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. I read this on Jenny’s blog last night and was amazed anyone would treat her like that! Cheering followed the cursing after her demonstration of relevancy. Expertly done Jenny.

  2. It isn’t even a GOOD apology.
    And apparently, those of us who think Jose should lose his job, and who are shining a disinfecting light on the stupidity displayed by this 3rd-rate PR firm, are apparently “bullies”.
    And am I the only person who reads Carol’s “mistakes were made” in the voice of George Carlin?

  3. Also, “Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.” should be the single most terrifying threat anyone could ever get.

  4. Hell, I’m a foul-mouthed, highly opinionated, curmudgeonly jack-hole.
    And I could do Jose’s job so much better than him it should make him want to cry.

  5. You know, over the last couple of years I’ve noticed these failures across the entire “customer service” realm, not just in PR. Companies think that they can treat you like crap, and if you don’t like it, you should take your business elsewhere because they don’t give a crap.
    I had a similar response from the VP of GlobalFitness.com when I tried ordering a Pilates reformer from them. They kept backordering my item without notifying me, and when I called them out on it (after multiple calls/emails with no response), the VP finally emails me with a rude and offensive response. I don’t understand how companies think they can get buy offending their customers when the internet is there to share their stupidity with the world.
    That’s why I’m willing to pay more for companies with good customer service. It’s worth it to be treated like a human being.

  6. YES! You said pretty much exactly what I thought last night, and explained why no person in their right mind would hire this company.

  7. I KNOW, RIGHT?
    It really is bizarro world. Jose even has the goatee.
    I can’t stomach them whining about being bullied now. They called Jenny irrelevant. She demonstrated her relevancy. Take your punishment, Brandlink.

  8. I’m working on getting useful numbers for the companies found here so that I can start making phone calls and asking why they continue to retain a company who would keep an unrepentant misogynist like Jose.
    Is that wrong?

  9. I love that Jenny has a “dark army”, I can’t wait to have one of my own someday. Just before the apology was posted on Jenny’s blog I started to consider contacting the clients they had listed on their website and letting them know that the PR firm they hired was run by incompetent jerk-offs.
    Jenny called off the angry villagers just in time. Good to know we all have pitchforks at the ready for just such occasions.
    A pitchfork carrying member of Jenny’s dark-army!

  10. As I said to her: “This was my bedtime story. Great way to end the day. Awesome.”
    I went to sleep with a smile of amusement on my face. I think the way she defended herself was priceless. Jose should be ashamed of himself … and drummed out of the business to another more suited to his unique talents.

  11. I love the Bloggess, and I’m very glad she got an apology even if it was just so Jose could save PR face. What upsets me is that there are much smaller businesses out there facing crap like this all the time, who don’t have 164K followers (I think I only have 164–no K!)
    With no pull, I’m forced to bend over and smile when the asshats call me a bitch. Unfortunately, there are many more of these firms out there, who will continue to be assholes until they do it to the wrong blogger. I’m happy Jenny tripped this one up, but it’s only one in a handful of assholes.

  12. Once I got a bit of a run around from Comcast – they gave me a 12 hour window for a service call that ended up being the fault of home-base not authorizing a cable box.
    I blogged about it at the Jury (which is a side-blog of Patterico’s Pontifications, and was at the time getting HEAVY traffic from a national story it broke), and got a reply from a VP who made everything better.
    How many people get shafted like I did, but lacked the bully-pulpit?
    People with a voice need to rise up when this happens, and now and then take e-mails from fans and help them the same way.

  13. AND…Jose’s twitter account no longer exists….I think b/t your blog and Jenny’s he couldn’t deal with the demonstration of relevancy.
    I can’t believe this guy still has a job in PR – I read the article that someone else linked about his run in with Perez (while he was working at a different firm apparently) and between that incident and this one, his history of arrogance should prevent him from ever holding a job in PR.

  14. I read about this earlier this morning. I dont usually like to wish ill on anyone, but I hope Jose loses his job over this. There are plenty of people that need jobs, and Im sure they could find someone more competant than that asshat.

  15. As a former PR gal, last night made me cringe on so many levels. And I couldn’t stop checking back for the latest update tweet. this is just unreal and beyond unprofessional. You’re totally spot on, if she didn’t have the following she has, this wouldn’t haven’t gotten any response from the higher ups at Brand Link whatsoever.
    I so heart the power of social media and I especially love how you rallied for Jenny. You rock! :D

  16. Yeah, it seems to paint a picture of a guy who is less interested in doing a great job in PR than he is in feeling important and being around celebrities.

  17. I’m a journalist. A reporter for a newspaper in Wisconsin. I get 30 PR pitches a day addressed to a reporter who was fired from our paper two years ago. Seriously. To make matters worse, these e-mails aren’t coming from just one PR agency, but from seven. All addressed to the same fired reporter.
    I have worked with some great PR agencies, but for the most part when I see something come in from a PR agency, my automatic response is to hit delete. Nine times out of 10. I am not alone. This has become standard practice in newsrooms. For a PR guy to claim that he has an inside to journalist is absolutely full of $h!+.

  18. I had a similar situation with CenturyLink. For 6 months they said they would come bury a new line for my place. I finally got fed up with being told it would be done tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, etc. I eventually used some Google-Fu to look up a phone number for one of the Regional VPs. One call and the line was buried the next day.

  19. Thanks to that link, I just realized that Beyonce the giant metal chicken has been liked 26K times on Facebook. BrandLinkComm? 354. #DemonstrationofRelevancy

  20. @brandlinkcomm is now lamenting the “bullying” on its twitter. Apparently, they can dish it out, but can’t take the mocking of it.

  21. I’m a PR guy. One of the best definitions of public relations I’ve ever seen called it “the building of two-way channels of communication between organizations and the publics upon whom their success or failure depends.”
    Spamming a blogger with typo-ridden inanities about Kardashians in panty hose doesn’t quite live up to that ideal. Insulting said blogger merely compounds the problem.
    Done right, PR can make a difference. There’s volunteers showing up to an event tomorrow to harvest food for hungry people who wouldn’t have known about the opportunity if I hadn’t worked with local TV stations to get the word out. Even good, old-fashioned “help Company X sell its product” PR isn’t inherently evil, as long as we’re talking to reporters or communities that might care about that product — I do a lot of automotive PR work with automotive media and bloggers. Done right, we create a symbiotic instead of parasitic relationship.
    I swear, we’re not all self-important corpse flies buzzing around the celebrity-industrial complex. Don’t judge us all by these idiots.

  22. And before Jose The Douche deleted his Twitter account, he claimed that his account was hacked.
    I mean, Honestly, Monica…

  23. You know, when people treat Jenny with respect and appreciate her unique brand of humor, they earn my respect. (That’s how I ended up following your blog, actually. You earned, like, 10,000 points for sending her that picture of yourself collating paper.)
    People who decide to “put her in her place” deserve a Bloggess smackdown, and Jose certainly got his.

  24. I look at this from both sides – I am both a blogger and a PR professional. As a blogger, his response was offensive and Jenny deserved an immediate apology. A real apology. Not a quick, fake apology followed by a but. As a PR person, I don’t understand how this VP gets away with this stuff. You can see he has a pattern of this behavior from the Perez exchanges. We are in a service industry. There is no room for that kind of behavior. We are supposed to work with – not against – the media and bloggers. Mistakes happen. I’ve made mistakes. We’ve all accidentally hit reply all before… whether it was this severe or not. Technology has advanced faster than our brains can keep up. But own your mistakes, apologize for them, and be a professional. I’m glad that Jenny spoke up about it – but this makes me concerned for all the other media this agency works with. If this behavior is considered acceptable, I would never want to work with them. Big or small blog. Large daily newspaper or tiny local weekly. The Today Show or the Robin Scherbatsky show on at 3 a.m. :)

  25. So Brand Link read about this new fangled “social media” stuff and said “Sounds perfect for Jose, he’s just been diagnosed as a full blown sociopath.”

  26. Here’s a theory/idea: Brand Link Communications isn’t really a “company” in the sense we think it is (or should be.) I’m going to suggest that it’s 3 or 4 people who just forward crap they get from somewhere else. It’s not that they are a bad PR firm; they’re not a PR firm at all.

  27. Ah, I see they’ve trotted out the ever popular “we wuz hacked” card. One of the partners in the firm says they’re working with an “outside tech firm”. Those hackers, they get into everything!
    If Brand Link were truly hacked by a lulzsec type of group, the intarwebs would soon be pointed to a bittorrent link where you’d be able to download Brand Link’s client contact list, as well as a dump of their password database for your cracking pleasure. Oh and a nice archive of all emails. Sure, maybe for lulz, Jose’s twitter account would be abused, but it wouldn’t be tweeting non-apologetic apologies. It would be tweeting the contents of his credit report instead. And maybe Brand Link Communications’ website would just be a redirect to fail blog.
    The point is, yes, your twitter/facebook can be 0wned, but isn’t always so convenient that it gets “hacked” right when you’re having a PR fail? And there are much, much more interesting things for hackers to embarrass you with. Like all the other times Jose managed to find the right button to hit to compose another one of his great emails and for which he received kudos from his bosses. See: HBGary vs Anonymous.
    The only hacks here are the ones working for Brand Link.

  28. I’m not nearly The Bloggess that Jenny is, but I too got the pantyhose pitch. I was very tempted, after reading Jenny’s post, to send them a link to your photo.
    Somehow I don’t think they would have gotten the funny. :)
    Enjoy your weekend Wil, and thanks for sending the photo to Jenny in the first place. I get a giggle every time I read about her referring someone to it.
    :)

  29. I watched this unfold yesterday and I’ve enjoyed reading your input on the matter today. My hope is that if douches are called out on the douchery more often, perhaps it will make the world a better place.

  30. “That’s how I ended up following your blog, actually. You earned, like, 10,000 points for sending her that picture of yourself collating paper.”
    Same here!

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