Shicklegate

So I know I won’t be the first, or indeed the last person to blog about this today. Today being the 25th of September, the day that gave us ‘Shicklegate”

For those of you that haven’t been on Twitter the last couple of hours here is a link to the resignation letter of a former London MEC employee that has become an internet phenomenon in less than a few hours. The letter openly lambasted the former employee, Kieran Allen’s, boss for his alleged general mistreatment whilst at the company and gives a rather scathing account of Greg Shickle’s alleged misconduct.

I’m not going to comment on the allegations here, or offer up my opinion on whether I think Kieran has or hasn’t made the right decision going public about his allegations. I think it is important to note that all allegations are just that and none of the facts have been verfied. You can read a statement from the company on The Drum which is their initial response.

What I am going to say however is that if there was ever a case study for how quickly this kind of thing can spread on social media then this is it! The letter has trended on nationally on Twitter, there is a spoof Twitter account for Greg Shickle @shicklegreg , it has made the front page of The Sun Online and has been covered by Loaded Magazine. The internet has generally gone mad!

My favourite thing to happen in the furor however has to be this Downfall parody video, created just now to sum up the drama …. Enjoy! :)

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18 thoughts on “Shicklegate

  1. Business don’t need to be transparent, they are transparent. Every employee has the ability to influence reputation just as much as centralised communications departments do nowadays. It’s a complex environment that’s easy to embrace with relatively simple yet hard to maintain concepts, honesty and integrity, in EVERYTHING you do. No matter whether it’s poor management or faking ads a la Nokia, if your intentions aren’t pure, you’re putting yourself in a risky situation.

    • Hi Andrew

      Yeah I agree with you here. I’ve run quite a few corporate social media training courses on how important employees are to managing a company’s PR/Communications and it’s become ever more apparent that the social space has serious power to effect company reputation.

      More than anything this happening today has highlighted how bad things can get and also how quick this kind of thing can spread – I hasten to add NONE of the contents in the letter have been fact checked or verified. Potentially this leaves both individuals in a very damaging position and also the company.

      I’m sure you are as interested as me to see how this pans out and thanks for taking the time to comment :)

      Kx

      • Hello,

        We knew someone who knew someone who could confirm this for us from within MEC, and apparently (still a massive apparently!) it’s true. In a way, I do feel sorry for Shickle. I’m sure there’s less competent managers out there but to have his wrong-doings so publicly ousted must damage his chance of a fair and proper tribunal. Plus, there’s always the chance the employee was bitter and let their emotions get the better of them when they wrote this.

        You’re right, it is interesting to see how this pans out, and you’ve convinced me to hold out on judging either parties.

        Thanks,

        Andy

  2. that is one big mistake if MEC forced The Sun to pull down the article… saying that Metro, etc haven’t covered it either! i suppose they want to remain on the media plans…

    • A few people have been saying that The Sun e.t.c. have pulled the story – I guess this is an assumption at present and we probably won’t ever know. Perhaps given the sensitive and damaging nature of the accusations they may have wanted to fact check?

      Thanks for the comment! :)

      K

  3. I’m presuming MEC do not do exit interviews. It would have been beneficial for someone to sit down with him prior to it getting to this point and finding out why he was leaving and trying to defuse the situation. So much more can be done before people actually leave that would provide companies with a wealth of information to improve. A lot of people in media land have got enjoyment out of this today but for me it has demonstrated the power of social media and how dangerous it can be. We don’t know if any of this is true yet it does not matter if it is true or not. A career is damaged to the point of no return. A career that was a successful one that had taken years of hard work to achieve has been destroyed in a matter of hours. It will certainly make a lot of people review what is appropriate to say as banter in the office now and receiving resignation letters will be a scary prospect for many people for a while. Working in digital recruitment it is just sad to see two careers damaged like this as I know how permanent the effects will be for future employment. Kieran was obviously very angry if someone had just talked him off the ledge this could have been avoided and the matter could have been handled internally.

  4. I agree, and like you say, the facts around MEC and alleged behaviour of other colleagues aren’t at all verified but what does stand out is that letter was written by a person under an extreme amount of pressure.

    Whether or not this had been caused, in whole or in part, by his work conditions all organisations do have an obligation to make sure their employees are, broadly, ‘OK’. This guy wasn’t and they’d had clear warning signs. What a pity their internal processes / culture clearly didn’t support this person before they fired their cannon [however loose it may have been!].

    Lots of learnings for all involved, and the power of Social Media has done it again! I agree, what a fabulous case study…

  5. Having worked in the media industry as a junior for a couple of years, I’ve seen first hand what absolute wankers some of these incompetent managers can be. They often abuse the position they are in to look after number one.

    At a previous agency I had contemplated informing my colleagues about the conduct of my boss, who had used his position and influence to partake in seedier activities than Greg here. Worse, he had a suspected (never confirmed) drug habit, which would see him constantly skint (despite a very generous wage), having to cover business-essentials (mainly strippers) on expenses. I would have gone forward with this information, but the company owner was more than aware of most of his flaws, but was happy to turn a blind eye as long as the clients were happy. I also had my own career to think about.

    I think this sort of behaviour is rampant in the media industry, but is often kept quiet by individuals to keep their own position secure.

    Fair play to Kieran. I hope more of us have the balls to out these seedy, manipulative, scumbags ruining the media industry for the hard-working majority.

  6. Nobody writes an email like that if they are happy in their job or life. Assuming the allegations are true then I think that is is sad from all angles.
    Many businesses are under pressure at the moment and there are many people under intense pressure at the moment. As business owners and managers we should look in the mirror and remind ourselves that we have a duty to the people that report to us or indeed work for the company we own. People are not machines, they are biological beings. We need to wrap our arms around them and show support and understanding. People are the most important asset we have.
    I can only comment from a media perspective and I see many people across the ad agency land regionally who are under intense pressure and workload. To be honest, I am not surprised in the slightest that an email / allegations of this sort has come out and in such a way. The only surprise is that it hasn’t happened sooner.

  7. “Awful Media Agency ex-twat emails a distribution list of current Media Agency twats about a particular Media Agency Twat”…

    I’ve looked outside, the world is still turning. Tomorrow no-one will care.

  8. Over the past 6 years in this industry in a very similar job to the author of the letter I have worked my way up from assistant, to exec, to manager and beyond. Reading this email tugged at my heart strings as I have seen and felt many of the pressures and stresses which befell him.

    As delivery staff we are effectively a media agencies product. The more accounts each staff member handles, or hours logged, then the more profit the agency makes. I’ve regularly had workloads with the hours allocated exceeding double the amount of working hours in the week. I’ve had to fight to explain to management that an 8 hour day cannot have 8 hours of client activity in it, let alone 10.

    I’ve almost been reduced to tears at times by the relentless workload, pace and pressure to perform. An agency charges a lot for your time, for me 800 – 900 pounds a day to the client. The client naturally wants results, they don’t know that actually your going to be packing in the work into half of that time on their account as you’ve been overloaded with too many other accounts.

    This high pressure environment is also matched by a drinking culture which results in inevitable personal indiscretions finding there way into the work environment. Most of the big London agencies have 24 hour access meaning staff do go back into the office late at night after a few too many as well. So none of the accusations against the manager in question shock me.

    I’ve had some managers who were great, understanding and pushed back against upper management for you, trying to shield staff against workloads.I have also had god awful managers who didn’t understand the product, clients or staff. Being referred to as ‘resource’ to my face by one manager is one of many highlights that comes to mind. I had to learn to ‘manage upward’ on a daily basis to deal with them on countless occasions.

    I’ve seen similar ‘F@*k you I’m leaving’ emails go round agencies before, it happens every now and again. I’ve also had hilarious exit interviews where I’ve stated the problem is the workload etc and been told “we’re aware of this and have covered the problem with other employees so if you could move on to any other issues…”. They know it’s a problem but at the end of the day it’s what generates the profit that meet the targets and create the bonuses.

    The more senior I got the more I realised that the problem lies with the way in which the agencies are structured and think of their staff. So I left, I moved sideways, transferable skills and all that. I now work better hours, enjoy my job more and actually at the end of it am more productive.

    My single piece of advise to anyone reading about this guy and thinking how familiar this sounds is, unfortunately, to leave. Go work for a smaller agency that takes care of their staff, go freelance, do contract work. All of these will end up paying better and leaving you happier. But don’t let yourself get to the place that this guy did, it’s not a nice place to be and it’s just not worth it. At the end of the day you’ve got to remember, it’s still just a job.

  9. I’d like to know how old Kieran is and what experience he had before he joined MEC. If it is his first proper job I have to honestly say he should suck it up and move on. There are too many people coming out of university expecting everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.
    It sounds like he started out well, as we all do in a new job with a fresh start and determined to prove ourselves in a new company. Then after a while he essentially blackmails the agency into promoting him by threatening to leave (and wonders why his manager treated him coldly!?). After a few colleagues leave he inherits their clients until a ‘suitable replacement’ can be found. I am yet to meet one person who works in media/advertising who hasn’t been in this situation before especially now all agencies are keen to cut internal costs but boost revenue.
    In my opinion, the worst his manager has done is be a bad mentor who had no idea how to manage a team. The bit about the manager sleeping with a colleague in a meeting room is none of Kieran’s business. And the bit about the anti-Semitism, sexism and other foot-in-mouth syndrome can’t be proven outside of cheeky office banter (which in media/advertising is very un-PC most of the time anyway).
    Media/advertising is a fantastic industry but it’s not for everyone. And it’s not for people who expect they can rise to the position of Chairman within 5 years. We may be arrogant and we may be egotistical but the majority of us know our place in the pecking order. Juniors must do their time. And that’s just the nature of the beast.
    I know the stress that clients/managers can put on you. But I think it’s up to the individual to manage their work life and if your manager isn’t helping, go to someone else who can help. And if there is no one else, it’s time to leave and no amount of pay rise should persuade you to stay.
    Unfortunately, the person he has hurt most in this situation is himself. Media is a small industry, burnt bridges are hard to rebuild!

  10. Pingback: Should Schools and Colleges Teach Social Media? | Northern Lights PR and Marketing

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