napa-wine-earthquakeThe news that began to immediately flow out of Napa Valley and Sonoma County following this past weekend’s earthquake was disheartening at best. While the significant damage to library collections and current vintages is a serious blow to the region — what earthquakes have provided in the form of terroir ideal for growing vines can also be taken away in seconds — the relatively limited personal injury and loss of life more than offset concerns about physical damage that can be replaced . . . in time.

Unfortunately, once the full impact is known, the recovery assuredly won’t be solved in a few weeks or even months, but instead measured in years. The timing in the season could not have been worse (or better for those that already cleared out their cellars to make room for the fall harvest), as many in the region are in some stage of harvest. Do wineries turn their attention to picking grapes or cleaning up the mess and getting their tasting rooms back in order? Will their inventory be lost and how many years will it take to find out? Could the 2013 growing season result in limited product? There is also the broader economic impact on the region in the form of a potential drop off in tourism at the height of the season.

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Media Navel GazeThe Week Unpeeled

The media world and the rest of us witnessed in total horror the beheading of reporter James Foley by ISIS, the Islamic State, which dominated headlines and broadcasts and forced President Obama to stage one of his most somber and angry press conferences ever.  The image has sparked global outrage but also raised serious conversations about responsible coverage.  Publications like The New York Post carried a picture of the execution on its front page while seemingly much of the media, reportedly led by @ladyliberty1885, began a sort of anti-viral viral campaign tagged #ISISmediablackout calling for the social media world to stop tweeting the beheading picture. Twitter has also reportedly said it would suspend accounts that carried the photo, which all taken together is an extreme example of a media blackout and one supported by the media themselves.

Elsewhere:

  • The Ice Bucket Challenge seemed to actually grow last week in popularity, coverage and originality (my vote goes to Dave Groll’s challenge); money raised so far for the ALS charity reached over $70 billion;
  • Uber names David Plouffe, former Obama campaign manager and senior advisor, as its senior veep of strategy and policy (think acquisitions/ contract/union negotiations for the private car-sharing service), a move that produced considerable ink for such a high-power recruitment;  Plouffe was also known for his storytelling messaging, so communications will likely take a more grassroots/shared economy turn;
  • Snapchat will begin posting news and ads called Snapchat Discovery;
  • The NFL may ask for its half-time performers to pay to appear, which could lead to interesting malfunctions if you’re now a paying customer;
  • BofA is paying a record $17 billion settlement over mortgage-lending practices;
  • The Dow ended the week just above 17,000 and is now up 2.6 percent for the year; and
  • The Is Cool: Mo’Ne Davis, the 13-year dynamo pitcher is the first Little Leaguer to make the cover of Sports Illustrated and she wants to be a point guard for the WNBA (ouch, MLB). End of Story

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camp_imgThis summer I have had the pleasure of spending my few months off from the University of Pennsylvania interning here at Prosek Partners, which has proven to be a very different experience from my past 10 summers of muddied sneakers and rolling hills at sleep-away camp. The one thing that offered me a bit of familiarity when I started at Prosek was working alongside fellow New York City intern, Courtney Bowers, who I actually met three years ago working as counselors at Trail’s End Camp.

As summer rapidly approaches its end, I can’t help but reflect and compare the two different experiences Courtney and I have had as co-workers at camp and at Prosek and have realized that summer camp and life at a public relations agency actually have more in common than meets the eye.

When you’re a camp counselor, you’re ‘on duty’ all the time. For example, when a camper wakes up in the middle of the night with a fever or stomach ache, you’re automatically launched into “go” mode, taking care of her until she feels better. Similarly, in today’s 24/7 news cycle, committed public relations employees must constantly be cognizant of relevant breaking news and how it might affect their clients, regardless if it breaks outside the hours of 9–5, Monday–Friday. This similarity specifically struck me after logging onto my email one Monday morning only to discover that the leads on one of my accounts had been working with our client on a potential crisis management plan all weekend after a relevant story broke on a Saturday.

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StLouis

As a PR professional, former government spokesperson and native St. Louisan, there are many different angles I could write about the current situation in Ferguson, Missouri, which is just 20 minutes from where I grew up.

I could write about the many PR missteps the Ferguson Police Department has made, my critiques of the local vs. national news coverage of the issue, or how and why this quintessential Midwestern town, often overlooked by the rest of this country, is one of the most racially and socially segregated cities in this country. And while writing about the former two options may be very interesting, understanding the latter is more important.

The segregation in St. Louis is the result of the region’s origins and neglect by the rest of the country for years. Living the past decade in New York, I have often dealt with people’s complete lack of knowledge of this area. Most people cannot point out where Missouri is on a map. In fact, someone once asked me if my family was okay after Hurricane Katrina. And, no part of the country really claims Missouri – northerners think it is part of the south, while the south thinks Missourians are Yankees. So, it is not surprising that the racial and social issues in St. Louis have been overlooked for so long.

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IceBucketchallenge

Unless you’re on one of those “unplugged” cleanses, by now you’ve probably heard of, seen or participated in the #IceBucketChallenge. The challenge, which supports and raises awareness for patients with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), deserves more than just the “viral” label; it has morphed into a movement.

What seems like an exercise in slacktivism might actually be the most successful viral marketing campaign to sweep the internet. Participants who are nominated are asked to complete the challenge within 24 hours or donate $100 to an organization working to fight ALS. Headed by the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge, Matt Lauer, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, Boston Bruin’s players and members of the Kennedy family are among the millions who are proudly dousing themselves with buckets of ice water, after “nominating” peers to take on the challenge.

As a result of the challenge, the ALS Association has received $2.3 million in donations since July 29th, a huge increase from the mere $25,000 the foundation received over the same period last year. So how does 20-30 seconds of a voluntary ice shower translate into a 1,000% spike in donations?

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