PR Industry Trends

From Shamrock Shakes to Peeps – a look at the most successful cult holiday products

Alongside the green-tinted beers and Irish soda bread that’ll be consumed today by Irish and not-so Irish Americans, you can expect to see a familiar minty-green face: the Shamrock Shake. A seasonal calorie bomb from McDonald’s, the Shamrock Shake is wildly popular and quite elusive, as no McDonald’s is required to carry it. The shake has garnered a cult-like following; more than 60 million have been sold since 1970, according to Fox News.

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After learning about the Shamrock Shake’s success, I wondered: what were some other successful products that make our holidays a little brighter (or more commercialized, whichever you prefer)?

Starbucks Red Cup

Aside from controversy in recent years, Starbucks’ red cups are the darlings of Instagram when they’re rolled out every year during the beginning of November. Conceived in 1997, the cheery coffee cups mark the official start of the holiday season for many, and their ever-growing popularity has an incredibly positive financial impact. In Q1 of 2016, Starbucks posted a sales increase of 9 percent. Now why correlation doesn’t necessarily equate to causation here, the impact of red cups can be easily measured other ways: just head to

Crisis Management

Is It Too Late Now to Say Sorry? Communicating Medical Errors

Medical Error

It’s no surprise that lawyers and communications professionals don’t always see eye to eye.  This can be especially true when it comes to medical errors, the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medical errors claim an estimated 251,000 lives each year, but they affect even more, with temporary or permanent injuries. Some people never even realize that they’ve been the victim of a medical error.

The purpose of this post isn’t to try to vilify providers. The fact is – even the best doctors are capable of medical mistakes. To err is human. But, in many instances, providers are encouraged to say as little as possible following a medical error, adding insult to injury for victims. After all, saying “I’m sorry” means the victim has a slam dunk in the court room.  Right?  Right???  Not always.

Traditionally, the only way for patients to find out what went wrong has been to sue. A study from the July 2004 issue of Health Affairs found that patients’ primary motivators to sue included:

  • Perception that the physician was not honest about the incident
  • Perception that no one explained what happened
  • Advice from someone—often another health professional—to sue


Product Marketing

Angostura Bitters from the Sun-Soaked Islands of Trinidad and Tobago

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I just came back from a pre-carnival trip to Trinidad & Tobago (T&T). Loved it. It has been exactly twelve years since we last visited. The twin islands are a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures known for their incredible Carnival fetes, beautiful people, incredibly tasty and diverse cuisine, and also being the birthplace of steel pan, limbo and many musical styles from calypso to soca. Trinidad and Tobago is ground zero to the most revered bitters in the world, Angostura.

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My first encounter with Angostura was in my in-laws’ kitchen before they became my in-laws (over 20 years ago). I remember staring at the funny looking bottle with the over-sized, newspaper looking label and wondering what it was. My in-laws are both great cooks, and devoted users of Angostura as a “secret” ingredient in stews, curries, seasonings, cakes, cookies, morning coffee and even as an aid to relieve and upset stomach by adding a few drops to water. You can find other creative ways to use bitters here.  The story behind the…

Consumer Marketing

“Fearless Girl,” Trailblazers and Gender Equity

She’s a young girl with an incredible look of resolve facing the iconic Charging Bull sculpture in Manhattan’s Financial District. “Fearless Girl” was installed on International Women’s Day by State Street Global Advisors as part of the asset managers campaign to increase the number of women on their clients’ corporate boards. The statue touched a nerve and has quickly become a symbol for gender equality. Our office at 4 World Trade is just a short walk to the installation. When I stood there last week, I was reminded once again just how long this battle has been raging. Once a year, as part of National Women’s History Month, we reflect on women’s contributions and how much still needs to be done for women to achieve equality.

Fearless GirlBoston Globe

National Women’s History Month traces its roots back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March.

Wine, Food & Nutrition

A Cry for “Yelp”: The Fading Luster of Today’s Food Critic


The Esteemed Food Critic?

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”

Those are the final words from food critic Anton Ego in the animated film Ratatouille. Pixar’s 2007 smash hit film chronicles the efforts of an inexperienced chef who teams up with a highly skilled rat (yes, rat), as the two set out to impress famed and feared restaurant critic Ego—France’s top restaurant reviewer whose columns can determine a restaurant’s future success or failure. The character Pixar created is a stereotypical portrait of what one would imagine a food critic to be like—elitist, intimidating, hard…