We’re still in the early 1990’s, about six months after the press-release incident.
Because I was young, inexperienced and lacked confidence, after the press-release incident I became fearful and unsure of myself. I walked around the PR department head down, eyes diverted.
So now they really did have good reason for not liking me. Not because they got to know me, but because the vibe I was unwittingly putting off was pure, unadulterated, holier-than-thou, nose-thumbing snob.
I thought a change of scenery might help and I found it about 40-yards down the hall and around the corner in the marketing communications department.
I interviewed for a marketing communications manger position and got the job—thanks in part to the recommendation of my boss in the PR department. We had worked together at a previous company and she brought me with her when she joined the organization as PR manager. She understood and supported my desire to explore a new path.
So I became a marketing communications manager. Marketing collateral, packaging, advertising, direct mail and point-of-sale promotions for two product lines came through my hands. It was my job to traffic every project, review every word, maintain every brand standard and get each piece out the door on time and on budget.
What I learned
I learned the basics of direct mail, point-of-purchase promotions, packaging, advertising and field marketing. List building, end caps, advertising specs and material due dates, copy editing, brand standards, international branding, bluelines (anyone out there old enough to remember bluelines?), printing, press checks, beta testing and gold code—I learned more during my time at that job than I could have ever imagined.
I learned about working with international subsidiaries and channel partners.
I learned the power of process and its limitations.
I learned how to balance the prioritization of the most important tasks with the most immediate.
I learned creative problem-solving skills that I still rely on almost every day.
I learned to be part of a team. My peers supported each other. We shared ideas, knowledge and experiences. We had fun. We held each other accountable. I learned the most about teamwork from the 50-something year old sitting in the cubicle next to mine. She had come up through the ranks with no college degree and no formal training. Over the years, out of necessity, she became expert at navigating the political waters I was drowning in. She taught me and was endlessly patient with repeated questions like, “can you show me one more time how to log this into the database?”
What happened next
Instead of passively receiving the updates deemed necessary for a PR coordinator, I actively participated in product launch meetings. There were line-items on the schedule with deadlines that had my name next to them. For those few details, the buck stopped with me.
I experienced success.
I began regaining my confidence.
I made life-long friends who are still among my most trusted confidants and best buddies. I love you guys.
It was a pretty sweet gig.
Then I encountered my first work bully.