WALKING DOWN THE EMERALD AISLE

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By Risë Birnbaum

Is it the Guinness, the whiskey, or the Irish Spring hotel soap that’s gone to Kaitlyn’s head?  Not sure, but this dimwit bachelorette just let one good, hot guy walk out the castle door.  It’s no secret anymore that handsome, heartthrob Ben Higgins was given the boot and has already been crowned the next Bachelor-in-waiting.   Ben, in that fisherman sweater, was one shade away from Christian Gray.  Can you even imagine the line of beautiful women waiting to get their hands on him next season?  If I were just a little younger 😉

Meantime, Kaitlyn (who’s slept with just about every Bachelor and maybe even Chris Harrison) continues to make dumb mistakes and then cry about them.  Between her non-stop laughing and endless sobbing, Kaitlyn should be having a one-on-one with the on-set shrink.

So, Kaitlyn is left with two guys:  Nick V. who cried on the couch when Andi Dorfman dumped him last season, and Shawn B., the jacked and slightly unhinged trainer, who’s about to turn Nick’s head into ground meat.  Kaitlyn’s apparently very torn between the two, because she lets us know every 5 minutes.  Nick’s had an extra bed session with Kaitlyn, but we’re not yet sure if that works to his advantage.  And Kaitlyn did get to see Shawn’s putter on the golf course before she stayed in the fantasy suite with him that night.  Hole in one.

As for family time, both families seemed OK, with Nick’s mother definitely worried that Nick’s head might explode if he comes in 2nd again this season.  So were his 18 brothers and sisters.

Next week Kaitlyn takes the hot seat (looking forward to Ian from Princeton reminding her how shallow she is) and then it’s on to the finale.

My guess on who Kaitlyn winds up with?  Think it’s Shawn, who’s been nursing booze and an unhealthy attachment to Kaitlyn these past few weeks.  As for Nick?  It’s a really good thing there’s a pub nearby.

TRUMP NEEDS TO CHILL, PRONTO

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By Risë Birnbaum

Call me nearsighted (I am), but I just do not see how anyone believes a word Donald Trump says.  The latest kerfuffle happened today (it’s a daily thing now), and involves the new luxury hotel he’s building in downtown DC.

The Washington Post recently stated there are illegal immigrants working on the hotel, so Anderson Cooper decided to ask Trump directly about the allegations.  Trump’s answer:  “I can’t guarantee that all the workers I employ have legal status in the United States, but if I were to discover any illegal immigrants…we’d get rid of them immediately.”

I guess the same illegal immigrants that Trump believes are “raping our women” are OK to have around as long as they help him put up his luxury hotels.  Remember, this is the same guy who re-tweeted that “Jeb Bush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.”  Where does this guy come off?  And he doesn’t regret a word.  Nope.  Not one, single word of his nonsensical rants.  He also called conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer a “rodeo clown.”  Now, Krauthammer is not my favorite guy in town and maybe he should cut down on the hair dye, too, but he sure doesn’t deserve what Trump dished out.  Neither does Jeb.

Really, folks, can anyone out there actually take their precious vote and pull the lever for this guy?  If anyone’s a clown, it’s Trump, and if our country is going to get through this election cycle, he either better take some xanax, or we should.  Some noise-cancelling headphones would help, too.

CRACKING THE BLOGGER CODE

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BY: JASMINE WALTON

In the world of PR, blogger outreach is one of the sharpest, new arrows in our quiver. Why? More laser-targeted impressions, which means the right reach. And it’s only natural that followers are more likely to trust a blogger’s word over a branded ad.

Our zcomm team taps into the blogger world, in addition to other digital marketing tactics, to target specific audiences in industries including health, beauty, food, consumer and non-profits.

One of our key partner bloggers is Kimberly Vetrano, the founder of “She Scribes.” Kimberly doubles as a mother, wife, photographer and freelance writer. She decided to become a blogger because she loves to write, and blogging was a way to write about her life.

Kimberly prides herself on blogging about a variety of topics for a diverse readership. Her tag line is “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” In fact, her blog topics are heavily influenced by her readers. She makes sure to read her fans’ comments, and even does yearly “polling” to find the topics that her readers find most interesting. In addition to blogging about her life, she also tracks and writes about what’s trending — crafts, recipes and style posts are all hot topics now.

When asked how she keeps her blog so active, Kimberly says her blog is her business, and she treats it that way. Kimberly says, “I make it a priority to post at least once a day, 7 days a week. If I have something planned on the weekend, I’ll write a post ahead of time and schedule it on the weekend.”

Kimberly tries to engage her followers through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Social media influences my blog in a big way…there are plenty of readers who share the same interests and can engage with you about them on social media channels or via comments on the blog posts.”

Kimberly’s favorite social media outlet is Facebook. “I feel like I can connect with readers more on that platform. I can scroll down and read comments and reply to them when I have a chance. I feel like Facebook is more personal.”

When relevant brands come to zcomm for blogger outreach, we call Kimberly (and lots of other bloggers) with the kind of content that she loves. Because we know what she likes. So, when reaching out to bloggers, take time to read the blog on a regular basis BEFORE you contact them so you know exactly what they write about and the content that floats their boat. That’s the key to cracking the blogger code.

zcomm Moves Headquarters to Washington D.C.

National Marcomm Agency Expands and Changes Address

WASHINGTON, DC – Coinciding with zcomm’s 24th year in business, the national PR and marketing agency has moved its headquarters from Bethesda, Maryland to Washington, DC. zcomm’s new address is: 910 17th Street, NW, Suite 1190, Washington, DC, 20006. Continue reading

Florida Girl Takes on DC, Y’all! – Part 2

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Claire discusses her internship at zcomm and her experience in DC. 

Remember that VH1 show “Best Week Ever,” where comedians would rehash the week’s happenings and at the end of each episode they would name which celebrity or group had – you guessed it – the best week ever? According to Google, the show ended in 2009, but if it were still airing, I am pretty sure my experiences last week would make me a serious contender for Best Week Ever status.

By day, I was coming in to zcomm early to pitch an upcoming satellite media tour to morning news producers and doing some research to help pull together new business proposals. By night, I was gearing up for Wednesday’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game – attending volunteer orientations, quizzing myself on the Congressional Members’ names, faces and states on home-made flashcards (no, I am not kidding), and reaching out to local online media outlets to try to help promote the event.

When I originally found out that each volunteer was asked to sell at least 10 tickets to the game, I was a little worried because I don’t have a very big network here in DC…then I realized that while I don’t know people, I do know PR. In no time, I was contacting local outlets and getting the event on weekly activity blogs and their corresponding social media, like “365 Things to do in DC.”

When Wednesday finally arrived, I felt like a kid on Christmas. I left zcomm early to head over to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s office to make signs with her interns and helped the staff distribute Member uniforms, and then hustled to the field for set-up.

Everyone staffing the event rose to the occasion, working together and falling in where they were needed to make the event a success. Despite the 97-degree weather, a lot of fun was had by all. It was so exciting to see the faces I had been studying all week out there on the field, and Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner even made a special guest appearance!

I must admit, being in the presence of all of these smart, dynamic female leaders was a little intimidating, but all of the Members were extremely down-to-earth and very approachable. Even though the women of Congress lost to the “Bad News Babes” of the Capitol Hill Press Corps, members of each team met the volunteers for some post-game pizza and beer at the Ugly Mug. It was a very unique opportunity to visit with these ladies in such a casual setting – I briefly connected with Rep. Wasserman-Schultz and Kirsten Gillibrand, the Congresswoman from New York who occupies Hillary Clinton’s old Senate seat (cool!), and was able to have a great conversation with Kathy Castor, a Representative from Florida and fellow FSU alum.

It was such an incredible day, and through ticket sales, donations and concessions, we were able to raise over $50,000 for the Young Survival Coalition (watch DWS’s announcement on the House floor here)!

As if my week couldn’t have gotten any more awesome, I decided to go on an impromptu weekend trip to New York City to meet up with friends from college! It was surprisingly simple – just hopped on the bus down the street after work on Friday and was deposited in Bryant Park four short hours later. It was a wonderful weekend of friends, food, drinks and dancing, and the beautiful weather was tailor-made for a relaxing Saturday in Central Park. I even got to check out Sunday’s Pride Parade before heading back to Washington. The parade fell on the first anniversary of New York passing its marriage equality law and featured Cyndi Lauper as the Grand Marshall, so you can just imagine the energy in the crowd.

After a much-needed good night’s sleep, I am back at zcomm and looking forward to my next adventure… Fourth of July in the nation’s Capital!

Florida Girl Takes on DC, Y’all! – Part 1

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Claire discusses her experience at zcomm, DC and working on the hill.

It’s been a month and a half since I graduated from Florida State University and moved up to Washington DC for a summer chock- full of communication, politics and adventure.

I love that Tallahassee is a place where small-town Southern charm intersects with higher-profile state politics, but when it came time to apply for summer internships, I knew that I wanted to experience the excitement of living in a bigger city.

So, I did what most PR students do: turned to O’Dwyers list of top public relations firms by location. Since I’ve always been interested in politics, I paid special attention to opportunities in Tallahassee’s national counterpart – Washington, DC.

When I stumbled upon zcomm, a top-15 agency in the Washington DC area, I was immediately interested for two main reasons: First, zcomm is a smaller agency. This would allow for more meaningful, hands-on work with clients and leadership within the firm. Second, zcomm is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise and Certified Women-Owned Small Business. In an industry dominated by women (70%), most agency heads are men…as a die-hard Girl Scout, Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan and a very ambitious twenty-something, this is a huge disconnect for me.

After several rounds of interviews, I was offered a position as one of zcomm’s summer interns and was thrilled! Things only got more exciting when I got a call from Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s office saying that they also received my intern application and were very interested in having me work with their team.

Flash forward a few months and here I am – living in the city, taking the Metro to and from my work at zcomm, volunteering with Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz’s office, and loving (almost) every minute of it.

My time at zcomm has been full of new experiences and learning opportunities. zcomm is a media services agency that specializes in broadcast and digital media, so I have said goodbye to traditional press releases, press conferences and media advisories and hello to the world of SMTs, RNRs, syndicated and customized radio promotions and more.

In addition to the insight I am gaining from my communications work at zcomm, I am also popping over to Capitol Hill to volunteer for Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz. A representative from Florida, Chairperson of the National Democratic Committee, strong advocate for women, children and families, co-leader of Girl Scout Troop Capitol Hill, and fellow curly-haired blonde who hasn’t given in to the traditional Capitol Hill blow-out, I think Debbie is the absolute coolest.

I am beyond excited to join her staff to help with this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game, an event that will pit female members of Congress against members of the Capitol press corps. Not only will this be a very neat experience for someone interested in women, politics and communication, but the proceeds will benefit young people battling cancer – as a cancer survivor, this definitely hits close to home and I am very much looking forward to being a part of it.

So far, it’s been a pretty incredible summer. Stay tuned…

9/11 Bird’s Eye View

Ten years ago, on that crystal clear morning of 9/11, I was in our offices, which were then located in Rosslyn, Virginia and had large windows to the south and west.

The TV was on when the first plane hit the building, and then the second. We all gathered around open-mouthed and then grabbed the phone to call family and friends. A few staffers actually ran down the 11 floors to get back to their families in case this was the start of something much bigger. Wilson Boulevard, the main drag in Rosslyn, was streaming with cars and panicked people.

I stayed and stood gazing out my window wondering why there was a lone plane buzzing around National Airport. I figured the airport may have placed the plane in a holding pattern, though it was the only plane in the sky at that time.

I turned away for about two minutes to talk to my colleagues and then something made me turn back to the window. At that moment there was a fireball in the distance and the plane was gone from the sky. I shook my head, not yet understanding the connection. It was only a few minutes later when Peter Jennings announced The Pentagon had been hit, that I realized I had been watching the plane just before it slammed into the building. Needless to say, I was in shock.

And even after ten years, it’s still shocking to see the replays of the planes hitting, the tower falling and New Yorkers covered in ash, running for their lives. It makes everything else in my life seem downright petty.

It also gave then New York Mayor Giuliani, who was about to be run out of town, the spotlight and the chance to become a decisive, post-terror, hero. The media is fickle. They can tear someone down or build someone up in a matter of hours or days. And that’s exactly what they did with Giuliani.

My take away from this experience is that life is precarious so live it to the fullest. It’s sad this anniversary finds the country so divided, but my greatest hope is that we’ll grit our teeth, take a deep breath and find the strength to make a difference. We’re the greatest country on the planet, and if every one of us who is capable of it lends a hand, we’ll surely make it through.