Feb 09

The first line of defense in the image and reputation wars

February 9 Receptionists are more important than the Maginot Line and, hopefully, sturdier than the Siegfried Line. In my opinion, they're the first, and most important, line of defense in the image and reputation wars.

I've interacted with a few outstanding receptionists over the years who, thanks to their winning personalities and can-do attitudes, have made me feel better about the organization they represent.

For the most part, though, receptionists seem to be like interchangeable parts: they come and they go. They man the front desk well enough, but they don't register on either the visitor's positive or negative impression scales.

And, then there are the receptionists from hell. I've encountered three image-killers recently, including:

– The receptionist who must have just undergone a frontal lobotomy. The guy was totally devoid of personality, wouldn't make eye contact with me, kept talking to someone on the phone as I waited and then, after finally ending the call, looked up at me and said, 'Well?'

– The receptionist at a corporate image firm who looked like she'd just left the set of 'Friday the 13th: Part 47.' This woman's looks would stop traffic. Her skin was a ghostly white and her hair looked as if she'd just stuck her finger in an electrical socket. With the bride of Frankenstein greeting visitors, I could see why the organization needed a PR firm. And, if this is their idea of image, what sort of work must they create for clients?

– Not to be outdone by either the lobotomized lout or frightful femme fatale, a receptionist at a non-profit had an absolute field day with our name. After painstakingly writing down our names, she tapped on a microphone and announced over a loudspeaker: 'Mary, your guests from Leppercom are here!' Leppercom? I checked my peers' faces to see if any of us had suddenly contracted a severe case of adult onset acne.

Peppercom (not, Leppercom) has had its share of good, bad and ugly receptionists. Our best ever had to have been our very first: Debrah.

Ed and I bit the bullet about five months after starting our firm and invested in a receptionist/chief cook and bottle washer. And, we struck gold with Debrah. She was smart, organized, funny and possessed a wicked British accent. The latter made quite the impression. I remember one client calling me up and asking, 'Who's the woman with the British accent?' 'That's Debrah, our new receptionist,' I beamed. He sighed and said, 'My opinion of Ed and you just rose a few notches. You were always scrappy. Now, you have a touch of class as well.'

Whether it's the 56th Fighter Group Restaurant in Farmingdale, a widget warehouse in Waukegan or an image firm in SoHo, the receptionist is the first, and most important, line of defense in the relentless image wars. Knowing that, why are there still so many lobotomized beasts and so few classy Debrahs manning the front desks of corporate America? As for me, I'm still reeling from the Leppercom comment and have been regularly applying Clearasil just in case.

Feb 04

Detroit has to be loving Toyota’s troubles

February 4 - Toyota-cars Like most car owners, I've been amazed to see how many problems Toyota is experiencing with its cars. I'm also surprised to see how poorly they've handled it (The New York Times reports that Toyota issued the recall only after U.S. Transportation Department officials had to fly to Japan to 'remind Toyota about its legal obligations.' Apparently, the car maker knew about the pedal acceleration issues as long ago as April, but did nothing to alert consumers about it). I've heard about differences within the ‘auto culture’ before, but didn't think they extended to not doing the right thing.

In the midst of the Toyota chaos (and the latest report that the legendary Prius is also experiencing problems), I have to believe the shell-shocked, erstwhile Big Three are gleefully rubbing their hands. For once, Detroit's egregious mistakes and missteps are out of the spotlight. For once, Detroit can focus on regaining the monumental market share losses of the past three decades.

But, will they? Ford is beautifully positioned to do so (and, apparently saw a 25 percent sales increase in January). Chrysler, though, is a mere shell of its former self and actually dropped eight percent in January sales. If they can't take advantage of Toyota's weakness now, will they ever? And GM, which changes CEOs more often than Chipotle churns ad agencies (see yesterday's blog), posted a healthy 14 percent January sales gain.

Despite the Ford and GM successes, I think Toyota will be just fine. They've built tremendous brand loyalty over the past 30 years by owning dependability and affordability. And, I for one, still have a classic Pavlovian response whenever I even consider purchasing an American car (I shudder in horror just thinking about the shoddy workmanship of years past).

Toyota has to come clean in a hurry (which can be a tough thing for an auto company that is used to holding its cards close to its corporate chest). 

The carmaker can easily regain its image and reputation mojo if it stops stalling, starts repairing and goes beyond a few 'mea culpas' from its U.S. executives on CNBC, MSNBC and Fox Business.

Tell us why the problem happened, Toyota. Tell us why it took so long for you to respond and why U.S. officials had to force you to do so. And, while you're at it, tell us what's up with the Prius.

Tell us you've fixed all the problems. And , most importantly, tell us why it won't happen again.

Detroit is still way too weak to capitalize on Toyota's missteps. That said, time's a wasting. And, I'm not liking the lack of transparency.

Jan 12

January 12th is an important date in the image and reputation wars

There are a number of reasons why today, January 12th, is an important date for me. One reason, in particular, pertains specifically to image and reputation.

January 12 - superbowliii-19692 It was January 12, 1969, that the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts to win their first, and only, Super Bowl victory (stay tuned on the latter, though).

It's an important image and reputation milestone because, up until January 12, 1969, the mainstream sports/business establishment hadn't taken the upstart American Football League seriously. Created in 1960, the AFL had been seen by most as little more than a circus.

But, by 1965, the tides had turned. Fueled by the signing of Joe Willie Namath and other top college players, the AFL began earning a modicum of respect. In fact, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle was forced to concede that his league's championship was no longer a 'world's' title, and agreed to a match of each group's best team.

The first two contests were blowouts, with Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers humiliating the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, respectively.

Ah, but then came January 12, 1969, and Joe Willie's Super Jets. The Jets win wasn't just a sports victory but, in fact, a seismic sea change for the AFL's image and reputation. Within a few years, the two leagues merged to create the NFL as we now know it.

It's nice to reflect on past glories while reveling in the knowledge that today's Jets are in the thick of the playoffs (while the hated Giants are cooling their heels on the sidelines).

Considering the fact that the reverse is almost always the case, I'm reminded of a quote from the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War.

At the very end of the war, a Union soldier who happened to be black, was watching a column of captured Rebel prisoners pass by. Suddenly, he spotted his former master. The black soldier smiled and said, 'Bottom rail on top now, massa.'

I think I speak for Jets fans everywhere when I say to our Giants counterparts: 'Bottom rail on top now.'

Jan 11

If a public relations firm declares a certain type of PR dead, does that automatically make it so?

January 11 - lawyers-13200 The fine folks at Jaffe PR sent me a press release the other day declaring an end to law firm public relations and replacing it, instead, with law firm reputation management. I found the release intriguing, to say the least. So, with the help of Jaffe PR staffer Kathy O’Brien, I decided to dig a little deeper to find out exactly what agency president & CEO Jay M. Jaffe had in mind.

Here’s our back-and-forth:

1) Why declare law firm PR dead now?
It is time. With the dramatic changes in the news media and the economy, along with the explosion of online content and social networking media, public relations no longer adequately defines how law firms effectively build, communicate and extend their brands. Today’s business realities call for a broader and more integrated approach to media relations, marketing and communications that incorporates a complete blend of marketing disciplines including advertising, media relations, face- to-face and social networking, optimized content, Web sites, Internet marketing, crisis communications, legal rankings, speaking engagements, research, strategic planning, and more. Traditional public relations is about building relationships and while we don’t deny that is still important, it is no longer enough.
 
2) Do your law firm clients and prospects agree with your premise that reputation management trumps PR?
Last year was one of the most difficult years for law firms since the great depression. Firms were plagued by a changing business paradigm, record layoffs, deep salary cuts and an overall decline in profitability. This is a fresh, bold approach that is necessary to remain competitive and we are simply putting a name to what we are doing for our clients and what we feel firms must be doing in this changed industry.

3) Does your declaration extend to other types of law firm marketing? Is law firm advertising dead as well, etc?
Think of it this way – public reputation management encompasses many aspects of marketing. Again, it is just putting a name to the way law firms need to think about positioning themselves. You asked specifically about advertising and in fact, the way law firms advertise is indeed changing. Online content is becoming far more important as print media is rapidly becoming less critical and influential. An online presence, complete with video, offers a more immediate and intimate connection with target audiences, and for law firms, that is groundbreaking.

4) Does your declaration extend to professional services firms in general? Should all professional services firms abandon the term PR and, instead, embrace reputation management?
After a 23-year run, PepsiCo decided to pull its Super Bowl ads in favor of focusing marketing efforts on an online campaign. It could be seen by some as a bold public “relations” move, but it really comes down to how PepsiCo chose to manage its “reputation.” Companies and professional businesses across all industry sectors need to carefully consider new and exciting ways to reach their audiences. It’s more than the single focus of building relationships.

5) I'm a huge proponent of PR agency marketing and have always considered Peppercom to be one of Peppercom's most important clients. That said, your announcement could be seen by some as publicity for the sake of publicity. How would you respond?
This is not about us. It’s about the PR needs of the legal industry. We are reacting to the sea change that is happening in the legal marketplace as well as the rest of the economy. Legal marketing has been virtually stagnant for the past 100 years and public reputation management is the right catalyst at the right time to move law firms up in the reputation curve. It's no longer about sending out a few press releases and calling it PR or marketing. It's about building or growing a brand on many fronts with the right 2010 marketing mix, using a wide range of tools for specific aspects of managing a firm's reputation: media relations, crisis communications, Web 2.0, creative, advertising, etc. These are still all important elements but they can’t be viewed or used in a vacuum – they must be part of a much bigger plan if they want to succeed in this competitive environment.

Thanks, Jay. I must say, I really like the idea of PR firms declaring certain things dead and have decided to add to your list. Here’s what I’d like to declare dead:

The ‘new sheriff in town’ syndrome. This occurs when a new CMO or VP of corporate communications is hired and, regardless of the excellent work done by the incumbent firm, immediately cleans house. I’d like to see an ‘incumbent agency protection clause’ added to PR industry bylaws that reads, in part, ‘Give the damn incumbent half a chance before yanking the plug.’

The ‘tell us what you think it will cost’ cop-out. Too many prospective clients refuse to provide budget parameters and, instead, ask the agency to spin their wheels and submit various scenarios at various price points. By-laws clause number two: ‘Tell the agency what your budget is. Period.’

The black hole of non-response. This occurs when big corporations hold an intense new business search, invite agencies to travel to their faraway headquarters and make a pitch (all within an extremely tight time frame). Then, the prospect never returns calls or provides a status on what the hell happened. By-laws addendum number three: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

Bait-and-switch. We continue to benefit from the fallout that occurs after a large agency trots in former White House press secretaries and other big-time superstars to a new business pitch, promises the prospect these heavyweights will be part of the ongoing team and, then, after being selected, instead staffs the business instead with a bunch of 24-year-old junior executives (no offense intended towards any 24-year-old junior executives, btw). Bait-and-switch hurts the image and reputation of the entire agency world and should be abolished. Final bylaw: Agencies agree to conclude all new business meetings by promising the prospective client, ‘What you see is what you get.’

Dec 22

Bloggers of a certain age

December 22 - menofacertainage I'm starting to warm up to the new TNT series, 'Men of a Certain Age.' It stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher as three erstwhile college buddies who have stayed tight and are now helping one another navigate the murky waters of middle age.

Romano, who owns a party store, has lost a marriage because of a gambling addiction. Bakula, meanwhile, is an actor, who pays the bills as a temp working at an accounting firm and dates a 25-year-old woman. Braugher is an obese, diabetic who holds down a stressful job as a salesman at his father's car dealership.

The guys bond during a daily, two-mile hike in the hills. It's there that they discuss women, careers and failed ambitions. It's good stuff.

I like the gritty reality of the show. Middle age brings with it a stark reality that young people simply can't imagine. Parents die. Friends grow old. The eyes grow weak. The joints grow stiff. The reactions become noticeably slower. And, yet, the Mets and Jets still somehow keep losing (at least there are some constants).

Middle age is also an interesting battle ground for one's image and reputation. My friend, Maria, is appalled by people 'our age' who have 'given up' and refuse to exercise or party because '….they think they're too old for that.' She argues that, actuarially speaking, people of a certain age still have another 35 or 40 years ahead of us and should 'keep fighting the good fight.' I agree, Maria. Go get 'em.

While I fight my daily battle to keep things in place, I also look forward to learning new things and experiencing new experiences. Someone once said, 'youth is wasted on the young.' I don't necessarily agree. I don't think I would have enjoyed running Peppercom, performing stand-up comedy, climbing on ice, snow and rock, cycling, blogging or the myriad other things that fill my days and nights. The fact is I wouldn't have had the depth or breadth to do most of the things I've done in middle age.

December 22 - mountain
Many men of a certain age possess a world weariness to be sure. But, others exude the confidence and wisdom that only comes with experience. That's huge. And, that's why I really enjoy being a blogger of a certain age. Sure, I have my fill of bad days. Days when I feel like chucking it all and settling down on Scotland's Isle of Skye for perpetuity. But, then, some new challenge or opportunity presents itself and, boom, I'm off and running again (literally). The newest challenge: occasional guest blogger Rob Longert and I will be running the Central Park half-marathon in late January. Brrrr.

Middle age? Bring it on. This blogger of a certain age is ready for what's next.

Dec 10

I Love the Situation…

Guest Post by Andrew Stein, Peppercom

December 10 - jerseyAB So the talk of the town since last Thursday night has been MTV’s new reality show “Jersey Shore.” Along the same lines as the famed series the “Real World,” this show puts eight self-proclaimed “Guidos” into a share house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for a summer of debauchery and is there to film all the drunken missteps, fights and overall stupidity that ensues. As someone that grew up in Toms River, just a stone’s throw across the bridge from lovely Seaside Heights, I have a soft spot for the content of the show and must say I couldn’t be happier after watching the two-hour premiere.

However, there seem to be larger issues at hand than just my shear enjoyment of this train wreck. Many Italian-Americans throughout the country have expressed their distaste for the show and for MTV, saying it is offensive and portrays Italian-Americans in a false and negative light.

Now as someone that has taken more than my fair share of vodka shots in these local drinking establishments, I can promise you that the characters on this show are not acting. While I’m sure they’re showing off a bit for the cameras (put a shirt on fellas), I have seen a whole lot of “Guidos” in action behaving just like these clowns. So while MTV may be exploiting this particular sect of Italian-Americans, how can you really blame them? These people are willing to make total arses of themselves on national television, which is gold for any reality TV franchise. Unfortunately for Italian-Americans, scientists and CEOs don’t make for gut-wrenching channel surfing. These morons do.

So should Italian-Americans be upset with MTV? Personally, I can’t tell someone whether they should be offended by something or not, particularly when I’m not part of the minority in question. However, these people on the show are glorifying “guido” culture on their own; MTV is just serving as the medium for them to share it with the world. I can understand Italian-Americans being upset with the people that act this way because they reflect negatively on their culture. However, why is that MTV’s responsibility?  They’re in the business of making money through bad TV and this particular show happens to be a jackpot.

Most of what I’ve heard and read from the offended seems to blame MTV for falsely portraying Italian-Americans. As someone that grew up around these people, the idiocy and embarrassing behavior is accurate and MTV just happens to be smart enough to film it for profit. I can totally understand why Italian-Americans may be unhappy being associated with these people, I just don’t see why that is MTV’s fault. The fact is, “Guido” culture exists with or without MTV. While the cable network may be exposing it to the rest of the country that may not have the pleasure of seeing it on a regular basis, they certainly did not create it and, in my opinion, are not irresponsibly embellishing it.

Dec 03

Eye on the Tiger

Guest post by Lia LoBello, Peppercom

December 3 - tiger-woods Like many Americans, I woke up Friday, November 28 basking in a post-Turkey Day glow. I wanted nothing more than the simple pleasure of flipping on the TV and enjoying the sweet sound of a billion reporters screaming about Black Friday shopping lines.

I was denied. Instead, the media was beside itself, breathlessly reporting that Tiger Woods had crashed his car into a fire hydrant and a tree on his own property “This is not news,” I cried to my family. “Who cares about this?” My dad, as big a golf enthusiast as they come, simply shrugged. Little did I know, it was only the tip of the iceberg.

The media cared plenty. The reporting continued, largely unsubstantiated, for five solid days until Tiger released a statement on Wednesday, December 2, apologizing for his “transgressions.” His carefully worded statement neither confirmed nor denied a reported affair – supposedly the cause of a fight between Tiger and his wife causing him to flee his home and crash – and instead, asked for privacy.

In the days leading up to the statement, I found myself trying to answer the million dollar question for public relations professionals watching this episode unfold – did Tiger wait too long to talk? I say no. 

By not indulging the media feeding frenzy desperately searching for a fact amidst heaps of speculation, Tiger exposed the 24/7 media cycle for what it is – a shoot first, substantiate later circus that disregards objectivity in favor of ratings and which reports rumors carefully couched as to appear real.

“Will sponsors stand behind him?” they begged to know. “Will fans ever forgive him?” The answer, and no surprise here, appears to be yes.

Reading through the comments on TigerWoods.com, numbering more than 9,000 by late Wednesday night, a relatively mixed bag of benign “We’re behind you!” and “How could you do this?” comments exist. And according to Zeta Interactive via the Wall Street Journal, Tiger's online positive approval rating dipped 23 percentage points to 71 percent. With all due respect to Zeta Interactive – those metrics mean nothing to the average American and further, are higher than the current presidential approval rating. Additionally, Nike, Gatorade and EA Sports all released statements saying their relationship with Tiger was unaffected.

Thanks to a previously spotless reputation and the exaggerated reaction of media, I think Tiger’s fans will quickly forgive and forget his “sins.” What we shouldn’t be so quick to forgive is the media’s inundating of our "news" with pointless discussion and debate about a celebrity’s possible dirty laundry. To think of how we could all benefit if the same effort was employed for actual news – say the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the recent New York Senate gay marriage ban or healthcare. Perhaps we should start asking our Senators and soldiers to get handy with a five iron.

Nov 09

Talk about the client from hell

How'd you like the task of rehabilitating Joseph Stalin's image and reputation? Well, 
according to O’Dwyer’s, Russian Information Agency Novosti is searching for an international PR firm to do just that.Stalin

According to the report, the goal is to re-position the Soviet despot who, some historians say, may be responsible for more than 30 million deaths and, instead, highlight his role in defeating Nazi Germany and rebuilding the Soviet Union into a super power.

This is so wrong but, in a perverse way, kind of hilarious as well.

Can you imagine media training the lead 'Stalin' spokesperson?

Agency trainer: “Sergei, baby, you need to stay focused. Put the vodka down. Now, you need to be mindful of negative or irrelevant questions in an actual interview and 'bridge' to the talking points we just developed. Let's practice. Let's say I'm a Reuters reporter and ask you this question: ‘Sergei, how can you possibly call one of history's greatest mass murderers one of Russia's greatest leaders instead?’ ”

Sergei (downs a shot of Stoli): “On the contrary, we're saying Comrade Stalin saved hundreds of millions of lives by defeating the Nazis. Imagine how many Russians might have died if Hitler had won?”

Agency trainer: “Nice Sergei. OK, question number two: ‘How do you explain the way in which Stalin's rivals such as Leon Trotsky not only disappeared, but were air brushed out of official state photographs? Is that the way a great leader behaves?' ”

Sergei (pops another shot): “On the contrary, comrade reporter. We've done some homework and discovered that Trotsky, Molotov and others who you Western media types said were murdered simply took extended sabbaticals. They asked that their likenesses be removed. They'd had enough of the limelight.”

Agency trainer: “Smooth Sergei. Very smooth. One more toughie: 'How do justify the gulags?' ”
Sergei: “How do you justify Gitmo?”

Agency trainer: “You are so ready Sergei! After we're done, the Western press will be listing Stalin right alongside Alexander the Great and Caesar.”

If the chosen agency succeeds with the Stalin image program, I could see them building an entire practice around the emerging discipline. Were we were to do it, we'd call it PepperDespot and probably market it on our Website with such wording as:

“Are you the brand manager of a former Soviet Republic? Or maybe the CMO of an erstwhile member of the Axis Powers? Do you need to burnish the reputation of your local Mussolini, Hitler or Tojo?”

PepperDespot can help. Our efforts saved Joseph Stalin's name from the scrapheap of history (link to AP story: 'Stalin described as warm and fuzzy in new poll.'). And, we can do it for you as well. Just think of the tourism dollars that will accrue to your beleaguered brand once consumers understand the softer, human side of your dead despot.  ‘PepperDespot: Making yesterday's scum tomorrow's rock stars.’ "

Oct 27

I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas

October 27 - Eric_Mangini(3) Earlier this year, I engendered the wrath of Cleveland Browns fans by suggesting that erstwhile Jets coach and newly-named Browns Coach Eric Mangini was bad news. I asked the rhetorical question, 'Why do sports teams keep recycling losers?'

Mangini was the latest in a long line of mediocre and just plain bad football, baseball and basketball managers and coaches who, inexplicably, keep landing new, higher paying jobs despite a history of failure. I went on to suggest such a thing simply wouldn't happen in business industry. When CEOs fail, they rarely turn up at the top of another firm; instead, they usually start their own hedge fund or venture capital firm with the cash from their severance packages.

Not so with pro football. Take a gander at this season and the performance of Mangini and his Browns. They're 1-6 after being drubbed on Sunday by the Packers, 31-3. And, what was Mangini's comment after the game? 'I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas.' My comment? He's delusional. Could you imagine a CEO saying something similar to Wall Street analysts after a disastrous quarterly earnings report?

Mangini made the same sort of absurd comments as the Jets lost game after game at the end of last season. He was always pointing to progress on one side of the football while the team was collapsing on the other.

Mangini reminds me of former Mets Manager Willie Randolph who, during the team's historic collapse at the end of 2007 season, kept pointing to the positives: 'We saw some great pitching tonight. All we needed were some clutch hits,' or 'The guys were hitting the cover off the ball. We just need more consistency from our bullpen,' or my personal favorite: 'These losses will make winning the division and sipping the champagne just that much sweeter.' Needless to say, the Mets never did win the division and any champagne that was consumed was probably washed down with scotch, vodka or some other sedative to ease the pain.

I'd like to see accountability come to the coaching ranks. If a guy has a proven record of losing, ditch him. Blacklist him. Suggest he become a media trainer. Send him packing. But do not do what the Cleveland Browns and countless other franchises have done with the likes of Mangini over the years. Do not recycle losers.

Oct 15

Attention vendors: “Your feelings mean nothing to us. Thanks again for wasting your time and money chasing our business”

I know I sometimes sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how poorly some  
prospective clients treat the agencies competing for their business.Wspicture3

For example, there's a certain Midwestern home appliance maker that more than six months ago rushed us to develop a presentation, travel to their godforsaken headquarters and deliver a two-hour pitch. After awarding the business to another firm, they've refused to respond to our repeated e-mail and voice mail entreaties asking for feedback.

And, then there's a certain well-known consumer brand that just really put us through the ringer.

The top communications honcho called me about two months ago. She said we'd come highly recommended and invited us to be one of a “…few, select firms” to pitch her seven-figure account. She asked if we had conflicts. I assured her we did not.

So, she issued the RFP and we answered the typically inane, 'fishing expedition-type' questions ('Tell us how you'd break our brand through the clutter and overcome the poor economy to once again become number one in our field.” Prayer was one obvious answer.).

We submitted our lengthy proposal before the 5pm EDT deadline on the appointed day and crossed our fingers. Surprisingly, we heard right away. The lead prospect asked me to visit her HQs ASAP for an “informal working lunch.” Wow. Good sign, no?

So, I moved around my schedule, hopped in a car and traveled to god's country for the command performance.

Once there, I was greeted by the prospect, who carried a dog-eared, Post-it flagged copy of our RFP. We ate lunch. (She didn't treat.) In between bites, she'd flip to a given page, skim down to a section and say, “So, on page 22, section three, paragraph two, you say you'd jump on breaking news opportunities for us. Give me an example from today's news to show me how it would work.” Fair enough. But, the questions became more arcane and more intense up to, and including, how we KNEW our program would guarantee a sales increase. I told her the G word didn't enter our vocabulary, whether it's applied to media or sales. That seemed to cause some mild indigestion.

The 'lunch' ended and I returned to the office. The next day, I sent her a spot-on example of a breaking news story she could leverage on her organization's behalf. She responded effusively and said I'd given her the ammunition necessary to make some decisions. That sounded promising.

And, then, radio silence. Two weeks passed. I sent a follow-up note. No response.

Then, yesterday, came a note headlined: “To vendors.” It read: “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, you are not being invited to the final round.”

I was appalled, but not at all surprised. I shot the erstwhile prospect a note, asking for an explanation and letting her know that we had expended lots of blood, sweat and tears pursuing the account. At the very least, common decency dictated a personal phone call.

That said, I expect the same type of radio silence from this character as we got from the 'Midwestern nice' prospect.

I'm at a loss to explain why highly-paid, highly-educated and highly vulnerable corporate types treat their agency brethren with such indifference. If the economy doesn't turn around and these 'overhead expenses' find themselves on the streets, their reputations will precede them. In other words, I won't be inviting either of them to a working lunch anytime soon.