Business & Economy
How to Build a Better Mousetrap with Social Media PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:06

Ever play the game Mouse Trap? The goal is to build a contraption that’s set into motion when a player turns a crank. The crank spins gears that push a lever that smacks a boot that kicks a bucket that spills a marble that rolls down a chute, hits a pole … well, you get the idea.

In the end, it catches a mouse – if you’re lucky.

Seeing how media has evolved reminds me of Mouse Trap. Get a mention in a newspaper article and find an online link to share on Twitter. Your followers retweet it to their followers, who post it on Facebook, where someone finds it and mentions it on a talk-radio fan page and, before you know it, you’re a guest on a show!

Of course, that’s a simplified scenario with a dream outcome, but it gives you the picture.

Connecting these different platforms integrates your publicity with social media.  At EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), we have Jeni Hinojosa, our Social Media Campaign Manager, turning the crank.  She writes and posts blogs and comments, and tweets updates, on behalf of clients to build a large, credible following for them.  I asked her to share a couple of the ways she has spread our clients’ messages and to give you a few tips for handling your own social media.

Jeni, by the way, has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a specialty in social media. She studied the “socialsphere,” how it evolved into its own subculture and how we interact with it. In short, she knows how it works – and she knows how to work it.

Here’s what she wrote:

People who casually use social media may send a few Tweets, update their Facebook status and write a weekly blog post. They connect with people whose content they’re interested in: family and friends, co-workers, fellow hobbyists, groups with shared interests or causes.

If you have serious goals, however, such as building an audience for marketing purposes, you need to do all of that and more. One strategy I use for our clients is generating “third-party conversations.” Instead of simply posting on our clients’ own social networking sites, I visit blogs, websites and fan pages of people with similar interests. I comment on their content in hopes of engaging their audience in a conversation that ultimately brings new traffic to our clients’ websites.

Here’s a for instance: We have a client whose message involves maintaining healthy romantic relationships. I found a great article on this topic and shared it with a comment on other sites.  The article prompted conversations and I stayed involved in the discussion.  When it seemed appropriate, I shared a link to our client’s blog. In this case, she got new followers on Facebook and Twitter through that one action.

Another strategy I use is promoting our clients when they’re featured in traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and TV, which all seem to have an online presence. We recently had a client who was also on board for our talk radio campaign. I promoted her upcoming interviews to her friends and followers.  Then I visited the stations’ websites for links to their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. I joined their networks, friended their friends, and plugged the upcoming interviews there, too, e.g. “I’m so excited to be chatting with host’s name here on Friday about topic here.”

As a result, this client made a lot of new connections among the stations’ listeners.

These are all strategies anyone can use; all they require is time and imagination. To help ensure your success, here are some tips:

Don’t over-promote yourself. That’s the No. 1 rule. People are turned off by those who seem interested only in selling a book or product. A good rule of thumb is to make sure 80 percent of your content is light, interesting, informative or fun.

Don’t bury your followers in an avalanche of content. Limit Facebook status updates and Tweets to three or four a day.

People new to social media often regard those with similar content as rivals or competitors. Actually, these can be your new best friends. When you promote Chef Shane's cooking blog, he’ll likely tweet about the great chocolate cake recipe on your website. Become a partner in sharing with online personalities where messages are similar to yours and you’ll soon have a vast support network.

Integrating publicity and social media takes some thinking, some effort and, as Jeni says, some creativity. But isn’t that always true when you’re trying to build a better mousetrap? And this marketing costs nothing – not with free Wi-Fi available almost everywhere you turn.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 22-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. She also co-hosts "The News and Experts Radio Show with Alex and Marsha" on Sirius/XM Channel 131 on Saturdays at 5:00 PM EST.

 
Governor Quinn Announces Major Road Projects for Peoria Area During Transportation Conference PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:01

Illinois 8 and Illinois 29 Work to Create Jobs and Reduce Congestion

PEORIA – April 3, 2012. As part of his commitment to ensuring Illinois has a 21st century transportation system, Governor Pat Quinn today announced two major road projects in the Peoria area. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will complete the final phase of its widening of Illinois Route 8 in Washington this summer and begin finalizing plans for the replacement of the BNSF Railroad viaduct over Illinois Route 29 in Chillicothe. The two projects will create jobs, reduce congestion and improve the flow of goods and services throughout the greater Peoria area.

“In order to compete in the global economy, we must ensure that Illinois has a 21st century transportation system,” Governor Quinn said. “We are committed to modernizing our roads and bridges in the Peoria area, which will create jobs and support economic growth throughout Illinois.”

Governor Quinn announced the two projects, which are estimated to cost more than $12.4 million, while addressing the Innovation Conference on Asphalt & Transportation (ICAT), which provides opportunities to develop public-private partnerships, and address transportation industry challenges. Keynote speakers at the conference included Sam Pitroda, Infrastructure Minister and Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and business and government leaders from around the world. ICAT, hosted by Bradley University, also presented Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton with its Heartland Sustainability Award.

The improvements on Illinois Route 8 include reconstructing 1.2 miles of roadway and adding a second lane in each direction, with a middle turn lane and sidewalks, between Summit Drive and Legion Road. Construction will begin later this spring. The project, estimated to cost $10.2 million, is funded through Governor Quinn’s historic Illinois Jobs Now! capital program. The improvements represent the last segment of a long-term, $43.7 million expansion of nearly six miles of Illinois 8 from Rosedale Road in East Peoria to Legion Road in Washington, a stretch that accommodates almost 19,000 cars and trucks a day.

Governor Quinn is also pleased to announce that IDOT is committing $2.2 million to complete the engineering and design plans for replacing the BNSF viaduct over Illinois Route 29 in Chillicothe. The project will replace the two existing viaducts with a single structure carrying three mainline tracks, a yard track, a service road and a pedestrian walkway. Illinois 29 will be widened to two lanes in each direction, with a middle turn lane, sidewalks and a bike path, between Truitt Avenue and the Senachwine Creek Bridge. The engineering and design plans will cost about $2.2 million and require approximately three years to complete. Construction is estimated to cost $22 million.

“These improvements will add much-needed road and rail capacity in the Peoria area,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “I am eager to work with our local partners to see both projects completed as soon as possible.”

The six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital program in the state’s history. Since Governor Quinn helped pass  Illinois Jobs Now! in 2009, the program has created an estimated 1,500 jobs in the Peoria area.

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Blackhawk Hills Names Melanie Flesch as Assistant Outreach Coordinator PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Daniel Payette   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:47
ROCK FALLS, IL – Blackhawks Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D)
announces that Melanie Flesch has been named Assistant Outreach Coordinator. Melanie will
be responsible for outreach support on the iFiber broadband project, as well as general marketing
including research, reporting, social media development, and design.

“We are excited to have Melanie start at Blackhawk Hills,” said Outreach Coordinator Daniel
Payette. “She has a keen sense of communications and brings much enthusiasm to the office.
Importantly, she will allow us to expand our outreach efforts on the broadband project, especially
in researching fiber optic-oriented opportunities for economic and business development.”

Melanie, a native of East Dubuque, IL, is a 2009 graduate of Clarke University’s Business
Administration program. With a concentration in marketing, she has specialized in working
with small businesses in the Dubuque area. Over the past two years, she provided consultation
services with her company, Truly Organized Marketing. Her past experience includes the
positions of Marketing Project Specialist for Heartland Financial and Sales and Marketing
Director for Dubuque Area Steamatic.

About Blackhawk Hills RC&D

Blackhawk Hills RC&D is a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, IL that serves
Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest Illinois.
Blackhawk Hills RC&D’s services include community planning, development assistance, natural
resources conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk
Hills RC&D is sponsored by local county boards and Soil and Water Conservation Districts and
is overseen by an 18-member council, consisting of three representatives from each of the six
counties.

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Daniel Payette at (815) 625-3854 or
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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AARP to MidAmerican Energy: Quit Trying to Fool Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:40

DES MOINES — AARP leaders are taking on MidAmerican Energy false portrayal of the Association’s position on nuclear power and attempts to shift away the focus from what HF 561 really does in their ads.  AARP doesn’t oppose nuclear power, but does oppose changing Iowa law to favor utility company and shareholder interests over Iowa’s ratepaying consumers.

“MidAmerican’s ironically titled ‘Straight Talk’ ads misrepresented AARP’s position on HF 561 and hid the truth about what HF 561 actually does”, said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy.  “The ads stated that AARP is an opponent of nuclear power.  That is an outright lie, just the beginning a new campaign by MidAmerican to fool Iowans into favoring HF 561.  Iowans deserve better than to be fooled.”

Carroll explained that AARP has consistently stated in testimony before House and Senate Commerce Committees, in AARP mail and e-mail correspondence with lawmakers, AARP members and Iowans, and in AARP editorials and paid ads, AARP is NOT opposed to nuclear power.

“The question of whether to build a new nuclear power plant is in MidAmerican’s hands,” said Carroll.  “It is critical to note, they can build a plant without HF 561.  The question for lawmakers is whether to shift nearly all the one-billion to several billions in costs and risks associated with new plants from the company to its customers.  That is what AARP opposes. That is what HF 561 does, according to the Iowa Utility Board staff memo. ”

AARP Iowa Executive Council Member Sharon Treinen of Ackley and a shareholder of MidAmerican’s parent company Berkshire Hathaway said, “I take no comfort in knowing HF 561 guarantees a profit for me as shareholder.  As a utility customer in Iowa, I oppose HF 561.  I’d rather not pay on the front end as a ratepayer, just so I can benefit as a shareholder.  I feel very fortunate that my husband and I were able to save so that we have some stock investments, but, I’m even more concerned about the many elderly and other Iowans on fixed incomes.

According to recent reports, Treinen said nearly a quarter million Iowa households, about 224,000, are behind on their utility bills and therefore face potential shut offs as of April 1, the day Iowa’s winter utility shut-off moratorium ends.

State President Tony Vola, also a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder, said HF 561 violates the common sense rule.  “I live by the common sense rule.  HF 561 shifts the billon-plus costs and profit-making aspects of building a new power plant from the company and shareholders to customers.  I choose to spend my money to be a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, but under HF 561, I and other Iowa utility customers would have no choice but to pay advance costs – which have always ballooned in other states – and a profit, for a long, expensive investment, even if this project goes bust.”

“AARP is fighting for a better deal for Iowa utility customers who bear the upfront costs and risk, and MidAmerican is fighting for their shareholders, for the great deal that HF 561 provides to them,” said Carroll. “We hope lawmakers side with customers, not with big business and company shareholders.”

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About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 
Governor Quinn Encourages Attendance at First Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network Event PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:29

Berwyn Event to Connect Families Facing Foreclosure with
Resources to Help Keep Their Homes

 

CHICAGO – March 30, 2012. As part of his commitment to affordable housing and foreclosure prevention, Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged Illinois families facing foreclosure to attend the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network’s first “Keep Your Home, Illinois” workshop. Held Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Berwyn, the workshop will connect struggling homeowners with in-person assistance, resources and knowledge to help them keep their homes.

 

“Helping families stay in their homes is essential in keeping our communities strong and our economic recovery moving forward,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network is a one-stop-shop that connects families facing foreclosure with the most up-to-date information and free housing counseling to help them navigate their options.”

 

Announced in the Governor’s State of the State address, the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN) is a multi-agency effort coordinated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). The statewide program gathers all resources available to homeowners to ensure that families facing foreclosure can access the assistance they need in one stop. The IFPN provides access to counseling services, legal advice, mortgage payment assistance programs, foreclosure preven­tion events and tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud.

 

The Berwyn event is the first of six regional, IFPN “Keep Your Home, Illinois” foreclosure prevention workshops around the state. The IFPN’s resources are also available 24-hours a day online at KeepYourHomeIllinois.org, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the IFPN’s free hotline 1-855-KEEP-411 (1-855-533-7411).

 

Foreclosures adversely impact too many Illinois families and communities. Illinois is consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest number of foreclosures. In 2011, 103,003 homes in Illinois received a foreclosure filing, or one in every 51 homes – ranking the state eighth in the country, according to RealtyTrac.

 

The Chicago area has the nation’s largest inventory of foreclosed homes. According to RealtyTrac’s inventory records, as of December 2011, there were 96,996 properties that were bank-owned or in some stage of foreclosure in the Chicago metro area.

 

“You just don’t know until it hits you what a disaster your life can become when you can’t pay your bills,” local homeowner Regina Bailey, who was recently approved for temporary financial assistance through the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, said. “You go through program after program, but you never know about most of them unless someone tells you. Then all of a sudden you feel okay because you have hope. That’s what the Governor’s Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network has done for me.”

 

Working with a housing counselor doubles a homeowner’s chances of getting a loan modification and, once their loan is modified, foreclosure counseling reduces their chances of re-default by 67 percent.

 

“There are many benefits to working with an IFPN housing counselor,” said Mary Kenney, executive director of the IHDA. “Our counselors have access to numerous state and federal programs, and can direct homeowners toward the best program to suit their individual situations. The entire purpose of the network is to collect resources in one place, helping struggling homeowners save valuable time and resources as they work to keep their homes.”

 

“We are proud to be one of the 68 counseling agencies providing services under the network,” Ofelia Navarro, executive director of the Spanish Coalition for Housing, said. “Governor Quinn understands that homeowners have difficulty understanding and keeping up with which foreclosure prevention programs are available to them. Now more than ever, as the number of programs increase, homeowners need guidance to choose the best option for them.”

 

Under Governor Quinn, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) partnered to establish this free, one-stop collaboration of state agencies and nonprofit organizations to help Illinois residents access resources so that they can remain in their homes.

 

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (www.ihda.org) is an independent, self-supporting bonding authority that finances the creation and preservation of affordable housing throughout Illinois. Since 1967, IHDA has allocated more than $10.6 billion to finance more than 215,000 affordable housing units for the residents of Illinois. IHDA sells bonds independently, based on its own good credit, to finance affordable housing in Illinois.

 

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