Back in the (716)


As much as I love Ithaca, I really missed Buffalo the last few years. Now that graduation is over, I’m settling into the life of an unemployed college graduate (and if anyone knows of anyone that needs a social media marketer, digital media coordinator or marketing associate, let me know). While unemployment has its downsides – like having no income and ungodly amounts of free time, with which I’m marathoning NCIS on Netflix – I am also able to spend time exploring the places that I’ve missed so much while at school.

In June, I went to Food Truck Tuesday twice. That’s two more times than last summer, when I was living in Ithaca. Friends and I perused Larkin Square before heading down to Flying Bison for drinks and cornhole on a beautiful evening early in the month.

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square

Food Truck Tuesday at Flying Bison Brewery

Canalside has changed so much over the last four years and I finally have the chance to enjoy it! Mom, Dad and I celebrated Father’s Day with a walk along the inner harbor from the marina to Riverfest Park and dinner at (716). We watched the sunset and the beginning of the silo illuminations from three of the park’s colorful Adirondack chairs. A few weeks later, I took advantage of Canalside’s free concert lineup with friends when Frankie Ballard came to town. Both nights, the park was filled with people taking advantage of the water, the free exercise classes and the metro.

Buffalo's inner harbor

Buffalo RiverWorks from Riverfest Park

Canalside at sunset

Grain elevator light display at dusk

USS Little Rock at dusk

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Canalside during the Frankie Ballard concert

Over the next few weeks, I’m aiming to visit Elmwood Village, Allentown and a few museums. And after that, I will hopefully have a job!


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.

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Good morning, New York. #awny #awnyacc #awnyacc15

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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*
Cayuga Lake Creamery*
Lincoln Street Diner*
Cayuga Lake Wine Trail*
CFCU Summer Concert Series*

Millennials Are Feeling the Buffalove


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.


“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.


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.


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.