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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.

Boston Harbor

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.

BostonPicture1Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.07.24 AMNamast’ay in Boston

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.

 

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!

We all love a great media relations agency success story — especially when it happens to great brands. Well, on Monday, just that very thing happened. Rachael Ray, the host of The Rachael Ray Show, which draws upwards of two million viewers per episode, featured a product from our media relations client Doctor Kracker as her official “Snack of the Day.”

If you haven’t tried Doctor Kracker yet, go get some! Each cracker and flatbread is chock-full of whole grains, seeds, good-for-you ingredients that you can pronounce, and fiber and omega-3s that keep you full and satisfied. For the past 10 years, Co-Founder George Eckrich, who started the original Whole Foods Bakery, and his team have been creating these European-style Flatbreads and snacker crackers in flavors like pumpkin cheddar, hummus maximus, seedlander, klassic 3-seed, seeded spelt, cherry semolina and apple crisp.

For this stellar piece of coverage, Rachel Ray chose to highlight Dr. Kracker Seedlander Snackers.

Kudos to the “kracker-jack” CBC media relations team, and happy snacking!

Most Knowledgeable Drivers in Idaho and Wisconsin, Least Knowledgeable in New York; Economic Concerns Trigger “Drive Less” Trends Across U.S.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Results from the 2009 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test released today found that 20.1 percent of licensed Americans – amounting to roughly 41 million drivers on the road – would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. When probed on driving behavior, 30 percent of those surveyed say financial strains have triggered a desire to drive less and seek out new ways to save money.

Overall, findings from the fifth annual survey indicate the number of drivers with knowledge of basic road rules is decreasing, with this year’s test scores lower than last year’s (76.6 percent vs. 78.1 percent).

Idaho and Wisconsin drivers tied for first in the nation, with an average test score of 80.6 percent; New York drivers ranked last, with an average score of 70.5 percent. This is the second time Idaho ranked first and the second time New York has ranked last in the survey’s five-year history.

“When we began this campaign five years ago, we embarked on a mission to help drivers become more aware of the rules of the road,” said Wade Bontrager, senior vice president, Affinity Division, GMAC Insurance.  “We’ve seen the results ebb and flow, and this year, scores are down. This reiterates the fact that each and every one of us need to continually be brushing up on safe driving practices.”

In general, geographical regions ranked similarly to previous years, with the lowest average test scores in the Northeast, while the states in the Midwest held the highest averages. When comparing genders, men are still more likely to pass the test than women, but the gap is considerably smaller in 2009 (81 percent of males versus 79 percent of females) than in 2008 (87 percent of males versus 80 percent of females).

Respondents continued to have difficulty on questions about yellow lights and safe following distances, while almost all drivers answered correctly what a solid line meant.

Additional key findings from the 2009 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test include:

•    With Age Comes Wisdom: The older the driver, the higher the test score. Drivers 35+ years old were most likely to pass. The age group with the highest failure rates was young adults (18 to 24 years old). White males older than 45 received the highest average score.
•    The Northeast had the lowest average test scores (74.5 percent), the South had the highest failure rate (41 percent). The Midwest had the highest average test scores (79 percent) and the lowest failure rates (15 percent).
•    Idaho and Wisconsin replaced Kansas’s 2008 ranking as most knowledgeable; New York replaced New Jersey’s 2008 ranking as least knowledgeable.

Survey Says: Economic Concerns Causing People to Drive Less
In addition to the 20-question DMV exam, GMAC Insurance posed subsequent questions exploring participants’ planned driving habits for the following year and their take on mileage-based auto insurance programs (pay-as-you-drive insurance). These findings reveal:

•    Approximately 30 percent of drivers surveyed reported they plan on driving less within the following 12 months, with the primary reason being “worry over the economy” (74 percent). Twenty-four percent indicated they plan on driving less to “reduce expenses due to financial problems.”
•    Ninety-three percent of respondents had never heard of a “pay as you go insurance” pricing model for automobile insurance.
•    However, one-in-three drivers (35 percent) would enroll in a “pay as you go insurance” program, such as the GMAC Insurance Low-Mileage Discount (OnStar.GMACInsurance.com), if their insurance company offered one.

State Rankings
Where are the most knowledgeable drivers in the nation?  The following is a complete list of state rankings for the 2009 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test.

1    ID            19    NM            37    LA
1    WI            20    NC            38    TN
3    MT            21    VA            38    MS
4    KS            22    IN            40    SC
5    SD            22    MI            40    MD
5    NE            24    AR            42    CT
7    UT            24    TX            43    FL
8    WY            26    AL            44    DC
8    IA            26    NV            45    MA
8    OR            28    WV            46    RI
8    MN            29    IL            47    GA
12    AK            30    AZ            48    CA
12    ND            31    ME            49    HI
14    VT            32    DE            50    NJ
15    CO            33    NH            51    NY
15    MO            34    OH
17    OK            35    KY
17    WA            36    PA

The survey, which polled more than 5,000 licensed Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is designed to gauge driver knowledge by administering 20 actual questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles exams. The margin of error for the total sample surveyed is 1.4 percent.

Get in the Driver’s Seat:  Take the Test Yourself
GMAC Insurance encourages the public to put their skills to the test at www.gmacinsurance.com.  Play a quirky driving game, take the written test itself, compare your score to the national average and challenge friends to top your score via email and Facebook.  Also, see how your state ranked in previous years and, most importantly, brush up on safe driving tips.

The GMAC Insurance survey was administered by TNS, a leading market information resource and the world’s largest provider of custom research and analysis. The national sample was comprised of 5,183 licensed drivers in the United States, aged 16-60+. For more information about TNS, please visit www.tns-us.com.

For more information about GMAC Insurance coverage and to find a local independent agent, call 877-468-3466, or visit www.gmacinsurance.com.

The GMAC Insurance Group is one of the largest automobile insurers in the United States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of GMAC Financial Services. GMAC Insurance Personal Lines offers a variety of property and casualty products, including personal auto, RV, motorcycle, commercial auto and homeowners insurance.  With a nationwide network of claims professionals, local independent agents and a 24-hour, toll-free claims hotline available 365 days a year, GMAC Insurance provides superior claims service for its customers.

About GMAC Financial Services
GMAC is a bank holding company with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. GMAC specializes in automotive finance, mortgage operations, insurance, commercial finance and online banking.  As of March 31, 2009, the company had approximately $180 billion in assets and serviced 15 million customers around the world. Visit the GMAC media site at http://media.gmacfs.com for more information.

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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.

These days, media relations pros are finding the universe of press opportunities dwindling.  True, there’s a whole host of things your PR agency can do with online and social media marketing, including bolstering search results through smart SEO copywriting, promotional campaigns, Facebook and Twitter.  But the truth is that a huge amount of sway in public opinion is still held by the traditional media.  

Public relations pros still need to reach the national news outlets and magazines that are reporting on trends and products with great depth and authority.

But with advertising support at an all time low, these outlets have less time and space for editorial. So PR agencies need to work smarter for their clients than ever before.  Here’s Three Rules to Getting Ink that should help get bolster your media relations efforts in these times of scarcity: Read more