Friday, 20 March 2015
The Curious Case of the Professional 'Publicist'
In more than 20 years as a public relations practitioner, this is the least professional act on my part. But if it is not done, this matter will drag for longer with only one version publicly available. I for one have had enough of this nonsense.
Firstly, all views in the below post are solely my own and do not represent those who I have worked with or currently work with.
Secondly, if you are an Orangeberry author who is owed reviews or graphics, please email me - firstname.lastname@example.org - so I can connect you with the book tour company who is in charge of your book. If you would like other updates about Orangeberry, please go to orangeberrybooktours.com
And now ...
I started helping Orangeberry Book Tours in December 2011. The blog's founder, Pandora, is an old friend and my help consisted mainly of seeking more reviewers and managing public events with her.
In June 2013, I played a more active role in assisting Orangeberry as Pandora was taken ill.
It was during this time, that I had interactions with Orangeberry's 'publicist' who will further be referred to as KB. While on the most part it was a delight to work with this person, there were some red flags that later appeared to be more than just bad vibes kicking in.
On the issue of Quality Reads UK
This is a book club I belong to and while members were reluctant to bring the book club online, it was agreed in December 2012 that we would give it a try with Pandora managing social media for the book club. KB played an active role in this. It was her responsibility to manage the blogs and their social media. This was an unfruitful process for all concerned as it later appeared to be more work than necessary within a short span of time. Up to June 2013, none of us had any interaction with KB. All communications were through Pandora. After June 2013, I would have daily conversations with KB in Pandora's off and on absence.
In July 2013, members of a writing forum questioned the validity of Orangeberry and the blogs belonging to book club members. In hindsight, members should have played a more active role in managing their own blogs instead of depending on someone else to do it for them something which is slowly coming to pass now.
During the exchange on the forum, KB made it a point to stand up for the book club. Her exact words were, 'By the way, I think you should get a life. If you have time to do detective work on 200 blogs and its owners, clearly you have nothing else happening in your life. I was NOT pulled in to anything. I honestly thing (sic) the people here need to get a life and STOP harassing others. But then with all bullies they only harass and bully to make themselves feel superior. *screenshot available upon request
After this incident and Pandora's continued ill health, Orangeberry did not receive enough sponsorship to cover admin costs. As with others who contributed to Orangeberry, KB was told she could leave anytime she wanted as her time could no longer be paid for. KB's response was that she was not doing it for the money and would continue to contribute to Orangeberry for as long as she physically could. It was then Pandora's intention to eventually handover Orangeberry to KB in the New Year of 2014.
KB's disappearance and black mail
KB disappeared on 4 January 2014 saying she had no electricity due to bad weather. I use the word disappeared because it would be at least a month before Pandora or I heard from her.
Several attempts were made to contact her directly, and when a suspicious sign in using her login details was discovered on the Orangeberry website, I contacted her mother who said she would call back within the hour, nothing happened.
It was then pointed out by an author that KB did have Internet connection because she was seen interacting on Twitter. As of this time, instalment payments were being made to her via PayPal to settle outstanding monies owed to her.
In April 2014, further email communication was received that from KB that said if the outstanding sum was not paid in full with interest, KB would continue to email Orangeberry clients to inform them that the book club was in fact sock puppets.
Her exact words were, 'Forget the lawyer, I am having to much fun sending emails to ALL authors about the sock puppet accounts! :) :-) Yep! until I receive FULL payment plus interest I will email past authors about the sock puppet accounts. But I have emailed all authors currently on tour! :-D :-D Believe me I have nothing and I mean nothing to lose.*screenshot available upon request
The content of her email to Orangeberry clients included the list of blogs she had managed, social media accounts and passwords. Ironically, she also included her own blog in the list with proxy IP addresses she had procured.
Had the book club been a matter of such importance to her integrity and if the matter she was highlighting was in fact true, why wait till a year later when she had specifically stood up for the book club in July 2013?
As KB had disappeared in January, Pandora in ill health and I did not have time to keep Orangeberry running, Orangeberry was set to be sold to a UK publishing house. This deal would have ensured enough funding for admin costs and for all authors to receive their pending book reviews far more quickly than it has currently happened. Unfortunately, this deal fell through when it was discovered that KB was still emailing former and current clients of Orangeberry creating widespread panic among Orangeberry clients.
This continued until June 2014 when Pandora hired a US-based attorney to contact KB. Since April, Pandora had attempted to call her and when emailing KB, both of us received the filtered response of, "not read, just deleted."
It was intended for the lawyer to contact her and inform her that the amount she was asking for was not the amount owed to her. KB had downloaded her Google Docs payment sheet in April 2014 but after the first black mail request, she was removed from the Google sheet and payments were still made after this.
Beyond this, I was not involved in correspondences between Pandora, her lawyer and KB. Being in different countries (Pandora was back in the UK after seeking treatment in South East Asia and I had moved to Sydney with my family) legalities were involved for me to be privy to such communications.
Pandora also then made the decision to acquire the assistance of two other book tour companies in helping her complete her commitments to the authors she had worked with.
What happened then was beyond bizarre because instead of communicating directly with an attorney who was in the same country as her, KB continued to send us emails such as these alongside more emails demanding money.
HE CAN NOT DIGUNIST BETWEEN HIS FUCKIGN ES-WIFEWIFE P***Y AND MINE
i RELLY THINK I NEDD TO FUCKIGN KILL HI.
DRIT AWAY AND GET LOSS IN THE ROK & ROLL.
ELL WHAT RCK & ROOL HE WOULD NOT KNOW THE FIDDRENCE BETERRN AN R AND A D KEY]]
i FUCKING HOE HE DIES. HE WIL NEVER LOST INHIM AGIAN NOT MATTER WHAT A MILLIO DOLLORS WOULD NOT HANGE MY MIND * screenshots available upon request
If you have gotten a glimpse into the mindset of this person, more is to come.
Through all my interactions with her, KB was very clear that she had a son. It was later found out that something was not right with this statement because the son was seen wishing someone else for Mother's Day.*screenshot available upon request.
An old news clipping of a wedding in KB's family also raised more questions than it answered as there was no mention of KB.*screenshot available upon request.
But why bring up such personal matters, you ask? KB has made it a point to reveal everything she could about Pandora in the past few months including offering to reveal a home address she thought belonged to Pandora on a public forum. While bringing up this information is not tit for tat, it highlights the thought process of the individual concerned.
Unknown to KB, her red flags were so prominent, no one in Orangeberry gave out actual home addresses even when sending KB birthday, get well and Christmas gifts. Given the issues KB has created in the past 15 months for Orangeberry clients and volunteers, this was a decision nobody regretted.
There is also the issue of her past job experience where she has numerously indicated that she worked in the auto industry until 2012. An eBay seller profile for KB with several negative feedback about items not received indicates that she was in the auto industry up to 2010. *screenshot available upon request.
It is evident from her interactions that something is amiss with this person and it is not the intention of this post to troll her as she has done with us the past 15 months.
It is my intention to clearly state that whatever arrangements she had is with Pandora and her lawyer. I may have helped Orangeberry but this situation is now beyond my control. Trying to blackmail me is not going to achieve anything.
KB sent an email to me this morning to state that if payment is not received, 'I will post all emails on a blog, post the payment sheet and each payment received. Paypal payments show I have not been paid in full!' *screenshot available upon request.
Maybe I am naive but blackmail is a serious offence in any country. To continue to demand money AFTER you've gone out of your way to cause distress to so many people is also beyond me.
The other thing that bothers me no end is KB refused any kind of dialogue even after I had spent hours and hours trying to locate her after her disappearance. Pandora or I did not receive a single text in return to acknowledge our efforts so why keep contacting me when you have full access to the attorney who is able to help you?
Then comes the ethics issue. As a so-called professional publicist, going against everything the profession stands for, that just makes this issue even more scary for the authors KB currently works with. Revealing personal client information, leaving anonymous comments using proxy IP addresses and of course, blackmail. If you think I'm playing, yes, there is a code of ethics for public relations practitioners. The US version of this can be found on the PRSA website.
Bear in mind that KB has also done similar acts to at least one other book tour company and three other individuals, that I know of.
KB has actively spent time promoting her grievances against Orangeberry on Twitter and several complaint forums. On some days, she has had a fantastic audience which has thrilled her to bits I think.
To this audience, I say this, you are each entitled to your own opinion. But you cannot form judgment based on one side of the story. Encouraging blackmail based on someone who lies then calls someone else a liar is not just funny, it is ludicrous.
If you need to consider the situation a little further, allow me to ask you this. If in fact, everything that KB has voiced out is true and Pandora is all smoke, how was Pandora a non-US citizen able to receive legal representation in the US but KB has not been able to hire a lawyer for 15 months?
Fact : If such a case is strong enough, the lawyer would work pro bono then take his / her fees out of the settlement received. This applies in any country including the US. Makes you wonder isn't it?