Ireland – October 2015

My roommate, Miriam, spent the fall semester abroad studying in Carlow, Ireland and I have always wanted to visit the country that most of my ancestors came from. Over my fall break, I took the opportunity to visit this beautiful country without having to pay for a hotel and eat every meal at a restaurant. I am so thankful to have spent a large part of my time in this small town, instead of making a large city my home base. Carlow embodied all of the things I was looking forward to in Ireland: castle ruins, churches, a river park, coffee shops and pubs on the narrow main street. I didn’t add an international phone plan so I relied on bus and restaurant wi-fi to keep my friends and family updated on my travels. This really helped me appreciate what was around me without being tied to my phone, which can happen to me, despite my best intentions. The weather during my trip was amazing; while it snowed at home, Ireland experienced a week of sunny, mild fall days.

I arrived in Ireland on Thursday morning after an overnight flight from New York. While waiting for my bus from Dublin to Ireland, not one, but two, bus drivers asked if I was okay. This became a theme throughout the trip; everyone is so kind, even after they discover you’re an American tourist, which happens as soon as you open your mouth. The drive to Carlow was stunning. The sun was shining as we drove through Dublin and into the green, green countryside.

Miriam met me at the bus stop between her classes and we headed back to her apartment for a shower. I was really fighting the jet lag that comes with losing 5 hours so I headed to Carlow Coffee Co. for the first of many lattes  in Ireland. There is surprisingly good coffee in Ireland, and not just Irish coffee. After my dose of caffeine, I wandered around the charming streets of Carlow and visited the County Carlow Museum and visitor center, which was incredibly helpful in planning the rest of my trip. In my wanderings I saw the ruins of a castle poking up over the rows of houses, and you cannot not walk towards a castle when you see it. When Miriam finished classes for the day we make a quick trip to Aldi, made dinner and caught up. Then we laid out the map of Dublin and circled each place we wanted to visit the next day. Student discounts are great in Ireland, especially the bus fares, which really helped us get to everywhere we wanted to go. We went to bed very early to be ready for the next day.

We caught the bus from Carlow to Dublin without a hitch, but didn’t get off at the right stop, so we ended up at the airport. The bus driver pointed us in the right direction to take the city bus back into Dublin. We started our day in the Temple Bar neighborhood at the farmers’ market. We bought farm-fresh quiches to eat later in the day and wandered to the artisan market. I fell in love with the leather bracelets at ThunderSolas and decided that everyone I know needed them for Christmas. We wandered towards Trinity College, where we had lunch on the square among both students and tourists, passing by the Dublin Castle and Christ Church Cathedral on our way. After getting a little lost on Grafton Street, we crossed the river to get to the Jameson Old Distillery. The building is so cool, and our tour guide was hysterical.

After a whiskey taste test between Jameson, Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels, which confirmed my dislike for whiskey, we headed to the Guinness Storehouse. I am proud to say that, after attending The Guinness Academy, I can now pour a beautiful pint. The Gravity Bar’s view of the city and surrounding mountains was the best part of the tour. We had lamb stew at The Porterhouse for dinner and slowly made our way back to the bus station through Temple Bar. The street musicians all day, and especially that night outside the pubs, were so talented and I loved every single one.

On Sunday, we went back to Dublin and caught a city bus out to Howth, about a 45 minute ride. This little fishing village was my favorite part of my trip. We walked the east pier, marveling at the colorful boats and cliffs. The Grind provided our caffeine fix for the day, and the friendly staff pointed us towards The Abbey Tavern, where we had the most delicious lunch of our trip. I had a beef and Guinness pie, and Miriam had a huge piece of salmon that even I thought was delicious. Ireland was playing in the Rugby World Cup on every TV in the pub.

After visiting the little food and craft market in town, we walked down the west pier, which is where I found the West Pier Art Studio and met Alan McLeod. I am blown away by the way Alan captures the village he lives and works in, as well as how kind he is. We got to know each other while he tried to get enough of a wi-fi signal through the foot-thick stone walls of his ancient building to process my credit card information. And when I left the print I bought from Alan for my dad’s Christmas present on a Dublin city bus that night, he was kind enough to replace not only that print, but also the smaller version he had already given me for free for myself. This experience cemented my love for the beautiful country and people of Ireland.

Miriam and I walked around the peninsula of Howth and encountered some of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen. Horses grazing next to the path only added to how much I enjoyed the view; from above, we watched cliff jumpers in wet suits flip into the water. We left Howth in the late afternoon to get back to Carlow with enough time to visit Miriam’s favorite pub, Tully’s. We drank Kopparberg Cider and listened to some lovely live music.

On Monday I was on my own, so I headed to Killkenny on the bus. It amazed me how safe I felt traveling alone here; everyone was willing to help me find my way and point out the best places to visit. During my short trip to this small city I walked the Medieval Mile, stopping at St. Canice’s Cathedral, Black Abbey and The Butterslip. I toured the Kilkenny Castle, which is an amazing combination of medieval and romantic. It practically screams history at you. The butler garden was beautiful and I loved that the outbuildings have been re-purposed into artists’ studios. After heading back to Carlow, I walked towards the river. Here, there was a man walking his raccoon, Sampson, which was definitely the strangest thing I saw during my trip. I had dinner with Miriam and then we had the amazing dessert that is soft serve over a chocolate muffin from Supermac’s.

My last day I spent in Carlow. I went for a foggy morning run along the River Barrow and met Miriam for lunch at Dinn Ri, which was delicious. After lunch, Miriam showed me the IT Carlow campus and I caught up on homework and emails during her afternoon classes. We had a low-key night, because I had to be up at 2 am to catch my bus back to the airport.

Although short, my trip to Ireland was truly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am so thankful for Miriam for hosting me and pointing me in the right direction, even when she wasn’t able to join me. I am already dreaming of going back to the beautiful country that surpassed every expectation I had for it.

AWNY ACC 2015

I had the pleasure of attending AWNY ACC in New York City last month with a group of AAF members from Ithaca College. The trip began with a visit to Geometry Global headquarters with presentations by IC alum Courtney Cox, Allyson Hotchkin and Seth Greenberg. Courtney and Allyson work at Geometry on the Liberty Mutual account, while Seth works at OgilvyOne.

After a networking event back at the conference hotel, our group ventured out into Times Square for some delicious sushi followed by giant cookies and the richest, chocolateiest hot chocolate I have ever had at Schmackary’s.

The next morning the conference really kicked off, beginning with Kelly Wenzel‘s keynote address. I really enjoyed what Kelly had to say about being both a powerful marketer and a loving, present mom. Here are the six points she shared with us:

  1. Having empathy, being able to tell as story that customers want to hear and will appreciate, and treasuring relationships will almost always get you further than skill alone.
  2. Be curious, because curiosity will help you keep up in the ever-changing advertising industry. Investing your time is different than merely spending your time.
  3. “Be a go-giver.” Do not ask what you can get, but instead what you can give, and end interviews by asking, “How can I give?”
  4. The good work you contribute is more important that your title. Making your boss’ job easier gets you noticed.
  5. Dress for tomorrow, because there is so much you can’t control, but how you show up and present yourself you can control.
  6. Feedback is a gift, use it to fuel curiosity.

Video Production: Making Ideas Come to Life

This workshop wasn’t even on my radar, but after a poorly timed bathroom break, it was my only option. I am so glad I ended up here, despite the fact that I have no interest in video production. The theme of this panel’s discussion was “If content is king, distribution is queen.” Although the panelists, as creators, always want people to watch an entire video, goals are determined by what media is used to distribute the content and  the environment it’s viewed in. Metrics gathered with test audiences, platforms and content fuel future content and optimize distribution.

The panelists discussed justifying feel-good content over videos that scream “buy me.” This feel-good content creates awareness with storytelling; for Millennials, this type of story makes can make them want to buy and use a product. Branded content is preferred over ads; people love brands, but not ads. This content then creates a following that doesn’t mind seeing an ad every once in a while. While content creators like the panelists know this, it can be difficult to prove it due to brands’ use of traditional advertising concurrently.

For this method of communication to work, people have to watch the videos. One way to gain audiences are to find where they already are; this field relies heavily on influencers and brand ambassadors. Influencers are their own brands, so in some ways this is just an update of a cross promotion. Bloggers generally have a list of their favorite bloggers. It is important to remember not every video goes viral, and while going viral does generally mean success, so do other metrics.

Digital Content Development / Social Community Building

The next workshop I attended was hosted by a panel filled with clients, agencies and publishers, which created a great dynamic. Personalization to viewers, whether by where they are, who they are or what they like, is one strength of digital media. Then, these viewers must be turned into advocates for the brand. This can be done with “friends” of the brands using, for example, Instagram takeovers. Inspiring, educational content gets shares and tags. Lifestyle content blends in with users’ feeds and seems familiar, although a product focus is acceptable depending on the context. Engagement is created when brands keep cool, evolve, are self-aware and can also make fun of themselves. While all of this is part of a strategy, it takes talent to execute these strategies in authentic ways. Each media platform receives a unique personality and voice, but it is important to have consistent storytelling.

Influencers were also discussed in this workshop. Influencers can act in two ways: as an amplifier, where a brand uses the influencer’s following, or as a co-creater, where a brand uses the influencer’s voice. It is often difficult for brands to allow control of voice to be handed over to another creater, but viewers know when a brand is forcing its voice on an influencer. You don’t want an audience to wonder how much an influencer was paid. Both small influencers specific to each channel and one star across all media are tactics used by brands. Often, brands will opt for smaller influencers because they are more authentic and less cluttered.

Experiential Marketing

The last workshop I attended was hosted by marketers who create experiential marketing events to connect brands with target audience members in an incredibly hands-on way. Owned and earned media is always better than paid, and these events create a story that invites consumers in and gives them a chance to participate in a shared interest, such as educating teen drivers on the dangers of distracted driving, as Toyota did. This two-way communication between brand and user reaches above and beyond a “logo slap.” Instead of talking at consumers, these tactics enhance the consumer experience with messages that are meaningful and relatable.

It is important to meet people where they already are and decrease barriers for entry into new platforms. This removes excuses such as “I don’t care,” or “I don’t have time.” Campaigns with a shareable element create further reach for brands with no additional investment. It is important to remember that the experiential content must be of high quality to generate users and additional buzz.

Summer 2015 Bucket List: Ithaca Edition

This summer I am staying in beautiful Ithaca for an internship with GreenTree Garden Supply. GreenTree is not only a hydroponic supplies retailer, but also manufactures specialized soil. I spend my days surrounded by brilliant soil scientists who are probably going to change our agricultural world sooner rather than later. My responsibilities include writing and scheduling social content, some market research, building the company’s stock of photography, and creating a few guides for branding and products. While in Ithaca, I plan to take full advantage of the city and all it has to offer in the summer. Just because a location is on the list, it doesn’t mean I’ve never been, I just want to go again in the next few months! Once I’ve gone to a location on my list, I plan updating this post with a picture from that place. Hopefully by the end of August, I’ll have a post full of Instagram-worthy photos!

*Edit: Classes start in 2 days and I have completed a little over half of my list… I still want to get to all the places I have here, so I’ll continue to update this post. Any post with an asterisk were completed during the school year.

This summer in Ithaca was lots of fun. I spent tons of time exploring new parts of the city, and meeting new and different people. Just because I didn’t complete this list doesn’t mean the summer wasn’t a success!!

 

New Delhi Diamonds Restaurant*
Corning Museum of Glass*
Sciencenter*
Cayuga Lake Creamery*
Lincoln Street Diner*
Cayuga Lake Wine Trail*
CFCU Summer Concert Series*

Misty Copeland, From Ballerina to Brand

Misty Copeland, currently a soloist with the American Ballet Theater (ABT), has always been exceptional. The beautiful dancer is unique in many ways: she was late to the game, is only the third African American soloist in ABT history and dances with a strength that is made possible by her visibly toned muscles.

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Misty began dancing at the age of 13, and was named the Best Young Dancer in the Greater Los Angeles Area only 2 years later. In 2000, a mere 4 years after Misty began dancing, she was awarded a full scholarship to the ABT Summer Intensive Program. At the end of this program, she was offered a spot with the company.

In addition to her role as a soloist at ABT, Misty has also worked with the likes of Ne-Yo and Prince, among others. While many dancers are content with their careers, Misty has widened her reach. This dancer has transformed herself into both a beautiful, stunning ballerina and a national brand.

On a regular basis Misty’s work includes endorsements for dancewear companies Block, LavAzza, Sansha and Capezio, as well as BlackBerry, Payless and Proactive. Giving back the community is extremely important to Misty, and her causes include the Boys and Girls Club, the Sean James Student Athlete Foundation, BET Leading Women Defined, and TedTalks.

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The summer of 2014 was the Summer of Misty, with both a national campaign with Under Armour and a spot as guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance’s 11th season. Her position as a judge was a win-win situation: this was a visible place for Misty to be during the height of the Under Armour campaign, while her presence lent a large dose of credibility to the show.

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Millennials Are Feeling the Buffalove

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Google the phrase “buffalo millennials” and about 350,000 results are found. Many of these results are articles from bloggers and news outlets trying to explain the recent draw of Buffalo for millennials. Recent college graduates usually consider moving to major cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles after hanging up their cap and gown, but according to a New York Times article analyzing a recent American Community Survey, Buffalo’s population of 25- to 34-year-old college grads grew by 34 percent from 2000 to 2012. Not even New York, Chicago or Los Angeles claim increases as high as this.

Educated millennials are calling Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, home for many reasons; chief among them is the availability of jobs. With Governor Cuomo’s promise of the “Buffalo Billion,” a state investment of a billion dollars over the next decade in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls region, plans are being made and implemented for new medical, technology and energy facilities. These centers will create thousands of new, specialized jobs that require educated employees, likely to be millennials. Forbes reported a 9 percent increase of millennial jobs in the Buffalo region from 2007 to 2013 and this percentage will continue to grow due to public investment and the private expenditures that will follow. Although not often considered a college town, Buffalo is home to many private and public universities that offer both employment and graduate education opportunities.

Due to Buffalo’s reputation as a city fallen on hard times, the city makes for inexpensive living, creating a haven for millennials. The Urban Homestead Program sells houses to qualified buyers for the whopping sum of $1, plus required closing costs. Even if you can’t manage to get one of these homes, buying a fixer-upper in an up-and-coming neighborhood is more than doable on a recent grad’s budget. If owning a home isn’t your ideal, rent remains reasonable in the city and nearby suburbs. Entertainment options throughout the city are often free, and if not, they don’t cost much at all. Local favorites include the Chippewa District’s bars, clubs and restaurants; ice skating, canoeing, and the Naval and Military Park at Canalside; Food Truck Tuesdays and more at Larkinville; as well as free concerts at venues throughout the city all summer long.

Buffalo residents can all feel the energy and affection that surrounds this city – what locals call “Buffalove.” The region has a long, colorful history that includes the Erie Canal, diverse immigrant populations, U.S. presidents, Frank Lloyd Wright, steel mills, Fredrick Law Olmstead, a World’s Fair and Niagara Falls. These and many other happenings have shaped Buffalo into a cultural hub with gritty, loyal citizens who will stand by their city’s past, present and future. Recently, Buffalove manifested in the Pegula family’s purchase of both the Buffalo Bills (NFL) and Sabres (NHL). This family has invested in “OneBuffalo,” a slogan representing the united community of the region; they are breathing new life into the city with HarborCenter, the downtown hockey complex, as well as other developments. OneBuffalo signifies the movement towards an even better Buffalo, a movement fueled by a renewed interest in this beautiful city by young, educated residents who can make a difference.

Many Ithaca College students and graduates are clamoring for internships and jobs in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. These individuals may fail to realize the price of living fast-paced, demanding and expensive lives in the big city. Buffalo embodies many characteristics millennials look for when moving around after college; this city deserves the chance to show you a little Buffalove.

Photo: http://www.bnmc.org/

“Making Lemonade out of Frozen Lemons”

That’s what the City of Ithaca’s mayor, Svante Myrick, had to say about the Ithaca Tourism Bureau’s recent decision to “surrender” to sunny Key West. The Ithaca agency’s website broadcasted our area’s lack of sun and warmth, while highlighting our frozen lake and heavy snowfall.

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This move turned out to be a brilliant one, with additional coverage by NPR, BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, among others. Our little city was also trending on Facebook due to this humorous stunt.

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Going viral is what every advertiser hopes for, and Ithaca definitely accomplished that. The clever stunt has sparked conversation on a national basis from locals, ex-locals and previous visitors. These people have all added to the positive conversation with their own experiences of “gorges” Ithaca. Although only time will tell, one would have to guess that tourism will be a fairly big business this summer.