#OpportunityDetroit: A City’s Saving Grace


When a once-booming city is on the brink of extinction, what is the one thing that could bring it back to life? I bet “hashtag strategy” wasn’t on the tip of your tongue but a single integrated 360 degree campaign is what’s helping Detroit to become a Phoenix, of sorts.

Image#OpportunityDetroit speaks volumes to what this city is trying to achieve. First, to get back into the good graces of those who have been served only the negative stories and second, to provide a motto to those brave enough to live and work in the Motor City.

During the 2012 World Series, the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants were fighting for the title. Unfortunately, the series didn’t go in Detroit’s favor but the city did come out of it with a win; Quicken Loans produced an inspiring spot with an accompanying social strategy to a level that had never been seen before.

With an entire arsenal of social channels and a strong hashtag strategy, #OpportunityDetroit exploded not just within Detroit but nationwide. With a following of socially savvy millennials, ready and willing to support the revitalization and rejuvenation of Motown, #OpportunityDetroit has become a rallying cry.

The next time someone says to you “social media is pointless,” point them to #OpportunityDetroit and tell them to think again.

To learn more about #OpportunityDetroit, please visit the following links: Twitter, Facebook and OpportunityDetroit.com.

My Cyber-Living-Room During LOST


I’m sure I’ll get ridiculed for admitting this in a public forum but I did not watch the television phenomena of LOST when it first debuted in 2001. Even more disturbing? I did not watch it…ever. I’m not sure how I missed six entire seasons of one of the most critically acclaimed television series ever produced but I’m  making up for it now.

I’ve been watching LOST religiously for the past few weeks and I am enthralled. The plot twists, the Others and the moments that used to leave Americans breathless are all new to me and what is the first thing I want to do every single time something wild happens on the show? I want to turn to Twitter, use a branded hashtag and find fellow fans experiencing the same level of exasperation when Kate frolicked into a trap. Unfortunately for me, I am twelve years late and Twitter’s users no longer care about LOST. I am just “live” tweeting into a black hole.

Could you imagine the absolute internet implosion that would occur if LOST and Twitter both hit their prime at the same time? Twitter only experienced the final two seasons of LOST, when social television was barely a thought. In 2009, Twitter had only 18M users and LOST’s season finale was seen by nearly 10M. At the end of 2012, Twitter passed 500M users; we haven’t yet been presented with a television show of LOST’s caliber to perform on Twitter.

All I’m saying is that during marathons of LOST, my Cyber-Living-Room is very lonely. If you feel like joining me, I’m on Season 2 and we can create a social strategy for the fans who showed up late to the party.

Quarter-Life Crisis Lessons


Years ago, there happened to be only one phase of life crisis – and it was midlife. Alas, with the stresses of student loans piling on interest rates, undeniably talented twenty-somethings sans and the ever terrifying possibility of moving home with parents, a new crisis has come to be a household phrase: the quarter-life crisis.

It’s happened. I knew it was coming and that there was no way I could even stop it. Even at the tender age of 21, commuting back and forth from the City of Brotherly Love to the Big Apple on my own dime for unpaid internships created an anxiety to be experienced by only those who have mortgages, trust funds and several mouths to feed. I had none of those; my only expenses were Greyhound tickets to NYC and back, the occasional meal when I could fit it in between my multiple part-time jobs, 18 credits and my internships, and of course, the absurdly high rent payments in Philadelphia. There was no reason to have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and yet, there it was.

The Hustle

Perhaps the elusive “quarter-life crisis” only strikes those with an innate and unutterable fear of failure. Everyone defines “failure” differently. For me, my definition of “failure” terrified me to the point of exhaustion. At a time when I should’ve been enjoying the last months of my collegiate experience, I was too busy working from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, to ensure that I would never be put into a position of “failure.” When I moved to an entirely new city early last year, instead of going out to make friends and explore my new “home,” I stayed at the office until the sun went down. I knew only the walls of the office and the walls of my apartment complex. That wouldn’t make a great story, would it?

Perhaps it is both a blessing and a curse. If you are terrified of failure, work consumes your life. This could certainly put you among the top performers with the best numbers and greatest experiences but are those numbers enough when you ignore friendships, family and all that which made you what you are? It may be that I’m getting older, smarter or a combination of the two, but I’m starting to believe that it is not enough.

I haven’t stopped working in six years. I’ve gone anywhere and everywhere to better my career and gain the best experience that I could. Along the way, however, I’ve lost the best friendships I’ve ever had. I have stopped talking to friends just because I wasn’t able to find the time. And this – all of this – is what creates the quarter-life crisis. The realization that everything you have been tirelessly working for doesn’t matter when you don’t have anyone to enjoy it with you. Your successes mean nothing when the only person you can count on is yourself (and your parents, if you’re lucky).

As I’m embarking on a new chapter of my life, wherever that may take me, I am entering into it knowing two things. First, I will never lose my innate fear of failure. It makes me who I am and drives me to be the best marketing professional I can possibly be. Second? When someone comes into my life, realizes that my career is of utmost importance and still wants to stay, I will do everything in my power to keep them in my life. As for this quarter-life crisis; it’s old news, as far as I’m concerned. Hit me with your best shot.

To have undeniable success is one thing; to be surrounded by true friendship is another. There is a way to have both and I will have it all. Mark my words.

“Never the Woman Who Focuses on Playing House or Finding My Prince Charming”


I was recently accepted into Wayne State University in Detroit for a Graduate Certification program in Communication and New Media. Words cannot express how thrilled I am to once again take my life in a completely different direction than expected (heck, I’m already in Detroit!

I wanted to share my opening paragraph from my personal statement because I feel as though it accurately sums up my passion – my passion for all things new, exciting, unexpected and challenging.

I have never been the type of woman who focuses on playing house or finding my Prince Charming. While friends were planning weddings at the age of fourteen, I was keeping myself occupied with countless band practices, oratory competitions and editorial meetings. I haven’t lost sight of that ambition; throughout my collegiate years at Temple University in Philadelphia, I challenged myself to go above and beyond what was required or expected. Even while working four part-time jobs and securing several unpaid internships which all required a four-hour commute to and from New York City, I graduated on time. After college, I won a coveted internship with the Philadelphia Eagles that then transitioned into a full-time role on the communications staff. I have since picked up my entire life and moved into the heart of Detroit to once again further my career in Motor City without looking back. It is my desire to continue to push myself to achieve greatness in as many ways as I can, and the next step is continuing my education.

Here’s to yet another new chapter of my life beginning.

The Art of Sibling Rivalry


My younger brother and I were born two years and seven months apart. That is a weird gap — it isn’t short enough for us to be best friends and it isn’t long enough for us to be “strangers.” Growing up, it seemed like we’d certainly head down similar paths. School was always first, followed closely by music. Of course we diverged slightly when I was interested in acting — he wouldn’t be caught dead on a stage in a (gasp) costume! But in general, we had similar life goals.

I went to Temple University (as I’m sure you’ve heard me proudly proclaim several times). My brother followed me to Temple during my senior year. He joined a fraternity — at my request — and started to make friends. All seemed dandy.

However, going into his junior year, I noticed that him and I weren’t as similar as I had thought. My senior year, I had taken 18 credits both semesters, had two internships and worked four part-time jobs. He was content taking 12 credits, playing guitar and occasionally hitting the library to chill with his bros. It became clear that school was no longer his forte and his heart wasn’t in it.

He approached me one day and dropped a bomb — “Cris, I’m going to join the Army.” Umm — excuse me? He spent the last three years in college and was now ready to throw it away? But as he and I argued our points, he started to convince me — why continue with something that he wasn’t passionate about? I helped him tell our parents and had him meet with my friend who is a recruiter.

The point of this post was to remind myself that you must ALWAYS follow your heart. You cannot excel at something for which you have no passion. Never thought he’d teach me anything (no offense, Tim) but he did without realizing it.

McFail or McGenius? Or McGrath? No, just kidding.


As public relations practitioners, we are in a creative and very network-oriented field; PR pros inform the media, brainstorm with the best of them and frequently dabble in the eloquent art of schmoozing. We must be confident in our capabilities, our relationships and our clients.

I’ve always been enthralled with public relations if just for the fact that we have no true control over our messages once they reach our audiences. We raise awareness, deliver larger-than-life campaigns and develop priceless relationships – but once our product, service or brand is recognizable, we have limited control over the opinions of others.

Rick Wion, social media director of McDonald’s, recently found himself in the middle of a consumer-generated PR debacle when he developed a social media strategy allowing fans to share positive experiences using the hashtag, #McDStories. As I stated earlier, however, PR practitioners have limited control over the opinions of consumers and unfortunately for Mr. Wion, #McDStories was met with quite a bit of the snarky wit for which Twitter has become infamous.

While McDonald’s diehard fans were sharing positive experiences, the brand’s critics delved into the hashtag too. Sharing stories of unknown ingredients, violent nausea and borderline unbelievable horrors, the campaign was instantly hijacked. The story went viral and after just one hour, Wion redirected his campaign.

As the dust was settling, Wion took to his personal handle to diffuse the situation and save face.

Negative feedback should be expected in every social media campaign. So I ask the following question: Is 2% of the total consumer response enough to consider the entire campaign a failure?

Can’t Beat ‘Em? Pretend You Don’t Want To.


“Deck the halls with boughs of holly” – some say this phrase shouldn’t be uttered until after we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving but it is difficult not to don a Santa hat when wherever you look, you’re met with Bing Crosby singing sweet melodies and a glistening Christmas tree in every store. 

Nevertheless, Nordstrom has taken a very strong, uncommon and dignified stance in its rebellion against American’s desire to celebrate Christmas for almost two entire months. Over the past four years, Nordstrom has stressed its desire to keep Jolly Old Saint Nicholas out of stores until Turkey Day has been celebrated fully.  

“We believe in celebrating one holiday at a time,” said Nordstrom’s spokesman Colin Johnson.

Now, this appears to be a very noble gesture but as a skeptic, I feel this “Scroogery” has been orchestrated to compete with the hullabaloo of Black Friday, Door Busting Sales and any other holiday ploy to lure shoppers.

In a sea of red and green, sales racks and credit card debt, what is the best way for one store to stand apart from the rest? Go against the grain, of course. Nordstrom’s steadfast stance against premature holiday cheer is without doubt, strategic, to say the least. Remember those kids in high school who tried way too hard to be “uncool” that they actually made themselves exceptionally cool? Nordstrom is that group of hipsters in a sea of less cool Macys, JCPennys and Boscovs. By taking a stand against the popularity of hasty holiday revelry, Nordstrom has actually rocketed to the forefront of coolness. If you can’t beat ‘em…pretend you don’t want to.

In my opinion, this is a perfect example of how to wholly position a brand as rebellious and modish, yet overtly classic. And as much as Nordstrom wants to pretend they are just too cool to care, I’m catching on to their trickery and appreciate every single “unintentional” choice that lead to this cool lack of holiday spirit.

 

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Egos and the Eagles


Football season is in full swing and I’m happier than a pig in…well, you get the point. At the office, I’m but a lone football enthusiast surrounded by 22 fanatical Phillies Phans (I shudder to think I just typed that) – to go from 24/7 football talk to 24/7 baseball talk is a hard, undesirable transition, but I digress.

With autumn, there are four things I always expect – the beautiful transitioning leaves, sweatshirt weather allowing me to show off my TU Pride (go Owls!), my birthday festivities and last, but certainly not least, the blatant disregard from NFL players for advice from PR camps and the never-ending “He Said, She Said” battle of wits – or lack thereof.

The most recent display of brilliance comes from the one for whom I have so much pent-up hatred and aggression. Michael Vick, in my personal and steadfast opinion, is a poor excuse for a human being who hasn’t changed but only became a better actor. After the Eagles 29-16 collapse on Sunday – GO GIANTS! – Vick took to the media in a fiery fit. Whining is certainly an understatement and it was obvious that his PR camp had no say in this post game interview. For a man who preaches responsibility, leadership and accountability, Vick threw caution to the wind and ragged on everyone from referees to the Giants’ D-line – the only person unaccountable for his poor play and countless injuries was himself. Vick had this to say while driving off in his overpriced Tonka truck:

Looking at the replays, I’m on the ground every time, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frustrated. The refs have got to do their jobs. And I mentioned it to the refs in training camp when I talked to them. I’m on the ground constantly, all the time. Every time I throw the ball, I’m on the ground. And I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does.

Really, Mikey? Your version of a great play is scurrying into a wall of linemen three times your size because you genuinely want to play every position on the field.  As soon as you leave that pocket, you forfeit your quarterback rights in my personal opinion and begin playing a different position, altogether. I am honestly astonished that you weren’t more seriously injured. Could the reason that you are on the ground “every time” simply be because your offensive line is weak? No – couldn’t be.

I imagine sirens were blaring in Joe Banner’s bat cave because less than 24 hours later, Vick had a huge change of heart (almost as quickly as when he realized “dogfighting is a terrible thing” and that he “rejects it”).

The refs have to do their jobs, and they have tons of things to look over. I was kind of out of character and being too candid in that aspect. Ultimately, I have respect for the referees and their decision to make calls. You won’t hear me complaining about it no more.

Ah, yes. The ever celebrated Eagles PR team to the rescue once again. I wonder if it was known just how much of a time-sucking vortex would be created since PR is responsible for monitoring Vick and Jackson, along with the newest acquisition of Vince Young, who genuinely enjoys referring to himself in the third person and laughing at his own jokes. One bang-up dream team you got there, coach.

It is sad if only for the reason that a select few ruin it for the rest of the league. There are a ton of guys who participate community days, help Habitat for Humanity or visit disabled children, but all of that is lost with one or two exaggerated, annoying and uppity mumbles that completely consume media coverage.

xxCandyLips2011xx Isn’t Acceptable Anymore


Twitter is known for the casual messages and fast paced updates, but this doesn’t mean you should throw discretion to the wind. While colleges are preparing to welcome back crazy, rambunctious and oh so studious groups of 20-somethings, I was busy developing a few unconventional words of social media wisdom that may have been missed at that 8:00 a.m. lecture last semester.

  1. Private Twitters = Shifty Eyes: Twitter is an undeniably fabulous asset for public relations students (Hell, I even had a few job interviews because of my Twitter presence) and when you hide your twitter feed, it looks like you’re hiding something bigger. When you limit your profile, you also limit your opportunities and connections. If you feel the need to privatize your twitter feed, create two accounts – one public and one private – to ensure you aren’t missing any great networking opportunities.
  2. Bios Are A First Impression: Your Twitter bio may be the first thing that potential employers view and when you proudly announce that you are a member of #TeamDropout or #TeamAlwaysHigh, things probably won’t work out in your favor. Try adding your Alma Mater, your course of study, a graduation year and a few of your personal interests. Avoid offensive language, politically incorrect slurs and try your best to shy away from using words like “expert” or “guru.” And finally, unless you truly are Nicki Minaj, please do not refer to yourself as “Barbie” — working at your local fast food establishment doesn’t mean you have the right to refer to yourself as an enviable starlet.
  3. Would Dad Be Shocked: Does the thought of your father reading your Twitter feed make you shudder? If you answered yes, then we have a problem. When you’re tweeting anything that you wouldn’t want your parents to see, odds are potential employers will be just as offended as dear old dad.  If you are serious about finding a job, think of Twitter as one big job interview with thousands of agencies and firms – you never know who is reading your feed and for what reason. Make sure that you are tweeting relevant industry articles, participating in tweet chats and accurately spotlighting your personality. Stay away from the play-by-play of last night’s frat party, at all costs. And to be honest, no one wants to know what happens behind closed doors.
  4. Don’t Be Shy — @ Reply: A Twitter feed that contains only self-generated ramblings with no follower interaction is defying the nature of the network. Grow your followers, meet new people and watch as the opportunities present themselves. Generate content that will welcome replies and retweets – you’ll be amazed as new industry contacts pop up.
  5. The Power of a Handle: Do not, for the love of all things holy, make your Twitter handle anything other than your name or a variation of it. Things like xoKittyKat690x…unacceptable. First, ew. Second, Myspace much? Third, you are 20 years old — act like it.  If a potential employer is trying to find you, do you honestly believe that “fastNhard09” will come up in a search? Of course not. So Sasha Fierce, if you seriously cannot pull yourself away from your secret identity, use your private profile for certain handles and your public profile for professional handles.

I wholeheartedly believe in the power of social networking and, with some discretion, social media is capable of changing lives and career paths. If you follow these four simple guidelines, your trip into the PR industry could be smooth sailing – it definitely worked for me.

If I forgot anything, please feel free to add it!