Serious matters at the International Journalism Festival

May 08 2015

A big thank you to the Festival for inviting me to be part of their amazing five day event in Perugia, Italy. I talked to a very receptive audience about identifying and building your brand based on your authentic self, whether you are an individual, a company, a magazine or any other enterprise. My message was well-received (even in Italian). Bravo!

Serious (and not so serious) journalists, photojournalists, the worldwide press, editors, coders as well as thousands of attendees from the public had their choice of hundreds of speaker on a wide variety of topics. I went to eye-opening talks on citizen journalism, interactive online magazines, an incredible session on personal privacy with articulate and insightful Edward Snowdon on Skype, a chilling panel on the journalism of terror with the editor of the highly-respected of The Channel Four Newshour in the UK and much more. Plus the food was delicioso, and the town was like a great big party after such serious news discussions. 

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The Changing Retail Landscape

January 22 2015

These days, it’s tough to be a small retailer. As I’ve been out and about in neighborhoods that range from Park Slope, Brooklyn to Soho, NYC, I’m noticing so many empty storefronts where local retailers used to be. At the same time, many off-price, national retailers are successfully setting up shop. Nordstrom Rack, T.J. Maxx and Neiman Marcus Last Call have all opened on the Brooklyn Mall, and they are packed with customers. People are shopping away online, despite the risks of their information being hacked as it was at Target. So consumers are consuming, but infrequently with the independent shops.

It’s a trend, for sure. Small retailers with a strong brand and distinctive wares can still make it, but the economies of scale for larger retailers are hard to beat. There still exists a strong interest in the handmade, artisanal and unique – hence the success of Etsy, and Blake Lively’s new website venture Preserve, which showcases a curated group of USA-based artisans whose offerings span a variety of disciplines. Local food shops prosper as the trend towards food provenance and the public’s interest in protecting the environment continues to expand.

I’m sad to see a kind of depressed quality on what used to be shopping streets like 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. What’s the solution? It lies with price, originality, and vision, as well as paying attention to the holes in the marketplace so that you can provide products that consumers cannot find elsewhere on the local level. And as always with retail, it’s about being personal and forming relationships, one of the cornerstones of brand strategy and brand building.

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