Monday, November 25, 2013

4 Things My iTunes Library Taught Me About Marketing & PR

Can a song save your life? I believe it absolutely can.
Can a song teach you about your business? I believe it absolutely can.
1.       Eminem  “Rap God” - "I don't know how to make songs like that

 I don't know what words to use"

Let people do what they are best at.

 I understand that in startups, people wear many hats, I’ve been there and done that, but I also understand that it takes money to make money. Don’t have your web designers writing your marketing plans. Don’t have your graphic designer doing product development.  Let the web designers do what they’re good at, have them work with your graphic designer and get yourself a great looking, easy to use website, have them ensure that it’s mobile friendly, and let your marketers write the marketing plans. Leave SEO to your web guys and let your marketing team take on social media.  Outsource if you need to – this way, everyone will be performing most productively, and hopefully enjoying their work more and taking ownership in their responsibilities.


2.       John Digweed “Morphism”

Keep people waiting and wanting more.

 John Digweed is great at taking his time to get people from merely bobbing their heads into a full thrown rave. Always leave your consumers wanting more from you so they keep coming back, needing to see what you’ll be doing next, what promotions will be coming, and when they can “win” free product or contests from you. Music is just like storytelling – you always want to bring your audience along the journey with you. Just like John Digweed does by using a long build in his sets, he is entertaining his audience – brands need to be doing the same thing with THEIR audiences, with the way they build their sets/storylines/product stories. This will help build brand loyalty and hopefully keep your brand relevant and top of mind with your consumers – striving to keep your consumers coming back to see what is coming next.


3.       Rihanna “The Monster” or “Love the Way You Lie”

Be so good, they can’t ignore you.

I have to admit it. I don’t hate much, but I absolutely abhor Rihanna. The worst part of it? I absolutely LOVE her music. The other worst part? I have never been able to put my finger on precisely what it is I hate so much about her, there is just SOMETHING that 100% rubs me the wrong way with that woman. However, I will listen to “The Monster” for hours upon hours, even days, on repeat and not simply because I find Eminem genius. I think her voice lends itself perfectly to that song. I do not follow her media dramas, nor do I even want to get started on her relationship dramas – I am luckily able to completely tune that part of her out, but she is so good, she stays on my radar. These days, people want more than simply a great product, they want a great TEAM behind the product, and they want to get to know that team. You easily may not have the #1 product on the market, but you can have the largest fan base becoming repeat buyers if you can establish relationships with them and make them love YOU. Create interesting stories for your products, BE an interesting real human being in your social media work, even if you’re tweeting from behind a brand’s name or logo. Be so good they can’t ignore you – create useful and meaningful content that people are excited to share with their social media followers!



4.       Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” - “Son, I've made my life out of readin' people's faces…”

Know your audience!

This may be the most important piece of effectively marketing your product there is. Here’s a personal example – for the past five years, I worked in marketing for a coconut water company. I would always tell people that at some point in their day, EVERYONE was a candidate for coconut water. It was simply up to me to know my audience, who I was talking to, in order to let them know the right usage occasion for them. I wouldn’t tell an athlete the same reason and time to drink coconut water as I would a pregnant woman, or a student studying for finals. Knowing your audience is being able to quickly get a read on the person you are speaking with, how they like to be communicated to, and looking at what you want you need to get across from their point of view. In that way, you can convert someone that would never try your product, into a repeat buyer.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Michelle Has Blown Into Chic-ago!

This past Thursday night, Blowtique, Chicago’s premier blow-out only salon as featured in Vogue’s recent “Best Dressed” Issue, introduced Michelle Sparkling Wine to press and tastemakers in Chic-ago. Guests enjoyed her company along with tasty macarons, complimentary blow-dry styles, custom nail files, door prizes, and a gift basket raffle benefitting Locks of Love, which has for fifteen years provided prosthetic human hairpieces to children and young adults who have lost their own hair from any diagnosis, disease or accident.
Michelle is a fresh take on the sparkling wines of Domaine Ste. Michelle, who have been crafting highly acclaimed, quality wines in Washington State for more than 35 years. 

Michelle is flirty, feminine and fun, featuring refine cuvees crafted in the traditional method champenoise style from winemaker Rick Casqueiro.

Michelle comes to the party in three styles sourced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Predominantly a blend of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Michelle Brut features delicate flavors of apples and citrus with vibrant acidity. Michelle Extra Dry is a slightly sweeter wine with notes of cream and a toasty finish. Michelle Brut Rose is a medium-dry sparkling blush wine made predominantly from Pinot Noir grapes, with soft impressions of berries. “We enhanced the cuvees for more body and concentration,” Casqueiro explains. “The wines are elegant, with bright flavors, beautiful structure and crisp acidity.” Michelle’s newly and stylishly dressed as well – in an elegant bottle shape labeled in white with soft pastel accents of pink and blue.


Michelle by Domaine Ste. Michelle is the largest producer of sparkling wines in Washington State. The winery has crafted highly acclaimed wines for over 35 years since the wines were introduced in 1978. Michelle wines are crafted using the traditional method champenoise technique. The winery offers a Brut, Brut Rose and Extra Dry Sparkling Wine.


Blowtique is Chicago’s PREMIER blow-out only salon as featured in Vogue’s recent Best Dressed Issue! Catering to the locks that make Chicago fabulous, Blowtique introduces patrons to the idea that a blow-out can be as convenient and as accessible as a polish change. From “the Sunset” to “the 5th Avenue” (and every stylish street in between), Blowtique tames the manes of women everywhere!

ocks of Love, a public non-profit organization that provides vacuum fitted hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. They meet a unique need for children by using donated human hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. Others have suffered severe burns or injuries or endured radiation treatment to the brain stem or other dermatological conditions that result in permanent hair loss. The vacuum fit is designed for children who have experienced a total loss of scalp hair and does not require the use of tape or glue. The prostheses they provide help to restore self-esteem and confidence, enabling these children to face the world and their peers. The organization, which began operation in 1998, provides the prostheses to children under the age of 21. These hairpieces require between 6-10 ponytails and take approximately 3-4 months to manufacture. Thousands of bundles of donated hair arrive as a result of the national publicity that Locks of Love receives in newspapers, magazines and television programs. It is estimated that children comprise over 80% of the donors, making this a charity where children have an opportunity to help children.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why Chicago Is > Los Angeles




1.       Chicagoans will tell you like it is. Though this may not always be want you want to hear, they’re not telling you what they think you want to hear, or what they think will advance their position in some way with you. They’ll speak the truth.

2.       If a Chicagoan asks you “What’s new?” or “How was your day?” they will sit and listen to hear your answer. It’s not just a space/time filler question when a Chicagoan takes the time to engage you. They won’t ask you the question then proceed to tell you about themselves, or check their phone, or aimlessly play with their phone to avoid hearing your answer.

3.       Chicagoans are real people. We’re not all the same size, with the same “latest” hairdo and clothing. Chicagoans are who they are, and are comfortable with who they are (for the most part). When you look into a Chicagoans face, you can see that they’re having thoughts. Actually thinking, right there in front of you. Not just looking you up and down, comparing your thigh size to theirs, your dress size to their own, seeing how they are better than you, guessing how much money you make and what you do, and thinking how sad it is that you have to work in the first place.

4.       If you’re in Chicago and a native asks you out to dinner, know that you can actually eat said dinner at the designated time. Your dinner partner won’t simply be consuming water or a side salad or booze and claim that they’re “too full” from those items to eat anything else. The native won’t have spent the last hour eating alone in hiding in their apartment so they won’t be hungry at the dinner, and no one will see them eating.

5.       “Nobody walks in LA?” Well everybody walks in Chicago. Even if it’s raining. Even if it’s snowing. Even if it’s hot. Why? Because we’re human, and humans walk. Don’t tell anyone, but humans even sweat when walking in the heat. I know, Angelinos, I’ve just given up one of your biggest secrets, but it’s gotta be said sometime. Another reason why? Because Chicagoans know that their “walking outdoors days” are often numbered due to weather that will surely come, so they take advantage of the time they can spend out of doors.

6.       Chicago. Is. Beautiful. Not artificially beautiful with pretty trees flown in and forced to survive in a desert they’re not accustomed to, but with true beauty. With a gigantic natural lake and a beautiful skyline.

7.       Chicagoans know that good things come to those that….wait for it….work for it. Not simply those that are born into it.

8.       Chicagoans work. They’re not afraid to get a little dirty on their (non) designer clothes. You won’t ever sit in traffic at random times of the day not moving an inch in your car wondering, “why is everyone on the road right now? Why isn’t anyone working?” Because everyone will be.

9.       Chicago isn’t afraid to show it’s age. We’ve got historical buildings and a rich history of mobsters and fire that people are all too excited to share with a newbie. Not everything was “just built” and looks it.

10.   People who live in Chicago love living in Chicago. If you happened into Chicago on any given day, you might think it was “Chicago Pride Day” as the majority of the people you pass will be wearing clothes with their favorite Chicago sports team’s logo emblazoned across the front, or a Wrigley shirt of some sort, or simply the Chicago flag (and some will even have said flag permanently inked somewhere on their body). You won’t overhear the majority of people complaining about the city or the people or the fakeness or saying, “At least the weather’s great,” in hopes of trying to convince themselves, along with the person they’re speaking with that they haven’t made the mistake of their lives moving to this city. Yes, we all complain about the winter, but then, guess what? Spring comes. Every year. Like clockwork. You can even (literally) set your watch to it, so to speak. And just like that, you’re back with nothing to complain about. Except the sales tax.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NFL Players Giving Back


New Orleans Saints Linebacker Martez Wilson held his 2nd Annual “You Are The Future” Youth Football Camp in Chicago June 21st and 22nd, 2013

Wilson, a 2007 graduate of Chicago’s Simeon High School and University of Illinois graduate, has produced this camp comprised of children ages 7-17 along with his PR company, 4th & Long, for two years in a row, in Calumet Park.
A positive effect!
Having grown up on Chicago’s South Side, Martez Wilson is no stranger to the epidemic of violence that plagues many Chicago neighborhoods (in just the first four months of 2013, Chicago dealt with 92 homicides). As told to us by Pilar Ellis, co-founder of 4th & Long, Martez Wilson has referred to the violence as a disease. “Violence is a contagious disease, and to prevent it from spreading, we need to combat it with an alternative. This is what I hope to achieve with my camp and foundation”, says Wilson. He adds, “the goal of my foundation is to directly engage the youth of Chicago and hopefully one day, America, where they can positively impact the life of another child and ultimately realize their potential to effect change both in their own community and around the country, whether through sports or in what they do as adults.  After all, our children are the future”.
So often, I feel that news of “the bad boys of the NFL” get so much more coverage, be it that it’s more salacious news, or our innate love of gossip, so it is so refreshing to see so many players this involved in molding youth’s futures.

In an incredible show of support, 13 of Wilson’s teammates and NFL friends (most of whom also grew up in Chicagoland) flew in to join the camp, immediately taking to the field upon their arrival to meet the campers and start showing them stretching exercises and leading them in drills that they themselves do.

Friends for life, despite often competing against each other, Martez had 9 of his former University of Illinois teammates at the camp. This group included Mikel Leshoure Sr. (Detroit Lions), Glenn Foster (New Orleans Saints), Josh Brent (Dallas Cowboys), and Terry Hawthorne (Pittsburgh Steelers). Wilson’s New Orleans based trainer, Sonic Boom’s founder Wyatt Harris, headed up coaching the camp. Not only was it impressive that he took the time to fly in, but what I found to be most impressive was the way in which he interacted with the campers. He treated them and spoke to them as if they were any of his usual NFL trainees, not condescendingly in any way, but as if they were already pros themselves.

Learning the drills
“We have assembled another all-star cast to teach our young campers about the great game of football,” Wilson says. “The skills we teach have been used by Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl champions and Hall of Famers.” Among the pros on-site for camp were: Terriun Crump, WR for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Dallas Cowboys’ Josh Brent, Mikel Leshoure Sr, RB for the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars’ DE JD Griggs, Pittsburgh Steelers CB Terry Hawthorne and New Orleans Saints players Corey White, Travaris Cadet and Cameron Jordan.

Not even the rain could dampen the campers’ spirits, as they were eager to meet their idols. One of the parents told me that her sons hadn’t slept for two nights prior to the camp, in sheer excitement. I wondered who benefited more – the pros that had the opportunity to directly give back to their own local community, or the children, who had the opportunity to toss the football and learn from those they are growing up watching on tv? 

A great day!!
“This is a great opportunity for us to share skills with the kids that not only will help them on the field, but also how to make it in life,” Glenn Foster remarked.  Travaris Cadet agreed, adding “this is such a crucial moment in these kids’ lives – high school is where decision making becomes the most crucial, the decisions you make now set you up for the rest of your life.”
Pilar Ellis and Wilson made a point to only invite players that not only had the humility and urge to give back to the campers, but also ensured the pros were all college graduates. “It was important that we show the campers “Look – this is where these guys came from too. Now see what they were able to overcome and achieve. You can always achieve your dreams,” shared Ellis.

I was awe-struck and proud to meet Buffalo Bills’ DT Corbin Bryant, who made it a point to come early to the camp and get right onto the field with the players, even with the incredible day he had ahead of him – late in the afternoon Bryant received his Master’s Degree from the prestigious Northwestern University, which I’m sure taught the campers even more about life, the importance of education and striving to reach goals than anything he could teach them on the field.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Starbucks Has No Soul

I’m not anti-Starbucks. I’m not. I’m even sitting at one as I write this. In fact, the idea for this blog came to me as I was being handed my usual: a venti non-fat, no whip Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino. The barista handed me my drink along with a straw in a paper wrapping which read “Not recommended for use in hot beverages.” Really? Ironic? Obvious? Soul-less. Why would I put a plastic straw into a close to boiling hot coffee beverage?

We, as writers, marketers, social media-ers spend so much time and place so much emphasis on developing a brand voice, a brand personality – what’s Starbucks? When I hear a brand’s name, I immediately (more times than not) get a picture in my head beyond that of their logo. Sometimes I even get an immediate feeling about said company.

Seattle’s Best? I picture hot scruffy guys in plaid flannel shirts. The Gap? I picture preppy colorful well-dressed men and women, the type that are perfectly put together at all times. Whole Foods? I picture a company of people that feel good about where they work and buy into the corporate culture that has been established. Chipotle? The first thought I get is how well they do social media. Naturally, my second thought is always how much I’d like a burrito with extra sour cream and their chips with a hint of citrus and the perfect amount (read: a LOT) of salt. Starbucks? Blank. I get nothing.

I run the social media for clients and spend much of the past five years developing and running the social media for one CPG brand. It was an important learning curve for me in realizing how much consumers need not only to be able to buy a great product, but how much they also need to have great people behind that product. It was important for me that our over 20,000 social media followers knew ME, the faceless person at the keyboard and many of their events, behind the brand. It got to the point where if I was oddly not responding at all hours of the day and night to tweets and Facebook questions, people would ask me by name, if I was okay…quick! Name Starbucks Chief Digital Officer! Can you? I didn’t think so. While Starbucks has almost 4,000,000 Twitter followers, he himself has less than 5000. He only follows just over 800. Please correct me if you feel I’m wrong, but to me, there’s a disconnect there.

For the sake of transparency and full disclosure, I WILL admit – I have never been a huge fan of Starbucks. While I’ve recently tweeted to Starbucks that they’ve “won me back” with their recently launched Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino, I often find their coffee bitter. I’ll be the first in line when Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf FINALLY opens in the Midwest.

And no, as I’d suspected, @starbucks did not respond to my tweet, nor did they take the ½ second it would have taken to hit RT.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting To Know Your Favorite NFL Player

Spotlight on Sergio Brown - Indianapolis Colts

By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

I have always been more interested in sports games, movies, books when I’ve known more about the subjects or professionals. A glimpse into them as PEOPLE has always been fascinating to me. In my quest to find out more and more about my favorite NFL players, I was lucky enough to get to interview Sergio Brown, of the Colts.

Both Sergio and I are from Illinois, so immediately I felt that familiar home-town connection to him. As a WR and DB at Proviso East High School in Maywood, IL, Brown already showed NFL level skill. His senior year, he put on the boards 710 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns at the wide receiver, position, and 41 tackles, two sacks and six interceptions as a safety. At the University of Notre Dame, Brown primarily played special teams during his first two seasons, and became a starter in 2008 as a junior, starting 6 of 13 games and recording 28 tackles and one sack. As a senior, he started 12 games, and had 50 tackles and one sack (

Sergio Brown signed with the New England Patriots in 2010, and played for them until August of 2012. The very next day after being released from the Patriots, he was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, where we will be watching him play this season.

Let’s learn a bit more about one of our favorite players, shall we?!

Lucy:      What do you think about the stereotype that “men know more about football than women do?”

SB:          I think people put that stereotype on women because they aren’t the ones playing the game every Sunday and practicing all week.  As players, we get to experience the game of football firsthand and nothing beats a first person experience.

Lucy:      That’s a great statement – I’ve never thought about that before, that perhaps if women were known to play football more than they currently are, that stereotype may not exist at all. What do you think the NFL could do to include women more?

SB:          I think the NFL has made strides including women more by having workshops, creating women’s design clothing, and involving the mothers of athletes more in the community.

Lucy:      Agreed! Women’s clothes used to be simply making large NFL-logo items, and now there are more and more fashionable ways we can show our love for our favorite teams! Did you grow up ALWAYS knowing you would one day play in the NFL?

SB:          I was in the 8th grade when I made up my mind that I wanted to be a NFL player.

Lucy:      Since we’re both from Illinois, I’ve gotta ask - what are some of your favorite memories of growing up here?

SB:          I have a lot of great memories growing up in Illinois, but one of the greatest was going to the Michael Finley Basketball Camp - it was the highlight of my summers.

Lucy:      That MUST have been exciting! Especially since it was held at your own high school! How often do you still come back? Do you have family still in IL?

SB:          Since Chicago is so close to Indianapolis, I try to get back a lot when time permits.  In the offseason, I train at EFT Sports Performance in Chicago, so I get to see my entire family and all my friends back home.

Lucy:      I’m sure EFT will have some ladies hanging out in front during the next off-season, hoping to have the chance to meet you after reading this! Everyone always really loves seeing that their favorite players are giving back, and it’s definitely a huge focus of mine…What are some of the charities you support?

SB:          I try to support as many charities and schools as possible because there is nothing like the feeling of giving back.  Some of the causes that I help out a lot are Baldrick’s Foundation, American Cancer Society, and I am working on creating my own Foundation for Inner City Youth in Chicago.

Lucy:      That’s great! I’d definitely like to work with you and your foundation. If you weren’t a football player, you’d want to be _______________

SB:          When I was coming out of college, I thought about doing something in fashion – possibly a marketing rep or a branding manager for an attractive clothing line and preferably one that works overseas. If I could be a part of their international marketing team that would be great since I love to travel.

Lucy:      WOW! That was definitely an unexpected answer…and sounds like that would also be a terrific career…who knows? You definitely still might have the chance once you are done with your NFL career! You mentioned you love to travel, what else do you do in your free time, when you’re not playing games or training?

SB:          I love to travel across the world to new locations.  I like thinking of new ideas and collaborations that I can work on like my LACER Headwear one – everybody should check out my hats! (

Lucy:      I’ll be ordering a hat TODAY! I hope everyone that reads this article checks out that site! I know that while some NFL players allow themselves the luxury of eating as they’d like, since they’re constantly working out, but do you ever let yourself “cheat” during the off-season? What’s a “cheat day” like for you?

SB:          I don’t have a strict diet, but it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to eat better.  I can say that I am working hard towards that goal, but there is always room for improvement.

Lucy:      Something ELSE we’ve got in common! I think that’s also been MY New Year’s Resolution for the past 5 years! What would you call your “guilty pleasure?”

SB:          I LOVE potato chips and chocolate.  Flaming Hot Cheetos (the extra hot ones) are my kryptonite.

 Lucy:     What would you say if your son wanted to play in the NFL?

SB:          If you put your mind to it and work hard, you can believe anything. He needs to be well rounded in school and other things, so that he would know what he really wanted to do because growing up as a child I did everything from having good grades to basketball to track to karate to tumbling and numerous other activities. I give ALL credit to God for choosing football for me.

Lucy:      I really love the “attitude of gratitude” you speak with. It’s very refreshing. Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give to the 13 year old Sergio Brown?

SB:          I really don’t know – the 13 year old Sergio had no idea if he was doing things the right way, but he was living with no regret.

Lucy:      That’s the best way to live! I know you’re always watching NFL games - what other sports do you watch regularly?

SB:          I’m a big Chicago sports fan, so I watch everything Bulls and Blackhawks.

Lucy:      Again, as a fellow Chicagoan, you KNOW I’m high-fiving you after that answer! If you were to put together a “dream (NFL) team” who would you have on it?

SB:          My ‘Dream Team’ would be all my current teammates on the Indianapolis Colts with one stipulation -  I might just have to play QB!  (LOL JK, Luck is really good.)

Lucy:      HA! I love it! Is there anything else you’d like to say to the community?

SB:          We need more female fans because I love you all!!

Lucy:      And I know I speak for ALL your female fans, we ALL love YOU, Sergio! (and perhaps even a bit more now, after getting to know you better!)
For more player news/interviews, follow me on twitter @arkaymktg!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Would I Make The Same Decision?


The world woke up to the news that actress Angelina Jolie chose to undergo a double mastectomy after finding out that she is a carrier of a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. Carriers of this gene are at a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The news came following an announcement by Jolie in a New York Times op-ed article entitled “My Medical Choice,” early Tuesday. In the article, Jolie admits she has recently finished three months, beginning February 2 and ending as recently as April 27, of medical procedures at the Pink Lotus Breast Center (located in Southern California), which included both the mastectomies and reconstruction, which included breast implants.

“My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” Jolie wrote. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy….I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," Jolie wrote. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent." Jolie’s mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, died of breast cancer at a very young age, 56. Jolie is currently 37 years old. This procedure is recommended for people like Jolie -- those with a known genetic risk because they possess the BRCA1 or BRCA2, or have a strong family history of the disease, NPR has reported.

As one of the most high profile celebrities in the world, I wonder if this announcement will lessen the unfortunate stigma women often report feeling following such a surgery. Women seem to very often feel that their femininity and “power” as a woman is tied to their breasts. Angelina herself addresses this in her article – "I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie writes. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity." With a family history of ovarian cancer (my favorite grandmother died of ovarian cancer when I was 13 years old, after a long 8-year battle with the disease), I question if I would be strong enough to make this same decision. Though I do not feel any identity tied to my breasts, it is the fear of such an involved surgery that causes pause.

Locally, women are already seeming to agree with Jolie’s decision. “Having seen the tragedy that breast cancer inflicts upon an individual and a family I personally would also choose the option of a prophylactic mastectomy. Hopefully this will bring heightened awareness to breast cancer research,” says a Chicago registered technologist in mammography, who has chosen to remain anonymous.

Jolie is not the only recognizable name to undergo this procedure, but perhaps the most vocal about it, at least as of today. In early 2013, 24 year-old Miss America contestant Allyn Rose announced she planned to go undergo a similar preventive mastectomy because she has a strong family history of breast cancer in her mother. Actress Christina Applegate, underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and like Jolie, had reconstructive surgery which included implants, similarly to Jolie.

I’m interested in your thoughts, following this morning’s revelation. Tweet me @arkaymktg and let me know if you would undergo preventative measures like this, if you knew you also carried this “faulty gene.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

Green Bay Packers 2013 Draft Class & Aaron Rodgers Signs Record Contract Extension

It’s been quite the exciting week for the Green Bay Packers! Not only did they add 11 new players in the 2013 draft, but they’ve agreed upon a new five-year, $110 million contract extension with their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is guaranteed an NFL-record $62.5 million, sources say, in a deal that will also set the highest salary per season in NFL history, eclipsing the $120.6 million over six years the Baltimore Ravens gave quarterback Joe Flacco in March. Good news for Rodgers’ fans – this extension will keep him in Green Bay through the 2019 season. The Packers are 53-27 in Rodgers’ five years as a starter, and he led them to the Super Bowl title following the 2010 season.

“Big thanks to the Organization, our coaching staff, my teammates, and packer nation for the last 8 years! Excited about 7 more!” Rodgers tweeted Friday. No sour grapes about the cash amongst Rodgers’ teammates, “Congratulations 2 my man @AaronRodgers12. Frankly, he deserves more, but thank you 4 saving some 4 the rest. Every dinner on u sir! Let’s Go,” Packers tight end Jermichael Finley @JermichaelF88 tweeted, following the release of the news.

Now that the 2013 draft has come and gone, let’s take a look back and reflect on the Packer’s draft picks:

Eddie Lacy
Eddie Lacy

Round 1 Pick 26 Datone Jones(at top of page), DE, UCLA: It’s no surprise to Green Bay’s fans that the Packers needed to work on their defense after last season. Jones is a great addition to the team, with his height and speed. In his final season with the Bruins, Jones had 5.5 sacks and 19 other tackles.  Jones will join the Packers proudly wearing a number 95 jersey.

Round 2 Pick 29 Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama: I haven’t been able to see too much of what Lacy can do -  la problem with his hamstring prevented him from participating in the NFL pre-draft combine in February, and also kept him from working out for scouts until a couple of weeks ago on the Alabama campus. However, he is a strong, large, and powerful runner, which should complement Aaron Rodgers well. Lacy was also the MVP in each of his last two college games: the SEC Championship Game and the BCS Championship Game.

David Bahktiari
David Bahktiari

Round 4 Pick 12 David Bahktiari, T, Colorado: Bahktiari is a good strong pick. We need a better offensive line with bigger stronger guys and he certainly fills the spot. He’s a fast, versatile player that will be strong competition for starting position.

Round 4 Pick 25 J.C. Tretter, G/T, Cornell: By picking Tretter, Green Bay acknowledged what we fans already knew – the offensive line needs help! Tretter is a strong pick – he’s made 20 straight starts and was named All-Ivy League in each of his final two seasons at Cornell. I would venture to guess that we’ll see Tretter in the guard position once the season starts.

Round 4 Pick 28 Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: Franklin is fast and should work well with Eddie Lacy. He set UCLA’s single-season rushing record with 1,700 yards in 2012, and also set the school’s career rushing record with 4,403 yards, giving him the title as UCLA’s “All-Time Leading Rusher.” I was surprised that it took as long as it did for Franklin to be picked up. This could be a terrific steal for Green Bay.

Micah Hyde
Micah Hyde

Round 5 Pick 26 Micah Hyde, DB, Iowa: Hyde had 240 tackles and eight interceptions in his four seasons with the Hawkeyes. In 2012 he was fourth in the Big Ten and 22nd in the nation with 1.22 pass break-ups per game. The question remains – how long before Green Bay moves Hyde from defensive back to the safety position? In my opinion, though versatile, he seems to be more of a reactive player, who will need time to come into his own this season.

Round 5 Pick 34 Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State: The selection of Boyd is the Packers’ fourth selection of a defensive lineman in the last two drafts. He is a very large and strong player, which should fill the hole in the Packers defense.

Nate Palmer
Nate Palmer

Round 6 Pick 25 Nate Palmer, OLB, Illinois State: Palmer started all 24 of Illinois State’s games over the past two seasons at defensive end. However, the Packers list Palmer as a linebacker. He’s registered 117 tackles, 17 sacks and 25 ½ tackles for loss in his final two seasons and was named all-Missouri Valley Football Conference second-team selection both years. He will have competition for a starting position, but we should be able to watch what Palmer can do for the Packers early in the season.

Round 7 Pick 10 Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State: Former All-American wide receiver, Johnson looks promising and should be a huge playmaker for the Packers. He is coming off of two strong seasons as a Laker – in 2011 he caught 56 passes for 1,080 yards and 15 touchdowns and just this past season, he recorded 72 receptions for 1,199 yards and hauled in 16 touchdowns at Grand Valley State. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing 215 pounds, Johnson proved his athletic prowess at his pro day when he ran two sub 4.4-second times in the 40-yard dash and posted a vertical leap of 39.5 inches. While Johnson will be competing for time on the field with another draft pick Kevin Dorsey, he’s shown an athletic ability the Packers really need going into this season.

Kevin Dorsey
Kevin Dorsey

Round 7 Pick 18 Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland: The Packers clearly made adding strong and fast receivers into a priority in this year’s draft. Standing at 6’2″ and weighing over 200 pounds, it is understandable that Dorsey was added to the roster. Dorsey was a stand-out on his pro-day, running the 40 yard dash in only 4.47 seconds. After a less than impressive senior year, I am looking to Dorsey as more of a developmental player, that should receive more field time as he learns more about how to fit in with the Packers organization.

Round 7 Pick 26 Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida: With their 11th and final pick in the 2013 draft, the Packers selected LB Sam Barrington from South Florida. Following a sudden opening at the LB position following D.J. Smith’s release, the Packers were able to pick up Barrington, who we could end up seeing playing both the inside and outside linebacker position. I believe he will end up being a developmental steal – he’s got great size but isn’t overly fast. Speed can easily be learned and worked on, versatility will be what sets Barrington apart on field.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hop To It at Westfield Old Orchard Mall!

By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

March 30, 2013 Westfield Old Orchard Mall had a fun event for kids and families alike, from 10-1 Saturday in the “new” (while the real children’s area is being remodeled) children’s area outside Bloomingdale’s.

The highly attended event featured an annual Egg Hunt at 10:30 and 11:30 am for kids 3-6 years old. There were also art activities for the kids, with California Pizza Kitchen offering a decorating station, where children could design their own pizza boxes with Easter stickers and markers, while parents received a $5 off coupon for children’s meals, with any purchase over $10. They also offered the chance to win a Westfield Gift Card, for the person who correctly guessed how many jelly beans were in a jar.

Subway was also on hand, handing out free cookies and Frisbees. Not to be outdone, Corner Bakery was giving out free mini-bundt cakes.

Besides taking pictures with the Easter Bunny, the children were most excited with the petting zoo, which featured baby chicks, a bunny, a few adult and baby goats, and roaming ducks.

Two face painters were on-hand, decorating children’s faces with intricate pictures of bunnies, tigers and princesses.

Parents were also invited to take part in the fun, with hand massages provided by Kiehl’s from Bloomingdales, and the chance to win a $1000 gift certificate from Evanston Subaru in Skokie.

This promises to be an annual event that will draw bigger crowds every year!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Post-SXSW, The Cringe Talks PR and Upcoming Plans

By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan @arkaymktg


I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with John Cusimano, lead singer and songwriter of The Cringe, after watching them play at SXSW. Though the name of the band, “The Cringe,” has its origins back from when Cusimano was high school, playing “indie absurdist” garage punk with a “rough around the edges” feel, the present version is anything but cringe worthy.  Their sound is reminiscent of early Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins, along with heartfelt ballads sung masterfully by Cusimano.

In Austin, a city The Cringe calls one it’s favorite place to play, (mainly Stubb’s, a location you might associate with one of the biggest parties of SXSW, thrown by the wife of Cusimano) the band was playing shows to sold out crowds, promoting songs off their fourth album, “Hiding in Plain Sight.” With the success of this record, and radio ready songs such as “Lord Jim” and “Get Me Some,” it will definitely be hard for the band to hide in plain sight for much longer.

Writing this originally for the Public Relations Society of America, I wanted to get John’s take on the changing landscape of PR for bands. Few very short years ago only the largest bands such as the Foo Fighters would hire publicists, but now bands popping up each day in your backyard are making use of everything public relations has to offer. The Cringe has worked with several PR firms and has also brought the function in-house.  Cusimano believes “because of the growth of the internet and social media, it is increasingly easier and less expensive for a band to promote themselves.  That being said, it is quite helpful for an experienced PR firm to get a band noticed and breakthrough in an increasingly crowded market place – ideally a PR firm should help an artist move up the long tail and maximize his/her consumer base.” Most recently The Cringe worked with “the esteemed and wonderful Girlie Action (PR firm) on the release of their most recent album “Hiding in Plain Sight” (available on Itunes and everywhere else online).” For one of the PR campaigns The Cringe has run, Trendsetter has proven indispensable in promoting their video “Deep Girl” – the views of that video keep going up and up . . .

He goes on to tell me, “The internet has changed the publication landscape from print to online fairly drastically, thereby opening up the market place from a few large and expensive PR firms to a lot of smaller firms, many of whom focus almost exclusively online and need to and can move as quickly as the online world requires.” He believes this will only continue to expand.

Upcoming plans for The Cringe involve their current tour off of “Hiding in Plain Sight” and the very near future has the band looking forward to a bunch of April dates with one of their “hero” bands (and one of Kurt Cobain’s favorites)  – The Meat Puppets.  You can learn more about The Cringe and follow their tour dates at ? or on Facebook   Cusimano also encourages fans to chat with them on twitter and to check out his own personal photos on Instagram, under the handle thecringe. 

Currently, The Cringe includes:

John Cusimano, vocals, guitar and keys

 James “Roto” Rotondi, guitar

 Jonny Blaze, bass

 Shawn Pelton, drums

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dose Of Adolescence Earns Spot on Vans Warped Tour

By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

What do you picture when you hear the band name “Dose of Adolescence?” Angst filled teens playing heavy garage rock? Young rockers trying to make their mark on the music scene, with songs that are too long and too filled with gratuitous guitar solos? If that’s the case, you’d be way off.

DofA, as they’re often called, were named to signify a time before people become jaded by life. It represents the inner child that doesn’t know any other way than to be completely honest. DofA’s music strives to convey a message of truth, hope and realism while combining new school punk rock with old school heart.

Playing since 1999, brothers Timmy and Jimmy Ray Brown Jr. are finally winning the respect they’ve long deserved. Adding to their accomplishments, including placing 5th in the D'Addario strings online voting contest, being nominated for the best Rock/Hard Rock Song in the 11th Annual Independent Music Awards, headlining the Wahoo’s Scion Tour and attracting the attention of sponsors such as Active Ride Shop, Anenberg Clothing, Battlefield Drums & others, the band has recently been added to the 2013 Vans Warped Tour, playing almost daily shows from July 16-July 25th. On July 25th, Chicago will get the chance to watch the band in person, on one of the bands Warped stops.

However, it hasn’t always been all sunshine and beautiful music following the band everywhere they go. Brothers Timmy and Jimmy Ray Brown Jr. also started the band originally with their best friend Stephen Madigan. After a few short years, Stephen was in an alcohol-related car accident and passed away, reminding the brothers how precious life is, and how quickly it can be taken away. After their friend’s untimely death, Timmy even found it difficult to play music.

 “It took me a while to even pick up my guitar again,” he said. “(It was) the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life, by far.”

Being added to many dates on this year’s Warped Tour has always been a dream of the band. Until recently, they would play just outside the gates, giving away CDs to gain more fans, and simply happy and humble for the opportunity to play and share their music.

Current members of the band are:

Timmy Brown, vocals/guitar

Jimmy Ray Brown Jr., vocals

Roger Esparza, bass & vocals

Colin Andersen, guitar

Tyler Armenta, drums

For more information, please visit
Check out their music and let me know on Twitter (@arkaymktg) if I'll be seeing you at their Chicago Warped Tour stop!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shades of Green
                                                                By: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
      Unless noted, photo credit: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

What do YOU think of, when you think of St. Patrick’s Day? Reliving your youth, playing drinking games with beers oddly tinted green? Wearing as many green items of clothing as you can to school, along with your prized 4-leaf clover sparkly headbands? Guys in leprechaun costumes with green pointy elf shoes and their female dates in the shortest of short beer maid outfits?

You may not even know, or care, how St. Patrick’s Day started, but we’ll offer you a little history lesson, courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia. Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick") is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland.

The day generally involves public parades and festivals and wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.

While it’s certainly fun to dress up your kids for school that day, and increasingly popular to dress your dog, let’s leave this TO the kids (and dogs) and class it up a notch this year. Agreed?

From simple and affordable tees and dresses, to the more couture items straight from the runways of Fashion Week, we will help you look great, while “going green.”

The Gap has put together some great outfits that can be worn only on St. Patricks Day, but also lend themselves very well to going into the office.

A simple layered look like this would look great going into the office, enjoying Sunday brunch with friends, or simply going to a Farmer’s Market. The pop of green allows a classier look for St. Patrick’s Day.




Stripes are all the rage this season, so not only will this sweater/tee combo put you in the holiday mood, you’ll also be right on trend.


Old Navy has super chic, very affordable options, incorporating both the classier, simple look for St. Patrick’s Day outfits, as well as the traditional.
These tanks will take you right into spring, while staying in the holiday theme.

Do you have to go into the office on St. Patrick’s Day? Simply throw on this collared button down over a pair of skinny jeans, cute wedges, and you’re all set!


Is there any more fun reason to throw on a cute summer dress than a holiday? You can wear this  alone, but bring a jean jacket or camo jacket with complimentary colors with you if it gets chilly!


You’re “never fully dressed without a smile…” or a great bag. You can add this to your green ensemble, but I’d recommend wearing this bag with a collared button down shirt, skinny blue jeans, and wedges.

Too embarrassed to go fully green, but still want to take part in the office celebration? These sweet ballet flats are just the thing!


Now for the kids in your life! Again, Old Navy has some really fun options for your children’s class party on St. Patrick’s Day.



This year, more and more brands like Hello Kitty, Peanuts, and McDonald's are making sure they’re a part of everyone’s celebrations:


                                                Can’t forget your pets!

If you’re looking for something a bit more glam, here are some fashions directly from the runway (photo: This is a dress you can rent just for St. Patrick’s Day evening parties, from Rent The Runway.

This ring features a real 4-leaf clover under glass, ensuring you can take a little luck with you wherever you go.

If you’re not yet convinced, and still want to take the “traditional route” for St. Patrick’s Day, I’d recommend checking out Urban Outfitters, for more “tongue in cheek” garb, with options for both men and women.
Post some pictures on our facebook page so we can see what YOU’VE decided on and if you’ve gone the usual dress up route, or the more “Green Couture” route