Wait! What? 9/18: Facebook Finally Gives Us The Thumbs Up To Give A Thumbs-Down

“It’s Friday.” That is arguably one of the sweetest phrases in the world. From finally being able to ‘dislike’ your crazy uncle’s political views to giving tweens yet another way to take photos of themselves (hands free, anyone?), we’ve got the rundown on the top tech and industry stories of the week:

Credit: Thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock
  • To like or not to like – that is the question. This week Facebook announced a ‘dislike’ button is in the works, empowering grumpy users everywhere to share their distaste.
  • Are you kidding me right meow?! Apparently a Cisco employee accidentally sent an email to the entire staffing list of over 30,000 employees, and pictures of cats and memes were circulated to everyone for hours. Obviously, madness ensued.
  • Taking your selfies to new heights … forget having to carry around a stick or deal with that pesky arm of yours in the photo: Dronies can follow you around, taking in-action photos of you and your friends on command. Kind of like drones flying around at concerts and NFL games taking photos of everyone, except now it’s just you, doing your thing, looking cool. Right?
  • Social media has that wonderful ability to take a giant event (the Super Bowl, GOP Debates…) and pick out one tiny aspect and run with it. The second GOP Debate was on Wednesday night, and amongst the pressing issues discussed, we discovered the variety of faces Donald Trump can make and who the #HotDebateGuy really is. Thanks, Twitter.
  • Definitely swiping right. Oscar Meyer recently rolled out a dating app for bacon lovers called Sizzl. It even provides a variety of safe first date questions, including:
    • “How do you like your bacon cooked?”
    • “What kind of bacon do you like?”
    • “If there’s one strip of bacon left, you…?”

Those were our favorite stories of the week, share yours with us on Twitter @BlancAndOtus!

Employee Spotlight: Annemiek Hamelinck, General Manager

I’m a runner.

Annemiek blogIt has taken me a long time to feel comfortable saying this out loud. When I told my friends and family that I had started running and signed up for my very first marathon in 2005, they simply started laughing because they thought I was joking. I never participated in sports while I was growing up and I had not ever even run one lap on a track (the farthest I typically ran was to the grocery store to buy a pack of cigarettes!). In fact, I did not even own a pair of running shoes.

I started running to create space. Space to think and space for me. The kind of job we have requires a mind that is always on. It’s also the kind of job that has us surrounded by people who are tapping into that mind that’s always on. Its noisy, it’s constant and it can be overwhelming. It certainly was for me.

I just started training for another marathon and, coincidentally, my training program started the same week I started this new job. I have lofty goals for both. For my running: keep my toenails, kick ass and qualify for Boston. For Blanc & Otus: foster a culture where everyone can be themselves, be heard and be awesome. Where we work hard and play hard. Where we make big ideas a reality. Where we deliver five-star service to our clients and have a damn good time doing it.

I have big shoes to fill that require big thinking and big space. There is no doubt in my mind that running is what keeps me creative and sharp. Henry David Thoreau said: “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Wait! What? 8/21: Target’s Vigilante Troll, Amazon’s Big Oops and an Airport Powered by the Sun

Credit: ThinkStock
Credit: ThinkStock

Greetings PR-aficionados! What’s that? Yes, it has been a while. Since we last spoke, a lot has happened, including the addition of our new General Manager, Annemiek Hamelinck, who’s been doing a truly stellar job of leading our troop of misfits. The tech scene has been crazy, and we’re going to catch you right the heck up.

It’s time for our latest installment of “Wait! What?”

  • You’re simply THE BEST!” is what Tina Turner might say about the hilarious vigilante that took to social media, posing as Target and defending the company’s decision to remove gender distinctions in some sections of its stores. We laughed ‘til we cried and really appreciated this moment of faux justice.
  • Holy company culture, Batman! If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you might not know that Amazon is having some issues – of the miserable employee variety. The New York Times published an expose looking at the company’s intense, and unforgiving culture. Amazon – you should probably take a look at our Instagram for some happy-employee inspiration.
  • On a more positive note, an airport in India has announced it will be completely powered by solar panels. Us clean tech geeks are excited to see solar tech being used on such a large scale and hope there is more to come! Yeah…no joke here. Sometimes we can be serious, OK?!
  • Now, I know my ABC’s… Although the announcement of Alphabet as Google’s parent company has been clogging up your browser for the past two weeks, we’re more interested in the smaller, mind-bogglingly futuristic companies that fall under the umbrella, like the forever young anti-aging biotech company Calico, and of course, the infinitely inventive Google X.
  • “Why does the GPS say that he’s driving away from us…?” is normally the first thing that comes to mind when the name “Uber” pops up. This time, however, it’s all about the rumored IPO, which was mentioned in a document leaked to Reuters. Of course, the company chose not to comment on the rumor, but the cat is out of the bag (which would be a terrible thing to happen in an Uber, by the way).

So now you’re all caught up on this week’s big tech stories and hopefully have something cool to bring up at brunch this weekend. Tweet us your fave stories of the week @blancandotus!

Great People Are at the Heart of Our Business, and No One Has Been More so than Peggy Clark

Stay classy, Pegs. We'll miss you.
Stay classy, Pegs. We’ll miss you.

Here on our blog, you see us write a lot about the trends in the industry, the latest happenings and tips and tricks of the trade. Perhaps not often enough do we take a step back and look at the reason we even have a business in the first place… our people.

The thing that makes Blanc & Otus great is that we have an amazing tribe of different, talented and passionate people who are committed – not only to delivering on our mantra of 5-star client service, but also in their support of each other.

In my 16 years at the firm, I have never seen anyone showcase this commitment more eloquently than our beloved office coordinator, Peggy Clark.

For 15 years Peggy has been part admin, part therapist, part caterer, part den mother and ALL HEART. Looking back, I am not sure we have all appreciated enough the tireless effort and commitment she has delivered. At the times when we were so crazy we thought we might lose our minds, it was Peggy that brought the pizza and beer. When a new client or candidate walked through the door, it was Peggy that gave them a warm and lasting positive first impression of Blanc & Otus.

Something ordered, booking travel, rearranging conference rooms, scheduling Ubers, flowers on anniversaries, ensuring cheese sticks stocked at all times, a shoulder to vent on…Peggy Clark.

By themselves, these may seem like small tasks. But in reality, these are huge things that have ensured the agency has run smoothly and made our jobs, and lives, easier and better.

Seeing her bright smile (and impeccable, matching jewelry) is one of the things I value most when I come into the office each day. And it’s one of the things I will miss the most as we prepare to send her off on her much deserved retirement.

In a service business like ours, having great people is essential. We were lucky to have been blessed with Peggy all these years. Her commitment to delivering a 5-star service to the Blanc & Otus team has made a lasting and invaluable mark on our company and each of us individually. We send her with all our thanks, our love and our best wishes in her retirement adventures.

In the words of the great Frank Sinatra …“thanks for the memory”.

Play Ball! Why PR and Baseball Aren’t So Different

Opening Day for our home team, the San Francisco Giants, has finally arrived and Lou Seal is ready to bring another championship to the Bay. In the spirit of grand slams, hot dogs and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” here are nine things PR and baseball have in common:

  1. The Double Play. You know what’s better than getting one client in an article? Getting two. Same goes for America’s pastime: a double play lets you kill two birds with one stone.
Top: Neil Desai and Christine Pai Bottom: Drew Smith and Danielle Tarp
Top: Neil Desai and Christine Pai
Bottom: Drew Smith and Danielle Tarp

2. Perform well under pressure. PR professionals know that there are rarely days that are stress free. That’s why the first lesson learned in PR is keep calm. No one knows this better than a pitcher in a bases loaded situation.

Emilie Gerber
Emilie Gerber

3. Not every pitch is a strike. Sometimes a story we pitch to a reporter won’t always be right down the middle. But you can bet the next ball we throw WILL be a strike.

Bill Rundle
Bill Rundle

4. The lineup. Each PR professional will play to their strength, just like Jeff Kent batting clean up behind Barry Bonds for their glory years. The best players will know where and when to assert themselves.

Team photo
L-R: Jen Smith, Joan Touchstone, Kristin Reeves, Simon Jones, Drew Smith, Neil Desai, Charlie Passero, Neil Torres, Danielle Tarp

5. The manager. Each team needs its fearless leader. The San Francisco Giants have Bruce Bochy and we have Josh Reynolds.

L-R: Kristin Reeves, Megan Gregorio, Stephanie Kays, Josh Reynolds (Coach), Natalie Pridham, Colette Keane, Bill Rundle
L-R: Kristin Reeves, Megan Gregorio, Stephanie Kays, Josh Reynolds (Coach), Natalie Pridham, Colette Keane, Bill Rundle

6. Shake things off. In PR and baseball, you’ll have your good days and your bad. An angry reporter versus a bad hitting day. We need to learn to brush it off.

7. Practice makes perfect. It takes time to master PR and baseball. The more you work at it, the better you’ll be.

Andrew Padgett
Andrew Padgett

8. Know who you’re up against. Before you throw a pitch, know the success your opponent has hitting a curveball. Tim Lincecum knows better than to throw Adrian Gonzalez a pitch down the middle, or it will end up in the bleachers. Don’t launch your client’s product until you understand the industry and know the competition.

L-R: Suzi Owens and Stephanie Kays
L-R: Suzi Owens and Stephanie Kays

9. Sometimes it’s just about the beer. Enough said…

L-R: Charlie Passero, Megan Gregorio, Drew Smith, Ivy Chen
L-R: Charlie Passero, Megan Gregorio, Drew Smith, Ivy Chen