Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy (or: how to utterly fail at Public Relations)

A lot of you know that I absolutely love Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess. I love her so much, I gave her a picture of me collating paper to send to PR idiots who spam her with stupid product pitches.

Jenny makes me furiously happy, so when I read on her blog last night that a PR douchebag called her a "fucking bitch", I got furiously angry. 

Please go read Jenny's blog, and then come back for the rest of this post.

…wow, right? Can you believe what a gigantic Douchecanoe Jose Martinez at Brand Link Communications is?

I've worked with PR people my whole life, and most of them are really great. They're enthusiastic, they understand that not everyone cares about the thing they have to promote, and — more than anything else — they're nice to everyone, because their entire job is to get people excited about whatever they're selling, if not now, than in the future.

Then there are the people at Brand Link Communications, like Jose, who apparently think that threatening and insulting the very people they're hoping to work with is the best way to conduct business. Of course, Brand Link Communications seems to think that spamming hundreds of bloggers with the same incorrectly-spelled e-mail (that reads like it was written by a 12 year-old) is actually doing good work for their client, so maybe they think threatening and insulting people is equally effective.

I've encountered people like this in the thirty years I've worked in the Entertainment Industry: they're self-important, arrogant, unprofessional, and have convinced themselves that, because they have some kind of "access" to celebrities, they're more important than people they consider "normal". This quote from Jose pretty much embodies that attitude:

maybe you should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough
to be pitched at all instead of alienated PR firms and PR people – who are actually the livelihood of any journalists business.

The arrogance and nerve of Jose Martinez is just appalling to me. Even if he truly believes this idiocy, he should know better than to actually say it in an e-mail, especially if he is a Vice President at the firm.

Yes, that's right: Jose Martinez is a Vice President at Brand Link Communications. This is the kind of person this company sees fit to promote to a position of great experience and authority.

Let me give you the correct response, Jose:

I'm sorry we bothered you. We'll take you off our mailing list. All the best.

See? It's not that tough, is it? I mean, unless you think your precious little ego is more important than the clients you represent, and you're profoundly unprofessional and unqualified for your job. Also, a free tip from me to you: Don't be a dick, Jose, and especially don't Twitter at me a big stupid lie that insults my intelligence after the fact. Don't make your #PRFail worse with your pathetic #PRFailDamageControlFail.

There are a lot of very good publicists and publicity firms out there, who represent their clients with passion and pride. They respect the people they pitch, and they respect the clients they're working for.

Then there are these clowns, who think that bullying and insulting people they think are beneath them is how you do business.

And that, more than anything else, is what makes me furiously angry: Jose Martinez believes that he is "the livelihood of any journalists business", so of course he can insult and threaten someone who he's decided is just some blogger who needs him more than he needs her. (This is further evidence of how unqualified this idiot is: not only did his company — where he is a Vice President and Media Director — pitch The Bloggess, they apparently didn't know that she is massively popular online, in no small part because she calls out PR idiots for doing exactly what his company did.)

If Jenny didn't have a huge following of people who adore her and got furiously angry like I did, nobody would ever know about this, and Jose Martinez would be high-fiving his bros about how he put that fucking bitch in her place. Maybe that's what Jose Martinez and Brand Link Communications was counting on. Maybe they're used to pushing people around, insulting them, and treating them like they should be grateful that they were spammed. Maybe they think they can be arrogant, condescending assholes without any consequences at all.

Maybe they just got a nice, loud, unambiguous wake-up call. Maybe future prospective clients will read this post and the other posts that are all over the Internet 12 hours later about Jose's treatment of Jenny when they're considering what firm they'll hire to represent them. Maybe future clients won't want to be associated with arrogant, unprofessional, self-important PR hacks.

While I was writing this, Jenny updated her blog. Jose and Brand Link Communications got a demonstration of relevancy that was apparently long overdue, and they apologized to Jenny. Good. That was the right thing to do, but my larger point still stands: would that apology have happened if Jenny didn't have an army of readers and Twitter followers to stand up for her? I seriously doubt it.

83 thoughts on “Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy (or: how to utterly fail at Public Relations)”

  1. And frankly, I would be suspect (well, more suspect than I usually am) of any “journalist” who would allow some PR flack offer sway regarding anything.
    Am I the only person who looks back fondly at a time when MOST journalists at least TRIED to look like they were fair? I’m not even suggesting they WERE fair (Cronkite was the beginning of the end THERE), just that they at least tried to appear like they were.
    For a journalist to allow a PR firm that sort of access leaves the realm of “journalism” and enters the land of “drone who reprints ad copy”.

  2. I’ve had problems with Comcast, too. One three page letter sent to the CEO and suddenly I have seven higher-authority employees desperate to know how they can solve all my issues. I’m well-known for writing long letters when things go wrong, and I don’t start at the bottom rung. Airlines, Best Buy, Comcast…. I’m pretty eloquent on paper.
    You’d be surprised the response you get when you actually take the time to express your problems (not just, “I hate this company!” but legitimate problems) to the RIGHT people. : D

  3. Actually that picture of you collating papers has made me think rather deeply about my paper collating needs.
    Somewhere under the kindergarten style lunch plate are my YouTube view counts and most recent invoices for home inspections.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66617965@N07/6221527407/
    I’m not bad at collating other people’s papers, as the three month collection of mail for people who aren’t me that has shown up in my mailbox indicates. That and I’m also neurotically afraid of throwing it out.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66617965@N07/6222047946/
    But again as you can tell from the books I’m not currently reading, I either care about things that are within arm’s reach or aren’t.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66617965@N07/6221527429/
    When I contrast this with your composure, even elegance, as you collate an expertly assembled number of papers in a manner that seems almost preternaturally perfect in how their edges line up…I…I am filled with shame.
    I know this deep seated inadequacy within me can only be solved by a celebrity endorsed product, and of all the many patriotic Americans I’ve seen collating papers, no one else does so with your acumen.
    Help me Wil Wheaton. You’re my only hope. Credit card information to follow.

  4. You have a poster-child for the phrase “Don’t be a dick”.
    (Not that there aren’t other candidates – but if the shoe-in-mouth fits let’s be current!)

  5. What a dick. I agree with you completely had you not said something on behalf of your friend. No apology would have been given. I would like to say thanks for standing up for your friends and also I have a new awesome blog to follow!

  6. I followed this as it went down on Twitter and I’m a member of both “dark armies” invloved here (yours and Jenny’s). Therefore, I am currently quite in love with the phrase “please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.” What a delicious idea, and I’m glad Jenny got her apology.
    You’re right, though, Wil. If this happened to me, this would not have gone down this way. I do not have a zillion followers, etc. I would have just been irrelevant. But that’s okay. As long as one douchebag out there gets his due because he was an idiot to the wrong person, I’m okay with just being a grunt in the armies that fight against the forces of darkness. That’s how I can make a difference, so I will continue to do my part, such as it is. There’s little glory down here in the trenches, but we’ll get the job done. ;)

  7. Anyone have a screen capture of the Twitter exchange? Wil’s Twitter links aren’t working and @BandLinkJose seems to have fallen off the face of the internet… I read The Bloggess yesterday but had no idea at the time the size of the backlash. Should have followed up sooner!

  8. I think Jenny needs a lovely gift as the coda to this whole experience. Hey internets, can you get her a hi-res photo of Nathan Fillion holding twine? Make it so.

  9. I’d take it that the title he has of VP was probably one he chose for himself. I’ve met those types before… “Oh I’m VP of Selfimportios inc.,”
    “Really? How many people does your company employ?”
    “Oh, its just me and my Fraternity brother from college and his siliconed enhanced wife who’s his assitant.”
    ***eyeroll***

  10. The best part – the VERY BEST PART – is the first time the firm ever gets mentioned by adweek.com, it’s a story about this.
    There are probably more efficient ways of killing your company, but I sure can’t think of one.

  11. And I'm not surprised in the least to see that the advertising douchebags commenting on that post have the same entitled attitude as Jose did. I suppose I should admire the reflexive instinct of the PR douchebags to circle the wagons, but I just can't get over the total lack of self-awareness and entitlement exhibited by so many of them.

  12. I must say, Mr. Wheaton, that I will now “follow” you because of your great defense of the brilliance that is The Bloggess! I was hesitant at first as you are Sheldon’s nemesis, but I am certain as a fellow Houstonian, he just might forgive you! Props to you, Sir. Thank you for sharing your loyalty!

  13. I’ve an item to add to the agenda: making the world a better place with better punctuation. I’d like to live in a world where the majority of people on the internet understand that the semicolon has a purpose beyond winking.

  14. I am just so unbelievably giddy over the fact that this is a PR company. Is this idiot really 24? Please let this teach them a lesson.
    Love you for posting about this and making a point, Wil. It’s not just about a dumb move, and it’s not just about a dumb move directed at someone popular. It’s about common human decency.

  15. Great post! I’m still surprised Jose even has a job there. As you said, he is arrogant and makes no attempt to hide it. Plus, sending an email saying “what a f-ing bitch” even to co-workers is grossly inappropriate and unprofessional, not to mention juvenile.
    My feeling is this behavior is condoned at Brand Link Comm. This type of workplace culture generally trickles down from the top.
    Oh, and?
    I. LOVE. YOU. For collating paper that says ‘Don’t be a dick’, for supporting The Bloggess, and for being damn cute, smart and hella funny!

  16. Well. All of this PR-nightmare-bullshit is now* my primary reason, as a person who can put words together into sensible sentences and possible paragraphs, for NOT having a blog. So glad you and her dark army were there to storm the castle, as it were, and send that douchebag asshat a clear message that his services are NO LONGER REQUIRED.
    * my former primary reason was simple laziness.

  17. I am Sooooo late to this game! What was I doing on the 6th that I missed this whole craziness?
    Anyway. I love that you love Jenny. She rocks. But that’s not why I am writing to you! Has anyone ever told you that you resemble the actor Tommy Kirk from the Disney movies of the 50’s and 60’s? I was watching Old Yeller at about 3 am (insomnia is even more awesome than The Bloggess, is it not?) and I thought of YOU because of Jenny’s blog post with you collating paper and then I went to her site and she’s talking about you AGAIN. It’s like fate.
    That is all.

  18. I’m so glad I read your blog! I’m starting out in PR (or hope to, recently graduated) and PRfails are great lessons in what NOT to do. I may be Team Fargo but I’m Team Wil Wheaton too.

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