Welcome to the Ampersand Blog

The peeps at Kel & Partners have a lot to say. After all we are public relations and social media zealots who thrive on sharing interesting news and great stories with the public. The Ampersand Blog is really the voice of our Peeps – the kick-ass team of people that work at K&P. Whether it’s a story about the way PR works NOW, the social media universe, our families, beloved pets or quirky travel experiences, you’ll find it all right here. You may laugh, you may cry, but the best part is you’ll leave feeling “wicked smaht” as we like to say here in Boston.

Archive for the ‘Apps and Tools’ Category

  • Facebook

    redheadmeag | Thursday, September 1, 2011 24 Comments

    Facebook announcing music streaming through facebook.com at F8

    Madonna said it best – music makes the people come together.

    I’m something of an early adopter of “online music”. Sean Fanning went to my High School (sure, he was a freshman when I graduated and is now a millionaire…sigh…) and my addiction to LimeWire crashed my family’s computer at least a dozen times. I was the type that updated the song on my MySpace profile with great frequency, even. All told, the rise of music streaming marks one of the most significant impacts the internet has had on my life.

    A few years ago, Pandora was my jam. For the uninitiated, Pandora lets you create “stations” based on a specific artist/song. It will then serve up “similar” songs based on that selection. What a fantastic tool for discovering new music! (I owe my awareness of/love for the Black Keys to Pandora). It applied intelligence to these selections by enabling you to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” the songs it played. I managed that ish like Joe Jackson – I was on it, and if any of my stations served up something I didn’t like, those songs were dealt with in the harshest way possible (that’s right, thumbs down to YOU Pussycat Dolls!) The problem is, when I gave a thumbs up to an artist, say, I don’t know, Justin Timberlake, those songs began to permeate my other channels. When you’re in the mood for Slipknot, JT mixing in just does not work.

    Craving more control, I jumped on the GrooveShark bandwagon. Now, let me say this plainly – Grooveshark has changed my life. You have access to the music collections of the estimated 35,000,000 users!! I’ve yet to search for a song/artist and not get something back – even my beloved Josh Homme’s Dessert Sessions are on there, and you should hear the Chieftans/Dropkick/assorted bagpipe/12 versions of “toura loura” mix I made for Saint Patrick’s Day.  You choose your songs, add them to a list, and that list lives forever.  The only problem – no mobile app?! (Give that a big ol’ #WTF. Come on, Grooveshark.) Of course, this left me stranded at a party a few weekends ago that needed DJ RedHeadMeag’s touch.

    Enter Spotify. Like the rest of the Twitterverse, I used Klout to gain access to this much buzzed about service. But I got there and….meh. Where was the selection? That’s a bandwagon with a personal best high bounce rate – 2 tries, and I was out.  Did I walk away too quickly? (comments and thoughts are welcome!)

    Now, I’m reading that Facebook is going to announce at F8 later this month that they’re partnering with Spotify (and others) to stream music through FB.com. Check out the Mashable story: http://mashable.com/2011/08/31/facebook-music-platform/

    Adding reco’s based on what my friends like? Hmmm. I’m friends with a pretty musically diverse group of individuals – I’m not sure that this is really going to do it for me.  Also – I like free.

    Are you excited about this launch? What is your favorite music service?

     

     

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Jenna Finn | Tuesday, August 30, 2011 19 Comments

    And she’s off…

    I am not the kind of person that sits back and waits for opportunities to come to her. I go out and get them… full force. When I started my first job out of college (a mere three months ago), I was ready to kick ass. I had experience from past internships and knowledge from previous classes. I was willing to do whatever I needed to do and I was not about to wait around. Since I’m “proactive by nature”, I’m sharing my list of tools that a proactive PR girl cannot live without:

    The Five Things an Entry Level PR Girl Cannot Live Without

    1.  Cision- The Bible of media contacts. Whenever I need to stalk someone to find their email address or create a list of all the BLANK beat reporters in the BLANK area, Cision is my go-to. It cuts my research time down significantly and has my favorite, handy export feature.
    2. HARO/ProfNet- Who’s writing what. I love looking at all the different stories that people are writing and being able to connect clients with hits. Although some stories are weird (why does someone need figurine dragons for a giveaway?), there are always some great fits, which make our job so much easier.
    3. Twitter- I am MissJRF and I am a Twitter-holic. I monitor Twitter for story ideas, relevant news, and to see what is going on in the world. Twitter lets me know what the people I am interested in are doing. Not only is it a source of entertainment but also, research has shown that Twitter is now becoming a front-runner in the quickest dissemination of news.
    4. Google Alerts- What is being written. Alerts are a great way to see what is being written about a topic that you are interested in. Set up these babies, sit back, and wait for alerts to come in. It is a much easier way to “search” for the news you are looking for.
    5. Wi-Fi- Always connected. In today’s super high-tech, connected world, a place without Wi-Fi is a PR girl’s worst nightmare. Any place where I cannot get online to check my emails or research a story might also be known as hell. And I can’t check Twitter… just kill me now.

    What else do you think is a PR must have?

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Ginny Pitcher | Thursday, July 28, 2011 23 Comments

    Martini or another Facebook friend?

    Tell me to purge my life of sugar, caffeine, um…alcohol, and I’ll start listing reasons why these vices are so very critical to my every day life, and I may even throw in that they are very much part of my every day charm. I mean I know they are bad for me. They don’t care whether I’m up or down, happy or sad, funny or dull, but I’m okay with that. They give me something and for that I am eternally grateful and they willingly have a friend for life.

    The funny thing is that there are very few things that I would tolerate in my life that treat me with such disregard. After all, who needs apathy? And, yet, for years I have carried the burden and weight of a very draining vice that I truly can no longer tolerate – the passive Facebook friend.

    You know whom I’m talking about. We’ve all got them. You get a friend request from an old high school friend. Yeah, maybe you weren’t that close, but she always seemed cool and didn’t she date that really hot football player? Or, maybe it’s an old co-worker whom you always thought was going to go places and now he’s friending you! Or, maybe it’s just a random friending. You know the kind that you would never do: the spouse of a current friend, a friend of a friend, a non-friend of a friend.

    But, for years, I didn’t care. I accepted friend requests like I might accept a Grey Goose very dry martini, straight up with a twist (I’m just saying, in case you were thinking of buying me a drink sometime). Anyway, I accepted these friends and never looked back. Never noticing if they ever shared something with me on my wall, commented on my posts, LOL’d at a picture, whatever.

    And then, a few weeks ago, I thought to myself. Why am I doing this? I get tremendous joy from Facebook. I have reconnected with old friends, sparking new conversations and moments to share. I have been able to lament about my bad days and rejoice in my great days, and have found true friends who care about my state – happy or sad. So, why would I open my world to someone who had absolutely no interest in it…other than stalking?

    For some, I suppose, the number of Facebook friends you have legitimizes your very being. We are often judged by what others perceive as success – the car you drive, the house you own, the job you hold, the number of connections you have. Facebook lets everyone see this, especially that elusive “number of connections” you have. And so I’m sure for some that’s a good thing. But, for me at least, I like to get something in return. If you’re going to see a picture of my latest feast at my favorite summer haunt or read a “he said what?” quote from my sometimes funny and often cringe-worthy 9-year-old son, I’m going to want to hear from you. Facebook is my conversation with my world, a two-way conversation. And, if you’re going to be my friend I would expect the occasional thumbs up, “eww…gross” comment, a shared ridiculous video, or some other touch base. Isn’t that what friends do?

    So, I did the unthinkable. I took my almost 750 friends (I might be embellishing here) and purged them down to 300. And let me tell you…it felt great.  I looked at each person and asked myself: When was the last time he or she reached out? Has he or she ever written on my wall after friending me? Honestly, if you really cared about staying connected to me why not check in now and again? Say hello, comment on a post, “like” my photo.

    For some, it may have been a bit of shock when they couldn’t see my wall or follow my conversations, but my guess is that for most, they didn’t even notice. And, with that, I raise my martini in one hand, Tangy Taffy in another and bid adieu to one vice that I can happily quit.

    How about you? Have you ever thought about purging your friends on Facebook?

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Jayne Seward | Monday, July 25, 2011 62 Comments

    Hi. My name is Jayne, and I’m a Foursquareaholic.

    @jayneseward: I just unlocked the “Ten Hundred” badge on @foursquare!

    As a self-proclaimed “social media addict”, it comes as no surprise that my addiction spans across the entire social media landscape, including foursquare, the location-based social network that is taking the world by storm.

    Being the avid foursquare user and lover that I am, I personally believe that there is nothing like the feeling of excitement and delight that comes with receiving a new badge. Those outside of the social media world may not understand how something so insignificant can make someone like me feel so accomplished; but for those of us who view social media as an essential part of our existence, receiving a new badge on foursquare is a means of proving our worthiness within this social media-driven world.

    Just last month, foursquare announced a major milestone for the location-based social network: a whopping 10 million users! And just a week after this newsbreak, my Twitter feed announced an even bigger milestone: @jayneseward just unlocked the “Ten Hundred” badge on @foursquare! Finally, after a year+ of checking in at almost every place I go to, I have officially checked-in to over 1,000 venues. Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it!

    Foursquare has been such a big part of my social media world and everyday life over the last year in so many ways. Without it, I would’ve never been able to bar hop thru NYC without even making a dent in my wallet. I wouldn’t have known where to park for free when I showed up for my interview at the @KelAndPartners office a few months back. I would’ve never been crowned the “official” Mayor of Skellig, Bentley University’s go-to bar on Thursday nights. But most importantly, I would have never been able to show my friends and family just how fun and useful social media can be.

    With 3 million check-ins occurring each day, about 400,000 businesses using foursquare as a marketing tool, and 358 million check-ins now occurring outside the United States, all I have to say is this: If foursquare is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

    For all my fellow social media addicts out there- what’s the most exciting foursquare badge you’ve ever received?

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Deirdre Carey | Tuesday, July 12, 2011 21 Comments

    Facebook – The New Love Connection?

    As a single, 44 year old divorced woman, I’ve been in and out of the dating scene for about 8 years now. And boy, how times have changed. I remember a long time ago when we young gals would meet guys at local bars, work parties, or even weddings (which is where I met my future ex-husband.)

    Then along came Match.com. At first, no one would ever conceive of admitting to going to find a date, heaven-forbid, at an online dating site – that would mean you were desperate, right? WRONG! Well, with Match.com’s almost instant success, opinions quickly changed – and everyone was uploading Match profiles (I hate to say it, but I know of people who weren’t even single who joined to “see what was out there and available!”) On a happy note, I personally have five friends who have met & married someone they met on an online dating site.

    While perusing the Today Show website this morning, I came upon a story that piqued my curiosity - “Hot or Not” Facebook app leads to marriage.

    In a nutshell, three-years ago a Brazilian woman named Gisele (not to be confused with the other famous Gisele from Brazil who I’m convinced stole my soon-to-be 2nd husband Tom Brady) posted a picture of herself not only on her Facebook profile, but also on the Facebook app “Hot or Not.” Gisele, a flight attendant, had broken up with her boyfriend and was trying to get back into the dating scene.

    Low and behold, a gentleman by the name Gavin Jenkins found Gisele “Hot” and months of IMing, emailing and Skyping lead to a first date and ultimately marriage!

    Why did this idea work? According to Gisele, being able to see his pictures on his Facebook page, and learning about his hopes and dreams from his profile information was what sealed the deal for her. Gavin proudly confesses, “I have a lot to thank Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for. He helped me find my soulmate – I definitely owe him a pint.”

    It is an interesting concept, don’t you think? If you’ve ever created a profile page on an online dating site, you’ll know that you’re instructed to fill out pages and pages of information about yourself. And for those who have (me) filled one out, you write and edit, and write and edit in the hopes that you sound interesting, and intelligent, and witty and fun, in the hopes of attracting someone with similar personalities and interests –while weeding out any Ted Bundy’s or sounding too much like The Virgin Mary/Tara Reid!

    But with Facebook, I’m guessing about 80% of the profiles are legit. Your page clearly showcases who you are – through your status updates, images, causes you belong to/support , what you are passionate about, what brings you joy, and your true beliefs.

    I’m thinking we’ll see more Gavin & Gisele stories popping up in the near future, don’t you? And I have to agree that this may be a great way to met someone – because both of you get to see the real deal!

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Kendyll Messina | Tuesday, March 8, 2011 9 Comments

    My Kindle is My New Best Friend

    Don’t get me wrong: I have real friends, but can they offer me over 810,000 instant books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, AND built in Wi-Fi? For the purpose of this post, the answer is simple: no. I received this life-changing piece of technology for Christmas and have not been able to put it down since. I’ll be honest, even as an English Communications major, I have never been easy to please when it comes to reading. So when I first heard about the Kindle I did not think much of it, and was not that impressed. Oh how naive I was…

    I started seeing the sleek design of the Kindle more and more on my daily commute. The Kindle owners were always so enthralled in whatever it was they were reading, and didn’t even seem to notice they were on a crowded, moving train. They were in their Kindle worlds, happy as can be. I wanted to be a part of that world.

    Life just hasn’t been the same since I became the proud owner of an Amazon Kindle 3. Let me explain a few of my favorite features. The device weighs in at only 8.5 ounces, which is considerably less than some paperback novels, making it incredibly easy to travel with. The font is so crisp and clear on the perfectly-sized screen – you’re free to read anywhere (even in bright sunlight, glare is no issue) – and a fully charged battery will last you up to one month- AMAZING.

    The Wi-Fi connection is stellar and the book selection in the Amazon Kindle store is far from limited. You can buy a book almost anywhere, at anytime, and it will download in seconds. You don’t necessarily have to buy books either, as there are thousands of free eBooks that are easy to download.

    Now, I realize some people are not pro-Kindle as they believe their iPad, Nook, or old-fashioned books are better. I am completely up for this debate, but in the end all that matters is that we are having a great read.

    (Especially if you are reading on a Kindle!)

    Read more
  • Facebook

    Jennifer Brogan | Tuesday, August 24, 2010 16 Comments

    Here Comes the Web 2.0 Bride

    Love is in the air this summer at Kel & Partners as several Peeps are celebrating their wedding anniversaries, and other Peeps – including myself – are planning for their big walk down the aisle.

    When you work for Kel Kelly, you eat, sleep, and breathe social media – and wedding planning is no exception. So, I’ve compiled a list of my 5 favorite websites and tools that save time, money, and are, quite simply, inspirational.

    1. The Tiffany & Co Engagement Ring Finder

    Tiffany Ring Finder iPhone App

    Pure genius. Tiffany’s brand new iPhone app includes an accurate Ring Sizer, which lets users determine their special someone’s ring size by placing an actual ring directly onto the screen. You can then browse the collection according to shape, setting, etc., and all of the rings shown are true to size. Seriously – this is the stuff dreams are made of.

    2. Net-A-Porter’s Wedding Boutique

    Net-A-Porter's Wedding Boutique

    Would the Web 2.0 bride participate in the age-old running of the brides tradition at Filene’s Basement? I think not. Us tech-savvy gals don’t do lines – we do e-commerce. Which is why I absolutely love Net-A-Porter’s new Wedding Boutique, complete with stunning dresses from designer favorites like Lanvin. You can watch high-res videos of models walking in the gowns to get a better sense of their movement and fit, then click to share your favorites on Twitter, Facebook – or e-mail them to Mom & the bridesmaids.

    3. Style Me Pretty Blog

    Style Me Pretty Blog

    We still love you, Real Simple Weddings Mag, but Style Me Pretty delivers the wedding goods. Daily. Take one look at this site, and I guarantee you’ll keep goin’ back for more…

    4. Etsy.com

    Etsy.com

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of flea markets and head to Brimfield once a year to scour the stands for cool jewelry and furniture pieces. But, let’s be honest. What are the odds of you finding the perfect vintage necklace for your big day amongst 5 square miles of mostly junk after driving three hours to the middle of nowhere Massachusetts? Wouldn’t it be much easier to just type in the search term “wedding jewelry” on Etsy.com where you can shop homemade and vintage pieces from the comfort of your own home? For brides that are short on time, I’m pretty sure Brimfield is not the answer.

    5. Swaptree.com (Disclaimer: I’m pimping my client here.)

    Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette

    One of the first things I did once engaged was to head straight to the wedding section at Barnes & Noble to grab Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, and a few other essential reads. When the total came to well over a hundred dollars (ouch!), I knew my voracious reading habit would not bode well for my wedding budget. Thankfully, Swaptree.com lets you trade in books that you’ve already got for books that you want, so I could swap in the titles that weren’t so helpful for new sources of inspiration. It’s wedding book bliss, for just a few bucks.

    Read more