It was 16 years ago yesterday that I washed up at the front door of Ed Moed’s squalid, one bedroom apartment and we began building what was to become one of the nation’s top independent strategic communications firms.
To mark what is a very, very Sweet 16th anniversary, I thought I’d create a two-part blog (Part I ran yesterday) that captures the 16 events (good, bad and otherwise) that are permanently seared on my brain. Note: I suggest you listen to Rebelution’s “More Than Ever” as you pour over the remembrances. Written as a love song, it works equally well in a business context.
Here, then, are the second set of memories from our first 16 years:
9.) The dotcom crash brings the PR world to a complete standstill. We lose one $35k per month account on eight successive days, prompting Ted Birkhahn to ask me, “Steve, what’s going to happen to us?”
9A.) Ed’s very own dotcom, PartnershipCentral, goes belly-up and we lay off 26 hapless employees.
10.) 9/11. Ed and Ted are in Houston. I’m in Manhattan. Chaos reigns for a few days. Ed and I hold a staff meeting the following Monday telling employees we have no idea what the future holds for us, our industry or our country (note: phone and e-mail traffic literally died for two weeks because no one was sure if PR was ‘still appropriate under the circumstances’).
11.) Peppercom rebounds from the dotcom crash and post 9/11 blues and is hired to publicize GE’s ‘Imagination at work’ campaign. Nonetheless, Alex Constantinople, our client contact, refuses to let Ed or me meet with GE’s CEO, telling us we weren’t ‘Jeff ImmeltWorthy’.
11A.) Chris ‘Repman, Jr.’ Cody and Catharine ‘Goose’ Cody do stints as Peppercom interns. The experience convinces them they have no interest whatsoever in following in their dad’s footsteps. Nice.
12.) A Northeastern University intern twice flips Ed the bird at a holiday party, ensuring her simultaneous demise and immortality in Peppercom folklore.
13.) To test my theory that Ed is ADD to the max, I arrange for his couch to be moved to my office, and vice versa. We then hold an office pool to guess whether he’ll spot the switcheroo in a day, week or month. After a month, we begin switching my family photos with his. Then, we trade artwork from his wall to mine. Finally, three months later, we hear a loud, ‘WTF!’
14.) Peppercom wins the triple crown of industry awards in 2006, being named agency of the year by PR Week and PR News and ‘most innovative’ by The Holmes Report.
14A.) Fifteen months after hiring us but refusing to allow us to announce the win, Yahoo announces our termination in a PR Week front-page article. Classy.
15.) Dawn M. Lauer and Darryl Salerno debate the existence of god in what would become the most incendiary podcast in Repchatter’s six-year history.
16.) Peppercom’s one-of-a-kind stand-up comedy training program is featured on MSNBC, WNBC, Ad Age, the Council of PR Firms ‘Forum’ and Inc. Magazine. It’s now become a service offering that, after 16 years, enables us to say we’re now literally laughing all the way to the bank.
These are my 16 most memorable moments. But, quite a few Repman readers are current and former employees, as well as clients, former clients and friends. I’d love to know if you have a particular memory of Peppercom that you’d be willing to share. I know I’d appreciate it. And, I think Ed will too (as soon as he moves his couch back into his office).
Quite true, Pamela. Quite true. Plus, I left Ed’s borrowed sports jacket on the NJT train that night. I still say the apartment was squalid in comparison to stately Moed Manor.
Happy Anniversary! I must take issue with the desciption of our apartment as squalid, however. I was working hard at Pier One to pay the rent! You did forget my favorite memory…driving down to buy a fax machine with you in the back seat in complete shock over the turn of events 🙂 XOXO
Well put, Ghost. That said, I honestly think Ed is more SuzyWelchWorthy than ImmeltWorthy.
I can understand you, but Ed has got “Immelt worthy” written all over him. What were they thinking?
Thank you so much for assuring our success by making that all-important switch.
One fun memory for me: After you left that big name firm to launch w/Ed, the big name firm president called to inform me that you had exited but we would still be in good hands. Little did he know I knew the whole story and was just biding my time to shift accounts! It’s wonderful to see you build such a wonderful firm! Congratulations to you, Ed and the whole Peppercom team (including alumni)!!
Thanks for noticing and commenting, Thebyline. I like to think what goes around eventually comes around.
And in regards to 14A…who has the last laugh now? http://www.businessinsider.com/and-now-yahoo-has-put-itself-up-for-sale-2011-9
Happy Sweet 16, gents. Wishing you many more.