BPR: Through The Eyes of the Girl Who Never Really Left

September 25, 2013

Across more than six years, I was a part of the scary-smart and talented team at BPR. Because of this, you can trust me when I tell you that working at BPR is more than a job. For better or worse, it is a way of life. The early years I spent at BPR exposed me to opportunities I would have never had the chance to experience fresh out of college; and in my opinion, I got to learn from the best of the best. Green as I was at 23, I was planning multi-city press tours, advising CEOs on crisis communications, collaborating with reporters at publications like Forbes and the New York Times and learning the ropes of an industry (technology) I never thought I’d touch.

The BPR way of life is sometimes thankless, sometimes gratifying, always challenging and never boring. It is not for people who like to count on “quitting time” at 5:30 every day. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who take constructive feedback personally. It is not for people who are offended by swear words and brusque honesty. But for some – those of you who won’t back down, aim for perfection and truly thrive on a challenge (many say they do but don’t) – it will grab hold and make you never want to leave.

When I first came across BPR, they didn’t want to hire me. For a while, Howie wouldn’t even meet me. I was young, inexperienced and other than a journalism degree and some writing chops, had very little to offer in the way of PR. I, like many before and after me, was desperate for that job. The lure of a “no BS” workplace that encouraged autonomy, had no titles, loved dogs and played DMB was irresistible. And I was hungry. I wasn’t taking no for an answer, and pressed so hard for the job that I bordered on annoying.

Ultimately, I think I got the interview so Howie could get me off his back. I don’t know if I was ever officially hired. The team agreed to let me do some work, gave me a desk and a lousy PC, and started paying me. But there was an unspoken understanding that I still only had one foot in the door. If I wanted to stay, I had to earn it. Technology PR is hard, plain and simple, and there were moments during those first six or so months that I questioned if it would pan out.

My first press tour was a schedule of eight or more ‘TBD’ meetings. I sent my client off to New York with not one meeting actually confirmed. The briefing materials I handed over on the day before departure were covered in TBD placeholders for days, times, locations and contacts they would possibly be meeting with along the way. At the time, I had no idea this was a problem. I thought I had done a great job securing ‘interest’ from high profile media in meeting with my client, and thought it was perfectly natural to expect the CEO to take everything across the finish line when he arrived on the east coast. It was his company after all, and I provided him with email addresses and some phone numbers. The backlash from this epic fail was painful, and almost cost me my job. Thankfully we didn’t lose the client. I fell on the sword, learned from my fuck up, eventually got really good at booking press tours and later had a lot of laughs over the infamous ‘TBD Tour’.

There are too many memories and lessons from my time at BPR to chronicle in a blog post. I had great clients (RealNetworks, WildTangent, Pokemon and Clearwell Systems to name a few) – and a couple scandalous ones (those will remain nameless). I learned the ins and outs of industries that continue to facilitate my career in PR (legal technology and gaming for example). I overcame my fear of public speaking and learned the art of always being one step ahead of the game. I took my first trips to NYC, D.C., Boston, London and other amazing cities. I built great friendships. I survived some awkward meetings and rescued my clients from many. I became a Mac. I rediscovered the importance of self-assuredness and spell check. I worked really hard and reaped the rewards.

Despite the fact that I don’t work at BPR any longer, I’m not sure that I ever actually resigned; much in the same way that I wasn’t ever formally hired. Even as my family life has pulled me in other directions, BPR and the relationships I formed here nearly 10 years ago are still meaningful. BPR – Howie, Karli and Frances specifically – make up a big part of the foundation of my history in PR. They and their team are a first-class group of people that I’d be lucky to work with again someday. Happy Anniversary you guys, and many wishes for even more success in the next 15.
-Ash

 

 

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