New photos: The National Aquarium in Baltimore!

6 Sep

Small turtle at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalSea anemone at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalSea anemones and fish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalClown fish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalSingle jellyfish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalGroup of jellyfish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalTwo puffins on a rock at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna BlumenthalJellyfish at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, September 1, 2018. Photo by Shayna Blumenthal

I recently went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for the first time, and it was amazing! I couldn’t stop squealing like a little kid, amazed by all the beauty and wonder around me. I was completely mesmerized by the puffins (I mean, who wouldn’t be?), and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw dolphins in person! Unfortunately, the dolphins moved so fast, and I was so far away, that I couldn’t get a good picture of them.

I always had this idea that animals at zoos were in cages. But at the aquarium, I saw turtles missing limbs, dolphins being rehabilitated, and so many animals being cared for. Maybe it was because it was the sea versus land, but most of what I saw was educational.

It took us about three to go through the aquarium, and we didn’t even get to one of the exhibits! Afterwards we walked around a bit, but with an hour drive back to DC, we didn’t stick around too long. However, we’re definitely going back to Baltimore, next time to Fort McHenry!


News Feature: Soldier for Life finds social media success when reaching out to service members

19 Mar

In my most recent role, I have been fortunate enough to be in a position where we are able to help people, and see the impact of our efforts. Coming from the world of journalism and social media, I never thought I’d one day be working with the Military, but now that I am, it’s the kind of job I’ve always dreamed of: one that has a mission, a purpose, and a passion. The past year and half has been a crash course in Army lingo and culture, but the journey was well worth it!

Check out the article Soldier for Life finds social media success when reaching out to service members, which highlights some of the successes I’ve achieved during my time as the Social Media Manager at Soldier for Life.

For more information on the Soldier for Life program, you can check out our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!

New Drawings: Charcoal Self Portraits

11 Oct

self portrait, charcoal, drawing

self-portrait, charcoal, drawing

Pokemon Go and the Resurgence of Augmented Reality

19 Jul

The last time I heard anyone talk about augmented reality I was interning at 360i, working on the USA Network Account. I forget exactly what show we were referring to, but they were considering creating an augmented reality app for some premiere. I thought it was the coolest thing: the true merging of the digital world and the real one. But then after the awe passed, I remember wondering how practical it was, and if it would ever go anywhere.

It’s now four years later, and it looks as though Pokemon Go has answered that question for me. Let me start by saying I’m not a fan of Pokemon (I mean, when I was in high school I learned a lot about it from the kids I sat for. I think one of them even tried to teach me the card game, but it didn’t stick.). However, I do think that the Pokemon Go app is incredible. I’m not talking about the whole “geeks finally getting out of their houses or basements to do geeky things”, but how they took a game – a game that has traditionally been a solitary activity – and turned it into something that blends the virtual world of Pokemon with the one outside the door.

Now, I haven’t played yet, but what I’m really interested in seeing is how long this is going to last. I’ve heard about people quitting their jobs to trek across the country to “catch ’em all” and people creating meetup groups to catch their Pokemon together – but what I think about is how long the craze will last. Granted, as with all services, the app will hit a saturation point where downloads and active users will taper off. That part is natural. There are only so many subscribers an app or a service is going to get. But after a few months, a few years, how many of those users will still be active? This is the type of game that requires the player to constantly be on their phone, as they could stumble upon a Pokemon at any time, in any place. How many of these people will still be interested, or have the energy, to constantly be on the lookout?



Recent portfolio additions

19 Feb

The expectation of privacy in America

18 Feb

I was eating dinner with my best friend a few nights ago, and somehow the topic of privacy came up. I can’t remember how or why we started talking about it, but the conversation itself was interesting, and as she has no experience or education in journalism, advertising or marketing, some of the things I said to her shocked her.

I think what got us truly started on the topic was when we started to discuss the “right to be forgotten” laws in Germany. For anyone who doesn’t know, this law basically says that you have the right not to be included in web searches, and to be erased from the internet if you want to be. Since it passed, people in Germany, and across the EU, have been suing Google to have themselves removed from web searches. We then started to compare foreign privacy laws to those of the United States.

It really should come as no shock that there is no expectation of privacy in this country. Everything you do – every purchase, every mouse click, every social media account – is monitored, and the data is stored and used to understand how you, the consumer, thinks and acts, and hopefully predict your next purchase or vote. Every piece of data is of value to someone. But it doesn’t end there.

In the United States revenge porn is legal, despite it being morally despicable. The only state so far to even touch the issue is California.

The point is there is a difference between the information we offer willingly, and those we don’t. That is why I’m confused when I hear industry professionals talking about balancing big data with privacy concerns. They aren’t taking any information that wasn’t willingly given. The information and the data is there to be collected, analyzed, understood and translated into something actionable – because of that shoe purchase on Zappos, or that restaurant review on Yelp, or any other myriad of things that you did online.

Basically what it comes down to is this: there is no privacy in America anymore. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (I’m not saying it’s a good thing either). In fact, I’m quite indifferent on the matter.

What’s the deal with ‘Ello?

17 Oct

Dubbed the “anti-Facebook”, ‘Ello is a new social network that is free of advertisers. According to their manifesto, “You are the product that’s bought and sold”. And honestly, that should not come as a shock to you.

Although it is sad that this fact is so blatant these days, it’s honestly no surprise that we, the consumer, have also become the commodity. And Facebook is not to blame. Ever since our online activity has become tractable, companies have used that information to target, remind, and serve us ads whenever and wherever possible.

I remember a few years ago, my mom kept asking me why she would always see the same Nordstroms ad no matter where she was looking online. My first question to her was, “Were you recently on the Nordstroms site? Did you buy anything?” She told me she didn’t, she was just looking at shoes. I explained to her that Nordstroms saw that, and they want her to come back and finish the purchase. So how is this any different from Facebook serving you ads from the sites you visit? Aren’t they, essentially, just another website?

Advertisers have tremendous technology that tracks every click you make, every online purchase, and every abandoned cart. With all this in mind, I honestly don’t see what the big deal is with ‘Ello (I should also mention that I don’t quite care for Facebook either). Facebook is a business, whose function is to make money, just like any other business. Yes, we could all talk about the “good old days” before it went public, but what’s the point in that?

Although the stand that ‘Ello is taking is admirable, at this point it’s too late. Online privacy is essentially non-existent, and will probably never exist again. The sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can move on.

When brands on social media fail at customer service

19 Aug

Last night I had the pleasure of going to my first NFL game. Although it wasn’t a pleasure. And I didn’t go. Let me explain.

My sister and I were excited to go to our first ever NFL game. Although we are not Redskins fans, the tickets were inexpensive, and we figured, “why not?” So, we got tickets, and decided to meet at FedEx Field. The email I got from StubHub said to bring a small bag, so I brought the smallest bag I own (pictured below, with all contents of the bag).

photo (2)

After printing out my ticket, taking the 45 minute metro ride, and walking the mile from the metro to FedEx Field, I was informed by security that my bag was too big to enter. Apparently, the largest a bag can be is 4.5in by 6.5in, which is barely bigger than an index card. My bag (pictured) is 6.25in by 6in. Also, according to NFL policy, you are allowed to bring in a 1 gallon plastic bag. Despite the fact that my bag could fit inside the plastic bag easily, I was still not allowed inside FedEx Field.

Think about this logically: it’s a Monday night, and plenty of people are probably coming from work, including women, who (surprise!) also like football. What can you seriously fit inside an index sized clutch if you’re coming from work? A wallet? Sure. Phone? Maybe. But what about keys? Am I expected to put those into my pocket?

Immediately after being told I was not allowed into the stadium, I started tweeting about the ridiculous and absurd bag policy. On top of my horrible experience at FedEx Field, I never received any response from either the NFL or the Redskins via social media. As one of the most followed brands on social media, with over 7 million twitter followers, I’m astounded that no one on either the NFL or Redskin’s social media team monitored or flagged this sort of activity as important enough to respond to. It makes me wonder how much they care about the integrity of the NFL brand, and if they understand how social media affects public perception.

Brands who receive negative feedback on social media aren’t supposed to ignore it – it makes the problem worse. As a general rule, brands are encouraged to respond, no matter what, to negative comments so that customers/fans know that the brands they love care about them as well. When handled correctly, addressing negative comments head on can strengthen brand loyalty, instead of driving fans away. Even simply apologizing can make the situation better.

Social Media and Real-Time Marketing at it’s Worst

4 Feb

This Sunday I decided to take a break from the Big Game and social media, and I’m really glad I did.  Not only was it a terrifically horrible game, but interactions on social media were probably just as bad.

Last year’s Super Bowl was rife with opportunities for real-time marketing, as we saw with Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” tweet, and the others that followed.  Oreo, and their advertising agency 360i, were well prepared for any opportunities that presented themselves.  However, this year, they decided to “go dark”, and not live tweet during the game, which was probably the best decision they could have made.

This year’s game did not have any such opportunities like last year.  However, brands still tried to force some, started interacting with each other, and forgot about the game, and the fans, completely.  As both a consumer and professional in social media, I’m slightly disappointed by what I saw.  It was the worst kind of advertising – in your face and forceful.

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The worst account of all was JC Penny.  First of all, we all know JC Penny has had trouble in the last couple of years with their advertising.  In the summer of 2012, JC Penny missed the mark when rebranding, which caused consumers to loose faith in the brand. After that, Penny apologized to consumers for the confusion they caused.  If you don’t remember, check out this article here and here.  Second, consumers are a little freaked out about the recent security breaches at Target and other big retailers.  So, when JC Penny pretends that their Twitter account is hacked during the Big Game, it doesn’t sit well with the public.

2-4-2014 10-58-44 AM

Real-time marketing is a great tactic, and as brands and advertisers we should always be looking for opportunities to be relevant.  However, we cannot manufacture those moments, and should not try to, or consumers will loose faith in what we are trying to communicate to them.

Thoughts on the Government Shutdown

7 Oct

I’m not going to claim to be a political expert, or in any way very political at all.  But in the past week I have learned more about the American political system than ever before, and paying attention means forming opinions about the thing you’re paying attention to.

First, I’m going to start with Congress.  I don’t know when the parties became so polarized, but seriously, these men and women are supposed to be the leadership of this country.  We elected them to represent us and do the best they can to do the best for this country.  That is their job.  That is their only job.  They need to stop acting like children and playing the blame game.  That accomplishes nothing.  They should be working together to reach a deal that will keep the government running and avoid a default.

This brings me to my next point: the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  The ACA was signed into law in 2010.  That means it had to pass both the House and the Senate, then signed by President Obama to become law.  It was also deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.  It is now 2013.  The Republicans and Tea Party had three years to fight the ACA and modify it or destroy it.  Personally, I think those who oppose it believe the ACA is too much like socialized health care, which makes us too much like Europe.  However, tying the ACA to the spending bill or the continuing resolution or whatever its called is essentially holding the country hostage.  The extremists in the Republican party claim that Obama and the Democrats aren’t “negotiating” with them.  From what I can tell, there is nothing to negotiate on.  The ACA is already a law.  It’s been a law for the past three years.  Deal with it, or fight it another way.  Don’t hold the country’s economy hostage when it was finally recovering.

Finally, I want to talk about the politics of it all.  It seems to me it’s about winning, and winning politically.  It’s about proving the other guy wrong, or trying to derail them.  It’s not about two sides coming together to work together to find a solution to a problem.  It’s not about what’s best for the country.  It’s not even what will bring this country political or technological or educational advancement.  It’s about what’s best for that guy.

I think Congress needs to remember where this country came from, remember our history.  “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  In case you don’t know, that is a section of the Declaration of Independence.  It means that the people give the government its power, and they have the power to take it away if it becomes destructive or threatens our safety.  I’m not saying that we are at this point, that we are in the position the founders of this country were in.  What I’m saying is, our elected officials have an obligation to never put us in that position.  That this country was founded on the belief that those elected are the best of society, and although there would be natural debate as the most educated and intellectual of this nation, they would act with decorum.

Perhaps it is idealistic of me.

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