#WhyOrlando

I’ve been writing a lot lately about my adventures in Orlando and how much I love this city, and after a Pechakucha, I was inspired to put all of my Orlando Love Notes onto one page.  Hope you enjoy!  Feel free to let me know how much you love Orlando, too!

My First Press Release Since I Interned at AAA

Written on 10/26/2015

Back in 2003/2004 I interned in the Public Relations department at AAA National Headquarters.  You may remember my work – I wrote the releases on the new 5 diamond restaurants and hotels that year, I updated the research finds for the holiday driving season, and I did something about a pets and travel book.  Yeah, riveting stuff, I know.

Because I’m involved in a new organization trying to build an art and theatre center in my downtown Orlando slice of heaven, and they don’t have a marketing person yet, I was asked if I could whip up a press release for an upcoming event. I thought, sure, why not?  So, in case I had missed any of the latest trends in release writing, I googled “press release formats.” It’s still pretty much the same.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Third Annual College Park Art & Wine Stroll is Almost Here!

College Park, Orlando, Florida – October 26, 2015 – Each year, the College Park Neighborhood Arts & Theatre Center holds the College Park Art & Wine Stroll on the second Saturday of November.  This year, it is November 14, from 5:00PM to 9:00PM.

The stroll begins at Albert Park (Edgewater Drive & Vassar Street) and continues down along Edgewater Drive. Partner stores will remain open until 9PM to help with serving the wine. There will be twelve wine stops, live music and eighteen local artists. Some of the artists displayed include students from local schools.

The cost is $15 for a wine card which gets you access to all of the wine stops and are available at the event.  All proceeds from the card will benefit the College Park Neighborhood Arts & Theatre Center.

The College Park Neighborhood Arts & Theatre Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the goal of advancing the growth of a strong, creative and well-connected 32804 community through the establishment of a multi-purpose neighborhood arts and theatre center.  The center will provide a venue in which individuals of all backgrounds and artists of all disciplines in the College Park community can collectively gather, create, share and celebrate life through the enriching world of visual art, music, film, dance, performing art, theatre, literature and education initiatives.

Contact:

Bob Di Cerbo

Executive Director

407-620-8264

robert@cpnarts.org

http://www.cpnarts.org

http://www.facebook.com/cpnArts

###

So whaddya think? Anyone out there have any advice? Can you do better? If so, and you also want to help build a theatre in College Park, contact Bob, so I don’t have to do them anymore. 😉

Buddying Up to Bungalower

Bungalower celebrated their one year anniversary a few weeks ago.  My Bestie and I went to the party at the Hammered Lamb, enjoyed a member cocktail, and partook in a train shot.

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A member cocktail you say? How do you become a member and what is it for?  Well, to be a member of the Bungalower, you pay the low low price of $9.95 per month and it gets you at least $30 in coupons of freebies and discounts around the bungalow communities (i.e. College Park, Thornton Park, Audubon Park, etc).

So in honor of being treated so well as a member, I thought I would showcase a night I had on the town, all thanks to the Bungalower!

First stop was the Artisan's Table. I had a different version of a Pisco Sour (discovered these in Cusco, Peru) called the Black Beauty.
First stop was the Artisan’s Table. I had a different version of a Pisco Sour (discovered these in Cusco, Peru) called the Black Beauty.

 

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Then we stopped for the best popsicles on the planet at the Pop Parlour (formerly the Hyppo – no one new what that was). And from the coupon you can see that they do have alcoholic popsicles. They are also quite tasty.

 

Finally, we ended the night at Aku Aku. Unfortunately, their free drink did not mean their signature cocktails, so my Bestie used the coupon to buy a beer and I split a Fu Man Chu (ginger and rum) with my Partner In Crime.
Finally, we ended the night at Aku Aku. Unfortunately, their free drink did not mean their signature cocktails, so my Bestie used the coupon to buy a beer and I split a Fu Manchu (ginger and rum… and mint, if you couldn’t tell by the picture) with my Partner In Crime.

After that, we took a Lyft home (see my blog post here to learn how to earn a free ride with them).

The next morning, we used another coupon from Bungalower to replenish our electrolytes with a tasty juice from Grounding Roots.  For a small up charge, we were able to get the 16 oz bottle, rather than their tasting size.

2014-08-16 10.08.50

 

 

So if you’re looking for a way to get involved in the community and learn about new businesses opening (and unfortunately others closing) check out Bungalower.  And if you’re like me and like perks, become a member today!

My Adventures with Lyft

If you live in a bigger city or in Orlando, you’ve probably heard of Lyft by now.  Or at least Uber.  For those of you who haven’t, just know it’s kind of like a ride-share app that connects people who want to drive people around with people who want to be driven around, and kind of like a taxi.  (But shhhh, taxi is a four-letter word in this community.)

They just entered the Orlando market and offered everyone who signed up in the first week with them being here 50 free $25 rides to be used within two weeks.  Uber had done the same, and while I signed up with them, for some reason I never used their service.  And then when Lyft came in I figured I just had to give it a try to see what the fuss was about.

I’m hooked.  (Finish reading this blog post and you could be, too.)

I started using it last Tuesday because I needed to go downtown to a meeting and parking in the middle of the day there is annoying.  And then I used it that evening when I had another meeting downtown.  And then after the meeting I took another one to dinner!  And then on Friday, my family and I took it to dinner, then to drinks, and then to dancing.  And then on Saturday, we went to a charity event down by the mouse and took it.  And, since it was a longer drive, the cost was well over the $25 in which we had to pay the difference.  So instead of heading straight home after the event, we stopped mid-stream and used the savings to buy ourselves a glass of wine.  🙂

But aren’t you worried about the kinds of people picking you up???  I have met some really, really nice people who are driving for Lyft.  Everyone kind of has to be because they’re rated as drivers and then the drivers also rate the passengers! (I have 5 out of 5 stars still, by the way.)  So no one can be mean or they get dinged.  Everyone is using it as a second job because their firsts either are sporadic because of the industry they’re in, or are just looking for more extra income.  One guy has a pretty decent full time salaried job, but has a baby on the way, so he’s going to be doing BOTH Uber and Lyft until December 25th (the due date… and Christmas.)

When a person wants to be a part of Lyft, they apply online and are then given a choice of Mentors to meet up with to have the driving interview, paperwork filled out for the background check, pictures of them and their car taken for the app, and the car inspected.  A difference between Uber and Lyft is that for Uber all of the background and interview is done all online, and then Uber sends the driver a phone to use and they’re good to go.  Lyft drivers use their own phones.  And Lyft cars are allowed to be as old as a 2000 (hence the inspection) and Uber requires a 2006 or younger.  I’ve ridden in a 2013 Prius, a Mercedes SUV, and another nice looking SUV that I can’t recall the make or model of, but it was nice – it had two moon roofs.  All owned by the drivers.

I’ve heard that they’re not covered by insurance policies and you take it at your own risk.  Is that true?  Nope.  Not true at all.  Lyft touts on their website  that they cover each driver while they’re on shift and covers the passenger with a million dollar policy.  I asked one of the Uber/Lyft combo drivers about Uber and he showed me the insurance policy he accessed from the app.  It also covers up to a million dollars but only while a passenger is in the car.  So, it’s actually safer to catch a lift with an Uber or Lyft driver than have one of your friends with a questionable amount of insurance drive you around for a night on the town.

The inside scoop.

On the last ride for the night on Friday, we had a very well-informed driver.  He is actually a manager who helped open the Orlando market and has to take as many passengers as possible to help train the passengers on how to use the service.  He told me the ins and outs of how Lyft always comes in a month after Uber and then Side Car always comes a month after that.  We discussed the differences and similarities between all of the services and how they market themselves differently.  It’s an exciting time in the transportation business.  I had first thought I wanted my blog post to be about the controversy between the big taxi dawg in town (they who will not be named) but I decided to keep this topic light, fresh, and fun, which is really the essence of what Lyft is.  If you are interested in trying Lyft out, download the app to your phone from your app store.  But before you take your first ride, go to the payment section of the app and plug in patti301 (that’s a zero) into the “credit code” box.  You’ll get a free ride up to $25, and once you redeem it, I will too!

Love At Pechakucha

Love was in the air that the last Pechakucha (say: pah-shaw-kah-shaw). At least that was what the theme was, in celebration of it being near Valentine’s Day. @David_Alecock talked about the importance of being present for love. Susan Rienzo talked about her love of color and making whimsical quilts. Emily Empel, a futurist, talked about her love of Orlando and why we should use the hashtag #futrlando when talking about it (this has actually inspired me to dedicate a page on my site to why I love Orlando so much, too… coming soon). Thomas Thorspecken, Analog Artist Digital World blogger, also talked about his love of Orlando, but in the present tense and how he posts a picture a day of the City Beautiful. And Mike Van den Abbeel talked about his love for the petition process and how he set out to help get legalizing medical marijuana on the upcoming Florida legislature discussions.

Below are some of the ones that I really, really enjoyed and wanted to share more of with you.

Love of Data

Joe Tankersly talked about his love of data and how he’s always excited about the next thing to measure his steps, his heart beat, his sleep patterns, etc. He was being a little sarcastic but his point about why are we worrying about the NSA so much when we are so accustomed to sharing our waking moments (and sleeping moments) with the world through social media. This reminded me of a funny graphic I saw about Buzzfeed from Funny Or Die: http://www.funnyordie.com/lists/34aae013f6/if-buzzfeed-was-your-text-happy-friend

Love and the Human Brain

Max Jackson, now one of the smartest people I’ve ever heard, talked about how love acts on the human brain and the neuroscience behind it. It was incredibly interesting and for 6 minutes and 40 seconds, he was able to cram in a lot of info because he spoke really fast. His talk reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movie/documentaries, What the Bleep Do We Know, about being addicted to different emotions. Take a look:

A Modern Love Story

Carolyn Moor talked about the love of her life and how she lost him at an early age and what she has done with herself to help support other young widows in Orlando. Her story was sad, but inspiring and beautiful. She has a community Facebook page called Living A Goosebump Life which I’m now going to follow. You should check it out, too.

 

Who’s excited about the arts in Orlando? This Media Nerd.

After attending the Red Chair Affair this year, I wound up on the “friends of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts” email list. They have been sending updates about the construction and news on performances being scheduled there. They sent an email a couple of weeks ago saying they were offering hard hat tours of the center and all I had to do was sign up for a time and I can bring a guest. So of course I did. And of course so did all of the other people with blogs in Central Florida. And of course they’ve already posted their pictures on their blog and Facebook. So I decided to come at my post with a different angle – the Media Nerd angle. Enjoy.

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Mears Transportation is the sponsor of the construction wall. Before they broke ground, the DPCPA went to area schools and asked the students to draw what performing arts meant to them. The tour guide said they got back a lot of ballerinas and Michael Jackson, so you’ll see a lot of those on the construction wall.

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This is the CNL Arts Plaza where the Florida Blue Concert Series will be held. In the room above it is the DeVos Family room where you can hold corporate meeting, weddings, and other kinds of parties. It will be glass so if you are having a corporate event, make sure you bling the backside of your video screen and other signage with your logo for all to see so you can get the warm feelings of passers-by who now know you support the arts.

I also heard they’re looking for a sponsor for the screen to show movies on… hint, hint.

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Your view from the DeVos Family Room.

2013-12-19 16.57.18What the actors will see when they look out from the Walt Disney Theater. Don’t mind the guy with the two heads. He got caught in my panoramic firing range.

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This is the actor’s view of the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. This will house any smaller performances by local groups/individuals that can fill 300 seats, but not 2,000.

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This is where the Acoustical Theater will be when they raise enough money to start on stage two of the building. I hear they’re still looking for a sponsor for that one, as well… hint, hint.

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And finally, the pièce de résistance of media nerdiness, I introduce to you, the Wave Wall. Not only will it act as an acoustic sound barrier between the theaters and the lobby, it will also light up in any color you want and project your logo… and it can be seen from the outside. So if you have that spectacular corporate event and want your logo and special colors, it can happen for you!

2013-12-19 16.13.09

They should’ve gotten somebody to sponsor the hard hats and vests. Missed opportunity. Tsk, tsk. 🙂

Anyway, they’re doing a wonderful job over there and the excitement is building. It is going to bring a new wave of creativity and access to the arts that Orlando has never seen before, and I’m excited. Aren’t you?

A Great Weekend for Small Business Advertising Lessons

Labor Day Weekend was ripe with local advertising lessons!

Haole Paddle Board – Brian chatted my parents up one time when he had finished a personal training paddle board lesson. My parents had their own paddle boards but Brian was so personable they thought that the next time I needed to rent one, it should be with Haole. And so that’s what we did! He dropped off the board and picked it up right at the location I wanted him to and he was so friendly. I recommend him to everyone for individual paddleboard rentals. Even you!

Lesson – If you are a major selling point for your business, always make sure you’re selling yourself. You never know when you’ll be picking up a new customer.

Magical Dining Month – IT HAS BEGUN! And it is one tasty adventure. My friends and I went to Chez Vincent last night for dinner. Thirty-three dollars for a three-course meal and it was fantastic.

Lesson – If you are a nice restaurant and you want more locals to try you out, get involved with Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. Yes, you may lose a little on the food cost, but do you know how much wine and champagne we bought? Yeah, we bought a handful of bottles worth.

Modcloth.com – At dinner, my friend was wearing the cutest dress. We kept commenting on it and she said that she wasn’t going to buy it initially so she left it in her “shopping cart” and bought a couple of other things she had wanted. Then, this past Tuesday, Modcloth sent her an email saying “we saw you left this in your shopping cart. If you really want it, we’ll ship it to you for free and you’ll have it by Friday.” She then realized she had a networking event this weekend and wanted to look her best, so she bought the dress and picked up a few more things.

Lesson – If you have an online store component, make sure you have a great Customer Retention component that involves email and behavioral targeting display ads (use Ebay, Overstock and Amazon as benchmarking examples – you don’t need the volume these guys have to still be able to recapture previously lost business).

I would have mentioned more activities that were done because of local advertising, but while we were enjoying the yummiest creamiest gazpacho at Santiago’s Bodega today, my bike tire literally exploded and so we had to go back to some of my greatest friends’ house and drink their pepper infused and peach infused vodkas the rest of the afternoon. Oh darn.

Lesson – Be open on Labor Day. We tried to bicycle to four different places until we passed by this place and they were open. Have a limited staff. Maybe even have a limited menu. BUT BE OPEN. We were standing in front of White Wolf Cafe contemplating our next move and five other parties drove, walked, or parked nearby and were as disappointed as were that they weren’t open today. Lost revenue.

A Wonderful Way to Advertise the Arts

Last night was the Red Chair Project’s 9th Annual Red Chair Affair, the kick-off to the 2013-2014 cultural season. And it was a real treat. There were the usual suspects of the Orlando Ballet, Opera, Shakes, Gay Chorus, and Philharmonic. Bu we also got to see performances from places I had never heard of: Brass Band of Central Florida, Orlando Aerial Arts, NuLook School of Performing Arts, the Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard, and the Central Florida Community Arts. These were exciting performances and I look forward to finding about when and where these groups are performing.

Last night was the epitome of partnership in the arts community and an excellent way to promote all aspects to the community. For the price of a ticket, I could wander around and meet local artists, sign my name on the beam that will be inserted into the new Downtown Performing Arts Center building, and see tastes of what will be going on locally for the fall and spring.

And what talent there was with some of the groups! NuLook was a group of young teens dancing their hearts out, ME Dance was a modern dance marvel, and the Orlando Rep’s Power Chords had more energy than all of the groups combined! I was also happy to see the Enzian participating by showing one of the popular shorts from last Florida Film Festival.

So, if you missed this event, make sure you visit RedChairProject.com to sign up for their rewards program so you don’t miss any of the amazing performances this coming season. You know I’ll be there.

Don’t Say Pshaw to PechaKucha

Two Saturdays ago I got to experience one of the neatest presentation showcases I’ve ever seen. Part toastmasters, part TED conference, part open mic-esque, this evening was chock full of fun, enlightenment, and inspiration. Pronounced, pashawkashaw, PechaKucha is a strict power-point timed speech that can be on anything or everything. Here are the highlights:

John Rife, with the upcoming East End Market in Audubon Park talked about eating local and artisan. Not just with his store, but always, as it promotes the local economy and just tastes really good.

A mermaid who had never spoken in public before, did a really great job talking about her life as a mermaid and her experiences at Weeki Wachee Springs. It made me remember all of the stories I heard from my Mom’s best friend who used to be a mermaid there back in the ’60s.

Jesse Bradley, a local writer, spoke about learning from failure and gave a tutorial on how to be an independent writer. His quote of the day was, “Failure is the greatest tool we have, as long as you continue to learn from it.” IHeartFailure.net

Evan Miga talked about how the greatest person he knows is his pomeranian, the star of Dog-Powered Robot.

Jose Fajardo, former CEO of WMFE, spoke of how he killed Sesame Street and Mozart. “Being a non-profit does not give you the permission to lose money.” He gave advice for making hard decisions like what he had to: numbers do not lie; don’t let emotions get in the way; you cannot just wish bad things away; to implement change, you need courage; have a plan; don’t expect a white knight to show up and fix things short-term and expect things to stay fixed; have confidence in your decision; and, don’t let negative decisions get to you. Very insightful.

Curtis Michelson discussed lynchings of the early to mid-1900’s and their impact on communities and present race relations. He’s working on a project right now to help provide closure to a family where a poor man from Ocoee was lynched in downtown Orlando. OscarMackProject.com

Mike Gerlach talked about his volunteerism with Outreach Love, a wonderful organization that helps tutor youth in Orlando that may need a little more help than mentorship than the average kid. A little love can go a long way…

There were a few other speakers that ranged from a girl who discussed her path to smelldom, another about her path to understanding the lies we tell ourselves, and another asthmatic who persevered through her disability in order to get through a Savage Race.

I can’t wait to see the next one at the Fringe Festival this May!

There's me in the back!
There’s me in the back!

Movement In The City

This past week I had a wonderful conversation with someone at the Florida Department of Transportation about their marketing and efforts on reducing the car load on our Orlando roads by encouraging carpooling, vanpooling, the upcoming SunRail, and the expansion of I-4. It sparked my interest enough that I have done a little homework on the subject for you.

Courtesy of SeeFloridaGo.org

Currently, there is a carpooling program with reThink that allows you to provide you home to work driving habits and they’ll match you with others who have similar schedules. There is also a vanpool program where you and 9 other people coming from the same area and working around the same area split the monthly rental cost and gas of a brand new van that you would get to use daily. Much cheaper than owning your own car!

I am excited about SunRail. Having been to Europe and seeing how rail-heavy everyone’s commutes are, but how easy it is to use and get from place to place, gave me assurance that I could also try to do this when SunRail comes. I imagine I’ll hop on a bus from somewhere on Edgewater in College Park, take the train from the Florida Hospital to the downtown Lynx station, and then hop on another bus that would take me straight to work. I hope it doesn’t take more than 45 minutes, though! My current commute is only fifteen minutes, so the only incentive I have is that I’ll feel greener.

That’s my only incentive until fall of 2014, however. Once the construction on I-4 starts, it’s going to displace a lot of cars trying to skirt around the mess. This will probably increase my commute to that half hour to forty minute mark just because of the extra cars on the road that would normally take I-4. And this will go on for six years! By then, I’ll be fully trained on commuting to work through bus and rail that maybe I’ll keep doing it. It will probably be cheaper than paying for the toll lanes that will have variable rates depending on the time of day and traffic conditions…

For more info on reThink, click here.

For more info on how reThink is going to try to get car sharing companies here so that we can still have access to cars when we need them, click here.

For more info on SunRail, click here.

For more info on the I-4 expansion, click here.

For more info on how Lynx is going to add vans as a tool to pick people up to get them to the train stations on demand, click here.
A Village, A Main Street – Orlando Rocks
So I’ll get back to media in my next post, but for now I still have to crush on Orlando a little bit. Also during my last class at Leadership Orlando I learned about the upcoming Creative Village and the Orlando Main Street project.

The Creative Village is a 15- to 20- year project that has always been meant to enrich future generations, not just ourselves. It will be a mixed use sixty acre area where they demolished the old arena where techies, artists, and ordinary people can get together to build synergies in entertainment, art, culture, and technological applications. I’m very excited to know that I’ll probably still be in Orlando once this project comes to fruition. It gives me some goosebumps. For more information on the Village, click here.

The Orlando Main Street project started when the city of Orlando attempted to get a Main Street grant from Tallahassee for the Ivanhoe Road area. They were denied based on the age of the area. But this didn’t stop Orlando from deciding that we could do the Main Street program on our own and didn’t Tally to work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we’d go to the NTHP directly.

Now there are several Main Street areas, the most prominent ones being Ivanhoe Row, College Park, SoDo and Mills 50. Each of these areas have been given a dedicated person to work with the local businesses to develop a unifying effort of events and marketing. They’re the ones that help put on the jazz concert in College Park or the Walk-On By art event in Mills 50 that’s happening right now. But it’s been a little slow going on some of the smallest things, like flags that said the areas name. It took 3 years to get those flags approved by the FDOT!

Another slow-going but beautiful thing is the program where local artists are painting all of the FDOT boxes in the Main Street areas. The Main Street groups in partnership with the city transportation planning group had to go to Tally to negotiate a deal so the FDOT would stop having a fit that their boxes were getting painted. They were worried the workers wouldn’t know how to get into the box or that the paint would get into the box and muck things up. Neither has happened. And now the drab gray boxes are brightening up the city. Did you know that most graffiti artists won’t tag objects that already have paintings on them? No one has yet. Very cool.

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