Saying “no” to being a “Yes Man”

Where there is another day, there will be another corporate, political or celebrity scandal.  Eliot Spitzer and Kwamee Kilpatrick are certainly bearing the grunt this week, but there are bound to be others.  This much I know. 

How is it that there are so many people who are talented, motivated and successful that fail in the good decision-making category?  I think a lot of it has to do with people being surrounded by people that don’t provide good counsel – being surrounded by “yes men,” who are – by definition – afraid to tell the truth, afraid to express their opinions and maybe even afraid if they don’t always agree with their boss, then they will be out of a job.

I can’t say that I’ve never been a “yes person.”  I was. (Especially when I was younger and not exactly confident in myself as a public relations professional.)  However, I have definitely learned the importance of being a good advisor. 

And, if I ever were a PR consultant to the stars, I certainly hope I would have never said these sentences, just so I could keep my job, all while losing my dignity:

Yes Britney, I think it’s definitely a good idea for you to shave your head and then go out tonight and drink, even though you have been ordered – by a court – not to, and there will be photogs at the club to snap your every move.

Or

Yes Mariah, I think the screenplay to “Glitter” is entertaining, intriguing and will translate into a phenomenal movie! Go for it, girl!

But the fact is, it’s hard to hear the truth sometimes, and it’s hard to tell the truth sometimes…and not everyone wants to hear it and I know that. 

That’s why I want to work with clients that have a serious passion for what they do and that are interested in cultivating a professional relationship so we can, together, reach their communications goals.  I don’t want to promise the moon but I also don’t want to underpromise and overdeliver.  I want to have an ongoing dialogue about the possibilities of implementing a good public relations program.  I don’t want to just say “yes” and walk away thinking I could have done or said something to manage expectations or been perfectly clear about the potential success of a plan.

I also recognize the importance for ME to have honest and thoughtful people in my professional and personal circle.  I need supportive and truthful people around me, as well. 

Do you have a story to share?  Send me your thoughts! 

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Moving Greenville Forward

Like most Greenville natives, I can list off all of the amazing transformations this city has seen over the past 15 years.  When I was in high school, my friends and I couldn’t wait to get out of this place – surely there had to be life past the Pizza Hut on East North Street (it’s now a Pho Noodle) and Haywood Mall.  Some years and a stint in the big city of Atlanta  later had me clamoring to be back in G-vegas.  I couldn’t believe all of the change that had taken place, and that continues to take place.

One of my favorite organizations in town helping that progress along is Greenville Forward, led by Russell Stall and my good buddy Brock Koonce (www.greenvilleforward.com).  This group is committed to smartly growing our community – and encourages everyone to get involved and help make Greenville even better.  It’s groups like this that will help strengthen our sweet little city and make it one of the South’s best unkept secrets.  Check Greenville Forward out when you get a chance and see if there’s a place where you might like to get involved. 

Staying on track

Since we’re close, personal friends now I can let you in on a secret.  I love being busy.  I love having lots of projects on my plate and I really dig public relations and writing.   So, when I plan to embark on a project, I like to tell everyone around me…This keeps me on track and I feel a responsibility to finish the projects I start, because I told everyone and their mother about it. 

 When I trained for my first marathon I told everyone about it.  I figured it would actually be easier to run 26.2 miles than to go back and explain to everyone why I didn’t follow through!

 Since I started my own company and want to pursue freelance writing projects and my APR, I figured if I blogged about it then I would stay pretty committed to doing everything in my power to stay on track.  Of course, the divaness in me absolutely required that I read a book about blogging before actually pursuing it.  I have “how to” books on EVERYTHING.  My husband sees me come in with a Barnes and Nobles bag and he says, “Now what?”

I have books on how to train for a marathon, how to follow a raw food diet (more about this in a minute), how to be a freelance consultant, how to follow the Jillian Michael’s 30-day training program, Puppies for Dummies, Reading like a Writer and This Year You Write Your Novel.  I even have a book titled, “Why women think too much.”  ha!

Shall we revisit a time when I didn’t follow through with something?  Let’s go back to that raw food diet thing.  I thought it was a great idea and was very excited to make my own hummus for the first time – from scratch with dried garbonzo beans.  I don’t think I soaked the beans for long enough, which made for a really hard, inconsistent batch of hummus.  I got frustrated and threw it out…down the garbage disposal.   It got stuck and actually broke one of the blades off our disposal system.  Our house smelled like one big bean and we had to fork over some money to repair the disposal.  My husband threw the book out and that was the end of my raw food diet phase.

Once I start something I can become pretty excited about it and then my husband has to hear about it forever.  Until, that is, I decide to move on to the next project.  I just might be a serial hobbyist, but I know that my love for public relations, writing and running will never go away.  Keep me on track people! 

Can anyone relate to this?  Have you ever started something and not finished it?

“Day in the life of a journalist” – About this project

I’m interested in shadowing journalists for a piece I’m writing.  It’s a “day in the life of” article that will hopefully give those in the public relations industry an idea of what reporters, editors and news assignment managers experience throughout the day. 
I’ve known several reporters-turned-public relations consultants; however, I’ve never seen an article that focuses on the challenges individuals at media outlets face on a daily basis from a PR consultant’s perspective.
Once completed, I plan to write an article about my experiences and then pitch it to an industry trade publication.
So, here’s the deal – I’m planning to contact journalists (reporters, editors, news assignment managers, etc.) at a variety of publications to get their permission for me to shadow them and record the challenges, successes and frustrations they encounter in dealing with public relations practitioners on a daily basis. 
I have no idea how receptive individuals will be to this piece, but I’d love to shadow people at local, regional and even national media outlets.  I’m willing to travel and do the work if anyone out there is willing to let me shadow them.
I’m planning to record my experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – right here so everyone can follow along if they so desire.  I am giving myself six months to participate in as many “shadows” as I can. 
If you know of anyone that would be willing to have me shadow them, please let me know…

Ad Age’s “When Did It Bekome Acxeptable to Spell Incuhrrectly?”

Liza J. and I just had this same conversation last week!  And I speak for both divas when I say we could not agree more with this post.

Read on to learn about how…Sloppy mistakes tarnish your personal brand. http://tinyurl.com/2uycpp

SC Smiles articles

For many seasoned writers, it might be just another day for them to see their name in print.

You see, for most public relations professionals, their sole goal is to stay behind the curtain and get their clients’ names published and to position them as experts in their respective industries. 

I have spent my entire career doing this and still love it!  However, after I went out on my own, I started pursuing freelance writing, as well.  I have taken some writing courses and just joined a writing group (our first meeting is on Monday!) and so I haven’t had the luxury of getting many things published thus far.

Back in July I submitted two articles for the 2008 SC Smiles, South Carolina’s travel and tourism publication.  I just received my copy and it was pretty exciting to see my name – my maiden name, Kim Simko – staring back at me…twice!  I wrote about three books written by South Carolina authors (In their own words), as well as taste-tested three restaurants (Upcountry dining, a sample of the region’s best) in the Upstate South Carolina area. 

Are there any writers out there that remember the first time you saw your name in print? Want to share?

Check it out!

South Carolina Smiles and Places 2008 Official Vacation Guide

Looking for a few good APRs

I had a discussion with my APR guru yesterday – that is, the APR Accreditation Chair for PRSA Upstate – and mentioned an idea of inviting fellow APRs to join the discussion here and talk about their experiences. 

I’m in the process of developing a questionnaire to send…I’ll post the questions later to see if anyone has comments on other things I should ask.  I’ll then send away and post responses each week or month, depending on how much feedback I receive.