Thursday, May 28, 2009

Princesses for a Day

When the clock struck 12:15, grumbling stomachs were audible throughout the office. We primped, straitened our dresses and shirts and marched out the door to arrive promptly for a 12:30 reservation at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro. We were met with a firm handshake from the general manager, Dan, who greeted even me, the intern, by first name. It was as if a golden tiara had been placed upon our heads and our loyal citizens were lying in wait to serve us. We were treated like royalty.

After being shown to a private corner of the dining room, our first course had already been laid out: a charcuterie platter decorated with picked vegetables, hand-cut wedges of 7-8 cheese presented on a wooden board with honey and crispy bread slices drizzled with olive oil. Once our doting waitress presented each meat and cheese, noting the flavor, region, and whether or not it was to her liking, the general manager himself made us fresh Virgin Mary’s from the well-known Bloody cart. Tickled by the personal touches, we were then presented with our second course: a non-traditional Greek salad with chunks of fresh avocado, a Chinese chicken salad and a burrata and tomato Caprese-style salad. Signature fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and served with a charred tomato sauce were given special mention. Though our stomachs were beginning to fill with creamy cheeses, chunks of chicken and smooth avocado, the next course was one to top the previous two. Fish and chips included a generous portion of lightly battered sole atop crispy French fries and tartar sauce and the Prime Dry-Aged All-Natural steak was perfectly medium-rare with a side of caramelized root vegetables (squash, carrots and radishes). The winning dish, to our taste, was the double breast of chicken surrounded by a medley of golden beets, wilted fennel and savory sauce.

Our lunch was lengthened with a mid-meal tour of the upstairs steakhouse, intimate dining room and extensive second-floor, outdoor patio. We quickly returned to our table however to be presented with sweet, white-wine sangria and dessert: fluffy chocolate and vanilla soufflés, a trio of crème brulees (caramel, chocolate, and traditional vanilla) and a poached pear atop vanilla ice cream served in an old fashioned glass. A shot of espresso and twist of lemon rind did me in (though I had probably hit my limit by the salad course.)

It was a meal to last me, if not a lifetime, then definitely the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

June is Gay Pride Month nationwide, which generally means that it’s a time for community-building festivals and parades and joyous expressions of pride in individuality and sexuality. But in California, celebrations are turning to protests as it was announced Tuesday that the courts will uphold Prop 8, the ban on same-sex marriage. For the lucky 18,000 who rushed to the alter during the brief moment gay marriage was legal in California, their marriages will stay intact, but for the countless other couples who hoped that the courts would reverse the ban as unconstitutional, more court battles and ballot initiatives await.

It’s amazing and inspiring to think about how far gay rights have come since the 1960’s. The Stonewall Riots in 1969 marked the very beginning of the gay rights movement in America and to commemorate the anniversary of the June riots, the very next year an informal, spontaneous march happened on Christopher Street in New York City, marking the first Gay Pride Parade. Images from these early Gay Pride Parades were captured by Hank O’Neal in his book Gay Days, with captions by Alan Ginsberg and an intro written by William Burroughs (heavy hitters!).

This month Tender Greens West Hollywood will unveil a new permanent photo installation featuring selections from O’Neal’s Christopher Street images (see photo above for sample). The images, which will wallpaper the restaurant, will be installed next week, and to celebrate the unveiling, Tender Greens will host a week of fundraising events benefiting the LA Gay & Lesbian Center June 8-14. All profits from the sales of Agent for Change wines that week will be donated to the Center and on June 11, 5% of all profits for the day at the restaurant will be donated. On the evening of June 11, a private fundraiser will be held at the restaurant, benefiting the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.

Friday, May 22, 2009

One Year Post Grad

As spring fades and summer heats up I realize it has been exactly one year since I graduated from college. Last May I was a proud graduate of Adelphi University with a Bachelor’s Degree and barely a clue of my future. Like many graduates I packed up my dorm room and headed back to my hometown to figure out my next move. But after I unpacked the last four years of my life and settled into my parents’ house I realized that after four years away from home the last place I wanted to be was there.

So with an updated cover letter and resume I hit the career websites. After about a week of in-person interviews and countless emails correspondence, I realized it wasn’t necessarily the jobs I wasn’t interested in, it was the location. A small town in New Jersey is no place for a girl with big PR dreams and New York is where I wanted to be. Luckily I had met a really great mentor and friend while interning in college who saw my potential and began to make calls on my behalf. Within a few days she gave me  JS² Communications’ contact information and I emailed Alissa. After a short phone interview I was offered a paid internship for two days a week and I took it! 

The following Monday I arrived at JS² Communications’ New York office and dove right into work. What happened next is completely a ‘right place, right time’ situation – on my second day at JS² I was offered a full time internship with the possibility of becoming a full time employee! I definitely hit the internship/career jackpot on that one. By August I was a full time Account Coordinator and almost one year later I’m an Assistant Account Executive.

Of course not all career beginnings are as successful but I’d like to think there is just as much hope and opportunity for the Class of 2009. The key to finding and making a career is to be driven and never give up. It may take weeks or even months after graduation before landing the perfect opportunity, but I promise it is worth it. In my case I took a chance with a part-time internship in my desired field, hoping that it would turn into something more.

Currently at JS² Communications we have two fabulous interns with a world of potential; Jennifer Rodstrom in the New York office and Sheri Holt in the Los Angeles office.

Congratulations to the Class of 2009! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First day on the job!

I think it was when my dorm room windows began to frost around the edges and the sculpture garden at the National Gallery opened an outdoor ice skating rink that I decided I had better begin my job hunt for the summer. The economic downturn made my prospects look grimmer and grimmer each day I searched. Luckily, my parents did not expect me to find a paying job, especially under the circumstances, but rather something in which I could explore a new interest. After many emails, a phone interview, and a quick in-person meeting, I was thrilled to be offered a summer internship at JS2 Communications.

Today is my first day! It was hard enough moving back to Los Angeles after nine months of living on the east coast, but then to be thrown into a new office, with new people, new technology, and new rules—needless to say, I was a sea of emotions and nerves. Yet, after a mere four and a half hours of being on the job, I have been welcomed into the JS2 family more warmly and more whole-heartedly than I could have ever imagined. Though I fully expect (and even look forward to) the typical intern roles (e.g. making coffee, getting the paper, making lunch runs), I cannot wait to throw myself into the job. What I’ll be doing for the next few months I can’t know, but I’m excited to find out!

Hit of the Week: San Fernando Valley Business Journal

As a result of an earlier placement we garnered for our client Doug Pick of DAP World, who was honored for his work with a non-profit called New Horizons, San Fernando Valley Business Journal reporter Mark Madler reached out to see if Doug would be interested in being interviewed for an entrepreneur profile - of course he was! The resulting placement was fabulous, highlighting Doug's business trajectory over the past 17 years - a start in children's marketing at A&M Records, a few product misfires along the way (like a device that alerts guys to put the toilet seat down) and the founding of DAP World 17 years ago.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hit of the Week: Kao Pao Shu in WWD

Last week, Kao Pao Shu was highlighted in a story focusing on ethnic and world fashion trends in WWD. Naida Begeta, head designer and creative behind this avant garde line brought her fashion collection to Los Angeles mid last year and when she decided to open her flagship store on Beverly Blvd in the heart of the LA Fashion scene. Her unique garments all handmade and custom designed fill a necessary gap where the worlds of design, function and style coalesce. Always one step ahead of the curve, Kao Pao Shu has captured this emerging design trend in her latest collection which ranges from bags and accessories to dresses and skirts. To learn more about Kao Pao Shu fashion feel free to visit their online store and website.

Monday, May 11, 2009

McCafe and other, much better cofee

Back in college I was addicted to iced mochas (mocha over ice, not blended). If I didn’t have one by 3pm, I would suffer the most excruciating caffeine-withdrawal headache. Then I got into the bad habit of making coffee at home before going to work, having a cup once I got to the office, then taking an afternoon break to get my 3pm iced mocha. The constant dependence on caffeine became too much for me and in 2002 I quit coffee cold turkey. It was hard, but I made it through and resisted coffee altogether for a few years. These days, I love a properly pulled espresso or macchiato and the occasional Ice Blended Mocha from CBTL on hot summer days. For me, coffee is a rare treat that I usually only indulge in on weekends or when I’m on vacation (in Paris, or Costa Rica or Hawaii – some of the best places in the world to drink coffee) – or if I stayed out too late the night before and feel sluggish at work.

Cut to last week. I had been suffering with a bad cold/flu (not the swine flu!) and stuck at home unable to do much but watch TV. After watching countless hours of pointless TV, I could not help but be drawn in by McDonalds’ McCafe commercials. After all, they spent a record $100 million on a marketing blitz to promote their new espresso drinks, and after watching so many McCafe commercials and seeing billboards everywhere across town, I just had to have McCafe.

But there was a hurdle – I don’t go to McDonalds. I hadn’t had a meal there since elementary school, and did not revel in breaching those golden arches. But Vanessa said she’d go with me, and pay, so I decided to take her up on her offer. I got the Iced McMocha (they should call it that!) with nonfat milk and Vanessa got the McCappuccino with whole milk. Peering through the window at the drive-through I watched the lady press a button on the espresso machine and out-flowed our drinks.

First sip – ugh. The chocolate was good, but there was some kind of spoiled milk/chemical aftertaste that I just couldn’t stomach. Down the drain the McMocha went. Vanessa thought that her McCappuccino was lackluster. Foam/milk/espresso ratio was off and the espresso: rancid.

After wasting $5.55 on bad coffee, we started discussing how many of our clients put so much effort into their coffee programs, and how thankful we are for that.

  • At La Grande Orange, (just opened in Santa Monica), they use Mr. Espresso brand beans which are roasted over oak wood in Oakland and favored by great chefs like Alice Waters and Bradley Ogden.

  • At Morels they’re making Shakeratos all summer long, my favorite Italian iced coffee in addition to brewing several varieties of sustainably produced beans from Equator Estate Coffees in individual French presses.

  • At RockSugar they make my favorite Vietnamese Coffee, brewed at your table and mixed with sweetened condensed milk – tastes like chocolate.

  • At Zucca, you can have a classic Italian espresso made with Illy.

Don't all those options sound nice?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sexual Content...

Entering the field of Public Relations, I knew I would be charged with some interesting tasks but never did I imagine that I would find a second career in sex copywriting! Every week, our client WET®, an international leader in personal lubricants, aromatherapy massage oils and intimacy products posts a “sexy” poll on their MySpace page to engage their customers and fan base. My assignment is to come up with a question, provide five possible answers and create copy for each answer relating it back to a specific WET product. Though a bit of a challenge at first, I now find it to be the highlight of my week! Not only do I get to be creative but I get to show off my comedic side! The topics/questions vary from week to week, for example: Ice creams, like lovers, come in a variety of tantalizing flavors. Your favorite flavor of ice cream tells a lot about your personal love style. Pick your favorite sexy flavor and see what it says about you! Or it can be a simple question like what’s your favorite cocktail? I included a personal favorite below, try it out for yourself:

Music and intimacy are like peanut butter and chocolate… two great tastes that taste great together!

What is your favorite song to “get it on” to?

Choose from one of the following options:

Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Push it – Salt N Pepa
She Bangs – Ricky Martin
I’ll Make Love to You – Boys II Men
Any Way You Want It – Journey

If you chose - Let’s Get It On
For more than 30 years, Marvin Gaye has been seducing the world with this classic love-making melody. Sticking to the basic rules of romance, you also enjoy wooing your lover with the sensual sounds of Mr. Gaye. C’mon baby…and add a little more fun with another classic of love – Wet Original®, the water-based, gentle, odorless, colorless, greaseless and non-staining lubricant. A favorite for those who prefer a more viscous, gel-like lubricant. Wet Original® – helping couples “Get It On” for over 20 years!

If you chose - Push it
Ooh, baby baby! This first Salt N Pepa single went straight to the top of the music charts as well as straight to the bedroom. Now you can push it with Wet® Gellee, a brand new gel-based lubricant, available in Original and delicious Kiwi Strawberry. Gellee is Wet’s twist on the classic jelly lubricant. It is a thick water-based gel formula that is ultra long lasting, sugar-free, stain free, silky smooth and never sticky. Wet® Gellee is extra thick so it stays where you put it. Now push it, push it real good!

If you chose - She Bangs
The sultry sounds of the Latin lover Ricky Martin really get you hot! The way the drums make you move your hips, you are ready to salsa all the way to the bedroom. Add some more bang to your evening with WET Fun Flavors® 4-In-1, a stain-free, sugar-free, warming massage lotion and lubricant – all in one bottle. WET Fun Flavors® gently heats on contact and warms with motion. The best part is that it comes in five sizzling flavors – Seduction Strawberry, Watermelon Blast, Popp’n Cherry, Passion Fruit Pizzazz and Tropical Fruit Explosion. Move those hips and really feel the sensation!

If you chose - I’ll Make Love to You
You are an ultimate romantic and nothing is more satisfying than truly connecting with your partner. So close your eyes, make a wish and blow out the candlelight, for tonight is just the night for you to get even closer to your lover with Wet® together™ Couples’ Lubricant. Offering couples a titillating experience that benefits each person in its own unique way - his warms and hers tingles. When combined, an incredible sensation…baby all through the night!

If you chose - Any Way You Want It
You love to laugh, you love to sing, you do everything and most important you love the lovin’ things. So hold tight, hold tight and experience something new with Wet Platinum® Premium Lubricant, Wet’s longest lasting formula, so you can go all night, ohh every night! Wet Platinum® never dries and doesn’t break down in water so it’s perfect “any way you want it” if “that’s the way you need it!”

We also post the results of each poll through bulletins on MySpace and you will never guess which song won this one… Journey!!!

Next week’s poll…What’s your signature “pick-up” line?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lululemon we love you!

We are all big yogis and yoginis here at JS2 and one of our favorite brands related to the practice is Lululemon. We thought it would be very cool if Lululemon expanded into a national yoga studio since it is such a trusted brand with a strong company philosophy and aesthetic. Taking it a step further we paired up and began to brainstorm the most innovative ways to launch this endeavor if it ever came to fruition.

We were given the following parameters to get us started:

  • Same day multi city launch in NY, LA and SF
  • Align the launch with an appropriate charity
  • Stay within a reasonable budget
  • Incorporate a strong guerilla marketing strategy
  • Garner mass media attention by hosting an innovative event
  • Message a strong commitment to being green in all media events and communications
After much debate, the teams brainstormed their creative approaches and came up with the following ideas:

Guerrilla Marketing
  • Have a branded mobile yoga flat bed truck in each market. The truck will park in front of a large office building around lunch time and offer free mini yoga tutorials, using the flat bed truck as a stage.

Simultaneous launch in all three cities

  • Coordinate group yoga pose freeze with people wearing lululemon branded yoga wear in big public parks in each of the three cities all on the same day and exact time.
  • Host free public yoga session in the parks of all three cities to encourage people to sign up for memberships and learn more about the lululemon studios and classes

  • Timed communal meditation and/or Om chant
  • Held at major parks in yoga studio markets (i.e. Central Park, Golden Gate Park and Griffith Park)
  • ‘Moonlight meditation’ – 9pm PT/ 12pm ET
Green Event
  • Urban gardening – planting trees (urban gardening to turn into a long term relationship within in all communities LA, NY & SF since food health is such an important aspect of the yoga practice)
  • NYC - partner with program

Hit of the Week: Chain Leader Magazine

Our restaurants are Twitter-pated! The hit of the week is another strategic placement on behalf of our clients about their use of popular micro-blogging service Twitter. Tender Greens and Maggiano's Little Italy are interviewed and featured in an article in the May issue of Chain Leader Magazine about restaurants "All A-Twitter."

JS2 Communications helped Tender Greens set up their Twitter account and walked them through a "Twitter 101" crash course. Tender Greens quickly learned what to tweet, how to tweet in their appropriate voice, how to generate the most meaningful followers and get the most value out of this direct-to-customer tool.

The result: Tender Greens is currently slightly above 800 followers who they can bounce ideas off of, give exclusive information about new restaurants openings, construction updates, specials and new products. The challenge with a restaurant's Twitter is how to quantify the tweets and followers into actual "butt-in-seats." Tweeting their daily specials keeps Tender Greens top of mind for hungry potential customers at their desks. Here at the JS2 Communications offices, daily specials are usually too tempting for us to resist and we end up going to the new West Hollywood location at least 3 or 4 times per week.

Maggiano's Little Italy's Twitter is managed by Michael Breedlove. He used creative contests and ideas to generate awareness among the Twitosphere about Maggiano's and gain more followers. They are currently doing a contest which if they can reach 7,500 followers by May 31, 2009 Maggiano's will grant a wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in honor of their Twitter followers, $1 for every follower.

This placement builds awareness for Tender Greens and Maggiano's as innovative leaders in their industry using Twitter in creative ways that benefit their business and poise them for further growth and expansion. The article offers 8 tips for savvy tweets recommended by Erik Oberholtzer of Tender Greens, Michael Breed of Maggiano's Little Italy, and yours truly of JS2 Communications.