Posted by: somesangs | September 11, 2007

A How and When to Manage Up Without Getting Fired Sang

I just read a great post by Phil Gomes on managing up. I posted a comment there, but then I got to thinking…look out!

So many young professionals I talk with, no matter their field, are often stuck wondering how to lead stale ideas that are losing effectiveness in the direction of fresh ideas that stick…without pissing off The Boss (that’s first name, The; second name, Boss), coming across as an ignorant academic or sounding like a mouse in a den of old lions.mouse.jpg

In my office, our favorite word is stank. We like to “add stank to” collateral materials and, my personal favorite, “throw some stank on it” … “it” being anything caught in the crossfire of our overuse of this ridiculous word. What I like most about this phrase is the irony of it for most young pros.

A lot of online ideas The Boss wants to utilize for clients are outdated or off-target…and we know it. Essentially, these ideas stink…and not in the way we want them to. These are ideas that are stanky and exciting for lagging digital immigrants, but are outdated and far from effective…stinky. (In no way does this post represent my boss…he’s actually a pretty cool and with-it dude.) Young pros with foresight consider their future at Company Not With It and weigh it against:

  • the client’s pending dissatisfaction from a failed digital attempt at effective PR,
  • and against rubbing The Boss, who offers job security and raises-ching-ching, the wrong way. (Please, young pros, rub appropriately.)

Your reactions are usually from among the following – the safe, undisruptive route: to say nothing, do your work and get your paycheck; the frighteningly honest route: to confidently and boldy proclaim the good news of social media, ‘ta heck with The Boss’ feelings…this is business!; or the middle of the road route: to object in that polite tone your mother taught you and back down at the first signs of resistance…and oh yes, there will be resistance. What do you choose? What do I choose?

I’m lucky enough to work for The Boss that is young-ish and hip, but please trust me, I have also worked for quite the opposite. My advice? Feel out your employer, then decide what’s important to you. Are you passionate about carving a name into the PR sidewalk, being known for your innovative ideas and with-it social media strategy? Speak up! But…do so kindly and humbly. They DO have 20 years of experience on us, now. If the company isn’t ready…is this the company for you?

Are you just getting your PR feet wet? Don’t want to stir up the sleeping, newspaper-only-reading giant Boss just yet? Send links about the effectiveness of the social media strategy you’d like your company to embrace. Ask for a one-on-one meeting with The Boss to talk about some ideas you have for strategies for specific clients. Do your homework and back-it-up to The Boss.

copy-of-brookes-wedding-don-home-moving-august-2007-020.jpgPeg Swanson, the actual motherload, always told me, “Just ask. The worst that could happen is that they tell you ‘No.'” I always rolled my eyes and gagged a little, but that ole’ girl is pretty smart. The worst that could happen here is that you do some research, learn a few things about developing strategy and show The Boss that you’re interested. What’s so bad about that?

Overall, be cognizant of the experience and strategic understanding that comes along with 20 years of experience…and ask questions. The best thing we can do to help our wise elders embrace social media is to keep using it effectively. Get into it. Blog. Read blogs. (Particularly Paull’s and Bill’s.) Comment. (Don’t waste your workday finding new bands on MySpace…this I do not advocate.) Twitter. Follow. Make friends. Make followers. And for cripe’s sake, take the ridiculous pictures of yourself half-naked doing a keg stand off FaceBook! Immerse yourself in what you believe is so effective. Meet people who are immersed with you…people who could very well introduce you to your next The Boss!

It’s a being-a-young-pro-is-so-dramatic-at-times sang,




  1. Cannot wait to use “throw some stank on it” in my next brainstorming session w/ @mikechapman. LOL

    Seriously, this is a great post. I love spotting young social media talent and learning a sang or two from them.

  2. This is a superb post Kait, good to see someone at our level taking Phil’s point and applying it from our perspective.

    Also – I thought I was the only PR blogger who invoked mum’s wisdom ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Connie and Paull…
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Connie: I haven’t met the infamous Mike Chapman, but I can see him giving in and actually using “stank” in the near future! Thanks for the kind words…and for being the only friend to humor me by using “sang.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Paull: Thanks, man! We should get our Mom and Mum together for some coffee…perhaps Mum could teach Mom to blog? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Great post. You’ve captured the dilemma of the young PR pro. It is amazingly clear what needs to be done when you’re young. It gets murkier 10, 15 years later.

  5. […] Update:  A couple of other great posts on similar topics from Phil Gomes and Kait Swanson. […]

  6. […] friend Kait Swanson followed up Phil’s post with some deep thoughts from the junior perspective (in doing so highlighting the positives of entry level bloggers) Feel out your employer, then […]

  7. Man, all these posts are so hitting home with me. Luckily my boss gives me a ton of leeway to speak my mind and chime in with ideas. But in previous jobs, I always tried not to be a “keep your head down and take home your paycheck” employee, and yet when it came time to challenge bosses, I was frequently shot down or ignored–frustrating. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth speaking up.

    I think this is especially true for young women. There’s stats (somewhere, is it bad if I don’t go and look them up?) that show that often, women make less money for the simple reason that men are more likely to ask for more money, more likely to speak up and partake a bit more self-promotion around the office.

    I love this post, why didn’t I have you in my reader before? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Great post! I agree that young professionals do want (or need?) to work on what’s important or of interest to them — which isn’t always what the boss hands down. You’ve described the delicate balancing act across the line of distinguishing ourselves in the field or coming across as a young know-it-all hotshot (but I prefer the term “with it”). Thanks for including the reminder to do all things humbly and wisely at this stage, and to keep doing our homework!

  9. […] there was a fascinating discussion (see Paull Youngโ€™s excellent post for the full round-up) about age, experience, responsible […]

  10. […] Young has links to the various posts. Worth clicking through and reading some of […]

  11. David – Thanks for stopping by and adding. Yes, we can be glad that there are clear steps to take as a young pr pro. Though I still agree with Phil, it’d be nice if there were some instructions or someone to lay the appropriate options out for us. Thanks, again…

    Sarah – I believe a stereotypical, “You go girl!” is in order. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it’s so important for young pros to keep trying, keep speaking up, keep learning. That’s how we…arriiiiiive. (Que the angel chorus.)

    Lauren – Glad you like this. In EVERYTHING we do, and I’m not just talking young pros here, there needs to be evidence of humility. A teachable attitude is attractive…to employers, colleagues and, heck, to our friends.

  12. Throw some “stank” on it, Swanson? Sounds like something monkeys would do.

  13. Thanks for the plug, Kait. And sorry it took so long for me to get back to it. Start of a new school year always shifts my priorities.

    The young professionals will have to plunge into this Web 2.0 world if we’re to move the old farts (who sign the checks) into this new branch of communication. Yet I still meet way too many folks, many under 25, who don’t have feeders and don’t know how RSS can help them. Oh, sure, they have Facebook accounts. But they really aren’t in any conversations to speak of.

    But I’m see too often is an absence of passion, a dearth of curiosity, an unwillingness to experiment. Maybe I’ll get you back to Kent to teach these kids a “sang” or three.

  14. A girl after my own heart!

  15. just wanted u to know that i like you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: