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We’ll just come right out and say it: we LOVE Beantown! As one of the most historic cities in the country, Boston has a lot to offer from unique activities, great food, and lastly, is home to some amazing brands.

Throughout the year, we routinely invite editors and influencers spanning a variety of lifestyle, food, and travel publications to join us for brand excursions to aspirational places like Santa Barbara and Sonoma County. While these locations are breathtaking in their own ways, we decided it was time to take advantage of our own backyard and prove that Boston in fact is a great travel destination.

This is why we invited 10 editors to come experience all of Beantown’s unique qualities in our first Boston Experience, a new program added to our House Program series.

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Take me out to the ball game

It wouldn’t be a trip to Boston without a chance to watch the Sox play at Fenway Park. As soon as the editors landed in Logan Airport, we made our way over to Fenway – in Safr vehicles, a new Boston-born ridesharing app – to watch the Boston team play the Blue Jays (spoiler: they crushed the Jays). Even though some of our New Yorkers were hesitate about sporting those Boston B’s on their caps, everyone enjoyed a Fenway Frank, or two, and were psyched to be able to experience a ball park that has so much history – Green Monster and all.

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Best view in Boston

For their weekend in Boston, the media had the pleasure of staying at one of Boston’s newest boutique hotels, The Envoy Hotel. Situated along the water in one of the city’s fast growing neighborhoods, the Innovation District, the views from this hot spot are unmatched.

After a Red Sox game, we rounded off the evening with a boozy social on the Envoy Hotel’s stunning rooftop, drinking in the city skyline as well as a few signature cocktails.

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Unforgettable brand experiences

The next morning, we were up at the crack of dawn to watch the fishing boats at Boston Fish Pier unload their daily catch. Legal Sea Foods gave us the behind the scenes scoop on how they choose their premium fish and what goes into making sure all their restaurants are getting the best and freshest fish.

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Later that evening, our group dined with Legal Sea Foods at their Harborside location in the Seaport. It all began with Executive Chef Rich Vellante’s oyster shucking demo – that you can find live on Food Network’s Facebook page.

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And the night concluded with a true sea-to-table dining experience where the media tasted Legal Sea Food’s freshest seafood dishes. Also at the table, was Legal Seafood’s CEO Roger Berkowitz who dined with the media and chatted about his journey with the brand.

Demarco Williams, Forbes Travel Guide editor, wrote about his experience with Roger Berkowitz. Check it out here.

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After a classic duck tour excursion, the best way to get up to speed on your Boston history, the day peaked with a surprise trip to Ocean Spray’s cranberry bog just outside of the city. Knee-deep in cranberries, the media learned about cranberry harvest and finished off the experience with a bog-side luncheon. Needless to say, the group was berry pleased with the amazing Instagram pics they got from this adventure.

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Feasting, beasting and sight-seeing

The next morning we kicked off the day the right way with a scenic run along the freedom trail in Hoka One One kicks!

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And followed it with a lunch rendezvous to ArtBar in Cambridge where the staff pulled out all the stops – oysters, shrimp, mini tacos, a s’mores bar, and a sorbet bar!Picture1

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And from ArtBar’s patio, a boat picked us up for a little rosè and a cruise around the harbor with 90+ Cellars and Discover Boating.

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We sent off our media with a restful rooftop yoga class, hosted by Boston- born brand Crane & Lion.

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Who knew there was so much to do in our very own backyard? Check out the social chatter from this experience on Instagram at #CBCBostonExperience.

 

As a public relations agency with many experiential marketing campaigns under our belt, we’d like to think we’re in a good position to point out some great work by brands and our colleagues at other PR agencies.

For experiential marketing to work, it has to grab your attention. Think about it: Have you ever done something crazy to get someone’s attention in real life? Sometimes it’s the same in marketing – drastic measures in order to differentiate yourself from the sea of similar brands. It can be risky, scary, and very thrilling to pioneer experiential campaigns.

We get it. Our idea to create a mobile boutique from a shipping container for Garnet Hill raised a few eyebrows when it was first floated. But in the end, the campaign was a huge success.

That’s why the campaigns below – all daring and different – hit close to home for us.

 Apple Orchard in the Big Apple

In June 2016, Strongbow apple cider decided they would bring a taste of nature to NYC with a floating garden. In a barge filled with fruits, vegetables and herbs, people reconnected with nature, foraged for their food, and learned about all of the ingredients found in Strongbow’s Cider.

Why we love it: This took Farmer’s Markets to a new level and imprints visitors with a memory for life.

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Big city, tiny house

In May, NESTEA introduced their own tiny house in Herald Square that emulated relaxation, minimalism, and the perfect place to enjoy a glass of iced tea. Their message to consumers: life today is not easy, but NESTEA’s new line of classic teas can help simplify things.

Why we love it: Minimalism is a coveted lifestyle in busy cities like NYC. Kudos to NESTEA for capitalizing on it!

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Actress Anna Camp launches the new NESTEA in Herald Square at the NESTEA Tiny House on May 17, 2017 in New York City. Designed in part by bloggers Southern Bite, Inspired by Charm, and Hapa Time, the NESTEA Tiny House is unveiled in Herald Square. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images) (PRNewsfoto/NESTEA)

Refueling with a brew

In a refurbished 1952 GMC Coach bus, now known as the High Brew Liner, High Brew Coffee is embarking on a cross country tour. The goal is to pop up in 31 cities for people to try a cup of High Brew’s cold brewed coffee and refuel.

Why we love it: High Brew transformed the vintage bus to speak to an audience of millennials who, according to their research, go nuts for authentic experiences.

BigFoot on the loose

The Bootmobile is a rolling shoe created by L.L. Bean to commemorate it’s 100th anniversary, created for new store openings and promotional events. The bootmobile has been so successful that a new one was made and sent to Japan for their stores.

Why we love it: L.L.Bean took it global and didn’t just section it off for convenience.

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Sweat, hydrate, repeat

In the summer 2016, Propel hosted fitness events to roll out their updated electrolyte rich flavored water. The campaign went viral with the hashtag #LetsGetUgly, in the attempt to negate the glamorous and often unrealistic social media portrayal of people working out. From yoga to boxing, Propel got consumers active and hydrated them with their water.

Why we love it: Propel provided an environment where it’s okay to get sweaty and work hard.

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Touch and Feel

The Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique supported by our PR and creative services team here at Cercone Brown Company, transformed a shipping container into a moveable, shop-able, pop up shop. The revamped shipping container was a unique place for consumers to touch and feel all of the products before buying them.

Why we love it: Garnet Hill allowed their consumers to get to know the Garnet Hill products in a more natural, homelike setting.

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Gone are the days of blanket advertising via commercials and print ads. People want to touch, taste, feel and smell the brand. In other words, an experience.

 

All advertisers strive to produce great work that goes beyond selling and becomes viral entertainment that consumers talk about for weeks. But then what?

Many have gotten into the habit of cranking out one campaign after the other, without too much diversity in-between. But in the pursuit of staying fresh, they lose the longevity of their brand identity.

This is where Transmedia storytelling comes into play.

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source: Wise Geek http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mass-production.htm#

Transmedia storytelling is simply defined as “telling a story across multiple media” and thrives off audience engagement. Different media forms work together to create a larger, more engaging story that immerses the consumer in the brand.

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Traditionally, media franchises (like Harry Potter and Star Wars) have brought this technique to life by building off the original content with related games, toys, theme parks, etc. This results in a natural build of brand awareness and loyalty.

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Perhaps the best example of a brand using transmedia storytelling happened in 2008 when car insurance company Progressive brought out Flo, the quirky saleswoman who has since become the face of the brand.

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Over the last nine years, Flo has appeared in over 100 commercials, has her own bobble head, a Halloween costume, and even has a role in the racing video game ModNation Racers.

Flo’s ability to transcend traditional marketing mediums has helped Progressive appeal to the elusive younger audience.

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Melbourne Metro

PSAs have a bad reputation. So when Melbourne Metro had to release a PSA for train safety, they seized the opportunity to break the monotony usually associated with PSAs by using transmedia storytelling.

The campaign started with a catchy jingle but has since expanded to an iPhone game, plush toys, and figurines.

 

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When executed well, transmedia storytelling can extend the lifetime of a campaign and strengthen brand identity.

Consumers are inundated with advertisements. While the exact number is impossible to pinpoint, the head of Kantar Futures, Dr. J Walker Smith, and other sources have cited that a person sees up to 5,000 marketing messages a day.

What does this mean for advertisers? Traditional marketing techniques no longer cut it. Consumers tune out the “seen it before” promotions as white noise. In order to capture the interest of consumers, marketing needs to anticipate their expectations and then disrupt them.

In Digital

Using Ad blockers has become common practice. Netflix recognized this trend long ago and found a clever way to use it to promote their original show, Black Mirror. Advertising via a technology designed to eliminate advertisements was a brilliant move. The campaign also fit with the show’s eerie tone, which resonated well with viewers.

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In Print

Print has always been a fairly straightforward medium. That’s why we especially loved to see Chambord blow our expectations out of the water with their print series, “Because No Reason. The blunt tone of the campaign caught consumers’ attention, and the nod to “impulse purchases” appealed to shoppers. Brownie points, because the campaign also went viral on digital.

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In Broadcast

Everyone skips YouTube pre-rolls; it’s just a fact. Instead of trying to manipulate consumers into watching a longer ad, Geico recognized the irritation and adjusted their ads to fit within five seconds. Their humorous “unskippable ads” understood that consumers just want to get to their content quick and dirty. The ads were so popular that consumers even went so far as to seek out the uncut versions.

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Product Packaging

We at Cercone Brown know you have to get creative if you want to grab consumers’ attention. That’s why we were all over it when our client, Backyard Farms, asked us to rethink how they package their delicious tomatoes. We conducted focus groups in Maine and Boston to hear what their customers had to say about the brand. This consumer feedback served as inspiration for the package design below – a signature branding of Backyard Farms that customers have loved ever since!

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So what do all of these brands have in common? They embraced the modern way consumers interact with advertising spaces rather than trying to force a cookie-cutter message. The result: content that consumers actually seek out.

Over the past decade, we have seen tremendous strides in advertising diversity, from gender to religious beliefs. However, let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet. There is still so much room for more progress in attaining equal representation of these marginalized groups.

White male dominated agencies, like in the show Mad Men, still exist today. Photo Credit: from Justina Mintz/AMC

White male dominated agencies, like in the show Mad Men, still exist today.
Photo Credit: from Justina Mintz/AMC

Why Agencies Benefit from Increasing Diversity in their Workforce

At its most rudimentary level, advertising and marketing campaigns are meant to capture the attention of audiences. We do that by creating content that is relatable and strikes a universal chord. For minority demographics, we believe the best way to create content that resonates is to let them tell the story.

Agencies without a diverse staff are more limited in their understanding of their various target audiences.

With so many talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, why should we make our jobs harder by excluding their voices? We should embrace a breadth of perspectives as a way to stimulate industry progression and inclusivity.

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As Pepsi Co. Executive Brad Jakemen puts it, “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogenous groups of people. Quite the opposite. They come from collections of people with different life experiences coming together with a different perspective on the world. Different ages, races, sexual orientations trying to solve a problem from a different standpoint.”

Brands Pushing for Change

A few brands – including Pepsi Co., Verizon, HP, General Mills ­– have spearheaded this initiative by pressuring their agencies to hire diverse individuals. They’ve asked agencies to propose plans for how they will boost representation at all levels within their workforce.

The SMO for Verizon, Diego Scotti commented in a New York Times article that, “Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers. We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce and suppliers represent the communities we serve.”

We at CerconeBrown applaud the steps these brands are taking, but recognize there is still progress to be made. When new and unique perspectives are brought into the creative process, everyone wins.

Over the course of eight days, 20 editors, bloggers and journalists from top-tier publications attended Cercone Brown’s 11th annual Fall House in Santa Barbara.screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-2-56-04-pm

From October 16-24, attendees from publications like People, The Huffington Post, and SELF immersed themselves in the Santa Barbara County lifestyle as they lounged by the pool, explored picturesque California beaches, and participated in adventurous excursions all hosted by our brand sponsors.

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This year, brands like Buick, Miraclesuit, and Lather organized unique brand activations and experiences. The key to our success with our House Programs, we let the products speak for themselves. Buick kicked off the 2016 sessions with an iconic, self-guided road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway while Mircaclesuit hosted a pool party at the house.

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After all the excitement, Lather helped the editors unwind with facials and massages.

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Other brands like Sabra and Jackson Family Wines indulged the media influencers with delicious food and cocktails throughout their stay. They were even treated to a mixology class with blogger and author of This Girl Walks into a Bar, hosted by Bolthouse Farms.

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While Fall House is certainly fun for media influencers, it also encompasses a series of tailored experiences designed to give each brand meaningful exposure to media in a natural setting. Editors are experiencing a product in the way it is intended to be experienced – and without being clouded by the competition as each brand is offered exclusivity in its product category.

But enough about what we thought of Fall House – let’s let the attendees speak for themselves:

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Check out all of the social buzz from Fall House online at #CBCfallhouse.

Controversy was sparked last year when Target went gender neutral with some of its products; with it came an important conversation amongst brands about the potential pitfalls of playing into gender stereotypes.

Many consider gender to exist on a spectrum rather than a male-female binary, causing brands to realize that consumers are more complex than gender stereotypes might suggest. The result: brands that are more inclusive of all gender identities.

At Cercone Brown, we’re calling this a “Marketing to Humans” revolution.

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THINX, a brand that sells underwear specifically for a person’s menstrual cycle, is challenging gender norms with its “People with Periods” campaign. The ad features a transgender man, suggesting that females aren’t the only ones who would benefit from their products.

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ZARA

Many high-end fashion lines strut androgynous – gender-neutral – clothing on the runway, however, ZARA is one of the first clothing brands to make this look mainstream with their “Ungendered” collection.

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Covergirl

Makeup isn’t just for ladies anymore. Covergirl has introduced 17-year-old social media darling James Charles as their first ever CoverBOY.

Meet James Here

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Veritas Genetics

We at Cercone Brown are joining this movement to remove gender stereotypes from marketing, particularly through our work with Veritas Genetics – a whole genome sequencing startup that also markets tests for breast, ovarian, and other cancers by testing for BRCA mutation.

 

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A mutation on the BRCA chromosome can increase the risk for breast cancer in both men and women. Among our many objectives is to build awareness that both women and men are at risk for breast cancer.

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There is still a long way to go until marketing is truly intersectional and representative of all identities, but these brands are helping lead the march towards progress.

The five senses play a key role in our consumer lives. Traditionally, many brands’ marketing teams have focused solely on sight when producing their creative work. However, today’s brands attract their audiences through another sense: hearing. Sound in marketing has now become a popular and expected asset.

Sonic branding is the strategic use of sound and music to build brands, used to trigger an emotional response from the consumer, elevate their experience with the brand, and build a relationship.

Why should every company use sonic branding? Not only does it help you stand out from the crowd, but it also makes you memorable. Some examples of brands that have created a short but catchy sound include T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Skype.

One of the biggest mistakes an agency can do is just slap on a good song without much thought. Just because you like a song or it’s popular among the general public doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for you.

Consider Royal Caribbean’s use of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” Sure, it’s a classic song, but was it the best choice for this particular brand? After listening to the lyrics, many people were confused as to why this brand would want their luxury cruise line associated with the lyrics.

However, some advertisements are paired so well with music that the two become timeless associations. It gets to the point where you can’t hear the song without thinking of the brand that popularized it.

For example, how will we ever forget the dancing Mr. Six in the 6 Flags Commercials to the Vengaboys hit, “We Like To Party”?

Just like we won’t ever forget when Target re-wrote the lyrics to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”!

Some commercials are so trendy that the musical artist also spikes in popularity. The alternative rock group Phoenix became an overnight sensation after Cadillac’s SRX Commercial was released in 2010 with their hit song “1901.”

It’s safe to say that these songs will be stuck in our heads for the rest of the week. And with the demand of interactive marketing on the rise, we can’t wait to see which sense is incorporated next.

There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.

The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.

Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.

The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha SteaksSambazonStonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.

But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through the amazing photos posted by our guests on the hashtag #CBCcottage on Instagram.

Until next year, Cooking Cottage!

There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.

The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.

Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.

The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha Steaks, Sambazon, Stonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.

But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through the amazing photos posted by our guests on the hashtag #CBCcottage on Instagram.

Until next year, Cooking Cottage!

Advertising and PR agencies have been forced through some serious changes in recent years.  Some have transitioned better than others. One thing that hasn’t changed much is the tendency for creative agencies to work the heck out of staff. Nights, weekends and long hours are the norm, especially when the all important pitch or client presentation is around the corner.

But in an industry that relies on creative, nimble minds to succeed, does it make sense to beat our folks’ grey matter to a mushy pulp? (In case you’re too brain dead to answer, I’ll jump in here… Absolutely not.)

Cercone Brown CBC PR Advertising Agency Boston New York

Something’s Gotta Give: Ad & PR Agencies Need to Give People Time & Space

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J.Jill “Uncomplicate” campaign honored for breakthrough brand strategy and creative

NEW YORK CITY (March 26, 2014) — CerconeBrownCompany and its creative agency partner The Fantastical took top honors last night at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) prestigious 2014 David Ogilvy Awards for “Uncomplicate,” an integrated national brand campaign for the women’s clothing retailer J.Jill.

Other winners last night included The Coca-Cola Company “Let’s Go Crazy” (Ogilvy & Mather), HP “Printing that helps your Child Shine” (BBDO Singapore), Reddi-wip “Unleashing the Joy of Reddi-wip and Fruit” (DDB California), and Ford Fusion “It’s in the Game” (TDI).
Named after advertising legend David Ogilvy, The ARF David Ogilvy Awards for Excellence in Advertising Research annually celebrate his spirited advocacy of research in making good advertising better, recognizing the role of consumer research in creating successful advertising. The Awards honor extraordinary and/or creative uses of research in the advertising development processes of research firms, advertising agencies, and advertisers. The winning campaigns provide a keen understanding of how research can be used to create powerful, profitable campaigns.
The “Uncomplicate” brand platform was conceived entirely through research and deployed across national advertising, PR, online pre-roll spots, promotions and through all of J.Jill’s channels, including retail stores, packaging, catalog, customer service and at jjill.com. And the platform is successfully resonating with customers: J.Jill has experienced increases in brand engagement and revenues.

CerconeBrownCompany’s partner agencies that share the Ogilvy Award are The Fantastical (creative), Added Value (consumer research), Kathy Hart Planning (research) and PGR (media).

Splash Ultra Lounge on Kneeland Street (photo: Matt Baldelli)

Splash Ultra Lounge on Kneeland St. (Photo: Matt Baldelli)

As a Boston PR agency, folks expect us to be in the know around town…the parties, people and places that are on the A-List.  Truth be told, we entertain media as much in New York as we do in Boston. For that matter, Nantucket and Park City, too, as part of our Summer House program.  But… we do make an effort to keep up on the best places to eat, drink and do business around the Hub of the Universe.

That’s why we’re both happy and sad to see Boston.com’s list of roof decks around town.  It’s a one-stop-shop to make some of these lesser known gems even more crowded than usual this summer.

All the same, these are great spots for the right kind of business meeting, aprés office drinks or just for fun.

So…go ahead and enjoy, and don’t forget the shades.

Advertising and PR agencies like ours have changed the way we communicate, adding things like search engine marketing, social media promotions, blogging and lots of other direct-to-consumer communications. It’s to the point that literally half of our PR services have nothing to do with media relations.  In fact, it’s hard to tell where our advertising campaigns end and our PR tactics begin.  It’s all intertwined in one platform of online and offline communications.

This is great, but there’s a creeping issue of intergity as the filter of established media outlets weakens.

Consider this: last week, the Seattle Times closed, and venerable papers across the country are teetering on the edge of the abyss. And it’s not just newspapers, Best Life magazine shudders in May what I’m sure will be a series of glossy periodical closures in the next 36 months.

True, this is largely economic fallout, but there’s something more afoot as corporate self-publishing bypasses the media with RSS releases with embedded video and links, and microsites promotions become our standard form of campaigning. The balance of objectivity is in danger if becoming severely out of whack.

Good online marketers know that overly commercial messages on the Internet are useless.  But insidious spin can be even more dangerous, and not just to readers.  Nothing will kill a company faster on the Net than dishonesty.

So PR and advertising agencies turn more to RSS, microsite campaigning, social media PR and even search engine optimization, the entire profession needs to step back and take a long, cool drink of integrity.  

This new Wild West of public relations is a dangerous place. In the past, a curt “no thanks” from a journalist only hurt the ego.  As we wade directly into the waters of public opinion, the rip tide of objectivity will churn with considerably more power and wrath.

Consider this the next time you’re about to hit “post”.  We’re counting on you.