Bacon and Beer Fest 2012: Probably Not Going Again

April 29, 2012 at 11:47 PM (Events, Food) (, , )

Yesterday was what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year – right up there with my birthday, Christmas and the first day that Oktoberfests hit the shelves – EAT’s Bacon and Beer Festival 2012. I was lucky enough to attend last year, and it had been about three hours of pure bliss, filled with bacon-inspired dishes from some of Boston’s greatest eateries and some uncommon beers from local breweries. Brittany, meet your element. This year, I wish I could hold that same enthusiasm.

While both concept and goal (benefiting local hunger relief organizations Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Community Servings) remained unchanged, two deal-breaking details did: attendance and venue. I anticipated that there would be crowds and lines. I did not anticipate so much of both that the overall experience would suffer. After 45 minutes of waiting in line to get in to House of Blues, my foodie friend and I were eager to make our way to the first station. If only we could find it: it was hard to tell with all the other attendees trying to figure out what was a line and what was just a mess of people. Earlier in the day I had entertained dreams of taking pictures of every station so I’d be able to blog about my favourites later. I now look back at that dream and have to laugh at my ignorant optimism. Half the time I was lucky when I realized what I was even waiting in line for.

While downstairs was a train wreck, upstairs was nothing short of a death wish (and at least 10 degrees hotter), with masses of people crammed along the walls trying to score some bacon, beer or fresh air. I wouldn’t describe myself as claustrophobic, but there had to be some break in fire code, if nothing else – wouldn’t that stress you out?

I was tolerant for a while until I learned of an offense even greater than fire code violation: exhaustion of provisions. Not even halfway into the event, and already at least three (that I knew of, maybe more) vendors were out of bacon. Unacceptable. There was plenty of bacon ice cream, but tough noogies if you wanted meatballs, beer-zpacho or nachos. Bacon ice cream was a cool idea the first time. Afterward, it just got annoying (especially if you didn’t realize you were waiting for it again). once I found out that food was disappearing, I didn’t stick around long afterward. I had experienced enough disillusionment for one day.

Last year had been hectic, but Royale had proven to be less of a death-trap venue-wise, and I don’t recall as many vendors packing up and leaving so early there, either. Like SXSW, the Bacon and Beer Fest may have become too popular for me to fully appreciate attending. Unless the venue changes and/or fewer people attend next year, you may be hard-pressed to find me among the masses.


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Winners from Beer Summit’s Winter Jubilee

January 22, 2012 at 7:13 PM (Events, Food, Happenings) (, , , , , , )

Yesterday was a magical day filled with lots and lots of beer, thanks to Beer Summit: Winter Jubilee. I’ve been to a couple summits in previous years and of course find new, interesting things at every one. The Jubilee, however, seemed to be a special treat: I have never had so many delicious beers at once. Great job, brewers! That said, a couple brews stood out that I’d like to share so that you can taste and enjoy, as well.

dark winter aleBrewery Ommegang Adoration If there was a “Best of Jubilee Award,” Adoration deserved it, hands down. I love Belgian dark strong ales, and – I can’t help myself here – I adored Adoration. It was the perfect beer to warm you up on a cold winter’s day, with the perfect blend of coriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise. Ales like Adoration make me tolerate all the crappiness that can accompany a New England winter.

Long Trail Double Bag I actually wouldn’t have gone to Long Trail’s booth had my friend not insisted we go. It’s not that I don’t like Long Trail – I’d just never had it and had other breweries I wanted to visit. But, not being one to turn down something new, I gave it a shot. Double Bag is another strong ale with a notable alcohol content (7.2 percent abv) that you don’t notice when you’re drinking it. Good for drinking at home without having any plans to go outside.

beer, Sam AdamsSamuel Adams Whitewater IPA The kids at Sam Adams hold a special place in my heart because the first beers I really started drinking were the Boston Lager and the Octoberfest. If you’re friends with me on Untappd, you’ll see that I still drink more Sam than anything else. It’s a brand loyalty thing. Anyhoo, back to Whitewater IPA. I’m actually not crazy about IPAs and usually lean toward maltier beers, but there were apricot notes that softened this beer enough for me to drink and even enjoy. Well done, Jim and co.

Staropramen Premium Lager Holy yummy, Batman. Owned by Spaten, who also makes my beloved Franziskaner and of course, Spaten Premium Lager, this is simply a very solid lager. Nicely balanced, it goes down easy and may be the lightest beer on this list (but don’t you dare confuse this with a light beer). In short, it’s just a bottle of satisfaction. I might even suggest it to my dad, the world’s pickiest beer drinker.

My only regret about Jubilee is that I didn’t make it to all the booths I wanted. I missed out on Notch, Backlash, Peak Organic and some other great breweries, but on the bright side I tried some new stuff, too. And really, isn’t that the best part of a beer summit?

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January Networking Events: Where Will You Be?

January 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM (Events) (, , , , , )

We all (should) know by now how much I love talking to strangers about public relations and the like, and what better way to do that than via industry networking events? Below is a rudimentary list of goings-on this month that I’d consider attending. For some reason I don’t hear about most events until a few days beforehand, so if you know of any others, send them my way and I’ll see about adding them here.

Beantown Social, January 16 – Boston
A free mix-and-mingle for social media folks at Sonsie, in Boston’s Back Bay. 21+. UPDATE: This event is booked, but there’s a waiting list. Who knows? If I don’t go maybe you’ll get my ticket.

Bruins Pre-game Meet-up, January 19 – Boston
The Social Media Club of Boston and LPP are partnering up at the Greatest Bar for a little pre-game networking in advance of the Bruins/Devils game. Go B’s!

Boston Media Makers at NIGHT, January 22 – Boston
Back at Sonsie for some schmoozing, pizza, and an optional regifting-tastic Yankee Swap extravaganza.

BostInno Meet Up, January 24 – Boston
Like beer, networking and BostInno? Of course you do. Swing by, rub some elbows and have a good time.

Boston’s Media Best, January 24 – Boston
Details TBA from the Publicity Club of New England.

3rd Annual #MegaTweetup, January 24 – Cambridge
A tweet-up celebrating tweet-ups. This thing is probably going to be monstrous, taking place at the Microsoft NERD Center.

How to Use Rich Media to Create Winning Campaigns, January 24 – Cambridge
Head over to the Microsoft NERD Center to hear about how important it is to liven up content with media to tell a compelling story, courtesy of PRSA.

Where will you be this month?

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Walking for the Jimmy Fund (Please Donate!)

September 6, 2011 at 6:00 AM (Events, Goals) (, , , , , )

No point in beating around the bush: I’m walking five miles for the Jimmy Fund in honour of a colleague who was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) about a year ago and would greatly appreciate a donation from you – no matter how small. Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancerous growth in one of the ducts that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine. It, along with every other form of cancer, is a bugger that needs to be wiped out. The Jimmy Fund supports cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. To date, the walk has raised over $73 million, and I need your help to contribute.

I’m only about $30 away from my goal of $250. If the average of 18 people who read this post today donate just $5 each to my team, I will surpass my goal and tap-dance with glee. Of course, if you’re feeling more generous than that and wouldn’t mind donating a bit more, that’s awesome sauce, too. If plain old altruism just doesn’t cut it for you, perhaps some charitable purchases will convince you . . .

Do you like food? Or being pampered? Fancy that: I have a few deals that may interest you! Courtesy of goodtwo, you can buy a coupon for Club Cafe, G’vanni’s or Toscana, save some dough on your next visit, AND donate to my walk. Everybody wins! Details below.

Club Cafespend $25 for $50 credit toward food (Jimmy Fund receives $6.25).

G’vanni’s – spend $25 for $50 credit toward food (Jimmy Fund receives $5.00).

Toscana – spend $45 for $90 credit toward spa services (Jimmy Fund receives $9.50).

So, really, you have no reason to not donate. \Okay that’s not true, but I’m trying to make it as painless as possible. Thanks in advance for your help.

Today’s Tunes
“Normandie,” Shout Out Louds
“Second to None,” Phoenix
“Armistice,” Phoenix
“Too Young,” Phoenix

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Reblog: Honor Your Civic Duty and Vote… for SXSW ’12

August 31, 2011 at 2:29 PM (Events, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I originally published this on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk. It’s a great event though and I have a few clients with hats in the ring, so I’m re-blogging it here. Voting closes in a couple days, so get crackin’!

It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012 PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:

“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page

One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.

Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).

Global Connection: Smartphones Need Green Servers
Speaker(s) from: ARM

Drugs, Milk & Money: Social & Regulated Industries
Speaker(s) from: Digital Influence Group

Facilitating Communication Between Devices
Speaker(s) from: Marvell

Brands, Social Intelligence, Consumer Revolution
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights

2000 “Likes” Won’t Save Your Job: Real Social ROI
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights

Are you ready for Semantic Analysis?
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights

Brands with Benefits: Hooking up With Good Deals
Speaker(s) from: Aegis Media, BuyWithMe, Clovr Media, Modiv Media

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Beer and Cheese? Yes, Please!

June 27, 2010 at 10:13 PM (Events) (, , , , )

Not too long ago, my parents and I had dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Boston’s Seaport.  While the meals were delicious, there are much more important items to discuss.

Like two of the greatest culinary gifts to mankind, for instance.  On July 21st, from 6.00 to 7.30 P.M., that very steakhouse will bebeer cheese hosting “Hoppy Hour,” a marriage of fine cheeses to Dogfish Head beers.  Can you say “Christmas in July”?

Admittedly I don’t think I would have paired the two on my own.  Both beer and cheese are capable of ridiculous orchestras of flavour, which could result in epic clashes of taste.  On the other hand, if a pro is going to put them together for me, then yes, I’m sure it’s going to be brilliant.

For $45.00 (including tax and gratuity), one will not only experience glorious beer and cheese pairings, but also a variety of Morton’s hors o’doeuvres: tuna tartare canapes and petite lamb chops with brie, for instance.  In addition, our hosts will be doing something nice (on top of the feeding us delicious food and beer bit): for every ticket sold, Morton’s will donate $5.00 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Beer, cheese, apps and a good deed.  What are you waiting for?

Tonight’s Tunes
“Blue Eyes,” Timmy Curran
“Wake For Young Souls,” Third Eye Blind
“Winding Road,” Bonnie Somerville
“So Long Sweet Misery,” Brett Dennen

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Re: American Craft Beer Fest

June 21, 2010 at 2:55 PM (Events) (, , )

Things I learned at the American Craft Beer Fest on Saturday:

If Dad only drinks Sam Adams Boston Lager and Oktoberfest, don’t bring him.

Don’t bring Mom.

That said, the event itself was pretty awesome.  Very well organised (with behaved attendees, to boot), and tons of delicious beer – er, I thought, at least.  Will I go next year?  Probably.  Will I mention it to my parents?  Probably not.

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Want an Early Father’s Day Idea?

June 19, 2010 at 7:37 PM (Events, Happenings) (, , , )

american craft beer fest logoIf your dad likes beer, bring him to Boston’s American Craft Beer Fest!  400 beers.  86 brewers.  I don’t see any down sides, here.

There’s one more session tonight from 6.00 to 9.30 P.M. at the Seaport World Trade Center.  Tickets are $40.00, and include 2oz. tastings of all 400 beers along with your crucial tasting cup.

I’ve never attended this event, and I’m not sure why (probably due to my own ignorance).  It should be a good time, though, and I’ll blog as much as I can remember after the fact.  See you there!

Today’s Tune
“When I Get You Alone,” Thicke

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PubClub: Social Media Case Studies, Part II

February 28, 2010 at 10:04 PM (Events) (, , )

I realised that not only did I have to run out last night to #SoxUp, but my post was also getting a little long, so I figured I’d break the PubClub event into two posts.  Feel free to read up on the first half before checking out this post.

gather logoAfter Mr. Goodman’s case for Comcast, it was David Woodrow’s turn to step up to the plate.  He possibly had one of the best points of the evening: negative feedback is the best opportunity a brand has to step up.  In the real world (or on social media sites focusing on consumer products such as Gather, Inc.), everyone is not going to love you, your product or your brand.  People say not-so-nice things.  If the product is of any worth, chances are other consumers will fight down a bad review or two.  Alternatively, occasionally a brand does screw up and get called out on it.  The best course of action?  Not hiding behind wussy excuses, that’s certain.  Apologise sincerely, vow to make it up to the consumer and then deliver beyond expectations, perhaps?  Sounds like a good way to build stronger brand loyalty to me!

Kel & partners logoMeagan Ellis was the one panelist who was narrating from an agency perspective. “Us agency folks have all had them,” she began, “the client that is so uninteresting or small-scale that creating a Facebook fan page accomplishes nothing.”  Kel & Partners had a start-up that was, to put it politely, pretty boring.  Traditional media wasn’t interested in the product, and the Facebook fan page had maybe 50-some-odd members. Because the following for such a product didn’t exist, Kel & Partners had to create one. Through Twitter, the PR team was able to find people who would be open to such a product, follow them, engage them in conversations, and finally draw them to the brand’s own page.  After attracting enough attention via new media, Kel & Partners were able to use those hits to turn heads within traditional media, and today, the product receives countless hits.

kaspersky labFor Kaspersky Lab, jumping on the social media bandwagon involved a bit more hesitation: as an international company, staying consistent with community engagement across different cultures and timezones would require the efforts of more than one company representative.  Jennifer Jewett pointed out that these people couldn’t just be PR pros.  They had to be social media-savvy.  And eager.  In fact, the latter two qualities far outweighed the first.  Social media is a full-time gig when you’re doing it for a company, so you’d better know what you’re doing and have fun with it in the process.  Rather than dragging the corporate communications team into the Twitter ranks, the company stumbled across some employees from a diverse assortment of departments who were already tweeting across the Interwebs about goings-on with the business.  They realised that social media is restricted to no one.  Through using Twitter, one formerly unknown Kaspersky employee was suddenly being quoted in major publications because he was able to respond to public queries instantly.  And he enjoyed it.  Why torture one employee with new responsibilities when another one has already taken them on voluntarily?

Most of what I heard at the event was material I had learned in school.  However, it not only helps to be reminded every now and then, but it also strengthens the credibility of strategic social media usage when you see folks discussing the benefits in the real world.  PubClub, thanks again.

Today’s Tunes
The Fame, Lady Gaga
LP, Landon Pigg
Garden State, Various Artists

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PubClub: Social Media Case Studies, Part I

February 25, 2010 at 10:40 PM (Events) (, , , )

On Tuesday, the PubClub hosted yet another marvelous event: Social Media Case Studies.  Of course, yours truly took one look at event title and signed up immediately.  Once again, the panelists were all not only knowledgeable practitioners of social media, but delightful individuals.  Below are the participants.

Publicity club new england pubclub logoDavid Woodrow, Gather, Inc.
Jennifer Jewett, Kaspersky Lab Americas
Stacey Howe, New Balance
Meagan J. Ellis, Kel & Partners
Marc Goodman, Comcast
Dan Abdinoor, HubSpot (moderator)

While my last PubClub event keyed in on the benefits of LinkedIn as a networking tool, this one focused a bit more on Facebook and Twitter as complements to a marketing strategy.  Our lovely moderator Dan Abdinoor of HubSpot, an inbound marketing agency, opened with a Seth Godin quote:

Conversations among members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.

hubspot logoWhile nothing new for me (or other social media enthusiasts in the audience), the quote is still one of the best to summarise why marketers and PR practitioners should give a hoot about social media as a necessary accessory in our professional repertoires.  No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head demanding that they create a Twitter account . . . but if they do, reaching out to their target audiences will be a heck of a lot easier.  The better you know your targets, the more likely it will be to get them to listen to you.

More specific to Twitter, Dan offered a few pointers on maintaining a complete profile before turning the mic over to the panelists.

Complete your profile.  No one cares what your name is.  Okay, that’s totally not true, but if you’re trying to build a Twitter following, you better have more than just your name.  Where are you located? What do you do?  Do you have a life outside of what people pay you to do?  Sure, you only have 160 characters to sum yourself up, but once you get the hang of tweeting, it’s easy.  For instance, here’s what I have to say about myself on Twitter:

Public Relations BU Grad. Little and blonde. Occasionally witty. Enjoy beer, wine, food, music and dance. Available for hire.

Gets the point across, right?  Give the Twittersphere a glimpse of what to expect upon following you.

Find people in your area of interest.  If you’re in public relations, chances are conversations with biochemists will be infinitely less interesting than with other PR practitioners.  There are countless Twitter applications that allow you to search for people in your area, industry, and so-on and so-forth.

Say interesting and/or useful things.  Unless you are a part of an exhibitionist muffin fetishist community, chances are few people will care about what kind of muffin you had for breakfast.  Talking about the news in your industry, or about what your clients are doing, on the other hand, may resonate a bit more with audiences.

Don’t auto-follow people back on Twitter.  They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps.  Do you have any idea how many spam-bots are on Twitter?  Make sure that folks who follow you are relevant to you before clicking that “Follow” button.

Each of the panelists shared his or her case of how social media was used to increase a brand’s online presence.  To discuss the cases themselves would turn this blog post into a novella, but I’ll share the significant points from everyone, starting with Stacey Howe.

new balance logo nbPeople have been talking for centuries; they’re just doing it faster now.  With the rise of social media, consumers have gained a direct line to the ears of businesses, something previously all but impossible.  Through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, consumers can converse with one another about their experiences with a product or brand, what their thoughts were on said product or brand, and if they’d recommend it.  If a business (like, say, New Balance) is smart, it will not only harvest this feedback and incorporate it into its marketing strategy, but it will also engage its audience through social media to better connect.  As a consumer, wouldn’t you be more encouraged to share your honest thoughts about a brand if you knew the people behind that brand were listening?

Marc Goodman piggy-backed off Stacey to talk about the benefits of real-time feedback in customer serviceComcast customers, are you familiar with @comcastcares?  Imagine: you have a problem with your service, and you tweet about it to @comcastcares . . . and a real person gets back to you.  Instantly.  Wow, suddenly you don’t find yourself cursing the existence of your cable provider!  Seriously, though.  It happens.  Social media turns companies (especially customer service reps) into real people.

I’m off to #SoxUp, but I’ll wrap up David, Meagan and Jennifer’s points soon!

Today’s Tunes
“Broadway,” The Goo Goo Dolls
“Everything You Want,” Vertical Horizon
“Hey Jealousy,” Gin Blossoms
“December (1995),” Collective Soul
“Ants Marching,” Dave Matthews Band

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