Perspective from Double Forte Public Relations and Marketing


March 2014

Picnics for Every Park

After a long cold winter, spring is finally here and outdoor activities are on the top of our weekend to-do-list. At The Barn Group, we suggest taking advantage of a sunny day with a picnic. Below we highlighted some of our favorite East and West Coast picnic locations and offered food and wine pairings to match the local scene. (We suggest double-checking the liquor laws before heading out and be sure to pack some plastic cups in your basket.)
Dolores Park: San Francisco

Photo credit: theFabWeb

This Mission District hot-spot attracts hundreds of San Franciscans, especially on a warm day. To match the relaxed hipster vibe of Dolores Park, we suggest packing some hummus and falafel along with a crisp bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Try this quick and easy hummus recipe from Food & Wine .

Golden Gate Park: San Francisco

Photo credit: M. Louisa Locke

Nothing says springtime quite like firing up the grill. In addition to the endless greenery, Golden Gate Park has rows of public grills ready to kick-start the outdoor cooking season. Bring your grilling tools, some marinated chicken skewers and hit the park. A nice bottle of Zinfandel will pair perfectly with those fresh from the grill flavors. Here’s a great marinade for kabobs from

Central Park: New York

Photo credit: LoveTaza

This urban oasis with majestic views of Manhattan has plenty of green space in which to kick back and enjoy spring. In the style-conscious city of NYC, pull together a chic Parisian-themed picnic. All you need is a chilled bottle of Champagne paired with a large baguette, sliced ham, mini Brie wheels and a jar of Dijon mustard. To complete your French afternoon make a quick stop a Ladurée for macaroons.
Brooklyn Bridge Park: New York

Photo Credit: The Real Deal

With fantastic views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan, this park has a cool, relaxed vibe. Grab friends, a bottle of wine, and a spot on the grass. For a no-fuss picnic, snack on some New York-style pizza and a bottle of light-bodied Pinot Noir for an easy pairing. For a homemade pizza, try this leek and pecorino pizza recipe from Food & Wine.

Public Garden: Boston

Photo credit: imaginativeamerica

When East Coast weather warms up, take your tea party outdoors and head to the beautiful Public Garden. We suggest replacing the tea with a rich Chardonnay and enjoying it with traditional cucumber-rye tea sandwiches. For something sweet, grab fresh scones from O’Brien’s Bakery at Quincy Market. Try this simple tea sandwich recipe from Food & Wine.

Now go out and enjoy the spring! Life should always be a picnic.
Cheers from The Barn Group!


Fridays With: Robb Riedel, managing editor of Family Circle magazine

What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

I’m the managing editor of Family Circle magazine. I joke that I herd cats, because keeping creative people on deadline can be challenging. I have an overall view of the magazine but am ultimately responsible for a lot of the minutiae: scheduling, copy editing, fact checking, budgeting and dealing with morale. I also work extensively with my advertising counterpart to set the final layout of each issue. Our circulation is pretty huge—more than four million a month—so I have some sleepless nights worrying about errors. Thankfully, those are few and far between.

Describe the path that led you to this career.

My parents are big magazine subscribers; we always had ten to 15 splayed across the coffee table. As a kid, I was obsessed with becoming a game show host, but was drawn to print after editing for my college paper (The Daily Orange at Syracuse University). I moved to New York and spent a few years as a copy editor in medical publishing, then made the leap to consumer magazines as a production director. I’ve worked for mostly food and women’s magazines, but even did a stint at GQ. I came to Family Circle six years ago and immediately clicked here. Even though I have no kids of my own, I love our editorial—smart advice for parents of tweens and teens and excellent recipes for busy families. And I appreciate we’re not celebrity focused.

What are the elements of a successful workplace?

If you expect people to be creative, encouraging a healthy work/life balance is essential, and it shows employees that they are respected.

What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?

I never leave the house without my iPod: a 160 GB iPod Classic, which is nearly full.

What are you reading?

I edit pages for work, so at home I read less than I should. That said, I’m halfway through Marisha Pessl’s Night Film and love the pace. I’ve also just started Peyton Place. An odd choice, but it’s an American classic and set in New Hampshire, where I grew up. I borrowed it from my mother’s bookshelf when I was home for Christmas.

If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?

Take more chances and be more outgoing, both professionally and personally.

If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Apart from being a famous pop star, I’d like to be truly multilingual. I was pretty fluent in Spanish (thanks to a double major and a year abroad in college), and last year I started taking Russian classes for fun. The Cyrillic alphabet is simple to learn, but the language structure is maddening.

At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?

Rock and Roll, heavy on the pop: big choruses, wall of sound guitars and lots of tambourines—pretty much what’s on my iPod.

What’s in your Netflix queue?

It’s filled with suspense thrillers (I love a good ghost story like The Others or Insidious) and documentaries (I most recently watched Blackfish and Poisoned by Polonium, about the assassination of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko).

Use Your Power for Good: A Tale Of Two Woes – Gone Right, Eventually

Two weeks ago, I tried to change a hotel reservation but was told I could not shift my stay forward one night without paying for the original two nights and then paying for the new two nights. Apparently, I had missed the fine print when I clicked on a special frequent flier program offer. I called the airline, got caught up in the web of 800 numbers, and begged every customer service rep I could get a hold of to work with me. But, despite my being a legitimate frequent flier, and a really good customer, they wouldn’t budge.

That same week, a woman in Ohio who received a rude response to her LinkedIn request, shared the note on social media. It went viral, embarrassing the woman who wrote it. More on that in a minute.

I was so frustrated that the airline wouldn’t help me, I drafted a scathing blog post naming the company. A small part of me wanted to use the decent social media following I’ve developed to bad-mouth the airline. But I didn’t post it, and never really planned to – I just needed to vent and writing helped me do that. I deleted the post. Then, I had an idea.

I researched the hotel where I was staying, discovered it was part of an independent company, not a big hotel chain, and the CEO was a woman. I found her email address and sent her a note. I told her I knew the mistake was mine, I knew the hotel did not have to help me, but I asked her if she would be willing to help me out anyway – one working mother to another.

She said yes! Now back to that other situation.

After the LinkedIn story blew up on social, the author of the note apologized and the recipient graciously accepted and shared the apology on Twitter, but the damage was already done. While the public venting – warranted or not – may have prompted the apology, might the outcome have been the same had she first opted for a more direct response? We’ll never know.

But we do know that in my situation, after the CEO accommodated a request she didn’t need to, I too have taken to social, but rather than venting about the airline, I’ve shared how wonderful Denihan, the hotel company, is.

The moral of these stories? Use your power for good, not evil. That’s one of the principles we follow at Double Forte. Social media can be a positive force when we want it to be. And we positively want it to be.

And the Winner Is, Second Screen Award: Oscars

If marketers were trying to own the second screen last night the way dress designers and jewelers owned the red carpet, it wasn’t obvious. Sure Pepsi supported its Mini Can ad with a Twitter plan to get people tweeting with the hashtag #minicanquotes. But the majority of those tweets were so lackluster one had to wonder if they were only coming from friends and family of Pepsi’s social media strategist. Plus, Coca Cola can probably claim a comparable share of impressions due to its logo on the side of the pizza boxes Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres ordered mid-show.

In fact it was DeGeneres who dominated the second screen during last night’s Academy Awards. The host took a few selfies during the broadcast with a Samsung Galaxy phone given to her as part of a product placement (but sorry Samsung, most viewers were oblivious to your presence last night). One of those pictures, a group selfie DeGeneres took with Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Lupita Nyong’o and her brother Peter Nyong’o Jr., Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey and Angelina Jolie, dominated Twitter.

When DeGeneres corralled the Oscar stars into her photo, she challenged them to help her break the record for most tweeted photo. And according to Reuters, they did just that. The picture was retweeted, more than 2 million times during the broadcast, surpassing the record held by a photo from President Obama’s re-election celebration. And while not out of the ordinary during a major event, Twitter did suffer a very brief service interruption last night for which DeGeneres proudly took the credit.

So we’re only bestowing one Second Screen Award: Oscars to Ellen DeGeneres, who delivered authentic, engaging, integrated content to both the big screen and the social screen. Because really, that’s what consumers want.

Blog at

Up ↑