PR Niblets

Friday, November 18, 2011

It’s Race Day in the Big Apple and the Crowd Goes Wild!

Every year since I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve cheered on marathoners running the streets of New York in the beginning of November.  Every year I’ve said, I’m going to run it one day. This year, I did! And, as I had posted on Facebook after the race, two words sum up the experience – awesome and tiring!

The New York Marathon is one big block party. The media buzz all around New York propels and enhances the excitement of the city. Every year various world-class runners and celebrities mix in with ordinary runners. Everyone remembers the Chilean miner who ran the marathon last year.  This year the big news was that Apolo Ohno was running the marathon. With this kind of attention and publicity, it’s no surprise that marathon day is the one day every year that New Yorkers come out in the thousands to cheer on runners of all ages, ethnicities, class level, etc. 

The three months of training prior to the race, were not easy. The foresight, research, organizational and planning skills PR practitioners use in their jobs were put to good use. I researched various training schedules, chose the one that worked for me and plotted out my running schedule for the next three months. When I completed a run, I’d check it off the schedule.  Sometimes I’d have to rearrange my workouts on a weekly basis to fit them in with other commitments. Often, I would leave work on a Thursday or Friday and run anywhere from 13-20 miles around Manhattan and/or home to Brooklyn; many weeks saw me awake at 6am three or four days during the week for a four- to six-mile run; or I’d have to make sure there was time on a vacation to complete my miles for the week.

Sunday, November 6 was race day, and I was excited and nervous. I hadn’t slept well the night before and had set two alarm clocks just to make sure I was up at 5am and didn’t miss the ferry. Despite trying to remain quiet and not wake my parents and sister, who had flown in from California for the occasion, my Dad woke up, kept me company while I got ready and walked me out the door. I was glad for the distraction. Nerves set in again as it seemed like forever for the train to come. Once I got to the ferry station, excitement took over.

It was complete organized chaos - from boarding the ferry until I got to the starting line. For having to deal with 44,000 runners, the New York Road Runners did an amazing job making sure everyone was where they needed to be and when they needed to be there.

The crowds are what make the marathon spectacular. The entire 26.2 mile route had tons of supporters with signs, both funny and inspirational. Spectators cheered everyone on – whether they knew you or not. If your name was on your shirt, they’d shout for you. If you were wearing a shirt with the Italian flag they’d shout “Go Italy.” Worst case, they’d just shout and holler like banshees. When a runner they knew came by, groups would go crazy!  The energy from the crowd kept you going and when you saw someone you knew, it feels as though you could sprout wings in your chest and fly away. There were little kids giving out high fives. Every mile had a different band, DJ, choir group, elementary school concert band or some sort of music blaring. Some spectators took it upon themselves to blast music to help runners along. Others handed out Gu, bananas and paper towels, in addition to the volunteers passing out water, Gatorade and wet sponges. There were people in costumes – both runners and spectators alike. I think the spectators were having as much fun if not more than the runners. I couldn’t stop smiling for the first 13 miles.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely hit the wall - at about mile 20 - but the crowds keep you going and make you want to finish, as do the other runners. At no point are you alone, and even though I didn’t know anyone else running, there was a certain camaraderie. Finishing was amazing. You realize you’ve just run 26.2 miles through the closed-off streets of Manhattan in front of two million spectators and the exhaustion and pain settle in next to the euphoria.

When asked if I’d run another marathon, my answer is two-fold: I’d definitely run the NYC marathon again and I might do a different one, but only if I have someone to train and run it with. It was my sister’s first time watching the marathon in person and she loved it so much that she’s trying to convince me to run one with her, so we’ll see…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Art of Launching a New Company

The following is a guest post by Matt Lerner, VP of product development and marketing for AllStar Deals.  Mr. Lerner and his colleagues are about to launch a new enterprise.  In the post below, he presents an interesting look, from an entrepreneur’s perspective, on launching a firm.  Stay tuned to the Feintuch Communications website ( for future developments!

For the last four months, my team and I have been pushing each day to prepare for our site’s launch. Like any tech start up, new problems arise organically and our strategy to solve them is seemingly ever changing.

After back-and-forth internal discussions as to whether or not we were ready to face the public, last week, we reached our first major company milestone: pushing the pre-launch page live for AllStar Deals.

We did this with the help of LaunchRock, which not only gave us the tools to bring our page online, but also allowed us to begin collecting a database of early users, provide share buttons to those users so they could spread the word to their networks, and track primary analytics such as user sign-ups and page views.

Putting up our pre-launch page was incredibly gratifying and it provided a great lesson: JUST GET OUT THERE, ALREADY!

Stop tinkering. Stop expecting perfection. Stop worrying. You’ll never fully grasp what aspects of your site need more work and require adjustment until you actually put it in front of people. No amount of preparation will be able to act as a substitute for the learning you’ll glean from an actual launch.

There was a fantastic article in New York Magazine called Bubble Boys last month that every entrepreneur should check out. It’s certainly worth reading in its entirety but here are a couple of the quotes that stuck with me:

“Done is better than perfect.”
“Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is what matters.”
“If ten people have the same idea for a piece of software, the one who succeeds will be whoever launches it fastest, then iterates as quickly as possible.”
“There has never been a better time to be a geek with a dream. Launching a new product is all but free.”

Since our site will be taking on the online daily deals space, there is certainly no shortage of competitors for us. In fact, there are more than 500 daily deals sites in the US alone. That said, they all do the same thing.

They hire a sales force to try and find as many deals as possible, then they blast daily emails to all their users hoping that everybody buys them. As a result, your email box becomes cluttered with deals for microdermabrasion, helicopter flying lessons, and jewelry making classes.

Our plan is to change this model by not hiring a sales force at all. Instead we will be the first site entirely populated with user submitted deals. If you find a good deal in your neighborhood, we’ll give you the tools to secure that deal and submit it to the site. The incentive to do so is that we will pay cash commission to those who submit and share the deals.

Since our site gains strength by having more people signed up, submitting deals and sharing them with each other, and since this space is only getting more crowded each day, we knew the time was now to finally get out there.

Will there be major problems we have to deal with? Hopefully not, but maybe. Will there be tweaks and changes along the way? Certainly.

One thing is for certain though, we won’t know for sure until we’re up and running.

Follow AllStar Deals on twitter at @allstardeals and facebook.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"My Wallet, or my Cellphone?"

On Friday, in my rush to make a 7 a.m. train from Chappaqua to Manhattan for a partner breakfast meeting, I left my wallet in my car.

I didn't know I was "naked" until we neared Hawthorne and I heard the conductor coming down the aisle asking for tickets. As I reached for my monthly pass (housed in a special pocket in my wallet), I instantly realized what I had done. Terror set in. No train pass. No cash to buy a ticket on board. No credit card. No business card or any form of ID to offer the conductor as "collateral" of my good faith.

The conductor came to my seating group. When he looked at me, I said "I don't know what we're going to do with me... but my wallet is in my car...together with my credit cards, cash and ID."

I held my breath. My heartbeat sped up.

He looked at me and simply said, "okay," before moving on.

Crisis averted. And then I thought ahead to what the absence of my wallet meant. How to pay for breakfast. How to enter my office building. Who's paying for today's staff lunch. How to get home tonight. I thought about exiting at White Plains, grabbing a northbound local and starting all over again. After all, that's what I did a couple of years ago when I left my BlackBerry in my car.

On that occasion, I had similary weighed my options. Client calls? They'd go unanswered. Family calls and emergencies... no answer. Text messages...forgetaboutit! Facebook..LinkedIn...Twitter...other apps... no... too scary... I couldn't make it through the day. Back to the parking lot to get my phone. Not even a second thought.

Yet here, in 2011, I knew I could get by without my wallet. An email to Christa and Savannah, my work colleagues, produced two offers of we'll meet you at the restaurant to bail you out. And with that, I knew I could make it through the day.

Breakfast with Lito Bunag, of the Phillipines, went off as scheduled. When Christa walked to our booth, and discretely slid $80 and her gold AMEX to me, I noted the puzzled look on Lito's face. I explained my morning's angst and he smiled and said, "I was paying for breakfast anyway."

The security guards at 245 Park Ave. were sympathic but officially needed someone to vouch for me. But then, they noted that my staff had guest-signed me into the building. They produced a temporary paper badget. I was in!
I made it through the day without any other surprises. Lunch -- no sweat. New client meeting -- positive. Christa's micro-cash loan worked fine to buy my one-way ticket back to Westchester. My son picked me up with my car and I was finally reunited with my wallet.

So, in my own modern version of Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady, or the Tiger," my cellphone wins. I can make it through the day -- with a little bit of help from my friends -- without a wallet. But touch my cellphone? We need to have a serious conversation about that!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My lunch with Warren Buffett (and several hundred other clients/partners of Business Wire)

Warren Buffett and I had lunch together on Friday!

We were joined by several hundred other clients, partners and guests of Business Wire -- all invited to lunch at the New York Stock Exchange and the chance to see and hear the "Oracle of Omaha" in person. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, the global leader in press release distribution and regulatory disclosure. The day was marked with a proclamation by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg making September 30, 2011 "Business Wire Day" and a smart news release chronicling highlights of the company's history and numerous industry firsts.

The company's senior management team talked about the evolution of the company and its services both on stage and in a fast-paced and engaging video, "50 Years of Innovation," that provided a great historical perspective.

Leading up to its 50th anniversary (officially Oct. 7), Business Wire held a "Future of Public Relations and Communications" college video contest challenging full-time college students to submit short videos answering the question "What is the future of public relations and communications?" 21-year-old Jenna Marie James (photo/left at podium), a senior majoring in telecommunications at Ball State University in Indiana, was the winner of the contest. Her prize package included a trip to New York (her first) to meet and have lunch with "Warren" -- as well as to speak at the luncheon (preceding Warren). Her video is refreshing, creative and engaging -- I strongly recommend you view it!

And then, it was Warren's turn. He was "interviewed" on stage by Business Wire President & CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz followed by questions from the audience. What's amazing is his mental acuity at age 81 and ability to go from questions on the stock market to investor relations to communications to business in China and politics without missing a beat.

His answers were peppered with facts, figures, dates and plain spoken clarity not typical of most captains of business. He ... and Cathy... spoke about the period Berkshire Hathaway purchased Business Wire (following a "sales" letter he received from Cathy).

One questioner wanted to know how long the recession would last. Warren talked about the housing market and housing starts as the key indicator given their direct importance and ripple effect on the economy. Another questioner asked about governance in Washington. Warren indicated the problem was neither party was governing and instead all were obsessed about their re-election prospects rather than doing the right thing for the people. He brought a chuckle to the room when responding to a question about President Obama's proposed millionare's tax. "I"m not so sure it's good to have a tax named after you," he mused.

No matter how long and nuanced the answers to the questions, he always circled back and answered each question fully. It was an awe-inspiring performance of a genuine business leader, straight talker and straight shooter.

My thanks to Sarah Shepard, a former colleague and director of sales, NY Region at Business Wire for inviting me to this sophisticated celebration.

P.S. The menu was an appetizer of candied walnut, gorgonzola and mesculun salad with sherry walnut dressing; choice of pan seared French cut chicken breast with rosemary jus or pan seared sea bass with gingered pineapple and papaya (my selection) and New York style cheesecake.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interning 101

By Nicole Cimo, Towson University Class of 2012

Ever since I graduated high school, I’ve been told that college would be the most valuable learning experience of my life and I would ultimately graduate with an expertise in what is called my "major." Well, after interning with Feintuch Communications this summer, I became aware of how my major in public relations differs in an academic versus a professional world.

I've learned that there’s a big difference between knowing and understanding. From my experience thus far in college, my professors have led me through countless PowerPoint presentations, terminology and textbooks. Everything I’ve studied and memorized has been relevant for things I need to know, but it wasn’t until I landed my first internship at Feintuch Communications that I began to apply these to a real situation. Of course, being required to know and memorize the terms B2B, B2C, boilerplate, abstract, and Ed-Cal throughout my college years is all essential, but engaging in an internship is what gave me the hands-on experience to understand how these terms are actually implemented. For example, I’ve been taught since my freshman year that using media such as print and broadcast will help a client get exposure to core audiences. However, until I was given my first pitching task I never realized how clients actually receive exposure in a magazine article or interview. I had to research the client and industry, as well as the reporter to see if they would even be interested in our client. After numerous, persistent calls and voicemails, I ultimately landed my first media placement, which is something I would have never experienced in a classroom.

An internship is defined as a program designed to provide a learning experience for beginners in a profession, which is exactly what I gained this summer. Twice a week, I would commute and work my 9-5 day as if it were a full-time career. Not only did I acquire useful tips such as how important it is to ask questions and that every assignment counts, but I also attained a great deal of knowledge from attending my first trade show. All colleges should require some type of internship prior to graduation. This experience gave me valuable practice for the future and allowed me to grasp the world of PR better than any textbook, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to achieve from college alone.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

PRSA New York’s Book Publishing Event

Wednesday night our company assisted with the PRSA New York program, “A Book Publishing Double Header” hosted by Dow Jones at the beautiful Fox Sports Bar. The food and drinks were magnificent and the presentations were intriguing. Andrew Wheeler, Marketing Manager at Wiley & Sons, discussed how marketing books in this digital age is different from how books used to be marketed. Identifying your target audience and then utilizing social media appropriately is important. Creating a connection and conversation with book reviewers and reporters is also important in order to generate reviews and coverage. All great takeaways!

Jonathan Spira (left) with Andrew Wheeler (right) during the Q&A

After Andrew Wheeler, Jonathan Spira, author of Overload! How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization, discussed his book, released Tuesday. The book discusses how knowledge workers are overwhelmed with the increasing amount of information thrown at them every day. Email, IM, phone calls and our 24/7, always connected mentality affect knowledge workers’ productivity, costing companies billions of dollars. Included below is part of Jonathan’s presentation where he discusses the ways workers can help decrease information overload – all very good tips that can be easily implemented!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The State of the News Media: A Print vs. Digital Debate

We all know the media environment has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few years as print and “traditional media” have been fighting (and losing) the incursions of the Internet, iPod and an increasingly fragmented media environment. A new study from Pew Research sheds light on some of these trends and uncovers some interesting findings:

  • Newspapers declined 6.4% in 2010
  • Online news consumption surpassed print newspapers in ad revenue and audience for the first time in 2010
  • For the first time in more than 12 years, the average audience of all three cable news channels declined
  • Local TV revenue rose 17%
  • Radio has remained stable
  • Only 31% of Americans have heard of HD radio
  • In 2010, auto advertising increased 77% in local TV, 22% in radio and 17% in magazines

Just today, in seeming response to the print/digital war, The New York Times announced its new online digital/mobile editions subscription policies:

What’s your take on the print vs. digital debate? Do you subscribe to any paid editorial content? How do you consume your news?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make That Two Social Medias To Go... and Hold the "MySpace"

No one would accuse me of being a Luddite. My office “set-up” includes two monitors (one for e-mail; one for my “apps”); a CardScan business card scanner; a webcam; and an add-on sub-woofer and satellite speakers. I pack a Blackberry Torch (and far too many mobile apps); use a Flip Cam; own a Sony DSLR camera and drive a tricked out Mercedes convertible. At our home in Chappaqua, visitors (and even my wife) often ask how to turn on and use our integrated video and audio entertainment centers or how to log onto our private Wi-Fi network.

And yes… I tweet, spend far too many hours on Facebook, am a Power Seller on Ebay, actively manage my LinkedIn profile and just bought a great restaurant coupon deal on Open Table.

My PR career has largely centered on supporting the needs of emerging and established technology organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Over the decades, the tools I’ve used to support clients have grown increasingly more sophisticated – from typewritten press releases, Wang mail merges and early use of the fax to video news releases, satellite media tours, SEO, interactive marketing, email blasts, multimedia press releases and mobile apps.

But when it comes to the topic of social media in public relations, I find the hype maddening. Standalone digital firms have moved into the PR market focusing on social media plan development and implementation. Every month, more and more “traditional PR firms” announce the launch of their own social media or digital practice.

The buzz started slowly enough. As teens lost their lock on the early social networks (e.g. MySpace; Facebook) and the mass market moved in, self-declared social media pundits began doing talks and seminars explaining the new world of social media and encouraging PR and marketing practitioners to jump in and get their feet wet. Soon, a cottage industry of book authors, speech presenters, conference organizations and trade press beat the drum for social media. “If you don’t create a practice, you run the risk of becoming entirely irrelevant and ceding market share to your competitors.”

In our own young firm, born during the rise of the social media era, we all agree that the impact of social media on the PR and marketing mix is profound. But, with all due respect to the late sociologist, scholar and media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the social medium is NOT the message – at least when it comes to the development and implementation of strategic public relations programs.

We believe that too many marketers are focusing on the coolest and most buzzworthy tactics for novelty sake and not due to an underlying marketing strategy. Our firm builds social media elements into client programs as strategically appropriate rather than supporting the P&L of a social media practice that requires the continuous sale of separate projects or expensive add-ons. We look at social media elements as additional channels for reaching targeted audiences not as the desired end product our clients should be invested in.

So today, dear friends, we are proud to announce that we are NOT building a social media practice. We will continue to offer our clients a variety of creative and strategic tools to support their business objectives – including smart blogging, setting up LinkedIn groups and Facebook fan pages, custom developed mobile apps and location-based marketing services – in addition to the old fashioned use of the telephone, word-of-mouth and integrated marketing. Business objectives are the message; wise counsel to our clients and prospects is the deliverable.