By Callie Ziobro | @callieziobro
With the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, I’m sure everyone is gearing up for travels to visit family and friends, back yard barbeques, block parties, beach parties, fireworks and town parades.
Whether I’m hosting, visiting or attending, I’m always looking for festive and fun ways to contribute to my Fourth of July festivities. I’ve combined a number of ideas for your holiday planning into a Castle Pinterest board for your perusal and use. Click the picture below to check out ideas for:
Delicious and celebratory food and beverage
Red, white and blue décor from simple and easy do-it-yourself, to elegant and classic
Entertainment and activities to include in your celebrations
Eye-catching ideas for entertaining and impressing guests
Local activities for the holiday in Boston and surrounding areas (including where to find your local fireworks display)
Festive apparel to buy or make
By Keri McIntosh | @kl_mcintosh
After nearly a year of planning, planning and more planning, the Castle events team is hot off the heels of a large conference we helped manage in Dallas,Texas. The program was a great success with more than 1900 people attending three days of keynotes, breakout sessions, trainings, a technology pavilion/trade show, and special events (both on and off site). Finally able to catch a breath on the flight home, I asked myself, “Do people (aside from meeting planners) really know what goes into planning one of these things? So I thought I might share “A Day in the Life” of this crazy business….
FIRST DAY OF CONFERENCE
(We have already been here three days setting up and coordinating a myriad of last minute details before the show).
5:30am – Rise and Shine. Don my “event slippers,” the most comfortable shoes I own. I’ll be logging more than 30,000 steps (i.e. 15 miles) on my pedometer today…so happy feet are paramount!
6:00am – Relieve overnight security in staff office (rooms with valuable equipment and access to back of the house must be secured overnight). Check all morning meeting rooms and make sure A/V and breakfast is being set. Registration crew arrives and briefed on today’s staffing plan.
6:30am – Registration and breakfast opens. People already waiting in line. Let the fun begin!
7:15am – Conference photographer arrives. Brief him on shot list.
7:45am – Time to move the crowd from breakfast into general session which is a solid five minute walk away. When food is involved, people are slow to move. We flicker the lights, chime and do a “Voice of God” broadcast announcing start of the program. People start moving. 1900 people sat in less than 15 minutes. Great job!
8:00am – Impressive keynote speech by CEO. Live streaming broadcast to website.
8:13am – Agenda on the hotel’s digital display is not reading correctly. Call hotel to correct.
9:00am – Make weather call for tonight’s outside function. Only 15% chance of rain so it stays outside. Good news since the indoor option was definitely a tight squeeze for this size crowd.
10:22am – Uneasy call from one of the presenting trainers. It seems three laptops are missing out of the 30 we set up in their training room…even though we had overnight security. Uh- oh. Make some calls to the hotel and security company to find out more.
10:30am – Call back from the trainer. One of their colleagues moved the laptops, nothing is missing. Crisis averted.
11:10am – Microphone not working in Ballroom A; need audio input for a laptop in Ballroom E. Make sure the A/V technician takes care of this.
12:15pm – Lunch and trade show opens. Checked and double-checked way in advance. Everything looks good.
12:18pm – Power goes out for a whole row of booths in the trade show. Jump into action mode with the Nextel. Luckily, exhibitors are gracious and continue going about their business despite the hiccup. Extra cords added and power back up in 15 minutes time. During break, more circuits are added to all booths to avoid this happening during the rest of exhibit hours.
12:55pm – Two pairs of glasses and cell phone submitted to lost and found.
1:40pm – Check on the staff setting the outdoor function. Interrupted. Room on the mezzanine is set for theater style and needs to be switched to classroom style with electrical wiring for 30 laptops…all in 20 minutes. Make the appropriate 911 calls on the Nextel. Done in 15 minutes. Whew.
2:15pm – Check on registration staff. 1631 of 1921 have checked in so far. Not bad!
Afternoon – Continue to check rooms for the afternoon sessions, make sure the evening event function is being set and put out small fires. Make confirmation calls for tomorrow’s transportation and off-site event.
6:00pm – Welcome reception doors open. Staff at door checking name badges. Specialty cocktails passed, band plays, buffets open.
8:00pm – Despite the 96 degree heat, attendees are having a wonderful time.
9:00pm – Folks still mingling. Good networking time. Management decision is made to keep the event and bar open an additional hour.
10:45pm – Staff sits down to eat.
11:00pm – Make sure security has arrived at all of their posts.
11:30pm – Remove all of today’s easel signage and put out signs for next day.
12:30am – Time to catch a few zzzz’s before we get up and do it again tomorrow.
A meeting planner friend once told me that to an attendee or outsider, all events should have the appearance of a duck gliding smoothly over the surface of the water. Everything should seem effortless and graceful. However, what no one can see are the duck’s little feet pedaling like mad underneath the surface doing all the work. Hats off to our Castle team of “duck feet” for their tremendous effort to make this and every event we produce a seamless success!
We’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your crazy “Day in the Life”…
By Hilary Allard | @hallard
The melodic piano tune, the flyover shots of pristine lakes and charming inns, the images of nice looking people shopping at antiques stores and fly fishing. It’s time to go to…Michigan.
I’ve never been to Michigan, save for a few stop-overs at the Detroit airport. But now, thanks to the gorgeous, seductive ad campaign created by McCann Detroit for Travel Michigan, I’d like nothing better than to don a straw hat and spend my July on the front porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Michigan, so hard hit by the auto industry downturn, is on a roll, thanks to strong advertising campaigns with different messages.
Last year, the now iconic “Born of Fire” ad for Chrysler, starring Detroit native Eminem and his music, got the country rooting for the Motor City. The award-winning campaign (created by Wieden + Kennedy) extends its shelf life through iterations focused on new product rollouts.
Launched in 2006, the “Pure Michigan” campaign (which has gradually ramped up its ad buys to a national level) paints a broader picture, far beyond the hardscrabble factory town hoping for a comeback, to a quaint, charming state filled with everything one could want in a vacation paradise.
New England is the land of quaint in the summertime. Any ad that would want to make me go any place else is doing its job. But don’t take my word for it – the campaign brought in $1 billion dollars to the state last year.
By Jessica Ciccone | @jblciccone
I can’t tell you how excited I am for summer to finally be here. Since I was a young gal summer has been one of my favorite seasons. Call me a nerd, but I was always excited to get the new school summer reading list each year. Just because I am all grown up now does not mean I can’t have a summer reading list, right? So here it goes. Enjoy!
For Personal Development:
Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard – Chip and Dan Heath
If it’s written by the Heath brothers you can’t go wrong. Recently, I heard Dan Heath speak at an event and I can’t say more positive things about him. I walked away eager to take on the world and instigate change - I will start by reading the book. In Switch, the authors of Made to Stick talk about “finding the bright spots” in your personal and professional life. Get ready to be positive!
For a Good Beach Read:
Summerland – Elin Hilderband
I am a sucker for all things New England, so when Nantucket resident Elin Hilderband puts out her latest novel set again in Nantucket, I can’t resist. Her latest work follows students from Nantucket High School and details what happens after one tragic summer night. Having read her novel Barefoot, you can expect a great range of emotions, so grab your towel and a tissue and head to the beach.
For Literary Buffs:
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
Fans of all things Ernest Hemingway, and those who just like historical fiction, will love this book written from the viewpoint of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest’s first wife. The book follows Hadley and Ernest during their brief courtship and through their countless adventures in Paris. It is a unique and personal look at the early life of a revered and storied author.
For Current Events:
Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob – Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill
With Whitey’s trial delayed until March, you now have some time to beef up on your knowledge of the Southie mobster and his alleged deeds. This book has been recommended to me by countless number of friends and family, many of them Southie residents like myself. So you can’t go wrong. Before you know it you will be spending your vacation days outside the federal courthouse.
For Guilty Pleasure:
Fifty Shades of Grey – E L James
Oh come on...you knew this was going to be on here. You can’t think about summer reading without at least mentioning this phenomenon. I have to fess up and say that I have read it –so here’s what to expect: lots and lots of things you can’t talk about with your kids and will make you blush (don’t read this on the bus – even if you try to hide it – we know!) What not to expect: any semblance of good writing or any regard to things like a thesaurus. But you just have to...
For PR Pros:
The Associated Press Stylebook
This is on here for two reasons. One, I could not end the blog with the previous title. What would you think of me? Two, what better time to brush up on our writing skills than the summer? Bask in the glory of outsmarting your colleagues with your AP style wit. I might give it a shot.
By Erika Kuzmicz | @erika_k
As I attended the Dean’s List Reception three weeks ago at Curry College, held for the 32 students who made the dean’s list every semester during their college careers, the other students and I were consistently reminded that we had done something remarkable and something to be proud of. It was a great feeling knowing that the college acknowledged all of the hard work we had put into being successful during this time. However, this was not what made this event so special.
Each student was given the opportunity to invite a faculty member who made the most impact and had acted as a mentor to them throughout their time at Curry. As I’m sure many other students experienced while deciding, there was no hesitation in my mind in choosing who would attend the event, Professor Kirk Hazlett, APR.
While the purpose of the event was to celebrate our achievements, it was also to show our appreciation and thanks to the person who helped us reach that success and I think this is tremendously important.
Each of these people has willingly taken time away from their own lives and schedules and invested it in you and your future.
Most often, people don’t stop to really thank those who have helped get them to where they are today: parents, family, professors, internship and job supervisors, your mentors. Whoever it is that helped you along the way, take the time to stop and let them know how much their support meant to you and make sure that they know that it made a difference.
No matter what stage in your education or your career, there is always someone that helped you in the past or someone that supports you presently. No matter how long ago it may have been, take a moment to thank that person today.
By Gwen Fernau
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently became the butt of many a Twitterverse joke when his new app featured the slogan “A Better Amercia.” Besides advocating for the improvement of a nonexistent country, Romney’s campaign has also been caught advertising their “Offical Gear,” offering a “sneak peak” at a new TV ad, and misspelling Ronald Reagan’s name. One strike can be laughed off, two strikes are highly embarrassing, but three strikes mean someone should have lost their job two strikes ago.
However Romney is not the only one who has struggled with critical typos. There are many examples throughout history of typos that had serious repercussions or were simply seriously embarrassing. When printing a new version of the King James Bible in 1631, the printers left out one little word with a big significance. The typo caused the seventh commandment to read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” The church back then did not find this mishap as amusing as we may today.
As an events intern here at Castle, I have learned the importance of simple repetition when reading over information. We double check our work… and cross-check, re-check, then double check it again. In the scant two weeks I have worked here, the amount of information that has come across my desk is immense. We have collectively made dozens of corrections, and information needs constant updating when dealing with a large group of event attendees.
In the digital age it’s easy to get lost in all the content that floods our computer screens. It may be tempting to skim through a document or quickly scan an image, but there is something to be said for printing things out, taking a careful, long look at them, and then getting a second set of eyes on them as well.
By Erika Kuzmicz | @Erika_K
Last week, I attended an event at Burns & Levinson, a Boston-based law firm, where Sandy Lish, one of Castle’s co-founders and principals, spoke about business development and networking. For many people, networking is no easy feat and can be quite nerve-wracking. So to help those, such as myself, who are new to the concept of networking, here are a few of Sandy’s tips on how to network like a pro.
Get a networking buddy –
While it may not be easy to walk up to a stranger at an event, shake their hand and introduce yourself, having a buddy to work the room with can take some of the edge off of approaching and meeting new people. Having someone you are comfortable with at your side as you chat with new people can really help your nerves and your confidence while networking.
“You’re not there to blend in; you are there to stand out.” –
Many people think that a black, blue or dark grey suit is the best thing you can wear to a business event, but the truth is you want to stand out instead of blending in. Balance your attire with the professional image you want to impart, and remember that some professions allow for a little more flexibility and creativity.
Look to recent events/news for conversation topics –
After an introduction to a new contact, you may find yourself in a ‘now what?’ situation. Before heading to a networking event, make sure that you have a handle on current events, particularly those relevant to the organizations you may be meeting. And in Boston, you can always fall back on our sports teams as conversation starters.
Do your research –
If someone you want to meet will be at the event (a reporter or the CEO of a company that interests you), do your research on the person beforehand. What have they been doing for their company recently or what have they blogged about? These are topics that you can bring up in conversation that show you ‘know your stuff.’
Practice your introduction –
Make sure you know exactly how you want to present yourself to the new people you meet and know how to explain what you do so that anyone would be able to understand it. It sounds simple, but interestingly, many people are unprepared to succinctly discuss themselves and their businesses.
Set a goal –
Before you go to an event, set a goal. It could be the number of business cards you want to pass out or receive, how many people you want to introduce yourself to, or just introducing yourself to a specific person. Don’t leave the event until you’ve reached your goal, but do feel comfortable leaving once you have achieved it.
Make a connection for someone else –
Networking is not all about benefiting from the connections you make yourself; it is also about making connections for other people you know. If you are chatting with someone who you think might benefit from meeting or speaking with a contact of yours, offer to make the introduction for them.
Follow up –
In the 24 hours following the event, email the new connections with whom you would like to form a relationship. Ask them to connect on LinkedIn or ask for a face-to-face meeting over coffee, breakfast or lunch.
Sandy’s tips are very helpful for networking newbies or even a reminder for people that have been at it for years. Networking can be awkward at first but the more you force yourself out of your comfort zone and the more often you attend events, the easier and more natural it will become.
By Matt Nollman | @youngnollman
The world is changing. Not only the professional world, but the social world as well. But in our industry, I don’t need to tell you that. The interconnectedness of the world is taking us by force, whether we like it or not. Many Americans may believe that English is the most dominant language in the world, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not. In fact, English is the third most common language out of the countless dialects spoken worldwide (first is Mandarin, followed by Spanish). As a planet, we have recently reached a population of over 7 billion people. Making, using, and leveraging global social connections are becoming much more important to our corporate success. Yet still, the million dollar question remains: how do we make this happen?
After spending three and a half months in Spain, the answer became perfectly clear. For the first two months of my experience abroad, I spoke mostly English. I actually had a six hour conversation with a man from Madrid in English on the flight over, and didn’t even get his name. The entire journey from the airport to the hotel, I wondered how a six hour discussion did nothing to break through his social wall.
In comparison, my first Spanish conversation lasted no longer than five minutes. We talked about life in Spain compared to life in the States, but not much more. At the end of the conversation, my counterpart asked me to be his Facebook friend. I instantly realized the value of my newly acquired ability. It goes beyond the simplicity of communication, and it could prove to be the most valuable social skill I have ever learned. While my example involves a full foreign conversation, just knowing a few words in another’s language can completely disarm even the shyest of people. It cuts directly to the core, and relates to another human on a level that without it may be unreachable.
Before living overseas, my friend base barely covered the State of Massachusetts. Now I have friends in four countries and over twenty states, all because of my ability to communicate in a foreign language. And now it looks like Massachusetts is finally beginning to realize how being bilingual can improve its struggling school systems. Overall, a little less than 330 million people in the world speak English, and a little more than 330 million people speak Spanish. I’m no math genius, but I just doubled the amount of possible social connections I can make. Now, I can communicate freely with 660 million people in over 40 countries all over the world, and I am a better person both professionally and socially because of this. You are never too old to learn, and it is never too late. With the simple devotion of a few short months, you too can understand and appreciate the power of a second language.
By Stacy Wilbur | @swilbur24
I always say to my interns you are going to either love or hate public relations – there is no in between – and an internship is a good way to find out if you are meant for a career in the field. Since many college students are starting their internships this week, I have put together five helpful tips every public relations intern should know while at their internship.
Read the local papers: It is important to know what is going on in the world and how it can/will impact clients. Whichever city you are working in, read the daily newspapers, and scan for relevant articles that are pertinent to the agency’s clients. Also, monitor news websites for regular updates.
Ask questions: When in doubt, ASK. When you are working on a project and have some questions, ask your supervisor for help. We would rather help you get it right the first time than have you do it again.
Be proactive: There is always plenty of work to be done, so don’t hesitate to ask for work when you are done with a project. You are at your internship to learn as much as possible, so make sure you are getting as many projects as possible to build your skill set. Also, don’t forget to always have a notebook and pen in hand to write down your assignments!
Google it: A big component of many interns’ jobs is research. Many firms have databases and subscription programs but it’s always a good idea to supplement this research with Google searches to make sure you are gathering the most – and most relevant - information.
Network: Public relations is all about networking. Take advantage of any events that you are invited to. You never know, your next boss could be there! Also, don’t forget to create a LinkedIn profile and connect with the people you have met with throughout your internship.
This summer I will be celebrating my 11th year in public relations, and while there have been highs and lows, I would not change my career for anything. I hope all you future PR pros have a great summer internship. Enjoy every moment and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way!
By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
For the social media campaign promoting the launch of its Trina Turk Collection on June 7th, Banana Republic teamed up with The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), with an irresistible result. Banana Republic and ASPCA created a video that women cannot but love: playful summer prints are being presented by adorable pups (watch the video here)! The video is titled “Dog Days of Summer,” and, in addition to promoting the collection’s launch, advertises the priority access to the collection Banana Republic offers shoppers who like them on Facebook. The brand invited its fans to “come back June 6 to shop the limited-edition collection before it arrives in store” -- a good example of the exclusive access-strategy that brands should employ to attract -- and keep -- Facebook fans. With The Dog Days-video, Banana Republic did a great job of creating a potentially viral video and simultaneously tying social good into its campaign. While the “Aww-Factor” could have been added by any dogs, the video by Banana Republic and ASPCA features rescued dogs to boost awareness of pet adoption. A disclaimer at the beginning and the end of the video point to the animal advocacy organization, and all four-legged models are being individually introduced at the end under “Meet the Rescues.” Dog Days, here we come.
By Whitney Ferguson | @whitdferguson
Two weeks ago I had the chance, along with Scott Katz, business development manager at Burns & Levinson, to appear on Broadside with Jim Braude, a NECN quiz show. While we were subjected to the “test of tasteless tidbits and trivia from the tabloid trash heap,” we also got to chat Springsteen.
Full disclosure: I’ve been a “true believer” since my college advisor, Lou Masur, introduced me to Bruce. In his book Runaway Dream, Masur muses on Springsteen’s American vision. He begins, “I want ‘Born to Run’ played at my memorial service.” And goes on to examine our shared national identity through the album: “Rebellion in America is itself a tradition. The United States began as a revolt against authority . . . ‘Born to Run’ is a masterpiece embedded with American themes of escaping and searching, redemption and connection. It is an album rooted in American geography that is both physical – highways, roads, streets – and cultural – individuals, community, salvation.”
On the show Braude (to my embarrassment) got it out of me that I was a late convert. Without listening to Bruce, I’d casted him off as an artist for washed-up dads. Now I know that those dads aren’t just reliving their glory days. At each concert Bruce reminds fans of their potential and may just help us revive unrealized dreams.
The American Dream is both revered and debated. Is it still true that we can change our circumstances and better ourselves? With the summer upon us, and two Bruce concerts coming up in Boston, fans have the chance to revisit what Bruce means to each of us. We’re also primed – between Memorial Day, the Fourth and the Olympics – to reflect on how Springsteen’s music reminds us of what being an American means. Do we believe in the American Dream? Can we be redeemed from past sins and failings? Do we need to move and start over, or are we bolstered by our communities? I’m a believer, but regardless of your stance, Bruce lets us examine fundamental questions the fun way - through music. This is why Bruce means so much to so many, and why, though nervous and a little embarrassed, I was delighted to talk about Springsteen with true fans.