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Trumping the Media

Regardless of your political beliefs, Donald Trump is unlike any “politician” in recent memory. He’s never been one to pull verbal punches, which is why I say “politician” in quotes, because he’s far from your stereotypical elected representative.  From his racist terms against certain demographic groups and objectifying phrases towards women, it’s no secret Trump doesn’t hold back. His most recent contretemps came when he had Univision reporter Jorge Ramos ejected from a press conference.

From a PR agency’s perspective, the Donald’s approach is a nightmare. While being “politically correct” is not Trump’s MO, it should be for the rest of normal human society, and Trump’s style and approach are definitely not the way a potential President should behave. To make matters even worse, many of his remarks are not supported by facts, which make them even more outlandish. His comments towards women are uncalled for, and he’s leaving a wide trail of very angry people – and media stations – in his wake.

donald time magazineThat said, his approach has led to a media craze, including the cover of Time this week. What was once a circus now has to be taken more seriously. It’s a unique stance that, from a purely objective angle, is refreshing, considering the election is more than twelve months away. It’s provided some buzz in the dog days of summer, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, the news media can’t get enough, and I’m sure the funny folks at Saturday Night Live hope Trump mania continues for their upcoming season. We’ll be following Trump over the next year to keep up with his words – and media buzz – and be sure to share our thoughts here on The Hit Board.

‘Tis the Season!

It’s hard to believe another year has come and nearly gone. Earlier this week the annual DiGennaro Communications holiday festivities commenced and, once again, it was a huge success.

Before the festivities, however, we still had some business to take care of as DGC executives presented the State of the Agency, recapping highlights of 2013 and vision for 2014, reminiscing about all the fun we have had and giving some special shout-outs and honors to our awesome team.

The first-ever “DGC MVP” honors went to Account Director Claire Eisenberg and Senior Account Executive Chrissy Perez-O’Rourke for their hard work, dedication and true embodiment of the DGC spirit in all they do. We also inducted our inaugural members into the “DGC Hall of Fame”— General Manager/Director of Development Kendra Peavy and VP/Group Account Director Erin Donahue. The Hall of Fame is reserved for our top talents who consistently work to make DGC a better place for three or more years.

Additionally, we announced the winner of the second annual Rising Star program with our sister agency Eulogy! in London. Amidst some tough competition, Account Director Soraya Eltomey was selected to represent DGC for a week next year at Eulogy!, where she’ll get to know our partners and learn about how PR is practiced in the U.K. And a special shout-out to Senior Account Director Marielena Santana and Account Director Lee Lubarsky for their fantastic contribution to the program’s entry process.

After many rounds of applause, Secret Santa presents for all (complete with an appearance from “Mr. and Mrs. Claus”), and a champagne toast with some snacks – it was time to get the party started.

At The Library inside the Public Theater, we proceeded to stuff ourselves with delicious food, enjoy signature cocktails and dance the night away in the gorgeous space. Nothing gets this team up and moving like a little Beyoncé or Britney.

A great time was had by all, as you can see from the photos. Already excited for next year!


Big Apple to Britain: A Jersey Girl’s Journey into London PR

After a dozen days in the UK, I’m back in NYC and trying to avoid jet lag by making up for lost time with a much missed Starbucks. Though I did enjoy my tea and biscuits while in London—so much so I brought some back for the DGC team—it’s good to be home and with an absurdly large cup of iced coffee in hand. My time in London was definitely well spent, a perfect mix of work and play (something we value here at DGC). The Eulogy! team did a great job of making sure I met everyone, especially those from various divisions: social media (aka Onlinefire), marketing services, professional services, in addition to the B2B and consumer PR teams.

The Eulogy! team was also careful to make sure I didn’t work TOO hard, so they sent me up on the London Eye (on a thankfully sunny night)…



…and hosted a lovely pizza party on my last day. One thing that is consistent across countries and cultures is the effect that copious free pizza has on an office: it’s mayhem, wherever you are.


Overall, it was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful to both DGC & Eulogy! for making it happen. I hope my first “real” trip to London isn’t my last.

As they say, Cheers! xx Meg

Talking the Talk: How to Speak PR in the UK

ImageEver chased a journalist? How many sell ins have you done this week? Chances are, the answers are yes and many, but that’s not how you would say it. A “sell in” is a pitch, and to “chase” means to follow up. While the general approaches and goals of PR are the same on both sides of the pond, the terminology is quite different. When scheduling a “sit down” (meeting) with someone, be sure to check your “diary” (calendar) first. What we call “hits” or “clips” are the more formal “pieces of coverage” in the Queen’s English, and a byline is known as a “comment piece.” A company’s revenue is referred to as “turnover” and where we’d call financials simply “numbers,” here they are “figures.” Though these phrases aren’t what I’m used to hearing, they’re all pretty logical terms (unlike when I learned that a “plaster” is actually a Band-Aid…) and it’s helpful to be able to talk to the talk across various countries—even other English speaking ones!

Beyond the vocab, there are a few other differences when it comes to PR and media relations in the UK and the US. England has a large variety of national papers (approximately 13) where the US of A has mainly regional papers, with a few national exceptions that are particularly competitive. It’s more of result of geography than anything else: compared to the UK, the United States is absolutely massive and there aren’t many national outlets, but there are loads of regional ones. To put it in perspective, the entire UK (including all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is roughly the size of the state of Oregon. The number of outlets aside, there is also some variation in what the media is interested in. There aren’t as many talk shows in Britain as there are in the US, and they are less likely to cover something purely consumer-facing with no strong news angle. While a hard news hook helps with securing coverage no matter where you are, it’s even more important to get in with the UK media. For this reason, surveys and research are used regularly—with some clients as often as 2 or 3 times a week.

Of course, everyone at Eulogy! has been very helpful in explaining all this to me and has been kind enough to not laugh directly at me when I ask what a particular word means. For the record, “jelly” refers to jell-o, a “biscuit” is actually a cookie, “chips” in the UK are French fries, and I still can’t figure out why Band-Aids are “plasters.”

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.

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.

Pizza! Pizza! Or Not…

Congratulations are in order for Brenda Fiala, SVP, Strategy at Blast Radius, a DGC client. She appeared on the Today Show this morning [Oct. 16, 2012] to comment on the backlash against Pizza Hut. The fast-feeder’s recent promotion promised free pizza for life to an audience member at tonight’s second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney if that audience member asked the two men which they preferred: pepperoni or sausage as a pizza topping.

“The debate is not about whether Pizza Hut’s campaign is humorous or not,” Fiala said on Today. “The debate really is, is it appropriate for a brand to insert itself commercially into a public forum?”

The debate will be televised live from Hofstra University.

Hit Board Feature Friday – PanelPicker for SXSW Interactive 2013 in Austin is here!

Our Friday Feature usually recaps some of our clients’ best media coverage of the previous week. This week, we want to draw attention to the good work our clients are planning at SXSW Interactive. In other words, the second most important voting event of 2012 is upon us: the SXSW PanelPicker 2013!

A number of our clients are vying for a spot on the stage at SXSW Interactive 2013, and even our very own DGC executive team has thrown their hats into the ring with two panel ideas.

The SXSW Festival has increasingly become one of the most popular events of the year among the advertising, music and film industries. The event uses a crowd-sourced format to populate the speaker sessions, along with input from the event’s advisory board and SXSW staff.

The process for voting is simple. First, you have to sign up for a SXSW account, if you don’t already have one. After you’ve signed up, search/vote for any and all of your favorite panel ideas by hitting “thumbs up!” Voting closes August 31 at 11:59pm CT. Take a look below at a roundup of a number of great sessions you definitely don’t want to miss.

DGC – Building Buzz for Your Company via PR & Social

In this session, learn the basic steps to create buzz among your target audience. Hear practical and actionable guidelines from Sam DiGennaro, communications strategist and founder of DiGennaro Communications, the leading PR agency serving the advertising, media, marketing and entertainment spaces. Sam has been an integral force in managing the public image and strategic messaging of well-known C-suites, in addition to serving as counselor to many independent companies on the road to acquisition.
Learn how to use PR & social media to get news coverage in today’s complex media marketplace, align PR strategy with new-biz goals, raise an exec’s profile, recruit A-list talent & establish category expertise.

DGC – How Your Personal Brand Makes Your Company Shine

It is critical today for business leaders to build and manage their personal brands. A CEO’s brand can add incredible value to an organization as a whole. In this age of social media and self-published content, smart business execs must position themselves as thought leaders for industry “street cred” and to raise their companies’ profiles. In this session, former Forbes Executive Editor Melanie Wells explains the value of developing a strong personal brand and shares “inside” tips on how to craft a compelling one.

MEC – Is Big Still Beautiful?

Can and how do big agencies and small agencies partner with start-ups effectively?

In today’s changing landscape, big and small tech and media companies equally have an opportunity to partner with big name brands to create transformative marketing programs for consumers and clients – but is that really true? Is that really happening?

RAPP – E-tymology. How Digital Decimated the Dictionary

OMG. OMG is an official word. Mankini is in the Oxford English Dictionary. FOMO, tablet, and occupy have been nominated for Word of the Year. In this session, we explore the dramatic changes in language over the last decade, unprecedented in human history. And we ask educators, anthropologists and linguists: WTF?

RAPP – Graphic Design: Data Is The New Vector

Data has become the new fodder for design. As we become a more mobile focused on the go consumer of data, interface design is taking a back seat to data design. My discussion will focus on how to design around data, for data and with data as a means to influence interface design. Harnessing the power of data and being creative with the types of data that is available can be one of the most creative endeavors one can undertake. Designers now must think beyond just the aesthetic and move into the realm of big data and creative ways to design with it.

Organic –The Endless Aisle

The future of retail lies in the intersection of online, mobile and in-store behaviors and experiences — what we call “the endless aisle.” Think real-world purchase experiences that build off real-time data and stores that know you. Future retailers will suggest products that may best fit personal styles, or even help navigate through stores better. Consumers have become more educated than ever before, with the ability to check prices on the fly. This session will give a glimpse into the store of the future, and spell out the big opportunity for brands and emerging technologies in the retail space.

Organic – Kiss Cash Goodbye

Rumors of cash’s death are very real. Consumers have made clear their interest in going cashless — with major marketers beginning to reap the rewards. But there are still barriers to entry. The mobile payment space is highly fragmented and consumer trust in new technologies must still be established. This panel will give an overview of the mobile payment landscape –from major players to emerging companies — and insights about consumers’ behavior around mobile payment. It will outline the big opportunity for brands in mobile payments, and show how going cashless will go from mere concept to reality.

Wing – El Nuevo Gringo: Quantifying the Latino Influence

Latino influence on American culture is hard to miss. From food to fashion to entertainment, Americans are embracing Latino culture like never before. But evidence of that influence has always been solely anecdotal — until now. In this panel, Wing and Experian Simmons will reveal the results of a first-ever study quantifying this phenomenon, The Latino Influence Project. Panelists will demonstrate how non-Hispanics are taking on more and more traditionally Hispanic attitudes and behavior when it comes to food, travel, technology use, and media consumption. Attendees will walk away with stats about the changing consumer landscape and ideas for engaging Hispanic and non-Hispanic audiences alike.

Hyper Marketing Inc. – Mind Space, Digital Space, Shelf Space

Connecting with your audience is one part art, one part science. It begins with understanding your customers’ behavior (which reflects their needs and wants), sparking consideration for your product or service, and then converting that progression from mind space to digital space to shelf space to a sale and ultimately back again. That’s what it takes for marketers to win today.

Carbone Smolan – Video That Connects

No matter the product you’re launching or service you’re selling, it’s your goal to spark the interest of customers and inspire action. You need to connect with your audience, whether its buyers, recruits, internal teams or investors. What’s the best way to do this? Storytelling through video.

Cole & Weber – Project Butterfly: Escaping the Net to Be Sociable

Just being in social media and accumulating “likes” doesn’t make brands sociable.
So we set out to understand how sociable people interact in the real world, and apply that learning to help brands behave differently. Project Butterfly is a multi-city, online and offline project that merges social psychology, digital anthropology and cutting edge ethnography to dissect the DNA of highly sociable people, how they behave both on and offline, and how they differ from “hyperconnectors” – people who are extremely active on social media.

The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything

Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners

Day #3 got off to an early start (after a not so early night!) as we headed to see Goodby’s own Allison Kent-Smith, Director of Digital Development and resident educational evangelist for her panel, The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything. She was joined by Glenn Cole of 72andSunny, Matthew Brimer of the General Assembly and Giselle Schmitz of Facebook to discuss the importance of education in the advertising and marketing industries. Moderated by Lori Kent, the panelist shared their perspectives on the need to increase education and digital training as the industry evolves.

Matthew Brimer stated the importance of having a well-rounded skill set, pointing out the internet isn’t new and it’s surprising more people aren’t more familiar with using it effectively. Comparing the internet to a much older invention—electricity—he stated, “imagine if you had an electricity department at your company. Or said, I’m going to start a company, and we’re going to use electricity.” The internet has become almost as commonplace place as electricity, and there is a clear value in teaching your employees how to master it.

Digital education doesn’t just increase the employee’s value; it also benefits the company or agency as a whole. Implementing program that ups the level of talent within an agency allows it to better serve their clients. Goodby’s Ed Program (developed by Allison) takes it a step further by offering courses outside the agency to clients making them a more valuable partner and resource, which in turn can lead of business growth and positive PR—and who doesn’t like positive PR?

For more from Allison, you can check out her Fast Company article:  We’re All Technologists Now: 6 Steps To Retraining And Reinventing Your Creative Talent.

We caught up with Allison and moderator Lori Kent after the panel for a few more insights on the importance of Digital Ed, which you can view here as well:



Is Gamification Dead? Not yet…

DGC SXSW team here with another update!

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley

After a failed attempt to make the “Catch me if you can” panel, Meg and Kendra found themselves at “Making the World Easier to Use,” a fascinating conversation between MG Siegler, “the Apple guy” for TechCrunch, and Dennis Crowley—one of the co-founders of Foursquare.

SXSW was the birthplace of Foursquare in 2009 and the program has come a long way in a few short years. While the gaming mechanics of getting badges and earning points helped Foursquare gain a following, it is the value of helping people make decisions that is its true selling point. It’s the tips, deals and recommendations that allow people to connect in new ways that keep people “checking in” for more. Utility is king.

Here at SXSW, Foursquare is as common as Facebook.  While it continues to be fun, it is becoming increasingly more useful and more people will be using it for practical purposes. As Dennis said, “The Foursquare of SXSW is the Foursquare of the future.”


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