NYC Trip: So much to do, so little time

NYC

New York has had a special place in my heart from the moment I started performing in musicals in 5th grade. At the time when my dream was to be a Broadway star, I knew New York was the city I needed to be in. Fast forward 14 years later and while I still have no shame in bringing out my inner thespian, I developed new interests: fashion, beauty, fitness, a lovely cocktail and public relations. Even today, I still have that same flame in my heart for New York. And whenever I have the chance to go, you can guarantee I am there.

I am going to NYC this week to meet my best friend Tina for a girls weekend and boy do we have some fun things planned. Tina and I are both coffee addicts, so you might see one or two (or three or four..) insta posts in a coffee shop. No shame in our coffee game. Along with bougie dinners, shopping, and really just adventuring and seeing what mischief we find ourselves in. We are going to have so many memories!

I wanted to share a few places cafes, coffee shops and dessert spots where we will for sure be going , and I can’t wait to write future posts reminiscing on my trip!  If you have any Insta-worthy NYC recommendations, please please please share! I am so excited to go on a little getaway! Thanks for joining me on my adventures <3.

 

XO.

Lex

 

Coffee Shops

Cha Cha Matcha

This matcha/ coffee shop is too cute for words. I have my pink outfit planned for this occasion!

CHACHAMatcha

 

Happy Bones

White aesthetic, bright and casual. Perfect for a cold snowy day, no?

PC: @julesdenby

Happy Bones

Food & Cafes

Cafe Henrie

Pink. Healthy. And all the yummies.

PC: @tashjol

Cafe Henrie

Golden Unicorn Restaurant

The little pigs. Need I say more?

PC: @cindnguyen

Golden Unicorn

 

Beauty and Essex

Hidden behind the doors of a pawn shop lies the most fabulous, bougie gem of NYC. Cocktails please?

Beauty and Essex

 

Sweet Indulgences

Creamline

Chelsea neighborhood’s sweet little treat!

Creamline

Conference Call 101: How to Chat With Brands

 

In the past few weeks I have talked about the FTC Blogger Guidelines and how Edelman is changing the data analytics game for bloggers- last week was How To Pitch. Your goal after sending a pitch should always be to get XYZ Brand PR person on a call.

A simple phone call is something that is often overlooked, but can make a great impression on someone. One of the things that has stuck with me through my years in PR was Hillary Sawchuk of A Drink With telling me that when you want to work with someone, always try to get them on the phone. It is much, much harder for someone to say no to you on the phone than via email. Phone calls can be scary, especially if you are like me and do not particularly love chatting on the phone.

Below are some helpful tips for brand phone calls and a sample call agenda that I use for calls with clients and the people I work with for my clients. It helps me stay organized and not feel unprepared.

sample call agenda

Organizing a call can be difficult- but including extra information in the calendar invite helps to keep everyone on the same page.

  • Title the call invite with your name and the brands name.
  • Put a quick discussion overview so your team is prepared. If it is just you, it gives you a simple guide so you do not get stuck in an awkward silence.
  • Always put the titles and contact numbers or emails of everyone joining the call. This helps call attendees to know who is from where so there is no confusion.
  • Use a service like FreeConferenceCall.com. FCC gives you a free dial in number and access code. Using FCC looks professional, and helps avoid confusion about who is calling who.

Knowing what to ask can be tricky. Here are some sample questions that you can talk through with your brand:

  • What are their initiatives for the year?
  • What is the brand’s target demographic?
  • How would they describe their current consumer?
  • When does the brand plan their budget?
  • Is social media a top priority for them?
  • What information can you provide them?
  • Do you have any upcoming initiatives you are trying to promote?

 

❤ Al

 

Alexandra Moresco is the owner and founder of A Moresco PR + Digital Strategy.

 

 

#Fitfam Basics

Ever stuck working late but you still want to get a workout in? Sometimes it’s nice to be in the comfort of your own home where you can work your butt off, sweat, shower, eat and sleep. I am more of a gym person either in the afternoon or straight after work, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite at home workouts. I prefer a full body workout so when you are finished, you feel like all your muscles were used in some which way or another!

 

Are there any workouts you have questions about or would like to see? Comment below and let me know!

XO.

Lex

You will need:

3-5lb weights

A yoga mat

Water!

Duration: 4 Minutes total

Repeat circuit: 4X

The Overhead Shoulder Press (20)

Once complete: rest 10 seconds

Overhead Shoulder Press

Knee to Opposite Elbow Mountain Climber (30)

Once complete: rest 10 seconds

Mountain Climber

The (dreaded) Plank (1 minute)

Once complete: rest 10 seconds

PLANK

The Booty Squat + OverheadPress (20)

Once complete: rest 10 seconds
SquatPress

Bottoms: Lorna Jane // Top: Lorna Jane // Sports Bra: Lorna Jane (similar here)

The Man Behind The CFDA: Chatting With Steven Kolb

 

In honor of NYFW kicking off today, I thought I would share one of my favorite throw back posts from last year when the CFDA had a small presentation in Chicago. The CFDA website refers to Steven Kolb as “the nicest person in fashion,” and I would have to agree. As we sat down in the private lounge at the W Hotel Chicago, Kolb made small talk and was calm and collected as press and designers whizzed by around us. Kolb is the type of person in Fashion that you admire for their business expertise and kind face.

 

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A: What’s it like to oversee all the day to day operations at the CFDA?

S: Well, um, that question makes me nervous. It’s quite an exciting thing, and that may seem cliché, but I am very lucky that I have the job that I have for a couple of reasons. One, there are 400 members in the CFDA, like major designers that are around all the time and I know them all personally. As designers, as business people, as colleagues, as friends. And the passion that designers have, the creative passion that they have…is really inspiring. I don’t necessarily see myself as a creative person, but when I work with a creative person I can take those ideas and make them work. For me, that is a really exciting thing. There are 23 people that work at the CFDA. We have this amazing team and many of them started there as interns and stayed with us. They are just so committed and wonderful and they are fully in support of our mission.

A: I know that your career has always consisted of non-profit work, previously at the American Cancer Society. Why did you decide to go over to a fashion non-profit like the CFDA?

S: So the CFDA is a not for profit, but a different kind of not for profit. I was last at the American Cancer Society, and then previously at an AIDS organization, and then I was at MTV helping to start a not-for-profit. My colleague Lisa and I knew each other because when I worked for the AIDS organization, Lisa and I had worked on a project. She’s been with the CFDA for over 20 years. So when the person before me left, she suggested that the search committee interview me. So I came to meet the selection committee which was Diane Von Furstenberg, Stan Herman, the president of the board, and talk about the job and the organization, so how I ended up there was because I wasn’t a fashion person. That’s what they liked, I had this experience running an organization, managing an organization, I understood how an organization works, and bringing that experience and that skill set to the job. That’s what got me the job. Shockingly, why I took the job wasn’t because it was a fashion job, although I’ve learned to really love and appreciate the fashion part of it. What I love about it is that back when I was a student in college, I never wanted to work in corporate America, I wanted to work on social issues and give back and help people that need it. The truth is, the same thing I did at my previous positions, I am doing at the CFDA. We’re helping emerging designers gain business development. We’re helping students get jobs. We’re helping experienced designers with licensing, etc. We do a lot of philanthropy through our organization so I still get that fulfillment of helping people, but just in a different way.

 

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A: One of your greatest accomplishments that you’ve had at the CFDA is creating the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. How did that come to be?

S: It started as…it’s an interesting story. 911 happened during fashion week, and this predates me, I started in 2006. Because of that [911,] all the fashion shows were cancelled, so a lot of young fashion designers that were just starting out lost their deposits and a significant amount of money for shows that they were unable to do. So the industry rallied, particularly under Carolina Herrera’s efforts. These big designers said “come show in our showrooms, we’ll help you,” and they did these shows that they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Anna Wintour saw this kind of hole and how vulnerable these designers were. She worked with the CFDA to create the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. I came in the third year and helped to build its financial strength and grow the organization of it. I think its contributions to American fashion is so great. It has helped create this new American Fashion…Alex Wang, Prabal [Gurung,] Phillip Lim, Rodarte, Joseph Altuzarra…they all came out of the Vogue fashion fund. Not only has it created a new generation of American fashion, but it’s also influenced other parts of the world. Having said that, why we’re here in Chicago is not this dissimilar to what we have done at the Vogue Fashion Fund. A few years ago, we created the CFDA Incubator for emerging designers and it is a business development program where we give them mentors, studio spaces, and we are able to give them opportunities, like bringing them here to Chicago through our partnership for the W hotels. The W has a strong passion for fashion…that rhymes. Working with us, they know that for these designers to get to the next step, they need to increase their distribution so an important market like Chicago, for them to be able to come here and show in this awesome space that W Hotels set up, is game changing for them.

 

A:  Do you have any advice about going into the creative industry?

S: Look, I think that you have to be patient and you have to put in the time. I think in the world of instantaneous gratification and our own hyper celebrity around what we do ourselves with social media, and how we can have a face and be known on the internet, can somehow distort our own well being and self worth. You have to go out and learn. What you think you’ve learned in college is good, but you actually haven’t learned anything until you get a job and are working around people that have been doing these things for a long time, that’s when you’ll learn the most. Continue to be a student, work hard, and have an opinion, but know that you’re around people that have been doing it for a long time and take advantage of that. Use it to your advantage and learn from them. That’s how you’re going to grow your career.

 

Is anyone going to NYFW? Who is your favorite designer?

 

❤ Al

Photos: Kohl Murdock.

The Perfect Brunch in Chicago

Brunch in Chicago is more than just your average pancake house. In Chicago, it’s an activity or a full blown experience. 3 Arts Club Cafe at Restoration Hardware is hands down one of the most classy, delicious, and all around beautiful brunch experiences in the city. You might know Restoration Hardware as an upscale furniture store but here, it is more.

Deeply embedded within the historical streets of Gold Coast, lies a once upon a time all women’s boarding house, with room after room, and a grand atrium in the middle. Now you can walk around this magical space with a glass of rose looking at different interior design decorations while you wait to be seated for brunch. (I recommend getting their early or the wait will be long!) They have a great menu with everything from a delicious scramble (pictured below) or an elevated grilled cheese and burger. So far, I have tried a number of items on the menu and have yet to be disappointed. The service is great and a special thank you to the RH staff for always ensuring a lovely time at 3 Arts Club Cafe.

If you are visiting Chicago, dining here is a must. It has quickly become one of the top things to do in Chicago and even when I live here, this charming experience never gets old. Looking for a cute date spot to get out of the house? Gentleman, you score major brownie points going here.

The Food.
Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago

 

The Outfit.
Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago

Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago
Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago Restoration Hardware 3 Arts Club Cafe Chicago

Sweater: Club Monaco // Jeans: Topshop at Nordstrom // Boots: Steve Madden // Purse: Steve Madden (similar here and here!)

The Outfit Essentials

Outfit

Shades: Chanel

Questions on a few of my other favorite Chicago go-tos? Comment below and I’d love to share.

 

XO.

Lex

Easy Valentine’s Day Cocktail

 

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Valentine’s Day is the holiday to pull out all the stops: a new dress, a fun dinner: and beautiful cocktails! I think that a lot of people hear the word “cocktail” and get intimidated by all of the ingredients it takes to make them. While a lot of cocktail books call for hard to find dashes of this or that, it is easy to make a beautiful drink for your special someone with items you have lying around your house!

I made this cocktail this past weekend while recipe testing for a small Galentine’s Day party I am having for some girlfriends this coming weekend. This Pink Drink only has four ingredients and comes together in a pinch. Scroll down for the full recipe!

 

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The Pink Drink:

1.5 oz gin (I prefer Hendrick’s!)

1.5 oz pureed watermelon

.5 oz simple syrup

Top with seltzer water

Combine your gin, watermelon puree and simple syrup (boil half water, half sugar in a pot and simmer until syrupy.) in a shaker (if you don’t have a shaker, use a mason jar!) and top with ice. Shake for about 10 seconds and then strain into glasses. Top with seltzer water.

If you do not like watermelon or do not want to take the time to puree watermelon, strawberry juice is a great substitute that you can buy in a can at the grocery store. To add some “wow” factor to my cocktail, I plopped a fluffy piece of cotton candy on top!

The poodle salt + pepper shakers are from Jonathan Adler and I love my Vera Wang coffee table book!

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Outfit

 

 

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Dress: Anthropologie (Another favorite here and here!) // Jacket: Helmut Lang (similar here and here!)// Purse: DSW // Heels: Vince Camuto

There is no shame in wearing red or pink for Valentine’s Day. I loved pairing this corset style strapless dress from Anthropologie with a black leather jacket and a pointed heel to give it a little edge. After you get ready for your date, what else does a girl need other than flowers? Bill has been sweet enough to surprise me with flowers for Valentine’s Day from my favorite flower company, Flowers for Dreams. Not only are they my favorite because of their artisan appeal, but Flowers For Dreams donates 25% of their proceeds to a local Chicago charity each month. I encourage you to send a lovely bouquet from their Valentine’s Day collection to someone special – mom, grammy, best friends, or your significant other. Flowers For Dreams cares about the greater good, and their customer service is a ten. A special thank you to Flowers For Dreams for making me feel so special!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Let’s be twins and wear a bright color, despite it being a cold winter! A few of my favorite Valentine’s Day outfits are linked below.

The Outfit

The LBD with a black heel.

To feel fancy in red with a strappy black heel.

Comfy Cute in a grey or sand heel.

 

XO and Happy Valentine’s Day.

Lex

 

 

 

 

Pink for Valentine’s Day

 

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While you might be busy stressing out about what to get your significant other for Valentine’s Day (what do you get the person who has everything?!) your outfit should be a source of joy. Whether it’s Galentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day, everyone loves an excuse to throw on a pretty pink dress and throw back a few glasses of champagne. While my personal style does not usually involve a ton of bright colors, I love dressing girly frocks down with a leather jacket for some juxtaposition.

For the past few years, DJ and I have gone to Pastoral in Lakeview and had a phenomenal time- it is the cutest little spot with a phenomenal staff. They host a Valentine’s Day dinner that is coursed out with a wine pairing. Sadly I cannot eat dairy, gluten, soy or corn due to some health issues so we are switching it up this year and going to Cold Storage in the West Loop for the phenomenal shellfish tower.

I picked this pink, satin dress up in the Fall while traveling but it has been too cold to pull it out of my closet. I threw it on a few weeks back when the weather was above freezing and immediately fell in love with it- it is easy to wear with heels or sandals and pairs well with a leather or denim jacket. I can already tell that this will be on repeat through the Spring.

 

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Sunglasses: ASOS. Dress: H&M- not available in the US but love these options: H&M, H&M, Kate Spade, Nasty Gal. Leather Jacket: All Saints. Silk Scarf: Alexander McQueen. Fuzzy Heels: Steve Madden. Watch: Rolex.

 

Hope your V-Day is just a lovely as you are!

 

❤ Alex

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An Evening For The Books: Snowball 2017

Snowball 2017A special thank you to the Junior Council for inviting me to Snowball 2017!

 

As Al said in an earlier post, January and February are busy months with galas, fundraisers and more. I was able to attend Snowball 2017 this year and now I understand why it is the talk of the town.

Snowball is a black tie event, featuring 30 of Chicago’s hottest restaurants, a silent auction, and live entertainment hosted by the Junior Council of The Ann & Robert. H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

To date, The Junior Council has raised over $1,500,000 and hopes to donate over $200K this year to the Pediatric and Adolescent HIV & AIDS Programs at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The fact that so many people could come together for such a great cause makes me so thankful, and I am so glad I got to be a part of it!Snowball 2017 Snowball 2017Snowball 2017 Snowball 2017Snowball 2017SnowballSnowball 2017

Dress: Nordstrom // Shoes: DSW (Love these too!)

Looking forward to more events in the coming weeks! Snowball was one for the books.

XO.

Lex

How To Pitch Brands and Influence Media: The Basics

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Last week I talked about the FTC Blogger Guidelines and how Edelman is changing the data analytics game for bloggers- both important subjects to have a basic understanding of in the day and age of the career blogger.

When I first started blogging my Freshman year of college, I had no idea that in a few short years there would be a “business” side to something that I found pure enjoyment in. As I progressed in my blog and ultimately started working with brands, I had to learn the basics, like how to create a simple media kit and how to send a pitch to publicists and journalists. Being a PR professional, it is slightly comical to look back at something that caused me so much anxiety!

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the textbook definition of PR is: professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person. The state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person. While this is true, a PR person is as follows: the gatekeeper between you and the brand. To work with a brand, there are numerous people that have to approve: the marketing director, the PR director, the social media strategist…and on and on.

With blogger + brand partnerships being extremely prevalent, something I often get asked is “what does a proper pitch look like?” While that is a tricky question to answer because every PR professional has their own style of pitching, there are some basics that will help you get across the finish line in a brands’ inbox and hopefully a response!

Pitching brands versus media is very different. A brand pitch is tailored to one specific product and has a call to action. For example: “Would you like to partner…”, “Will you send me XYZ product….”. The question to ask yourself is, what do I have to offer this brand that the ten million other bloggers do not? Make sure you are asking for the right things. While these pitches will help you be professional, also know what level of goods to ask for. If you are a new blogger, request samples to review and start building a relationship with a brand you love.

Remember that when you are pitching media outlets, you are pitching to a writer/journalist. When you are pitching to a brand, you are pitching to a publicist. The job of a publicist is to protect their brands image and think about the business side of how actions will benefit the brand. Also, keep in mind timeliness: if you are pitching a holiday style segment positioning yourself as a fashion expert, give at least a month leeway for scheduling.

One thing that will help to set you apart is using PR to your advantage and aligning yourself with a brands current initiatives. If you directly link your blog or Instagram page and a brand immediately sees their product pop up, that helps set you apart. Below are an example of a brand pitch vs. a media pitch:

 

 

Example Brand  pitch:

Hi Kaylee,

I hope you are having a lovely week! I just wanted to shoot you a note getting Chicago based blog XYZ on your radar for the upcoming Spring months! We explore career, food and fashion combined with unique elements.

(Introduce yourself and tell the publicist exactly what you do!)

Utilizing our background in public relations and digital strategy, we have tapped into a demographic of 21-27 year old women that value experiences over physical items.

(What sets us apart.)

With “spring break” season quickly approaching in Chicago, I just wanted to reach out and see if you would be interest in a collaboration post with us across XYZ and  showcasing XYZ HOTEL as the ultimate alternate hotel from getting away from the craziness of the strip but still having all the amenities you could ever want at your fingertips.

(What are you asking for? What are you going to do in exchange for XYZ?)

I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have and am happy to shoot over my media kit.  Do you have any time for a call next week?

(Try to get on a call- it is MUCH harder to say no to someone on the phone than email. Offer to send media-kit if you have one!)
Alex
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Example Press Pitch :

 

Hi Stanton!

Hope you are having a lovely week! I just wanted to shoot you a note getting XYZ BLOG on your radar for XYZ PUBLICATION. Utilizing our backgrounds in public relations and digital strategy, we decided to launch XYZ BLOG as a culmination of our passions. Do you have any “Real Women, Real Style” segments coming up?

(In this case, we are asking to be featured for a specific segment “real women, real style.” This lets the journalist/producer (if a tv show) know that you did your homework and actually know what they cover.)

XYZ BLOG is based out of Chicago and will be on the ground at Lollapalooza for activations. I just wanted to reach out and see if you would be interested in any kind of festival fashion piece or behind the scenes Snapchat takeover for XYZ or a “10 Craziest Things We Saw At Lollapalloza” segment for the WXYZ Morning Show?

(What can you offer that is different: come up with a catchy headline and offer it up. Also, mention specifics of what you can talk about.

 

Things to ask yourself when writing a pitch:

  • Who gives a crap? Why should someone care about what you are writing?
  • What makes your story outshine the others?
  • Where does your story fit into the writers world? How can they use you to make news?
  • When is this most important? (EX: if it is a pitch about Lollapalooza, make sure you send it out 4 weeks prior.)
  • Timeliness to a pitch presents a sense of urgency to the Journalist/Publicist.
  • Why would people want to read your story?
  • How can this story help readers?

 

 

General Tips on PR:

 

  • Have an idea for a specific niche collaboration? Offer it up!
  • If you aren’t comfortable with your stats yet, don’t offer them up right away! Focus on the gorgeous photos you take of your reader demographic.
  • Make sure your public image is clean, brands do not want to be associated with people with dirt in their closet (or on their timeline.)
  • If you can’t find the direct PR contact for a company, try multiple versions in the BCC. Ex: info@morescopr.com, alex@morescopr.com, am@morescopr.com. One of them is bound to work!
  • Know when to follow up: follow up a few days prior to your first email.
  • The best time to pitch is first thing in the morning when a journalist/publicist gets to their desk (9am) or midday when they are not buried in emails.
  • Have a catchy subject line that fits the length of the line.

 

I know this is a lot of information to take in, but it is worthwhile to know in the long run. Next week I plan on covering the basics of a brand phone call, a sample call agenda and what questions you should be asking. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!

If you are looking for more information about the business side of blogging, please check out: FTC Blogger Guidelines + how Edelman is changing the data analytics game.

 

❤ Alexandra Moresco

Alexandra Moresco is the owner and founder of A Moresco PR + Digital Strategy.