Blog Archives

What Can Brian Williams Do?

The Brian Williams story will ebb and flow until NBC figures out whether it will bring him back to the anchor chair following his six-month suspension, which began in February. As you may recall, Williams, the $10 million man, was disciplined for exaggerating some of his experiences reporting on the Iraq War, among other stories.

Williams has his supporters, not least the eight million nightly viewers he drew to the NBC Nightly News.brian williams

Some of the debate has revolved around Williams’ journalistic credentials or lack thereof.

Sam DiGennaro, founder and CEO of DiGennaro Communications, is in the camp that thinks his journalistic chops are beside the point and argues that this is more of a CRM story—the relationship Williams has with the general public and devoted viewers.

She writes on the Forbes Leadership blog that Williams’ situation is a cautionary tale for everyone: “In the age of social media, public and private citizens alike, not to mention brands, are at risk of being pilloried at any moment,” and offers some steps the anchor man can take to restore the public’s trust in his personal brand.

‘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.

Let’s Make the Industry 50/50… But Why?

This feature was originally published in Issue No. 4 of ADC Magazine.

Clockwise from Top Left: Mandy Gilbert, Alessandra Lariu, Samantha DiGennaro, Jen Larkin Kuzler

Clockwise from top left: Mandy Gilbert, Alessandra Lariu, Samantha DiGennaro, Jen Larkin Kuzler

In reflecting upon the ADC 92nd Annual Awards season, Executive Director Ignacio Oreamuno realized that an organization like ADC is in a unique position to raise female voices in the creative industries. If not a Club with a mission to Connect, Provoke and Elevate its membership and international communities, then who?

Ignacio assembled a committee of brilliant and accomplished women to help him develop the initiative and, with their support, challenged not only ADC and its programs, but any others industry-wide to split its award show juries, conference speakers and panels, and board of directors 50/50 women to men.

But why? The members of the Let’s Make the Industry 50/50 committee explain:

ADC: While it does not directly call out equal gender hiring quotas, how can an initiative such as Let’s Make the Industry 50/50 – in calling for equal representation among awards juries, speaker panels and boards of directors – positively affect the roles and opportunities for females in the creative industries?

MANDY GILBERT (FOUNDER & CEO, CREATIVE NICHE): It’s crucial to remind key stakeholders in the creative industries of the value women bring to creative strategic and leadership roles. Not only do women offer unique perspectives on brands, consumer behaviors and business relationships, they also have a different approach to leadership and team management that complements and even improves the effectiveness of executive leadership teams and boards. Case in point: A recent McKinsey report found that companies with more women than men on their executive committees exceeded the return on equity and operating results of companies with male-dominated executives by 41 percent and 56 percent, respectively. With that in mind, it’s necessary for current agency leadership to take this into account when they look at their future business prospects. While this initiative does not directly call for hiring equality, it does highlight the wealth of qualified available female creative talent by ensuring their voices have a place on panels, juries and boardrooms. With nearly 60 percent of today’s university graduates being female, agencies will be left behind if they don’t fully embrace women in leadership roles who will be able to inspire the young women entering the industry behind them to do the same.

ADC: With the network of talented and qualified female creative being much larger than perceived, what seems to be the barrier to women rising into positions of leadership and how we can overcome this together?

ALESSANDRA LARIU (CO-FOUNDER, SHESAYS): For centuries, leadership positions were filled by men and, therefore, women’s leadership style (which tends to be more nurturing and collaborative… but not in a fluffy way!) has remained unrecognized. Just ask Forbes, Fortune or even Google, and you will likely hear that companies with women on the board perform better. And just to be clear, I don’t think women’s style is better than men’s. I believe there needs to be equal representation and availability of both styles, so people can choose which one they like.

ADC: What role do industry award shows specifically play in increasing awareness of the discrepancy in gender representation in juries?

JEN LARKIN KUZLER (DIRECTOR OF AWARDS PROGRAMS, ADC): The assumption is that award show juries reflect the current state of the industry through the creative, companies and countries that are represented. While this is largely the case, there is often a real lack of female participation. Awards shows in particular have a unique opportunity to involve qualified, spirited and talented minds of both genders in the judging process. We have the ability to call out the places where we need diverse voices to effect a change in the conversation that happens behind the doors of the jury room. This change in dynamic almost always results in a better experience and a better show.

ADC: What can women and men in the creative industries actively do to ensure that female voices are represented at the table (conference, jury, board or otherwise), in the media and within their own agency walls?

SAMANTHA DIGENNARO (FOUNDER, DIGENNARO COMMUNICATIONS): The creative industry boasts so many talented women who deserve the opportunity to be recognized as leaders. Endemic shortcomings surrounding our industry’s dearth of senior-level female talent aside, we must continue to encourage all of our wonderful women to stay active despite – or, perhaps, because of – the majority of male voices in management, in the press, on the speakers’ circuit and in jury rooms.

As an industry, we’ve taken some bold steps to even the playing field and to encourage female participation. Now it’s up to individuals to advance the cause. Women and men alike need to speak up and engage in the on- and off-line dialogues surrounding this industry’s advancement of female creative and C-level execs.

Don’t accept the status quo. Challenge conference/jury programmers and journalists who seem to defer and default to the “usual suspects” of recycled names. Let’s nominate our peers, our direct reports, our muses, those who inspire and excite us. The most important outcome is that we continue to have representation of all different life experiences and points-of-view… and to close the gender-gap in doing so.

When both men and women truly recognize the powerful ideas that so many women bring to the table – and remove corporate politics and jockeying from the equation – no one will second-guess the decision to hire and promote more amazing ladies more often, and then we’ll start to close the gender gap in our industry’s public forums.

I’m delighted the ADC’s Let’s Make the Industry 50/50 Initiative has begun to do so.

Third time’s a charm for DGC and the Inc. 500|5000

Growth in a business is always something to be excited about, but when that growth is recognized, it makes the long hours and continuous hard work all the more rewarding. As a testament to that hard work, we’re happy to announce that DiGennaro Communications made its way onto the 2013 Inc. 500|5000 list for the third year in a row.

inc500 logo

Compiled by Inc. magazine, the Inc. 500|5000 list ranks the nation’s fastest growing private companies, spanning all industries, states and revenue brackets. It’s a big list, but every year we get a little closer to the top.

Getting on the list is no easy feat and just having a bumper year does not necessarily secure you a spot. Inc. looks at a set of criteria that includes sustained revenue growth over a three year period and, of course, you must be a U.S.-based, privately owned entity. Solid growth really is that defining factor that sees a business play an essential role in the broader economy.

Other notable list makers include top marketing and advertising agencies like TargetCast, Pandora, Droga5, as well as McAfee Institute and the number one winner, Fuhu, which makes kid-friendly tablets.

Our founder, Samantha DiGennaro, remarked, “For the third year running, we’ve proudly been part of the Inc. 500|5000 list, which is a testament to our smart, savvy and hardworking team, and unbelievable clients who allow us to experiment and push the boundaries in PR.”

DGC has seen consistent year-over-year growth since its founding in 2006, and we will celebrate our eighth anniversary in January 2014. Over the past year we have added new top notch clients including Pandora, Microsoft, Omnicom’s DDB, Ringling Bros. Circus, South Carolina Department of Park, Recreation and Tourism.

We even added another rung to our international reach, forging a strategic partnership with Sydney, Australia-based Access PR. In 2012, we formalized a partnership with London-based Eulogy!, which has helped solidify our shared global client accounts, and taken employees across the pond on both ends through our exchange program.

Samantha credits DGC’s spot on the list to the hard work we do every day. “My name may be on the door, but this honor is shared with each and every one of DGC’s 35 team members,” she said. “I look forward to the continued growth of the agency.”

The full list, searchable by industry, size and location, can be found at Inc. 500|5000 list.

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.

photo (4)

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

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?”

Inside the Super Bowl Economy: A Behind-the-Scenes Peek at PR’ing This Year’s Super Bowl Ads

This post was originally published on

Brian Pittman’s spotlight: Samantha DiGennaro, Founder, DiGennaro Communications

Over 173 million people will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, according to the latest stats from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association. Yes, that’s a record. So are estimates for total Super Bowl spending by consumers—now forecast at $11 billion.

So what drives all of that spending? Super Bowl ads, of course. And who drives the buzz for those ads? PR firms like DiGennaro Communications, that’s who.

For a behind-the-scenes look into getting the word out about these entertaining, highly anticipated ad campaigns, we spoke to Samantha DiGennaro. An 18-year communication strategist, she launched DiGennaro Communications in January 2006. Since then, she has built a highly reputable business-to-business public relations agency that boasts a roster of clients ranging from global media companies to full-service advertising agencies to digital and design outfits.

And this year, four of the agency’s client partners are running ads during the Super Bowl. Pretty impressive. Read on for her insights on everything from how social media is being incorporated into Super Bowl advertising campaigns this year to lessons for other PR, communications and marketing pros:

How many Super Bowl advertisers are there this year—and what is the average budget?

Firstly, on behalf of DGC, I want to say how happy we are, year after year, to play such a big role in the Super Bowl economy by promoting the ads that entertain millions of people during the game. This year, there are more than 30 advertisers, of which 11 are auto brands.

Some 30-second ads are going for $3.5 million, but not everyone is paying that price. And some advertisers are buying packages, including the Olympics. In addition, some brands have more than one spot, and as you will see, many are going beyond TV. They are investing in social, apps and user-generated content.

How many clients does DGC have in the Super Bowl?

We have four agency clients who are doing ads for major brands, and we—in partnership with our clients and their clients—are promoting ads from the following brands:

How is social media being integrated into campaigns?

The Super Bowl has always been a social experience and now technology makes it more so. That is why we see advertisers and their agencies embracing social media so fully. In fact, Mashable is running a piece on the most shared 2012 Super Bowl ads, which demonstrates that marketers are looking to maximize the return on their ad dollars. Advertisers today want people to see them before, during and after the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, consumers are enjoying the fun—and they get to feel even more part of the game. Kudos to our client Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for their work with the popular Dorito’s teaser:

This is also a chance to show how fun live TV can be, and not just at the Super Bowl. Clients of DGC’s such as BrightLine and Organic, Omnicom’s global digital agency, are talking about how social technologies and advanced TV help the audience participate with content in entirely new ways. It raises the creative bar. The increasingly social nature of the Super Bowl will be a precursor to trends we can expect to see at other highly-visible live events, such as the Oscars, Olympics, elections, etc.

Why is user-generated content tied to Super Bowl campaigns so successful?

User-generated ad campaigns are successful for a couple of reasons: Super Bowl is a national pastime, and there are millions of people in the US, and even around the world, who want to feel like they are a part of the game. Combine that with the fact that people have been producing and sharing their own content on the web for several years, and the Super Bowl, advertising and user-generated content make a perfect trifecta.

A large part of the Chevy ad campaign, created by our client Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, is built around user-generated content, and people can vote for the best ad. We believe Chevy will stand out by offering an app that viewers can use during the game to play games, interact with one another through Twitter and win prizes. The free Chevy Game Time app is available at the Game Time site and at the Apple App Store and Android Market.

Crash the Super Bowl, Dorito’s user-generated Super Bowl campaign created by Goodby, is likewise inherently social, as people get to vote for and share their favorite ads. The most-viewed user-generated ad is about a guy who wants to share his Dorito’s recipe. Instead of making the chip, he makes gold!

Who are some of the newcomers and innovators in this year’s Super Bowl adscape?

Our client Red Tettemer is doing Century21 Real Estate’s work this year. This will be Century21’s first foray into the grand stage of Super Bowl advertising, and the work features Donald Trump; professional Football Hall of Famer and NFL Analyst, Deion Sanders; and eight-time Olympic medalist, Apolo Ohno.

With a rallying cry of “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.” the 30-second, third-quarter ad matches a formidable and unflappable Century21 Agent with these well-known business and athletic icons as they participate in the home-buying and selling process.

Behind-the-scenes footage, teaser premieres and the final Super Bowl spot will be released on in advance of the game. Also, in the coming weeks leading up to the big game, via Twitter, the talent will announce key milestones, drive votes to the USA Today Ad Meter, release teasers of the spot, and use the hash-tag #C21SuperBowl.

In addition to the third quarter spot, Century 21 will have 11 pre-game spots and will be sponsoring the 3:30-4:00pm block of the pre-game show.

We are incredibly excited for our Red Tettemer client, as this is their first Super Bowl campaign.

On another front, David & Goliath is leading Kia’s third consecutive year of Super Bowl advertising.  Kia is the first brand to preview a Super Bowl ad in cinema. The spot goes live at midnight on February 2 on the Kia YouTube channel and officially launches during the game. There will be synergistic Facebook and Twitter branded experiences, leveraging the campaign look, tone and feel. On February 2, you will see flash banners driving people to YouTube, a Yahoo homepage take over; on February 7, Kia will take over the MSN home page, so you can see a multi-pronged campaign from Kia and David & Goliath.

What other trends should we be watching?

We are seeing several important trends emerge this year.

Companies are spending millions of dollars to reach more than 110 million people around the country during the game. And while national TV buys are a major component of the advertising strategy, recent viewing stats during the NFL playoffs from our client TVB, the not-for-profit trade association of America’s commercial broadcast television industry, show that there is a huge opportunity for smaller, local advertisers to reach 305% more eyeballs in key football cities during the Super Bowl.

We are also looking at advertising in a much more integrated fashion, and watching where new technologies and apps take us.  According to MediaCom, a WPP media-buying and planning company, TV remains the most important channel as it provides the spark to create conversations about brands. In fact, advertisers are stepping up and securing their Super Bowl TV buys much earlier than in years past.  That said, other channels are clearly driving the interest in ads: YouTube creates buzz; mobile apps and content give people snackable content they can share during the game; and paid search helps marketers increase their visibility when people search for them by name or for related products and services.

And of course, as advertising evolves in the digital space, so do we at DiGennaro Communications. The DGC team is actively blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and posting Super Bowl coverage and content in real time.

What are the traits of successful Super Bowl ads?

Racy ads are not necessarily the ones that win hearts. Clever humor typically fares well. Yes, endearing spots with a strong knack for storytelling are often times the most crowd-pleasing. Last year, Volkswagen won big with “The Force” about a young boy trying to empower things to move while dressed up as Darth Vader. It has had nearly 50 million views on YouTube alone. And this year’s VW ad, “The Bark Side,” already has 7.8 million views on YouTube. So we are seeing the power of a big brand echoing the power of another big brand, but in a charming, human and in this year’s case—dog-loving way.

How do ad agencies brainstorm killer creative with clients for the Super Bowl?

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is one of several companies that Business Insider talked to about the making and buying of Super Bowl ads and you can check it out here.

Any other lessons or tips that come out of this for advertisers and marketers?

Don’t wait for Super Bowl Sunday to air your ad—we are seeing incredible brand power and recall by going public beforehand.

Think viral. Think social.

Engage your PR department or PR agency to promote your work. There’s a method to the madness of Super Bowl PR. Better yet, it’s an art.

What are the biggest challenges around undertaking PR for these campaigns before and during Super Bowl season?

From a business and communications perspective, we love being part of the Super Bowl. Here at DGC, we have a robust team of PR pros pitching our clients’ expertise in Super Bowl advertising. Like I said, we have secured several news stories, with more than 50 outlets expressing interest in talking with our clients and their marketers/clients this Super Bowl season.

Outlets are asking for pre-game and post-game advertising analysis; some even welcome real-time blogging, ad critiques and judging. And of course some clients’ campaigns are getting major coverage in The New York Times, USA Today, and Ad Age, among other publications. It’s really gratifying to know that some of our clients are behind that work.

And while it’s not a challenge per se, we do need to be mindful of the fact that we cannot PR the work until the client blesses it. There are lots of moving parts—and people—involved, so timing needs to be impeccable. For each client, it’s a different set of rules—a different timeline. And we work carefully with our clients on that. We are all part of a team.

What will you and your team be doing on Super Bowl (hopefully, having some fun!)?

I am sure we will all be watching the game but the team at DiGennaro Communications will likely be very interested in the creativity and production value of the ads and the resulting real tine chatter in the social media space. In fact, we are proud to say that our clients and our DGC team will be fueling that conversation!

%d bloggers like this: