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Marathon Monday

April 19, 2011

The third Monday in April is considered a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine. Christened Patriot’s Day, it is officially (according to Wikipedia) is a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. In Boston however, it means one thing…Marathon Monday.

Put on by the Boston Athletic Association, the Boston Marathon “the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s most prestigious road racing events.”

To the students and residents of Boston not running in the races however, Marathon Monday is a completely different kind of holiday. A day where anything goes, many students will wake up as early as 7 AM (unheard of for a college student) to begin tailgating the race. At Boston University, what we lack in homecoming games and football tailgates, we make up for on Marathon Monday. The course spans through Brookline and up Beacon Street, touching the Southeastern part of our campus before making its way through Kenmore Square (home to one of our dorms and several classroom buildings) and up Commonwealth Avenue. Beacon Street is also the place where you are likely to find most BU students on race day, complete with customized T-shirts, running garb and suspicious looking backpacks.

As a senior this year, Marathon Monday was semi bittersweet as it marked the beginning of the end. Here are some of my (PG rated) photos from Monday. Enjoy!

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Channeling my inner Julia Child: Passover Edition

April 18, 2011

Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. Also know as “Jewish Thanksgiving,” Passover is ordinarily a time for family, very long meals and an Atkins-friendly diet. The downside of celebrating Passover in college, however, is that it makes it hard to find time to go home and celebrate with your family. This year in particular, the two Passover seders fall on (Marathon) Monday and Tuesday. So in addition to celebrating one of my favorite BU holidays, I am beginning to prep for a week without bread products. My busy schedule also makes it difficult to observe the stringent dietary conditions that Passover entails. Though traditionally you are supposed to purge your entire home of all bread products before Passover starts, somehow I think my three Catholic roommates would not take kindly to me trashing their chicken nuggets, pasta and frozen pizzas. So this means that instead of letting my Mom make my Parve meals, I have to do some cooking myself.

One of my favorite Passover foods is called Mandel Bread. This is essentially kosher-for-Passover biscotti complete with a chocolate-chip flecked interior and a cinnamon-dusted topping. Following a quick trip to Shaws, I attempted to recreate my mother’s signature Passover desert (and the only thing that kept me and my brother from starving all these years). Although I made a complete mess of my kitchen in the process (fun fact: matzah meal is much dryer than flower making it much harder to form into dough) the overall efforts were worth it.

Happy Passover!

Retail Therapy

April 16, 2011

It is not a secret among those who know me that I enjoy to shop. In fact, often times the floor of my room will be so covered in clothing that you cannot see what color the carpet is. So with 5 weeks to go until graduation, I have taken it upon myself to dull the pain via my favorite pastime–shopping.

The first purchase I made recently was a pair of shoes. I have been hunting for the perfect pair to wear to graduation. There has been much debate among my friends as to the type of shoes you can wear to the All-University Ceremony on Nickerson Field. Some sources are under the impression that because we will be walking on the turf, we are not supposed to wear heels. Speaking as someone who graduated from high school on turf however, I can safely say that this is bull. While I do not suggest that you wear ankle-breaking stilettos, high heeled sandals or wedges are perfectly acceptable will not sink into the turf. I happened on these at shoeWoo the other day:

The second purchase that I have begun to consider is the all important dress. Although it will be covered up by our gowns most of the day, it is my personal opinion that the graduation dress sets the tone of the entire affair and is not to by taken lightly. I picked up this adorable thing from J Crew in the same shopping trip but I think I have decided to wear it to one of the two Senior brunches I have in the next two weeks.

Since my return from London, I have been missing Topshop desperately. So although their American website is overpriced and no where near as good at the flagship store in Oxford Circus (that was a 15 mintue walk from my flat), I recently caved and purchases a few items. One of them was this adorable 50-esque wrap dress:

Lastly I wandered into Club Monaco over the weekend and became obsessed with their new collection. I came across this lemon colored skirt and fell in love with the swishy material and the happy color that reminded me of sunshine.

And yet after all this retail therapy, I am still stumped as to what to wear to Graduation. {Sigh}

The Boston List: SoWa Market and South End Buttery

April 14, 2011

Its that time of year again. The air is getting warmer, green things are starting to grow our of the ground and quick math tells you that in less than two months you will be forced to become a fully-functioning member of the real world. So what does one do with one’s time? Check some things off my list of course!

Confession: As a PR major I have somewhat of a penchant for list-making. In fact, hanging on the wall in my apartment we have a master list that has all of things we want to do in Boston before we graduate. Aptly named The Boston List, we have slowly been checking things off for four years and now it is crunch time.

So this past Sunday, my roommate Colleen and I decided that it was time for us to venture out of the BU bubble and explore. We decided to go down to the South End and visit SoWa vintage market and the South End Buttery.

Complete with old maps of Boston, antique furniture, costume jewelry and vintage clothing; SoWa vintage market is a charming distraction from the ordinary.

Located at 460 Harrison Street, SoWa market is normally open from May through September. This past weekend, however, there was a sneak preview on Sunday of the season to come. In addition to the vintage market, SoWa also offers a farmer’s market, food trucks and an art market once the full season starts. For more info on vendors and hours visit here.

Next, a quick walk over to Shawmut Ave deposited us here:

The South End Buttery has a bit of a cult following in Boston, and for good reason. The charming bistro/coffee shop not only offers standard brunch fare, but also a delectable assortment of pastries and sweets to thoroughly tempt even the most stringent health nut. According to their website they are “committed to using [as many] organic, all natural, locally raised and grown ingredients as much as possible.” They are also adorably pet-friendly and the owner (a BU Law alum) even have several cupcakes named after his dogs. Tip: try their lizer tarts, they are actually divine.

Radian 6 Wrap-Up

April 10, 2011

Here is the summary post I did for the Radian 6 conference complete with new product summaries and my overall impressions. You can also read it on BU Now.

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to attend Radian6‘s first user conference Social 2011 located at the gorgeous Marriott Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. For those of you who do not know, Radian 6 is a media monitoring and engagement company that effectively “helps businesses listen, discover, measure and engage in conversations across the social web.” In other words, they manage social media for companies including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites. Their software gives a comprehensive breakdown of everything the internet ever had to say about a company, and offers an platform to effectively engage with their individual audiences.

Social 2011 was the first user conference thrown by Radian6, inviting some of the biggest names in social media to mingle with those who use the Radian6 platform: essentially combining theory and practice. As a PR student with a interest in social media, this conference was right up my alley. Not only did I get to listen to compelling speakers who are defining the social media industry, but I also got the chance to meet business professionals who work with social media oh behalf of organizations.

Radian6 CEO Marcel LeBrun opened the conference and announced Radian6’s new Insights platform, a web platform that is knowledge-aware and discerns the underlying meaning of conversations, making social media monitoring even easier. It combines over 75 different platforms including Open Calais and Open Amplify and combines them to make Insights more intuitive.

Next the two keynote speakers from Dell were introduced: Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Quintos and Adam Brown, Executive Director of Social Media. Quintos offered Dell’s perspective on social media, showing us footage from their impressive Listening Command Center which is their home base of social media monitoring. Quintos drove home her point by giving us some stats about people who initially were antagonistic towards Dell, became some of their most avid advocates through social media monitoring and good customer service. Brown then continued the discussion, speaking about how social media can be used for what he called “edu-tainment” or using highly-produced content to tell stories. He also went on to stress how social media has to demonstrate it’s value to organizations with demonstrable ROI’s.

Dell-Social-Media-Listening-Command-Center

After the keynote it was time for some breakout sessions. I first attended one with Radian6’s Amber Naslund, about the highlights from the book she co-authored The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Business Faster, Smarter and More Social. Naslund dicussed, among other things, how to measure soical media statistics and the right type of person to hire to do social media for your company (hint: it’s not an intern).

now revolution

Next came some more Radian6 announcements. Executive Vice President Chris Ramsey announced the Summary Dashboard, a new feature of the Radian6 platform that enables a more user-friendly experience. He also announced that Summary Dashboard is formatted to accommodate tablets and mobile devices, prompting the Radian6 Mobile announcement.

After that I attended two of the “unconferences.” The first was a case study in crisis management from Intel. Rick Reed  and Ali Ardalan shared with us some of the slip-ups that Intel experienced, one with a print ad and one with a grassroots campaign. There The second part of the “Unconference” was a briefing from Mike Proulx of Hill Holiday about the resonance of social media in television.

The last keynote speaker of the day was President of Twist Image, New York Times Best Seller and Canadian marketing guru Mitch Joel. Joel gave an engaging speech about the future of new commerce and the next steps for social media marketing. He stressed the importance of targeted landing pages and quicker reaction times to match the pace of the 24 hour news cycle.

Overall the conference was an overwhelming success. Although I was only able to go to the first day, it was a great opportunity to network and expand my knowledge on the ever-changing social media industry. As a student about to graduate, one of the things that I found most interesting was speaking with people about what they majored in in college, and how they ended up in social media. To my surprise, not many of them studied PR or even communications. Many of them were business, history or english majors that sort of fell into the industry. One thing that many of the speakers stressed, however, is that those who grew up with social media as an integral part of our communications repertoire are the most capable of adapting at the quick pace that social media demands. So here’s to hoping that my increasing dependence on social media eventually leads to a job.

Samantha is a senior in COM, majoring in Public Relations. Follow her @skops

Radian6 Social 2011

April 7, 2011

Hi all! I will be live blogging/ tweeting from the Radian 6 user conference Social 2011 today which I am lucky enough to attend on behalf of my New Media and PR class as well as my internship at Boston University. Follow me at @skops and expect posts later today/tomorrow!

7:15AM: Leave my apartment and walk to my parking lot to find that my car battery has died. {Sigh} Reach into my bag to call AAA to find that my phone, which had been charging all night, will not turn on. {Double Sigh}

7:23 AM: Make my way up Babcock Street and jump into a cab. Cab driver asks me if we can take the Mass Pike. I say fine. Then cabbie turns around and tells me that the credit card machine doesn’t work (lies). I inform him I do not have any cash as I was not expecting to take a cab. He insists that the hotel will have ATM.

7:47 AM: Arrive at Marriott Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, which is absolutely beautiful. ATM is indeed in lobby but charges a $3 transaction fee {Triple Sigh}

7:52 AM: Arrive at Social 2011!!! Get my credentials (they spelled my name wrong but I’ll let it slide) and todays schedule. Wander into banquet room for coffee and some swag (free water bottles!)

8:30 AM: Music intro cues Radian6 CEO Marcel LeBrun to take the stage. Gives background of Radian6 and touches on merger with Salesforce (which gets cheers from the crowd).

9:17 AM: Marcel LeBrun finished his introduction and announces Radian6 Insights. Platform that allows you to take semantic insights and translate them into your social searches. Insights lets you plug in the best of the best tech into one integrated experience.

9:33 AM: Panelists from Klout, OpenCalais, Open Amplify and Radian6 Product Management take the stage to discuss Insights

9:45 AM: Keynote speakers from Dell announced. Karen Quintos (Cheif Marketing Officer) steps up to talk about Dell’s interaction with Social Media. How Dell interfaces with consumers, promotes advocacy and LISTENS to customers.

10:00AM: Adam Brown (Executive Director, Social Media) steps up and opens with mantra “Demonstrable ROI is the new norm”

11:05 AM: AND WE’RE BACK. Wifi shortage put live blogging on hold for the moment. Now sitting into “7 Shifts to Make Businesses Faster, Smarter & More Social” breakout session with Radian6’s Amber Naslund

12:00 PM: Break for Lunch. Good spread too! Stopped to pick up a copy of the book Amber co-authored with Jay Baer. Thanks Radian6! Will venture out into the training sessions in a bit

1:10 PM: Back in Keynote room awaiting some more new product announcements

1:12 PM: Music and graphics cues Chris Ramsey, Executive Vice President to take the stage. Announces New Summary Dashboard and Invites Product Manager Sandeep Singh to walk us through it

1:14 PM: Hitting some technical snags… Singh quips “It doesn’t require training but it does require a good network connection”

1:17 PM: Its up! Dashboard looks cool, brings everything to the front with clear labels and categories.

1:25 PM: Learned that each cube of info has customizable URL that can literally be plopped into a webpage as a widget. It is also tablet and moblie friendly.

1:31 PM: Radian6 Mobile is announced! Chris Ramsey calls it “More than just river of news on a iphone” This means easy engagement on the go. Also tracks back to the engagement console in your office, so the whole team can see what you are doing as well.

1:36 PM: Big question…How much does it cost? It’s included in the standard Radian6 package! Currently under review by Apple, should be available soon.

2:02 PM: Opted for the aptly named “Unconference” this time. Case study with Intel on Crisis Management and talk on the impact of SM and real-time media on TV

2:18 PM: Intel shares some blunders. One involving the “sprinter” print ad that was perceived as racist on SM. Begs the question: is it Okay to tweet a crisis that someone is kind enough to share with you? I do NOT want to negatively influence their brand but the case is very interesting.

2:30 PM: Mike Proulx from Hill Holiday switches gears to talk about how TV Gets Social: Measuring “Resonance”

2:50 PM: Graphic-heavy presentation brings home the message that resonance is KEY to making a lasting impression with TV. Loved the clips from Jimmy Fallon, Modern Family, Glee and the VW Superbowl 2011 Spot.

3:00 PM: Recharging my batteries (both literally and figuratively), plan to venture over to one of the training sessions when I have a little more juice in my Mac

3:47 PM: First time all day my battery life was over 30%…

4:17 PM: Waiting on keynote #3, President of Twist Image & New York Times Best Seller Mitch Joel

5:11 PM: Mitch Joel is amazing! (despite semi-condescending comments directed at people in their early 20s) The Canadian marketing guru gave some inspiring words on evolving consumer commerce.

5:55 PM: And thats a wrap! I hope you enjoyed my live blog experience. I now have to drag my butt to the apple store and get my power cord fixed. More in depth summaries to come tonight and tomorrow!

(Sidenote– I am RT’ing twitpics because sadly my phone is not functioning at the moment)

Crowd analysis: The audience of the conference is an interesting mix of industry professionals, people working in SM for specific companies, (whether they be consumer or B2B), Marketing and PR executives from agencies and the odd intern (like myself). Radian6 staff are numerous and extremely helpful, wearing bright blue and green shirts for distinguishability. They were just as upset about the wifi shortage as we were!

General insights from Twitter: Wifi going down was a major boo boo (but sadly common at conferences). Free Waterbottles are great, and the one from Social 2011 does not disappoint, but it might have been nice to let us know that there was a piece of paper in there before we filled it up.

Other general impressions: I am slightly overdressed. Me, mentally prepping for a PR conference, chose to wear a pencil skirt, blouse and blazer like a normal day at the office. While some people are dressed in business casual, there are also a lot of people wearing jeans and sweaters. This experience would also be a lot more pleasant if I did not have to run to an outlet between each session, but that is a matter for the Apple store to deal with.

Special thanks to Radian6 for the chance to come here and for upping my Twitter followers!

Facing the Facts

March 23, 2011

Sometimes, working for the University in which I attend can have its downsides. For example, yesterday I was asked to write a short recap of a website to put on the BU blog BUNow. What was said site about? Seniors. No not the cute little old people who enjoy early bird specials and reduced rates at the movie theater…my peers graduating in May. This reduced me into a mini state of panic because it goes directly against the state of denial I was happily living in in regards to commencement. To the point where I refused to check my final exam schedule because it means knowing exactly when my last class will be.

So yesterday afternoon, combined with the knowledge that it is exactly 2 months until graduation,  I broke down. I wrote a charming summary of the website, and finally logged on to studentlink to see what my last test as a college student will be (its Psychology at 6PM on 5/11 if you were curious). And do you know what? It was oddly comforting. Maybe because I am a serial planner, or because I am a PR major that gets anxiety when events are planned poorly or deep down I am actually ready to graduate (gasp), but I felt better getting all the information. It actually spurred me into a frenzy of activity where I  started a resume overhaul and making dinner reservations for graduation weekend (overkill? You try getting a table for 7 in a decent restaurant when half of Boston has family in town).

So the moral of this story is that its okay to be a little excited for the future. Even if you have NO idea what it is yet.

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