This Poo Has Gone Too Far: “Angry Turds”?

January 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM (Musings) (, , , )

I think we all share a similar thought when it comes to Angry Birds: possibly one of the best time-wasters of our iGeneration.Angry Birds: Come on, who doesn't love a game that involves breaking everything in sight and taking out grotesquely obese pigs? I think we also all share a similar thought when it comes to monkeys throwing their own excrement (among other things): immaturely hilarious. In math class I learned that a positive plus another positive equals another positive, so why does the love child of Angry Birds and monkeys unrestrained by civil convention of society seem like such a horrendous idea?  I am talking, of course, of the newest app trying to score a coattail-ride, which TechCrunch describes as Angry Birds with more poop in it.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your prayers have been answered: Apps Genius has launched Angry Turds.

Look! It's Angry Birds, only with monkeys throwing poo. Really, people?

In this game, you’re a monkey, and evil explorers have kidnapped your baby monkeys.  How do you save your young?  With whatever you can get your little monkey hands on . . . like poo.  Wonder where this app came from?  Me too.  TechCrunch asked Apps Genius CEO Adam Kotkin for his two cents. As it turns out, “People are into the whole poop thing. When you speak with a 12 year old you realize that they know more than the rest of us … It’s fun to throw poop around. Poop sells.”

Okay, so I wasn’t an advertising major, but given that people confuse ad folks with PR folks often enough, we did cover some basics of our sister industry in my classes.  You know what I was told sells?  Sex.  You know what I was told leads the news?  Whatever bleeds.  You know what apparently makes a box office hit as a result of someone who knows those two tidbits of information?  Vampires.  Not once did any of my professors or ad friends mention fecal matter.  Maybe I needed to know a secret handshake or something. Who knows?

Tonight’s Tunes
“The Time (The Dirty Bit),” Black Eyed Peas
“Grenade,” Bruno Mars
“Put It in a Love Song,” Alicia Keys

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What Makes a Fantastic Bar Staff?

January 23, 2011 at 9:15 PM (Food) (, , , )

There is a fair number of establishments in Boston with good, even great bar staff, but there’s a reason why I keep defaulting to Boylston St.’s Atlantic Fish Co. – aside from the great atmosphere, wine and craft beer options and delicious seafood (perhaps I shouldn’t be blogging about this before I’ve eaten lunch…): it has a fantastic bar staff.

“Brittany, what are you talking about? What makes a ‘fantastic’ bar staff?”

I am so glad you asked, dear reader, mostly because it gives me a reason to bother writing the rest of this post.  I didn’t write the book on bar staff quality experiences, but as far as I’m concerned, good and great bartenders will be attentive, recognise regulars, look up recipes for the cocktails they don’t know off-hand, and so on.  They create an experience that will leave patrons thinking, “That was a nice drink/ meal.”  They meet expectations.  A fantastic bar staff will exceed those expectations to the point of surprise.  I’ve made a few observations at the Fish that I think are certainly worth sharing with folks who haven’t stopped by, yet.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen patrons sit at the bar and sit for more than two minutes, even on busy nights, before someone has greeted them, asked them how they are, and what they would like to drink.  Oftentimes the bartender will immediately introduce him or herself as well, and if not immediately, then definitely within the next interaction or so.  I have been to other, pricier bars and have seen patrons sit at the bar unattended for what seems like forever (although it’s probably only a little over five minutes) before being asked what they would like to drink.

There is no alienation between bar staff and patrons.  While I try not to interrupt conversations between bartenders and a different party, I never feel uncomfortable asking a question (or in my case particularly, harassing someone behind the bar), nor do I ever feel like I’m taxing the bar staff with a request.  Having worked in food service and retail (and currently in public relations), I subscribe to the belief that customers should not ever feel like they have to struggle to communicate with whomever is supposed to be taking care of them. I’ve been to multiple restaurants where trying to get the attention of my server seemed impossible – and I’m not even a difficult customer (at least, I don’t think so . . .).

This next one is example-worthy: Red wine, bread and cheese at the bar at Atlantic Fish. Thanks, Jeff!if you have a craving, the nice folks at Atlantic will go above and beyond to sate that craving.  About a week ago, Adam and I went to Atlantic for a glass (or more) of wine.  I was a little hungry, but wasn’t really in the mood for seafood.  To be honest, all I really wanted was some cheese to go with my wine, but I wasn’t going to make any noises about it, given that my girlish figure didn’t need that much deliciousness anyway.  Our bartender, Jeff came over to check in on us and Adam shared my hankering of the moment with him. While I tried to protest, Jeff picked up the phone, called the kitchen and asked for a side of Parmesan cheese.  A minute or so later, I had a lovely scene (look right, please) in front of me.

Atlantic Fish's bar staff spoils me rotten. Who else goes ahead and whips together a dish of balsamic, oil, seasoning and cheese in 45 seconds? Thanks, Joe! Photo courtesy of Nicholas Adam Owens.I would have been happy with the cheese.  Truly.  Atlantic had to go a step further, though.  Joe, the bar manager was also working that evening.  He took one look at the cheese and said something to the effect of “This simply will not do.”  The next thing I knew, I had a dish of oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and of course cheese to go with my bowl of carbs. Did Jeff or Joe have to go out of their way to help rid me of my cheese craving?  Good heavens, no.  They did, though.  I have also seen the staff order cake from their sister restaurant, Abe & Louie’s, next-door because a customer was pining for it (they may or may not have done it for me as well one one occasion – honestly, it’s amazing that I’m not obese by now).

Maybe I’m an easy critic because it doesn’t take much to impress me when it comes to customer service, but on the same side of that coin, it blows my mind when I have a poor experience, knowing how simple it is to even provide the bare minimum of care for a patron: being polite and attentive, and taking whatever measures necessary to ensure an enjoyable dining experience. If you stick to that, I’d say that at least 90% of customers would be content.  If you really want to blow them away, though, take a page out of Atlantic Fish Co.’s book.

Today’s Tunes
“Wonderwall,” Oasis
“Layla,” Eric Clapton
“Waiting for My Real Life to Begin,” Colin Hay

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I’m Quoted in Associated Press!

January 13, 2011 at 12:04 AM (Miscellaneous) (, , , )

I had always hoped that my first quote in a renowned news publication would be my expert feedback on public relations, social media, Boston dining, being sarcastic . . . something like that. No such luck, though. Instead, I’m an anecdotal source for Leanne Italie’s story on a fun lifestyle topic: Rabbits, the honorees of this Chinese New Year.

That said, beggars can’t be choosy. Ms. Italie wrote a great article, and I need to start my rise to fame from somewhere, right?  Check out my foray into the public eye:

Boston’s Brittany Falconer, 23, is a rabbit. Is she more Bugs than Jessica?

“I can’t make a rabbit face like Jessica,” she said, “but I guess I’m somewhat rabbit-like: quiet, observant and capable of sneakiness!”

Much of last year wasn’t fueled by rabbit luck for Falconer. She graduated from college in 2009 and couldn’t land a full-time job until September.

“I do think I’ve been very lucky in enjoying an uptick in complimentary drinks,” she said.

In case you’d like to read the full article, it is entitled “Rabbits, Time to Shine for Chinese New Year,”

Rabbits, Time to Shine for Chinese New Year

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Social Gaming: Generating $1 Billion!?

January 12, 2011 at 11:25 PM (Musings) (, , , , , , , )

I’m not an ideas person.  At my seventh grade Invention Convention, fat cat beer Bud Lite funny remote couch acting like a personI barely passed muster with my ExoFeed (patent-pending): the food bowl that makes your cat or dog work for its meal.  I think the next idea after that was starting a blog. You can see how well that took off.  My next idea needs to be something genius, because my track record is pretty unimpressive thus far.  Clearly I should develop “FarmVille 2: Farmier and Generally Awesomer Than FarmVille.”

One billion this year?  People will be spending one billion on virtual blueberries this year!? According to eMarketer, “Approximately 62 million U.S. Internet users — that’s 27% of the total Internet-using population in the U.S. — will play at least one game on a social network on a monthly basis this year, a 15% increase from 2010, the research firm claims” (lovingly stolen from Mashable). eMarketer data chart social gaming revenue 2011 2012 And of those social gamers, only 6% spend enough while playing these games to lead to a forecast of $1 billion in revenue for the industry this year.

God, why did you have to make me a charming little blonde?  Why couldn’t you make me a socially inept marketing genius?  Then I could really be happy.

Ranting aside, though, seeing this statistic reminds me of some reading I recall from Gary Vaynerchuk’s (@garyvee) book Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion (an excellent read if you don’t think you could ever make money doing what you love).  Gary suggests that if there is something you truly love doing, then you’ll love talking about it – intelligently (because if you love it, of course you want to be an expert on it).  Eventually you will find your niche audience who will love whatever it is you’re talking about as much as you do… and that’s where the advertisers come in.

Six percent may not seem like a big slice of the pie, but it sure is a devoted slice of the pie.  You don’t need hundreds of millions of customers.  You just need a loyal core who will count on you for their fix of whatever it is you’re offering – and purchase often.  While a really big part of me loathes FarmVille (and other social games), a smaller, more reasonable part of me recognises and appreciates its value as a case study in the ever-expanding world of social media.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Money,” Pink Floyd
“Money Honey,” Lady Gaga

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Learn to Ballroom Dance without Slaughtering Your Wallet

January 9, 2011 at 9:05 PM (Dance) (, , )

I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer: Vladimyr Derisier is a friend of mine, and we both performed on the RLJ Formation Team back in days of dance yore.  That said, I still think this is a pretty good deal.

It all started when a friend of mine sent me a link to the latest CBS Boston Deal, saying “These names looked familiar, thought you may know them.”  It was a coupon for three private ballroom dance lessons for $90.00.  Sure enough, I did recognise the names, and quite well.  I knew Lilia through the dance realm, and I was so close with Vlad that I dragged him to a holiday party as my date once (Thanks, Vlad!).Vladimyr Derisier Lindsay Norton ballroom dance rhythm Giddy about the deal simply because I knew the people associated with it, I messaged Vlad to call him a coupon.  Once we established that I did not have Turrets Syndrome and briefly caught up, he asked me a small favour to “wag my tongue” about a new deal at his studio.  Commence shameless plug!

In addition to their CBS deal, Ballroom in Boston is trying out a new package deal: unlimited group classes and a social pass for $40.00 a month.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the financial requirements of taking ballroom classes, allow me to crunch some numbers for you:

Group classes typically cost between $10 and $15 each (they are $10 at Ballroom in Boston).  Socials cost about the same.

If you want to be conservative and only take one class a week and two socials a month, you’re spending at least $60 a month already.

Let’s be realistic, though: dance is awesome, and you get sucked into taking three classes a week and four socials a month.  Now one week costs you $40, and at the end of the month you’re out $160.  Where did you find that money tree, and was there another one??

Okay, so now let’s go above and beyond: Ballroom in Boston offers 16 classes a week (give or take), and you love them ALL, and of course you have to show off your moves every week at the social. That’s $170 per week, and $680 per month.  Perhaps I should have looked into a career in brain surgery.

But wait!  What do you mean you can save $660 and still take all those classes!?  Now go ahead and tell me a $40.00 unlimited pass isn’t an excellent purchase decision.

Today’s Tunes
“Careful Where You Stand,” Coldplay
“Lover Lay Down,” Dave Matthews Band
“King of Pain,” Alanis Morissette

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Not-News Flash! 40% of Tweets Are Mobile

January 9, 2011 at 4:59 PM (Musings) (, , )

Yesterday, Mashable shared via Twitter’s CEO that 40% of all tweets come from mobile devices.  While it’s nice to have a referenceable percentage for those thrilling conversations at cocktail parties, this doesn’t really come as a surprise.  Upsurge in smartphone-adoption aside, we’re on our mobile phones more than ever – and tweeting all the way (for those of you who ridicule me for not having a smartphone ::coughs::, you can in fact tweet and check in via text).  Sure, official Android and iPhone apps make it easier to tweet, but what really makes the difference is that we’re finding more and more information that’s worth sharing: news articles, YouTube videos, Angry Birds board games, what I ate for breakfast, and so on.  Rather than deciding to wait until we get to our computers to post from there (and most likely forget about it by then), we tweet on the go.  The only part I actually found surprising was that the percentage wasn’t higher, but given that last year only about 20-25% of tweets were shared via mobile, it’s still some serious headway.

 

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2011 New Years Resolution: Blog More

January 2, 2011 at 4:45 PM (Musings) (, )

This totally goes against what I said last night to someone about making quantifiable, easily measurable resolutions (for instance, I also plan on squeezing back into my college jeans this year).  I’m also not much of a “New Years Resolutions” gal, so it looks like 2011 is going to be a wild and wacky one for me.  Moving on . . .

WordPress Emailed me my “2010 Year in Blogging,” and considering that at the height of my blogging I was posting at least four times a week, it was pretty disappointing to have not even blogged once per week this year.  In my defense, 2010 was pretty hectic for me, but I still should have been able to make time to at least get 52 posts taking up space on the Interwebs.  I’ll target doing that this year (Hey, wait: that’s easily measurable!  Hypocrisy averted!).

While I’m thinking about it, let’s back-track a smidgen.  I think I promised an update on my progress at Racepoint a few posts ago, and of course, that never happened.  It’s been just over three months – I’m up for my quarterly review this month . . . already? – and I’m still honeymooning.  This is a particularly good thing because otherwise I would be much crankier when my alarm starts harassing me at 5.00 AM every day.

My clients are pretty nifty: I’ve two in tech and one in healthcare, and while your eyes may begin to glaze over if I begin to discuss them in detail, I love learning about their industries and working with them, especially having known absolutely nothing about any of their products prior to starting at RPG.  Try asking me about personalised knee replacements, now!  Wait, where are you going?

Today’s Tunes
“Blankest Year,” Nada Surf
“Consolation Prizes,” Phoenix
“Lake Michigan,” Rogue Wave

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