OLD Media Moves

A PR person’s perspective of the Financial Follies

November 25, 2014

Posted by Bill C. Smith

BillSmithThis past Friday marked my second Financial Follies. The black tie affair took place at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, hosted by the New York Financial Writers’ Association.

According to financial media lore, the event has been described as a combination of one’s birthday party, Thanksgiving, and wedding day combined into one magnificent event. Or even prom, but I didn’t notice any breathalyzer-bearing chaperones.

Cocktail Reception

The evening’s events commenced on the eighth floor, where VIPs, PR management, and editors partook in the President’s Reception. Each Follies table – seating 10 total – was allowed two tickets to the President’s Reception. From what I’ve been told, most firms send their media elders.

The President’s Reception is where war stories from the ’90s were told with misty-eyed fondness, and “@hotmail.com” email addresses were exchanged, and business cards were traded for actual Rolodexes.

On the sixth floor, most Follies attendees took full advantage of the cash-only cash bar (literally, you needed paper monies) directly outside the main ballroom.

As a member of the unwashed masses on the sixth floor, I rolled into the cash-only cash bar this year with enough petty cash to fund a Follies seat. This was to avoid last year’s liquidity issues, and leave no thirsty reporter unsated.

The absurdly high-priced libations resulted from the philanthropic nature of the Follies. So everyone’s $11 Coronas were funding a college education. Judging by the level of revelry and price of the drinks, the NYFWA is funding a D-I football team.

The Show

The event featured tables with various financial firms, PR agencies, and media personalities. Guests at our table were privy to the finest liter of Johnny Walker Black that Midtown had to offer and hailed from outlets including The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch. Several Bloomberg reporters, sensing fun times, elbowed their way across the crowded ballroom to partake in our table-wide festivities. The crowd was — roughly speaking — at about 56,300.

The Follies includes a Broadway-esque show put on by a group of alarmingly enthusiastic reporters, and include a combination of skits and songs based on current financial news. This year’s show featured routines with the instrumentals ranging from Franki Valli’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

There was also a number referencing Bill Gross’s departure from PIMCO, including an entire song dedicated to Janus Capital, and butts.

The general consensus among the PR pros I spoke with was that the star of the show was Forbes reporter Antoine Gara. Gara starred in several video skits from TheStreet as Preet Bharara. Gara’s performance was somewhere between a young Denzel Washington and a current Matthew McConaughey (pre-Lincoln ad).

As the sun came up

There were at least two after-parties hosted by PR firms in the Midtown area, and after the senior VPs and editors departed to catch the last trains leaving Grand Central and Penn Station, reporters and younger PR pros alike raged well into the night.

The 72nd Follies were another amazing night of networking and show tunes. As the last fries were consumed (we stopped at McDonald’s because America) everyone hailed cabs and retreated to their respective corners of Brooklyn.

Another successful night of Folly-ing, many thanks to the NYFWA and all those in attendance.

Bill C. Smith (@BillCSmith87) is an account supervisor at Makovsky Integrated Communications in New York.

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