We received a lovely email last night from Stephanie Burton, the editor-in-chief of CollegeOTR, a college blog network. Burton tells us that she and her boss were looking for a PR firm to get them some visibility, and someone referred them to 5WPR, helmed by incompetent superflack Ronn [sic] Torossian. When they asked the agency about Ronn's bad press, "They brushed off our concerns about Ronn's reputation and blamed "jilted" news reporters for the bad press," she writes. [An interesting formulation: reporters who dislike 5W for legitimate reasons are "jilted!"] CollegeOTR eventually decided not to hire Ronn and 5W. And now, after learning more about his "Cunt" related history (summed up here)," she says, "The fact that we even considered working with him is more than slightly nauseating." That's edumacational! And after the jump, Ronn speaks out (and gets spoken about)!
Ronn talks to the press today about his lawsuit against his former HR director Melissa Weiss—or, as Ronn calls her, "YOU STUPID CUNT." Ronn tells PRWeek [Disclosure: where I used to work] that Weiss' charges of labor violations at 5WPR are false, and that Weiss "was fired for actively trying to poach employees to other agencies," not as retaliatory measure for doing her job. He also "declined to discuss the authenticity" of his shouty, insulty emails to Weiss. Duly noted.
In the wake of the publication of those emails, Ronn's old acquaintances are coming out and expressing their (hard) feelings about him. Today, a selection from PR pro Ann Higgins, blogging at The Ethical Optimist:
I had the distinct displeasure in working with Ronn for a brief period of time at KCSA. He did, in fact, embody the worst idea about a PR professional and a manager. In fact, I would up telling my CEO that I refused to work with him...which did not sit well. It was also probably the only time in my career that I have cussed out a co-worker...
At the higher echelons of the public relations industry, it's a fairly small world. Your word and your reputation count, even among your competitors. Ronn's is basically Mudd, and has been for a long time. Now, with the radioactive half life afforded by the Web, his infamy is available for all — prospective employees, clients, etc., — to see ... for some time to come.
This was evidenced by no less than 20 emails and links I received from colleagues and folks who'd also worked for Ronn when the Gawker.com piece hit. Each forward was preceded by a comment along the lines of, "couldn't happen to a nicer guy...haha."