Birthday Wishes From Some Guy Named “Pete”
September 30, 2013
Happy birthday BPR! I’ll never forget my six years on the corner of First and Cherry.
It started in late August 2001, just a few weeks before all of our lives were changed by 9/11. Looking back, it was a time of big change for me personally as well.
I was 26 and had just gotten laid off from a PR firm on the other side of pioneer square. The ax had fallen a few days before I had left for my honeymoon. I had never been canned before, so I remember carrying that with me during what was supposed to be a fun time.
I also remember how happy I was to come home to a voicemail from Snacky, a former client of mine who was now working for BPR – inviting me to come in. It was here that my BPR experience began.
I showed up in typical “day one” attire, khaki pants and a dress shirt – ironed crisp. It was about as far from the standard BPR dress code of black tee-shirt and jeans as you could get.
I had never interviewed or anything, so I just showed up and met Snacky – who put me right to work in one of the “fishbowl” offices (where people could watch you work through the glass).
I recall working email and phones, coordinating a New York City press tour that would have put my client in the middle of the 9/11 tragedy – had they not asked us later to cancel the meetings for some reason I can’t remember.
I met the others in the office when they would walk past the fishbowl and wonder who the hell I was and what I was doing there.
I remember meeting Howie for the first time. He thought my name was “Pete” – but I didn’t bother to correct him. I just went along with it for the next several weeks. I figured he could call me whatever he wanted. I just wanted to work for BPR.
And work I did. In those early days there were only a few of us, so we all carried a lot of responsibility. We didn’t really have titles, like “AC” (account coordinator) or “AE” (account executive) – as most other firms were structured. We all engaged with clients, offered thoughts and insights, and were expected to deliver results.
I was psyched. I was no longer going to be the “copy boy” or the “call monkey” stashed in the back room. I was going to be interfacing with the client – and they would actually know who I am and that I work on their account.
I was learning the trade in the fast lane – and from some of the best people in the business. Looking back, being surrounded by Howie, Andrew, Karli, Frances and Snacky in those early years was the best thing that could have happened to me and my career. I wouldn’t be the PR person I am today without them.
Howie was a particularly strong influence in my life. Not only did I begin to question retail prices and to wear black tee-shirts just about every day (something we’ve both since abandoned) – but he also showed me how to stand out from the crowd, and to think more creatively than the other PR guys in town. I also learned to be “the squeaky wheel,” to know my clients’ business better than they do, and to never – no matter what – never let em’ see you sweat. But most importantly, he taught me to trust my instincts, to be decisive, and to become a much more confident person.
Today I live in Vermont, operating a small PR dojo of my own – but there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not falling back on my BPR experience.
All of you who work there today, I want you to know how lucky you are. Not only do you have the opportunity to help shape some of the most innovative companies in the Northwest and be a critical part of their success – but you, personally, have every chance to show your stuff and to be a star. You have the opportunity to meet some amazing people – and to work along-side the best in the business. I’m jealous.
Thank you BPR for being a big part of my life. I wish you 15 more years of success and prosperity. Keep on rocking!
Pete (aka Jeff Pecor)