Hot off the Press: Recent News and Articles

Issima was honored to be featured in St. Augustine Social this month as a Woman-Owned Business.  We are so proud of this beautiful, historic, seaside town and the businesses in it who make our community a wonderful place to live.  

We also wanted to congratulate Renee Frojo of Woman Born, who has launched this spectacular blog dedicated to essays on being a woman and a mother in that order. I interviewed a bunch of mom friends for my article, Get Away or Get a Hobby - How Moms Keep it Together.

Recently, we had the chance to get to know Chef Sam Bove, celebrate the anniversary of The Press and share the abundance that the Garden Club of St. Augustine brings to our community.  Up next?  More launches to come, we will share the news as it comes out!  Stay tuned for updates and share with your friends, we’d love to spread the word. 

The Menu Narrative: Why This Edible Story is so Important.

I’m not sure exactly when I learned to read, but I know it was important to me because when we went out to dinner as a family, I was expected to order for myself in a clear voice.  It was a very empowering experience to have the server ask me what I wanted to order, and be able to answer them around the age of four or five.

Since the early 80’s, I’ve reading menus and ordering for myself. Other diners would remark to my parents how well-mannered myself and my brother were.  Let’s be clear, we were not always on our best behavior. We were fun and silly and reckless most of the time, but when we were out to dinner, we were almost always on our very best behavior. (Almost). It was a good parenting technique for mom and dad to lead us through the menu and ask us what we wanted instead of ordering for us.  As my culinary repertoire expanded, so did my vocabulary.  I never realized that what I was embarking on was what some people would now call early childhood foodie-ism. 

I still love a good menu.  I love to read it just as much as I love to order what I’ve determined to be my favorite selection.  And, no matter where I am, I can quickly surmise a good and not so good restaurant from the menu alone.  Even before I taste a dish, smell a scent wafting from the kitchen or meet the chef.  Why?  Because words matter, and while I won’t put them in your mouth, I’d love to give you a taste of our Menu Redesign offering.  Of course, I won’t give you the entire recipe, but I will say that if you want your menu to stand out, here are a few things that you might consider:

Eat with your Eyes:  The menu is the only written document as a part of the restaurant experience, other than the bill.  Ensuring that it is welcoming, enjoyable to read, mouthwatering and really speaks to your restaurant concept are the first key ingredients to bring to the table, along with a clean design.

Consistency is Key:  Just as important as the ingredient and preparation that go into building an actual menu item in the kitchen, deciding on the appropriate style to present the wording is just as important.  From font to format, you want to think about everything visually represented in relationship to concept and brand.

Dishes are Your Title:  Make sure that you are creating an intriguing page turner, by mouth watering phraseology and easily digested wording. 

Get it Right with Grammar:  Capitalize anything with a proper noun, and nothing without (mimosa, mojito, taco, soup).  Capitalize items from specific locations and top-notch local vendors, as well as any named after people – Swiss Brie Muenster, etc.  Lowercase descriptions as much as possible.

A few areas we focus on specifically:

·      Choosing language that is in line your menu and restaurant concept.

·      Formatting with clean lines and smart item placement.

·      Ensuring punctuation is clear throughout in both items and pricing.

·      Highlighting additional sourcing information when relevant and interesting.

·      Ensuring wording is authentic both in language and in formality to concept.

Hope that whets your appetite!  If you know a restaurant in need of our services, we’ll be more than happy to connect. Please email for more information. 

Client Spotlight: Jon Kaufman, H2OpenDoors

I will say that I’m lucky to meet the people I do through my work, but often, I am also astounded about their abilities not only to move through the world, but actually, to change it.  Jon Kaufman is an inspiration, as he stands for all of these things.  An advertising executive by trade, Jon started H2OpenDoors, a global project to provide water purification systems to villages in the developing world following a cruise with his late sister, where they witnessed the disparity of the “haves” and “have nots” following a picnic on an island beach.  As they departed the shoreline heading toward their cruise ship, after an afternoon picnic on a secluded island, they looked back to see the descent of hundreds of indigenous families ravage through the trash to eat from the remains of the lunch they had enjoyed only moments before. The jarring image was an emotional awakening for Jon.  At that moment, he promised his sister that he would do something about it. And he did.  Only six years later, Jon’s technology model brings capacity for over 50 million gallons of safe drinking water to the rural poor in 11 countries including Thailand, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Nepal, Tanzania, Kenya and India. 

Providing the equipment for schools, hospitals and villages to become self-sufficient through each enterprise created through his model, H2OpenDoors advises and mentors Women’s Water Councils and village elders on running a successful enterprise for their village that funds social services and break the cycle of generational poverty.  Recently he wrote Long Walk on a Dry Road, the Education of a Water Warrior to chronicle the people and places he has encountered throughout the world over the past six years.  The stories underscore that the project is as much a water mission as it shows his preference of self-reliance over dependency. 

He heads up new missions every few months to continue making a difference in the lives of those without access to fresh water, while bringing them hope for the future. If you would like to learn more about H2OpenDoors, donate or join for their next trip to Africa, check out the website or give us a call!  I am also happy to set up an interview with him if you are interested in writing more about his journey.

A Decade of Storytelling.

Issima celebrated our 10th year in business at the end of 2018.  Recently, I joked with a friend about how quickly time flies when you live deadline to deadline, but truly, the past decade has been expansive and magical beyond what I could have dreamed. While the paths of communication continue to shift, the dynamic role of a publicist remains an amalgamation of writer, therapist, detective and salesperson rolled into a problem-solver with a strategic business acumen.

In the 2000’s, while Issima was just beginning to bring new businesses to market, pivot startups, brand and rebrand new and not-so-new companies, so much was shifting in the world around us.  When I started my company in 2009, Facebook still had the word “the” in front of it, everyone had Blackberry’s, and Pinterest-ers of today were still cutting and pasting vision boards from glossy magazines.  From signing formal pitch letters by hand to faxing them over, then emailing them in and now pitching them to writers via text or Facebook, we are definitely living “in real time.”  And in our time, we’ve developed new stories and countless angles, and connected people who helped one another along the way.   

So many once in a lifetime experiences have been brought to life.  The finest wine regions explored by word and then by drone; the unmatched hospitality of opulent hotels swapped out for less pricey Airbnb’s.  But the decadent culinary journeys through France, Italy, Mexico and beyond to the local kitchens of Sonoma Valley and St. Augustine Florida never cease to deliver the flavor that fuel our creative writing engine.  We love our work, taste it, wear it, move through it, every day. Most of all, we still love what we do, and I hope that never stops.

So, in celebration of our anniversary, you will notice that Issima has modernized our look, feel, and how do what we do.  We’ve re-launched our website, created a new logo, and added a few new offerings to the mix.  The constant drive to innovate, educate, entice, and influence has not waned.  In fact, a client mentioned to me recently how much he loved what I wrote for him and wondered why I so rarely sent a newsletter of my own.  I listened and thought about the cobbler and his need for new shoes.  Thanks to him, I am happy to unveil #inspo: the official newsletter of Issima!  And, dropping the PR out of our logo, animating it, and updating our website to boot. 

In closing, thank you to our clients for trusting us with your stories and allowing is to support your businesses.  To our media partners, bloggers, and influencers, we are ever grateful for your support and partnership.  To each of our fearless leaders, non-profits, and entrepreneurs, you inspire us each day.  We may never be able to cook like you, but thank goodness for meal delivery, chefs on demand and UberEats.  Here’s to another decade of fun and embarking upon the unknown and soon to be.