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.

fool1

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.

idiot3

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.

fool-silence

“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.

idiots6

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.

workhellbetterpeople

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.

ces logo

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.

 

 

 

The CEO That Turned Down a Forbes Cover Story

forbescover-riches

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.

https___i.forbesimg.com_media_assets_forbes_1200x1200

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.

clientfromhell2

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.

surroundedbyidiots

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.

abusive boss

 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).

forbes3

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.

stupidclients

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?

moreidiots

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.

40436865-yelling_bullhorn_200.530x298

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

turkishwoman2

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.

screamingturkishwoman1

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.

photoimage

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.

photoreluntant

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.

sn-scream2

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!”

office-meltdowns-new

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!??

losing my shit

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.

work idiots1

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.

 

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

civilwar4

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.

civilwar-slavery2

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.

slave-civilwar

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.

slaveryimagegif

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?

 

Social Media Hack

 

Social-Media-Hacks

Sadly,  I have worked with my share of social media hacks in my public relations career. Most of them have no idea the role of public relations and how it can be leveraged in social media to benefit clients. More on that in future posts.

However, one of the worst social media managers I have worked with in my career was a strange Millennial freak I will call Lark.

In his mid-twenties, scrawny with short hair, Lark was a strange, awkward and unfriendly freak.  Lark used to wear track clothes, shorts, and tennis shoes to our office and would run (yes, run!!) past my office numerous times a day to visit my boss few offices down like a punk kid.  It was beyond annoying.

One day during summer, he even wore flip-flops to our office. Sorry, call me old-fashioned but flip-flops don’t belong in a work environment. This is work not fucking vacation. Unfortunately, his attention to his work reflected this attitude.

Lark was hostile toward me from my first day at our agency. Not sure why. Him and Code Boy went to lunch on my first day and didn’t even invite me along. Not exactly welcoming. Kind of like onboarding in hell. It gave me a glimpse right away into the dysfunctional situation I had walked into.

maxresdefault-badteamwork

The worst thing about Lark was that he was dumb. He had little or no creativity or intellectual curiosity about his job or anything else. Not exactly a good trait for someone who is supposed to have his pulse on the media and pop culture for promoting our agency’s clients.

Frankly, he was a social media manager only one year out of college who was in over his head.  He had some strange notions as well about social media.

Lark was so afraid of posting too many social media items for our clients, he rarely posted at all so our clients’ social presence actually got worse after they hired us.

Lark actually had the gall to say to me once that he took public relations classes in school and knew a lot about PR, but honestly, he was fucking clueless about what I did for our clients.

It was so frustrating to secure numerous high-profile media placements for our clients and for my work not be represented in our clients’ social media pages. Lark never had any communication with me to find out what I working on and honestly, he didn’t care. Lark and I hated each other and there was no hiding it. It wasn’t just our age difference. He had shown no respect for me even though I was experienced and knew what I was doing. I had no respect for his incompetence and inexperience and my success made him look bad.

But the bottom line: our client’s social media suffered from this fool.

work idiots

When we went to the new business presentation to a Chinese company in Silicon Valley (which I mentioned in my previous blog), which was for social media and not PR, Lark didn’t present to the client. He hardly said anything at all until forced to by our boss.

The boss’ other son Brian, also a Millennial, a former gym trainer who sadly handles our new business outreach with no experience!!!, had to give the presentation, which was questionable as well. But at least he did it.

Is it any wonder we didn’t get the business.

This is when I realized just how much our agency was in trouble with Lark handling our social media.

I once asked my boss why he didn’t replace Lark as he was clearly incompetent. My boss said he didn’t want to bring on a more experienced social media manager because they would demand more money. So instead, he cheaped out, and our agency’s performance suffered because of it.

Strangely, the only time Lark was sociable at all was with his Millennial colleagues.

Lark’s shallow partner in Millennial crime was naturally Lydia. But he also hung out a lot with a strange Millennial freak from India that joined our team to do research and help out with social media. Arushi was very short and wide, long black hair and an odd looking round face. She was very timid and shy, quiet and also only came out of her shell around other Millennials, namely Lark and Lydia.  Yet Arushi always had this notion that people were trying to hit on her if anyone got too friendly, too. I saw how she got weird once when Code Boy was friendly toward her.

Arushi hardly said anything to me and was actually hostile because of poisoning from Lydia and Lark. She even rudely bumped against me during a new business meeting with a client. I was so outraged by her rudeness I barely could stay long for the meeting.

Yet Arushi was a fraud, too, of sorts. My boss and  Brian praised her research skills, yet I once had her do a competitive analysis for one of our PR clients. It was inadequate, to say the least. The interns I eventually hired to help me in my PR department made her work look terrible. However, she took the cake for me, when before she left our firm, she actually walked into my boss’ office and demanded a $70K salary to stay working there as her internship was coming to a close. She was barely out of school and knew nothing about marketing or social media and was asking for this??? Millennial stupidity and arrogance will never cease to amaze me.

So, after several months there, I finally had it with Lark, and his inept ways and let my boss know of my displeasure with his lame social media performance, and his having no communication with me. It all came to head as my boss and Lark got into a series of arguments about his lame performance and willful ignorance.

workwellmore

This didn’t improve anything between me and Lark, but it did lead to his departure from our firm a couple of months later much to my relief.

However, be careful what you wish for.

Lark’s replacement was actually worse.

More on that in my next blog.

 

The Brazilian Incident

welcome-to-brazil-icon-set-travel-and-tourism-concept-brazil-background_10083-246

I will call this “The Brazilian Incident.”

It sparked one of the worst and troubling periods of my public relations career and nearly led to me finally, once and for all, leaving this heartbreaking profession for good.

The Brazilian Incident all started rather innocently.

Our agency, as had written in my previous posts, brought in a lot of interns from the local colleges and for a while, this included a lot of foreign exchange students.

Two Brazilian interns in their early twenties — Emmanuella and Tristessa — joined our team for several months.

Like Millennials in general, they had no courtesy or manners and were strangely standoffish and smug but didn’t know anything.  I had known a number of Brazilian women in work and in my personal life through the years. Unfortunately, Emmanuella and Tristessa possessed none of the warmth, kindness, and passion of the Brazilian women I had known and worked with.

Emmanuella had a strange low voice and laughed at dumb shit on the internet.  If you tried to say hello to Tristessa, she would give you a strange suspicious look like you were trying to pick her up or something. She even gave me a weird look after my boss introduced us after her first interview.  Later, I found out she as a public relations major, but she never once tried to learn anything from me, someone with a lot of experience in the business. Not surprising, though.

Frankly, neither one of them were as cool or as hot as they thought they were. But their attractiveness or coolness is hardly important, as it is their attitudes that proved more than troubling.

The problem all started during a long work car trip to Silicon Valley for a new business presentation to a large Chinese tech company. Rather than fly some of the team up there and do the rest via Skype or phone, my boss cheaped out and rented a van to take the whole team up to the meeting.  It was a long and grueling drive for nothing. We never did get the client, but that is another story.

On the tedious and tiring drive back from Silicon Valley, Emmanuella, who was sitting next to me in the middle seat of the van with Tristessa, fell asleep on my arm for a short while. I thought about waking her up, but I didn’ t want to disturb her. This proved a costly mistake that I would regret over the next few months.

When Emmanuella woke up, she was startled, said excuse me, and abruptly moved away from me. She didn’t initially act strangely — like I was trying to molest her or something — until later. I swear I never touched her, or had any intentions of touching her, but that didn’t matter in her eyes. She slept on my arm. What the fuck?

In fact, I had a similar experience while on a plane a few years ago. A woman — who was closer to my age — fell asleep against my arm for a brief while as she sat next to me during the flight. When she woke up, she was very apologetic and nothing ugly ever came from it. She didn’t think I was trying to molest her or something. Crazy.

planesleep

So, after we stopped at a gas station to fuel up and go to Starbucks, Emanuella moved to the very back of the van and avoided me like I had the plague.  When we finally arrived back to the office that night to go home, Emanuella ignored me as did her friend Tristessa.

The next day at the office, Emanuella avoided me like I was some kind of old sexual predator. Her friend Tristessa did the same.

Then it got even worse. For weeks after the van incident, I was shunned from their so-called team lunches they had with other creepy Millennials and others around our office — namely Lydia, Code Boy, and their creepy social media manager friend (who I will write about in an upcoming post). They would invite everyone right in front of me like I was invisible.  They also did this when they invited the entire office — except for me — to an after-work party for Halloween.

hostile work

Still, I wondered if I was imagining all of this…

Sadly, I wasn’t. However, I didn’t realize how bad things really were until Emmanuella and Tristessa rudely warned one of their friends against me – right in front of me!!!

One of their friends, an attractive, tall woman with long black hair, visited our office and greeted me in a friendly manner. I actually saw Tristessa and Emmanuella immediately get up from their desks and pull their friend away and take her out of the office like I was some kind of a sexual predator to be avoided.

The horrible looks of hatred and fear on the faces of Emmanuella and Tristessa when they warned their friend about me haunted me for weeks.  I was beyond insulted and hurt. I was furious. I debated about telling my boss about it, which I didn’t.

Now, I have been treated horribly at PR firms through the years, but never quite as rudely as that. I had to leave the office for a while I was so shaken up.

Who were these fucking creepy interns to feel they could treat me like this? In a work environment, no less.

I never spoke to them again after that.

brazilianwomanpic3

When the Brazilian freaks finally left our agency after their internship was over I was so elated.

Lydia’s final message to Emmanuella and Tristessa on their last day was to “stay beautiful.”  Of course, they (and Lydia for that matter) were anything but beautiful, as I believe beauty is truly skin deep, but not in their case with their ugly, unfriendly, and immature attitudes.

In the end, I, unfortunately, discovered through this crazy Brazilian Incident…that the rudeness and cluelessness of Millennials truly cross borders, and sadly, is an age and generational thing.

 

 

 

TEAM LUNCH?

 

job-complains-workplace-boss-quotes-26

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here…working late in my career at an agency that has a staff made up of mostly interns attending college or recent graduates.

So naturally, you can imagine I work in Millennial hell. (I will write more about my disdain for Millennial attitudes and work habits in later posts, but I will only make a passing comment on it for this post).

Being a veteran of the business and much older than these interns, you can imagine that I didn’t have a lot in common with them, to begin with.

However, I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t use the word TEAMWORK if you truly don’t have an understanding of its meaning in a workplace environment. Cliquish, high school behavior should be avoided and is anathema to building a supportive team culture. Unfortunately, many of the Millennials I have worked with have no concept of this and exhibit rude, standoffish behavior like they are still in high school or in a college fraternity.

And yes…sadly ageism is alive and well in the public relations industry, too. But more on that later.

This blog post will focus on an idiotic co-worker I will call Lydia. She is a 24-year-old recent graduate from a local southern California college.  Lydia started out as an intern but was later hired by the agency as a graphic artist. My boss, who actually is pretty cool as far PR bosses go, but that is not saying much, thinks Lydia walks on water. However, I constantly find errors in her work for websites and campaign pages. She hates when I point it out.

I think real reason my boss likes Lydia is that he can get her cheap as she is just out of college rather than having to pay more for an experienced person, who is more professional. My boss is cheap, which I won’t dwell on too much in this blog, but even he is not the cheapest person I have worked for in public relations. I’ll explore that more in future blogs about how hard it truly is to make money in the public relations business.

Lydia is a short, chubby Latina woman with a strange, round face, bad teeth, stringy red hair, who thinks she is the shit. She is not. She also speaks very quickly (uses definitely a lot) and even mispronounces words in client meetings. It can get embarrassing at times.

Lydia also is shallow and constantly laughs (more of a high-pitched cackle to be honest) at jokes and videos on the internet and comments from her colleagues Norman and Alireza, who are not funny at all.

sports-teamwork-sportsmanship-quotes-03

Norman is the bosses’ son, who I call Code Boy, as he creates websites for our agency. He is in his thirties, tall with short hair, a goatee, and an odd, arrogant and unfriendly demeanor. He wears pilot shades while in the office and thinks he is so cool. He is not. However, his own father warned me during a trade show trip that Norman could be a cold person and not to take it personally.  Actually, I think he is two-faced and creepy, and I remember when I joined the agency, Code Boy didn’t talk to me for several weeks.

Even worse, Code Boy actually thinks he knows more about public relations than I do and he critiques my emails to clients at times, and even my press releases, although he knows nothing about PR.  One time when I went to a Dodger game, soon after I joined the firm, he tried to get an inappropriate media pitch for a military client pushed through my department without my approval. I stopped that immediately and spoke with his father and he never tried that bullshit again.  Now, during our conversations, usually, after everyone has gone home, I notice Norman looking for every little mistake or sign of weakness I show to share with Lydia and the rest of team to mock me behind my back. So I am much more careful what I say around Code Boy now.

Lydia’s other compadre is Alireza, a scrawny creep with a beard who joined the agency as a graphic artist a few months ago. I have never exchanged more than a few words with this fool, but he has always been unfriendly toward me.

How can you hate someone you don’t even know?

I can only think it is because of what I call Lydia’s “poison.”  Her hatred of me has always been there since I joined the agency and didn’t want to engage in dumb small talk with her. But two other factors, a dumb social media millennial fool who used to work at our agency who also despised me, and something I will call THE BRAZILIAN INCIDENT, also turned Lydia against me. I will explore these subjects in later blogs.

So, at the end of each week, Lydia will walk around and invite all the Millennial workers in the office to what she calls a “team lunch.” (Norman is the only one invited that is not a young Millennial out of school, but he is the boss’ son after all).

Lydia does this right in front of me, knowing I can hear her do it. It is a form of shunning me, but I have come to believe it is much worse.  Lydia calls her lunch backstabbing sessions “team lunches” but since she doesn’t invite everyone on the team, it can’t be a team lunch.  Lydia has no idea how high school and dumb that is.

I used to think nothing about it and figured they were all young and wanted to talk about school and other trivial matters Millennials love.

stock-vector-illustration-of-the-bad-team-work-business-image-81192040

However, I soon came to believe Lydia’s “team lunches” had a much more sinister purpose toward me and were doing serious damage to collaboration and so-called teamwork in our agency.  She used these lunches to bash me and my PR work at our agency yet she also knows nothing about public relations.  I began to notice this when Lydia started inviting interns that worked on my PR team to her lunches. Before they went to lunches with Lydia, the interns that worked for me were supportive and respectful. They were eager to learn. After Lydia’s lunches, they became unfriendly and even disrespectful and unprofessional at times. The female interns’ reactions were even worse. They became wary of me as if I was going to hit on them or to do something inappropriate, which would never be the case.  A future blog about the BRAZILIAN INCIDENT will make this nightmare more clear.

Even Louis, who works for me and I will call MBA boy, (and will write about more in a future post), has also been poisoned by Lydia’s lunches. His attitude used to be much more respectful and supportive but has turned unfriendly and questioning in recent months.

I know I am not imagining things as I was reminded of again recently when we had three new interns join our agency, and they were all friendly toward me until they went to lunch with Lydia. Now the new interns are unfriendly, ignore me and are even borderline hostile toward me. And they don’t even know me. I can only imagine all the horrible things Lydia is saying behind my back. It has been hard to deal with at times as I already hate my job, but I have grown to hate this creepy Millennial agency culture even more.

It has come to the point where I don’t even bother to befriend new people who join our agency as I know they will soon be poisoned by Lydia against me. I have seen it happen so many times over the past year.

And women say they are not vindictive.

It is a sad fact I have to face — I have no allies here except for my boss. I’ve had allies in the past at other agencies, but not here.

I am feeling isolated and left out a lot during most of my work days. There is no real sense of team at our agency. Although everyone here pretends differently.

I just want to work with cool and supportive people and make more money.

Is that too much to ask for?