Weekend Update – Birthdays and Baseball Games

The first day of summer is officially here! And while most of Cleveland was celebrating at the annual CMA Solstice Party, once again I neglected to get tickets in time and instead celebrated the summer in other ways – two baseball games, birthday drinks and a run (not in that order) with Nicole, and a bbq with B’s family to celebrate Father’s Day.

Friday morning started early – it was Nicole’s birthday and she wanted to get in a birthday run. Now that I’m in my 3rd week of training for the Cleveland Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I knew I wanted to get in a 7-ish mile run this weekend, so it was perfect – I met her early for a longer run before work. No sweaty selfies this time 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 1.15.39 PM

Friday after work, it was time to celebrate Nicole’s birthday. We met up for drinks at the Corner bar, the new bar at Progressive Field and had plans to watch the game with her friends.

B and me at the game

B and me at the game

A truly gorgeous sunset

A truly gorgeous sunset

Some ladies from LCBS (Ladies Craft Beer Society) at the game!

Some ladies from LCBS (Ladies Craft Beer Society) at the game!

The game ended with fireworks and then we hit up the rooftop bar at Greenhouse Tavern for after-game drinks.

Saturday morning started with some treadmill miles before B and I hit up the West Side Market for our regular groceries.


We made a pit stop for ice cream after the groceries. Mason’s Creamery is the best – I had half salted caramel and half lychee.


That night, B and I had more tickets to the Indians game – I was sitting in the #TribeLive section this time. It was also t-shirt giveaway night – wonder if my dad would like this shirt? (just a little big for me)

t-shirt giveaway!

t-shirt giveaway!

Sitting in the #TribeLive section we got great views and also our own private section. And a free viewing of fireworks from the dugout!

B and me - close to the field!

B and me – close to the field!


Sunday morning I attempted to be productive. After an easy workout, we headed to Heinen’s for some groceries and lunch, followed by some laundry and meal prep. We also made it to Rising Star for some coffee and Hingetown for their Sunday Market.

my salad bar assortment

my salad bar assortment

Stands set up in Hingetown for Sunday Market

Stands set up in Hingetown for Sunday Market

We finished off the evening with B’s family for a Father’s Day meal.

My sister-in-law made a berry pie ;)

My sister-in-law made a berry pie for dessert 😉

It’s weekends like these that are hard to be away from my family – I would love to spend Father’s Day with him – but I’m so grateful to have B’s family to lean on. AND – my dad is coming by next week so we can celebrate then.

Dad and me right before my wedding

Dad and me right before my wedding

I can’t wait to see my parents in less than a week!

Some questions for you:

  • Did you spend Father’s Day with any family?
  • Who is your favorite baseball team?

Who Says There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch?

One of my favorite things about living and working in Cleveland is the food scene. There are so many great restaurants, chefs, and even food trucks for me to sink my teeth into. In fact, Cleveland was recently mentioned in a Zagat article, Which U.S. City Has the Hottest Food-Truck Scene? (My vote is obvious – Cleveland!)

That’s why I was super excited when I heard about a cool thing that Progressive is doing during Walnut Wednesday this week – they’re giving away free lunch!

This Wednesday, Progressive and The Messenger are going to be doing one of their Random Acts of Savings at Walnut Wednesday. They’ll have a street team on the ground, and if you show one of them that you’ve tweeted or RT’d the following tweet, you’ll get a voucher for free lunch! What’s the tweet? .@progressive’s @themessenger is buying me lunch with his savings at #walnutwednesday! #saveitfwdCLE

While the offer is limited to the first 500 people that show the street team their tweet (you can tweet anytime before and during Walnut Wednesday), everyone that tweets will be entered to win an iPad! How cool is that?

AND you know what’s even cooler? Progressive is giving me five free lunches to give away! While two of them have already been claimed, I have three left to share — and I’m sharing them with you! Leave a comment, below, to enter. Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you win the free lunch!

Walnut Wednesday Amazingness

Walnut Wednesday Amazingness

Disclosure: Progressive provided me with a free meal voucher and will be providing me vouchers to share with my friends and readers. As always, thoughts and opinions are 100% all mine.

* Three (3) winners will be selected using Random.org Tuesday evening. Only one comment per entry, please. Winners must leave their email address so I can contact them about receiving their voucher.

Update: I used random.org to select three winners – they are Devin, Wendy and Debbie. I will be contacting you each to let you know how to receive your voucher. Thanks for participating! If you didn’t win – don’t forget, you can just tweet the above tweet and then show it to a member of the Progressive crew who will be Walnut Wednesday. Enjoy!

I <3 Pinterest But ….

But it’s not right for everyone.

It pains me to say that – but it really isn’t perfect for every company.  I know, I know – I’ve said it a million times how much I love Pinterest, how excited I am that I get to use it every day at work for clients, how I use it to find and share great recipes, and how awesome it is that I’ve even been interviewed, and quoted, on the topic in Crain’s.

So how do you know when NOT to use Pinterest? That could be a whole other blog post – or even a blog post series – but here’s a great infograph I found today that lays it out nicely – enjoy! (click on image to view original source and make it larger)

Hashtag Mom Will Make Your Mom Happy

Hashtag Mom is Brilliant.

“Honey, can you text me when you get in? I know it will be late but I’ll look at it in the morning.”

“Can you text me on your drive back to Cleveland? Just want to make sure you’re having safe travels.”

Does that sound familiar? Whenever I travel, no matter if it’s driving back to Cleveland from the holidays in NY, or flying out west for work, or driving to Toledo for a meeting, I often hear the above from my mom. While I usually groan (Moooooom, I’m in my mid-to-late twenties!), I almost always send a text or a few along the way and when I arrive.

Getting tired of texting mom? Wish that your tweets, Facebook and foursquare check-ins were enough? That’s where the brilliant folks at #mom come in. They’ve started a service that texts your mom for you! Here’s how it works – tag your Foursquare check in with the hashtag “#mom” and your mom receives a text OR a call! What does this mean? No more worried moms!

Visit http://hashtagmom.com to learn more.


Yet another one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. Pure brilliance.

(via http://sarahsfav.es/).


How I Changed my Mind About Pinterest

There’s been a lot of buzz flying around about Pinterest over the past few weeks, and I hate to contribute to it – but I’m in love.

It wasn’t always the case. I got my invite to join in February (8 months ago, which as you know, in social media years might as well be 8 year ago) and really didn’t see the point. I logged in, visited some other boards, and logged out. I really didn’t see its purpose in MY life and didn’t think I needed it. Here’s why:

  • I was feeling social media fatigue. Doesn’t it seem like we’re getting invites for all the newest, greatest social media sites all the time? Take Google+ for example. I’m still working on using it – I understand its value and check in every so often, but for me, most of my friends/connections/etc. are on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, so that’s where I spend most of my time right now.
  • I already have a bookmarking site! Why would I need ANOTHER site to keep track of my favorite blogs, recipes, news articles, etc. when I’m already such an avid user and fan of delicious? Why would I need another site to keep track of my favorite blogs/rss feeds when I’m such an avid user and fan of netvibes?
  • I already have a site where I keep track of things I love/want/that inspire me. It’s called my blog or my tumblr site! To me, tumblr seemed to have everything I wanted and could ever get out of Pinterest.
  • Nobody I cared about was using it. Back in February, the people whose ideas/opinions/styles/etc. I cared about were simply not on Pinterest. And as a social site, I wanted to try out the social aspect – if I couldn’t find any users or boards to follow, what was the point?

Well, I’ve been swayed. I joined Pinterest in the essence of seeing what it was about, connecting with others, getting smarter about social media, etc. And now I’m hooked. Why did I change my mind? Well, I learned that it’s NOT the same thing. What do I like about Pinterest that the other sites don’t have?

  • It’s pretty! It may sound superficial, but I love the clean way it looks. Yes, tumblr is pretty but Pinterest lets me see my bookmarks at a glance (like netvibes) but is visual (unlike netvibes). And it’s so much easier to find my favorite recipes by just looking at the pictures, as opposed to just searching my delicious keywords (which I’m horrible about keeping consistent). So what does this mean? It’s NOT the same as all my other favorite sites – it’s got aspects of all the sites that I love.
  • I was wrong ... my friends ARE on it! Okay, not all of my friends are on it (most of my real-life friends aren’t social media users) … my coworkers, social media friends and some of my favorite bloggers are there, which means every time I log in, there’s something new and cool for me to see.
  • There are so many ways to use it! Not using it yet? Still on the fence? Well, here are just some of the awesome ways I’ve seen people use it: Crafting/DIY inspiration; Fashion and style trends; Cool products you want to remember / inspiration for the upcoming holiday season; Virtual recipe book; Home décor inspiration; Inspirational quotes, photographs, sayings, and so on; collaborating with others on any of the above – you can change your settings so your boards can accept pins from multiple contributors

Once you join, be sure to check out my ever-growing collection of boards and pins: http://pinterest.com/koskim


A Review Crew Review – Billy Elliot at Playhouse Square

This week, thanks to my participation in the Review Crew, I was lucky enough to catch a showing of Billy Elliot at the stunning State Theater of Playhouse Square.  If you haven’t seen the show yet, you should really buy tickets.  The choreography is stunning, and the children dancers are incredible. There’s a reason it won 10 Tony Awards, including best musical. In fact, there’s never a better time to buy tickets – I got an email from Playhouse Square today saying they’re having a super Cyber Monday online shopping event.

Before you rush to see it, however, I would recommend you do your homework and come prepared. It’s not a musical I’d necessarily recommend seeing blind. In order to have the best experience, here’s how to make sure you’re prepared before seeing Billy Elliot:

  1. Read up on your British miners’ history: Much of the play relies on the audience’s knowledge of key events in the British coal industry. The UK Miners’ Strike sets the stage for the play, and if you don’t see the movie ahead of time, or know about this historical event, you’re likely to be confused. What, you don’t know the 1984 miners’ strike like the back of your hand? Don’t worry, neither did I, seeing as it started before I was even born. So I read about it before seeing the play.  Don’t know where to start? Wikipedia’s entry can’t hurt.
  2. Come prepared to be wowed by the dancing, but don’t expect to be singing all of the songs on your way home. The dancing was amazing. Incredible. Breathtaking. [insert random synonym here] I mean, how often do you see a young boy tap dancing and jumping rope at the same time? I’ve never even seen that on DWTS! The music, however, failed to win me over. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the music, especially the Expressing Yourself number (my favorite!) – but with a score by Elton John, I had hoped the mind-blowing dancing would be accompanied by equally contagious music.
  3. It may be filled with talented kid actors (I even heard that they have 50 20 children traveling with them for all the different parts) – but it’s not necessarily for kids. The plotline can be confusing (especially with the British history … see #1) and the play is filled with foul language – the majority of it coming from the young kids themselves! I wasn’t offended by any of the language (yes, there were even a few f-bombs), but I could imagine a mom taking her children to see the play worrying that her kids would imitate the children’s language. It’s definitely not worse than anything many shows on TV, but parents should be aware of the language coming from the young stars. (Side note – I heard the US version of Billy Elliot has been toned down significantly, so I can’t imagine what the language in the original British version was like!)
  4. Expect to be inspired and amazed by Billy … but don’t sleep on the other characters. Billy, played by Giuseppe Bausilio when I saw it, was amazing. ‘Nuff said. But I couldn’t keep my eyes off Jacob Zelonky who plays his friend Michael. He was my favorite character – not only was his character complex, but he was an amazing dancer and he completely stole the Expressing Yourself scene. And who could forget Billy’s dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson? The part of Mrs. Wilkinson was played by Tony Award-winning Faith Prince, who received loud applause the moment she stepped on stage. Her singing, dancing and overall presence was incredible – you won’t be disappointed.

The Changing Face of a PR Pitch

As a PR pro, I’m constantly pitching the media. Writing an email. Follow up call. Follow up email. Writing an email. The cycle is never ending, and unfortunately, sometimes I feel like a telemarketer calling to follow up on a media event I sent a week ago. “Hi, just calling about the XYZ event tomorrow? … What’s that, you want me to send the info again? … You’re on deadline? …” Click.  Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder — is this really the best way to get my story told to journalists? And I know I’m not alone – I’ve heard horror stories from my colleagues in PR and in the media about follow up calls gone wrong (any angry journalist is a force to be reckoned with!) and PR pitches that just plain stink. So what’s a PR pro to do when 80% of journalists still prefer to be pitched via email?

Pitches are changing day by day and I couldn’t help but bookmark, tweet about, email, share, etc. a fun PR trend that came up in my Ragan Daily – personalized, video pitches. This week, Ford released personalized video pitches to share their Ford Focus Global Test Drive Campaign with influential industry reporters. The videos not only show off the product and its features, but are meant to be embedded and shared with their readers. As Scott Monty, Ford’s director of global social media said (the bold formatting was put there by me for emphasis):

“We decided to use personalized video invitations for the Focus Global Test Drive because we wanted to be sure we had the attention of the high-level influencers we wanted to reach. Moreover, we wanted to be sure that it would be in a format that they could easily share with their readers. We believe that video is one of the most personal and intimate ways to communicate online …”

Check a video pitch below and the full story on this blog post.

What do you think? Are video pitches the way of the future? And what about other social media pitches – have you used social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to pitch a blogger or member of the media? Has it worked?

Blue Man Group Comes to Cleveland … you MUST see it!

A few weeks ago, I found out I was selected to join the Playhouse Square Review Crew. It’s a cool new initiative that Playhouse Square is trying out to engage social media users for their Broadway series. I’m really excited to be part of it – as a member, I get to view the opening night shows of the Broadway Series at Playhouse — for free! In return, if I want I can provide a review of each performance.

First up? Blue Man Group. I saw Blue Man Group in Boston my freshman year of college and loved it. I didn’t remember too much about it, besides the men in blue of course, but I was excited to see it again.

The verdict? You MUST see it! Clevelanders – get out your credit cards and go online and order tickets NOW. Seriously – it was such a good show, put me in such a good mood and was tons of fun. Not convinced? Here are 3 reasons why you should see Blue Man Group:

1.  You are guaranteed to leave in a great mood, no matter what you were feeling when you got there

The energetic music, bright lights and  interactive music of Blue Man Group got my  heart beating and my mouth smiling and I was hooked.
I’ll admit that before the show started, I was having a less than stellar week.  Stressed out and and working late most of last week made for a less than lovable Melissa.  But  after leaving the theatre, I commented to my fiance, “I feel great! I don’t know how I’m going to get to sleep tonight, I’m so  wired!”

2.  It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before

Blue Man Group  is truly indescribable.  Sure I could think of about a thousand adjectives  to  describe the performance (energizing, amazing, tons of fun, etc.), but to tell you what the  actual show was about?  Nearly impossible. “Three guys in all blue dance, act, play music and never talk” just doesn’t do it justice.

It truly  is something like you’ve never experienced before. What other broadway show have you seen before where the audience is encouraged to get up and shake their booty to a song that proceeds to name all the terms there are for your behind (including rumpus,  buns, bedonkadonk, “place where all the burritos go,” etc. )?  That’s what I thought.

3.  It will make you think, but not so much that it hurts

As I mentioned, the first time I saw Blue Man Group was in college and to be honest, I just saw it as pure entertainment.  This time, however, I noticed that the show  is clearly making a commentary on society.  Cultural differences and our dependence on technology are addressed, but not in a smothering preachy manner.  So you don’t just leave entertained, you are also enlightened.

And if none  of those reasons  convinces you, maybe this will- I missed Glee last week just to see it…and it was worth every minute!*

*Gleeks don’t usually miss Glee unless they’re deathly ill.

By the way – if you want to see my review, along with the other Review Crew, check out the video below.

Old-School Is Still Cool In Customer Service

Normally, I write posts to share about cool social media things that companies are doing. I share online marketing stories, social media trends and other nerd news. This post is different. I’m writing to tell you about a cool old-school customer service initiative — so if you don’t want to hear about traditional communication (or hate online shopping), please stop reading now.

If you know me well, you know that I am addicted to online shopping. I love JCrew/AT/Anthropologie fashion blogs and have been known to make quite a few bucks money on eBates (if you’re an online shopper and not using eBates you MUST! and say I recommended you – we both get $ that way). Lately the crew blogs have been talking about Lands’ End Canvas as a friendly alternative to JCrew and specifically, the Canvas Heritage Cardigan as an affordable/colorful alternative to the Jackie. Anyway, I went online and bought myself two of the heritage cardigans. They came  a week later and were everything I had hoped for and more!

If this were any other online shopping experience, the story would stop there. But it wasn’t – and it didn’t. This week, I received a THANK YOU card in the mail from Lands’ End. That’s right- a card. Not a form email or a note online when I logged into their site. A real, live, handwritten thank you note that looked like this:  

I was so surprised. When was the last time you received a thank you note for shopping online? Come to think of it – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note from anyone? Now I know that I’m probably not special and that this small gesture is most likely part of their customer service process (and designed to get me to buy from them again — nice plug about their shift dress), but it definitely made me feel special and important to the company.

So what’s the takeaway from this blog post, besides the fact that it’s evident I spend way too much time shopping online? Hey businesses — while online marketing, cool social media initiatives and iPhone (and Droid!) apps are cool ways to build relationships with your customers, sometimes all you need is a little handwritten note to make a difference.

Mayo Clinic launches a Center for Social Media

Now here’s a cool idea – the Mayo Clinic recently launched a Center for Social Media to teach social media to staff, physicians and patients. Traditionally, social media has been seen as a purely marketing function and under the Mayo Clinic’s PR and marketing team; however, this initiative will take social media to doctors, patients and even other hospitals.

Internally, the Center for Social Media will educate doctors on how they can communicate with their patients via YouTube, blogs, and other social media tools. The Center will also help help other health care institutions learn to do the same, offering use of the Center (for a fee of course) to other hospitals or patient foundations.

According to a Wall Street Journal interview with Lee Aase, one of the center’s leaders and currently manager of syndications and social media at Mayo, the focus of this project is to “provide in-depth information for patients in a much more comprehensive way, and to create connections between researchers, physicians and staff.” The Center will employ about eight full-time employees, including a medical director and have $800,000 a year in initial funding.

It’s great to see such a large healthcare institution look to new ways to engage its audiences – both internal and external. I’m really excited to track the progress of the Center, watch it grow and see if any other medical organizations follow in its footsteps and begin offering the same sort of social media education. In the past, healthcare institutions (not including the Mayo Clinic) have been slow to dip their toe in the social media waters, perhaps due to all the issues – privacy, ethics, etc. – and potential repercussions of sharing information online. Still, patients are already using social media to learn more about their illnesses or the conditions of friends and family. A recent Pew Internet study revealed that 8 in 10 internet users, or two-thirds of U.S. adults, look online for health information. People are looking for answers online, and now doctors can have the tools and education to know how to appropriate respond to this growing audience.