Thanks for the Memories
It only seemed fitting to break this news on this blog.
After seven of the best years of my life, I am leaving Brotman-Winter-Fried Communications. Starting April 1, I will be working for Iostudio, managing their incredible social media team. Expect more information on the new gig in due time!
Of course, this is a bittersweet move. While I am beyond ecstatic to start the next exciting phase of my professional life, saying goodbye to a company that has been my home since I was in college is extremely difficult. So I wanted to dedicate this post to sharing some of my favorite stories and experiences. My apologies if you find this indulgent. You can skip over this post and read anything else you’d like on this site I won’t be offended.
Before I get to the memories, I want to take a minute to thank the incredible group of mentors who have guided me over the past few weeks in this process. In no particular order: , , , , , , , and, of course, my gorgeous, fantastic wife . Your guidance and support have meant the world to me!
Back to the topic at hand:
As I said, my time with BWF has been nothing short of incredible. From travels to celebrities, it has been quite a ride.
I’d like to count down 10 of my all-time favorite moments from my run here at BWF. Honestly, I could do a Top 100 list, but that seems a little much, no? Ten works. But it was REALLY, REALLY hard to get it down to that number.
10) Steve Urkel - After the 2004 MLS Cup in Los Angeles (which DC United won!), we stopped by the victory party on our way to the airport. Also at the party: Jaleel White, who you may remember best as Steve Urkel on “Family Matters!”
9) Ed Reed – In April 2005, we worked on a series of fundraising events for the Santana Moss and Clinton Portis Foundations. I loved every second of this week. The lead event was a major evening at Lucky Strike Lanes, featuring some of Clinton and Santana’s NFL friends. For me, nothing was better than meeting my all-time favorite Ravens player, Ed Reed.
8 ) Second Hottest Publicist -In the summer of 2007, FishBowlDC ran a series of “Hottest Media Types” polls. My friend Rachel Maisler thought it would be funny to nominate me. And never one to shy away from a little spotlight, I easily agreed. At the end of the public voting, I finished second in the Male Publicist category, ahead of some national luminaries. Note – I was leading by a good margin going into the last day. Then some jackass jumped 4,000 votes in 12 hours. Nope, he didn’t cheat AT ALL! Well, while this contest was going on, I had just started dating Marisa. I can only imagine what she thought of this pompous, self-absorbed guy she was seeing! (Spoiler Alert – she married me!)
Rachel decided to help throw me a party for being the Second Hottest Publicist! We went to Howl at the Moon in Baltimore for a night of piano bar/karaoke fun. And this was perhaps the highlight of the night, as three waiters performed “Dick in a Box.”
7) Hammer Time! - Every child of the 80s/90s was a Hammer fan. All of us. So getting to spend some time with him at events in San Francisco and Washington over the years was a treat beyond treats! Too legit to quit…hey hey!
6) Africa Rising - A few summers back, we promoted an event called Africa Rising, which was designed to showcase some of the terrific cultural advancements in Nigeria. Sound like a dull event? Well, it was a concert and fashion show held at the Kennedy Center. The fashion didn’t hold my interest, but the concert portions definitely did. The headliners? John Legend and Jay-Z. Yep. My two favorite moments of the night: John Legend’s press conference. Here’s how it started. John walks in, stands at the podium and says, “The press conference has begun. Ask me questions.” Classic.
The other incredible moment was about five minutes after Jay-Z took the stage. While starting his second song, he paused to look around and had this “holy cow” look on his face. Yes, Jay-Z is one of the top commercial artists of all time. But this was the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – the nation’s mecca of theater and opera. To perform on the same stage as Placido Domingo and countless others suddenly hit him. Everyone in the audience could tell that this performance meant as much to him as it did to us. A very special moment.
5) WWE and the Superstars - From the 1980s height of Hulkamania to the unbelievable awesomeness of Chris Jericho, I’m an unabashed unrepentant fan of professional wrestling. To get to work with World Wrestling Entertainment and their superstars was an incredible thrill! Over the years, I promoted a show in DC, did promotional work with several superstars, and worked on many public appearances outside of the wrestling world.
Sharing a limo with Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long, spending some time with the incredibly gracious Matt Hardy and helping Chris Nowinski get the word out on voting are huge career highlights.
With all of that being said, NOTHING beats my experience working with John Cena at the 2005 World of Wheels car show in Washington, DC. He came in as a special guest, there to meet fans and sign autographs. He arrived at the Convention Center early and hit the show floor 20 minutes early after seeing the HUNDREDS of fans already in line with him. Cena signed every autograph, smiled for every photo, and stayed over an hour late to make sure every fan went home happy. At this point, he wasn’t yet a World Champion, but he made an incredible impression on everyone there, including me, and proved why he is THE CHAMP! I actually said in a print interview later that he was the nicest athlete I’d ever worked with and to this day, that statement holds true.
4) Nationals Invade Baltimore! - The year was 2008 and the Washington Nationals were looking for ways to ramp up their rivalry with the Baltimore Orioles. I came up with the idea to have the five Nationals mascots invade Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. (As a lifelong Orioles fan, I was a bit nervous about this!).
The day came and we brought Screech, TJ, Teddy, Abe and George up to Charm City and gave them “protest” signs to carry around downtown Baltimore. To say the event was a tremendous success would be an understatement.
3) California Tortilla - I have no hesitation in saying that California Tortilla has been my absolute favorite account. Over the years, I’ve done my part as the chain grew from a handful of locations around DC into a major force on the quick-casual restaurant scene. Their incredible Director of Marketing Stacey Kane and I have cooked up some crazy schemes, including: attempting to set a Guinness World Record for largest Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament, giving out free meals to people who lost their jobs in the recession, and, most recently, hiding 1,000 $1 bills all over Washington, DC. These campaigns won awards from the restaurant industry, were lauded by the PR industry and covered by local and national media. Earlier this year, the chain was named the #15 Mover and Shaker by Fast Casual magazine.
When I think of my time working with California Tortilla, I’ll remember all the road trips to open new restaurants, the wacky stunts, blowing up hundreds of thousands of balloons until my hands were raw, and just…FUN!
2) Fight Night - Every Fall, Fight for Children, one of the greatest non-profits in the USA, runs an event called “Fight Night.” It is, to quote “Clerks,” the social event of the season. Boxers, celebrities, CEOs, musical acts, it’s got it all. And the money flows, with millions of dollars donated every year. No event can top this. Hell, where else can you see Jermaine Dupri, Quincy Jones, Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Joan Jett in the same room? NOWHERE! This is, by far, my favorite annual event in DC. Nothing comes close.
1) Muhammad Ali – There is nothing like what happened on June 11, 2005. I was running PR for Mike Tyson’s big fight against Kevin McNeely. Tyson quit after 6 rounds, by the way. (Remind me to tell you a story about meeting the Archbishop Don Magic Juan. Offline.). But the highlight of my career came just after the co-main event, which featured Laila Ali besting Erin Toughill in a brutal, bloody contest. I ran into the ring to grab a few quotes to give to the reporters on deadline. After talking to Erin, I jotted down a line from Laila and turned around and almost ran into the Greatest. Yes, Muhammad Ali had left his ringside seat to join his daughter in the ring. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grab a photo with the man directly. However, dozens of cameras snapped away. And in a strange turn of events, several YEARS later, one of them ended up in an issue of People magazine. No joke!