CAREERS: My Big Break

The blue bonnets may have been flourishing in Texas in spring of

1987, but national PR firms weren't. Manning Selvage & Lee, which had

bought our agency Kirk & Finklea Communications in October 1984, had

decided to pull the plug on the regional office in Dallas.

My partner and I, operating as EVPs and Southwest Division managers,

found employment for all but one of our nine staff members. MS&L not

only completed the third and final installment on the purchase of our

firm, but paid our salaries to the end of the three-year period -

another six months!

They even sold us the furniture for a pittance and permitted us to

retain the active accounts - which we divided before setting up

individual consulting firms. Even more surprisingly, MS&L contacted us a

year later saying they had overlooked the stock investments they had

made on our behalf when Benton & Bowles acquired MS&L. We received

another dollars 10,000 each.

Within two years, I was earning about 40% more than my previous annual

compensation. MS&L could simply have "cut and run." Instead, the

management, then under the late Ed Stanton's leadership, was loyal

during the tough times. MS&L afforded me a chance to manage and recover

when a hard decision had to be made. I will always remember MS&L for

being patient, considerate, ethical and generous.

Preston Kirk is currently with Kirk Public Relations in Austin, TX.

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