Posted by Kailey Astor
An Open Challenge to PR
So you’ve fantasized about becoming a PR rep for a movie star, or perhaps some big-shot politician. That's power; think about it. No humiliating yourself. No slinging outright bogus news pitches to egg-on-the-tie reporters. No, instead, the media would be beating a path to your door, pleading for your attention and consideration. “Today Show? Have them hold. Entertainment Weekly? Take a message. Business Week? Marcy, tell ‘em I’ll get back to them after my 2 o’clock facial. Oh, and by the way, tell them the ground rule: absolutely no questions about that nasty little incident in Tijuana. I am serious... or they’re dead to me... DEAD!”
Well, one similarly confident flack in Los Angeles thought he was livin' la vita loca. Matt Szabo is director of communications for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Unfortunately, he recently had his cojones checked.
LA Times columnist, Steve Lopez, wanted to interview Jaime de la Vega, the mayor’s advisor on transportation. Lopez went through Szabo to set up the interview. Matt insisted on one ground rule: Don’t ask de la Vega about his car. So happens, the mayor’s advisor on transportation tools around smog-choaked LA in a major gas-guzzling smog machine. de la Vega drives a Hummer no less, the very car that has come to symbolize indifference to energy conservation and global warming. Anyway, Szabo insisted that de la Vega’s vehicle was “a matter of privacy.” Lopez assuaged his grief, “hey, sure, whatever;” And the interview was set.
Smaller than a Yukon, indeed. Szabo had been gored and could now hit high notes he'd never even dreamt of before.
OPEN CHALLENGE TO PR SZABOS EVERYWHERE
So, a reporter has the audacity to ignore the “ground rules.”
The BIG question is "what would any flack worth his salt do?" Would you freeze out the Los Angeles Times? Stop answering their calls? Ban their reporters from your boss’ press conferences? That’s if you had one functioning testicle. Here, how ‘bout sending the building inspectors over that rat-trap on Spring Street? Ah, surely they’ll find something. Might be time for some street maintenance – right in front of the employee parking lot, too. Hey, your boss has friends in organized labor, say no more.
The PR industry is watching. C'mon Matt, the man has checked your cojones, what are you going to do?
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Editor: Regarding the present situation, where Mayor Villaraigosa's transit boss, Jaime de la Vega, continues to drive a big pig Hummer automobile to City Hall, maybe the Time's Steve Lopez should now call for the resignation of Jaime de la Vega, from the Mayor's staff.
Our Mayor and his senior staff are supposed to set an example regarding policies encouraging gas efficient vehicles, global warming, use of public transit etc. De la Vega is setting a terrible example for other elected public officials and their staffs, who are trying to help us reduce traffic congestion, and drive automobiles that produce reduced emissions, which helps our fight to reduce global warming.
I would like to see some of our LA Councilmembers put some political and public heat on the transportation boss, de la Vega. Either dump the big pig Hummer, or look for another job in the private sector.
Jack McGrath, 5318 Agnes Ave.
Valley Village, CA 91607
Office- 818/ 506-6428
Fax - 818/ 506-3841
"Sure, you can interview President Nixon, but don't ask about Gordon and his Cuban friends."
"Mr. Giacalone will be happy to speak with you, as long as you promise not to mention Mr. Hoffa's permanent seats at the Meadowlands."
"(beep)... you've reached the Felt residence. Leave a message and we'll return your call, unless you want to ask about Deep Throat..."
I used to think the only thing worse than not prepping for "Most Obvious Questions" is pushing your reactive points before they are called for. Szabo proved me wrong. It's using brute force to muscle away a non-obvious one.
Oh God that photo makes me think of Steve Crescenzo's v-snip over the weekend. Ouch...
I can hear de la Vega's professional response: "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. "
Szabo showed his lack of professionalism by the very ground rule itself. Maybe Snow should tell Bush not to answer any questions about Iraq anymore.