American Girl Magazine, 1997
My uncle is visiting my grandparents right now and stumbled upon this old American Girl Magazine I was featured in from the ’90s.
When I was about seven years old, I started a letter writing campaign to the Empire State Building asking them to change the lighting scheme to honor Hanukkah. That particular year, Hanukkah was in the beginning of December, but the city landmark was already illuminated red & green in anticipation of Christmas several weeks away.
I thought that was nuts so when I got home I grabbed a gel pen and pitched the building to change it. A polite manager mailed back a response declining the request. Frustrated, I asked my parents who owned the building and wrote another letter, this time up the chain.
About a year later, the owner was caught evading community service for her prior stint evading taxes. She had already been evading my letter for a while, so neither of these pieces of news surprised me. Around that time, however (in what I now assume was an effort to rally positive public opinion), I got a response from a publicist who said the owner was touched and they’d be not only honoring my request that year, but each year forever after. I was even invited to flip the inaugural switch! Within days, news crews were in my living room, outside my school, and inviting me to appear on shows such as Rosie O’Donnell (remember that show?)
The story had transcended the typical news cycle and began trickling into pop culture: I was invited to the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, Howard Stern poked fun at me on air (though I was never a guest), and at one point we got a message from a Seinfeld producer saying the story was under consideration to be included in the season’s story line.
This is probably when I realized not only that there was such a thing as a publicist, but that these so-called publicists seemed to get shit done.
Two decades later, I work as a publicist. (And true to the publicist’s word, the building has been lit for Hanukkah every year since).
Our co-founder has been kickin’ ass and taking names since she was a small girl herself.