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Brittany Falconer beyond 140


Richies Pizza: A Mini Brand Loyalty Case Study

Let me tell you a little story about seizing a sub-ideal moment in customer service and turning that into an opportunity.

I originally found Richies, a pizza (and stuff) place in Washington Square when I was moving to my current apartment. At the time, I was actually hoping to get my first taste of Publick House, but for whatever reason that magical place doesn't believe in opening its doors during daylight hours.  Oh well.  Anyhoo, desperate for sustenance (moving oodles of possessions up four flights of stairs does that to people), we meandered into Richies.  The food did the job, and the staff was more than welcoming. When a Richies Groupon made its way into Gmail, I was happy to buy two, particularly as I had recently gone cold turkey in my battle with my Dominos addiction.

Fast-forward four months and one of my two Groupons later. Once again, I had no food in my fridge, and needed some dinner on a late Friday night.  Unable to get through on the phone, I figured I'd place an order online. Unfortunately, it didn't look like I'd be able to use the Groupon online (weird, given it's an online coupon, but whatever), so I resigned myself for paying full price for my pizza.  After entering my credit card information, a confirmation screen told me I'd get my order in 60-70 minutes. A bit excruciating, but I knew I'd manage.

Fast-forward two hours - and no pizza - later. Cranky and hungry, I went to bed, figuring that the website flubbed and my card wasn't actually charged.  It was.  A bit crankier, I called Richies tonight to see about remedying the situation. And remedied it was!

I quickly (and politely - always try to be polite!) explained my dilemma. Moments later, not only did Richies promise to refund my card, but when I asked if I could just get my pizza a few days late, i.e., today, they told me "Sure, definitely." Oh, and it would still be free.

How great is that? No back-talk, an explanation* accompanied by genuine humility, and a speedy recovery.  Had this exchange gone less pleasantly, I probably would have contacted Groupon and asked for a refund on my second (unused) coupon. Instead, I've been reminded of the great customer service at Richies, and even after I've used my final Groupon, I'll definitely be calling them back.

*As it turned out, Richies closed early that night, but the website was still operating up until the usual closing time. The restaurant is working on syncing that all up.

1632 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 739-1114


Totally Unrelated Shameless Plug
This Thursday, I'll be interviewing the one and only @BostonTweet for RaceTalk, my agency's blog. I've got a few questions for him, and I'm sure you do, too.  So between now and then, tweet your questions for him using the hashtag #askbostontweet. Thanks!


Now’s Your Chance to #AskBostonTweet

I recently started writing for my agency's blog, RaceTalk. Following my first post not too long ago, I eagerly sent my mother a link to show her that yes, my college degree wasn't going to waste. She Emailed me a short while later to say that she learned a lot from my post, and oh, by the way, she found a typo.

Thanks, Mom!

I haven't been discouraged from contributing to RaceTalk, though. Rather, I figured I'd just work around my flawed typographical skills, and switch to a new media platform: video. Onto the meat of this post.

Many of you who read my blog are active on Twitter, or are at least familiar with it. Either way, there's a good chance you've heard of Tom O'Keefe, or more likely his Twitter persona, @BostonTweet.

BostonTweet was created [...] as a way to create awareness for local business in a down economy.Got questions for @BostonTweet? Tweet 'em to #AskBostonTweet! Tom developed BostonTweet in November 2008 when the financial markets were at a precipitous decline and his two former startups had become worthless after the crash. Fearing that Boston would become a 1929 ghost town, O'Keefe created BostonTweet to make sure everyone knew that our favorite restaurants and bars were still open and needed our business for survival. Needing a very economical platform to promote local business, Twitter was hands down the best application to talk about everything Boston.
-- Gotta love "About" pages, right?

Anyhoo, over the last couple of years, @BostonTweet has developed into somewhat of a hyper-local Twitterlebrity, with almost 30,000 folks following him on Twitter for updates on Boston goings-on, including special events, Boston city-living, food and drink deals, burritos, and his whereabouts. While we have oodles of social media gurus telling us how businesses can benefit from social media, we've got a guy in Boston who is demonstrating it before our very eyes.

Now, if you're at all like me, you may have a couple of questions for this guy: how was the idea of @BostonTweet conceived (why not Facebook, or a blog or forum), and what made it take off the way it did? Can a man truly live on burritos and beer alone? What's next for social media-fueled citizen journalism? And seriously, what's with the burritos?

I have wonderful news for you: the man, myth and legend behind BostonTweet has agreed to a video interview (see, there was a point to the beginning of this post) on Thursday evening, April 7. Between now and then, tweet your questions for BostonTweet using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet. We'll pick out a few gems to answer on Thursday evening, then post his answers to your questions - and a couple of mine - on Friday, April 8. Start tweeting!


Facebook: Social Wal-Mart?

Last week I had the privilege of writing up my first post for my agency's blog, RaceTalk, entitled "Facebook: Social Copycat Extraordinaire?"  In it, I discussed how Facebook has gone ahead and tried to not only emulate, but own the best of every facet of the internet out there: video-sharing (YouTube), a free marketplace (Craigslist), a real-time news feed with the ability to tag friends (Twitter), check-ins (Foursquare), and most recently - at the time - deals (Groupon).

Are we counting down until we get Facebook credit gift cards like these in our birthday cards from Mom?For now, at least, the latest addition to the Facebook family is Facebook Payments.  As the company stated, "As is common in many company structures, we have established a subsidiary called Facebook Payments Inc. that helps handle payments to developers related to our Facebook Credits program."  Even the title of the source article, "Watch Out PayPal, Facebook Is Getting Serious About Payments," plays into my little conspiracy theory quite nicely.

Think about it: who else do you know tries to offer everything, and as a result, is somewhat frighteningly overwhelming?  That's right: Wal-Mart!  What are your thoughts on the constantly growing Facebokolis?  Can it support its expanding palate of offerings indefinitely, and if so, can it beat all its original sources of inspiration?


No, I Can’t Get a Perfect Tan

For those of you know know me, I don't have to explain how white I am.  For those of you who don't . . .

I'm really white.  My 25% Italian heritage must be recessive, because you really wouldn't believe me by looking at me - and it's Sicilian, by the way.

Anyhoo, back in the day, I fancied myself a competitive ballroom dancer.  In consideration of the judges (and everyone else who may be in attendance at competitions), it's common practise for the particularly pasty to tan prior to competition.  Seeing as I didn't want to die wrinkly and early before my fiftieth birthday, I looked to fake-tanning methods.  I also looked for deals, because that stuff ain't cheap.

Cut to December 2009.  I had stopped dancing competitively, but was still telling myself I'd get back into it (who am I kidding . . . I still tell myself I'll get back into it).  Groupon had a deal for a custom airbrush at Perfect Tan.  I had actually known someone who had gotten an airbrush from there and it had looked fantastic, so I threw caution to the wind and bought the coupon.

Fast-forward to December 2010.  My Groupon was only redeemable for another few days and - surprise, surprise - I hadn't gotten back into competitive dancing.  Too stubborn to let the money go to waste, I figured I would go to Perfect Tan and get the lightest setting possible.  That way I'd just look sun-kissed.

Never having been to this salon or having had a custom airbrush before (my previous Oompa Loompa phases have been a direct result of lotions and sprays), I was admittedly a little nervous, but I was in luck.  The entire salon was very well-kept, and the woman behind the desk (who also administered my airbrush), Macall, was very sweet.  She somehow managed to take the awkwardness out of the procedure (in case you're wondering, getting a custom airbrush tan is one of your more vulnerable moments).

Too bad I'm a few ounces of pigment shy of being albino and will just never look good with a fake tan.  Once again, I ended up looking pretty unnatural, but I think it's just because I don't have the right skin type.  If you are not one sporting that alabaster glow, then definitely go check out Perfect Tan.  However, if you're like me (or just a redhead), stop trying to kid yourself.  We're never going to look good with that idolized beach glow.

Tonight's Tunes
Teenage Dream, Katy Perry


Name Change: “Musings” Is Now “bmfalc: Beyond 140″

Hey kids,

Starting the incredibly gradual transition to  Part of that transition includes a change in name for the blog, which used to be known as "And Here We Have My Musings" (or perhaps in your minds, "Brittany's Blog").  Say hello to "bmfalc: Beyond 140."  The hope is to focus a bit more on social media, PR and other profession-related material - flavoured with all that other stuff I yammer on about.

Other things to look out for include new categories and eventually a new layout.  I'll keep you all posted.

Cheers! Brittany

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In Other News . . .

Life at Racepoint is going well.  So well, in fact, that I'm going to use it as an excuse for not blogging in over three weeks. Are you buying it?

. . . Eh, I tried. More updates on The Life of Brittany soon!

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The Easiest Job Interview

Okay, that may be a poor choice of words: no interview (for a job you really want, at least) is easy, I think.  But there may be a way to make it significantly less painful, and it's advice I've actually been hearing since Kindergarten: be yourself.

I know, cheesiest, most cliché piece of advice, ever, right?  But - wait!  No!  Don't you dare navigate away to Facebook before finishing my post!  It's relevant!  I promise!  Anyhoo, advice like that wouldn't be cliché if it didn't work, right?  For my evidence, I would like to present to you a brief case study: me.Brittany M Falconer PR social media Boston

A little over a week ago, I went in for an interview with Racepoint Group, a "global public relations agency defining the new model of communications through our unrivalled understanding of the evolution of traditional and social media" (shamelessly ripped from their About Us page).  To be accurate, though, the story doesn't really begin there.  Let's rewind a few months.  Six, to be more specific.

While I was away on my European vacation, I received a Twitter DM on my phone.  It was from someone with RPG (I won't out you on my blog unless you want me to, but you know who you are, and I am so very thankful and insist that you let me buy you an adult beverage.):

Hi Brittany -- hope all is well! I checked out your blog & thought it was great. R u still looking for something in PR?

If you think the job market is bad now, I'm pretty sure it was even worse, then.  Outrageous overseas internet fees be damned!  I sprinted to the ship's library to respond immediately.  It was something to the tune of "Name your god and I will bow to him/ her if you can get me in to Racepoint," only a little less desperate and crazed.  One vacation, many E-mails and a networking event later (read: three months), I finally had an interview scheduled with HR.  While they didn't have any Account Coordinator (AC) positions open at the time, it was probably for the best.

As it turned out, my RPG appointment was less than a week after my Porter Novelli internship interview took place.  You may or may not recall that I got that internship, and looking back, I am so glad that I did.  Granted, I was glad then, but not as glad as I thought I would have been about a full-time job.  However, I've realised now that my experiences with PN could only have helped me get to where I am now.  Speaking of which . . .

After two wonderful months with PN, I learned that while everybody was happy with Brittany, there was no opportunity for Brittany to join the team full-time.  As devastated as I was, I knew I had to bust my derrieré if I didn't want to go back to Starbucks at the end of September.  It was time to put the job search into overdrive.  I DMed, Facebook messaged, called and smoke signaled everyone I could imagine who might be able to put me in touch with someone of a hiring authority.  Eventually, through a series of grapevines, I found out that Racepoint was looking for an AC.  And now we're back to last week.

Racepoint Group logo pr social mediaThis was my second interview at RPG (and my 8,000th interview overall), but something was very, very different this time: I wasn't stressed.  That's not to say I wasn't nervous - I was probably about five seconds from passing out throughout the entire process - but my brain space wasn't preoccupied with trying to remember every piece of agency trivia that my interviewers might hurl at me.  Instead, I remembered something my mentor had advised me to do before every interview, but I had never seriously considered: "Just be yourself.  Let your personality show."  Each time he said it, I thought, "Thanks, not like I could have found that at Hallmark or anything," but the guy had a solid point.

I've had enough experience with agencies to know what's expected of me as an AC and that I can deliver on those expectations.  HR wouldn't have invited me in more than once if I was a total ignoramus during my last visit.  What was more important was probably if I gelled with the rest of the office (or at least the other two people interviewing me).  Commence Operation Yes I'm Awesome And I'm Not Afraid To Show It.

What followed was one of only a few interviews that I've actually enjoyed (yep, I'm going to link to yet another old blog post).  I met with a director and VP, both of whom I focused on getting to know, versus asking the "right" questions and discussing "relevant" news.  I figured if I had to try so hard to get those other things right, maybe I wasn't in the right agency in the first place.  That said, whenever posed with a question, I like to think I did an okay job of responding coherently and perhaps even intelligently, but my mentor had it right: anyone can have the skill-set for a job, but if somebody meets with an account team and nothing clicks, then perhaps that person, in spite of all qualifying experience, isn't the right fit.  Skills can be taught.  Personality is an entity unto itself, and is much more difficult to tweak.

Eight days ago, HR called to share RPG's verdict: yes, please join us.  My response?  A series of "Omigod!"s and generic, ecstatic blather, being the composed professional I am.  I think she got the idea, though.  My start date is fast approaching, and I'm still on cloud nine. To think that all I had to do was listen to my Kindergarten teacher!  And more recently, my mentor (okay, and maybe have a pretty substantial résumé).

Today's Tunes
"Let Her Cry," Hootie & The Blowfish
"One Week," Barenaked Ladies
"Foreplay / Long Time," Boston
"Hold My Hand," Hootie & The Blowfish


Re: Moving

Oh!  And I'm moved in.  By that I mean, "All of my crap is in one apartment."  Tomorrow I get some new furniture delivered (yippee!!), and then perhaps the most agonizing process of all begins: unpacking.  Wish me luck.

On the bright side, the new place is lovely, as seem the roommates.  The four flights of stairs, however, leave much to be desired.

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A Year (And Change) Older

My birthday was earlier this week, and I am pleased to announce that no one sang that horrendous song to me in public (that's not to say people didn't try, though).  That said, it was a wonderful few days of celebration - except the part where the Red Sox got their rear ends handed to them.  By Toronto.  Really, guys?

A lady never discloses her age, but I will say I've re-entered the realm of prime numbers as a twenty-something.  That said, when several of my elder friends have celebrated this same year, I heard one particular complaint many a time: "Oh my God: I'm so old!"

. . . Seriously?  In your twenties, you're complaining about being old?  In an age when when we're finishing school, getting married, settling down and starting families later and later in lives, we feel old in our twenties?  When we typically have a solid 60 years remaining?  Where was I for this?

After hearing this for the third or fourth time, I swore to myself that when my same birthday rolled around, I would not consider myself old, and suffice to say, I succeeded.  As a college graduate still running the internship gamut, still moving at least once a year and still unsure of where or what I'll be in the next five years, the absolute last word I would use to describe myself would be "old."  Village elders, you'll have to excuse me: this whipper-snapper still has some self-discovery to accomplish.

Tonight's Tunes
"Mr. Jones," Counting Crows
"Black Balloon," Goo Goo Dolls
"Push (Acoustic)," Matchbox 20


And So Ends a Chapter (I Hope)

1. Good Lord, I haven't posted in ages.  Why, I even managed to miss my blog's 2nd birthday!  I'm such a terribly inattentive blogger.  I promise I'll try to be better.

2. Because I know you all give two hoots about everything going on in my life, I may as well quell the rumours now . . .

I have in fact quit Starbucks.

It was three years, one month and two weeks of my life that I spent learning how to make triple-venti bone-dry 200-degree cappuchinos with two-and-a-half Equals and how to deal with their respective customers, and most of me is glad to be tentatively finished - we're still waiting on a job offer that severs my ties with the mighty Siren forever - but there is a small remainder that will miss that green apron.  Starbucks was the longest job I've ever held, the rest being temporary jobs and internships, and a good portion of memories and accompanying friends can be attributed to my experiences there.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and regulars - past and present - who made most days at the 'Bucks pleasantly bearable most days.  I wish you all the best in your caffeinated futures, and that if our paths should cross in the future, I still won't be wearing that green apron.

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