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Marilyn Finegold, from the Allison+Partners Los Angeles office, was inspired by her love of horses to volunteer for Ride On, a therapeutic program that teaches adaptive horseback riding to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. Founded in 1994, Ride On has given over 81,000 safe, individualized lessons and therapy treatments. Ride On currently serves about 200 individuals each week. Marilyn’s dedication to the organization cannot be overstated – she drives 40 miles to help Ride On by answering phones, recording the volunteers’ time, shucking out stalls and feeding the horses. She also volunteered for their fundraiser in June by gathering donations for the raffle.

This certainly sounds like an incredible organization. Thanks for sharing your commitment to RideOn, Marilyn! To learn more about the organization, please visit

Each month, Sports Sesh (a title that pays homage to the HBO series “Eastbound & Down”) explores how sports and PR have recently intermingled along with the good, bad and ugly of it all. This month: The month of October (literally)

The Good: The College Football Playoffs

It has taken nearly two decades, but in my personal opinion, a legitimate college football playoff system is in place. Teams no longer have to wait for computer generated results, which lack the ability to factor in intangibles that the first-year College Football Playoff Committee accounts for. Just like March Madness, there will always be an odd team out, but the way the rankings are shaping up, it appears the committee is going to get it right. I’m not saying the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) didn’t ever get it right, but the anticipation and excitement come Saturday is at an all-time high with the new system and rankings format. The BCS was always a PR blunder and supporters had to constantly defend the algorithm determining the national championship matchup and big money games. The feedback thus far is positive regarding to the new system, and in PR terms, that’s a win.

The Bad: Famous Jameis

Florida State University (FSU) sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston is a great talent. In his two seasons at the helm of the Seminoles, Winston has not lost a game, is a national champion and took home the Heisman Trophy as a red shirt freshman in 2013. Famous Jameis has swag, but he also has a lot of baggage. If you’re not a college football fan you probably still know his name, but for all the wrong reasons. Since stepping foot on campus, Winston hasn’t been able to stay out of trouble or the headlines. Winston is a media firestorm all on his own and FSU isn’t doing much to change the course of this young man’s life or decision-making process. Winston has been investigated for sexual assault, cited for shoplifting crab legs (yes, crab legs) from a Tallahassee grocer, recorded yelling sexual obscenities atop a table in FSU’s student union and probed about signing autographs in exchange for money. Does Winston have a target on his back? Absolutely. Has Winston been falsely accused of crimes and infractions he didn’t commit? The short answer is yes. Everyone makes mistakes, but Winston and the FSU program take absolutely no personal responsibility and lack the understanding of the larger issue at hand.

AP Photo/John Raoux.

The Ugly: FIFA

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. FIFA is responsible for the organization of soccer’s major international tournaments, most notably the World Cup, and is one of the most powerful sports federations in the world. Long accused of corruption and racial in-sensitivities, FIFA continues to find itself in hot water almost daily, including, most recently, the handling of the Russia and Qatar World Cup bids and allegations of corruption related to the site selection process. Business Insider published a story detailing the criticism FIFA is facing including the disastrous corruption investigation. In early November, FIFA published a summary of the report clearing the winning Russia and Qatar bids of any corruption. FIFA won’t publish the full report, stating legal restrictions prevent them from doing so. Not long after the release of the report, FIFA’s own ethics chief Michael Garcia said the report has been “misrepresented” by football’s governing body. Sketchy, but it gets worse:

Some of FIFA’s major title sponsors are not renewing sponsorship contracts because of FIFA’s unwillingness to address to long-standing racial abuse certain player groups deal with during matches.

Soccer has always attracted shady characters because it’s big business, big action and big profits. However, the governing body isn’t usually playing the line with them.



A Requiem for Two Media Men

The economic pressures felt at the nation’s top journalism institutions are well documented. Dwindling newsrooms, scaled-back offerings and digital-only future proofing are well-trod storylines in the public consciousness.

The venerable New York Times is no stranger to the issues that surround the industry at large. As word continues to leak of senior reporters at the New York Times taking the most recent round of buyouts, an effort by the publication to reduce the newsroom by 100 positions, readers nervously await to see how these changes will affect the breadth and quality of coverage they’re accustomed to.

This week we heard that two of the New York Times’ most storied writers – Advertising Columnist Stuart Elliott and TV Reporter Bill Carter – have accepted the company’s buyout. If you’re a seasoned professional in media and advertising, the news is shocking.

Splashy TV ads and big agency wins were the hallmark of Mr. Elliott’s advertising column, a mainstay since its premiere in 1991. His pieces have become required reading for a litany of industry experts, and his opinions have carried great weight for the brands and agencies jockeying for relevance and prestige in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Mr. Carter has covered the television industry at the New York Times for more than 25 years. He is best known for his book, The War for Late Night, which describes the late-night show battle between David Letterman and Jay Leno. For those who know him, he is well-liked and renowned for his deep trove of industry sources.

In a fashion that has become common, Mr. Carter responded to rumors of his buyout on Twitter, and Mr. Elliott’s farewell was published on his Facebook page, both digital harbingers of the disrupted, data-driven, micro-targeted present and future of modern marketing. While it’s unclear who will fill Mr. Elliott’s shoes (or if a full-time staff replacement is even planned) and if anyone can cover late-night the way Mr. Carter did, one thing is certain: covering advertising and media today means something entirely different. We’ll save that analysis for another post.

For now, let’s celebrate the careers of two titans who covered and gave valuable context to the adventures and misadventures of a constantly changing and thoroughly maddening industry.

Highlights from Stuart Elliott’s reporting:

Super Bowl Ads of Cartoonish Violence, Perhaps Reflecting Toll of War

Marketers Are Joining the Varsity

Lauren Bacall Photo with Harry Truman Was Selfie Gone Viral for 1945

Highlights from Bill Carter’s reporting:

Bullish on Boyish, NBC Hopes Jimmy Fallon Brings Younger Viewers to ‘Tonight’

‘Idol’ Tries to Clean Up Its Act

Kill These Characters at Your Own Risk



Since beginning my work at Allison+Partners in 2008, I’ve often daydreamed about my sabbatical and what I would do with the time when the opportunity became available to me five years down the road. Would I travel to Greece, a place I’ve always wanted to see? Or visit to my friend in Germany? Eating my way through Italy also sounded appealing. So many options to choose from!

Around the same time as my five-year anniversary at Allison+Partners, my then-boyfriend-now-husband proposed to me, and we were fortunate enough to spend the month of my sabbatical traveling together for our honeymoon. When deciding on a destination, it was no easier to choose a place together than it was for me to decide on my own. That is until one night when watching a travel show on TV, we learned that in Southern Spain, many cities still uphold a tradition of serving free small plates, or tapas, with drink orders. Free food with drinks? That made the decision for us — we were there. This was also appealing because so much of my work at Allison+Partners is focused on wine and food – and while I was competent in the world of Italian and American wines, the ins and outs of Spanish wines was a place I could use some education in. So Southern Spain it was, along with a few days in Lisbon, Portugal.

We started our journey in Madrid, where we got acclimated to Spanish culture – including the perks of siesta and late dinners. We then headed to Sevilla where we stayed in a hotel overlooking the famous Cathedral, visited the Alcazar, and – of course – took a tapas tour (ok a few tapas tours!). We also enjoyed a Flamenco show before heading off to my favorite Spanish city, Granada. No visit to Granada would be complete without a trip to the Al Hambra, so we made it the first visit on our agenda, and it did not disappoint! The Al Hambra is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen – and well worth any wait to get in. We continued to enjoy the tapas culture in Granada, our favorite of which was La Tana – a hidden spot recommended by everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Rick Steves – where we were lucky enough to snag seats at the bar and enjoy wines handpicked by the bartender, who has been running the hidden gem for years.

A view of the city of Sevilla from the top of the Cathedral

A view from one of the towers of The Al Hambra in Granada

After Granada we spent a day in Rhonda, a city in the Spanish province of Malaga. Rhonda is situated on a giant gorge, making it a must-see stop if only to quickly take in the incredible topography. We wandered the windy streets, ate dinner overlooking the gorge and enjoyed the scenery. After, we took a quick trip back to Madrid to watch a football game between Real Madrid and Elche where we got to sit field-side and cheer on the likes of star player, James Rodriguez. Next, it was off to Lisbon, Portugal for the last leg of our trip.

A view of Rhonda, a city on a giant gorge in the Spanish province of Malaga

My husband (Mike) and I at the Real Madrid Football game

Before traveling to Lisbon, we were a bit nervous as we didn’t know what to expect. We had finally gotten our Spanish communication down to a science, but weren’t sure we could hack it in Portuguese! The second we arrived, however, our minds were put at ease. Lisbon is one of the most creative, modern, inviting and exciting cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. We immediately took to the streets to enjoy everything the city had to offer – from amazing seafood (they’re famous for their sardines!), breads and local sweets like the pastel de nata, an egg tart pastry, to local wines (if you’re in the market, Cartuxa is one of the best labels we found) — there was so much to enjoy and not enough time to do it all! Somehow, we managed though, and were even able to squeeze in visits to the local museums and specialty shops. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly and inviting, wanting to make sure we enjoyed our stay.

Mike and I at a park overlooking the city of Lisbon

The trip seemed to come to an end quicker than it began – and on the flight home, we reflected on all of the amazing sights we saw, people we met, and cuisine we enjoyed. As I settled back into my desk upon my return, rested and energized by my travel, I was excited to share my experiences with my colleagues and dive back into work with a refreshed point of view.

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Each month, Sports Sesh (a title that pays homage to the HBO series “Eastbound & Down”) explores how sports and PR have recently intermingled along with the good, bad and ugly of it all. This month: The month of October (literally) The Good: Kansas City I know, I know. What is an employee of a ...

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