Diary of a PR Amateur

Not So Fast

October 3, 2010
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Well, I wouldn’t have believed it unless I had heard it myself, but it turns out that my current company thinks I am worth something after all. My boss (the VP of Marketing) came into my cube late last week and delivered the good news:

“Joe, we are giving you that raise you were looking for, and I’m happy to let you know that we’re bumping you up 7%. That’s higher than the average increase of 3% that we usually give, so you should feel really good about yourself.”

“Um, (VP of Marketing), I appreciate the gesture, but I thought you knew that I was expecting something more significant,” I said.

“Well, Joe, as I said, 7% is nothing to sneeze at.”

“Listen, (VP of Marketing), you and I would prefer for me to be spending my time developing relationships with the key media and analysts who cover our industry, rather than discussing my salary, so just bump it up 10% and we’ll both get back to work.”

You see, I figured at this point that I had all the leverage, so I decided to be more demanding.

“Sorry, Joe. 7% is all we can do.”

“Well, I’ll have to think it over,” I responded.

“That’s fine, Joe,” he said. “And when you have made your decision, we have more news for you as well, provided your decision is to stay.”

Wow! Maybe they’ll be promoting me, too …


Making An Impression

September 14, 2010
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Well, the interview went as expected. I hit the ball out of the park, and they were, of course, duly impressed.

They asked me what kind of media contacts I had. I successfully answered by talking about how I have a gift for making new contacts all the time because of my electric personality.

They asked me whether I am a strong writer. I responded by referring them to the many press releases I have written during my time as PR manager of (my current company).

I'm the Domino's Pizza of Plan Development - 30 Minutes or Less

They asked me to talk about my abilities, in terms of putting together plans of action. I asked them to give me a scenario and I’d be happy to create a plan in 30 minutes or less.

They asked me my salary requirements. I answered firmly and quickly, without hesitation.

In short, I was on my game, and there was nothing they could do other than being WOWed.

When we finished up, however, they gave me some rotten news. It seems the VP of Marketing is Jewish, so he will be in and out of the office over these few weeks, and they won’t be able to get back to me with any kind of update until the first week of October. How annoying is that?

Anyone Can Say They Are Jewish, Because There is No Specific Jewish Look

But it also gave me an idea. When he told me he was Jewish, I told him I was, too. That way, when I’m hired, and the Jewish holidays come around in the future, I’ll be able to take days off without it counting against my vacation time.

And that, my friends, is what you call quick-thinking.

Meanwhile, my company is bugging me to send out a press release soon. To paraphrase my boss, the market is forgetting about us.

Well, I’d forget about us, too. After all, the slick PR guy is on his way out. Where is the company going to go from here?

I am so out of here, and it looks like this company I interviewed with last week is the ticket I need.


A Bite

September 5, 2010
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Well … well … well.

We all knew it was just a matter of time, didn’t we? I mean, I’m like the George Clooney of the PR world right now. That’s right, we’re talking most eligible PR manager.

So it won’t come as much of a surprise to you that I’ve been asked to come back for a second interview with a major software company. (I can’t give you the name for obvious reasons.)

They want me to come in to speak with the VP of Marketing and the VP of Corporate Communications. This is fine with me, given that I’ve always felt that PR should report into both the CEO’s office and the marketing department (with a dotted-line to the latter, of course).

In any case, the meeting (I don’t call it an interview, since I’m evaluating them as much as they are evaluating me) is scheduled for Tuesday, 9 a.m. sharp.

Now, I wore a suit for the first meeting I had with them, since I always learned (and am now teaching you!) that you want to always wear a suit to a first interview (meeting, for me) so that there is no doubt in the employer’s mind that you are to be taken seriously.

I think that wearing my Superman cufflinks will send the right message.

This time, I’m going to wear something more casual, while still demonstrating that I’m an upper-crust kind of guy. I’m not going to go too crazy, but I need to send a message that I will be establishing the reputation for this company.

I’ve put together a checklist of things to better prepare me for this big day:

1. Do research of the last three months of press releases issued by the company.
2. Shine shoes

Artis Gilmore. Great Facial Hair? Yes. PR guy? No.

3. Determine what kind of facial hair I will have for the interview. Goatee? Little bit of hair under bottom lip? Mustache? Mutton-chops? (kidding about that last one)
4. Do research on background of VP of Marketing and of VP of Corporate Communications.
5. Figure out where I will be eating lunch after the meetings.
6. Come up with “sick-guy voice” for calling in sick at my current job.

If I can do all those things successfully, I’m as good as in.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


A Hot Commodity

August 24, 2010
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I know I haven’t updated you in a little while, but when you are on the market (as I am), certain things tend to take priority.

So here’s the latest …

FACT: I am much more marketable than even I ever could have imagined.

FACT: There is no question that I’ve made the right decision by looking around for a better position.

FACT: I can list facts just as well as Dwight Schrute.

FACT: My current boss and the CEO are both jerks, who have effectively “kept me down,” limiting my opportunity for growth.

FACT: I have a great smile that seems to be winning over all those with whom I am meeting about new jobs.

FACT: I have not yet received any offer, but I am hopeful.

All the interviews have gone basically the same. I wow the HR (that’s human resources) person, since they generally have no clue about PR itself. I could read a baking recipe to them and they wouldn’t know the difference. Then, I meet with the VP of marketing, who generally has ascended to his (I have not yet met any female VPs of marketing) position by wearing nice clothes, having an interesting hairstyle, and some type of facial hair. But I am not impressed with their content when I meet them, and I make a point to make it clear in every interview that I don’t just want the PR job that is available; I’m gunning for their jobs. I think that makes a good impression, because it shows I’m a real go-getter who isn’t ever going to be satisfied.

Once I wow the VP of marketing, he outlines the specifics of the role and then asks me if I have any questions. Of course, I did my research and know exactly what to ask, in an attempt to make myself memorable. (After all, these guys are meeting with a bunch of candidates, not just me.) I ask:

“Do you allow people to put their feet up on their desks here?” and then I proceed to put my own feet on their desks.

Barack Obama's got nothing on me.

Maybe it’s a little nervy, but it’s memorable, and that’s what I’m shooting for. We each have our own brand, and I’m promoting mine.

So no offers yet, but I expect something to come through soon. Then, I can get out of this rotten company I’m working for now and actually make some things happen!

Until then, I have to pretend I’m still interested. So I tried to get another brainstorming session together for tomorrow, but when my boss saw the email, he shot it down. Said something about it being a waste of time. Considering how it went last time, I have no idea what he’s talking about, but he’s the boss, so I have to listen.

Okay, back to the job search …


A New Chapter

August 16, 2010
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Well, folks. I thought I had a fool-proof way of getting a raise, but it turns out it’s not fool-proof because my fool-of-a-boss and the CEO both turned it down.

You see, I had done some research into the average salary for in-house PR people. It was simple, really. I just went to PR Week and O’Dwyer’s, and each of them had a survey of salaries. So I took the average of both averages, and that turned out to be higher than the salary I have been making.

I took the surveys into my boss’s office and said, “If you think I’m lower than average, you can keep my salary as is. If not, I would like an increase.”

He smiled and said, “I’ll have to discuss this with (the CEO’s name), and will get back to you.”

You’re darn right, you should be discussing it. I’m the last guy they want to make unhappy.

Well, it wasn’t even 15 minutes later that he came back to me with their answer.

“We believe that you are currently worth less than the average PR person, but that you do have potential, Joe. Therefore, we are keeping your salary the same.”

I'm not feeling too good right now. But that's about to change.

So I responded, “If you don’t think I’m worth what I think I’m worth, I may have to leave the company.”

“I understand,” he said, and walked out of my cube.

So that’s it. I’m now definitely moving on. In fact, I have my first interview scheduled for tomorrow.

And I’m particularly excited, because it’s with an agency. Imagine how impressed they will be when I outline my client-side experience to them.


My Grandma Made A Fool of Me Once … Once.

August 9, 2010
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It’s so funny when you run into someone who thinks s/he is smarter than you. Perhaps that doesn’t happen to you very often. But to me, it seems to happen all the time. I imagine it comes from the other person’s general insecurity.

Anyway, in response to my simple inquiry regarding the results of the media tour, I received this from John at the agency:

“Joe –

Thanks for the email, and for including (my company’s CEO) in the cc line. I am surprised that you needed to ask about it, given that we sent you a full report on the tour the day we returned from San Francisco. (By the way, I hope you can go next time. SF is a great town.)

Anyway, I’ve attached my original email summary to this email so you and (my company’s CEO’s first name) can both review it. In short, it was a major success, and I hope we can do this every 3-4 months.

Please call me with any questions and/or concerns.

John”

What a jerk. What kind of an agency guy cc’s the CEO on an email designed to make me look bad? Well, I decided to put him in his place, so I responded with this – without cc’ing my company’s CEO:

“John –

Thanks for the re-send. I don’t think it makes sense in the future to waste (my company’s CEO)’s time with these kinds of emails. Perhaps you should just send these kinds of things to me in the future.

Thanks, and by the way, I found the formatting in the summary to be confusing. Please make sure it is done properly next time.

Joe”

Danny Vermin's got nothing on me.

So that’s the end of that, and I think I’ve made clear who’s running the show at this point.

By the way, there are big things on the horizon here for me. I just found out about a potential salary increase for myself. And I plan on bringing it to the attention of my boss tomorrow.


Media Tour Revisited

August 5, 2010
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For any good PR person, life is divided in half:

First half: Doing amazing things and achieving great results; and
Second half: Telling the world how great a job you are doing.

Well, you all know that I’ve got the first half covered. But I haven’t been paying as much attention to the second half as perhaps I should.

Well, today that all changes. From now on, I’m cc’ing our CEO on all my emails. And I mean ALL. In fact, I sent an email at the end of yesterday to our agency asking them for an update on the results of the media tour, and I cc’ed him. His reply?

“Joe, please let me know how they respond.”

You see? He now knows I’m on top of things. And here we are, nearly 8 a.m., and I still haven’t heard back from the agency.

So I just sent the following:

“John – I was surprised to check my email first-thing this morning and not see a response from you to my email about the media/analyst tour. Are you ignoring me?

And I cc’ed our CEO again. This is a great tactic, because it makes me look good and the agency look bad at the same time. That way, they will be on their heels and wanting to kiss up to me in the coming days so that I will be nicer to them.

Anyway, I hope they get back to me about the tour today so I can report back to our CEO.

And if you are wondering why I don’t feel the need to cc my boss (the VP of marketing), well, let’s just say I believe in cutting out the middle-man.


I Hate Delays

August 2, 2010
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I’m a little embarrassed to let you know, because I really built it up and I’m sure you have all been checking this blog on a daily basis, but the big announcement – on which my raise and promotion were riding – has been postponed indefinitely.

Apparently, (my company) has not exactly done what is necessary to make this particular customer feel loved. You know, sometimes I think that I’m the only person in this company who knows how to do his job.

I wonder how (my company) would do if we sent out a satisfaction survey to our customers.

In any case, we are officially delayed, which means I have to figure out a different way to prove that I am promote-able.

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, and I think it all starts with taking some of the pressure off my boss. Of course, this will involve having to work a little harder than usual, but I think it’s worth the short-term effort for the sake of the long-term.

By the way, it has come to my attention that there is a Facebook Fan Page devoted to me, which is not entirely surprising, given the quality of the information I generally provide here. You should check it out.


The Big Day

July 29, 2010
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I couldn’t even sleep last night. I was too excited.

Well, here I am, at 7:30 in the morning, sitting in my office taking one last look at this gem of a press release that I plan to send out in about an hour and a half. If you don’t remember why I’m so excited, you have to read this.

Okay, now that you are up-to-speed, here’s the plan of action for today:

9:15 – Send out the release over PRNewswire, while also distributing it via Pitch Engine.

9:26 – Pay a visit to my boss to let him know that I changed the headline slightly to be more compelling to the media.

9:27 – Listen to him freak out on me about changing the headline. I plan to wait out his tirade and then explain calmly why I did what I did.

9:31 – Explain calmly to my boss why I did what I did. Specifically, I will outline to him that the attention we receive will far outweigh any backlash from the customer. I will also offer to him that I am willing to take the fall, rather than leaving the blame on his and our CEO’s shoulders.

9:36 – Accept the praise he will heap upon me once he realizes the brilliance of my idea.

My mom will be as proud as a mom whose son has joined the Navy.

9:37 – Request a raise and promotion.

9:40 – Return to my cube to call my mother and tell her I’ve been promoted.

As I said above, I’m quite excited. Wouldn’t you be?

If all goes as planned, I will post again after it happens and let you know how well I predicted the scenario.

Then, there certainly wouldn’t be anything wrong with sending me an email congratulating me on the achievement. I can be reached at pr.amateur@gmail.com.


Well, Whadya Know?

July 26, 2010
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I walked in the office this morning (about a half-hour ago) and found a cannister of popcorn on my chair. It was wrapped with a big red bow and had a card attached to it. Here’s what the card said:

Joe –

Sorry to disappoint about SF.
We value you here at (my company).
We want to reward you, and there’s
much more where this popcorn came from.

Sincerely,

(my boss)

Well, some of you may already know that I’m a big fan of the cannister of popcorn, so I guess my boss thinks that will make everything better as well. But it won’t. Oh, I’m going to give them another chance, but I think they’ve made clear that they have to keep Big Joe happy or they will regret it. So they saved themselves this time, but a cannister of popcorn isn’t going to get the job done next time.


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