Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I just got an e-mail from somebody name Josh Laster at Gibbs & Soell Inc., Public Relations, who is an “account executive.” He informed me that there is no such thing as a “Styrofoam cup.” The e-mail was garbled, but I made out most of it.

For a moment I was startled since I knew I hadn’t used the term “Styrofoam cup” lately. Then I noticed that the e-mail was in reference to my column, “Not all secret meetings are subversive,” from the week of 10-13-09, in which I had made reference to a “Styrofoam box.”

Laster went on to explain that STYROFOAMA® is actually a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company -- a type of insulation made of “extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam,” as opposed to disposable plastic foam containers and packaging which are made with a different type of foam known as expanded polystyrene (EPS).”

The letter asked me to use the proper term in the future for such cups, boxes, plastic peanuts, and etc. The suggested terms were garbled, but I got the idea. It’s easy to see how an amateur like me confused XPS with EPS.

However, the e-mail piqued my curiosity and I decided to check out the job qualifications for an account executive who spends time e-mailing newspaper columnists in obscure places. It’s pretty obvious the e-mail was computer generated, but somebody still had to enter my name and column title.

According to its web site, Gibbs & Soell Inc., Public Relations, New York, Chicago, Raleigh, Zurich, Shanghai, Bejing, Tokyo and Latin America. The company boasts of “a dynamic work environment” and employees that are “passionate about delivering results and exceptional service.”

Under employment opportunities for “junior account executives”, the company claims to “always be looking for motivated, team-oriented communicators” with “exceptional presence, excellent writing, creativity and organizational skills.” It was also noted that “public relations or journalism experience and/or internship” are a plus when applying for employment.

Benefits listed include medical, dental and life insurance, short and longtime disability, generous spending accounts, profit-sharing, vacation and sick days, a 401K and performance bonuses. It was a very impressive list.

By the time I’d finished reading about the benefits, I was ready to turn in a resume. The benefits sound almost as good as those given to members of Congress. Then I remembered, I’ve never been an intern. Besides, I’m not all that dynamic and my organizational skills leave a lot to be desired.

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