Last week I flew over to the New York Toy Fair with the Bananagrams team, and it was eventful to say the least! Unlike most of the team who were travelling into NYC from the Bananagrams HQ in Rhode Island, I actually had a rather straightforward commute from Heathrow where snow from “the great sou’easter” had little impact.
Part of the reason I was heading out to the show for the second year running was to have a handover with Judee, my US counterpart. Judee’s been handling the US PR for Bananagrams since the dawn of time (roughly) and so replicating her excellent strategy and giving it a UK spin has been a fundamental part of what I’ve been doing here for the past 14 or 15 months. She’s a no-nonsense, down-to-earth PR and it’s fair to say we’ve gelled really well and have a great relationship littered with banter, despite the distance. Anyway, the handover. Necessary because Judee’s first baby was due a week or so after Toy Fair and I’m going to be covering her maternity leave. Of course, ignoring all my advice to keep everything crossed until after Toy Fair, Judee rather conveniently went into labour on the first day. Oh Yes. I fly all that way to see her and she hides out in a hospital somewhere giving birth! The audacity! But what a cutie her little one is… 🙂
So my two days at the show were spent handling Judee’s meetings with various US journalists and bloggers – a little daunting when you’re not 100% familiar with the media landscape but a tight learning curve (and we know how much I enjoy those!) that got the PR adrenalin pumping – and generally immersing myself in the brand all over again. It’s always good to spend time with the HQ team on the stand: it really helps me get under the skin (pardon the pun) of the games and to see first-hand how popular they are with buyers. I even took a few orders and, of course, tutored countless passers-by in the newly revamped Appletters and PAIRSinPEARS games. What’s more, they’re a friendly bunch (seriously, I’ll stop with the puns in a sec) who live and breathe the brand too, and it was so valuable to spend time with the people I’m working with.
Highlights of my flying visit to the Big Apple, aside from Judee’s new arrival and some very productive media meetings on the stand, included attending the Women In Toys awards dinner, where Top Banana Rena Nathanson was up for two awards. Three hours filled with passionate, creative and inspirational women who work in the toy industry and who ooze camaraderie. Plus an obligatory shopping/sightseeing dash before catching my plane home on the last day!
And I can’t publish this post without mentioning the pride I felt when a British toy company boss approached the Bananagrams stand to congratulate Rena and the team on “the fantastic PR that’s happening in the UK”. I may have beamed a little. Or blushed. Either way, it felt quite nice!