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jots - DRS and Associates PR Firm Blog http://jots.drsandassociates.com DRS and Associates Luxury Brand Marketing blog Tue, 29 Jul 2014 00:50:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Ben’s Take- Six Months Later http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/25/bens-take-six-months-later/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/25/bens-take-six-months-later/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:20:08 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1932

When I walked into my interview with David Schlocker six months ago, I thought that I had it going on. I had woken up around 30 minutes before the interview, got dressed in three minutes, and when my stepmom wished me good luck as I was walking out the door, I said something outrageously idiotic like, “Thanks, but I’m good at these.” 1) You have to be one pompous kid to throw around such an ambiguous phrase as “I’m good at these.” 2) You’re nineteen years old, somewhat smart, and haven’t gotten the job yet. Get off your high horse.

ben-take-6I wasn’t attending a big university where a microcosm of drugs, alcohol, and sex could give me all the reason to rationalize slacking off, so taking on an internship seemed like the best option at the time.

The interview came around and it went well. We chatted for a bit, I asked him a few things, brown-nosed a bit with my knowledge of American literature, worldly facts, andsports fiction – and I was hired just like that.

David told me that I could start the next day. Oh… he also needed some extra hands for the big office move from Sherman Oaks to North Hollywood.

I didn’t know it at the time, but getting this job at DRS would actually be a pivotal point in my growth and development as a young man. At the time, I was pretty stoked. I have no doubt that I bragged about it to as many people as possible, and my self-esteem had just reached a momentary plateau. The hard work had not yet begun, which made it easy to romanticize my short-lived success of getting getting hired at DRS and Associates.

Jump ahead six months. It’s a Tuesday morning in late June. I was at the office doing research for our media database when I got bombarded with text messages from my friends. (Hopefully David didn’t see me on my phone.) They wanted me to go to the beach. I realized it would take a little while for them to get used to the fact that I worked full-time. I told them that I couldn’t go; that I was busy with work. “Oh, I totally forgot,” they said.

Six months ago, the idea of all my high school buddies hanging out without me would have done a number on me. I would have felt that I was missing out on all the fun, all the goofing around, and all the mystical attraction of girls half-naked on the beach. Even though all of that sounds lovely, and I still try to fit as much of that into my free time as possible, I don’t get that empty “Oh my God, how am I missing this?” feeling anymore.

Things have changed a lot since I worked my first hour with the DRS team. The gates of my career path have been surmounted, responsibility is no longer put on the back burner. No other company would have taken the time and effort to teach me everything that I have learned here, as far as tangible skills sets go.

From learning how to write press material, to calling editors and pitching them a product for one of our new clients, I cannot even begin to explain all the applicable skills that I have learned here. Hey, now I actually know how to write articles where the reader knows what I am trying to convey. Oh, and guess what? My newly acquired skills helped me publish a number of articles for a few all-pro NFL athletes. A step closer to my passion.

All those things wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started working for DRS. All those things would not have become a reality without the help of David Schlocker, Jennifer Cash, and the rest of the team over here in North Hollywood.

The other afternoon I popped my head into David’s office to bug him for the fifteenth time that day. He was smiling. He knew I was going to say something out of the ordinary as usual.

I looked at him and got serious for a moment (which is sometimes hard to tell with me), and said, “If I get famous, you are going to be the first one that I thank.”

He looked back at me and quietly said, “Thank you Ben. That means a lot. Though always remember to do something that you love. Find that first, and then you will become famous.”

I say some pretty wacky things sometimes, but I was serious. It means the world to me to have the opportunity to work here at DRS. I can’t give back enough to David, Jennifer, and everyone else here who has taught me priceless lessons about life, work, and growing up.

Just a little note of thanks to all my team members:

Natalie H.,
Thank you for teaching me how to stay focused and to grind at work. How to balance socializing and working. Thank you for being so kind to me.

Jon,
I would be the most irresponsible sneakerhead in the world without you. You’re my mentor when it comes to impulsive online spending.

Jocelyn,
In being my virtual team member, I’m not so sure I could recognize you without a Skype window and monitor around your head. Regardless, you have given me insight into what it means to commit to something and indulge yourself in what you do.

Mariakay,
1) You’re a “Beautiful Mess” (Her favorite Jason Mraz song- inside joke). 2) You are the best dog mom in the planet. 3) You have showed me that I can LAUGH at the office – something that I wouldn’t be able to live without.

Natalie S.,
Thank you for your hard work. One of my football coaches once said, “Character shows up when no one is watching.” You proved that to me.

Joellyn,
Not only do you get to the office early and leave late, but you also have an awesome attitude about it. Your positivity rubs off on me.

Jennifer Cash,
Jennifer, you are the best manager that I could ever hope for, and I mean that. I brag to my buddies about how awesome my supervisor is. I could write a whole blog post on how much you help me on a daily basis. I have learned dedication, detail orientation, and many other things. Seriously, I could go on for days about how much I appreciate what you have done for me. You also crack MK and I up… you’re one of the most unintentionally hilarious people that I know.

David,
You know what you do for me.

Even though all of this might seem like a bunch of emotional exaggeration, it’s not. I just care a lot, and by now I hope you understand what working here for the past six months has meant to me. I came to DRS and Associates on December 19th as an eighteen year old kid who needed a job and was a little too full of himself.

Now, if you decide to take a stroll into our North Hollywood offices, you’ll see a far more mature and adult-like version of the kid who started here back in December.

Thank you.

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DRS and Associates brings customization to Watermark Designs’ ICFF exhibition http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/07/drs-and-associates-brings-customization-to-watermark-designs-icff-exhibition/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/07/drs-and-associates-brings-customization-to-watermark-designs-icff-exhibition/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 18:26:39 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1856 WM-ICFF-Main-Image

Client:
For over three decades, Watermark Designs has been a leading manufacturer of decorative plumbing fixtures, bathroom accessories, lighting and elegant hardware for the luxury commercial and residential markets. Based in the independent design hub of Brooklyn, where their products are made, Watermark’s designs are a reflection of the creative melting pot from which they hail. Combining sustainable product design with an eye towards architectural detail, their distinctive product quality is achieved using hands-on design and development combined with state-of-the-industry equipment.

Taking industrial design one step further, Watermark Designs’ new Elan Vital collection combines the utilitarian aesthetic of Industrial Design with the ability to completely customize faucets. Elan Vital may look as though it was plucked from an 18th century factory, but it has all the modern touches. The galvanized pipe and industrial design made of solid brass construction allows for endless customization. With Elan Vital, the designer or end consumer literally can specify the height of the fixture, length of the spout, or mounting dimensions they want or need – and in which of Watermark Designs’ 40 finishes they want the finished product. If they prefer a different handle, they can choose from one of Watermark’s 130 designs.

Case:
In May 2014, Watermark Designs exhibited at the 27th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. ICFF is North America’s premier venue for global design and luxury, mapping the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next. This important trade show packed 629 exhibitors and 31,421 attendees over the course of four days. Here, Watermark unveiled their new Elan Vital collection to architects, interior designers, developers and consumers.

Watermark-Booth-02

Preshow Setup. Avi and David discuss final “live-art” concepts in preparation for day one of ICFF.

Challenge:
In 2013, DRS and Associates’ founder and president, David Schlocker designed Watermark’s booth for their first ICFF exhibition. The interactive booth allowed visitors to touch and feel the materials up close and select their own faucet and handle combinations using Watermark’s innovative rare earth magnet handles. The booth attracted a large number of visitors who were drawn in by the hands-on interaction. Coming off this success, Watermark Designs’ President Avi Abel asked David, “What can we do to top it?”

“Don’t worry,” said David. “We’ll figure it out.”

Solution:
For 2014, David designed an ICFF booth themed around customization to reflect both Watermark Designs’ “Made in Brooklyn” aesthetic and their new Elan Vital collection. Because Elan Vital is made up of customizable parts and components (pipes and fittings), we created an environment where visitors could literally interact with the materials and build their own faucet creations. This successful trade show venue and campaign were accomplished through four significant initiatives: an inviting and compelling theme, interactivity, product focus, and engagement through social media.

1. Theme
First, David came up with a creative way to reflect Watermark’s edgy and artisinal theme. Inspired by chalkboard art – commonly seen on hip gastropub menus – David applied the concept to a much larger scale. He created a booth with walls made entirely out of black chalkboards to be artistic canvases and compelling storyboards for the space. David also wanted a clever way to incorporate real, full-scale products into the one-dimensional medium. This concept came together with David’s idea to mount Watermark faucets on the walls and to add a real, dimensional component to the display with chalk art incorporating the fixtures in its design. An artist was hired to translate the same look incorporated in Watermark’s catalogs and other branding to a much bigger scale. The artist drew three-dimensional, whimsical designs of basins, pedestals, a stove and even a toilet by hand in chalk and creatively drew out the entire booth, doing all foundation artwork prior to the show.

Watermark-Booth-Group

L to R: Real lockers were purchased to add to the booth, acted as storage, and additional display areas. Custom made stickers were applied to the lockers. Elements that serve as an inspiration for the booth chalk art. Elan Vital widespread lavatory faucet with playfully colored handles.

 

Inside the booth, David installed interesting, real workbenches as workstations for visitors to get creative with Elan Vital’s various components. School lockers were not only used as storage for catalogs and miscellaneous parts but also as part of the design. Paying attention down to the smallest detail, David decorated the lockers with Brooklyn-themed stickers, some customized with Watermark’s logo. Also, a clothesline was installed to hang (to-be-printed live in the booth) photos of visitors who built their own faucets in Watermark’s booth during the show.

Watermark-Booth-08

Total visitor engagement and immersion into the Watermark space. Architects, designers, students and other visitors partake in the “create your own faucet” contest.

2. Interactivity and Engagement
The next step was to figure out how to draw visitors into the booth to experience Elan Vital and demonstrate the collection’s functionality. David’s philosophy and mission for Watermark was to get attendees to do more than just admire a stagnant display. He wanted to create a visual, intellectually creative and tactile experience for guests. Playing into this interactive concept, the booth artist decorated the chalkboard walls like a living canvas, adding imagery over the continuous days of the trade show. The chalk art included not only pictures but words, poetry and expressions about water and Watermark, and even Elan Vital’s Latin roots (“the vital force of life”). The live art was also a way to attract repeat visitors and other conversations about Brooklyn, art, creativity and thinking outside of the box.

We communicated Elan Vital’s “build your own” aspect with workstations that offered visitors the chance to make their own faucets. Watermark produced many parts and fun optional components for the occasion to allow their participants’ creativity to shine. While most faucet collections are displayed in ways that only allow users to turn the handles on and off, Watermark’s display allowed visitors to engage with the products up close and see the details firsthand. “Creating an interactive space where we can allow visitors to participate with the products and engage with clients goes way beyond just showing up and being ‘sold’ to,” said David. “It’s experiential marketing at its finest. That is what trade shows should really be about – and we definitely achieved that once again.”

Each participant got to experience the faucet collection on many levels, from the substantial feel of the weighted brass parts to the quality, machining, details and knurling. This elevated experience enabled visitors to grasp the product information in a way that went beyond the typical display. It was interesting to see architects and designers really get into their creations. “Even when guests said they had no time to assemble a faucet, once they entered the booth and took hold of an Elan fitting or two, the magic happened – and they began to create!” said David. The interactive element also allowed for a genuine and active dialogue between Watermark’s team and their visitors.

 

Watermark-Booth-8

3. Product focused
Because Avi wanted the booth to be singularly product focused (only representing one collection), the visual story and concept had to be on target. This approach was a unique contrast to traditional booths where companies put their entire catalog of fixtures on display. The job for us was to let the visual impact of the space and the one interactive product design draw visitors in, where they could learn more about the diversity, depth and breadth of products Watermark offered. David also wanted Watermark’s booth to contrast the stark, clean and contemporary booths of many faucet companies, which he did not believe fit Watermark’s theme. Watermark’s newest linear drains were also incorporated into the space, with the decorative finished grates serving as flat wall dividers between different sections of the booth. This simplicity allowed Elan Vital to truly stand out – while maximizing booth space.

Watermark-Booth-11b

Clothes lines were installed in the booth to create another dimension of interest and creativity. Each participant in the faucet contest had their photo taken, which were printed and clipped to the clothes line.

4. Social media
We utilized social media to keep fans engaged during the trade show and beyond and to extend the story and reach of Watermark. Visitors who built their own custom faucets had the chance to enter their creations in a daily contest, which played out through Watermark’s social media outlets. The Watermark team working the booth took a picture of each contestant with his or her faucet design and printed it out in real time using Bluetooth and a wireless printer. The pictures were hung on the clothesline (adding even more to the daily “live art” mission) and posted on Watermark’s Facebook page. Watermark distributed a card to each visitor to become a Facebook fan and to go online and tag their photo for an additional chance to win. Once a day, a guest editor was invited to judge and pick his or her favorite design. “The whole concept of having people create their own faucet and then pose with their masterpiece was really fun and brought serious meaning to fan engagement,” said David. “However, we also wanted to share the live experience with our Watermark friends who did not attend the show by adding a new level to the competition and further expanding Watermark’s reach.” Winners received solid brass Watermark bottle openers made from actual Elan levers as well as other fun prizes. In addition to the contest, we posted pictures and activities from the booth on Watermark’s social media channels throughout the trade show.

Results:
With exhibitors ranging from start ups to established brands, Watermark Designs was one of the most popular booths at ICFF. There was constant traffic and attention from media, architects, designers and consumers, as well as attention on an international scale. At most booths, representatives had to initiate conversation with visitors to get them engaged with the product; however, Watermark’s interactive approach drew visitors in and inspired conversations they wouldn’t normally have. This concept also emphasized the importance of experiential selling and marketing. In marketing, the idea is to make emotional connections between the audience and the brand and/or its products through storytelling, interaction and participation. Because the main story was Elan Vital and customization, Watermark ensured visitors became part of the experience rather than simply being told the story.

We are proud to say that the 2014 ICFF Watermark story had a happy ending.

Watermark-Booth-5

David Schlocker, founder and president of DRS and Associates, and Avi Abel, president of Watermark Designs, celebrate a successful event.

 Click below to view slide show

 

 

Watermark Designs exhibits in New York at ICFF 2014 and debuts newest collection named Elan Vital. Their charmingly hip and interactive booth concept is one of the show’s highlights, with constant traffic and visitor engagement. David Schlocker, founder and president of DRS and Associates, and Avi Abel, president of Watermark Designs, celebrate a successful event. Preshow Setup. Avi and David discuss final “live-art” concepts in preparation for day one of ICFF. Chalkboard artist, Mallory, creates the initial background images to incorporate the actual Elan Vital plumbing fixtures. This phase is completed before the show opens. Artist works during the event and continues with the live art through-out each day - providing visual art and creative content. Visitors gather around booth space to view and interact with the exhibit. Elements that serve as an inspiration  for the booth chalk art. An A-frame restaurant menu board is set out in front of the booth to announce the contest and judging schedule. Day one of ICFF showing full booth concept. Elan Vital exposed tub/shower set  mounted on wall above chalk-art bathtub. Whimsical copywriting creates an interesting background - scripted by artist during the show. Real lockers were purchased to add to the booth, acted as storage, and additional display areas. Custom made stickers were applied to the lockers. The Elan Vital bridge lavatory faucet. Elan Vital widespread lavatory faucet with playfully colored handles. Total visitor engagement and immersion into the Watermark space. Architects, designers, students and other visitors partake in the “create your own faucet” contest. Many just wanted to tinker with the parts while they spoke to Avi Abel and other Watermark team members. Watermark-Booth-09 Watermark-Booth-07 Contestant creates her version of Elan Vital and proudly poses for her picture. Watermark-Booth-08 Watermark-Booth-10b Clothes lines were installed in the booth to create another dimension of interest and creativity. Each participant in the faucet contest had their photo taken, which were printed and clipped to the clothes line. One of the guest editor judges studies the entries to select a winner in one of the competition rounds.

 

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DRS and Associates Shines Bright with 6th Edition of “Larger Than Light” http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/01/drs-and-associates-shines-bright-with-6th-edition-of-larger-than-light/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/07/01/drs-and-associates-shines-bright-with-6th-edition-of-larger-than-light/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:04:06 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1840 DRS and Associates is proud to introduce the latest issue of “Larger Than Light” magazine – a print and digital lifestyle publication showcasing Littman Brands. Highlights of the Summer 2014 edition include a sneak peek inside the San Francisco Decorator Showcase and designer Randy McDannell’s potting shed, a look at hospitality projects recently executed by Littman Brands Contract, innovations in decorative LEDs, designer tips, lighting inspiration, and much more. DRS also included Digimarc Discover (the newest marketing app introduced this year in Littman Brands’ marketing campaign) throughout the issue.

A hit at the Dallas International Lighting Market, this issue of “Larger Than Light” is among our best yet. Led by our creative director Natalie Schlocker and the DRS team, we have produced another successful publication. We’d like to give a special thanks to the designers who contributed to this issue and added their expertise and personal style. We are also proud to announce that Larger Than Light’s Facebook page has surpassed 100,000 likes, proving that Larger Than Light is a must-follow lighting and design destination.

Click here to read the Summer 2014 edition of Larger Than Light

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David Schlocker of DRS and Associates Speaks on the Craft of Active Presenting http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/15/1835/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/15/1835/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 19:59:04 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1835 Last week David Schlocker of DRS and Associates was a guest lecturer for Master’s students of The Tseng College, California State University, Northridge where he presented an drs-inset-2informative and interactive talk on crafting dynamic presentations and creating a connection with one’s audience. The students, under the instruction of Professor Laura Myerchin Sklaroff, are enrolled in a class titled “Approaches and Methods in Program Evaluation” as part of their final semester of the Master’s of Public Administration program.

David spoke about the importance of understanding one’s audience to effectively communicate and engage with them, and how to use compelling yet concise visuals and content. Anyone who knows David or has been at one of his presentations can see that he is kind of a quiet (not in terms of volume – rather not a loud “salesy” guy) yet passionate speaker who figures out how to make a personal connection with his subject matter and with his listeners through relevant information and good storytelling. He believes “active presenting,” a term he coined, like active listening, is relevant in all situations – whether speaking to a potential client in an intimate setting, pitching/selling, reporting on good or bad results, presenting to stakeholders or even constituents in a public setting – so that his message is truly received.

“The art of public speaking is the art of deciding what NOT to say,” David referenced at the onset of the lecture. He then described two very important points that are the foundation of any great presentation: 1. An interesting idea; 2. The presenter’s emotional attitude towards that idea. “A key component of program evaluation is messaging and reporting,” said Prof. Sklaroff. “David expertly taught students methods to understand the needs of diverse audiences and methods to deliver finely tuned messages that get the right information to the right people.”

The hour and forty minute lecture was enjoyed by the students and professor alike – there was great engagement from the class and no one fell asleep, which is always a good sign! After a brief class break, the students broke out into work groups and were assigned a project related to evaluating a voter enrollment program for a special interest group. The exercise incorporated some of the suggestions and methods discussed in the lecture. David and Prof. Sklaroff went between the two committees and provided any input or suggestions requested by the students. Towards the end of class, the two teams presented their programs to Prof. Sklaroff and David, who then voted on the team with the better delivery and messaging.

How did David do?

Well, according to Prof. Sklaroff: “David Schlocker presented real world situations that demonstrate how one can read a room and capture audiences’ attention. He taught creative methods to engage clients, which captivated my students’ attention. The combination of creative expertise and practical knowledge David shared with the class will greatly benefit them as they complete their master’s degree and continue in their professional careers.”

Her final evaluation comments about David’s performance and delivery prove that DRS and Associates made the grade.

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DRS and Associates creates a unique Brooklyn-themed booth at ICFF 2013 for Watermark Designs http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/15/drs-and-associates-creates-a-unique-brooklyn-themed-booth-at-icff-2013-for-watermark-designs/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/15/drs-and-associates-creates-a-unique-brooklyn-themed-booth-at-icff-2013-for-watermark-designs/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 09:00:38 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1802 Client:
For over three decades, Watermark Designs has been a leading manufacturer of decorative plumbing fixtures, bathroom accessories, lighting and elegant hardware for the luxury commercial and residential markets. Based in the independent design hub of Brooklyn, and made in the USA, Watermark’s designs are a reflection of the creative melting pot from which they hail. Combining sustainable product design with an eye towards architectural detail, their distinctive product quality is achieved using a combination of hands-on design and development combined with state-of-the-industry equipment.

Challenge:
The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (known as ICFF) is North America’s premier showcase for global design, mapping the new frontier of what’s best and what’s next in one jam-packed trade show and exhibition. In May 2013, Watermark Designs exhibited at this important design showcase held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City and unveiled a number of new faucet and fixture collections. Since this was Watermark’s first exhibition at ICFF, it was important not only to showcase their new products in an original way but to boldly introduce the Watermark brand to an audience who may not be familiar with it. DRS and Associates was called upon to create a booth that accurately represented Watermark’s innovative designs while staying true to the brand’s “Made in Brooklyn” heritage and aesthetic.

Solution:
We created a standout exhibition booth from the ground up, designed to be a visual representation of the thriving borough of Brooklyn. CEO, and an innovative set-up-2designer in his own right, David Schlocker personally created the concept and helped design and assemble the booth on-site using building products such as cardboard cylinders to create stanchions, walls, tables, furniture and columns. Adding an essential element to the look and feel of the space, Avi Abel of Watermark selected another innovative Brooklyn-based company to “flavor” Watermark’s booth: Flavor Paper, who produce hand-screened wallpaper in their “Flavor Lab” in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. Watermark’s booth wall designs made use of two Brooklyn themes: Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Wall.

This Brooklyn backdrop was perfect for showcasing Watermark’s latest products and introducing their new Zen Collection, comprised of stone faucet handles, carved by Stone Forest, and rocks hand-picked from the shores of Lake Michigan. This innovative collection uses rare earth magnets in lieu of set screws to secure the handles, giving them a natural look and feel. Display tables showed off the Zen Collection, allowing visitors to see the different rock handles up close and interact with the products by mix and matching handles with lav faucets.

Because collaboration with designers is another important aspect of Watermark Designs, the wall displays highlighted Watermark’s designer collections – showing preliminary design sketches side by side with actual pieces from the finished lines. These designer collaborations include the Brooklyn Collection designed in collaboration with Incorporated Architecture & Design, Sense 27 designed with the Clodagh Signature Studio, and Chelsea designed with Bob Gifford, Director of Hastings Tile & Bath.

As a finishing touch, we incorporated Watermark’s custom “newsbills” to decorate the booth and to distribute throughout the show. Printed up to look like newspapers, these publications featured information about Watermark that visitors and designers could take home with them. As a result of our attention to detail, Watermark received a lot of traffic to its unique ICFF display. The booth allowed visitors to fully immerse themselves in the Watermark brand by experiencing the products up close in an environment that made them feel right in the midst of the city. As a result, DRS and Associates was able to successfully show off a brand whose Brooklyn DNA is interwoven into their designs.

Wait until you see what David and Avi dreamed up for 2014.

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Visit DRS and Associates clients during Design Week http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/13/visit-drs-and-associates-clients-during-design-week/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/13/visit-drs-and-associates-clients-during-design-week/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 01:12:10 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1773 DRS and Associates is proud to be the agency of record for multiple brands at ICFF – each showcasing the best in contemporary product design.

 

Watermark Designs | Booth #2220 
Watermark Designs will unveil their newest faucet collection, Elan Vital. Taking Industrial Design one step further, Elan Vital is a collection that redefines “custom.”

Watermark-Elan-Vital-1bWatermark Designs

 

Skram Furniture | Booth #1910
Designer Jacob Marks and his furniture company Skram continue to explore responsible manufacturing while creating impeccable contemporary furnishings, including seating, storage, tables and more.

v5-rocker8Skram Furniture

 

Stone Forest | Booth #1267
Celebrating their 25th year of crafting bathroom and garden products from nature’s own materials, Stone Forest will exhibit many new designs, including the sensual Veneto Pedestal. Inspired by classic Italian design, this striking, barrel-shaped vessel is carved from a single block of multi-colored onyx.

Pink-Onyx-Wabi-VesselStone Forest

Hastings Tile & Bath | Booth #956
As the exclusive importer and distributor of VOLA, Hastings will showcase VOLA’s creative expression with a number of their newest collections. Other new products by Hastings, including the Flower Pedestal Basin, will also be on display.

flower_evolution_biancoHastings Tile & Bath

In addition to ICFF, there will be two opportunities to see another DRS client:

LAUFEN kartell by laufen
This past year, Kartell and LAUFEN launched an integrated and complete bathroom project co-designed and nurtured by the award-winning designers Ludovica+Roberto Palomba. The resulting collection, Kartell by Laufen, is a rich and innovative collection that has redefined contemporary bathroom design. See this collection in all its candy-colored splendor in the newly renovated Hastings Tile & Bath showroom during Opening Night at the Architects and Designers Building in Midtown Manhattan on May 19. The collection will also be on display in the AF|New York showroom in Chelsea.

 

kartell-by-laufen-logo

 

Opening Night at the A&D Building
150 East 58th Street
10th floor, Hastings Tile & Bath Showroom
New York, NY, 10155
May 19th
6-9PM

AF|New York
22 West 21 Street
New York, NY, 10010
May 19th
6-8PM

To register for the Architects and Designers event, please go to their website: www.adbuilding.com (event registration is required)

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Lunch Time: Coley’s http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/06/lunch-time-coleys/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/05/06/lunch-time-coleys/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 09:00:42 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1764

Ever since DRS and Associates moved to North Hollywood, I’ve driven by Coley’s multiple times per day. Every time I saw the sign advertising its Caribbean food, I thought “I food-review-1need to try that.” I put it off for months until one Friday, I decided it was the day. I was going to Coley’s.

Coley’s is a standalone restaurant with a large parking lot. The exterior is decked in tropical greens, yellows and blacks, and the interior is deceptively large, featuring a back room with tables and a dance floor. Jamaican photos and Bob Marley advertisements cover the walls. I felt like I was in the islands.

Right off the bat, I ordered a Beef Patty. During the time I lived in New York, beef patties became one of my favorites. Most lunch trucks, bodegas and hole in the wall restaurants served them because they’re easy to make. Much like an Indian samosa, a beef patty is supposed to be a street food that can be eaten on the go. A good patty will hold itself together nicely after a bite and have minimal grease. Bad beef patties are often fried for too long and become too greasy to hold. You can see pools of grease forming inside, and when you take a bite, you get grease and juice running down your face. Other times, they’re frozen and quickly flash fried, leaving a rubbery consistency and uneven temperature. The beef patties at Coley’s are perfect. The pastry outside is flaky and warm, and the meat inside is succulent, not greasy.

I couldn’t decide between Jerk Chicken and Curried Goat for lunch, but luckily there was an option for two types of meat. I received two pieces of jerk chicken and a small bowl containing several pieces of goat meat in a delicious-smelling curry sauce. Dishes all come with steamed veggies, rice and beans, fried plantains and festival bread, which is essentially a fried cornbread doughnut hole. I was blown away by how good this was. The chicken was juicy and the jerk sauce was the perfect mix of sweet and spice. The goat pieces were decently-sized and deboned, and the curry sauce packed quite a kick. Next time I may ask if they can tone down the spice, as it crept up on me as I ate.

While I ate, I watched the other patrons’ food go by, and I can’t wait to try the Fried Chicken, which looked amazing. I found the waitstaff incredibly pleasant and attentive. Before I ordered, she asked me if I was familiar with Caribbean food and was quick with suggestions. The lunch items are very reasonably priced. For $6.99, the price of a McDonald’s or Subway meal, you can get one of Coley’s sizable lunch specials. There was a lot of friendly interaction between the diners and the staff, and quite a few regulars were present.

When the heat is right in the middle of the day and you want to take a quick trip to the islands, visit Coley’s. You’ll leave satisfied and smiling like I did.

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David Schlocker Speaks to Master’s Students on the Craft of Active Presenting http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/23/david-schlocker-speaks-to-masters-students-on-the-craft-of-active-presenting/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/23/david-schlocker-speaks-to-masters-students-on-the-craft-of-active-presenting/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:40:55 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1754 Last week David Schlocker of DRS and Associates was a guest lecturer for Master’s students of The Tseng College, California State University, Northridge where he presented an informative and interactive talk on crafting dynamic presentations and creating a connection with one’s audience. The students, under the instruction of Professor Laura Myerchin Sklaroff, are enrolled in a class titled “Approaches and Methods in Program Evaluation” as part of their final semester of the Master’s of Public Administration program.

David spoke about the importance of understanding one’s audience to effectively communicate and drs-inset-2engage with them, and how to use compelling yet concise visuals and content. Anyone who knows David or has been at one of his presentations can see that he is kind of a quiet (not in terms of volume – rather not a loud “salesy” guy) yet passionate speaker who figures out how to make a personal connection with his subject matter and with his listeners through relevant information and good storytelling. He believes “active presenting,” a term he coined, like active listening, is relevant in all situations – whether speaking to a potential client in an intimate setting, pitching/selling, reporting on good or bad results, presenting to stakeholders or even constituents in a public setting – so that his message is truly received.

“The art of public speaking is the art of deciding what NOT to say,” David referenced at the onset of the lecture. He then described two very important points that are the foundation of any great presentation: 1. An interesting idea; 2. The presenter’s emotional attitude towards that idea. “A key component of program evaluation is messaging and reporting,” said Prof. Sklaroff. “David expertly taught students methods to understand the needs of diverse audiences and methods to deliver finely tuned messages that get the right information to the right people.”

The hour and forty minute lecture was enjoyed by the students and professor alike – there was great engagement from the class and no one fell asleep, which is always a good sign! After a brief class break, the students broke out into work groups and were assigned a project related to evaluating a voter enrollment program for a special interest group. The exercise incorporated some of the suggestions and methods discussed in the lecture. David and Prof. Sklaroff went between the two committees and provided any input or suggestions requested by the students. Towards the end of class, the two teams presented their programs to Prof. Sklaroff and David, who then voted on the team with the better delivery and messaging.

How did David do?

Well, according to Prof. Sklaroff: “David Schlocker presented real world situations that demonstrate how one can read a room and capture audiences’ attention. He taught creative methods to engage clients, which captivated my students’ attention. The combination of creative expertise and practical knowledge David shared with the class will greatly benefit them as they complete their master’s degree and continue in their professional careers.”

Her final evaluation comments about David’s performance and delivery prove that DRS and Associates made the grade.

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Advertising vs. Buying Fans/Followers http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/10/advertising-vs-buying-fansfollowers/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/10/advertising-vs-buying-fansfollowers/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:35:55 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1702

When brands decide to make the big leap into the social media space, the first question is always “How do I get people to like/follow me?” On older platforms’ brand pages, the marketer was able to  look through profiles and add users with similar interests, but that’s no longer the case. On Twitter, you can follow high level influencers and hope they follow you back, but that takes time and doesn’t always pay off. You want to make an impact NOW – so what can you do?

For many, especially social media managers with quotas to fill, buying “likes” seems like a no-brainer. For as little as $10, several companies will guarantee you thousands of followers instantly. These followers will have regular profiles with a variety of interests. Sure, they’ll be from faraway places like Bangladesh, unless you paid slightly more for more regionally appropriate followers, but who cares? You have thousands of fans now and therefore a successful social media presence. Right?

fansNot so fast.

What many novice social media managers haven’t yet learned is that likes and follows are only one side of the equation to social media success. Your audience is more savvy than you think, and before deciding to follow you, they’ll look at your post history and more importantly, how active your page is. Even casual social media users know how to spot “fakes.” With recent scandals such as politicians purchasing fake Twitter followers, your audience is more alert than ever. A high follower count with very little interaction is an immediate red flag.

Even worse than losing credibility with future fans, you risk disciplinary action from your platforms. Facebook and Twitter routinely sweep accounts and remove fake and purchased followers. These “like factories” realize this, and they profit from your continued business. If they sell you 2,000 fans and Facebook removes 500 of them, they hope you’ll come back and purchase even more. Repeated offenses can lead to your page getting deleted.

So, how can you build your fanbase AND have engagements?

DRS and Associates has been representing clients in the social space since 2007 and has been learning and evolving every day. We’ve seen the major platforms change their algorithms and policies, but one thing has always been consistent: creating a strong paid advertising campaign is the best way to build a large, active fanbase. Trying to be selective is important, but it is also okay to reach beyond what you may think is your “exact” customer base (perhaps we’ll save this discussion for a future post). Unlike buying likes, most social media platforms allow you to target an audience with an interest in your niche. By entering certain terms or targeting the fans of high level influencers, you can make sure that your ads display only to a relevant audience and that your new fans are quality followers.

Like with any ad, it’s not enough to just get your ad out there and hope people click. Your copy and creative needs to be engaging and connect with an audience, giving them an idea of what your brand’s messaging or value proposition to the fan will be. Once you have new fans on board, the challenge is creating constantly engaging content that will get them to interact beyond just clicking “like.” This is where DRS’ traditional advertising experience comes in. We construct our online ads the same way that we create traditional ads for publications – knowing it is important to create an emotional connection between the audience and the product, whether its through design, services or story. We know that ads shouldn’t be intrusive or unclear; they should speak directly to what interests a potential fan has – and maybe with a slight call to action.

If your social media manager has ever suggested buying “likes” as the solution to your social media problems, they aren’t working in the best interest of your brand. A reputable (and responsible) social media agency such as DRS and Associates will always have a multi-tiered plan – including a solid, cost effective advertising plan – to make your brand shine through social media.

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DRS and Associates Brings “Swissness” Stateside http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/08/drs-and-associates-brings-swissness-stateside/ http://jots.drsandassociates.com/2014/04/08/drs-and-associates-brings-swissness-stateside/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 01:47:31 +0000 http://jots.drsandassociates.com/?p=1704 DRS and Associates Brings “Swissness” Stateside with Launch of LAUFEN North America Social Media.

Client: Having defined bathroom culture since 1892, LAUFEN was the first creator of ceramic bathroom products in Switzerland and is now the leading global manufacturer of complete bathroom solutions for modern lifestyles. A DRS and Associates client for over seven years, LAUFEN continues to communicate its commitment and investment in the United States and Canada. Even more defined today, they offer a range of products that have been selected and code approved for the North American market. Renowned for their traditional fine ceramic technique and partnering with world acclaimed designers, architects and luxury brands, LAUFEN creates products that characterize their Swiss DNA – boasting outstanding craftsmanship, workmanship and precision-made, high quality design.

Challenge:laufen-screen-facebook-inset-2-400 Many European manufacturers find it challenging to communicate their brand value proposition to the North American
consumer market (both trade and retail). In the kitchen & bath and architectural industries, where products are sometimes “commoditized” or built only around aesthetics, a company must be creative and focus on its core differentiating points. For LAUFEN, their clear commitment to precision engineering excellence, functionality and design in its purest form is the essence of everything Swiss – and bringing this message to the marketplace was essential. “Swissness” is one of the main tenants of LAUFEN’s business philosophy, and it shapes their brand and culture. LAUFEN needed to introduce this concept to those who did not know about the brand, as well as reinforce the messaging to those who needed a deeper understanding. As one of the important initiatives of the communication campaign, we looked to social media marketing as a way to illustrate Swissness and the world of LAUFEN.

Solution: We launched LAUFEN North America’s Facebook page and social media presence to promote LAUFEN’s global brand awareness and LAUFEN’s North American activities. The concept and mission was also to reach viewers who were not at all familiar with the brand – but had an interest in the category of a variety of topics such as: European design, architecture, refined living, home wellness/spa lifestyle, Swiss iconic brands, the stories and educational aspects of the brands, profiles and background information about LAUFEN’s design partners, and the concept of Swissness. Through leadership and direction, we were responsible for bringing the Swissness theme to the North American audience through a variety of social media campaigns. Here are a few highlights:

1. We continued the Swissness theme throughout social media by creating Facebook content on all things Swiss, including spotlights on great Swiss inventors, Swiss trivia questions, photography of Swiss landscapes and buildings, and explorations of Swiss brands and items such as precision watches, etc. We also showcased the renowned international designers behind LAUFEN’s products to underscore the brand’s Swissness in design and manufacturing.

2. We launched a series of giveaways to further increase Swiss awareness. “From Switzerland with Love” was a campaign thathighlighted Swissness by giving away Swiss items to current fans of LAUFEN North America and new fans who were required to like the page to enter.

 

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3. As a fun addition to the campaign, we discovered Diccon Bewes, a British author who has written extensively on Switzerland and Swiss culture. In addition to his books Swisswatching, Swisscellany and Slow Train to Switzerland, Bewes also runs his popular Swiss-themed blog and website www.dicconbewes.com. We were able to nurture a relationship and partnership between Bewes and LAUFEN, where he contributed content to LAUFEN’s Facebook page, including posts and exclusive videos, and acted as an ambassador for LAUFEN when foreign visitors came to tour their facilities in Switzerland. Tapping into Bewes’ popularity and humorous insight offered another perspective of the culture and was a great way to expose the brand online and put a face on LAUFEN in North America.

Before our efforts, there was no real mention of the concept of Swissness in North America. It was due to the Swissness branding and campaigns that we were able to launch and operate LAUFEN’s North America Facebook community in a less formal way than the corporate website messaging – in the process, amassing its own large number of fans and followers and actually reaching a worldwide fanbase. The best practices and strategy set in place by DRS and Associates acted as a launchpad for LAUFEN’s global Facebook presence.

 

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