Goodbye, Examiner.com

I can’t remember how I heard that they were hiring. Maybe it was on Craigslist? I started writing for them in December 2010 as a Cleveland nightlife journalist, and I really didn’t know what I was doing. I treated my articles more like blog posts than professional content, but Examiner.com gave me the freedom to figure out my writing style. I also had (nearly) complete latitude when it came to choosing what people, places, and events I wanted to cover. This autonomy is rare, and it was amazing.

When people ask me why I moved to NYC, I say, “Career.” The long answer is that Examiner.com gave me the inspiration, confidence, and contacts to become an entertainment journalist. Less than a year after I began writing for them, a publicist at Sony contacted me. They wanted me to come backstage at the Cleveland leg of the Scream Tour, and interview their artist, Jacob Latimore. I thought it was a joke at first. How would Sony know who I am? At the time, Examiner.com was getting tens of millions of hits per month, and was a top 100 site. That kind of traffic is extremely valuable, and opened up countless doors for me in New York.

After working with Sony, I thought I would try to make a career out of my passion for entertainment journalism. Examiner.com gave me the platform I needed to gain access to top celebrities and events, and I knew I had a knack for interviewing. Before Examiner.com, I co-founded an urban lifestyle blog called Media-n-DaHood, and created DoloHustle.com as an entertainment blog. One of my first interviews was with Dolla Boy (now known as Dillon Saks) of Playaz Circle. I met him and Tity Boi (now known as 2 Chainz) at a meet and greet in Cleveland, and Dolla asked if I wanted to interview him. Afterwards, he told me that they had just come from radio station Z107.9, and I conducted a better interview than the radio personality. And this was off the cuff! I remember my brother nodding approvingly as he listened to the recorded interview. I was on my way!

I informed Examiner.com that I was moving to New York, and picked up New York Nightlife and Music beats. It wasn’t long after I moved to Brooklyn that I was attending exclusive events, interviewing and partying with celebrities, and making memories that I will hold onto forever. As I started covering more celebrity charity events and product launches, I picked up a New York Celebrity beat as well.

Now, I get about 50 emails per day from publicists and business professionals who want me to cover their client or brand. I have interviewed dozens of celebrities, and some have become friends. I’m very happy and proud with what I’ve accomplished as a journalist, and I’ve had a wealth of amazing experiences in New York. I haven’t decided what my next move will be, but this is one chapter that is closing. Examiner.com emailed all of their contributors about two weeks ago, and told us that they were shutting down. Our content may or may not remain on online, and the full-time staff was laid off. I’m planning on reposting the articles that readers enjoyed the most on this blog, maybe in #tbt style. I am still writing for AXS, and am deciding what the next move will be. It has been an amazing journey, and Examiner.com was the catalyst for this adventure. I will always be grateful.

Advertisements

Bella Dahl photo shoot [PICS]

I am very excited to be back, and to share some awesome pics!

I am very excited to be back, and to share some awesome pics! Bella Dahl is a women’s clothing company that offers stylish, comfortable, quality clothing, and I was grateful to receive some samples from them. Of course, I had to have a photo shoot to show off the items, so I hit up my photographer friend, Decater James. The rustic location he chose was perfect, and the impromptu addition of his two pitbulls added to the All-American feel of the shoot. (Btw, I don’t normally let dogs lick my face. The things we do to get the shot!)

My article on Bella Dahl was published on Examiner.com, and you can see their full collection on BellaDahl.com. You can see more of Decater’s photography work on his Instagram page (he is also a stunt professional), and feel free to reach out to book a session! I used to model back in the day, and it felt good to be back in front of the camera again. Check out the slideshow for the Bella Dahl photo shoot pics, and there will be more photo shoots in the near future!

DIRECTV is worse than all the cable companies combined

Just had a mind-numbingly ridiculous experience with DIRECTV. I am paying too much over at FIOS, but I will just have to suck it up for now because these idiots had me at Level 8. I called to inquire about new service. I was transferred to three people who asked me the same exact set of questions before I finally got a sales rep. This rep was unprofessional– using slang terms, and talking to me as if I was his friend. Then, when I told him I would think about switching (no way I’m just going to sign a two-yr contract off a phone call with this idiot), he got mad and defensive as if I broke his heart. I told him I had more research to do, and he said “Why didn’t you do research before you made the call?” What??? LMAO!

I literally laughed out loud and said: “So I shouldn’t have called?” What kind of salesman is this? I told him: “I know you’re a salesman, but relax. I called you because there is not enough information online about bundling DIRECTV with internet and what the prices are. After talking to you, I learned I can get AT&T for internet, and save $10/month on my bill. That information was not presented online. I am not going to sign a two-year contract off a five-minute conversation with a salesman. I will do my own research, and if I am interested, I will call back.” Mind you, while I’m talking, this idiot keeps trying to interrupt me. Nice try, dummy. Wasn’t going to happen.

Then, I tried to file a complaint against him. I was literally transferred to six different people, because they had no idea how to process a complaint (I’m sure all of this was done on purpose, btw). On the second to last person, the girl tried to transfer me to someone else and I told her, “No. You are not transferring me to anyone else. You are the fifth person I’ve talked to. This is how you treat a person who is thinking of becoming a customer? I’m sure your existing customers get treated even worse.” To which she replied, “We treat all our customers with care, blah blah.” I told her that you would think they would treat potential customers like me the best so that we can sign that two-year contract. Then I got her supervisor, who also told me she has no way to escalate the complaint, and gave me yet another phone number to call to complain. That is where I gave up, and decided to tweet and blog instead.

I had Time Warner Cable for years. They have a reputation for the worst customer service in the industry, and I STILL never received the horrible, horrible treatment that I received today from DIRECTV. Especially when it came to signing up with Time Warner. They treat their new/potential customers great. There is no way there would have been a 20+ minute wait time, and half a dozen phone transfers to resolve an issue with a potential customer.

I had AT&T U-Verse for years. Had some outage issues, but I was generally satisfied. Customer service was very good.

I currently have Verizon FIOS. Service is overpriced and underperforms, but the customer service is good.

Cox Cable and Optimum (nice customer service rep) do not service my area. Xfinity is not much cheaper than FIOS. AT&T U-Verse is not available in my area. I’ve never heard anything good about Dish Network.

Although that one DIRECTV sales rep was horrible, they had the chance to turn it around and still keep my business. They failed. Horribly. I talked to about 10 of their employees today. It is hard to tell if they are incompetent, lazy, poorly trained, or the product of a horrible system. Either way, I cannot be subject to shoddy customer service when I’m not even your customer yet. I got bounced around to so many people, and had to dial too many numbers (877-244-8906, 800-531-5000, 800-347-3288, 866-319-9838), and I still wasn’t helped. I can only imagine but DIRECTV customers have to go through. Imagine when there’s a storm and your satellite goes out (inevitably?), or you have a billing question (inevitably), or any number of problems that will occur while you’re dealing with these people under a mandatory two-year agreement. Imagine having to deal with those idiots or five dozen others like them over the course of two years. Sounds like a nightmare to me. I’m hoping AT&T (my cell provider) will partner with someone else soon.

Ungrateful People

*Sigh*

I get dozens of requests for coverage every single day. Most get denied. Unless you are paying me, I don’t owe you coverage. Unfortunately, there are some arrogant people out there who feel entitled to publication. Others, when they do get coverage, don’t even say “Thank you.” In New York, such ungrateful and arrogant people are far too common. I have a separate but related rant about unprofessional publicists, but I’ll save that for another day.

The most hilarious part is, my top-tier publicists and subjects are the humble, grateful, and professional ones. It seems it’s only the up-and-coming people who are stars in their own mind that feel entitled to my services. So sad!

Last week, a publicist reached out to me to interview his client– a castmember on a reality TV show. We booked a phoner, and they confirmed. Then he canceled, and rescheduled. An hour before the second phoner, they canceled again. I have a relationship with this publicist, so I was more accommodating than usual. I offered to do a written interview instead, and the publicist agreed. The next day, I get an email from the publicist apologizing because his client is now “too busy” for interviews.

His client isn’t a NeNe Leakes (whom I’ve interviewed) or some other bona fide reality star. This is a castmember on a reality competition show. Prime example of someone who is feeling themselves way too much. Ungrateful, unprofessional, and arrogant. On to the next!

2015

Great poem by my Leo sis JMarie! Perfect message for the New Year.

Heart of A Woman

Happy New Year!!!!!

Please enjoy my first poem of this year. I thought 2014 was the year for me because I turned 50 however the only thing it did was make me grow up– yep I think I’ve finally grown up now that I’m 50 – and now the remaining years God will give me — more smiles; more laughs; some tears but not as many — so here is the first poem of the my new year which is written from the heart of a woman … Mine
Jmarie

2015

Following your heart will most times lead to your dreams
And that is the desire for myself in 2015
I’ve loved and I’ve lost
What I lost; I never had
What I’ve loved I still do
Do you understand?

What’s real and what’s true
Whether good or bad for you
Is either wrong or is right
Just like black…

View original post 74 more words

I don’t even like peanut butter…

Once in a while I get random emails from publicists who clearly have no idea/do not care what I cover. I also get a lot of boilerplate messages that are inaccurate/do not apply to me. For example, one publicist this week emailed me saying we had worked together before and he would like to work with me again. Umm, we’ve never worked together and I have no idea who you are. Then I get the pitches for me to cover random things… like peanut butter. I cover nightlife events, celebrities, music, religious subjects, politics, lifestyle news, and a lot more… but within reason. If Matthew McConaughey came out with a new brand of peanut butter, OK. If Prince started endorsing Jiffy, OK. But not some indie peanut butter company (lol, “indie peanut butter”) that is trying to gain market share. There are plenty of food bloggers to whom you can pitch. There are plenty of bloggers in your hometown that might want to write about your company. There are plenty of bloggers based in the city where your factory is located that may want to write about the jobs you are creating. I am not interested. Sometimes I respond with “this is outside the scope of my coverage, but thank you for the information.” Most of the time I just delete the email. I don’t even like peanut butter.

Before you order my food for me

This is certainly not the norm, but it does happen. You’re at a restaurant with a guy, and he decides to order your food for you. What? This is particularly bizarre when it’s a first date. Just because I say I like pork chops, doesn’t mean that I want a pork chop RIGHT NOW. Très bizarre.

However, I do like it when I tell a man what I want, and he places the order. Unfortunately, 99 percent of the time the guy either forgets something or messes the order up in some way, and I end up interjecting, and it pretty much ruins the whole thing. Once in a while I come across a man who gets it right.

I pretty much order the same thing from every chain restaurant I go to, and yes, I love chain restaurants. My fake ex-hubby used to give me crap about all the great restaurants in New York, and how he would never go to a chain, blah blah blah, but give me a chain restaurant any day of the week. I know exactly what I want, and I know how it will be delivered. If you order something from Olive Garden in Ohio, it will taste pretty much the same as if you ordered it from an Olive Garden in New Jersey. And I love Olive Garden.

P.S. Guys: It’s better to ask ‘Would you like the pork chop?’ to confirm it’s what I want before telling the waiter.

My faves, i.e., what I order from these restaurants pretty much every time I go there.

Olive Garden – Lasagna Classico, Strawberry Limoncello Martini
Red Lobster – Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, Mai Tai (seriously, the Mai Tai’s at Red Lobster are AMAZE)
Applebee’s – Artichoke & Spinach Dip, Double Crunch Shrimp

Mmmm. Hungry now.