Archive | December, 2010

Happy Holidays!

23 Dec
Christmas ornaments on pink Christmas tree, close-up

The last few weeks have been tough for some of my closest friends and family due to illness and unexpected mishaps. Though there is never a “good” time for things like this, it seems to hurt a bit more during the holiday season.

I told my mom yesterday that I couldn’t wait to spend time with our family over the holiday just to simply be with the people we love. That time spent, whether it be with you friends or family, is invaluable.

Wishing you all the happiest holiday season. Travel safely and enjoy the time off of work / school if you have it.  Cheers!

Give to the March of Dimes and your donation will be matched

22 Dec

I am a passionate advocate for the March of Dimes so I was thrilled when I heard The March of Dimes Board of Trustees will match every dollar donated through December 31, 2010.

Giving $10 means the organization gets $20. Giving $50 gives this organization $100. Please consider donating this holiday season to this wonderful nonprofit which helps give all babies a healthy start.

Donations can be made safely and securely at this link:

How do I make myself look great without making it all about me?

20 Dec
portrait of a beauty queen smiling

Personal branding is a hot topic, disputed often. We are in a time where who you are, and what you represent holds a lot of weight. Gone are the days of remaining anonymous and unfound. Even my 88-year-old grandmother can be found with a Google search. Whether you are favorable of self-branding or not, it inevitably surrounds us.

I myself am a fan of self-branding (ok, I’m not a raging fan about it, but I believe in it nonetheless). I prefer that my face and name be associated with reputable information that will help enhance my professional career and, hopefully, my clients’ success.

However, I am not a fan of narcissistic megalomaniacs. Those who scream “me, me, me!” from the mountaintops are not my cup of tea (says the girl with her own name emblazoned at the top on this blog🙂 ).

I pondered a bit on the best ways to be the most likeable “you” (I use the word likeable lightly) while making sure you still market your brand accordingly. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • Tie in nonprofit and /or charitable initiatives when possible. Of course, just showing up and dropping one can of food off at a food drive for the sake of a good publicity picture might get said food chucked at you. We don’t want that. So find a cause or organization that really means something to you (for me it’s the Miss America Organization, the March of Dimes, the CT Science Center, and more) and devote time and attention to that. And make sure people know so you can gain well-deserved attention for the nonprofit. Being charitable is cool and good for your soul.
  • Seems somewhat counter-intuitive when we’re talking about you, but feature other people on your blog. I’m trying to implement this myself. Interview those who you admire and write an article about them on your blog site. This way, you learn some new things from this person and you share the knowledge with a, hopefully, growing audience.
  • Engage! Comment on people’s Facebook status updates and tweets. If someone does so for you, acknowledge so when appropriate.
  • You don’t always have to be the popular one. Being original, genuine and sincere will take us all much further in life than trying to be different just to stand out. You know the phrase “the man who talks the loudest says the least?”

In essence, making yourself look great means putting yourself second to those you interact with, whether they are friends, colleagues, mentors, clients, etc.

So much more can be added here. Please let me know what you try to implement for your own self-branding or what you think are some good pointers!

Identifying a named representative – a good thing or a bad thing?

15 Dec
ITAR-TASS: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. DECEMBER 9, 2010. Man reading a newspaper at the 6th annual conference of Russian retailers entitled RETAIL IN RUSSIA: new Rules of the Game , at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The event is organized by the Vedomosti daily. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Artyom Korotayev) Photo via Newscom

Should I be the brand, or be the brand ambassador?

Companies grapple with this issue: When creating a Twitter handle, should you name someone specific who runs the account or remain a faceless, nameless entity?

I’m a big fan of both as a case can be argued for each side of this dispute and really, it depends on the brand.

(Just to give some examples, take a look at ProfNet run by the wonderful Maria Perez. Maria is the ‘brand ambassador,’ even sprinkling the ProfNet feed with some fun tweets about her love for chocolate. So relatable!😉  Food Parc, a NYC futuristic-style eatery, which I should add is a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat, is an example of the ‘brand.’ No one person is identified as the tweeter.)

But since I’ve made my stance on this discussion pretty clear (I like both), how does this current social media topic translate for today’s traditional media? While the brand ambassador might be very welcome in social media (hello Oscar de la Renta’s PR Girl!), how welcome are they in traditional media? For instance, when a newspaper article runs on your client do the quotes credit “a representative from XYZ Company?” Do they credit the CEO of the company? Do they quote your PR firm? Or do they credit someone from the internal PR team within the company?

More often than not, we see a CEO or another higher-up quoted in newspaper articles. If it is the PR person, most likely they are named simply as a representative or they are a higher-up in the internal communications team.

But what about those of us at PR firms who oftentimes are the actual ones offering quotes? Would you actually allow an individual’s name from your PR firm to be quoted?

“The building is making all efforts possible to alleviate the infestation of rats,” said XYZ Communications publicist, Kate Ottavio.

Doesn’t sound as reputable as:

“The building is making all efforts possible to alleviate the infestation of rats,” said management company XYZ Developers CEO, Kate Ottavio.

Even if I provided the quote to the reporter as is often our jobs in PR, it holds much less gravity than the CEO stating the same thing.

What’s your stance on this? Should individual publicists within PR firms be welcomed commentators in traditional media or do we prefer the warm fuzzy feeling the CEO’s quote gives us instead? Have I asked too many questions?

‘Profits & Passions’ – Josh Sternberg

13 Dec

Since entering the professional world, I’ve made note of something that differs entirely from life prior. In high school and college, etc., we get to know people in so many different ways. We learn about their family, their hobbies, their likes and dislikes. Opening-up about personal things is not unheard of. However in the working world, we have jobs to take care of. Personal information isn’t an integral part of our daily lives anymore. Or at least isn’t always commonplace.

But over the last two years (namely via Twitter), I have met some outstanding people who I admire both professionally and personally. To this point, I will be writing a reoccurring ‘column’ as a sort of ‘profits and passions.’ What do people do from 9-5 and then what do they do before and afterward to let loose?

Josh Sternberg, Founder/CEO of Sternberg Strategic Communications, so kindly agreed to be my first guinea pig.

For those of us who know or know of Josh, we most likely know three things for sure: he owns and runs his own PR firm; he’s a skilled guest writer for The Huffington Post, Mashable, Mediaite and of course the PR Breakfast Club; oh and don’t forget, he’s a Yankees fan (like me!).

With prior teaching experience at universities in New Jersey, Josh “fell into the glamorous field of ‘public relations.’” After moving to Brooklyn to live with his then girlfriend, now wife, the two-river-commute proved less and less appealing. Josh decided to look at jobs that “might value an academic background,” but also allow him to learn about the real world, ultimately finding a PR firm that was the right fit for him. He’s been a PRo ever since.

A notable challenge in Josh’s professional realm is keeping a positive perspective. Understandably so, the territory comes with challenges and hard decisions I know I personally am not ready to take on. Recalling why he started his own firm keeps him focused: “I started this company because I was frustrated with previous bosses who had difficult times managing clients (as well as people) and wound up focusing on the money aspect and not the actual job.”

A specific part of his job that Josh loves is new business opportunities. “I love being able to walk into a new biz situation and explain how we can help that company grow. I also love how today’s environment lets potential clients learn about you before you go into a meeting. Clients today have an arsenal of tools to do their due diligence on you – not to mention the ease of contacting your current and former clients,” he said. “By being open, honest and available, our clients know they have the senior-level attention they’re paying for.”

Running a fledgling PR firm takes dedication and patience but also an understanding of what clients need. Incorporating intelligent and pragmatic solutions to clients’ communications problems takes knowledge, experience, and as most things in life, a little bit of luck.

Now you’re asking yourself, what does Mr. Sternberg do to relax? Any guesses?

Music. Yes, music is Josh’s passion.

After “toying” around a bit at the end of high school with the guitar, Josh met his musical matches at college and formed a band even penning his own songs (good practice for the PR world, right?). Despite the band breaking up only a few years ago after eight years of living and playing music together, Josh still plays every day for about an hour to relax or just blow off some steam.

I asked Josh if any fellow Twitter users share the same hobby. His reply included a gentle yet playful nudge at a Twitter user who recently moved into his neighborhood and just had a child (*cough cough*). The two have been aiming to get together for a while to hang out and play some music. Unfortunately jam sessions take a backseat to diaper duty. 🙂

It would seem Josh’s complex schedule and ever-expanding responsibilities with his business and personal life would overwhelm most (raising my own hand here!) However, Josh keeps a refreshing positive perspective. His hard work and commitment have grown a PR firm that provides the top-quality service clients deserve, yet he still considers himself lucky. “I’m very fortunate, and while, yes, there are times that I lose sight of this (I am only human) I try to take a few seconds to breathe and contemplate my words, actions and decisions,” Josh said. “Also, it helps that I can plug in my electric guitar and wail away instead of getting upset.”

Drug bust at Ivy League – A Study in Sociology

8 Dec

“This is a waste of American’s money and time. These students were friendly, bright kids. Is it surprising that they had to sell drugs to pay off a $57,000 tuition? The problem in Morningside Heights is not drug crazed young adults. How about we take down the crack heads down the street selling dangerously cut drugs to the homeless? How about we stop some of the muggers and street harassers that constantly bother Columbia students? Or how about we solve some of the 41% of the murders that go unsolved? Get the cops out of the private lives of hardworking and highly educated students and work on some of the problems coming down from Harlem. I challenge any of you to attend Columbia University and pay off a $57,000 tuition while taking on a unpaid internship and taking classes harder than most people will ever encounter. Most people have no clue what Ivy League students go through in order to further the overall educational level and research for this country. Be grateful for once that we are picking up the slack for most citizens who are uneducated and lazy.” – Student

While reading up on the Columbia student drug bust along with some article comments, I fell upon a gem that exemplifies everything that fascinates me about sociology and social stratification. Of course this is all a matter personal opinion and I try to remain neutral while I prefer to see all sides of a story or situation. But I couldn’t help but notice this one.

Thoughts, input?

I tried Bikram Yoga…and survived

7 Dec

My dear friend and colleague, Tathiana conned me into convinced me to sign up for 30 days of unlimited classes for $30 at Bikram Yoga NYC.

So last night, I put my game face on, entered that 105 degree yoga studio and sweat like I’ve never sweat before. Wow. As non-flattering as that sounds, if you are looking into taking Bikram (or Hot) yoga, you must know these facts. It’s hot in that room, there are a lot of bodies and it is a workout.

Take a look here for some really useful tips on the ‘what to knows’ and the ‘how to survives.’

But since you’re here, allow me to give you some of my own tips:

  • Bring two water bottles. GIANT water bottles. You will most likely go through them both. And try to bring insulated ones if possible. With the room heated to 105 degrees, your water will be lukewarm by the end of this 90-minute class.
  • That brings me to my next point. Don’t look at the clock. If you are that type of on-the-go person like me, you benchmark ever 15 minutes to gauge progress and when the heck this will all be over. That’s just torture in Bikram Yoga. Don’t do it to yourself.
  • No one looks pretty in Bikram Yoga class. Every single person is beet red and dripping sweat (again, eww). Don’t bother looking around to compare yourself to anyone else and don’t even try to cover up. Sports bra and shorts for the girls and shorts for the men is totally acceptable. Everyone is there for a workout, not a fashion show.
  • Towels are essential. As if I haven’t already mentioned the perspiration factor, just bring towels.
  • I don’t know if I’m the only person who experienced this but my breathing was normal while my heart rate was through the roof. For me, this was a very uncomfortable feeling. I guess this is normal?

Regardless of any previous notion that this class might have been the death of me, I actually felt really great afterwards; very energized and alert.

I have 29 days left to take unlimited classes – let’s see how this goes.