A few weeks ago I was contacted by the Steve Heacock for Congress campaign to lead communications efforts. After meeting the candidate and the team, I accepted the role. The same day I joined the campaign team, Rick Treur was brought in as Campaign Manager, a role he filled for Vern Ehlers previously.
In addition to developing a communications plan for the campaign, one of the first tasks was a news release announcing Rick as the new campaign manager. A couple outlets picked it up, including the Grand Rapids Business Journal, which mentioned the release in its “Street Talk” column. It wasn’t quite the “pick up” I was expecting however. Typically the PR person remains behind the news, not in it.
The problem is that I used to work at the GRBJ. Back in 1990-91, I was a reporter covering manufacturing, banking and the economy. Shortly before I left I was approached by Seyferth & Associates which, at that time, was Grand Rapids’ leading PR firm. After a couple of meetings, I accepted their offer of a job. At the time, I was a young guy with a young wife and a little baby girl trying to pay off college debt and live on the meager earnings of a reporter. I worked nights at a video store to earn extra cash.
Along comes a PR firm offering me a significant upgrade. Of course I took the job, even though in my heart I still was a journalist at that time. My Editor, Carole, took me to Teazers, a bar down the street, and bought me a couple beers while she tried to talk me out of taking the job. That’s what led to the following portion of the column:
“…the news came in a release distributed by Robin Luymes. The Business Journal clan knows Luymes well from his start as a fresh-faced reporter with the BJ. No amount of adult beverage at the time could keep the pride of Canada from traveling down the path that now has him stumping for political types and other interests as an independent PR pro. We tried.”
I was flattered (although embarrassed) to be the focus of Carole’s comments, because the real news was Heacock and the Treur announcement. But I’m thankful for my start with the GRBJ because it was my work there that earned the notice of Seyferth which led to my PR career. Ironically, I never did go to work at Seyferth. Before I could finish my “two weeks notice” I was approached by Amway. I interviewed and they offered me a job too (one representing a significant upgrade from Seyferth’s offer).
The rest is, as they say, history.