A study in crisis: Blazin' Blazek

A study in crisis: Blazin' Blazek

iStock_000011508802_SmallUPDATED 26 Feb:  If you're a PR/Comms pro in NE Ohio, you know about @NEOHcommjobs, run ably by one Kelly Blazek.  She recently was honored by IABC Cleveland as its 2013 Communicator of the Year.  You also probably know by now that Ms. Blazek flamed the bejesus out of a young PR person who reached out via LinkedIn, responding with an email best described as more than tart.

KB abides strongly by the LinkedIn credo that you should LinkIn only with those you know well. Thus, a passing acquaintanceship on social media, or mutual "friends" is highly unlikely to meet with a favorable resolution.  Back a few years, I reached out via LI and got a nice note back outlining her policy in that regard, along with the hope that one day we might indeed work together.

I've got no truck with that.

Well, as this post outlines, Blazek went off on said young one and impugned the professionalism of all like her in the process.  The process to even join the Yahoo! group that gets you an email summary of NE Ohio jobs in our field requires a brief email to include some background and why you want to join.  Apparently, failure to follow directions to Blazek's satisfaction is strike one, with a LI invite worth two strikes, two additional outs, and a "blazing" email -- which then the offended party shared with several close friends...wait for it...on social media.


@NEOHCommJobs is shut down, as is Blazek's LI.  Bruce Hennes says there are Villains, Victims and Vindicators in any crisis scenario. Right now, it's all Victims and Vindicators -- all that's missing is the Red Queen shouting, "off with her head!"

Go read the post (it includes images of the offending missive), or watch WKYC-TV and tell me --  Should IABC Cleveland go through with the honor?  And, excuse me, Ms. B., but where is your voice in this?

What should IABC Cleveland do? What should Kelly Blazek do?

UPDATE -- In a story on Cleveland.com by @janetcho, Ms. Blazek apologizes. It's fairly textbook, and it doesn't seem to be a "non-apology apology" that you hear from sport figures and politicians.  I do wonder (as do others who've commented on Facebook) about its true sincerity. If it's true that this was, as one person told me, "standard operating procedure" and "the most open secret" then you have to assume that only the social media scrutiny brought about the rejection, no?  If we apply an ethics lens to this, however frustrating it might be to receive off-topic notes from people who aren't in the target market, and who perhaps are a bit presumptuous in asking for help without first attempting to create a relationship, you don't have license to be rude, in my opinion.  I try to be understanding and kind, well, all the time. Sometimes I don't succeed, and when I've been a snarky dude I own up and apologize. Because I've got a rep as a nice guy, people know I'm sincere. I've declined LI and FB invites from people I know only tangentially, but lately I tend to be more open just because I know how hard it is to get connected with the right people.

But seriously -- given the fact that people can take offense rather easily (not speaking of this current situation, as I do not know the principals well), is it right to share your outrage publically?  Does KB deserve to be blackballed, banned, placed in stocks in Public Square? What do you think?




5 comments (Add your own)

1. Ed Markey wrote:
If IABC Cleveland has already awarded the honor - literally given her the prize - there's probably nothing it can do. But if she's been named and not feted, there seems to be an opportunity. IABC C could rescind the honor and use the incident to emphasize what it stands for, what it values, etc., all the things that were violated by Blazek.

Tue, February 25, 2014 @ 10:43 PM

2. Gerry Corbett wrote:
This whole affair is just sad. Her ego in the end got the best of her. She achieved a certain level of stardom but her moral compass was not strong enough to keep her on the straight and narrow. She will have to live with this the rest of her career life. Karma has shown itself. As far as IABC, it needs to do a better job of vetting. The industry tends to make heros of headhunters and those with the keys to the job car, often overlooking their flaws.

Wed, February 26, 2014 @ 12:33 PM

3. Sean wrote:
Ed and Gerry - thanks for your comments. I don't have any idea what IABC has planned. I'm no longer on their board, and really, my question about what they should do was pretty innocent. If indeed they've already given it, all they can probably do is make a statement decrying KB's behavior and indicate how disappointed they are. Gerry -- spot-on. All of this makes me want a martini or three. Thanks again for weighing in. S.

Thu, February 27, 2014 @ 12:42 AM

4. Molly Walker wrote:
@IABC tweeted on Feb. 26: The #IABC ethics committee & #CLE chapter are investigating the situation and will act accordingly regarding her award status. #KellyBlazek ... Guess we should stay tuned and learn what happens next in another classic communications crisis. While it may not be exactly gracious to share your outrage at bad treatment on social media, this is the new world. A Communicator of the Year should know this.

Thu, February 27, 2014 @ 12:45 PM

5. Gerald Aguilar wrote:
This shows that it takes only seconds to destroy what has taken a lifetime to create.

Fri, March 7, 2014 @ 10:57 PM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.