Author Archives: Melissa

Late last week, news broke that a partner from the law firm Clifford Chance circulated a memo titled “Presentation Tips for Women” to the firm’s female associates. What’s that you ask? Why wouldn’t men and women find presentation tips helpful? Maybe because the majority weren’t actually presentation tips at all, such as “Wear a suit, not your party outfit.”  Check out this Repman post by Peppercommer Erin Howard for a female’s perspective.

We are excited to announce Peppercomm’s acquisition of Janine Gordon Associates (JGA) and with it, the launch of our consumer lifestyle and non-profit specialty group, JGAPeppercomm.

JGAPeppercomm combines Peppercomm’s breadth of fully-integrated marketing services with JGA’s boutique approach and depth of expertise in consumer, lifestyle and non-profit industries. We will offer clients a range of integrated marketing services, including traditional PR, social media, branding, experiential, crisis communications, celebrity endorsements, strategic alliances, licensing and creative services, and market research.

JGA Logo

Peppercomm’s acquisition of JGA propels our vision of becoming deep category specialists for our clients. For more information please visit –

The Everyday Effect

Posted by Melissa in brand - (0 Comments)


In the last couple of days two iconic consumer brands have caught my attention with major engagement campaigns: P&G and AMEX. You question P&G as a consumer brand?  I beg to differ. Even my 85 year old nonna knows that P&G makes Tide.

That is the beauty of their Everyday Effect campaign. The premise is that innovation is (or should be) driven by how it can affect our everyday lives, and they are cleverly showing how their gamut of products do that through Facebook, as well as live events.  Yesterday in NY there were five, yes five, Everyday Effect locations each catering to a different audience, including our four-legged friends.

What’s more interesting to me as a marketer is that the Facebook page has a section for consumers to celebrate their everyday effect through a share your story function. Although the form does not require you to select a product or brand to post nearly EVERY one mentions a P&G brand.  If you click on the Need Some Inspiration option, that is the only place they refer to products as an example, not a requirement.  Because these products are present in and help with consumers’ day to-day, they have an emotional connection to most and are telling P&G’s story for them.  In my opinion, that alone makes this campaign worth the spend.

More on AMEX’s #PassionProject in my next blog.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Mom 2.0 with 500+ bloggers, brands and yes, a few brave men.  Why was it a pleasure of an experience?  Let me count the ways.

1.       I had the opportunity to make authentic connections with like-minded individuals from around the country. This includes bloggers and brands like Bissell and Starbucks and those in between.
Confession: I am 100% obsessed with a certain brand’s steam mop.View

2.       Spending time with people you typically only interact with electronically is invaluable.  (Great to see you Meagan Francis!)

3.       Ideas, ideas, ideas!  From Raising America’s Shark-Tank style pitchfest to Dove’s fabulosity, I came back with tons of ideas, not only for clients but for Peppercomm.

4.       Did I mention the fabulous accommodations, view and event staff at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel?

5.       Watching the Mom 2.0 Summit evolve over the years and truly adapt to the current marketing environment and participants needs shows that Laura Mayes and crew really get it.

Kids at Work

Posted by Melissa in children | CSR | media | moms | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, launched nationally by Parade.  I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that not only understands work/life balance but embraces it. To mark the occasion, we had a group of six children in the office ranging from infants to age seven. Interestingly, they were all girls.   Check out a few photos here thanks to PRWeek.

As I commuted into the city with my twin girls, many commented on the huge number of youngsters on the train.  And while Peppercomm’s group happened to be all female – as did many on the train, the majority of thosOur Kids @ Worke commenting assumed it was Take Our Daughters to Work Day.  I wondered why that was. Is it simply because more women tend to participate and happen to have daughters who join them? Or do we think that girls will be more engaged (read: behave better)?

As part of their coverage, Parade, the magazine that launched this tradition nationally, published a story about Jackie DiMarco, Ford’s lead engineer on the F-150 pickup.  Jackie happens to be a woman and have twin daughters. She uses the day to encourage her daughters’ interest in math and science, and I hope, to dispel the ongoing stereotype that girls (and women) are not as interested or as talented in these fields of work.

The article focused on her rise in this particularly male dominated field where some have assumed prior to meeting her that she would be male and others have assumed that she would be more understanding of family commitments than a male manager would. Her response? Why would you think that?

Bravo to Parade for focusing in on what continues to be an issue in the workplace even though many believe it’s not.

Special thanks to Peppercomm’s culture committee for making this a meaningful experience (and truth be told, wrangling cats!).

Upcharge to Downgrade

Posted by Melissa in airlines | brand | loyalty | travel - (0 Comments)

It’s been awhile since my last blog but travel tends to inspire me to write, or maybe it’s just the ridiculous things that occur when on the road.  Last week, several colleagues and I flew to Chicago for a meeting.  I am typically a United (formerly Continental) gal but someone in the group (read: the boss) is none too pleased with United since the merger so we flew American. I was more than happy to go along for the ride particularly since the cost for a first class seat was marginally more expensive than a coach fare.  The trip out was uneventful although first class was lacking.  The trip home, however, was another story altogether.

Our meetings concluded a bit early so we bolted for the airport in hopes that we could hop on an earlier flight. During our two hour drive, a few back in the office were kind enough to help us research and rebook on an earlier flight. All was well or so we thought.  Upon arrival and check-in we learned that we were not only no longer in first class (allegedly there were no seats available which we later learned was untrue) but that we now owed American $300 EACH to move back to coach.  Wait, it gets better. Our esteemed colleague who had purchased an economy fare checked in and was upgraded and received a refund of $10 on his original ticket.  WHAT!?!?  In what universe does this make sense?

Now, I have absolutely no problem flying economy, in fact, 9 out 10 times, that’s where I am seated. The premium security access is what I am after.  American had no explanation for this except for “It’s how you booked. We don’t know why but we can’t help you.”  Well, American, the customer experience here was in no way “first class” but did have one redeeming quality. Gwen at the First Class ticketing counter at least attempted to assist us and ensured me that although we had now paid a small fortune to be downgraded we could enter through  premium security. Thank you, Gwen!  I will be flying United for the foreseeable future.  It’s not perfect but at least they make sense.

Back to School

Posted by Melissa in brand | Marketing | media | moms | product - (0 Comments)

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s WOMM-U conference in Chicago.  I joined several sessions on different topics ranging from content marketing tools and an approach to content creation by Second City that uses improv, to strategies for embedding social across the enterprise and various ways to drive engagement (contests, reviews, etc.).

Overall, a very interesting if somewhat predictable couple of days.  The speakers were smart, for the most part engaging and focused on topics of use for those in attendance – other marketers.  Highlights include:

  • A session on content marketing tools which played out a bit too much like a sales pitch.
  • A look into how Whole Foods manages employee ownership of and participation in social media at a local and regional level.  The approach is organic and refreshing.
  • A sweepstakes case study from Jackson Hewitt – This is how they do it!
  • An honest and engaging session featuring the Whirlpool Moms/Mom Central laundry review program (disclosure: this is a Peppercom client)
  • Finally, we listened to Paul Adams of Facebook describe five major shifts that are affecting marketing.

Interestingly, no matter what the topic the key takeaway was this: driving consideration and advocacy is still all about connections and building relationships.  We here at About You wholeheartedly agree. No matter the platform, the topic or the audience, establishing that common ground is the key to success. Now go make some friends.

Last week I traveled to a small town in Tennessee.  The easiest way to get there was to fly into Atlanta and drive two and a half hours. Fun right?  On the night we were to fly home  home, we were delayed departing said small town
and had to stay overnight at a hotel close to the airport in Atlanta.  My only request?  That we stay at a “real” hotel.  By real hotel, I mean a hotel with dining and imbibing options that extend beyond powdered continental breakfast eggs and vending machines.  Someone back in the office booked us into the Hyatt which was much appreciated.  I was thrilled – until we pulled up and saw that this was a Hyatt Place. Now, I do not have anything against convenient and affordable options a la Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Suites but it had been a long two days and I was looking forward to a decent meal and a glass or two of drinkable vino.  Well imagine my delight when I walked into a shockingly stylish lobby which boasted 24 hour food options and a small bar. Who knew? Someone apparently did because the place was packed and a post stay search revealed that Hyatt Place boasts more than 58,000 likes on Facebook.

Perhaps I just haven’t noticed the marketing associated with Hyatt Place before, but I was not only satisfied with what I found, but feel that the brand’s messaging was spot on – Welcome to a different place. Because you deserve to have access to everything you need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The café’s signage and menus catered to the business traveler touting that just because you arrive and depart at off-peak hours you don’t have to eat chips from the vending machine, dream about a cold beer or wait until you arrive at the airport for a hot cup of coffee on your way to a 6am flight.

Keep up the good work, Hyatt Place – I will be back!  Two suggestions:

  1. While the front desk/wait staff are personable and efficient, managing front desk duties, take-out orders and the bar can be challenging and somewhat frustrating for bar/café patrons.  Give these guys some help!
  2. Continue to differentiate yourselves from the pack with great amenities, stylish surroundings and your marketing communications. As a frequent business traveler, I was unaware of what was available to me and wrongly assumed you were just like everyone else.

Guest post by Jason Green…

Bleary-eyed, scrolling through the morning’s daily deal e-mails on my iPhone, one of them catches my eye. It is from “Daily News Reader Offers” the daily deal arm of the New York Daily News. Gone are the days of spreading out the Sunday paper of choice on the kitchen table (carefully avoiding the plates piled high with challah French toast) in order to artfully cut out coupons at the request of your mother. The customer experience has been reduced to treasure hunting in mass e-mails before sunrise and I believe this could be the albatross around the neck of companies like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Few companies have grown faster than the daily deal sites in such a short period of time. But rapid expansion often sheds light on flaws in the shadow of stacks of money.  A member of
Stifel Nicolaus’s equity research team correctly identifies Groupon’s risky growth strategy in the Wall Street Journal, “Groupon’s ‘get big fast’ strategy to dominate the local-deals business is bold, potentially revolutionary and wrought with organizational challenges.” A stagnant stock price and growing customer fatigue will force Groupon, LivingSocial and competitors like the New York Daily News to retool its customer relations and deliver more than just an e-mail.

As I thought about it more, it became clear that the New York Daily News and other newspaper companies are well-positioned, in comparison to others, to take on Groupon and
LivingSocial because they built significant brand equity over years of being the most reliable source of coupons. Creating an experience and customer trust was at the center of coupon insert success. And recreating this interaction with customers online is the most significant piece missing from the daily deal business model. Witty descriptions of each deal is not enough to change the perception that we are all just waiting for our daily deal trough to be refilled, so we can eat.

The daily deal market is crowded and competition to stay out of a customer’s spam folder will only get tougher. Ultimately, to gain on Groupon and LivingSocial, companies like the New
York Daily News
should abandon their copy-cat strategy and think about what customers wanted in the golden years of couponing. By reminding customers of whom they used to trust and creating a differentiated experience, I think that newspapers can be a formidable competitor.

One idea to get the New York Daily News team started: Instead of blast e-mails, develop a Zynga-like game that allows customers to create a profile online and connect to other
social platforms, virtually clip coupons, earn greater awards, unlock badges and actually engage with its daily deal provider. I’m interested to hear about your experience with daily deal sites and what you think they can do to improve. So, what do you think?

So I was working from home last week and had NBC on in the kitchen.  The entire first three hours of the Today Show prattled on in the background with all the typical headlines and nothing really caught my attention.  Then Kathie Lee and Hoda came on and I had to stop, look and listen and this time it wasn’t because I was wondering what they were drinking.  Style expert Bobbie Thomas was on with a slew of “weird and wacky” items she found – crazy new bottled water (it’s black), a boyfriend pillow with an arm to put around you while you sleep (creepy!) and the list went on.  The one that got me?  Cat hair jewelry. Yes, you read that right. Jewelry made out of cat hair.  Earrings, bracelets, you name it.  Really?  And not only jewelry, there is an entire book coming out In November dedicated to crafting with cat hair.  Now I am all for creativity but this is just disgusting.  I spend countless hours trying to rid my home, clothing and
linens of those tiny little balls of gross and these people are making things with it!?   I think the desire to reduce and reuse has gone a little too far in this case. But who am I to talk?  The segment achieved its goal – I stopped what I was doing to watch it.