Salty and Successful

Jeremy Pepper has been blogging for seven years at Pop! PR Jots, and this early adopter is known for not pulling punches. The interesting thing is, whether he’s on his blog telling people to shut the —- up, or on Twitter letting folks know when they’re blowing hot air, he’s usually correct. It also helps that a good sense of humor comes with that intellect.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like to just speak your mind, especially for a PR person. Jeremy was kind enough to let me interview him to find out, and — as one would expect  — he shares both the good and the bad.

You’re both blunt and successful. Did you consciously decide that you would curse and cajole online, or did it just happen that way?

There’s nothing conscious in what I do, but there is a fiery part of my personality that believes if I believe in something, I will put my opinion out there. And, well, my background is philosophy so I’m able to argue my position pretty well, which seems to annoy people on Twitter (but, well, not my fault they’re unable to argue or prove their point – which might mean that their points aren’t defensible).

Also, I still follow my original position when I started blogging (and in extension Twittering or whatever is next). I blog for an audience of four friends that are also in the industry. That lets me be myself, swear when appropriate, and not be worried that I’m going to offend someone. Do I self-censor? Of course, I am cognizant of what I might write and how it may affect my career and clients. But, for better or worse, I’m true to myself.

Has it hurt me? Most likely yes. Am I going to change it up that much? Most likely, no. But I do self-censor and pay attention to what I say.

If you’re 100% your true self all the time, do you attract clients and employers who accept and embrace the real you?

Not really sure. Like I noted above, it has probably hurt me. But there’s also a disclaimer that it’s my opinion and opinion only, and the smarter organizations understand that. But, my work is what speaks for me. I don’t self promote like a lot of people out there, but the work I have done speaks for itself. You hire me for my ability to understand traditional and social media public relations, my ability to tell a story, my ability to build relationships and my efforts to go out and get coverage.

Do you think being outspoken has had an impact on your career?

It depends on if I’m being pigheaded and stubborn. But it has also helped because PR seems to have gone from counsel to almost being assistants: we’re told what to do and we do it. By having an opinion and being able to formulate it, I am able to give client’s counsel that is based on experience instead of the “whatever you want to do.” And, yes, being in-house, I have gone to past agencies and asked for their opinion and counsel and been stunned by their lack of an opinion or ability to counsel.

Have you ever regretted something you said?

Probably. I am human. But I learned a valuable lesson when I was like 9 years old from my Uncle (well, ex-Uncle, but still my Godfather). The difference between being a man and not being one is the ability to admit your mistakes and apologizing. That left an impression on me, so I try to apologize if I am wrong.

What’s the best part about being Jeremy Pepper?

No one forgets my name. That really is a great perk of the name, it is pretty much unforgettable. And my voice is distinct enough that I never have to say who I am on the phone.

What do you think? Have you ever shown your true colors, and was the result good or bad?

Jeremy Pepper has worked for more than a decade in public relations, in both traditional and what is now called social media. Pepper has worked with a who’s who of Fortune 500 companies during his career, ranging from consumer technology to consumer packaged goods to high technology, providing integrated communications counsel to such companies as Eastman Kodak, Clorox, Cisco Systems, General Motors, Mobile 1, Nortel Networks,  Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Campbell’s Soup, amongst others. Currently, Pepper is the director of communications and social media for Palisade Systems, working on public relations and social media campaigns in a B2B setting, garnering press and exposure for the corporation’s data loss prevention solutions.

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  • Marchell Gillis

    Great bio on Jeremy Pepper -I agree that when a PR person can be genuine and offer real counsel, their clients can only benefit. Offering counsel counter to what the “powers that be” want to hear is challenging and sometimes requires you to fight for it if you feel strongly. I think for some PR professionals it’s uncomfortable to provide that level of service sometimes, but to one of Jeremy's point- you are hired for your ability which should include providing solid counsel.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rockstarjen Jennifer Wilbur

    As PR counsel, you have to argue what you believe is right – even if you're wrong. If you believe in it, and learn from it (if you are wrong), you and your client/employer are better for it.

    I've butted heads often with clients and employers, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My job is to to fight for what I think is right – and how to communicate it. Have I been blunt? Yep. Have I been wrong? Yep. Have a said things I regret? Nope. If I think I'm right, and it's important, I'll argue until you convince me otherwise. Or, I'll say, “You've got my two cents. It's your decision to do with it what you will.”

    As long as your bluntness, openness, outspokenness, etc. is done with respect.

    Jeremy says it best here: “You hire me for my ability to understand traditional and social media public relations, my ability to tell a story, my ability to build relationships and my efforts to go out and get coverage.” Maybe he isn't making a bunch of superficial friends, but I bet the relationships he builds are true and lasting.

    And the sense of humor sure doesn't hurt.

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    You're right – it takes courage to stand up for what you know is the best course of action. Thanks for weighing in, Marchell!

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    Excellent point about the relationships being true and lasting. That's why I asked Jeremy whether he attract clients and employers who accept and embrace his Jeremy-ness.

    Most of my clients are in technology and, especially at the very large companies, they tend to be rather conservative in everything from the way they dress to the kinds of design elements they like on a brochure. I'm not a very conservative kind of gal “in real life,” but I have serious aspects of my personality, so that's what I tend to show those clients. But I often wonder if I continue to attract conservative clients because that's what I'm putting out there. Hmm…

  • Livepath

    Nice profile on Jeremy Pepper, Kelly. I might be conservative, but I'd take real and raw over fake platitudes and bubble speak any day.

  • http://www.twitter.com/rockstarjen Jennifer Wilbur

    Maybe. Or maybe it's a regional and/or industry thing. Most of my clients are technology, but consumer entertainment/lifestyle and/or startups, located in California and not very conservative. I'm very playful, but can be as serious as hell when I need to. I'd have a tough time attracting conservative clients. But then, I seek those companies that aren't.

    Have you ever been in a meeting with a non-conservative company and felt uncomfortable? It energizes me, but I know it can be unsettling for others. I'm the other way around. Ultra conservative companies give me the willies. ;)

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    No bubble-speak – let's start a movement!

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