The most shopworn Hollywood image of “PR Men” and publicists is that they whore themselves out for money or proximity to fame–no matter what ethical issues are at stake. I won’t stoop to dignifying those kinds of stereotypes with an argument other than to point out that money isn’t enough for a PR pro with a shred of self-respect and professional dignity.
Case in point is ironically from Hollywood. Charlie Sheen’s long-time, long-suffering publicist has decided that he can’t take two-and-a-half more seconds with the “bad boy” TV star:
Charlie Sheen’s publicist, Stan Rosenfield, has quit his long-time job, citing Sheen’s increasingly erratic and bizarre behavior and public statements. The final straw seemed to be Sheen’s appearances Monday on “The Today Show,” in which he vowed to battle CBS violently and demanded a raise for his postponed show, “Two and a Half Men,” and then his long, unwieldy backyard appearance with TMZ.
“I worked with Charlie Sheen for a long time and I care about him very much, however, at this time, I’m unable to work effectively as his publicist and have respectfully resigned,” Rosenfield said in a statement to TMZ.
As in any business, sometimes you get to a point where a client–no matter how much money they pay–isn’t worth aggravation or loss of self-respect. Also, it would be unethical to take Sheen’s money because the bizarre star obviously isn’t taking advice from his public relations consultant. I applaud the man for walking away.
And that’s a wrap.
Quick writing tip:
It’s a fact of life that people get confused about the contraction for “it is” and/or “it has.” Just remember the apostrophe in “it’s” represents the “i” of “it is” and/or the “ha” of “it has.”
It’s the truth. (It is the truth.)
Its, on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun–signifying ownership or belonging.
The monster bared its teeth in anger, and I nearly lost my nerve. (The teeth belong to the monster.)
So, that’s it. It’s a simple rule, and you are responsible for its proper use.
You know, you try to live your life in a mild-mannered way…unassuming…normal. Then fate has its way with you and the next thing you know you’re a superhero.
I’ll spare you most of the gory details, but as part of my membership in a fantastic group of Public Relations practitioners, I attended a conference in the magnificently southern city of Charleston, S.C. A capstone of the conference was dinner at a lovely restaurant a mile or two from the hotel. As is my custom when I find myself in a strange city, I decided to walk by myself. As is also my custom, I only had a vague notion of where I was going and took little care to ask if my foot route was safe after dark. (Yes, I have unwittingly taken my life in my own hands many times due to this idiotic predilection for wandering. To spare a dose of the stink eye from my bride I’ll refrain from listing the places; suffice it to say I should be more careful.)
Before I embarked on my stroll I passed through the hotel lobby where complimentary hot herbal tea was available. Waving at a couple of our conference speakers camped out on comfy couches in the lobby–no doubt waiting for a taxi or at the very least a large group of companions with whom to sensibly walk to the restaurant– I took my hot tea in a paper cup and struck out to explore before dinner.
Besides the usual shops, hotels and banking institutions I discovered a lovely, decrepit old church cemetery and lingered a moment in the shadows–Moon Over Bourbon Street playing on my mental jukebox. A few persons unknown passed by, taking my odd behavior in from the corners of their eyes. I rejoined my route to dinner.
I had just passed an entire block of closed upscale shops when a man in a hooded sweatshirt approached me. He wasn’t belligerent in an overt way. Instead he seemed to be going for “menacing without obvious intent.” That is, when he asked me for my money, he didn’t produce a weapon or lunge at me; but his tone of voice told me he wasn’t asking me to donate. He was telling me to without actually saying “Give me your money or else.”
I raised an eyebrow, took a step back and said. “I’m not carrying any cash,” and fell silent. I’m no action hero, but I have been known to stare down trouble. (Once, I sent back my eggs at a certain national breakfast food chain knowing full well they might not come back spit-free. That’s how I roll.) So in the silence, it occurred to me that what I was carrying was a hot cup of herbal berry something-or-other. Yes, if the man made any sudden moves, he would get the Celestial Seasoning of his Life. I held the tea to my lips, conspicuously blowing the steam off the lip of the cup.
The face underneath the hood grunted, “You sure you don’t got any money for me?”
I replied that all I had was a cup of tea. Very hot tea. My eyebrow–sensing a need–raised itself again.
The menacing man grunted again and walked away, muttering.
I quickened my pace and walked a few more blocks. I’ll reiterate: I have a wife and daughter who depend on me for smart-aleck remarks and the occasional home repair. This sort of meandering in the dark was not a good idea–even in the gentile South. Still, I felt pretty good–I got out of it with my money and my life–almost like a superhero without the cape.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, I related the details of my run-in to my colleagues. My pal Barb Harris (who is quite the wit and one of my favorite people) found the entire story hilarious. I guess it is a little ridiculous, but really, it’s what transpired. I fought off a mugger with herbal tea.
Barb also finds my distinctly Spockian eyebrow raise–which I initiate without significant provocation–amusing. She has more than once made reference to it and the fact that after a couple of drinks at the hotel bar I was unnerved by the unrelenting gaze from a painting of a horse (that is another tail, er, tale).
T-Whiz is a mild-mannered superhero that can take down a potentially accosting criminal with just one cup of tea. His green super hero suit is quite fetching, and he can stun anyone just by raising his eyebrow. He rides a horse that he has a portrait of hanging in some bar somewhere in Charleston, South Carolina. When not fighting crime with hot beverages, he is partying hard and drinking vodka and Sprites. Of course, he never drinks and rides…
(Artwork courtesy of Barb’s talented cousin John Aardema/inkyboy)
So, G Whiz readers, let the word go forth on the mean streets of whatever city you dwell…if criminals meet a man riding a trusty steed while enjoying a steaming paper cup of hot tea, they’re gonna get burned–and not just by a raised eyebrow. Some think T Whiz is whistling past the graveyard…but it’s actually a tea kettle.
Move over, Iron Man. T Whiz is in town.
Every now and then people tell me they don’t like blogging because they tried it–that is they wrote entries “at least twice a week for a month” and got only a few hits and even fewer comments.
I respond that blogging is about building up a lot of high quality entries, promoting them and bringing the buzz to a “boil.” If you’re into immediate gratification, then starting a blog (unless you’re a famous person or company) is probably going to frustrate you. It takes time, persistence and good content to build readership. Click here for some good advice on that.
And lest you think that just because nobody comments that nobody is reading, well, check your analytics. You may find that people read (“watch” your blog) but don’t feel engaged enough to comment. Change that–ask questions, make provocative assertions. You may find that your blog will start to boil.
They say a watched pot never boils, but I prove that old saying wrong in the video I made below. Same with a “watched” blog–if you have the right mix of content, persistence and longevity–most certainly will start to “boil.”
Fellow entrepreneurs, do you get tired of hearing steroidal rhetoric like “go big or go home” or “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing“? Ever feel guilty that your best wasn’t rocketing you to the top of the bestseller list or the front page of the business section?
There’s definitely a lot of people who feel that if you aren’t number one, you’re a loser. (Reminds me of a bumper sticker from my childhood that read “If You Ain’t Country, You Ain’t Shit.” Okaaaaaay… so does that mean that if you indeed are “country” that also means you are in actuality “shit“? Just wondering.) While I appreciate that we should always strive for greatness, all too often those “inspirational” quotes amount to nothing more than a beat down.
I earn enough beat downs from life. I don’t need silly axioms from the wide world of sports to make me feel like a loser ’cause I don’t earn Zuckerberg-size coin. How about you?
Perhaps there are other success yardsticks worth considering?
Are you doing what you love? (Specifically: Are you making a decent living? Serving your customers to the best of your ability? Employing people? If you said yes to most of those questions, I’d say you’re doing something pretty special). You’re following your bliss. You’re not working for the man. You’re creating something that’s yours.
I enjoy writing fiction and have a novel out there twisting in the winds of the indie book circuit. It was a labor of love to write the book, rewrite it about five times, have it edited, get a cover made and push the work out there for all to see.
Occasionally some people hear about the book and give me a (unintentionally patronizing) smile and say “Don’t quit your day job.” Who said I was going to? I write because I enjoy it. Illusions of being rich and famous were shattered 20 years ago with my first fifty rejection slips. I’m just blessed and happy to have a solid group of readers who enjoy my work. I feel the same way about running my PR firm.
I filed paperwork to found the company a year ago and started working part time on it in March of 2010, then full time in mid-July. I signed several clients immediately and have gained seriously great ground since. However, I’m not “number one.” (Heck, I’m not even a number.) I am, however, making a living and growing steadily as I work with some pretty great clients.
Do I hope to be a “big deal” someday? You bet. But I don’t get caught up in that. I try not let it get me down when I consider that it will be a long road of hard work with no guarantees of “big” success.
Seth Godin captured the way I feel about being a writer and entrepreneur perfectly:
“…you should play the game for the thrill of playing it, for the benefits of playing it to a normal conclusion, not because you think you have any shot at all of winning the grand prize.”
via Seth’s Blog.
So skip the beat down. Play the game for the thrill of playing it. You may find that by doing that very thing you’ll end up a winner.
That will be the topic this Friday on the Smart Companies Radio show on Hot Talk 1510 KCTE, guest hosted by Mike Brown of Brainzooming. Mike and the Brainzooming team conducted the second annual #BZBowl on Twitter during the Super Bowl. On the radio show Mike and his guests (including yours truly) will cover lessons growing businesses can take away (both the do’s and the don’ts) from Super Bowl ads to incorporate into their own marketing and PR efforts.
If you read my guest post Tuesday, you know I’ll be talking more about the Groupon debacle, and I’m sure the other great guests will challenge my assertions. I hope you’ll listen live in the KC area, or stream it from the KCTE website (just click on the yellow “Listen Live” link at the top of the page). The show starts at 9 a.m. I hope you’ll listen in.