Wednesday, May 31, 2006

So my faculty advisor emailed this New York Times article to me.

Interns? No Bloggers Need Apply

ON the first day of his internship last year, Andrew McDonald created a Web site for himself. It never occurred to him that his bosses might not like his naming it after the company and writing in it about what went on in their office.

For Mr. McDonald, the Web log he created, "I'm a Comedy Central Intern," was merely a way to keep his friends apprised of his activities and to practice his humor writing. For Comedy Central, it was a corporate no-no — especially after it was mentioned on, the gossip Web site, attracting thousands of new readers.

"Not even a newborn puppy on a pink cloud is as cute as a secret work blog!" chirped Gawker, giddily providing the link to its audience.

But Comedy Central disagreed, asking him to change the name (He did, to "I'm an Intern in New York") and to stop revealing how its brand of comedic sausage is stuffed.

"They said they figured something like this would happen eventually because blogs had become so popular," said Mr. McDonald, now 23, who kept his internship. "It caught them off guard. They didn't really like that."

This is the time of year when thousands of interns and new employees pour into the workplace from college campuses, many bringing with them an innocence and nonchalance about workplace rules and corporate culture.

Most experienced employees know: Thou Shalt Not Blab About the Company's Internal Business. But the line between what is public and what is private is increasingly fuzzy for young people comfortable with broadcasting nearly every aspect of their lives on the Web, posting pictures of their grandmother at graduation next to one of them eating whipped cream off a woman's belly. For them, shifting from a like-minded audience of peers to an intergenerational, hierarchical workplace can be jarring.

Companies are beginning to recognize the schism and, prodded by their legal and public relations departments, are starting to adopt policies that address it.

"It is important that corporations make a choice as to what type of blogging they will allow," said Alfred C. Frawley III, director of the intellectual property practice group at the law firm Preti Flaherty in Portland, Me.

While there are differences in laws among jurisdictions, from a legal perspective, he said, it is generally accepted that companies have the right to impose controls on their employees' use of computers and other equipment used for communication.

As for content — information generated within a company — the law also allows employers to set limits, even on airing the company laundry outside the office, he said. Private employees do not receive the protection of the First Amendment because there is no government action involved, he said.

"If an employee deviates from the policy, it may be grounds for termination," Mr. Frawley said.

Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, now has an explicit policy. In a section on confidentiality, it states that the employee is "discouraged from publicly discussing work-related matters, whether constituting confidential information or not, outside of appropriate work channels, including online in chat rooms or 'blogs.' "

The problem for the employers is that, in a few highly publicized cases, public airing of workplace shenanigans has proved to be lucrative — and young people entering the workplace know it.

"The Devil Wears Prada," Lauren Weisberger's veiled account of her time working as an assistant to Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor, ushered in the modern "underling-tell-all" genre, abetted by other revenge-of-the-employee tales like "The Nanny Diaries," by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Both became best sellers that will be showing up on movie screens, with "Devil" opening next month.

Busted bloggers like Jessica Cutler (a former Capitol Hill intern whose blog, Washingtonienne, is now a novel), Nadine Haobsh (a former beauty editor whose blog Jolie in NYC earned her a two-book deal) and Jeremy Blachman (a lawyer whose blog Anonymous Lawyer is being released as "Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel" this summer) were all interns, entry-level employees and worker bees who traded up on in-the-trade secrets.

The generation entering the work world has noticed.

"Everybody I've read about that got fired for having a blog is on to such great things," said Kelly Kreth, 36, who was fired from her job as the marketing and public relations director at a real estate firm in Manhattan last fall for blogging about her co-workers.

"I've had my online diary for six years, and it is very important to me," Ms. Kreth said, calling the firing the best thing that happened to her. "It led to me opening my own business and making triple what I was making before."

Corporations have been slower to get the message.

"The vast majority of organizations don't have policies in place," said Jennifer Schramm, a workplace trends and forecasting manager at the Society for Human Resource Management in Washington.

The group found last year that only 8 percent of the 404 human resource professionals it polled had blogging policies, while 85 percent did not. (The other 7 percent did not know.)

Ms. Schramm said that is just as bad for the employee as for the employer. "Right now it is tough for individuals to know what is happening because so few organizations have a clear policy about employee blogging," she said.

Of course, as long as there have been managers and underlings, there have been disgruntled workers gabbing around the water cooler or over drinks at happy hour. E-mail and instant messages are merely a quicker way to say, "You wouldn't believe what a jerk my boss is."

Blogging takes the grumbling to another level, but one that makes sense when considering how much of it is going on out there. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about 11 million people have created blogs at one time or another.

A blog and a job don't necessarily have to clash, some bloggers say.

Alexx Shannon's celebrity blog,, came up during his interviews for his internship at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles this spring because he lists it on his résumé.

Mr. Shannon, 21, who is British and is spending a year at the University of California, Los Angeles, before finishing his studies at Kings College, London, said he signed an employee confidentiality agreement with both Paramount and Beacon Pictures, where he is now an intern. Beacon made clear that his blog, while about celebrities, would not include information he picked up at work.

"I suppose they did take kind of a risk," said Mr. Shannon, who confessed he sometimes had to sit on some truly juicy bits of celebrity gossip that he encountered at work.

Neither Paramount nor Beacon returned calls for comment.

"I just knew that I didn't want to jeopardize anything for my career," Mr. Shannon said. "My real life is more important to me than my online life." But other young employees don't see it that way.

Ms. Schramm of the human resources group said young people do not see their job as their identity. Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology consultant with his own firm in St. Louis, said that attitude makes them more willing to take chances.

"It's like, 'This is who I am,' " he said. " 'Consequences are what they are. I'll go work for someone who doesn't have a problem with it.' "

But that's not as easy in fields with only a handful of jobs, as Jessa Jeffries Werner, a marine zoologist, found out.

This month, Ms. Werner, 25, who blogged under the name Jessaisms about jobs she held at Adventure Aquarium in Camden and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, was fired by the academy. Officials there also asked her to remove posts and pictures related to them from her site and her page, and she did.

The confrontation was traumatic, Ms. Werner recounted, not always with perfect spelling or grammar, on another Web site: "I was still sobbing kind of quietly but I didn't want them to think that I was ashamed of what I had written. My parents read my blog. My old college friends keep up with my life through my blog. I took my badge off and looked at the mean HR lady who was smiling smuggly at me. She told me perhaps next time I would be more wise in my lifestyle and decision making choices regaurding work."

In an interview, she said she regretted crossing the line: "I came to the realization that I probably shouldn't have been blogging about work."

But it is the success stories that can embolden a determined blogger. Ms. Kreth was able to create her own public relations business out of the fallout. Because of his blog, Mr. Shannon was asked to be on a television pilot. For Mr. McDonald, the Comedy Central intern, it was the call of literary agents.

Now back in Kenosha, Wis., where he is finishing up his degree in English at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, Mr. McDonald is hard at work on a book — a novel about a guy from Wisconsin who gets a job in New York.

Monday, May 29, 2006

More summer listenings

New York has so many great, cheap CD stores. Here's what I've purchased so far:

The Album Leaf, "In a Safe Place"

Sigur Ros meets Postal Service. The perfect soundtrack to accompany a lone walk though the woods at dusk.

Antony & the Johnsons, "You Are My Sister" EP

Antony has one of the most hauntingly soulful voices around. I want to give this man a hug. I think he needs it.

The Books, "Lost and Safe"

A century of recorded human voices oddly spliced together over guitar and trippy vocal effects. They played for free at the World Financial Center Wednesday. No room for me. Too many hipsters in this town.

Danielson, "Ships"

The latest and greatest from New Jersey's favorite pack of Indie Christian Hillbillies.

My Summer Anthem

I went to a record store the other day in West Village. It was one of those beat-up, messy, how-does-the-owner-make-rent? sorta places. I really wanted to buy something there to show my support, but I couldn't find anything. Then it hit me.

There's this song I heard riding in a van in Mexico City five years ago on my mission. It gave me chills; one of those euphoric moments I can never forget. Sadly it's this seemingly trite little dance song, yet it impacted me so much that day. I can't explain what it does for me. After my mission I found out it was by the Pet Shop Boys. Not wanting to buy their whole album and not finding it available for individual purchase on iTunes, I was never able to own it. I'm cheap.

So I asked this record store guy. He searched around nervously in the back room thinking I wanted some rare remixes of it or something. He totally thought he was going to leave me empty-handed. Turns out the only Pet Shop Boys CD he had was the American-edit single of my song, "New York City boy."

So I have a summer anthem. Please don't laugh.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

With all your power, what would you do?

Today I accomplished one of my life-long goals. (OK maybe not life-long, but pretty long.)

I got a New York City library card! Last year I tried so hard to get one, but New Jersey residents have to pay a whopping $100 for it. So today with my new-found powers I checked out four NYC travel guides, one Delaware travel guide, and two CDs. Hurray for public libraries with ginormous collections!

After my library adventure, I met with my old friend John from Brooklyn to discuss religion, politics, and New York life. We ate at one of those generic Midtown diners. Except this one was in Murray Hill. Kinda the same thing--only a little more grit and a little less glam. More traditional New York in a way. I got some good old spaghetti with meat sauce. I really wish I were more daring at restaurants, but I'm just not. Maybe those city guides will help.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Life in Express

Today we were invited to help out some of our senior creatives by writing headlines for the American Express account. Quite a privilege for a young copywriter.

So Chateau, Clarke, and I brainstormed for a while and then presented our work. Much to our delight, the lines were very well received. It was a nice break considering our less-than-stellar track record with the Mets and Ford.

ONE MINUTE later some of our lines were thrown into a presentation for the account people.

THIRTY MINUTES later we found out that one of our headlines was deemed a winner. We kept brainstorming.

ONE HOUR later we were told to stop because the campaign was cut.

Just like that. One minute you are solving the mysteries of human existence, the next you're staring at the gum stuck to the carpet wondering how it got so black.

This is the life of an advertiser. Back to the Mets.

After work my friend Tom took me to this Mexican place in Midtown called Dos Caminos. Plantain empanadas.


Nothing creative in the Village

This is how we do it in Morningside Heights

Today I finally got to see stat-buddy Yancy since he got into town. Here he is with former Ed McBand producer Jared Moooney, who happened to fly in today.

Today was nice and relaxing. There was a special musical fireside given by the 5 Browns after church. The 5 Browns were pretty cool. Just your average Mormon piano virtuoso family. I also made calls in the park and had bonding time with some of the other BYU interns here in the I-House.

Coming home from the airport last weekend

Party biking in Central Park except without a party bike

Jason had some friends visiting from out of town, so we took them around to see the sights. It would have been better with a party bike.

When it comes to African dancing, Becky and Jason are not afraid to get down and dirty.

Apple Store opens

This weekend was the grand opening of the new Apple Store in Midtown at the southeast corner of Central Park. All you can see of it from the street is a little glass cube. I give them props for that. Unfortunately the store itself (which is underground) is kind of a bore. Looks just like any other Apple Store anywhere in the country. I was expecting a little more creativity, but oh well. It's still a beautiful place.

Opening night was so packed that I didn't even try to get in.


So I like taking close-up pictures of people.

Kristy at Simon's wedding

Valerie at Yankee Stadium

Becca at Yankee Stadium

Jane at Yankee Stadium

Karene dining with us in Little Italy

Chateau escaping the rain on the way to work in Morningside Heights

Me digesting my first falafel as a strange man peers in through the window

Jason waiting for me to finish my falafel

I'm famous

This week the One Club put up a showcase in Manhattan of creative work done by seniors from around the world. I was lucky enough to have some of my print ads put up and one commercial. BYU represent.

Yankees game Monday night

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The New Hill Family

The Unbachelor Party

The night before the wedding Simon organized a guy's night out. (Not to be confused with a bachelor party.) We went to see the Orlando Predators take on the Texas Rangers in arena football. That's's indoors and it only uses half of a field. It was a party and a half.

Before the game we rocked out to the sweet sounds of a midget Kiss cover band.

Three Monkeys

I know it's hard to believe, but my nephews are now cuter than ever.*

Right now they are into alligators, matching guayaberas, swimming, lizards, and hugs.

*See photos from November and December 2005. The cuteness does not stop.


As mentioned earlier, my brother Simon got married last weekend. It was nice to have the whole Hill family together in Orlando. It was also nice to get a new sister.

The day before the wedding mom impressed Jodi's family by making chocolate-covered strawberries.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Wrong Guy

Get this video and more at

This amazing little video has kept Chateau and I rolling on the floor all week. The folks here at Ogilvy are probably wondering why we laugh so much.

So get this: On Sunday a man named Guy Goma goes into the BBC Television Studios to interview for a job in a tech position. At the same time in another part of the studio a magazine editor named Guy Kewney is supposed to be interviewed for a live broadcast on the Apple vs. Apple verdict.

As fate would have it Guy Kewney was late, and Guy Goma unknowlingly "filled in" for him. Mr. Goma has no idea what is going on, and the newscaster has no idea that it's the wrong Guy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Simon & Jodi Hill
May 13, 2006

Sunday, May 07, 2006

How a Utah boy transformed into a big shot ad guy

Wednesday Chateau and I started our internship at Ogilvy & Mather. Since I certainly didn't know what Ogilvy was before I got into advertising, I am providing the following explanation from SourceWatch for your enjoyment:

Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide describes itself as "one of the largest marketing communications networks in the world [servicing] more Fortune Global 500 companies in five or more countries than any other agency."

Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide is the agency created by British-born advertising legend David Ogilvy in 1948, virtually from scratch. It now has 35 US offices and a further 359 worldwide in over 90 countries. It was the first agency into China, Korea and Vietnam and is now Asia's largest integrated network; also one of the first into Eastern Europe. Excluding specialized marketing subsidiaries, Advertising Age ranked O&M as the #11 agency network worldwide in 2002 with revenues of $589m.

So in three days, here are my first impressions of Ogilvy New York:

1. Everyone is really nice.
2. Everyone is really smart.
3. Everyone really likes to have fun.
4. Everyone really likes to work.
5. Everyone really likes the color red.

So yeah. We have been having fun getting our feet wet. The creative department is housed mostly on the eighth floor. There are several teams each consisting of a pair of creative directors and a 4-5 art/copy combos. On day one were introduced to our creative directors Josh and Joe. We also got to pal around with some of the recent BYU graduates now working there.

Our first assignment was do do a TV spot for The Mets. We came up with a few commercial ideas in the first couple days and presented them to one of the guys in our team. They all got shot down, but he preped us by telling us that everyone gets shut down the first time they present. That helped.

On Friday we were briefed on a new assignment along with the rest of the groups in our team. It's TOP SECRET right now, but soon enough you'll get to hear all about it.

So, in other news, this weekend I:

>went to the MoMA with the BYU interns

>got to see a film at the Tribeca Film Festival with Valerie

>got to sleep in late on Saturday

>visited my friend Jason in Inwood

>went to a swanky party in one of those midtown apartment with lots of windows that make you feel like you're suspended in air among the skyscrapers

>went to the First Corinthian Baptist Church with my friend Daniel

>went to my church

Allergies stink. My apartment is nice and remodeled. I'm finally getting to understand business casual. I love having unlimited rides on the subway. I love New York.

Guess who's back.

OK, some of you are probably saying, "Where is the old OCD blogger Seth? We liked him better when he was camera happy."

Well he's back, and he's ready to remind you just why he loves NYC so much. Let's start from the beginning of the trip, shall we?

This is Hazel. Hazel is my friend Manny's dog. I stayed at Manny's house in New Jersey for the first few days until my apartement was available in Manhattan.

This one of Hazel's chew-toys. That dog is crazy. She comes to you with toy in mouth wanting you to throw it, but then once you reach for it she pulls away. Reminds me of those people who need help but won't let you help them.

These were taken at Marjorie Eliott's weekly jazz gathering last Sunday. She is the one with pen in hand. I love this woman. She invites the world into her living room to listen to some top notch live jazz and eat granola bars. Every time I visit her I have a unique experience. She always gets a diverse crowd. Marjorie is an inspiration to me.

After Marjorie's on Sunday I went wandering through Harlem. I saw these two guys sitting on this rock and just had to take their picture. They were really nice guys. One of them, named Daniel, is a painter. You can check out his stuff in my "Sethillites with websites" section.

Monday was the big immigrant strike. These photos were taken at the Union Square gathering. Dallas and Chateau joined in the fun.

After the rally we wandered over to Saint Marks Place. I love this pole.

This is magician David Blaine doing his underwater bubble thing. He is totally copying Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.

Aside from the sight-seeing, Monday and Tuesday was all about shopping and moving in. I had to get my bags from Jersey to Manhattan by bus. That was fun. I made a Bolivian girlfriend along the way named Jovanka. That was pretty much the extent of my pre-internship experience. Now let's talk about Ogilvy...

Thursday, May 04, 2006