Event: CementBloc's Driving Influence Marketing in the Health and Wellness Sector!
I'm slowly realizing that there are people besides my mother who read this column. See, I've developed a following of haters amongst certain NYC PR girls, so when my editor asked me to cover CementBloc's Internet Week "Driving Influence Marketing in the Health and Wellness Sector" event, I was less than thrilled, pretty sure that I would have a horrible time, be honest about it, and add another media-world enemy to the list of "people I can't talk to in public because they will probably hit me." I had visions of sitting in a room for two hours while some account exec rambled on about the benefits of exercise or vitamins while I played Angry Birds and pretended to take notes. But, for the good of gainful employment, I agreed to go -- after all, the invite did say there would be wine.
I arrived at CementBloc's 6th Avenue offices a little before the 5:30 start time. I like to get to these things early - it throws people off guard and lets me glimpse the inner workings of the company. I was met at the downstairs elevator by a man with an iPad who gave me a sticky nametag and asked me to put on my Internet Week Press Badge. "But it makes me look like a dork," I whined as I hung it around my next and pouted in the elevator up to the fifth floor offices. I was the first non-CementBloc person to arrive and was met by the group account director, Wendy Levine (who, by the way, was wearing the cutest dress ever).
"First thing's first, let's get you a drink," she said before she guided me to an office to put my stuff down and explained how the event was going to be set up -- basically an interactive journey through the process of getting vaccines before you go abroad. They were throwing it for their client, Novartis vaccines, and we would be going to Japan, complete with a vaccine passport that would be stamped at each inoculation checkpoint. The informational session would cover the entire process of trip planning -- from the moment a traveler decided she wanted to go to Japan, to the moment she boarded the plane.
Most important, however, was the bar, manned by a cute boy with a manicured mop of messy hair. I looked around. The office was chic enough, and 50 platters of sushi were being placed about the area. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Guests started pouring out of the elevator and to the bar. I moved to the side, where I met Elizabeth Elfenbein, a partner at CementBloc, who told me that she knows my editor very well, so I'd better not say anything bad. People say that to me all the time, and I usually laugh in their faces because I don't scare easily, but I felt like Elizabeth meant business. Luckily for me, I would have a good time at the event.
Once enough people arrived, the tour-conference began. Photos of Japan hung from the ceiling in the entrance way/bar area. The lights dimmed and Elizabeth took over the mike, talking about the importance of vaccines when you travel abroad -- even to developed countries like Japan. As the crowd snacked on sushi and slammed glasses of sake, a health-tourism-type video played against the wall. Who knew that you needed rabies shots before going to Japan? I cringed in horror when the parasite portion came up and nodded in appreciation, remembering the horrible stomach flu I had during Mardi Gras 2010 (New Orleans is a foreign country, too, right?). So, basically, we learned that shots are good and Americans are a lazy lot who wait until the last minute to prepare for trips abroad. Got it.
Now onto the next portion. We moved through to another room where we went to discuss shots and travel some more. I saw Wendy with CementBloc folks in an adjacent conference room filled with dessert sushi, and sneaked in. I was wearing a press pass: rules need not apply! She was with the company's Prodeep Bose and Ira Haimowitz. We chatted about CementBloc and their clients. They are exclusively a health and wellness agency and have clients like pharmaceutical companies. The immature teenager in me really wanted to ask if they got free samples of the meds they were working with, so instead I asked about measuring analytics. For some reason I was surprised that measuring analytics is possible in pharmaceuticals.
I ducked into another point on the vaccine voyage before I had to leave to go to another party. (Internet Week is super-rough.) But I am glad that I went to CementBloc. It was by far the best informational session I've attended: creative, engaging, interactive. A word of advice to other companies who hold info sessions: get CementBloc to do it for you. If you can't do that, at least borrow the bartender, who won't tell anyone how many glasses of wine you consumed in the hour you were there.
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