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.