#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.

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.

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?

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!

Weiners, Boehners and Johnsons — OH MY!


Hey — hey you! Yeah, you — in your tighty-whiteys holding your Blackberry, about to snag a pic of your Great Googly Moogly. Don’t do it! For the love of all things holy, please do not take a photo of your man parts.

I’m not too sure what is in the water nowadays, but it seems that every man has gone coo coo for Coco Puffs. Penises, to be frank (no pun intended) are not attractive parts of the human body. I know you men have been fascinated with “it” for as long as you can remember — heck, it was even cooler than a new box of LEGOs — but if we haven’t uttered a single vow to you, we don’t want to see what you’re packing. Period.

And for Pete’s sake, if you do insist on taking a picture and sending it to a woman half your age, do NOT deny. We will find out, you will be embarrassed, your wife will kick you in the face, and you’ll cry on national television. It is painful for everyone involved.

Finally — if your name carries a funny meaning, then you are at an exceptionally high risk. All of you Weiners, Boehners, Woodcoxes, and Dicks, PLEASE refrain from snapping a pic. It will only make me want to spoon my eyes out.

Thanks in advance.

New Play to Expose Truths of Layoffs


The beautiful Act II Playhouse in Ambler will open its doors to Leslie Mayer and Howard Rice’s world-premiere, poignant stage creation, JOBBED, with a private performance on June 25 and a free matinee, open to the public, on June 26.

Audiences will experience the raw emotion of a man, his family, and his friends as they find not only their jobs but their very identities at risk. A transition counselor, whose job is to assist recently laid- off individuals, helps management understand that, while common feelings arise when people lose their jobs, each one has a personal story.   She is deeply moved by the honesty, profound courage and resiliency of those directly and indirectly affected.

“This production is based on the real stories of hundreds of people who have lost their jobs,” said Leslie Mayer, President of Mayer Leadership Group and songwriter/ lyricist/producer of JOBBED. “My hope is that audiences will see themselves in these characters and become more aware of the psychological and human toll that is exacted when individuals find their very identities at risk.”

JOBBED is under the direction of Ben Smallen, who holds a Masters in Theatre from Villanova University.  Melissa Zimmerman, General Manager of Act II Playhouse, is acting as co-producer with Mayer.

With a cast of eight local performers and a score directed by Barrymore-winning musical director Eric Ebbenga, JOBBED not only produces an uncommon emotional reaction from audiences, but presents an original, rare musical experience written by Mayer, Philadelphia’s own talent.  .

“We are thrilled to have found such a gifted cast and crew from the Philadelphia region,” said Howard Rice, Temple University professor, former partner of Kalish & Rice Advertising and scriptwriter of JOBBED. “Having hometown talent makes this experience all the more extraordinary.”

Mayer and Rice also “hope to stimulate interest in this wonderful community theatre residing in the heart of Ambler.”

JOBBED premieres to a private audience at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 25. The final performance will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 and is open to the public, free of charge. Seating is limited and by reservation only.  For more information, please visit Facebook.com/WereYouJobbed.

Snoverkill!


After the mockery that was the snowstorm yesterday, I flipped on my television to see the latest news about the accumulation. Luckily, my power had just come back on or else I wouldn’t have been able to do my makeup OR hear about the funniest thing I’ve heard in days.

Good Morning America had quickly and cleverly come up with a hilarious catchphrase for this season’s constant barrage of snow: Snoverkill.

PURE BRILLIANCE. I literally found myself laughing loudly in my apartment. It sure beats “Snowpocalypse” or “Snowmageddon.” Both of those titles have outstayed their welcome, but Snowverkill is too clever and hilarious.

My sincere applause to whoever crafted that little gem.

A Slip Of The Tongue


As far as celebrity Twitters go, I embrace the idea of fans digitally “connecting” to a favorite singer or sports star. I even believe, in some situations, that a celebrity may have the emotional stability, poise and professionalism to manage their own brand. Some stars have been in the game long enough to realize what you type may be misread and what you mean may be misinterpreted. Social Media is tricky in its quickness; one slip of the tongue (or finger, in this case) may result in a media firestorm — a nightmare for agents, labels, publicists, and managers all over the world.

This is where we run into a problem.

The managers, publicists and agents are, more often than not, self-admittedly “too old” to know or care about Twitter accounts. They choose not to monitor tweets; some are still more concerned about what is being said above the fold on the front page of Sports or in a Gossip column on page D6. Wake up! Communication has changed…your clients have changed…times have changed…Public Relations has changed. The only thing left that needs to change is your attitude. If you refuse to monitor your clients’ social media empires, or at least prep accordingly, you are inevitably setting yourself, your firm, your label and your client up for an embarrassing and sloppy ordeal.

And with that, I transition into the Best and Worst Celebrity Tweeter for 2010. My opinions are based solely on the value of tweets, the ability to avoid conflict and the sincerity of the message.

WORST: Oh Chris, Chris, Chris (@ChrisBrown)…we can’t take you anywhere, can we? Why do you insist on being baited time and time again through Social Media altercations and “beefs?”  More importantly, why does your management insist on allowing you to maintain personal supervision of your social media domain? You’ve proven multiple times that you do not possess the maturity, let alone aptitude, to handle such a large brand image. As most of you probably know, Brown was baited yet again during a Twitter battle with former B2K singer, Raz B, last night. Raz B’s initial tweet said:

“Im just sittin here Thinking how can ni**as like @ebenet & @ChrisBrown disrespect women as Intelligent as @HalleBerry11@Rihanna

This simple tweet started a blaze of drama thanks to members of #TeamBreezy, who should’ve been reading books instead. Brown reacted the way any insulted, self-conscious, overweight girl would have:

“@razb2k ni**a you want attention! Grow up ni**a!!! D**k in da booty a** lil boy”

In all reality, Raz B’s approach was far from bad-mannered. There was no mention of domestic violence, no trace of a low blow. As I watched the argument continue, I was shocked when no one from management intervened in the immature battle of wits (or lack thereof). Brown continued to battle Raz B with homosexual slurs and obscenities. Backed against a wall, Raz B responded with several low blows, citing Brown as a #womenbeater (I think he meant #womAnbeater).  As of today, I was further taken aback when all Tweets remained posted (although the damage was already done).

Brown has confirmed, for what I think should be the final time, that he needs immediate supervision when dealing with internet affairs. He is the definition of Social Media Nightmare.

BEST: From rags to riches to prison to rags to riches, Michael Vick is, what some consider, the best comeback story in sports history. While you don’t have to agree with his past actions, as a PR professional, you cannot overlook his tweets. Best Tweeter for 2010 (surprisingly to people who know me, I’m sure) has to go to Eagles Quarterback, #7, (@MikeVick).

There is nothing more respectable than a notorious football player who has learned how to speak with media and represent himself professionally. Once a player who proudly displayed his middle fingers to Atlanta Falcons fans after a loss, Vick has (not so quickly) learned how to approach media and keep fans happy. Continually tweeting to a new band of followers, Vick genuinely enjoys connecting with his supporters while he and his team march forward toward playoff competition.  Certainly not a stranger to controversy, he has yet to engage in an internet scuffle with rabid reporters or non-supporters.

Even after a tough loss, Vick maintained his composure and tweeted:

“Understanding failure helps you appreciate success !”

Short, simple, sweet. No angry messages, no sore loser status. He didn’t bash teammates or coaches – in all, it is the perfect message to send followers after a loss that left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans.

While I certainly cannot condone the past four years, I have to respect the guy for realizing what separates boys from men, minor leagues from major leagues and any other overused phrase you can imagine.

Respectability and responsibility – that is all it takes.

Top 3 Follies of Full-Time Life


I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog since July (bad PR, for sure), but I have been trying to adjust to having a full-time job which is no easy feat.

By the time I get home, my brain is fried from countless press releases, media alerts and articles — just thinking about trying to formulate a thought gives me a headache. (Un)fortunately, I went out to dinner last night, something did not agree with me. I had to call off sick to ensure there is no christening of the office bathroom which would have been unpleasant for all parties involved.

So without further adieu, I present “Cristin’s Top 3 Full-Time Follies.”

  1. Not Eating Breakfast: Ah yes, the lesson your mother has been trying to teach you for years — always eat breakfast. Seeing as I was never a breakfast kind of gal growing up, I thought I’d be fine running on E until lunch. WRONG. Around 8:45am, my eyes start drooping; at 10:00am, sounds that mimic a rabid beast emerge from stomach; and by lunchtime, I am so hungry that my mouth turns into a black hole. Do not let this happen to you. I have learned my lesson and make time for a small breakfast every day.
  2. Hating Coffee: I hated coffee. Unless it was packed with caramel, lard and sugar, I wouldn’t go near a cup o’ Joe. After just one month of work, I probably feel the same love for coffee that I will feel for my first born. Luckily, a one-cup coffee machine is at my fingertips and I enjoy a delicious cup of French Vanilla coffee with organic half and half every morning and afternoon. It is clockwork.
  3. Forgoing a Cocktail: For four years, I had friends everywhere I turned. We could go to lunch, hang out between classes or grab a drink after class. Now, I moved off of campus into West Philadelphia. I have zero friends in this “part of town” and I get so lonely! I am a social butterfly — I need social interaction! For the first few weeks at work, I’d turn down a drink or dinner after work because I was sleepy. I have now learned to say yes to any offer than comes my way. I need a chance to unwind, relax and talk about things unrelated to the old pigskin.

Hopefully, by my two month anniversary, I will have this full-time gig down to a science. I’ll be able to juggle a social life and work. Maybe. Fingers crossed.

“I’m Conceited…I Got a Reason To Be” – Kelis


As misleading as the title of this post is, I regret to inform you that this entry is not going to be about Kelis or her milkshake.

I wanted to touch on the hullabaloo surrounding King James (or the one formally known as LeBron). I am in no way, shape or form, a basketball fanatic. The closest I ever got to even considering myself a bandwagon fan occurred after my ex asked for Sixers tickets for our anniversary (romance isn’t his best attribute, but I digress).

When I first heard of “The Decision,” I thought I  missed the memo explaining that the Presidential election was being pushed up by two years. How dare anyone who isn’t running for President of the United States of America decide that a career jump needs a one-hour special. This “announcement” was complete blasphemy and a mockery of the American public.

Luckily for me, an online acquaintance, M. Drew Emmick (@mdemmick and http://mdemmick.tumblr.com) was able to fill me in on the PR faux pas of this situation.

I will first address the astoundingly immature letter overflowing with hurt feelings from Dan Gilbert (Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers) to “Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight.” Mr. Gilbert, I completely understand how betrayed you felt, after putting so much time, money and confidence into King LeBron James (isn’t that how we should address him?). I do believe, however, that accusing a formal player of some sort of witchcraft and black magic is a little overboard, no? Gilbert went so far as to say,

“The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.”

Those are some strong, slightly creepy, words. I know it is hard to be the “bigger man” when King James stands at a ridiculously tall 6′ 8″, but  Gilbert used the same defensive tactics of an elementary school girl who was called fat (I would know). Gilbert had everything working in his favor; Cavs fans were outraged and LeBron appeared to be the rudest man in America. This should have been a home run for Gilbert, but instead, he let emotions get in the way of the message he was trying to convey to the fans.

And now, on to King Lebron Raymone James. I have one message and one message alone. I respect the fact that Mr. James is arguably the best basketball player to ever play the game. I respect the fact that he has never known rejection, had had his journey to the NBA paved in gold fairy dust and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. I even respect the fact that, during his free agency, he turned down the highest paid offers. However, I cannot respect King James for the fact that he ultimately rubbed salt in the fresh wounds of the Cavs owners, players and fans. They helped him become what he is today and to turn on them in an instant creates ferocious backlash and paints the King in a dishonest light.

As M. Drew Emmick said,

“I have tried to look at what [LeBron] did objectionably, and I still come to the same opinion. I truly believe that James cared little, if at all, for Cleveland, the Cavs, his fans and the league. His decisions are solely based on what’s best for him or will feed his ego.”

When his shine wears off and his is incapable of performing suicides during practice, he will be remembered for being conniving, egotistical and, in layman’s terms, a tool. Need I mention T.O., who has a VH1 Reality Show, or Plaxico Burress, who was one of the best but is now considered a fool? These two men were at the top of the game until one bad decision, one accident, one “party foul” if you will, brought their professional world crashing down.

As your mother always said, “Play nice.” King LeBron is certainly not playing nice, and I foresee a VH1 dating show in his future. Perhaps, one day he can strive to be the Burger King?

The King is Here

Now as I mentioned before, these are the opinions of someone who self-admittedly knows nothing about basketball. Please feel free to add comments and teach me a thing or two.