“Keys of Hope” – Extended Stay America Donation Positively Impacts Cancer Patients

One of my favorite parts of working in pr is the opportunity to meet so many different people, learn about numerous subjects and help raise awareness about important programs.

A couple of years ago, our client, Extended Stay America wanted to connect and support a charity their 10,000+ employees across the country could feel proud to support. They surveyed their employee base and overwhelmingly American Cancer Society rose to the top. Not surprising as cancer affects and touches so many people’s lives. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find anyone these days who doesn’t know someone currently battling cancer. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance – this disease touches most people in some way, shape or form.

Rather than write a check, Extended Stay America wanted to find a way to make a more meaningful impact via its CSR initiative. One of the many reasons, I love them. They launched the Hotel Keys of Hope program, which donates free and reduced rooms to cancer patients who have to travel away from home for treatment. To date the program has donated 47,000+ room nights, impacting 6700+ cancer patients. The even better news is that the program has been renewed and ESA is donating even more rooms — 50,000!

What started as an idea, a “what if” during a brainstorm in November of 2014, blossomed into a full fledged event that came to life over a June weekend. Our team hosted 11 families who have stayed at ESA during their treatment for a Cancer Survivors weekend in NYC, taking over one of the properties in Secaucus, NJ. The weekend was an opportunity to celebrate these incredible people who immediately made a connection and lifelong friendship. From dinner and a movie to a special keynote from GMA’s Amy Robach to a Broadway show and celebration dinner, it was such an amazing honor to have been part of what I hope will become an annual event.

As a cherry on top, because we spent a few days really getting to know these families and their stories, we were able to pitch and land a significant news story on The TODAY Show as part of its “Hope to It” series. Love seeing an idea come to fruition, meeting amazing people and getting a national news story! Life and PR win.


#LillyForTarget PR Dream, IT Nightmare

If you’re a Florida girl like me and live in the South, then the Lilly for Target designer collaboration aka “Pink Sunday” was as exciting as Christmas morning. Thousands of women (me included) set their alarms at 3am to snag clothing, accessories, children’s items and home decor from this one-of-a-kind designer collection.

From a PR perspective, the buzz generated from the announcement, lookbook and commercial, celebrity event and night before/day of in store and online collection launch was amazing. Since its announcement in January 2015, I’ve continued to see a steady stream of news surrounding the collaboration. The timeline was executed flawlessly with just enough time between the initial announcement to the sneak peak lookbook and commercial to the actual collection launch on April 19 to ensure the media covered each phase, while building excitement among the socialverse with loyal Lilly lovers and newbies alike.

The lookbook and commercial were amazing and over the top, featuring Chris Noth (Mr. Big from SATC), Bella Thorne, a Giraffe and a slew of other celebs. The celebrity launch party was also a huge success with stars like Shameless’ Emmy Rossum and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper sharing photos and numerous posts via Instagram and major outlets like E News once again covering the partnership. #LillyForTarget has been the #1 trending hashtag on Twitter for nearly an entire day with more than 10,000 tweets and counting.

If there were ever a question that partnering with Target to create a designer line at an affordable price to reach middle America was not a great move for a brand, please Google #LillyForTarget and hit “news” — you’ll find tons of stories from CNN to Refinery 29 and everything in between. On Twitter, local TV stations were soliciting stories from local residents on their Lilly for Target experience. The media attention alone has brought new focus and potential customers to Lilly. If you didn’t know Lilly Pulitzer, you’re probably intimately familiar with the iconic resort brand with the amazingly colorful prints, post Lillypocalypse.

Even with the negative tweets and news stories covering the angry women who were not able to purchase Lilly for Target in stores or online, the sheer amount of conversation and news attention generated has elevated both brands once again. Unfortunately with a limited time collection, one can only expect website crashes, empty stores within minutes and crazy people in line starting at 4am. America wouldn’t have it any other way. I personally find it fascinating to participate and watch this unfold.

For those in IT at Target and the employees braving the store this morning, I’m sure they’re ready for a nap. I loved the fact that Target mobile President Jason Goldberger live tweeted in the middle of the night and answered consumers’ questions. The one pr fail is the fact that once the website and mobile sites crashed, Jason stopped communicating via Twitter. Target should have anticipated madness and therefore crafted messaging to address this and the angry customers. With a highly anticipated launch such as Lilly for Target one could imagine the madness that would ensure online and in stores. Although no amount of tweets or communication will change that, I have seen an enormous amount of tweets and also stories questioning Target for their “radio silence.” There could have been a better way to implement a communication strategy in the wake of site crashes and lack of inventory and own that story rather than be blamed without comment.

I’m interested to see if this designer collaboration is duplicated once again perhaps next summer. Until then, I’lll enjoy reading the stories and tweets generated from the “Lilly for Target Apocalypse” and waiting for my pieces to arrive in the mail.

Would love to hear from others regarding their thoughts on #LillyForTarget. If you’re in pr, what did you think about Target’s pre, during and post launch plan? Did you purchase any Lilly and what was your strategy? Do you think this cheapens the brand or do you find it exciting when designer brands create attainable collections?



Back In The Saddle…For Now

No promises, but we’ll see how long I can keep up my blog after a few years of silence. Last time I posted I was planning a wedding…WOW how things have changed. Since then I got married and started a new pr job at Zimmerman (both July 2011), moved to South Florida for my hubby’s Radiation Therapy specialty (kept my job at Z), got pregnant, moved back, got promoted to VP of PR, had a baby and am currently on maternity leave, returning to work in April. Phew that about covers the last 3+ years.

So not really sure what this blog will transform into…may be a combo of pr, mommy, life posts and who knows how long I’ll keep it up this time, but I’m giving it a go. These days I spend my time hanging with my little one, a bouncing baby boy who gets cuter every day. Motherhood has agreed with me. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m really enjoying being a mommy. In April I will tackle “having it all” by going back to work and making the most of Mommy Me, Wife Me and Work Me. Should be interesting and I’ll try to chronicle my adventure on this blog. If only as a way to look back months or years from now to see how I juggled it all. 😉

This blog will also serve as a place for me to leave some Words of Wisdom for Westley…



Email Etiquette: From Hey! to Best

I receive hundreds of emails a week and I’m always surprised at the approach some people take with email communication. From big wigs to students, there is never a shortage of interesting phrases, content and tones.

Perhaps I over think content and messaging because of what I do for a living, but I value people who take the time to read their emails one or twice before hitting send. Email is a powerful communication tool that is taken lightly by many. Since actually writing a letter or card is a dying art (one that I think needs to make a comeback), I approach writing emails the way I would write a letter. I always include a greeting and am formal and polite in my writing. Although email is lightning fast, that doesn’t mean your message should be reflective of the speed in which it was sent.

Here are my email faux pas with some suggested etiquette:

  • The casual greeting – Unless you’re emailing your BFF or mom, consider a greeting that fits the situation. Hey, what’s up, how’s it going and yo are INNAPPRORIATE at best. Even if you and your client are close, keep in mind your role. If you work for someone, keep it professional folks. Get back to basics and say good morning, good afternoon or something to that effect. No need to get creative with weird or too friendly greetings. The only thing worse than a weird greeting, is no greeting at all. I find it very rude when I receive an email with one sentence – no hello, how are you – I feel like someone’s barking at me. Make the effort and say hello!
  • The body – An email is not a novel, so I like to get all my facts in and get to the point. With a proper greeting in place and “hope you’re doing well,” I get straight to the meat of the email. This especially rings true in PR when you’re pitching a reporter. No one has time to scroll down and read your life story. If you can’t say it in a paragraph or two, pick up the phone.  Also, check your grammar and spelling before hitting send. Read your email out loud and make sure it makes sense. This is not a text message. No need to include acronyms no one but you and your friends understand. Comprende? FTBOMH, LOL! 

  • The awkward goodbye – This is usually my favorite part of an email in that people really go over the top with their particular ending of choice. I’m not a fan of a fancy ending that always seems disingenuous. My approach is to keep it simple. I say thank you when it’s appropriate or looking forward to hearing from you and then sign my name. That’s it. Here is a list of my personal pet peeve endings (sorry in advance if you’re a fan of any of these!): Best (always reminds me of Richard from Sex and the City), Warm regards (awkward and creepy) , Respectfully yours (too much, every time), With anticipation (too eager and too awkward), Cheers (I like this one for a friendly email, but if you don’t know the person it makes you sound like a wanabe Brit), Adios/Au revoir/Ciao/Namaste (Unless you speak the language and the recipient does too, the foreign goodbye is cheesy)

  • Ignoration nation – The only thing I dislike more than a poorly written email is no email at all. I make it a point to answer email ASAP! I check my inbox as much as I can and try to respond immediately. No one likes to be ignored. It’s also obnoxious to receive an email response after a deadline or an issue is resolved. Thanks for nothing! Timing is everything and it’s best to be early.

  • Phone call, please! – It has happened to the best of us. You write an email, saying something one way and someone else takes it in a completely unintended way. When it comes to sensitive subjects, don’t be lazy and pick up the phone. With an email, you can’t guarantee something will not be taken out of context, forwarded to the wrong person or the tone misinterpreted. If it’s important and deserves some attention and dialog, call the person and talk it out. Things can quickly get out of hand on an email chain and people can be offended. Use your words – spoken not written to ensure your point is taken and fully understood.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on email pet peeves and faux pas. I know we all approach it differently, but think about what you’re saying before you hit the send button. After it’s gone, you can’t take it back!

Communicating at Conference: An opportunity to reach your desired audiences

I love public speaking. There’s something exciting about sharing your knowledge and stories with a room full of people, connecting with them, making them laugh, answering questions.

For communication professionals, especially for us agency folks, speaking engagements are an amazing opportunity to reach a large audience and showcase our work and capabilities. I find annual conferences to be a time where everyone in an organization is eager to learn the latest and greatest in industry trends and return to work invigorated with new ideas to implement immediately. Well that’s how I feel every August when I return from the annual Florida Public Relations Association conference.

Because I’m such a fan of FPRA’s annual conference, I’ve looked for opportunities to attend other conferences as a speaker and share PR and communication best practices, case studies, etc. to members of other industries.

This summer, Kidd Group will be presenting at the FMEA-FMPA Annual Conference in Palm Beach. With more than a decade of experience working with utilities across Florida, we will be sharing some of our most successful case studies as well as affordable resources available to utilities to help meet their communication needs. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to hold a smaller breakout session covering media training and social media best practices.

As I start thinking about some of the conference presentations on the horizon for 2011, I’d like to share some tips for presenting:

  • Research and plan ahead – Not all audiences are created equal. Learn about the conference where you’ll be presenting, its audience and what that particular industry has been faced with from challenges to successes. Knowing your audience and the industry will ensure you create a presentation that is relevant and engaging.
  • Create an interactive presentation – There’s nothing worse than a text heavy PowerPoint that mirrors what you’re saying at all times. I don’t like reading presentations word for word. Instead, I like to make my presentations more interactive adding pictures and videos that will spark questions and conversations from the audience and will keep the presentation moving forward. Less is more – consider bullet points instead of full sentences and get the audience participating with stories, videos and other visual examples.
  • Have fun and be yourself! – After all, no one likes a presenter who’s not enjoying his/her own presentation. Keep in mind, conference attendees are spending time away from work to learn new things that will be useful to them and their staff. Make sure you’re providing real life examples and ideas that can be implemented immediately. Be yourself – being comfortable in your shoes goes a long way in connecting with the audience. Keep the audience engaged, ask questions and above all have fun. If you’re having a great time, chances are so is the audience.

Do you have any presentation tips to add? I’d love to know!

New Year’s Work Resolutions

2010 was one for the books – personally and professionally I had a phenomenal year. I got engaged, became the president of the Capital Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, am a board member of the Junior League of Tallahassee and took on a new position as the PR Director at Kidd Group. Some of the these things happened within a week’s time, so if 2011 is anything like 2010 it will be another record year.

As I think about the end of 2010 and the beginning of a new year, the possibilities are endless. With a new year come resolutions from being kinder to losing weight to meeting a new goal, there are countless things we aspire to each yea. Although it’s safe to say that most people end up giving up on their resolutions right around February.

In terms of work resolutions, I thought it would be appropriate to list some of my personal goals for the 2011.

  • Collaboration – Although you can succeed alone, most people attribute their success to teamwork, collaboration and those who influence and shape their lives. Work wise there is no better feeling than to work together to win big, from new business to implementing a successful campaign. In 2011, I plan to continue collaborating with co-workers, FPRA members, Junior Leaguers to continue kicking butt and taking names!
  • Being a Motivator – Positivity is key. Having a good attitude at work and giving 100 percent every day makes work and life that much more fulfilling. I want to be a motivator to everyone I come in contact with and help them reach their full potential. Helping others always feels good and is extremely satisfying.
  • Leading by example – The best way to get people to do good work and be motivated to perform and exceed your expectations is to BE the person/employee you want them to be. Practice what you preach in 2011 and reap the rewards!
  • Continue growing and learning – You should never be satisfied with the status quo. I never want to settle or stop learning. There are always ways to improve, continue challenging yourself and growing. I want to stay on top of new industry trends from social media to measurement to PR – I want to constantly be learning new information and sharing it with my network.

What are your New Year’s work resolutions?

Facebook Confessionlas: TMI

Don’t get me wrong…I love Facebook as much as the next person. My problem isn’t with Facebook, it’s with the people and their affinity for oversharing. I won’t name any names, but there are certain users who go a bit crazy in the status update department. I feel like some of the posts are reminiscent of the “confessional” sound bytes used during reality shows. Always too much and never a secret!

Here are a few of my favorite TMIers…I’m sure you know some and please feel free to add other categories.

The Complainer

This person is NEVER happy. Life must be incredibly hard for people like this because they seem to always be complaining about something. They want something so they complain, they get it and they complain – either way their stream is all about how miserable things are.

For example, there’s the “I need another job, more money, etc. post,” followed by a string of updates in the coming days about job searching, interviews, etc. You land the job…YAY, but no now come the posts about being “tired, overworked, it’s too much.” So you say you need something, then you get it and now every post is a series of complaints about the thing you wanted and how much it sucks. Enough already, Negative Nancy!

The Lover

This person LOVES to share all about love, their relationship, ups, downs, hugs, tears, fights – EVERYTHING! I have a feeling most of these “lovers” are really not that content in their relationship and use Facebook as a means of overcompensating. The posts about “I have the most amazing husband in the world and thing couldn’t be better…” indicate to me that things may not be so rosy. Then there are the couples who constantly write “I love you” and even worse, inappropriate TMI love messages on each others walls. Thanks for sharing! The worst by far are the couples who fight on Facebook going as far as stating “saying I do was my biggest mistake.” Maybe it’s time to take the conversation from the FB wall to a therapist.

The Farmville (insert other game) psycho updater

OMG…is there no way to turn these updates off?!? (My sources tell me there is in fact a way to turn off the automatic updates.) I understand that you may not have other responsibilities in your daily life aside from harvesting crops, killing mobsters, or playing Family Feud, but must you subject us to constant updates about your gaming habits. It’s just crazy and unnecessary. There is nothing useful in any of these updates.

The Politico

It’s political season and this FB offender has an opinion on every candidate. They’re creating pages for candidates, groups, hosting fundraisers and sharing every single detail along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support the political process and think everyone should exercise their right to vote. HOWEVER, I think talking politics can be sensitive and Facebook may not be the right place for it. I’m totally comfortable with a post or two about a certain candidate or about volunteering on a campaign, but if every other post is about campaign signs, donating money to a campaign, attending the 20th fundraiser for a candidate, or joining yet another “I voted for so and so” group – I vote no.

The Viral Junkie

This “friend” must secretly work for YouTube as every post in their stream in a video. No real rhyme or reason, no context to go along with it, just a robotic stream of video after video after video…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook posts. Are you ever annoyed by people’s status updates? Do you have any other offenders you’d like to add to the list?