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Poly Prep Recognizes Alumna Samantha DiGennaro with School Service Award

Four Alumni Honored with Distinguished Achievement Awards

Sam DiGennaro, Service Award recipient with Nick Gravante and Larry Brandman, each Distinguished Achievement Recipients

Sam DiGennaro, Service Award recipient with Nick Gravante and Larry Brandman, each Distinguished Achievement Recipients

Last Saturday, DGC founder/CEO Sam DiGennaro had an appointment to have her hair cut before attending her 25th class reunion. Alas, her plans changed abruptly when, the night before, a classmate informed her that she needed to arrive at Poly Prep, her alma mater, in the morning – considerably earlier than anticipated–to be recognized at an Annual Awards convocation.

DiGennaro would receive the School Service Award, given annually on “Reunion Day” to a member of the faculty, alumni, a parent or other member of the school community for distinguished service to the prep school over a period of years. We’ve been told she is the first female recipient in the history of the award.

Headmaster David B. Harman delivered opening remarks at the April 27 event and shared an impressive list of universities to which this year’s graduating students were accepted – from the Ivies to Duke to The University of Chicago, among others.

Sam DiGennaro with Jeff Ferraro, former president of The Poly Prep Board of Governors, Erika Boccio Farrell, former member of The Board; each class of '88

Sam DiGennaro with Jeff Ferraro, former president of The Poly Prep Board of Governors, Erika Boccio Farrell, former member of The Board; each class of ’88

A member of the class of 1988 at the Brooklyn-based independent high school, DiGennaro has spent the past 20 years on the Board of Governors and is now a Board Member Emerita. Through her work with the Board, DiGennaro was involved in mentoring, networking, fundraising and fostering deeper and lasting ties between Poly Prep and its alums. She is currently “class agent” and was reunion co-chair for the Class of ’88.

Several years ago, DiGennaro was part of a group that led the charge to establish the school’s Spirit Award and Rising Star Award. She won the latter in 1998.

“I’ve always believed in the importance of giving back,” DiGennaro said in her acceptance remarks. “To the school, to the neighborhood, to the larger community. We all have a stake in the world around us.” She encouraged all attendees—faculty, alumni and current students—to give back.

DiGennaro, who founded PR firm DiGennaro Communications in 2006, last fall, rented a yellow school bus for a full work day to take volunteers from her company’s staff to help with the clean-up after Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway Beach—where she grew up and travelled by yellow school bus to Poly Prep every day.

Lisa Della Pietra, class of ’86 and now Director of Alumni Relations at Poly Prep described DiGennaro as “tireless in giving her time, expertise and love to this school.”

Poly Prep alumni who received the school’s Distinguished Achievement Award at the April 27 program are as follows:

Located in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, Poly Prep was founded in 1854.

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Poly Prep’s Commons Hall, site of the Distinguished Achievement and School Service Award Ceremony. Headmaster David Harmon addresses attendees.

The Second Annual IST Start-up Week

DGC is coming to you live from Happy Valley, the home of The Pennsylvania State University.

We’re here covering Start-up Week, a week-long event put on by the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) highlighting the success of its alumni—visionary entrepreneurs and innovators in technology.


Today, we had the opportunity to sit down with IST’s Dean David Hall to get his take on the event, and what lies ahead.

DGC: Dean Hall, can you tell us why IST celebrates Start-up Week?

Dean Hall (DH): Start-up Week allows us to showcase 20-30 examples of successful entrepreneurs, both alumni and friends of Penn State, to our future graduates in a one-week timeframe. Through panels, networking sessions and town halls, we can show our students that you, too, can be successful after graduation. More than that, Start-up Week gives our students the opportunity to network with successful entrepreneurs to make future connections and even potential job opportunities.

DGC: What is the history behind Start-up Week?

DH: Start-up Week began as the brain child of David Rusenko, an IST alum, who is currently the CEO and co-founder of Weebly. Together, we collaborated to create an event that provides an opportunity for rising stars in the technology field to discuss a wide array of career options that students may be interested in pursuing.

DGC: How can alumni who are not here get involved with future Start-up Weeks?

DH: As Start-up Week continues to become an annual event for IST, we invite alumni to come attend and be a part of the excitement. Our alumni are our biggest asset; we continually look for ways to inspire our current students by our successful alumni. By attending Start-up Week, our students get a firsthand view of life after school.

DGC: What are you most excited about at Start-up Week?

DH: During each of the presentations, IST is videotaping the sessions for future use in the classroom. And that’s something that we base our entire curriculum on, real life problems and real life solutions. We are constantly asking our students to come up with creative solutions for real organizations. IST believes that established companies benefit from the fresh set of eyes of our students. And in fact, it’s that entrepreneurial spirit that Start-up Week is based upon.

We’ll be attending more sessions, networking events and the annual Hackathon today, so stay tuned. For more information on Start-up Week and a full schedule of events, visit

Food for Thought: How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

When it comes to reaching a mass audience, TV is the undisputed king of all media (sorry, Howard Stern). Or is it? In this column, originally published in Adweek, Radha Subramanyam of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment demonstrates how radio delivers not only reach, but receptivity and the sense of community consumers want. Read on for insights on how marketers can create Super Bowl-style results with the original social medium:

How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

Look to radio for reach, receptivity and community By Radha Subramanyam

Football fans around the country geared up for weeks before last Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers and their opposing coaches—brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, who took sibling rivalry to new heights.

The big game did not disappoint.

From the power outage to the 49ers mounting an almost-comeback to that electric Beyoncé performance—there was no shortage of drama. And the commercials were no exception.

For marketers, advertising during the Super Bowl is a once-a-year moment of unprecedented reach and consumer attention. Never does advertising have a more captive audience. But most brands can’t afford the $3.8 million it takes to buy just a 30-second spot. What’s more, everyday TV buys don’t come close to generating the awareness of a Super Bowl spot—and in fact, can be a fumble for brands.

The magic of the Super Bowl ad spectacle is that rare alchemy of reach, receptivity and community. Don’t underestimate the power of community; at a time when we are more plugged in than ever through email, Twitter and Facebook, what many of us actually yearn for is to feel really connected. That’s the feeling we get when we’re sitting around the living room with family and friends, engaged in a common experience—like the Super Bowl. But if you want to achieve Super Bowl-sized results all year, radio is the only medium that delivers a Super Bowl kind of reach, receptivity and community year round.

To read the full column, click here.

Essence Digital’s Richard Mooney Talks Man vs. Machine at OMMA RTB

At this year’s MediaPost OMMA RTB (Real-Time Buying) Conference, held late January at The Grand Hyatt NYC, Essence Partner & Managing Director Richard Mooney, served as a panelist, sharing his insights on this ever-evolving space.

For the uninitiated, RTB refers to a type of media buying where instead of buying a block of impressions in aggregate, an advertiser buys only the impressions it wants at a unique price determined for each individual impression.

On the panel, entitled “From Real-Time Bidding to a Real-Time Marketing Culture,” Richard demonstrated the breadth of his expertise, expounding on a variety of topics, such as the limits of optimization; how data impacts the quality of an agency’s talent pool; the capacity – and limits of – machines; and why people must remain the core of an organization’s nerve center, whether data-centric or otherwise.

After the panel, Richard shared a few more thoughts on the importance of human capital in a data-driven industry with DGC.

Super Bowl: A Game of HORSE and the Pre-Game Debate

Twenty years ago, as a young PR buck, I was tasked with creating a strategy to help McDonald’s leverage its Super Bowl XXVII “Nothing But Net” spot.  I knew we had PR gold in our hands when the storyboards included Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in a game of HORSE. Slam dunk!

What wasn’t a slam dunk at the time was my idea: invite select media on-set (Entertainment Tonight, ESPN, a few others) to capture interviews with Jordan, Bird, director Joe Pytka and behind-the-scenes footage for segments that would air BEFORE the game to build anticipation and consumer engagement.

The heated debates at the Golden Arches over a concept that seemed heretical at the time were unforgettable. But, we hit pay dirt that year with phenomenal pre-game PR and a USA Today Ad Meter victory. It arguably kick-started what today is considered the first page of the Super Bowl Commercial PR Playbook.  In fact, now NOT finding ways to gain exposure for a brand’s Super Bowl spot before the game is considered heretical.

Stuart Elliott did a deep dive on the subject in The New York Times this week that’s worth reading…

DGC Video Bowl: #TeamBeatz vs #TeamWinning

The Super Bowl brings people together in celebration: It’s a celebration of football, a celebration of friends, and a celebration of the best campaigns in advertising. While DGC won’t have its own spot in the game, we didn’t want to be left out of the fun.

 This year, we put our own spin on the Super Bowl rivalry…

 Two teams, one simple brief: show the world what makes DGC so awesome. Our collaboration, our team spirit, and, yes, at times even our zaniness. Each video was made with an impossibly tight deadline, zero budget, a lot of love and collaboration, and a late night of laughter.  Enjoy…. view, and “Like”!  There’s a bagel breakfast hanging in the balance.

Team 1: #TeamBeatz

What is it about DiGennaro Communications (DGC) that makes working there so awesome? DGC’ers Megan and Michael ponder that very question in this video made with love and collaboration by #TeamBeatz, one of two DGC teams whose goal in our 2013 internal contest was to highlight our special team spirit.

Team 2: #TeamWinning

In this video made with love and collaboration, #TeamWinning shares what makes DGC great by channeling inspiring Super Bowl Halftime Show performances from years past and present!

 May the best team win. Who knows? We may even end up being the next viral sensation.

Timehop: A Walk Down Social Memory Lane

timehopSocial media content is always begging the question, what’s next? Tweets, videos, Instagrams, blog posts, it’s all very real-time. Rarely is there a look back, unless it is part of a year in review style piece that we’ve seen all too much this time of year.

But nostalgia is powerful. It brings back memories, emotions, and can remind you of the good and bad times in your life as well as helping inform your future decisions. The proliferation of online content makes it easy to revisit days, months, and even years gone by.

There’s an app called Timehop I’ve been using for a while that I wanted to share. Formerly known as “Four Square and Seven Years Ago,” this app digs into your old tweets, Facebook pictures, check-ins, images taken on your phone, and more to give you a glimpse into your online activity on this particular day through the years.

It makes it easy for me to go back and see what I shared on this day last year, the year prior, all the way back to my social media infancy six years ago and see what (regretful) shenanigans I was up to in college.

A lot of my shares are related to music, sports, or TV. Most mornings I check in with TimeHop to see where I was mentally and reflect on how different I am now.

Using TimeHop makes me think more now before I share. For example, do I really need to tweet about Bruce Springsteen every day? While I stand behind every Springsteen tweet I have sent, there are times after TimeHopping where I ask myself “Was I thinking before I hit tweet?!”

We’ve got to go Back to the Future

We’re in the business of reputation and software like Timehop allows seamless access to your past like never before. It provides a history of not just your reputation today, but your reputation from years back. For some, that can be dangerous territory (thankfully, I’m pretty clean.)

For brands, Timehop can serve as a way to easily access stories and work shared over social in the past making the life of a community manager easier. Perhaps there are opportunities to revisit that content and update it for today, or even use it as a reflection piece? If you’re in the business of predicting trends, how did you do?

Timehop also breathes pragmatism into a somewhat overused buzz word in “Big Data” by allowing brands to tap into users’ archives of shared content. Did you tweet about going skiing last winter? A ski company could offer you a deal on another trip. Got a new iPad this day last year? iPad case companies could suggest you buy a new case. The issue of privacy obviously comes up, but there’s certainly an opportunity if it is done in an authentic manner.

As with many tech products, you only get out of it as much as you put in. For those that invest the time, Timehop offers a unique look down social-memory lane that can help you improve your content moving forward. Download Timehop for iPhone [non iPhone-users can still use the e-mail version.]

Important Update from DGC: Business Continuity and Server Outage

Dear Friends:

If you are located in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, we hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

We at DGC are relieved to report that everyone on our team weathered the storm. Our office, however, is in lower Manhattan and without power. Our email server and phone system are down, and our off-site back-up server is down as well.

DGC staffers with power and Internet access are working remotely and doing their best to be accessible and responsive. As many of you know, cell phone access and connectivity are still quite limited. Texting seems to be the most reliable form of real-time communication.

Please reach out to your team via mobile phone and/or feel free to post a note here if you’re having trouble getting through to anyone, and we’ll do our best to route it to the correct recipient asap.

Many thanks for your patience and cooperation this week. We’ll be running at full speed again as quickly as possible!

Sam, Howard, Melanie and the DGC team

Forbes Shares “Aha” Moments of America’s Top Entrepreneurs

Image via Forbes

We’re in the throes of election season where topics like job creation and unemployment rates are being thrown around by candidates, pundits and citizens, alike. Did you catch last night’s debate?

While both sides of the aisle have ideas for change, Jim Clifton, the Chairman of Gallup, suggested that what we really need is more entrepreneurship inspiring people to start companies and grow organizations, ultimately leading to more job opportunities.

Well, ForbesAlan Hall recently spoke with 100 founders of growing businesses about the “Aha” moments that solidified their decision to move forward with their entrepreneurial initiative -– what inspired them, how they did it and ultimately, how many jobs they created in the process.

Our very own Samantha DiGennaro weighed in, explaining that after 15 years as a corporate communication executive at global companies where corporate politics “starved her soul,” she knew she could build a better alternative. And so, DiGennaro Communications was born.

Read on to be inspired by the experiences of 99 other talented entrepreneurs in “100 Founders Share Their Top “Aha” Moments — Guess How Many Jobs They’ve Created So Far?”

Creative Dept: Handle with Care

Last week, Nina DiSesa, a creative consultant at R3:JLB, had a column in Ad Age  talking about how love and trust were necessary ingredients in successful relationships between clients and their advertising agencies. She defined a “successful” relationship as one steeped in the following:

1)      Longevity. Love and trust made the client-agency relationship last a long, long time because it meant that during any rough patch, the account lead was able to empathize and smooth things over. Thus, throwing an account into review was a rare occurrence.

2)      Solid relationships between the client and agency allowed the agency to feel comfortable taking chances to produce stellar creative. The constant threat of having to pitch against other agencies makes creative professionals insecure, and they freeze up.

3)      Good relationships lead to a happy result. Agencies produce work that resonates with customers, and client sales go up.

4)      If agency creatives feel that their client loves them, they’ll go through walls to please that client. It’s important for clients and even agencies themselves to nurture and support the creative.

DiSesa should know. For many years she was chairman chief creative officer of the New York office of McCann-Erickson.  DGC’s own CEO Sam DiGennaro wholeheartedly agreed with DiSesa’s column, offering, in part, this insight (via online comments):

“… intimidation, ‘gotchas’ and fear tactics have the trickle-down effect of demoralized talent, marginalized results and, worst case, commoditized offerings. This hurts everyone in the long run.”

A lot of others weighed in as well with equally interesting perspectives. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

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