Born and bred New Yorker and doyenne of hospitality PR Ariel Moses was recently tapped to head LaFORCE’s brand new hospitality team, after serving as VP of the category at DKC. We caught up with the woman about town, who tells us her tales of PR life in the Big Apple, including why she’s known as the “Kevin Bacon of PR,” the time a friend caught fire, and orchestrating Rudy Giuliani’s famous coconut water moment…
First off, how did you end up in the hospitality biz?
I’ve actually asked myself this countless times, and I think the answer is the people. This is a personality-centric industry, and I love entertaining and meeting new people. I also love food, spirits, and culture, so it all made sense. The passion people have in the hospitality industry—whether it’s a small start-up restaurant, renowned nightlife group or a huge hotel company—is unparalleled. Hospitality is always changing, and while a trend may be transient, it always exists as a universal norm. I’ve also made some fantastic friends in the industry that helps sweeten the deal. I even met my husband, who runs the DJ company SET Artist Management, through an old nightlife client, so I think that says it all! My life is literally all hospitality all the time.
What are your favorite memories from red carpet events you’ve spearheaded?
While at SHADOW PR, I was working at Super Saturday on behalf of a coconut water brand, and with all the sponsors, it’s always difficult to get press coverage and break away from the clutter. However, I got very lucky as I personally know Rudy and Judith Giuliani, who were there and walking the carpet, so I asked them if they’d do me a favor and pose with the product for a photo. The next week the Wall Street Journal led their feature on the event with: “Mr. Giuliani, could you please hold this O.N.E. Coconut Water?” The client and boss were really happy, and I thought it was hilarious.
Give us your best NYC PR story…
Oh gosh—this is a tough one, especially since some of them can’t be repeated…I once had to call off a huge media preview for a new venue with 200-plus guests, all press, an hour before the scheduled start time because there was an issue with permits. This was also right after the company’s founder had stepped down, but we made it work, and the client and I still laugh about it today! There was also the moment that my best friend and writer/editor, Carson Griffith, accidentally lit herself on fire at one of my venues during a party, and it made it into someone’s story.
Any golden moments from Fashion Week?
There was a point during Fashion Week back when I was an account executive, and it was also the night of the VMAs, and we were hosting them at 1Oak for Jay-Z. I was running around all night in heels to different venues around the city for a handful of events, and I eventually ended up at the VMA party. I was on my feet from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., when I realized my foot hurt a ton, so I put on flats and kept going until 5 a.m. The next day I found out I actually had a stress fracture from all the running around, but I just kept on working through it…woops.
Your claim to fame…
Perhaps my media and industry relationships—I’ve honestly made my best friends in the world through this job. Someone once told me I was the “Kevin Bacon of PR”…not because of Footloose, but rather, the whole “Six Degrees of Ariel Moses” thing. It’s either that or my sarcastic/joking attitude no matter what the situation…if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re doing it wrong.
What will the new gig at LaFORCE entail?
This is definitely a big step, and while some of the responsibilities are the same, like overseeing accounts, junior staff, attracting new business, etc., this time it’s being built from the ground up. My previous firm, DKC, gave me such fantastic training for this new step, and I truly learned from the best. I am only lucky enough to be in this position because of what I learned over there. This new role is a great challenge, and I think overseeing the growth of the department itself, identifying new clients on a regular basis, managing staff in a larger way is definitely going to be amplified. I’m sure there are a lot of other elements that I will learn along the way, but I love that—it’s important to always keep learning in this industry, and I love a new challenge.
What are your plans for the new hospitality team?
LaFORCE has such a strong name in the industry, and I’m looking forward to helping build something incredible that makes the whole company, and myself, proud. I’m also very excited to work with James [LaForce], whom I’ve always admired, in addition to the stellar team here. My plans are to create a solid, strong, and multifaceted PR team that services clients in an impactful and strategic way, but we’ll have fun while doing it. On a basic management level, I look forward to bringing on team members that have different strengths and experience so we can all work together to build true 360-degree campaigns that give clients stellar results. Most importantly, I want everyone on the team to be excited about their work—that’s the key for me and why I love what I do.
Who are some of the big clients in the category?
We are just now tapping into this and have some fantastic brands that we can’t yet announce, but we will soon! However, LaFORCE has a fantastic track record with past clients such as Grand Hyatt, Chef’s Club by Food & Wine, Bryant Park Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton over the years, so I’m looking to work with their stellar reputation to make LaFORCE a power player in the hospitality PR world.
What events are you working on now?
I’m actually working on the Prfect! Biennial Benefit (in support of Prfect Earth Project) in East Hampton on September 3. It’s a passion project for James, and I’m a longtime Hamptonite, so I can’t think of a better cause or project to get started on. It isn’t hospitality per say, but I think all PR pros should balance things out with charity work—keeps us humble, or something.
You studied European History at Columbia in NYC—has that come in handy at any time during your career?
Oddly enough, it has! I’m a passionate writer and reader, and anyone who works with me will tell you I’m absolutely crazed about proper grammar and syntax—all things I needed to get a degree. The best part is the research end of my major, which has given me a passion for finding new angles, digging for background on companies, and finding trends. I basically look to uncover every possible angle and read everything I can get my hands on, which is basically setting me up for one long hospitality thesis paper.
What keeps you in NYC?
My family is the number one reason, but the truth is it’s the greatest city in the world, and I could not imagine being anywhere else. I’ve been here my entire life, and love it more and more every day. Oh, and I don’t have a license and have never driven a car…so I sort of have to stay here.