All the Swirl "Must Reads"

By Charles Communications Staff

Each month we look back at the great food, beverage and lifestyle stories that caught our attention.

Kimberly Charles

Article: The Road to Discovering Your Roots

Source: National Geographic

This piece is an abstract from a longer cover story about ancestral travel a.k.a. discovering one's roots. There is a huge trend in this sort of travel, and I feel it makes us all more connected and it makes for great storytelling among friends and family. I'm a big fan of National Geographic Traveler, and have many close friends there on the editorial staff—they do a great job.

So, why do I recommend this particular article? I've been my family chronicler for a while, learning about the family tree, inputting data to, sending in my DNA, and learning of connections near and far. I am sentimental and love tradition, so putting this puzzle together is fun; I just wish I had more time to devote to it. My near term dream is to travel to Ireland with my boyfriend who has immediate relatives in Cork, and to connect with my side of the family.   

Nicola Evans

Article: Redefining Mental Illness

Source: New York Times

The New York Times presents an insightful peek into the wholly flawed approach when taken to treat people suffering from mental illness. T. M. Luhrmann argues that mental illness should be viewed and treated on a spectrum as opposed to the current "black or white" diagnoses that often leads to the over-prescription of potentially harmful medications. Recent innovations and discoveries at the National Institute of Mental Health, outlined in this article, aim to revolutionize the treatment of mental illness in the future—a worldwide issue that is largely under-researched.

Alex Fondren

Article: Meet “Timeline,” A Mobile News App With a Long, Long Memory

Source: Fast Company

This Fast Company piece details a revolutionary news app that allows its readers to trace the historical timeline that led up to any chosen story—as far back as the reader cares to go. It's a history major's dream-come-true.

This article perfectly encapsulates the biggest gap in today's 140-character, headline-obsessed news consumption culture: the why.

As a history major, I am often amazed at how little context we are provided—even from top newspapers and news organizations—as to why events are happening. This inherent lack of context is (in my personal opinion), a big part of the conflict, racism and intolerance that surrounds polarizing events. Perhaps if our news came with a little more background, it wouldn’t be so easy to jump to rash conclusions or shake our heads in easy judgment when reading an alarming news story. Perhaps we'd see where past “solutions” failed and stop repeating the same mistakes. Perhaps instead we'd take a more measured, less reactionary approach to our collective worldview and with history in mind, seek new and creative solutions to our 21st century concerns. 

Jordan Carmack

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Article: Julianne Moore, Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon Say No to Mani Cam

Source: Yahoo

During E!’s red carpet event at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles last Sunday night, A-listers Julianne Moore, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon declined to take part in the Mani-Cam—a segment that involves a close up camera shot of celebrity fingernails (and jewels). Though neither of them explained why they refused, it seems as though all three decided (whether knowingly or not) to take part in the #askhermore campaign which encourages reporters at award shows to focus on more than the physical appearance of the women in attendance.

I chose this article as my “Must Read” because I personally agree that the media’s heavy focus on the physical appearance of female celebrities is inappropriate, and should instead be more similar to the attention male celebrities receive. I would like to see more inspiration-oriented, goal-oriented and work-oriented questions: ones that assume these women actually have talents, creative minds and opinions unrelated to their outfit.

Kathleen Pizzo

Article: Michael Kors May See ‘Halo Effect’ From Michelle Obama’s Suit

Source: Bloomberg

Following President Obama’s State of the Union Address this month, as per usual many of the items covered sparked conversation throughout the media—though it seems none peaked popluar interest so much as the subject of the First Lady’s choice of apparel. Though it was of zero relevance to the conditions of the country (or was it?), I thought it to be rather relevant to the PR-marketing-sphere, and seemingly, Bloomberg concurred.

The ‘halo effect’, as Bloomberg dubs it, in this case refers to the positive attention a company receives after a celebrity/public figure “endorses” their product—although it might be a far cry to consider the wearing of the dress an “endorsement” because it is unclear if The First Lady was given this dress, paid to wear it on national television, or simply prefers American Designers. Either way, Bloomberg reports that as Kors basks in media buzz, the brand could potentially see a rise in sales, despite the fact that apparel is only a small part of retailer sales.  

Already, the company’s shares have received a boost after analysts at Cowen & Co. upgraded the stock to the equivalent of a buy rating, which they mention is due in part to strong sales of handbags over the holidays.  

This article offers a prime example of how public figures and celebrities can impact the sales and public image of a particular brand—albeit with or without the intention of doing so.

All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting