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NYU’s PR&CC Program Teams Up with CMEx for its 10th Anniversary Conference

November 30, 2011

It’s November 30th and in less than 24-hours I will be at the CMEx XX conference in St. Thomas.  The Caribbean Media Exchange forged a partnership with NYU’s PR & CC program, where I’m currently pursing my master’s, to help take media resources and public relations expertise to the Caribbean. 

So, do all NYU students get to travel the world as part of their semester long project?  Unfortunately, no.  My team and I are lucky to be among six NYU students flying to the Caribbean tomorrow morning to take part in what will be an educational and inspirational experience.

The theme is “Communicating for Clarity and Prosperity,” which examines how the Caribbean PR industry can help promote sustainable tourism.

Stay tuned for updates here and through the official CMEx twitter account: @cmexmedia and my personal account: @kthutch.  We’ll be using the hashtag #CMEx20 – so look for and participant in our engaging and forward-looking conversations on crisis communication, sustainable tourism, social media and much more.

I’ll be in touch soon – Now it’s time to pack!

“Touch the Ball”

November 3, 2010

Orange. Ball. Online.

First thought that pops in your head? 

Yes. That is exactly right.

Last weekend, I ran through Central Park to take advantage of the fall weather and foliage. But, rounding the first corner, bright orange banners dotted the streetscape and outshined the fall landscape. The banners are in place for the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 and will function as orange beacons, guiding racers along the park route. More to my point, in seconds, I identified the ING DIRECT sponsorship.

ING DIRECT draws you in with its flashy orange advertising scheme and eccentric marketing slogans, like “Fees Wrecking Your Checking,” but once through the door, it welcomes you into a community of likeminded individuals: the savers’ community. Its simple, open, yet innovative platform creates the perfect environment to cultivate social media initiatives. It takes monotonous but important topics, like finance, saving and banking and builds a vibrant, spirited metropolis that everyone wants to be a part of.

“We the Savers”

“We the Savers,” is probably ING DIRECT’s most influential social media tool. A corporate blog created for the online community that promotes, well, a community that saves😉 Now, doesn’t that appeal to you even without visiting the site?

The latest posts include topics like: “What does a “Saver” costume look like?” or “Sex, lies and bank accounts: What men & women REALLY think about mates and money.” or “Tackling Retirement, Piece by Piece.” A quick excerpt:

It’s National Save for Retirement Week, Savers. We don’t know if it’s quite as popular as Shark Week or Senior Week, but we sure hope Congress’ resolution to increase personal financial literacy and raise public awareness about saving for retirement catches on.

The blog tackles the challenging financial topics with relatable story angles that people want to read. Some recent entries posted 90 to 150 comments each. And that is only people who commented.

ING DIRECT mingles the virtual world with the physical world by way of café and coffee. Yes, the only building you do business in, outside your home, is a café (in select cities). ING DIRECT encourages customers to grab a latte, surf the Internet for free, network and attend free events hosted at the café throughout the year. And while surfing the Internet, sipping your coffee and networking with friends, you can even set up an appointment with an ING DIRECT representative.

@INGDIRECT – 14,235 followers as of 11/3/10

The orange ball tweets, too. Again, it uses a similar, down to earth approach with its messages: for example:

Here are some ways to overcome common money fears. Unfortunately it does nothing for overcoming the fear of spiders. http://budurl.com/b277

ING DIRECT Facebook Page – 26,617 fans as 11/3/10

From the financial perks of marriage to saving for retirement, each day ING DIRECT leads a conversation on Facebook about savings. It properly utilizes Facebook as a space to create and build relationships by stimulating discussions and exchanges within the community.

Now, we know ING DIRECT effectively uses the social media tools. But, why does it work? What is its secret?

ING DIRECT communicates with a consistent, clear and unassuming voice. It effectively facilitates genuine conversations by speaking honestly and respectfully and by conveying messages in a relatable and human way. It sounds simple, but it isn’t.

I encourage you to click-through its website, for instance, the Flickr site’s fun and engaging rhetoric captured my attention. The pictures let us peek into the “orange world,” by including snapshots like a marketing brainstorm session and a big orange shoe sculpture. But what’s most impressive and a key to its success is the subtle way ING DIRECT shares the experience with us, the customer, by placing commentary under the photos, essentially creating a conversation that compels people to scroll down the page.

Since ING DIRECT is a young company, it leverages this element over established businesses, who struggle to let go of ardent business practices and procedures. ING DIRECT embraces the evolving media landscape and is always adapting to meet those changes head-on.

Let’s just say, ING DIRECT knows how to offer an experience while other banks and companies still depend on the same monotonous, dull language.

I urge you to take a trip and “touch the ball,” you won’t be disappointed.

Does Technology Connect Us or Separate Us?

October 6, 2010
Google Maps on Apple iPhone
Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

How did people survive Manhattan without an iPhone?  Or any type of smart-phone.  When I leave the apartment, my ritual includes:  

Briefcase?  Check.  Metro card and wallet?  Check.    

iPhone? Must Have.     

This “magical gadget” to everything Manhattan is a staple to many individuals’ daily routines.  For example, on a Sunday morning, I exit my building with no idea how I’m getting to brunch.  Standing on the sidewalk, I pullout the “magic machine,” type the address into Google maps, hit the public transportation button and voilà, three different routes.  Now, the tricky part is locating the correct metro entrance and getting on the correct train.  On a few of occasions, I’ve hopped on the uptown instead of the downtown, the local instead of the express and even once the incorrect seven-train, which shuttled me over to Queens.    

But, there is no need to follow in my footsteps.  iPhone (smart-phone) users can download numerous NYC subway and transportation applications.  Some iPhone apps go beyond the subway map, like iTrans, which includes train time tables and service advisory updates.  By inserting your subway line, current stop and destination, Snooze Lite alerts you of your upcoming stop.  And my favorite is Exit Strategy, known for its unmatched application, which tells you where to stand on the platform or which car to enter so you end up in front of your destination exit.  Not to mention it includes walking directions to the subway entrances – all signs of a true New Yorker.   

With the click of a mouse, push of a button or tap of a finger, people depend on technology to support and guide them through their day.  In some ways, iPhones could be coined a user’s best friend.  This phenomenon raises the question:   

Does technology connect us or separate us?    

Yes, we live on an island, but has technology transformed us into islands unto ourselves?   

Manhattan is brimming with close to 1.6 million people in 22.7 square miles, that’s 66,940 people per square mile, which makes social interaction difficult to ignore.  And yet, on an average weekly commute, how many times do you connect with a real human being?    

Now, during the same time, how many times do you connect over the phone?    

It’s safe to say every day or almost every day.    

It reminds me of the commercial featuring two cellphone users chatting on the phone, in the same the room, next to one another.  We laugh now – but who knows?   

So, is this a good thing or bad thing?  Can it even be categorized as good or bad?   

It’s definitely convenient.  I’m the first person to admit that I google directions instead of asking the 10 people to my left for help.  I text instead of making the two-minute phone call.  But, the question is not meant to assess the fundamental usage, rather the suggested message, which encourages people to use technology as the primary means for personal connection and interaction, instead of as the complement to connecting and staying connected.      

Hopefully, some food for thought.  The topic sprung up from casual conversation regarding the difference between traveling in the city now versus 10 years ago – concluding that you don’t need to talk to anyone, but then, what’s the fun in that?   

NYU PR League Alumni Represetative Running Platform

April 11, 2011

 

Updated April 17, 2011 – I am happy to announce that I’ve been elected as NYU PR&CC Alumni Representative 2011/2012.  Fellow NYU PR friends and classmates, thank you for your support.  It’s going to be an exciting year!

This week my blog is home base for my PR League Alumni Representative platform (see below).  Feel free to read and provide feedback. 

And, to my fellow PR&CC classmates and friends:  I would like to earn your vote – so please share any feedback, ideas or suggestions.  Feel free to contact me by email, Facebook, Twitter or whatever medium suits you best. You can email your vote to PRL.election@gmail.com by Friday @ 6pm.   Let the voting begin.🙂

Alumni Representative Platform:

Building a strong alumni network is the best way to invest in the ongoing value of our NYU education.

A strong alumni network expands networking opportunities for our current and future ambitions, supports the program’s potential to recruit future successful candidates, and furthers the already highly regarded PR&CC program reputation.

As a graduate of university that “bleeds” blue and white, I know firsthand the benefits of a wide-reaching alumni association.  Additionally, I’ve held a wide range of positions on numerous student bodies, committees, clubs and organizations, including PRSSA Penn State National Conference Committee Representative, New Orleans.

My goal is to further develop our alumni network and make it more accessible to us.

I think our first priority should be to increase the alumni’s involvement with the current students.  As a participant in the mentor program this semester, I know the graduates were eager to share their knowledge and experience.  I hope to build on this program and complement it with an online presence that is easy, accessible and beneficial to current students and graduates. 

Overall, my hope is to inspire and facilitate camaraderie, team spirit if you will, that genuinely encourages the success of fellow PR&CC students and recognizes that these achievements are yet another investment in the value of our NYU education.

In seven short months, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know numerous talented and engaging individuals.  And, ultimately that’s what drives a successful alumni network – it’s the memories and relationships we forge through our university experience.   This is why I’m committed not only to promoting our alumni relations, but also to assisting the executive board in every way I can. 

This is an exciting time for our university, the profession and future of our class.  I’d be honored to be your alumni representative and strive to make us all proud to be graduates of the NYU PR&CC program.

 “It isn’t just what you know, and it isn’t just who you know. It’s actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.” — Bob Burg     

 

Technology Free for Seven Days – Can you do it?

April 7, 2011

Bling.  Bling.  Bling.  Bling, bling, bling, bling……

As the airbus 320 rolled to a stop, the cabin chirped like birds on a crisp spring morning as countless cell phones sprang to life.  My phone registered more than a hundred unread emails, while fellow flyers’ emails spilled over the 200 mark.  We accumulated dozens of missed texts and phone calls.  But…the world did survive without us…and….

Yes.  I survived 7 days without a phone, email and the Internet.  A feat in itself, considering my first line of business in the morning is to roll over and check my iPhone apps for the day’s most up-to-date stories. 

For the past week I’ve been out of the country for a wedding and the closest I’ve come to knowing anything besides what time I’m needed at the beach was when we turned on the T.V. for a few minutes each morning.

So, now I am having the most difficult time switching from beach and breeze mode to news and deadline mode, when a week ago it was all I could do to keep from checking my phone, email and Internet every few minutes. 

It makes me wonder how others respond to days or weeks without WiFi or cell phone usage?  Do you return to business-as-usual or is there a lull in your return to the normal daily grind?  Or – can you handle a few days off from technology? Really😉

Part of me feels like I’m light-years behind because today news is old hours after it hits the Internet – so trying to re-enter a constant flow of information is slightly overwhelming. 

After a few days, I’m sure everything will skip to its usual tune, but it makes me wonder if next time I’ll checkout for the entire week or pay the exorbitant amount for the international data plan.

Madoff Haunts the S.E.C. – How Should Victims be Compensated?

March 16, 2011

The legal, ethical and moral implications concerning Mary L. Schapiro, S.E.C. chairman and David M. Becker, former S.E.C. counsel, opened wounds that the Securities and Exchange Commission has been diligently trying to mend. The ethical issues regarding their actions are astounding and yet, after reading last Tuesday’s NY Times article, my first thought was not about Ms. Schapiro’s actions, it concerned the Madoff victims’ compensation.  So, here’s a question:

If you had $2 million, that you thought you legitimately earned in the stock market, and five years later, the S.E.C. says, “You can only keep the original investment and you need to return the other $1.5 million, so we can compensate the other victims.”  What would you do?

The question is how should the S.E.C. manage the compensation for the Madoff victims?

Some proposed solutions are:

1)      Return to investors only their initial investment.

2)      Return to investors both their initial investment and some of its earnings.

3)      Return to investors the funds as specified on the last statement issued.

This brings us back to Ms. Schapiro and Mr. Becker.  In response to the decades-long Madoff oversight, the S.E.C. hired Ms. Schapiro to “strengthen” the S.E.C.’s enforcement unit and as part of her team, she hired Mr. Becker as general counsel.  But, as it turns out, Mr. Becker is actually a victim of the Madoff scandal, only he pulled his money out in 2005.  So, you can only guess which resolution he prefers.  Currently Becker is being sued by Irving H. Picard, the trustee overseeing the Madoff case, for all the gains his investment generated.   (It was actually his late mother’s investment, which she left to her three sons).  

So, what would you do if you could choose any of the three options?

Do you choose the utilitarian approach, where the consequences of your actions are more favorable than unfavorable to the greatest number of people involved?

Or

 Do you choose ethical egoism, where the consequences of your actions favor you above everyone else?

“RENT” Returns to NYC

March 5, 2011
Rent (film)
Image via Wikipedia

“Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…How do you measure – measure a year?” 

It seems like only yesterday “Seasons of Love” echoed from the Nederlander Theatre’s stage.   And yet, it’s been three and half years since the beloved “RENT” closed on Broadway and 12 years since its original debut in 1996. 

 But, come July of this year, RENT is set to take the stage once again, only this time Off Broadway and with a brand new cast of “unknowns.”  

 The critically acclaimed, award-winning show “RENT” tells the story of eight struggling artists and musicians trying to survive and create while living in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.  Based on Puccini’s La Bohème, this rock and roll opera, written by Billy Aronson with music and lyrics by Jonathon Larson gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical along with a Pulitzer Prize and countless other industry awards and recognitions.

 So, it’s no surprise that producers are eager to capitalize on the first revival of “RENT”.  In a New York Times article this week, it explains that television executives know the money is in reruns and compares the potential success of Broadway revivals to profitable television reruns like “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “Star Trek.” 

 The risk to move a show from Broadway to Off Broadway and be in “rerun mode” is significant since historically it’s the other way around.  But, in 2009, “Avenue Q,” the popular puppet musical, proved that it can be done.  The key – a profitable brand name requiring less marketing…like “RENT.” 

 In addition to an Off Broadway budget the show will also minimize costs by choosing a “cast of unknowns.”  The lower salaries for these yet-to-be-discovered artists coupled with today’s job market and the pool of talented, young stars is both a brilliant business move, as well as, PR strategy. 

Dialing in American Idol and Oprah’s “Own Your Own Show,” the producers of “RENT” are not only rekindling an iconic musical, but they’re tapping audiences emotionally by connecting them to the eight undiscovered artists getting their “big break.”  Open calls in NYC and LA start March 18 and anyone can audition.  And if you can’t make it to NY or LA – have no fear – you can upload your audition to YouTube until March 18.  Then, from March 21 – 27, people vote for their favorite and the winner receives round-trip transportation to NYC for an official “RENT” audition.

For artists, this is the time that dreams come true.  And for “RENTheads” and theater enthusiast, alike, this is the time to welcome back the show that united artists across all genres and brought musicals to the masses…and not just theater buffs, like me.

What Broadway shows do you want to see back “Off Broadway?”  Do you think it could pull off an “Avenue Q?”     

Business Combination, Merger, Buyout…You Decide?

February 27, 2011
The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

Speaking of the “Great Recession” and guilty parties, here is an article from last week’s WSJ:

“Loss of the Big Board to Germans Is a Crime, but Who’s Guilty?” by Wall Street Journal’s David Weidner asks key players the tough questions regarding the “merger” of Deutsche Börse and the New York Stock Exchange.  Dick Grasso, John Thain and Duncan Niederauer, three NYSE chief executives “take the stand” to determine who’s “responsible” for America’s loss of the “Big Board.” 

An interesting take on a serious situation which does not pinpoint a guilty party, but it does highlight speculation surrounding each CEO’s actions and possible contributions towards the Deutsche Börse acquisition of the NYSE.  As easy as it would be to place blame one individual, it is more than apparent that numerous items led America to this point.  The article ended rather abruptly and left me with one question – Why is this acquisition referred to as a “merger?”  And why is it continually compared to the merger of the NYSE and Euronext in 2007?  This is a buyout and nothing less.  There is big difference between “merger” and an international company owning a majority stake in America’s historical financial beacon.  The word “merger” softens the blow and, in my opinion, keeps this story “on the down low.”  For those fervently following it, this might sound completely off, but I asked a number of news-informed friends their opinion and was surprised that this was the first they’d heard about it.

So, as an ethical PR or communication professional, what is your thought on how this “business combination” is being publicized?  This is not a question about whether this is the right business decision for America, but if this is the right (ethical) communication strategy.  And, how would you suggest the NYSE communicate this raw and emotional moment to the American public? 

Additionally, this is a recent article by Nancy Mclernon that supports the “merger.”  She backs her claim by using examples of previous successful mergers between well-known American brands and international companies.

Technology or Human Gaffe – Who’s to Blame for the “Great Recession?”

February 23, 2011

Just as technology is outrunning the government, so is its influence on the financial sector; hence the ongoing ethical debate  about flash trading

But, regarding the financial collapse of 2007 – 2010, I’d argue that actions by individuals, ethical or not, far outweigh any role technology played in this recession.

Not one person or institution is entirely at fault.  More so, an overlap and repeated history of bad business decisions and poor judgment can be attributed to what is today coined the “Great Recession.”  Broadly, it is the result of greed, ineffective regulation and poor judgment: 

–Greed on the side of Wall Street, who knowingly sold dubious mortgage-backed securities;

–Ineffective supervision by the government, who neglected to monitor the activity and ensure the stability of the market; and

–Poor judgment by the public, who, for the past 40 years, have “borrowed, borrowed, borrowed” and consciously lived outside their means.   

Basically, banks started buying up mortgages and selling them to investors (as triple- A rated mortgage-backed securities) in order to free up liquidity for the bank and increase its ability to lend.  For example, it used to be that a bank issued a loan for $50,000, and then collected on that $50,000 over the life of the loan.  Now, that same bank can sell that loan to an investor and recoup the entire $50,000 in a matter of weeks. 

A simple supply and demand problem quickly emerged.  Banks ran out of lendable loans, however, mortgage-backed securities were in high demand.  So, banks lowered their lending standards in order to keep up with demand.  This decision subsequently came full circle when homeowners ran out of money and stopped paying their mortgages.

So, was it unethical for banks to alter their lending standards?  Even when the government did not raise objections or question the changes?  Was it ethical for homeowners to take out loans they knew they could not afford? 

In conclusion, people need to balance their aspirations with prudence and moderation.  In the same way, institutions need to exercise similar judgment in the creation and application of new products and technology platforms.

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