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Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 3/15/16

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  1. Using predictive analytics, businesses are able to approach opportunities, risks, business partners, and customers differently because they have foresight they lacked previously. However, there are still challenges. While companies want to increase revenue, customers are constantly demanding more value for their money. Jon Higbie, chief science officer at pricing and revenue management firm and Wilbert client Revenue Analytics says, “Customer response to price, merchandising, and promotions are levers you have to pull to make the right recommendation. You have a forecast, you apply a market response model to it, and you have a holistic price-sensitive demand forecast that includes competition.” Using predictive analytics, Revenue Analytics was able to help a global hospitality group increase top-line revenue by 2.7% over a 13-week period throughout the Americas. You can read the full article on Information Week.

 

  1. Got plans for St. Patrick’s Day this year? If not, come join us at Wilbert client Avalon’s second annual Luck of Avalon event happening this Thursday (March 17). Get in the spirit with Irish music, dancing and all things green, including beer and candy. Read all about the family friendly event in this Neighborhood Newspaper article, which will feature music from live bagpipers with North Atlanta Pipes & Drums, face painting for children, a photo booth and more. Festivities will take place at 2200 Avalon Blvd. in Alpharetta from 4 to 10 p.m. “It’s just a fun celebration for everyone to wear their green, bring their families and friends out and have a good time in the plaza,” said Carla Toro, director of marketing for developer North American Properties.

 

  1. Before you start or join an NCAA tournament bracket at work, you should consider the risks. Employers have to be careful, too, according to Atlanta attorney Corey Goerdt, an associate with Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm. “Many employers either allow or encourage some type of office pools around big sporting events and have little or no trouble,” Goerdt told 11Alive’s Jennifer Leslie. “However, employers should be aware of the risks, even if they are not particularly likely to impact most workplaces. Gambling is illegal, and many employers have explicit policies banning gambling. However, Goerdt said there can be a big upside to office pools. “Pools can promote teamwork and interaction among employees who otherwise might not have that opportunity,” he said.

 

  1. The American food hall boom is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. Well-established in trend-setting cities like New York and LA, these multifaceted culinary marketplaces are spreading like wildfire to major metropolitan areas across the country. Wilbert client Bayer Properties plans on opening the Pizitz Food Hall this fall and was featured in Eater’s nine new food halls to get excited about in 2016. Plans are for two full-service restaurants, an outdoor seating and entertainment area, and an interior bar, along with several food stalls. Confirmed tenants so far include local roaster Domestique Coffee; paleta and ice cream vendor Lichita’s; an Asian dumpling concept; an independent cheese shop that will also serve sandwiches; a Korean restaurant specializing in bibimbap; and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with communal dining. Yum!

 

  1. Curious about those giant, colorful “MIDTOWN” letters in the heart of, well, Midtown? Here’s your answer. According to the re-imaginers/developers of Colony Square, Wilbert Client North American Properties, the 8-foot-tall, 40-foot-wide word on the corner of Peachtree and 15th streets “anchors” the mixed-use development and alerts visitors to exactly where they are. “The vibrant, interactive MIDTOWN installment creates an iconic anchor for our city within a city for the local community and visitors to enjoy,” North American Properties Vice President of Marketing Liz Gillespie said in a release. “These letters establish a sense of place and further enhance the Midtown brand as the cultural, connected, innovative core of Atlanta.” North American Properties – the developer behind Atlantic Station’s turnaround and Alpharetta’s Avalon – announced plans last year to revolutionize Midtown’s iconic but tired Colony Square, the first large-scale mixed-use development in the Southeast. Most notably, plans call for taking the roof off the retail core of Colony Square to better connect it with the street and lend the sense of a walkable, open-air urban experience.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 2/16/16

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  1. We hope everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day, just hopefully not too lovely in the workplace! Michelli Rivera, an attorney at Wilbert client Fisher & Phillips penned an op-ed for the Augusta Chronicle on the dangers of professing love in the workplace. Rivera wrote that there are numerous examples in case law of “situations in which cards and gifts from supervisors to subordinates such as flowers, cookies, and chocolates or sexually-explicit comments are used as evidence of unwanted sexual advances.”

 

  1. At a recent forecasting breakfast in Buckhead hosted by real estate services firm and Wilbert client JLL, the theme was the longevity of walkable urban suburban environments. Ben Breslau, managing director for research with JLL, spoke at the event and explained how converting car-centric suburbs and cities to more walkable and dense communities rank among the greatest challenges and opportunities in real estate. Breslau also cited Midtown with its MARTA access and street grid as one of the best submarkets for corporate interest and growing rents. Downtown, a historically under-performing submarket, he said, is one of the neighborhoods with the greatest upside potential. You can read more about the event in this Atlanta Journal Constitution article.

 

  1. An article in this month’s Shopping Center Business magazine described the changing face of outlet centers. CEO of Wilbert client Ben Carter Enterprises, Quito Anderson, described the shift by saying, “most of the outlets used to be in rural areas where you would have to go on a journey to get your discounts.” Anderson says, now, “those days are gone.” Additionally, Anderson cites expanded food offerings as a vital piece of expansion at the Tanger Outlets Savannah in Pooler, Georgia. He said, “outlets have really taken on an image of lifestyle centers – they’re becoming a place where people come to do things other than shopping.”

 

  1. This month Wilbert client Aaron’s, Inc. renovated it’s ninth Boys & Girls Club teen center, the Independence Unit just outside of Kansas City. Local paper the Kansas City Star featured a video of local Aaron’s volunteers painting and remodeling the facility. With input from the teen members, Aaron’s associates and club officials painted, decorated and furnished the club. Later, local Aaron’s associates and club officials unveiled the new center to the teen members, which is now equipped with new technology, furniture and fresh coats of paint.

 

  1. Leading the latest effort in bringing Atlanta into the future, Mark Toro and Advance Atlanta have been organizing a movement to expand MARTA and bring some much needed relief to this congested city. Toro, CEO of Wilbert client North American Properties, spoke at a news conference this month regarding the benefits of their plan. You can see an excerpt of the Atlanta Journal Constitution article here.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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Santa at Avalon

1. 11 Alive recently reported on new technology that makes visits with Santa more personal than ever at Avalon in Alpharetta. Santa’s cottage is equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) that lets parents convey personal information about their children without whispering in Santa’s ear. Parents fill out a questionnaire about their children when they register online or in person at the concierge desk. “Special requests from Santa are also encouraged, such as clean your room, stop fighting with your sister or do your homework,” said Carla Toro, director of marketing at Avalon. Avalon created a video to explain the process for parents. Check it out here.

2. This year, Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year, was expected to pull in a record $3 billion in sales, experts said. Traffic was expected to be up about 14 percent Monday over last year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Leon Stafford interviewed local Atlanta businesses about what successes and shortcomings they saw this year, with Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ Dax Cross providing insight into the continuing evolution of online shopping. Cross said, “Big box retailers are generally seeing 10-15 percent annual growth in online sales over last year. This growth represents a greater and greater proportion of their total growth… but their growth rates still trail Amazon’s.”

3. Our client Aaron’s remodeled the Boys & Girls Keystone teen center last month in Jacksonville, FL, its ninth Boys & Girls Club remodel this year. The club’s makeover was covered by Florida-Times Union reporter Amanda Williamson, who interviewed Deborah Green-Ward, unit director for the Beaches Clubhouse. Green-Ward said, “Here, [the teens] have a voice. We provide them with a space — and more importantly, a vehicle to express. … We know the teens will use this renovated space to invite other teens in the area to join our club so they can in turn learn and develop their leadership skills.”

4. This week, Howard Mavity, partner at leading labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips, penned an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution in response to the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino. Mavity has some advice for employers in Atlanta on the best ways to increase their preparedness for such an unfortunate and increasingly common scenario. His tips include maintaining an Emergency Action Plan as required under OSHA regulations and ensuring all entrances and exits are professionally assessed.

5. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s J. Scott Trubey, “Midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square was decades ahead of its time. Now, the venerable mix of office towers and shopping mall is about to play catch-up with the modern era.” Developer and Wilbert client North American Properties and equity partner Lionstone Investments closed on their purchase of the towers at 14th and Peachtree streets last week. Unlike much of Atlanta’s recent development history, instead of tearing down the towers and starting over, the developers plan to spruce up and reinvent this pioneer of mixed-use urbanism. You can read more about the purchase in Trubey’s article, along with several quotes from Mark Toro.

Exciting news for client, North American Properties

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colony-square-north-american-properties

It’s been an exciting week for our client North American Properties, which purchased Colony Square in a deal that closed Monday. The Wilbert team, led by account executive Liana Moran, secured coverage in outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to Creative Loafing to WSB-Channel 2 to GlobeSt to Bisnow.

NAP also launched a social campaign, encouraging people to share their ideas for Colony Square with the hashtag #ReimagineCS. Our digital strategist Rebecca Hartman is using Zoomph to track the number of times #ReimagineCS is used. After only three days there have been 140 posts with #ReimagineCS and 266,228 social impressions.

140 posts – that’s a lot of social chatter! But what’s our favorite Tweet?

This one, of course…

Always good when a client is happy!

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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Skyline View of Atlantic Station

Skyline View of Atlantic Station

1. As you have probably heard by now, Atlantic Station was sold this month to real estate and investor services firm Hines Interests. Previous owner North American Properties, who bought the property in 2010, sold the retail town center. Atlantic Station is a mix of retail, residential and high-rise office buildings just west of the Downtown Connector. It also has a hotel and an IKEA store and hosts events such as an annual pro tennis tournament and Cirque du Soleil shows. The property sold does not include buildings occupied by Publix, Dillard’s, Target and IKEA, nor the office towers or hotel on site.

 

2. Earlier this month, Aaron’s launched an initiative to hire 700 new associates at its stores through the United States and Canada. Dubbed “National Hiring Day” the company invited people to register for the event and come to learn more about the company and apply for a job. Aaron’s was looking to hire delivery drivers, customer service representatives, manager trainees, information technology specialists and call center representatives.

 

3. WSB Atlanta recently interviewed principal architect of Cooper Carry Bob Neal on recent development at Avalon in Alpharetta. They are building a full convention center and hotel at the luxury community, which will expand upon the already existing walkable community of shopping, dining, living & working. Neal says that sustaining growth in the area requires more hotel space, which is the “only thing that is lacking the area right now.”

 

Revenue Analytics’ Managing Partner and Chief Scientist, Jon Higbie

Revenue Analytics’ Managing Partner and Chief Scientist, Jon Higbie

4. Revenue Analytics’ Managing Partner and Chief Scientist, Jon Higbie, was recently published on HotelExecutive.com with an article about the future of hotel revenue management. The article focused on why hotels need to adapt an analytical mindset to drive transactional profit. Concluding the article, Higbie said, “The hotels that can conquer the next frontier of Revenue Management, and change their business mindset to think like a merchant, can develop both organic revenue growth and a strong, loyal customer base.”

 

5. A recent U.S. News & World Report article titled “How to Sell An Ugly House” details, well… just that. Mike Minihan, managing broker of Terrace 24 Realty in Atlanta, says, “Dumpy houses are usually filled with dumpy furniture and decorations, so it’s best to move everything out. This runs counter to advice an agent would give to most sellers, because a staged house usually shows much better than an empty house.” Minihan says staged homes usually work better because buyers don’t have much imagination, and an empty room forces buyers to work hard to imagine their furniture and belongings in the room.” But with the dumpy house, you are in search of a buyer with imagination, and that couch from 1981 with cigarette burns all over it is probably going impede this visionary buyer’s creative process more than it will help it,” he says.

Learning our clients’ businesses – one meal at a time

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We’ve been eating-and-learning a lot lately. We hosted our client Monetha Cobb, managing director of Franklin Street Real Estate Services, for breakfast. (She is pictured below with Wilbert account executive Savannah Duncan.) Over muffins and coffee, Monetha told us about her career, her industry and what trends she is seeing the marketplace. She specializes in retail tenant services throughout the Southeast, and is a trusted advisor for retailers such as PNC Bank, Dollar Tree Stores and Cabela’s.

 

We also hosted client Ron Pfohl, director of leasing for North American Properties, for lunch. Ron is the director of leasing for North American Properties and he walked us step-by-step through how he leases up a property such as Avalon.

 

Wilbert invests in developing everyone’s subject matter expertise – even interns. A lot of PR firms skimp on that investment. Our subject matter expertise helps us think strategically when we develop PR programs for our clients, and it helps us pitch compelling stories to the media. As a relatively new member of the real estate practice here, I have been thrilled with how well my colleagues know real estate and with the opportunities for me to learn from clients like Monetha and Ron.

 

Thanks Monetha and Ron for your time!

Monetha Cobb of 11Alive & Wilbert's Savannah Duncan

Monetha Cobb, managing director of Franklin Street Real Estate Services & Wilbert’s Savannah Duncan

 

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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1. It’s a pretty swell feeling when you get a client in a major newspaper. Triple that feeling when you land three clients in one story! A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution story on GE’s potential move to Atlanta featured quotes from Hartman Simons’ partner Bob Simons and Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) vice president Gregg Metcalf. The article also mentioned the potential for GE to come to Atlantic Station. Metcalf says Atlanta is under consideration because of its appeal to millennials, saying, “…[GE is] not going to go to a super-duper tax environment if it’s not a place millennials want to live,” Simons sees potential barriers as Atlanta’s real estate market has filled up quickly in recent years, saying that in Class A neighborhoods such as Buckhead, “It’s getting harder and harder to find big blocks of vacancies.”

Matthew Simpson, Fisher & Phillips Partner

Matthew Simpson, Fisher & Phillips Partner

2. Matthew Simpson, partner at the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips, recently landed an op-ed in The Augusta Chronicle. Simpson wrote about the recent U.S. Department of Labor proposal to raise the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. Simpson warned that small businesses in Georgia could be hurt by the new rules, saying, “…any proposal to increase minimum wage or salary requirements must take into account what businesses throughout the country can afford to pay, not just what certain companies in major metropolitan areas should pay.”

 

3. Charlotte, N.C.-based Crescent Communities was featured in the Wall Street Journal in an article about the apartment market. The article details the continued growth of this market throughout the country, despite some saying that it is overbuilt. The article says a contributing factor is “The percentage of people 18 to 34 years of age who are doubled up, meaning they are living with an adult other than a spouse, increased to 48 percent this year from 44 percent in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center. That suggests many are living with parents, other relatives or roommates and might soon opt for their own rental.” Crescent Communities has built 5,000 apartment units in the past two years, with another 5,000 in the works for the next two years.

 

Avalon in Alpharetta

Avalon in Alpharetta

4. The Urban Land Institute held its 2015 Awards Dinner at the Fox Theatre this past week and awarded its highest honor, Project of the Year, to Avalon in Alpharetta, Georgia. The Atlanta Business Chronicle details the acceptance by Mark Toro, partner of North American Properties. As the award was handed off, ULI’s Executive Director Sarah Kirsch called the project “catalytic.” Toro called the project a labor of love and said he’s been having more fun than he’s ever had. Then he shared his assessment of the project, calling Avalon Atlanta’s first “urban burb.”

 

5. The 2016 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS) is an annual conference bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners from different segments of the global alternatives industry to explore the challenges and opportunities their industry faces and design responses that will take it to its next level of success. eVestment, an analytics and logistics company serving institutional investing community, recently wrote about CAIS, detailing the conferences location (Cayman Islands! Ritz Carlton!) and dates (Feb, 4-5, 2016). We’ll see you there!

Ed Baker leaves the Atlanta Business Chronicle; Part of his Legacy is a Great Alumni Network

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Big news today in the Atlanta newspaper world: Ed Baker is retiring as publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle after 30 years. Reading the news got me thinking about what a great alumni group the Chronicle has.

Ed Baker, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Ed Baker, Atlanta Business Chronicle

I worked at the Chronicle in the late 1990s as a reporter. Though my time there was brief (less than two years), it looms large in my mind. The Chronicle launched my business journalism career, I made a lot of friends and most importantly I met Tony Wilbert. Back then Tony was just the best beat reporter I had ever met. Now he is my husband, the father of my three children and my business partner at The Wilbert Group.

 

We worked with some great people at the Chronicle who are still close friends – like Erin Moriarty, now a freelance writer; Matt Gove, now Chief Consumer Officer at Piedmont Hospital; and Julie Bryant Fisher, now VP of marketing at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. (Julie and I still get to work together because I am lucky enough to be on the advisory board at ACFB.)

 

And I have also become friends with so many people through the years, who worked before me at the Chronicle. People like Anita Sharpe, who left the Chronicle for The Wall Street Journal and is now Bloomberg’s bureau chief in Atlanta; Jason Kelly, now bureau chief for Bloomberg in New York; and Kelly Greene, who spent many years at The Wall Street Journal and now works in content strategy for BlackRock.

 

And there were a lot of interesting people who came after me too, with whom I bonded over our mutual Chronicle-ness. I became friends with Kate Carter, who left the Chronicle to become a teacher and then an entrepreneur. And Mary Jane Credeur, who went to Bloomberg and now works at Transwestern.

 

Baker leaves behind good people at the Chronicle, as well as an alumni network doing super-cool things across Atlanta and the country.

 

I am not sure Ed ever forgave Tony and me for leaving the Chronicle for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but we are certainly grateful for our time there and especially for all the cool Chronics (current and former) we know.

 

Lots more great alumni to mention: Dean Anason, now at American Banker; Scott Trubey, now a reporter at the AJC; Walter Woods, now the Atlanta area director of marketing for Hyatt; Evelina Shmukler Burnett, now a reporter at Mississippi Public Broadcasting; Elizabeth Drachman, communications manger at DAI; Michael Wall at Georgia Organics; Marcy Frank, a communications VP at Credit Suisse in New York. I could go on and on. There are so many great friends and what a blessing to be part of this alumni group. Google has nothing on us!

Dragon Con – Starring PR as one of the Super Heroes

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How does one bring 70,000 people to the city of Atlanta? Enter the phenomenon Dragon Con.

 

Dragon Con Attendees Showing Off Their Costumes

Dragon Con Attendees Showing Off Their Costumes

A huge emergence of sci-fi and fantasy, gaming comics, literature, art, music, and film gurus, Atlanta is taken over by this special universe during Labor Day Weekend as attendees transform the city, traveling in costume acting out their superhero powers – and attending the convention.

 

As a public relations professional, I could not help but think about the PR campaign behind this sci-fi and gaming spectacle.

 

Dragon Con’s team created a smart Facebook media relations page and website devoted to media relations and awareness. Of course, those elements were just part of a multifaceted approach. From strategy to implementation, a PR campaign starts early and doesn’t end until the hard results come in – how many people did we reach, who covered the event, where are the opportunities for the next campaign?

 

Dragon Con Visitors in Batman Costumes

Dragon Con Visitors in Batman Costumes

Dragon Con’s record attendance speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the public relations team. After all, great PR drives more than media hits; it drives measurable results.

 

It takes the hands of many to pull off Dragon Con, but our role as PR professionals is and will always be to bring heightened awareness of an event, business, product, or campaign – and if we do it well, 70,000 Dragon “Con-ians” may just show up.

Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines

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  1. Are you in the know about the TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information technology) sector? Brannan Moss, senior managing director, and Juliet Potter, vice president and director of research at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) showed their expertise in this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle. Detailing the growing demand for non-traditional, “creative” office workspaces in the Atlanta area, Moss said, “To be successful, these facilities need to be located in areas with amenities including good transportation infrastructure and vibrant retail opportunities.” Potter went on, “Demand for creative office space is following the fundamental shift in the ways companies desire to acquire and retain the best talent.”

 

Mike Ferrer, broker in charge of Lincoln Harris’ Charleston office

Mike Ferrer, broker in charge of Lincoln Harris’ Charleston office

  1. Mike Ferrer, broker in charge of Lincoln Harris’ Charleston office, recently sat down with Globe St. to discuss the booming commercial real estate industry in Charleston. Ferrer says that the statistics back up his claims, with the office market vacancy falling from 11 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 7.8 percent in the second quarter of 2015. Increasing demand has also pushed up gross asking rents to $19.49 per square foot in the first quarter this year. In tandem, the population of Charleston has seen a recent boom, with a 50 percent increase in the last decade. Clearly Ferrer is being quite modest when he says, “…the market is producing a favorable environment for commercial real estate growth.”

 

  1. Fisher & Phillips’ managing partner Bert Brannen recently had an op-ed published in the Daily Report concerning the this week’s latest “Defaltegate” scandal. The latest development: a judge overturned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension by the NFL, and Brannen realized this was a potential lesson for employers in Georgia. In fact, he has four different lessons including ensuring that employees fully understand company rules and that the punishment fits the crime.

 

  1. Globe St. published an article this week investigating just why the Atlanta Beltline is so popular. Tim Schrager, board chairman of the Atlanta Apartment Association, gave his opinion, “People want to be able to travel between hot neighborhoods like Midtown and Inman Park without fighting Atlanta traffic, and the BeltLine makes that possible,” Schrager says. “That’s an attractive benefit to young professionals, families and retirees alike.” The Beltline is among the most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. It is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other.

 

Mark Toro, managing partner and chairman of North American Properties

Mark Toro, managing partner and chairman of North American Properties

  1. Mark Toro, managing partner and chairman of North American Properties, was recently interviewed by none other than the New York Times. Toro details his company’s culture of “Who will do what by when?” which means that, “If somebody says during a meeting, ‘We’ve got to get this lease signed,’ everybody knows what the follow-up question is going to be.” Toro then went on to give some advice on how to handle the people you work with, “There are only two types of people in the world: people who do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it, and people who don’t do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it.”