Friday, September 08, 2006

Writing Overdose

So a PR officer is hired to work on one of our projects. The idea was that none of us technical people had time to sit around and design and write brochures, leaflets, press releases, interviews and deal with the media etc... The client is a government organization, the project is a bit high-profile with lots of local politics involved so we made sure our contract specified that the client would provide us with a PR person to handle that side of things.

The PR officer joins us for 2 months - the duration of his contract. We feed him the technical info and assume that he's doing his job. At least I did. Although to be honest I never checked. I never even bothered to read the few newspaper clippings he did hand me. Then his contract expires and he leaves. Yesteday in the weekly progress meeting with the client, two things hit me. First, said PR officer was supposed to prepare no less than 16 press releases - in Arabic and English - of which the client has only seen 4 in print so far. They were scheduled to be released at certain milestones in the development of the project. The next one is due next week so all of a sudden I'm asked when they can have the press releases he was supposed to have left behind so that they can turn them over to their own PR dept for follow-up.

I never even knew the guy was supposed to write a fixed number of press releases - an entire media campaign really. Because I never bothered to look at his job description or his tasks. But of course I couldn't say that. What kind of team-leader would say that?I apologized for not having the press releases with me at the present time and promised to send them over when I get back to my office.

Of course I went back to the office and checked his files. Nothing. I called him. He said that he prepared the first 4 and then since the rest were dated to be released after his contract had expired he just didn't do them. He said he didn't understand that they were supposed to be written in advance. Of course I told him my opinion of that and of him but the fact remained that his contract had expired and based on my word, my management signed the piece of paper that said his job was done.It's ultimately my fault that he took the client's money and spent two months essentially doing nothing because I didn't supervise him. And I had no power to force him to do anymore work.

So I got stuck having to write the stupid press releases. And to translate them into Arabic. And then hand them in as someone else's work. If I said anything to my manager I would have made myself look incompetent. And he would not have let this sort of thing pass easily. And if anyone at the client's side had sensed anything it would have made my organization look bad and then my manager would have hanged, drawn and quartered me.

I know I always dreamed about getting more into the business/managerial side of IT. And I know how hard I worked to get there. But now I'm here sometimes I feel maybe I bit off more than I can chew. Back in the days when I was a developer I had no idea how huge and complex our projects really were, how much detail was involved, how much you had to remember etc...There's so much coordination involved. And the slightest lapse can have serious consequences for you and your team and your organization no matter how strong you might be technically.

I missed my blog last week but I was so overdosed on writing that I really could not face typing a single syllable more.


Blogger Jane said...

Wow, it sounds like you really did have your hands full. That PR guy was a jerk and should have felt ashamed taking money for a job he didn't finish. The important thing is you came through for your company and got the job done. Good for you.

9/09/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Alina said...

If I ever get my hands on that guy he will regret it :)

Anyway, if any other press releases come your way and you need your help, let me know. I still have skills in IT press releases from back when I was helping with PR and from now, cause I double-check English and everything else in the press releases of my new company .

Take care!

9/09/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Puppy said...

Hi Loulou,

I don’t like being supervised to be honestly. I do my work, I supervise myself preparing and fulfill my own “to do lists” and really get irritated if someone tries to check on me. But there are ppl that need to be supervised and even commented on their progress and work. Even myself sometimes :) So that is something a manager should do, supervise.
I don’t think you bite more than u can chew, u need to progress, and I bet you will be bored without future growth. All managerial techniques, remembering all details related to projects and ur staff will come with experience, give yourself a time. I see that the case with PR taught u a lot. I understand your “writing overdose” and I want to wish you never have such cases again.

As for the guy, let him go, there is nothing u can do more, I guess.

Best wishes,


9/09/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger programmer craig said...

Oh wow! Fun stuff :O

Well, at least you came out of it OK! I have all kinds of horror stories about consultants, but since I'm a consultant myself now, I guess I'll keep them to myself :)

By the way, I don't think you do anything wrong. And it doesn't matter if you signed off, or if your boss signed off, on his work. If he didn't complete the tasks he was contracted to complete, that's breach of contract. It's his problem, not yours. Although I guess you handled it in the way that was best for you... but really, you ended up doing work that he was paid to do. It's too bad there wasn't a way to make him regret his lainess and his poor work ethic a little bit, at least.

9/09/2006 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger HATHOR said...

May be a little bit of checking every now and then, on consultants progress in their contracted work, won't do any harm so that you don't end up in a situation like this one!!

9/10/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger MSB said...

we live and learn! good luck..

9/10/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger SYehia said...

I know eaxctly what you mean it was somehow different to me when i had to take some collegue job permenantly and i thought she was hard worker but guess what she was not. I guess not all people are hard workers.
Hopefully you will be good soon.

9/11/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger tooners said...

next time you'll know to check more closely but it's a shame that you have to do such. you'd think that ppl would be adult enought to do their work, but you get slackers everywhere that take total advantage. govt ppl seem to be the worst ones out there - especially in this part of the world.

9/12/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Herlock Sholmes said...

Welcome to management :)

9/14/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Alluring said...

Management sucks ass!

9/15/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Faisal said...

You live, you learn.

You'll be on your toes now... Good luck.

9/21/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alina said...

Lou, hope everything is all right with you. It's been quite a while!

9/22/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger tota said...

Happy Ramadan Lou ... This is ur first with K :)

9/24/2006 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger linalone said...

HI, Do you still need a PR officer? If yes, I'm vacant..

9/29/2006 08:08:00 PM  

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