Archive for July, 2008

My Cookie Project

July 21, 2008 8 comments

Posted about Cookie magazine last time.  Fear that I may have a full-blown obsession with Cookie Moms.  For those of you unfamiliar with Cookie, it’s motherhood filtered through the gimlet-eyed lens of Conde Nast.  Think of it this way — if the magazine world was a high school, Parenting would be the outcast girl who cool Alpha Girls Vogue and Domino take under their wings as their makeover “project” and transform into Cookie.

These are two Cookie Moms who happen to be celebs to give you a taste (as it were):

Julianne (aka Critically Acclaimed Cookie) via

Heidi (aka Supermodel Cookie) via celebritybabyscoop

So I’ve been thinking of doing my own version of the “Julie/Julia” project when the next Cookie issue comes out.  Only instead of cooking and blogging my way through an entire cookbook as Julie Powell famously did in her blog-turned book-turned forthcoming film (btw my foodie colleague Lisa tells me this is now an official term — “cooking through” as in “I’m cooking through Mario Batali’s Babbo cookbook so I can get over my fear of beef cheeks”), I’d follow every piece of advice in the magazine for as long as it takes to accomplish that particular task. 

This needs a name.  The meaning of “cooking through” is obvious. Since my Cookie project involves not only reading the issue from cover to cover but actually modifying my behavior based the advice contained within so I can become the ultimate Cookie mom — perhaps I’ll call it “improving through.”  If anyone has any better ideas, I’m all ears!

So if I actually “improve through” a complete issue of Cookie, this is what will happen:  I am chic in a fiercely individual but slightly bo-ho kind of way.  I master the flawlessly unmade-up made-up face and effortlessly tousled wash-and-wear hair.  My parenting is firm yet creative. I produce impeccably plated, whole food meals for my son and organize inspiring vacations in stylish AND family-friendly global destinations.  My home is a sophisticated yet quirky hybrid of mid-century modern and cottage chic, with at least one room set aside in which my son can play with artfully carved wooden toys from Scandinavia and color on the walls without fear of reprisal.  I am a rock star at my very interesting job which is probably in a creative field and commands a high six-figure salary — OR I have opted out of corporate America and am embarked upon a financially promising and soul-satisfying “mom-preneur” project.  I dress my son in designer togs made of organic fibers that can only be found at tiny boutiques on side streets of NoLita or Silver Lake.  I am a temptress with the magical ability to “rekindle the spark” with my husband of nearly a decade.

Oh, and I am thin.

New issue hits newstands in about three weeks.  Anyone else interested in “improving through?”  I may need some company/moral support on this particular journey.

Categories: Marketing, Work Tags: , ,

Real World Anxiety

July 17, 2008 1 comment

By the time online dating really hit its stride, I was already old and married.  I had navigated my single life without digital back-up, which in Manhattan is interesting, boy-girl ratios being what they are.  This whole thing of meeting people online, clicking, then doing the offline meeting thing is still foreign to me — even when potential romance or at least a little slap-and-tickle (wink wink) AREN’T the objective.

So I confess, I was a little nervous when I learned that my new blog pal Claire was coming to town with her family (check out Agent Zoey and the cool kids’ clothing boutique she runs in Portland here) — of course I wanted to get together for coffee, but had to deal with this flood of adolescent anxiety about what kind of offline impression I’d make. I’m very self-confident normally but this shift from mutual blogging admiration society to potentially real-world friendship was a whole new gig for me. Long story short — meeting was great, Claire and her family turn out to be not just cool in that Cookie magazine sort of way, but genuinely nice, interesting and interested people.  

(Not Claire of course, but you get the picture.)

So adolescent anxiety subsided, lattes and tea were consumed, useful and fun professional networking ensued…no one got hurt.  And the Pacific Northwest section of my “really cool people I’d like to hang with more” list just got two people longer.

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Mischief in the Blogosphere

July 14, 2008 Leave a comment

via chambermusictoday

I am by no means perfect, neither personally nor professionally, and I’ve been leery in my brief blogging career of overtly criticizing other PR agencies.  But I have to say I am consistently floored when I hear accounts of my PR brethren posting comments on message boards or blogs under pseudonymns in attempts to further their clients’ agendas.   What I particularly enjoy is when the comments can be traced back directly the email accounts of the guilty agencies.  (Would suggest the offending PR practitioner secretly wanted to get caught…just like me as a teenager, getting busted for house parties while my parents were away by leaving one incriminating Rolling Rock bottlecap in the kitchen for my mother to find the morning after…)

As usual, I digress.  Back to digital PR mischief.  The most recent of these brouhahas involves Manhattan-based agency 5WPR who allegedly fired an intern for posting blog comments in the guise of a rabbi who had been critical of one of 5WPR’s clients…it’s complicated, this account at helps.

It’s convenient to have all these summer interns running around, isn’t it, just waiting for the buses to roll over their expendible little backs?  Maybe it really was an intern who did the deed.  If so, termination was certainly appropriate.  If not…well, who am I to judge?  There’s a backstory for every story…I guess. 

And since schadenfreude isn’t particularly pretty, I will end this post here.

Iced Tea Spoons and Missing Mom

July 9, 2008 Leave a comment

I posted earlier about the terrific book “Evocative Objects” and the resonance that things have in our lives beyond their function. I’ve also posted recently about missing my mom, who passed away three years ago. She creeps up on me at the weirdest times.  Was having an iced tea the other day and it being steamy and hot, thought I’d bust out the spoon straw to enhance my bev’s chilly goodness.  Not those plastic things you get with your Slushee, by the way, I’m talking about metal spoon/straw combos that in days of yore were made of sterling and typically used for mint juleps or iced tea.  (Here’s where Mom enters the picture…)

These are elegant objects from another era, and while you can find stainless steel versions today at Crate and Barrel and the like, they’re pale imitations of the real deal. It was a Crate and Barrel version I plunked into my drink the other day, and it occurred to me that I had no idea where the sterling spoon straws were that belonged to my mother.  Hers were early-60s vintage — wedding gifts, I’m pretty sure. They are a thing of beauty, the slender straw stems gracefully tapering to a spoon shaped like a mint leaf.  Could there be any finer way to sip your summer drink than through the cool length of a sterling silver straw?

Not Mom\'s, but close. (via ebay)

Not Mom’s, but very close (via ebay)

I bought the Crate and Barrel imposters when Mom was alive, because the sterling versions were still very much in use at her house. After she passed away, my sister and I and our uncles split up Mom’s things and most of the finer table- and flatware came to me.  Consensus was that of the four of us, I was the one most likely to use it.

But you know, I’m not sure I’ve got those spoon straws! They may have ended up with my sister; she loved them as much as I did.  If they’re not with her, that means they’re still packed away in my basement with the rest of Mom’s china and silver. 

God, there are treasures down there.  All that finery from another era, beloved posessions (mostly wedding gifts) of my beautiful 19-year old mother setting out for Europe with her Army captain husband for a life that must have seemed impossibly glamorous…dinner parties with other officers and their wives, midnight suppers, afternoon teas and bridge parties, gatherings where a sterling silver spoon straw would be an essential, not a flourish.

Picture taken by my father of Mom playing solitaire on a ferry crossing,
somewhere in France circa 1962.

Vietnam ended her dreams when my father was killed in action in 1968.  Thirty-seven years later, we buried Mom with him at the West Point cemetery.

Is there such a thing as a “gateway” evocative object?  The object that signifies the real signifier, the original object bearing memories and untapped emotion that erupt at the most unexpected times…like pouring a glass of iced tea?  The Crate and Barrel straw evokes the sterling version which evokes Mom — and not just the woman, but all her aspirations and dreams for domestic bliss and the graceful rituals of bygone eras.

I’m thinking I’ve got some unpacking to face downstairs. Boxes of cherished objects and memories await.

PR Mama Meets the Obama Llama

July 8, 2008 2 comments

What is it about Barack Obama and llamas? I get it, Obama rhymes with llama. But goodness, the chatter!  There’s the “Llamas for Obama” post by Sam Graham-Felsen about an actual llama (well, his handler really) who was out showing its support for the candidate in Iowa — photos of said llama made the rounds including this one in which s/he cozies right up the candidate (along with a supporter sporting a suspiciously counterfeit looking Chanel bag).

(via ochairball)

Security!! There could be weapons in that bag….or on the llama itself.  Clearly no one was worried about furry creatures being used as explosives which means Obama’s security detail is either unaware of lesser-known WWII military tactics or were  in the dark because “Wanted” hadn’t come out yet.


And this, of course (via Digg.)  Am not quite making the leap from name-rhyming-with-llama to world domination but I won’t spoil the fun.  

However, this is a PR not a political blog so allow me to share how Obama Llamas have entered my professional life.  Sometimes random new business calls come in through our main switchboard and this one happened to get past my assistant directly to me.  I knew I was in for it when the caller asked if he was speaking to “DeVry” (we’re pronounced “De-Vreeez” and have been for 30 years, but no worries, it’s fun to be confused with the storied Technical Institute) and proceeded to share that he was looking for national PR support for an interesting new product he was launching. 

He then directed me to a website where I was greeted with this:

Now THAT is spectacular.  I thought at first I was being punk’d — if there were such a thing as punking PR people. But the site is seemingly for real and dare I say, earnest? This is no ordinary fundraising effort, it seems they want to help counter smears on Obama’s character by more overtly equating him with the Dalai (er) Lama. What better way to achieve this noble objective than to add an L and create a cuddly llama toy complete with its own “fun campaign button?” Sadly, the Obama Llama creators don’t quite fit our client profile; however, I am delighted to link to their website here so you too can experience the joy.

Brownies, Babes and Aspirational Marketing

July 5, 2008 1 comment

Professional Me spends lots of time helping create cultural conversations about (and consumer engagement with) the brands my clients market. Since I’m savvy about PR and advertising, Private Me usually feels pretty immune to — or at the very least, hyper-conscious of — the power of integrated marketing communications.

But once in a while, I find myself caught in the crosshairs of some marketer’s evil genius and I can’t help responding. Against my will, of course, because I know better. But I admit it: I am 100% the target the sponsors of TVLand’s “She’s Got the Look” are trying to reach. I can’t help it. I love, love, love watching knock-outs in their 40s and 50s strutting their stuff. And wouldn’t you know, I caught myself thinking the other night, if Jenny Craig can help me look like those chicks, shouldn’t I rethink that brand…? (At which point Professional Me smacked Private Me down for my gullibilty and got another brownie from the kitchen.)

Yes, she’s a bit snooty but I’m rooting for Bahia. Finale on July 9th.

(via yahoo)

I only wish the show’s creators weren’t aping “America’s Next Top Model” quite so closely — it’s not that I think “ANTM” contestants are mindless and shallow, I’m sure they’re not (mostly) — but they’re kinda edited to look that way. Also, IMHO there are more interesting stories to be told by women with four or five decades of living under their belts who, by the way, are also drop-dead gorgeous. “SGTL” has been picked up for a second season, let’s hope there’s as much focus on these contenders’ stories as there is on their spectacular exteriors.

Speaking of aspiration and older chicks, do you know who this 41-year old is?

via nytimes

That’s Dara Torres, one of the world’s greatest competitive swimmers, and she just made the Olympic team…for the FIFTH time. For more on Torres, check out this NYTimes magazine profile and this piece by Karen Crouse from today’s Times sports section.

Hmmm. Now that might be enough to make me put down the brownie.