Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Unprofessionally Yours

It's bile-spewing time and if the person for whom it is intended reads this, well and good. Let it be known that I am not angry, just peeved.

And perhaps a little disappointed too that he has neither courtesy nor grace to come clean with me. He shouldn't have kept silent and avoided my queries.

I am a freelance public relations (PR) practitioner. He knew that only too well because he had, on numerous occasions, hired me to do some PR work for his organisation.

He was also privy to the fact that I, the freelancer, was edged out to make way for a full-fledged PR agency. That's perfectly all right by me, for I believe God knows best where my rezeki lies.

He knew the scope of my work: I write, edit, translate, advise clients on their communication needs, plan proposals and execute them, liaise with the media, organise events ....

I may not be the most competent PR consultant in town but I have always given my all. And if my best is not good enough (some clients can be very critical and demanding), I usually withdraw my services rather than take the crap.

Likewise, if asked to compromise on my principles, I'd pack up and leave. Money I can find elsewhere, but if my professional reputation is sullied, I might as well quit the field and start breeding Boer goats.

Public relations consulting has been my bread and butter for over 20 years. Throughout the 1990s when I was a single mom coping alone, it was this skill that put food on the table and the kids through college.

I wasn't always a freelancer; for six years from 1998 I was on the other side of the septic tank, managing the PR needs of American food giant Pillsbury (Malaysian operations) and later, The Royal Mint of Malaysia (previously known as Kilang Wang Bank Negara).

I wasn't a new kid on the PR block. In not so many words, this old hag is an old hand in corporate communications.

So when he came to me in late 2009, asking me to write a speech for a Tan Sri corporate figure whose speeches I had penned countless times over the years, I obliged. All I needed was talking points.

The Tan Sri and I understood each other completely and he was very aware of this. He knew the Tan Sri hardly made changes to my writing, always reading them verbatim. It was always a pleasure to write for this gentleman.

It did cross my mind why he didn't ask the new agency to do the job; then I realised he had wanted the status quo maintained insofar as my work was concerned. He knew the Tan Sri would inevitably say "suruh Puteri tulis." End of story.

Everything was fine and dandy, until I sent him an invoice for my work. The silence from his side was deafening. He knew the sum was nominal, that I quoted well below market rate.

Still, my phone calls were avoided, my e-mails unanswered. My invoice had disappeared into thin air. For six months I was left wondering what in the world happened and why was this organisation giving me such a wide berth.

But God works in mysterious ways. Over the weekend Pak Abu played golf with the aforesaid Tan Sri and company, and took the opportunity to ask the organisation's lady executive about that 'missing' invoice.

Back came the answer: "Boss said we only asked her to HELP write the speech. She was not supposed to charge us. It was supposed to be for free."

Err... hello?? How come I was not told from the beginning that I was supposed to perform the job gratis? And if so, what the freaking hell do you think I am? A charity home? Writing speeches is what I do for a living, you dimwit!

You can spend tens of thousands of ringgit on door gifts and souvenir programmes and giveaways, and you expect me to spend hours crafting a speech for free?

Worse still, you avoided me like a plague when I asked about payment. You don't even have the balls to tell me to my face that I should not expect to be paid.

Anyway, I am putting this all behind me. You can keep the $$ and stuff it up your @#^*.


Tommy Yewfigure said...

Puteri, u know what’s the trouble with this sort of%^&*.; Penny save pound foolish.

These r the same people who go thru’ great length to haggle with the small traders over pittance, like your markets vendors but won’t bet an eyelid while paying thru’ their A&*% when they patronise high class joints or get ripped off paying for those branded stuff.

Totally lack of class if u ask me..ptui..ptui…hahaha.


Anonymous said...

I love you !

Anonymous said...


You find them everywhere in town.
They think they are the only ones who know how to eat.

Cheap skate creep.


NanaDJ said...

There are many like him. Since I retire I have been freelancing doing something similar to what you are doing, my experience range from not being paid at all to my hard work appearing under another name and my traslations being paid a fraction of the amount invoiced. There's even a book that was to all intent and purpose 'written' by me but somebody took credit for it. I am very careful in accepting any assignments now.

pakmat said...

..hey, there's money in those Boer goats..:) and you should have brought one along and confront him with it, as a mascot..and to butt his @#^* with..:) cheers..hehehe..

Anonymous said...

That's the thing about writing, isn't it? It looks too much like easy work. Thus, most people feel they ought not pay for it. After all, good writers seem to enjoy writing so much that writing should be its own reward.

Or so the retards might think!

But tell them to write their own stuff and they'll instantly come up with more lame excuses than there are clueless politicians.

I feel for you ma'am. Writing is good,honest (hard) work: it is only right that it should be remunerated.

Just because someone is good at something (and enjoys doing it as well) doesn't mean people can walk away without paying for the work.

Sadly, its going to take some time before this notion will be accepted by the mainstream.

Oldstock said...

After reading the whole post, I thought of touching on only one thing, but on opening the comments page, I see that Pakmat has beaten me to it... there's good money in rearing those Boer goats!

Okay, Kak Kama... stay cool ye :-)

Kama said...

tommy & derebar - you got it spot on. cheapskates abound..

anon - anaks.. and i you, whoever you are.. heheh

nana - from now on, i too shall be more careful with assignments and offers. buat sakit jiwa aja kalau terjadi lagi.

pakmat & oldstock - i dont know why rearing of boer goats came to mind.. perhaps because i had read a lot abt it.. maybe should consider ternak kambing kot.. heheh

bangkai - you couldn't hv put it more succinctly, boe..

hazeleyed lady said...

...have faith putri...
Allah has His mysterious way!
Tak selamat mamat tuuu!

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Puteri,
1st I have to agree with PakMat and Oldstock on the Boers.. Ha, ha, ha..
Furthermore now that ECER is promoting goat rearing in Trengganu.. all the more reasons for us to go for goat rearing..

Only yesterday I was shown by a friend a letter from this kind of people.. who will ask.. 1.5% here, 2.5% there and 5% of the company share not to forget that one have to agree to pay for all those entertainments carried out on one's behalf!(kira blank cheque lah) should one ask for their assistance to secure a bank loan for one's projects...

Masa kita, they ask for free.. masa dia, Ya Allah banyaknya depa mintak..

Untuk menenangkan Puteri.. here is "the YusufAli translation" of the first 6 verses of Al-Mutaffifeen

Woe to those that deal in fraud,-
Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure,
But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.
Do they not think that they will be called to account?
On a Mighty Day,
A Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?.

Average Joe said...

i am peeved with this tan sri lah! or maybe, ada org sudah ambil duit tu dari tan sri tapi tak sampai kepada kak puteri kama?

saya geram betol lah!

boleh saya bantu kak puteri kama tak?

Kama said...

AJ - hehehe... thank you for the offer.. come you blanja kak kama ultimate mocha kat coffee bean lagi berbaloi..LOl

Al-Manar said...

Allow me to add another 'jangan'. We all go through this even in the backwater where I am. Baru saja balik dari umrah, janganlah marah marah sangat, lekas tua. Nanti terikut rikut pula naik marah orang yang patut dihibur hati! Tetapi seperti yang dah hajjah kata jangan pula terlampau ketawa."Geramnya aku," kata hati pakcik bila rasa marahkan anak buah Almanar."Satu sen pun aku tak minta."

Kama said...

AlManar - hehehehe, agreed. Nak kena control sikit angin puspus; kekadang terlepas gak

Norin said...

Hahahaaa.... Kak Kama, i kena so many times.
They really think tak de balasan kot buat macam tu. Good for u to publish it here... let him read... sure tak boleh tidur...

norin f

ninotaziz said...

Dear Kak Kama,
This might be a bit belated. But every time I see this post, I get upset so I thought I'd better spill it out.

We writers get this all the time. I might be new at freelancing, but I have had my share. I think it is always important to be upfront before we even put our pen to paper, before we even spare our precious creative juice for the task at hand.

Maybe that is why I work for only trusted clients. I am okay with that, because I write mainly on subjects I have a passion for.

Thanks Wan Sharif for that excerpt from Al Mutaffifeen. It really helps...

P/S Sorry about Crystal Bowersox...

Kama said...

Norin & Ninot - tu la pasal, duduk buat kerja diam2 pun kena klentong. nasib, nasib! Yes, I have been re-reading ayat yang Wan transcribe tu.. sejuk hati dibuatnya..