Category Archives: Company Culture

Burger Battle: What’s the Best Local Burger Joint?

At DGC our passion for PR might be overshadowed by our passion for food..  This week we decided to pit local burger spots against each other and see which location came out on top.

Turns out, it wasn’t that close of a competition…Madison Square Park’s Shake Shack took home gold without breaking a sweat.

While there can only be one winner, burgers are burgers, so no one is truly a loser.  Below hear from a few of our biggest burger fans on their favorite burger and, more importantly, why.

shakeshack

SHAKE SHACK

My favorite local burger spot is Shake Shack because I am a big fan of their buns. – Maria Swift, Account Coordinator

It’s got to be Shake Shack – they don’t know how to disappoint.  (QP w/ C is obviously a close second though) – Jackie Berte, Senior Account Executive

Shake Shack.  Two words: shack sauce. It’s what dreams are made of. ­– Ali Colangelo, Account Director

I love Shake Shack. My guilty pleasure is a burger and a shake and having it outdoors in the park, makes it all that much sweeter. ­– Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President

Shake Shack. GET IN MY BELLY. – Gab Berman, Senior Account Executive

Shake Shack– this was a tough one because I am a burger a week kind of gal and these all have a special place in my heart, but Shake Shack just has it all (despite the very long lines). You cannot beat their burgers or amazing cheese fries or the overall aura of being in the park on a nice day. – Peyton McCarthy, Account Executive

Shake Shack ‘shroom burger in the park wins for me. The line is long, but always worth the wait.  – Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator

Shake Shack is the best burger in the neighborhood. The line is long but it’s definitely worth it for their perfect, juicy burgers, crinkle fries and the beautiful setting of Madison Square Park.  – Mari Santana, Vice President

SchnippersLogo

SCHNIPPERS

Schnipper’s, hands down. They have the best milkshakes, which always go well with burgers. The day Soraya and I ordered lunch and they gave us double meals was heaven. – Sara Ajemian, Senior Account Director

All three are solid winners in my book, but what separates Schnipper’s is the cheese fries and special Schnipper’s sauce, along with ample seating and welcoming environment in any weather — can’t eat Shake Shack in the winter! — Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive

ny burger

NEW YORK BURGER & CO

While a classic Quarter Pounder with Cheese is always hard for me to pass up at McDonald’s, my pick has to go to NY Burger & Co, but really only by default – It’s definitely a great burger and I do like the array of dipping sauce options, but I haven’t had a chance to check out Shake Shack or Shnippers yet. – Claire Higgins, Account Executive

I like NY Burger Co. because the food is delicious, the service prompt and polite, and it’s very close to our office. Second place is Schnipper’s, which also has great food and service and more ample seating but it’s several blocks away. ­– Kathy Sampey, Vice President

Hmm I’ve never had a burger at Shake Shack or Schnippers so my vote for our area would be New York Burger & Co. – Yana Berliner, Office Administrator

Spirits Brands Want to ‘Drink Up’ Your Data

The Internet of Things continues to insert itself into aspects of our lives we could never have imagined.

Take the spirits industry where brands are developing “connected” bottles to monitor when, where, what, how much and how often their products are imbibed by individual consumers.Remy Martin_connected bottle

Our first encounter with the notion of such innovation came from a story about Remy Martin’s connected cognac bottles, scheduled for an autumn debut in China where counterfeit brands run rampant. Part of the thinking behind this development is that Chinese consumers should be able to “verify” the brand pedigree of the cognac via the connected bottle.

Here in the U.S., spirits brand executives are much more straightforward about the potential for such innovations. While touting some of the benefits to consumers—and there are a few such as, home delivery of your favorite liquor when supplies ebb and cocktail recipes—Absolut’s Markus Wulff says point blank that it’s mostly about consumer data: “The more we learn about consumers and their behaviours, the better services we can connect them to.”

This New York Times article previews other personal areas in which the IoT will soon make inroads. We couldn’t help but linger on its opening question: “Just because you can do something, does it mean you should?”

To PR a ‘Mockingbird’

Today’s release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s second book following the American staple of  literature To Kill a Mockingbird, signifies a landmark in a widely considered “dying” industry of book publishing. In the book world, this “new” novel is comparable to any hit summer blockbuster movie.

Underneath the fans’ passion lies a heap of controversy and ethical question marks. Among them are concerns over Harper Lee’s health and whether she actually agreed to publish this book, years after vowing to never publish again. Lots of Lee’s close friends point the finger at her lawyer, Tonja Carter, citing she’s taking advantage of Lee in her old age. In a savvy PR move, Carter provided her story in an op-ed to the Wall Street Jounal of how Watchman went from being stuck in a safety deposit box to being made available to millions of excited fans today.

The public may never know the true story behind Lee’s change of heart or if Carter is telling the truth, but we recognize a valiant effort by Carter to take control of her message in hopes to set the record straight.

With summer season upon us, it’s always a great time to catch up on a new book. Our colleagues are voraciously consuming new, non-fiction, best sellers and best-beloved books.

If you’re looking for a good book to while away the hours until Labor Day and beyond, you might find some inspiration here:

 Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf 2013)
Fiction

Kendra says, “Americanah covers race, relationships and identity. It pulls you into the politically complex world of Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century and the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. It takes an interesting approach to storytelling that is direct, but still descriptive. You feel the energy and emotion of the characters and fall in love with their process of discovery. My sister made the recommendation and gave me her copy of the book. She thought I’d enjoy it.”

Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (Doubleday 2015)
Non-Fiction

Maryliz says, “Krakauer reports on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. He shares the stories of the victims, the accused and law enforcement in a beautiful narrative that brings to life this serious issue. This isn’t an ‘easy’ summer read but anything Krakauer writes is brilliant. He’s an amazing storyteller, even when he’s reporting on such a tough subject. He draws you in, makes you question everything and leaves you wanting more.  This book was recommended for me on GoodReads.”

Theresa Piti, Office Manager

1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Knopf 2011)
Fiction

From the cover blurb: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —‘Q is for ‘question mark.’”

Theresa says, “It’s a dual narrative story and as of yet, I’m not sure where it will converge. I’m a fan of Japanese fiction. A friend recommended it and off I went.”

Scott Berwitz, Vice President

Inferno, Dan Brown (Doubleday 2013)
Fiction

Scott says the book involves “a famed Harvard professor who wakes up in a strange hospital after having survived an attempt on his life.  He has to make sense of his predicament while being hunted down by his would-be killers – a task made ever more difficult by the short-term amnesia he suffers from the attack.  What results is a fascinating journey through Florence and the underworld depicted in Dante’s Inferno. It’s sort of a cerebral thrill ride, a really exciting read. I’ve loved other books by this author such as, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Claire Higgins, Account Executive

The World According to Garp, John Irving (1978, republished 1999 by Ballantine)
Fiction

This story chronicles the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist, following him from infancy through all the pivotal moments in his life.  Claire says, “It’s very long, and a little long-winded, but John Irving is a favorite of mine so I had to pick it up and am determined to finish it. Once I hit the most climatic moment in the story, I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s very realistic, heartbreaking at times, and dryly and subtly funny, which I like. I liked John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (William Morrow 1989), but both were recommended to me by my aunt and grandma. Irving is a fave of theirs, too.”

Eulogy’s Ann Wiltshire Spends a Week at DGC

The first time Ann Wiltshire visited New York from her native England, she was 13, and it was the dead of winter.

In April 2015, she returned to the city to work for a week here at DiGennaro Communications in the Flatiron District as part of an exchange program with the shop’s sister agency, Eulogy, in London. Ann is an account manager there.

Ann saw lots of similarities between the working cultures of New York and London and could definitely imagine herself living in the Big Apple, especially after the celebrity encounter she had in an elevator, which she reveals in the video.

Creating a ‘Love Culture’ that’s Built to Last

“The first rule of building a ‘love culture,’ is to love what you do.”

That’s how Roy Spence, Chairman/Founder of GSD&M and Founder of The Purpose Institute kicked off his discussion on “Right Brain Leadership” at SXSW Interactive this weekend.

Although the session’s panel descriptor was about the brain, Spence and his co-presenter Mac Brown (founder of Spur Leadership and Founding Pastor of Lake Hills Church in Austin) spent the bulk of their time talking about the heart.

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They offered three rules for building what they call a “love culture” within your organization:

1)  Love what you do. Spence, who built GSD&M with four partners from the ground up over the past 45 years, encouraged audience members to “create an environment where people can play to their strengths.” He relayed a story from his childhood about his struggles with spelling. After numerous C grades, he scored an A- on a term paper when he was about 14 years old. His mother remarked that while he may not ever be a great speller, but she could see that he was a great writer. Her advice? Don’t waste your time trying to be average at something you’re bad at doing, but spend every second trying to great at what you’re good at doing.

2)   Hang out with people you love. “Love cultures are about people helping you, and you helping people,” said Spence. Brown added that part of loving people is accountability: “You have to operate alongside people with an established set of values. As a leader you have a greater responsibility to the group than the individual. You have to be willing to let someone go if you want to build a love culture. You have to do it for the health of everyone else. You love people when you hold them accountable.”

3) Love the impact you have on lives and communities. Brown said that any thriving organization has two things: Love and good deeds. Spence recited some of the purpose-based companies he and GSD&M have worked with over the years from Southwest Airlines to Whole Foods.

Their one common denominator? They’ve all cracked the code on creating environments where people can love what they do, be deliberate and intentional about their jobs and have license to literally change the world. To Spence and Brown, those are the ultimate markers of a “love culture.”

As the session came to a close, one woman asked Spence for his personal definition of a leader. He replied: “I’ve never called myself a leader, but I do know this…If you don’t have followers, you’re not a leader. Leaders build the ship, and they do so through love.”

DGC Rountable: 4th Annual Scavenger Hunt

The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our fall intern, Jamie Kurke.

Each fall, the DGC team hosts their annual scavenger hunt. The team breaks out into teams and treks out for an afternoon running around in the Flatiron District to complete clues ranging from the mundane (Grab an AM New York) to the bizarre (Eat a chocolate turkey.) Our winning team, “The Cluesters” won a free pizza party, and the team with the best spirit, “Team Flashypants,” won a free coffee break. To see all the photos, please check our Facebook page.

With all the fun that was had, not to mention the post-Hunt happy hour, we asked our team to share highlights from our fourth annual hunt as this week’s DGC Roundtable:

Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive:

This year’s hunt brought some of our most “interesting” challenges yet. By far the most intriguing of them was taking a picture with a parking attendant (with bonus points for a minivan) and the attendant actually pulled up a random mini-van. We were a little concerned that it was someone’s vehicle, but we were more concerned about winning (we came in last place.) After the car arrived we provided a nice “thank you” and went about our way. We also spent more time looking for a chocolate turkey than anything else. I don’t think I’ve been to that many CVS/Duane Reade’s in such a short span and left empty handed.  By the end, I couldn’t wait to eat that turkey.

Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator:

For me the funniest aspect of the scavenger hunt was how many people shut us down when we asked if we could get a picture of one of us walking their dogs.  No one trusted us! When someone finally did let us take a picture, they still wouldn’t let go of the leash.  I thought that would have been one of the easier tasks, but it was the hardest.

Kathy Sampey, Vice President:

My favorite part of the scavenger hunt (also) was trying to find a dog to walk, which was on every team’s list. Usually, there are a million dogs sauntering down the block at any given time in this area, but when we were out scavenging, there was nary a canine in sight. Finally, in Union Square Park, a woman with a gentle-looking curly haired dog handed me the leash, and the poor dog thought she was being given away. When she realized she wasn’t, she jumped up to give me a kiss.

 

 

Jamie Kurke, Intern:10390272_944231045604570_7163020465331039479_n

For me, the best part of the scavenger hunt was just seeing the reactions from everyone we interacted with. To set the scene for you, my team was decked out in ’80s workout gear, complete with matching fluorescent pink sweatshirts. Among the most enthused to help us out were the Sleepy’s employees who couldn’t wait to have us take a picture sprawled out on a mattress and the two NYPD officers who graciously agreed to put their dinners on hold to do ‘The Mystical’ in a photo with us. Others, like the Petco employee who was trying to catch a hamster for us, were less than amused by our garb and requests, but those interactions were equally as entertaining. In the end, my team may not have won, but the experience of it all made every second of scrambling around the city worth it– and we did get recognition for being the most spirited!

 

‘Perspectives’ on Work/Life Balance from DiGennaro’s CEO

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” Shakespeare wrote.

As CEO of the 35-person NY based agency, with outposts/partnerships in Los Angeles, London, Mumbai and Sydney — DiGennaro still manages a healthy balance between her work and her personal life. Sam founded her namesake PR firm, DiGennaro Communications (DGC), in 2006.

Sam DiGennaro on Perspectives “I just haven’t given up the things I love,” DiGennaro said of about her personal life in a seaside interview at the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this past June. She told Katie Kempner, EVP/Chief Communications Officer at Cripsin Porter + Bogusky, and host of Perspectives with Katie Kempner. “I have sacred rituals and I don’t let anything get in the way of them. It keeps me centered and calm as the work week unfolds.”

DiGennaro talked about how she encourages a supportive, collegial atmosphere at her agency in which employees can spread their wings and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.

Perspectives with Katie Kempner in an inspirational online series featuring conversations with women in business and how they balance business with their personal lives given today’s “always-on” mentality.

You can check out the full interview here.

DGC Roundtable: Halloween Marketing

The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.

Seasonal marketing kicks into overdrive this time of year, including storefronts with skeletons and commercials for candy. That’s right, it’s Halloween! Since we’ve all been gearing up for the holiday over the last few days – and celebrating here at DGC, the question this week was:

What is your favorite Halloween marketing campaign/ promo and why?

Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive:

Cheetos launched Project TP a few years ago, which had Chester Cheetah putting “virtual TP” on houses using Google Earth. As an homage to my childhood, and the adolescent Mischief Night, I loved to see my present day house (and friend’s houses) covered in toilet paper. I even pranked my parents by sending them a “picture” of their house covered while they were traveling, and they were horrified. I guess you don’t really ever grow out of mischief.

Meg McMahon Stagaard, Account Director:

Denny’s “The Grand Slams” (created by our client Erwin Penland) has a great Halloween episode of the original web series: Food Fright, which takes a “stab” at Canadians, and no breakfast food is safe.

Kathleen Ruane, Vice President:

Crest and Oral-B serve up some fun Halloween humor in a kids’ focus group gone wrong. Costumed trick-or-treaters stage a mutiny when their candy is replaced with veggie flavored, vitamin-enhanced treats that look like candy. The only adult in the commercial soon has a mutiny on his hands as the kids reject his offerings. A nice closing reflects on the fact that nothing is more horrifying than a Halloween without candy.

I love this ad becuase the kids’ reactions are so real.  Not sure what they fed those kids, but it must have been pretty awful.

Christine Perez-O’Rourke, Account Director:

Without candy there would be no Halloween. Plain and simple. As a kid we get excited about dressing up in an outlandish costume, traipsing through our neighborhood and begging strangers because of candy. And as an adult, Halloween is the one and only holiday where devouring a whole bag of Reese’s is (somewhat) acceptable. So I’m going to have to give this one to a candy brand. In particular a brand that continues to take a simple idea created a few years back and make it feel fresh, not to mention funny. My favorite Halloween marketing campaign goes to Snickers. In particular, their ‘Horseless Headsman’ spot that aired back in 2012 and has been brought back each year around this time. Because you’re not you, when you’re hungry…

Gab Berman, Account Executive:

I love the Skittles Halloween ad with the giant spider – it shows him befriending a little boy who is trying to get Skittles from the spider’s cobweb. The ad then goes on to show the two doing fun activities together and becoming best friends. The kicker is at the end when the spider says he was just kidding and actually ate the kid, I love it.

Jamie Kurke, Intern:

I have to give my vote to Chipotle.  They’re bringing back their ‘Boorito’ campaign from years past, and it is awesome. Just show up (in costume) after 5 PM and any burrito, bowl, salad, or taco order is only $3.

As if I needed another excuse to dress up tonight….

 

Happy Halloween Everybody!

DGC Roundtable: Remembering Oscar de la Renta

The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.

On Tuesday, Oscar de la Renta passed away. To honor his memory and the huge impact he made on millions of lives, this week’s question was:

What is your all-time favorite Oscar de la Renta piece, and why?

Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President:Maryliz

The dress just screams to me ‘live life to the fullest’, which is how Oscar lived his life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jules Smith, HR Director:Jules

I think this dress speaks for itself, it has true “star quality”~ it is a show stopper and a real statement piece!

It showcases his passion, creativity and spectacular talent.

I absolutely adore it!

 

 

Claire Higgins, Account Executive:claire

Oscar de la Renta was undoubtedly a Red Carpet icon and I’m so sad to think about not seeing new work during award season– one of my favorite seasons. One of my favorite looks was Zooey Deschanel at the 2013 Golden Globes. Such a classic, which Oscar de la Renta always managed to do. I love the cut and the flow of the skirt; it’s a perfect Red Carpet dress for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Much of our team (myself included) was moved by this iconic pink dress, featured in Sex and the City:


satc
Bridget Butlers, Senior Account Executive:

Arguably the most clichéd choice, but this pink silk, full-skirted, mid-length gown was the perfect mix of classic chic with an edgy, forward-thinking twist (and slightly more structured than many of his whimsical designs). When it hit TV screens during the final season, Oscar de la Renta’s name was permanently etched in the memory banks of SATC and fashion-lovers alike. Even a decade on, it’s a piece I still long to own.

Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator:

My favorite Oscar de la Renta piece was a dress Sarah Jessica Parker wore in an episode of Sex and the City.  The dress is simple and timeless, and it didn’t matter that SJP’s character wore it to a McDonalds!

Peyton McCarthy, Account Coordinator:

Agree!

Jamie Kurke, Intern:

You think Oscar de la Renta, you think this dress. It’s a beacon of style and character that an entire generation of women simultaneously swooned over. Given its cultural significance and timeless beauty, it’s no wonder that half of the office choose this piece to remember him by.

As much as the Carrie Bradshaw dress speaks to me, I think another important thing to note is that the last Oscar de la Renta crafted before his passing was Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress.  jamie

Lesson learned: If you’re going to marry George Clooney, you should probably do so wearing ODLR.

 

DGC Roundtable: SnapChat & Hot Apps

The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.

The early buzz around the DGC bullpen this week stemmed from Yahoo’s investment in SnapChat. With the latest app to be acquired/invested by a big brand, our question this week was:

What’s the next big app / your favorite app that everyone should use?

Peyton McCarthy, Account Coordinator:

Timehop – I don’t think it’s new to everyone, but it is to me and it’s fantastic. It keeps an archive of your social network posts/statuses and allows you to see exactly what you were up to in years past on that exact date. It’s almost like an effortless diary or time capsule. Definitely would recommend to anyone who is an avid user of social media – sometimes things I don’t remember pop up and they happened just a year ago. Sometimes they are from a bit farther down memory lane and can be a bit embarrassing, but always great material for a #TBT

Kathy Sampey, Vice President

I don’t know about the ‘hottest’ app, but my favorite one is Best Parking, which helps me find parking garages near my Manhattan destinations for the best price.

Jamie Kurke, Intern

As someone who is attached to her phone at the hip, I try out new apps on a pretty regular basis (mainly puzzle games, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure no one else will be captivated by those.)

My latest and greatest find is Snap, by Groupon. It’s amazing for anyone looking to save a few bucks on groceries without having to wait in that mind-numbing Trader Joes line. All you have to do is browse the app for products on promo, buy them at ANY store, send in a picture with proof of purchase, and after you’ve saved $20, you get a check. Where has this been all of my life?

Another great one for New Yorkers is the Transit App, which gives real-time updates on the nearest public transportation. It’s a really great time-management tool– especially when it comes to those pesky trains (ahem, NQR) that don’t post their departure times in the station.

Patrick Wentling, Account Executive:

It’s by no means a “new” app, but the one that’s really changed the way my friends interact is Venmo. Simply put, it serves as virtual cash from your bank account to transfer money to your friends. While most banks play nice with each other within the same network, Venmo is bank agnostic. Gone are the days of “I have no cash” or massive headaches over splitting a restaurant bill. Venmo allows you to pay up (or charge up) right away so everybody endures the same damage.

The other app that is useful for New Yorkers is an app our President Howie Schacter referred to me called Exit Strategy, which gives a map of subway stations and where each staircase will take you above ground, and what subway car you need to take to be close to it. It’s a “premium app” but very worth it to save time while in the underbelly of NYC.

Jules Smith, HR Director

GreenHopping is one of my favorite new health apps…

It makes being healthy in the city and when you travel so much easier!

This app helps the green consumer seek out and access  healthy eateries by placing all vegan, raw, gluten-free and vegetarian restaurants, as well as green juice bars, cold-pressed juice bars, green smoothie bars and health food stores on an electronic map locate via a GPS mobile application. I love it for me because I am obsessed with juicing and love it for my kids so they can eat out with healthy delicious options!

Gemma Pollard, Vice President

Noted: an app that​ helps you remember bars/restaurants/places you want to go, saving new searches on Yelp everytime someone says “Where should we go tonight for dinner?”

Pocket: couldn’t love Pocket (formerly Read It Later) more. I have to consume a lot of content each day and Pocket lets me delay reading of non-urgent stories/articles until I have time (even if I don’t have wifi)

Evernote is a no-brainer for lists, but I love that I can access all of my notes seamlessly across devices, or through any web browser

Sara Ajemian, Account Director

Gemma introduced me to Noted – it’s an excellent app that lets you save best places you’ve been to or those that friends have recommended. So when you’re on the go and unsure of where to eat/say/drink, you can pull up a map of wherever you are give yourself a digital memory jog.

Kelsey Merkel, Senior Account Executive

I do find the Venmo app to be extremely useful and secure. With Venmo you can make and share payments instantly. Since not all banks allow seamless bank-to-bank transfers, Venmo makes it easy to deposit money directly from your chosen bank account into the bank account of the person of your choice.

Normally I would be skeptical on this type of app in terms of security, but with all of the talks about Apple’s new Apple Pay with the iPhone and Google Wallet, mobile payments are sure to be something that will continue to gain attention and consumer use in the coming months, proving that security is really a non-issue.

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