Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pleasantville meets The Stepford Wives

This Thursday night I will be attending the annual IABC Ovation Awards in Toronto. This is one of Toronto’s most prestigious and important award shows for the PR industry. MAVERICK is not only going to grab a few awards that night, but we are the proud sponsors of the Student of the Year Award.

I really look forward to this event as it’s nice to get out every once in a while and see some old friends and colleagues in the business. Since you can’t write on my Facebook wall ('cuz I don’t have an account), this is a great way for me to catch up.

I particularly love chatting it up with other agency folks. But, I swear, I have the same conversation each year. PR agency types are known for their warm handshakes, ear-to-ear grins and gushing positivity. It’s like the Stepford Wives descended into Pleasantville for a night.

If you’re not going to the show, don’t worry. This is how most of the conversations will go. I will write the dialogue à la James Frey (that Million Little Pieces faker):

Heeeeeeey! Great to see you!
Omigod, great to see you too! Love that outfit!
Did you cut your hair? Looks awesome!
Thanks! Seeing this wonderful stylist in Yorkville.
Are you up for any awards tonight?
Of course! And I’m here with my client too.
Oh, that’s great. How is business?
Amazing, having one of our best years yet. And you?
Oh fantastico. Just landed a huge client. We’re so thrilled.
That’s terrific. How is (insert name here) working out?
Oh, just grand. One of my best hires yet.
That’s great to hear.
Well, it was wonderful seeing you. You look great, as usual.
Ya, you too! See you around. Have fun tonight.
You, too!
(end with big teeth smiles and air kisses)

Feel a sugar rush coming on? ‘Cuz that’s basically the dialogue most of the night. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that PR people are fake or laying it on thick, but PR people pretty much stick to a standard core message. After all, didn’t we invent the message track?

Once, just once, I would love to hear a conversation go something like this:

Hey, are you okay? You look like crap.
I’m so bloody tired.
I’m short staffed and I can’t seem to find anybody at the mid-level with half a brain.
I hear so and so is looking. Have you talked to her?
Are you kidding? I heard that miserable cow can’t hold down a gig for six months. What about you? How’s biz?
Not bad, but just had one of my big clients back off a huge project this quarter.
That’s gonna leave a mark.
No kidding.
I heard you won the XYZ account. How’s that working out?
Talk about high-maintenance. We’re over servicing it big time. I think we’re 50K in the hole already.
So glad we lost that pitch to you!
Listen I gotta run. My table ran out of drink chits and they’re too cheap to buy any themselves.
Yeah, me too. Gotta go.
See Ya
(both shrug and wave a gentle goodbye)

What conversation will you have on Thursday night?

Til then…


Chris Clarke said...

Great post, Julie. That was hilarious!

Naheed said...

I can't stop launghing...written with the true Julie flair. One thing is always a staple at these award nights - the MAVERICK table is always the loudest and most fun. Hey, that's how I noticed this company more than five years ago.

Have fun Thursday!

Julie Rusciolelli said...

Naheed, don't forget that our Maverick table is also good looking, stylish and a bit obnoxious!

James McNally said...

Authenticity is what social media is all about, right? Just tell 'em that's the "New PR"!

Leslie said...

Ah yes, the PR Pollyanna thing.

In honesty, after we did the great hair, great shoes thing, I think I did break the spell "just for you" by citing someone running with my intellectual property unacknowledged.... (A few of us rebels never ingested the Kool Aid and do call spades, spades -- sometimes.)