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Nancy Lazarus

12 Digital Tools to Optimize Your Travel

Travel Tech Paws and Relax Alfie the Pug Courtesy of Nick Morrish British AirwaysSummer is the busiest travel season, so it’s the best time to be equipped with tips to minimize hassles and maximize the experience. But these days sorting through the maze of travel technology can be  nearly as time consuming as circumnavigating the globe.

An Internet Week New York panel of travel industry insiders gave their top picks for websites and mobile apps that assist with flights, lodgings and language translation, and we’ve come across other sources since then. The list below takes business and leisure travelers every step of the way, from planning to booking and beyond.

In-Flight Entertainment

1. “Paws and Relax” Video Channel: British Airways just launched a new channel featuring dogs and cats to help passengers unwind onboard.  It’s available on YouTube for non-BA customers. (Photo above courtesy of Nick Morrish/British Airways)

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16 New York Rooftop Watering Holes That Double as Cool Summer Event Venues

Hotel Americano La Piscine Official PhotoAfter New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ‘Roman Holiday’, it’s time for the rest of us to take a rooftop holiday. An increase in the city’s stylish boutique lodgings has led to a related rise in hotel rooftop bars. What better places to escape street-level construction noise and get together with PR colleagues and clients?

PRNewser compiled a list of rooftop venues across Manhattan where visitors are welcome in small or large groups. Some spots even have swimming pools for hotel guests or for day-use. At the Dream Downtown’s PH-D Rooftop Lounge, you don’t need an advanced degree to use the pool, just pay a steep fee. But be sure to check ahead whether any of these bars are already reserved for private evening events, or you may be lobby-bound.

Our tour of summertime rooftop getaways follows our earlier post about heated rooftop venues. Some lounges listed here serve as retreats and others are for revelry. Either way they beat lower-level summertime options. Among the newer midtown entries are Viceroy Hotel’s roof and Archer Hotel’s Spyglass bar. Since Sonny’s Soda Shoppe at Mondrian SoHo Hotel downtown features an Italian beach theme, it’s an ideal spot for Mayor de Blasio to extend his holiday.

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12 Tips From an Expert on Creating Catchy Content and Products

H & M Jeff Koons Tote Final“Sharing isn’t random, and our intuition about sharing content may be wrong”, said Jonah Berger. The Wharton B-School marketing professor conducted extensive analysis on social influence and types of content and products that go viral. His book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, offers advice on the psychology of sharing, along with examples.

“You don’t want to be one-hit wonders, you want ongoing shareable content”, Berger said during a recent MPA (Association of Magazine Media) event. He was in New York for the start of a year-long visiting professorship at Cornell Tech. If some of his comments seem familiar, that’s because he also advises media outlets like BuzzFeed and The New York Times.

“Word of mouth is a key factor behind so many purchase decisions since it’s persuasive, trusted and targeted”, Berger said. He reminded the audience of the importance of finding the core brand message that you want others to remember and sticking with it. That’s the first key to producing sticky content. Other principles evolve around social currency, storytelling, and providing practical but appealing information.

Since takeaways from his 2013 book mostly centered on positive vs. negative emotional content, we read the rest of the book and compiled his pointers along with our own related examples from commerce, sports, art, fashion and celebrities. Here are a dozen tips to consider:

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TOMS’ Chief Digital Officer Outlines Brand’s ‘Giving’ Formula

Toms Shoes Periodic TablesArgentina’s loss in the World Cup final may have hit one company personally. A 2006 group trip giving shoes to Argentine children inspired Blake Mycoskie to launch TOMS, or “tomorrow’s shoes”. For the brand’s logo, he borrowed light blue and white stripes from the Argentine flag.

“TOMS is based on giving shoes in a sustainable way, on a one-to-one basis”, said its chief digital officer, Zita Cassizzi. She was referring to their M.O. – for every pair of TOMS shoes a customer buys, the company gives a pair to a child in need. While presenting at ANA’s Digital & Social Media Conference, she also discussed TOMS’ expansion to eyewear and coffee.

Cassizzi outlined TOMS’ omni channel marketing strategy, with 5 online and offline elements:

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Celestial Couture: Premiere Catwalk at One World Trade Center

WTC Fashion Show Poster JMA“Having friends in high places” is often considered to be a ticket to business and personal success. For model turned entrepreneur Jessica Minh Ahn, it’s all about fashion in high places. She’s staged catwalk events worldwide in spots like the Grand Canyon Skywalk, London’s Tower Bridge and sky-high settings in the Middle East and Asia.

On Wednesday evening Minh Ahn assembled a global cast of designers for a first-ever catwalk event at One World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. She was undaunted by the ongoing construction at the tallest building in the western hemisphere and hosted the show on the 63rd floor. The runway was a mix of 8 brands, comprising haute couture, premium ready-to-wear and active wear. Each designer debuted a signature collection based on the landmark locale.

“Fashion is the international language and there are no more boundaries now”, said participating designer Diego Cortizas of Chula. Indeed, the show reflected a veritable World Cup of fashion. Here’s a selection of brands and images in the WTC spotlight.

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New Media Influencers on Rebranding, Expansion and ‘Obsessions’

Mic.com Logo“Voice, perspective and messages framed so they resonate with younger readers have all become more important in media now. That means having our ears to the ground in politics and entertainment, then packaging topics accordingly”, said Jake Horowitz, founder and editor of Mic (formerly PolicyMic).

Mic is among a growing number of media brands that launched or renamed recently, like re/code (formerly AllThingsD), Vox.com and Quartz. Editors from these outlets appeared on a PCNY panel on Thursday to discuss their latest moves.

While these sites generally don’t use PR-related pitches, that may change over time. Given their global focus, one could equate landing a story in these outlets to the U.S. soccer team’s World Cup game vs. Ghana: challenging but not impossible.

Here’s a brief rundown on each outlet and their approach.

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Gamification Livens Up Events

LiveCube LogoGamification has cast a wide net and has been applied to many parts of our personal and business lives. We tuned in remotely to the GSummit in San Francisco this week–and while we didn’t see anyone tackled on the conference stage as in a recent episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”, we did hear about the broad inroads gamification has made and the ways in which it’s used for events.

Gamification now enables motivation to be delivered digitally, said analyst Brian Burke of Gartner Group. “All the elements of gamification have been around for years”, he added, like sponsors, contests, points and prizes. The difference now is digital, which offers an improved model to incentivize people. Now with greater connectivity you can scale to an audience of any size, at any location and it takes far less time to reach one’s business or personal goals.

Events are an area where gamification comes in quite handy, especially with event hashtags. Aaron Price, co-founder of LiveCube, acknowledged what those in attendance are familiar with – there are so many distractions that event organizers need to keep the crowd focused. Price’s solution is LiveCube, accessible via website or app, that clients like TEDx have used.

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Naming Names in the Growing Ranks of Hotel Brands

Epiphany HotelWhile there’s no magic formula for launching new hotel brands, E = mc2 best suits some recent hotel concepts. That’s because the famous physics energy equation reflects new or planned properties and brands, namely Epiphany from Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Moxy from Marriott International and Curio collection from Hilton Worldwide.

Branding was a hot topic at NYU’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference this week in New York, where panelists weighed in on the degree-of-difficulty factor, the rationale for launching new offerings and repositioning legacy brands. Names do matter, but they’re only part of the picture. Below are key takeaways.

Creating new brands for the long-haul: “Brand building isn’t for wimps; it’s for the persistent and patient. Most brands grow slowly, and you need to think several years out, since you’re often signing 20-year licensing agreements”, said James Anhut, SVP of design and quality at IHG/InterContinental Hotels Group.

Big hotel companies still have an edge, noted David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International. “It’s immensely difficult to start from scratch. But it’s easier for larger scale hotel companies to create smart brands that will appeal in the long run.”

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At Internet Week, Mayor Bill de Blasio Outlined NYC’s Plans for ‘World-Class’ Tech Sector

Internet Week NY Bill de Blasio Courtesy of Jenny ChangNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a resounding endorsement of the tech industry and the city’s role in further encouraging the sector’s growth during the opening keynote of Internet Week New York this morning. Perhaps the first indication of his enthusiasm was his punctual arrival at IWNY, which was packed with media and tech industry workers.

As the mayor reminded the crowd, “if a similar event was happening in Silicon Valley, the attendees would have to drive back to work, but here you can walk or bike back. That’s part of the glory of New York’s tech community. I’m proud to say that New York has the second largest tech sector. We’re growing, with 291,000 jobs that already exist in the tech system. We’re committed to a 5-borough approach, since there are start-ups in every borough”, he added.

De Blasio emphasized his hope that governmental efforts will help make the tech industry’s work experience better, especially since technology’s rise has fueled other parts of the local economy. He also acknowledged the prior mayor’s tech initiatives. “Bloomberg‘s administration did a fine job of setting the table, and we want to continue that effort.”

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Hollywood, Marketing Execs Talk Trends in Branded Entertainment

Madison & Vine BookBrands partnering with entertainment outlets to produce content represent an effective, though selective phenomenon, according to entertainment executives at a recent Creative Week panel in New York. They were there to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Scott Donaton‘s book, Madison & Vine that spotlighted the trend.

“It was about marketing in an end-user controlled world. It was initially fear-based, that TV viewers would skip ads because of the introduction of TIVO. The thought was that brands could say worthy things that are story-based”, explained Donaton, former editor of Ad Age, and currently global chief content officer at UM Studio.

Key takeaways revolve around the evolution and dynamics involved:

Defining moments of branded entertainment abound, especially BMW Films (aka the gold standard) and BMW videos featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Restaurant TV show also broke new ground. “The show’s thesis was that restaurants were the new theatre”, said Ben Silverman, founder and chairman of Electus. Of course, it’s easy to see that now, but it was rather novel at the time. Among other notable collaborations are American Idol and Coca-Cola, The Biggest Loser and 24-Hour Fitness, and Transformers movie and Hasbro.

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