Grace Lavigne

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    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Communications Professional
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Web-only/Blogger
      Media - Other
    • Title:Associate Web Editor
    • Organization:The Journal of Commerce
    • Area of Expertise:Writing, Editing, Social Media
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    Expert Alert: Facebook Advertising / IRS Tax Issues / Google Wallet

    Monday, September 26, 2011, 4:14 PM [Expert Alerts]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    EXPERT ALERTS

    1. Advertising: Free Advertising on Facebook for Small Business

    2. Advertising: How Much Is Facebook’s $50 in Free Ad Credits Worth?

    3. Business: A Lesson for Businesses From Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott

    4. Business: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: The Question for Employers This Flu Season

    5. Finance: IRS Tax Issues Affect 1 Out of 6 Americans

    6. Real Estate: Buying in the City

    7. Technology: Four Trends Shaping E-Commerce This Holiday Season

    8. Technology: Impact of Google Wallet

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES

    1. Facebook News Feed & Other Changes

    2. Hispanic Television Summit 2011 Recap

    3. Hispana Leadership Summit Inspires

    4. Dear Gracie: How to Network Like a Pro

     

    ***************************

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts who are available to discuss timely news topics. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please see the contact info at the end of the alert. You can also find Expert Alerts online on ProfNet Connect at bit.ly/pncalerts

    **1. ADVERTISING: FREE ADVERTISING ON FACEBOOK FOR SMALL BUSINESS. Perry Marshall, co-author of "Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising" with Thomas Meloche, has 10 years of experience helping small businesses implement successful Internet marketing and direct-selling campaigns. He is the industry's leading strategist on pay-per-click advertising with Google AdWords: “Facebook is actively reaching out to small businesses with a new $50 advertising credit campaign. This is an excellent opportunity for small businesses seeking to survive and thrive in a struggling global economy. Most businesses do not realize that Facebook offers a unique type of specialty advertising that is perfect for small businesses, even traditional brick-and-mortar shops. For a small business that starts now and approaches the topic strategically, a $50 investment in Facebook advertising could lead to double-digit increases in sales this holiday season.” He can discuss Facebook paid advertising. News Contact: Jillian McTigue, jmctigue@entrepreneur.com Phone:+1-949-622-5274

    **2. ADVERTISING: HOW MUCH IS FACEBOOK’S $50 IN FREE AD CREDITS WORTH? Thomas Meloche, co-author of "Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising" with Perry Marshall, is the founder and president of Procuit Inc., a privately held corporation that provides internal and external knowledge portals and extensions to existing social networking frameworks including Facebook: "If you approach Facebook advertising like you approach search advertising, you will spend that $50 and likely have nothing to show for it. On the other hand, if you learn how Facebook is different and how to leverage those differences, $50 can give you enough insight to launch a totally new and profitable channel of leads and customers." Meloche can discuss Facebook paid advertising. News Contact: Jillian McTigue, jmctigue@entrepreneur.com Phone:+1-949-622-5274

    **3. BUSINESS: A LESSON FOR BUSINESSES FROM PAC-12 COMMISSIONER LARRY SCOTT. Dr. Joey Faucette, bestselling author of "Work Positive in a Negative World: Redefine Your Reality and Achieve Your Business Dreams": "The major activity in college athletics this week has seen universities realigning their conference relationships. It’s a growth industry in a down economy, and they’re seizing financial opportunities that emerge from positive associations with high-fan-base institutions. The Pac-12’s announcement to ‘hold’ was in stark contrast to this auction-like attitude. Commissioner Larry Scott said, 'We are going to focus solely on [our] great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us.' There's a lesson here for all of our businesses." Dr. Faucette offers business owners, executives and professionals five key traits to develop and grow in their conference of business dream teams. He can discuss strategic ways to implement them as well. News Contact: Jillian McTigue, jmctigue@entrepreneur.com Phone: +1-949-622-5274 

    **4. BUSINESS: TO VACCINATE OR NOT TO VACCINATE -- THAT IS THE QUESTION FOR EMPLOYERS AS FLU SEASON APPROACHES. Edel Cuadra, a partner in the Dallas office of national labor and employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, can offer insight into whether employers can lawfully compel employees to submit to influenza vaccinations, or at least encourage it. If it is lawful, should they? Cuadra can provide tips on how to avoid the inevitable risks of requiring and/or asking employees to go under the needle: “Many companies now have voluntary, incentive-based vaccination plans for employees. Others, particularly in the health care and health care support industries, have mandatory vaccination policies for both influenza and other potential pandemic diseases. But relying in part on Title VII and the newly enacted Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released guidelines stressing the importance of protecting employees who have medical or religious reasons to refuse a vaccination when drafting both incentive and mandatory vaccination policies. If you thought getting a child to sit still for flu shot was tough, making an employee do so might cost you more than a sugar cookie unless you follow the EEOC's guidance.” News Contact: Wendy Angel, wangel@constangy.com Phone: +1-404-230-6724

    **5. FINANCE: IRS TAX ISSUES AFFECT 1 OUT OF 6 AMERICANS. Michael Rozbruch, CEO of Tax Resolution Services, Co., one of the nation's leading tax negotiation and mediation firms: "People fail to file required tax returns for a number of reasons. The first reason is that they don't have the money to pay the balance due with the return, so they figure if they don't have the money, they just aren’t going to file -- huge mistake. Other reasons people don't file are death or serious illness of a loved one or loss of a job; in other words, life-altering events that put the filing of taxes on the back burner." Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/michael_rozbruch&... News Contact: Debbie Edwards, debbie@taxresolution.com Phone: +1-866-477-7762, ext. 326 Website: www.taxresolution.com

    **6. REAL ESTATE: BUYING IN THE CITY. Kerri Bonarrigo, sales director at Gordon’s Woods in West Roxbury, Mass.: "Buyers are tired of commuting. Many people are opting to live closer to their city jobs because they don't want to spend upwards of two hours each day sitting in traffic. With rising gas prices, costly tolls and hundreds of miles added to their cars each week, living out in the suburbs is making less sense, regardless of the lower price per square foot. Aging suburbanites no longer want to be responsible for the maintenance that comes with living in a big house, and they want the accessibility that comes with urban living. As we age, we tend to need medical treatment, and the best doctors and hospitals tend to be in the city." News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com

    **7. TECHNOLOGY: FOUR TRENDS SHAPING E-COMMERCE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON. Fiona Dias, retail veteran, e-commerce expert and chief strategy officer for ShopRunner, predicts that four key factors will shape holiday retail this year: tablet wars, m-commerce, the tech titans (Amazon, Apple, Google) and free shipping: "Holidays 2011 is shaping up to be an exceptional season as traditional and non-traditional players compete to persuade consumers to vote 'yes' with their wallets and pocketbooks. There are a host of factors that will affect how retailers and consumers connect and engage this holiday season. With the holidays starting earlier this year, retailers are up against two types of consumers: those seeking value and those who want convenience. Expectations of sales, exclusive offers, free shipping and other incentives are higher than ever. It will be interesting to see what sticks and who prevails." Dias is available to discuss these trends as well as other holiday inquiries. News Contact: Nicole Lierheimer, lierheimer@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321

    **8. TECHNOLOGY: IMPACT OF GOOGLE WALLET. Ted Bissell, expert in mobile-payments technology at PA Consulting Group in New York: "Google Wallet became available to U.S. customers last week, along with the good news that this first mass near field communication (NFC) mobile-payment product will quickly expand across more handsets, network operators and credit-card issuers. Consumers in Japan and South Korea have already paved the way, showing that a significant part of the population is ready to use mobile phones to make retail payments or hold transit or air tickets. Yet the countries that have seen the fastest growth of mobile payments have been those whose mobile networks permit easy 'peer-to-peer' transactions between private individuals, substituting for cash payments in most cases. PayPal already offers this capability on mobile devices, but currently does not support NFC transactions. The coming months will show whether the United States' NFC rollout will start to integrate this important missing link.” News Contact: Carrie Gray, carrie.gray@paconsulting.com Phone: +1-212-973-5954

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES:

    Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

    **1. FACEBOOK NEWS FEED & OTHER CHANGES: PR Newswire's Sarah Skerik discusses key aspects of Facebook's recent changes for communicators: bit.ly/poIREF

    **2. HISPANIC TELEVISION SUMMIT 2011 RECAP: ProfNet Editor Evelyn Tipacti summarizes panels at the event that covered trends in the Hispanic television industry: bit.ly/pD4ihT

    **3. HISPANA LEADERSHIP SUMMIT INSPIRES: PR Newswire's Margarita Hernandez recaps tips from Latina business women presented at the event: bit.ly/pXPsyE

    **4. DEAR GRACIE: HOW TO NETWORK LIKE A PRO: ProfNet Editor Grace Lavigne shares tips from experts on how to network at events: bit.ly/ruN6Up

    Expert Alert: Bullying / Flu Vaccinations / Patent Legislation

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 1:07 PM [Expert Alerts]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    EXPERT ALERTS

    1. Education: What Can Educational Institutions Do to Prevent School Bullying?

    2. Government: A New Financial Incentive for Hospitals to Take Better Care of You

    3. International: National Export Initiative: Exports and Job Creation

    4. Law: Federal Patent Legislation

    5. Law: First-of-Its-Kind Ruling on Social Media in Workplace

    6. Law: Social Game Success Leading to Lawsuits

    7. Law: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: That Is the Question for Employers This Flu Season

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES

    1. Interesting Expert of the Week, Cursive Edition

    2. Feds Finally Keen on Rent to Own Housing

    3. Unemployment? Making the Numbers Fit

     

    *******************

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts who are available to discuss timely news topics. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please see the contact info at the end of the alert. You can also find Expert Alerts online on ProfNet Connect at bit.ly/pncalerts

    **1. EDUCATION: WHAT CAN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS DO TO PREVENT SCHOOL BULLYING? Gregory Keating is a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm representing management: "School bullying cases are gaining national attention as more and more headlines reveal traumatizing situations that are raising real questions with school administrators across the country. With the proliferation of new communication channels, including text messaging and social media, bullying is no longer limited to verbal or physical abuse. While a number of U.S. states currently have some rendition of an anti-bullying law in place, many are outdated and leave too much room for interpretation, raising questions regarding liability, criminal activity and consequences. It is important to train school officials on federal and state anti-bullying legislation, as well as to develop and implement school anti-bullying policies and spot bullying behavior on an ongoing basis. It is also critical to identify the appropriate response, documentation and reporting procedures for students and teachers, and consider how to manage litigation when children are charged as criminals.” Keating is available to discuss the legal implications of students being charged as criminals and can outline the steps schools should consider to prevent bullying in the first place. News Contact: Laura Herbert, herbert@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321

    **2. GOVERNMENT: A NEW FINANCIAL INCENTIVE FOR HOSPITALS TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOU. Jeffrey Bunting, founder and president of ActiveStrategy Inc., which specializes in peak-performance management and measurement: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a piece of 2010 health care reform legislation, significantly changes the way hospitals will be reimbursed. Starting in fiscal year 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will withhold a growing percentage of reimbursement dollars; these funds will only be rewarded to hospitals that demonstrate positive performance in several areas, including patient safety, quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. Even small health systems estimate that this change could put at least $1 million at risk by 2013, and perhaps double that amount by 2017. Anticipating this change, hospitals are putting new processes and technology in place now that will help them retain every bit of their reimbursement dollars in the future. For example, leading hospitals have recently started using apps created to run on iPads and iPhones that automate what have typically been very manual, time-consuming and error-prone processes, such as safety observations, patient-satisfaction assessments and quality audits. Automating these surveys and observations has saved hundreds of hours of data-collection and input time, while reducing errors and driving major improvements in patient satisfaction and quality metrics.” Bunting is available for media interviews. News Contact: Richard Berman, BermanTrenckCommunications@gmail.com Phone: +1-914-572-2707 Website: www.activestrategy.com

    **3. INTERNATIONAL: NATIONAL EXPORT INITIATIVE: EXPORTS AND JOB CREATION. Daniel L. Gardner, CEO of Ocean World Lines, is passionate about free trade and its critical role in creating jobs and fueling exports and the U.S. economy. As a professor, international executive and author, he has spent the last 25 years in global trade: "The government should be commended for promoting trade, but Uncle Sam can't go it alone. The simple reality is that for exports driven by small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) to impact job creation, the entire shipping community is going to have to get behind the National Export Initiative (NEI). In that context, it is incumbent upon U.S. third-party logistics (3PL) providers to not just move the goods that are being sold today, but to provide pro bono services that make it easier for SMEs to find new customers in the markets of tomorrow. Anyone involved with international business knows that the trick to 'going global' is finding motivated buyers that pay their bills." Gardner most recently wrote a book-length essay called "No Encore: An Essay Concerning the Competitive Decline of the United States of America." He is available to discuss how the U.S. can increase exports and drive job creation, starting today. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/gardner  News Contact: Melissa Bradley, bradleycomm@earthlink.net Phone: +1-928-208-9300

    **4. LAW: FEDERAL PATENT LEGISLATION. Robert M. Bryan, an attorney at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson in Charlotte, N.C.: "Congress’ vote on Thursday to overwhelmingly pass the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act represents the most significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in 60 years. The patent bill is designed to streamline a system that has resulted in a backlog of 1.2 million pending patents. The bill would also switch the U.S. from the ‘first-to-invent’ system now in effect to the ‘first-inventor-to file’ system for patent applications, an approach designed to reduce costly litigation, create certainty about patent ownership and make our system consistent with those used in the rest of the world." News Contact: Michael Henry, mhenry@wrayward.com Phone: +1-704-926-1364

    **5. LAW: FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND RULING ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN WORKPLACE. Audrey Mross of Munck Carter in Dallas: "More than once, employees have found themselves holding pink slips because of something they said about their jobs on some social media outlet. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reports an increasing number of charges related to employees' use of social media to discuss their employer and each other. But employers should be very careful with such terminations. For the first time, an administrative law judge with the NLRB ruled recently that a Buffalo, N.Y., company wrongfully fired five employees because of what they said on Facebook. Basically, the NLRB is saying even disparaging comments about terms and conditions of employment among co-workers can be protected speech, whether it happens at work or after hours, via Facebook." News Contact: Mark Annick, mark@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **6. LAW: SOCIAL GAME SUCCESS LEADING TO LAWSUITS. Holt Foster of the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight: “The social gaming market will pass $1 billion this year, with almost 70 million Americans expected to be playing social games such as ‘Farmville’ and ‘Zuma Blitz’ by 2012. While still a fraction of the overall $25 billion video game industry, the lower development costs and increased accessibility on smartphones presents a bright future for online game companies. Based on the rising number of users and advertisers, and willingness of players to purchase virtual items that enhance the gaming experience, there is an economic model for success. But the sector is experiencing a corresponding rise in litigation, with industry giants such as Zynga facing patent infringement claims. As we’ve seen with other technology sectors, there are broadly defined patents affecting the social gaming space and legal challenges are inevitable. The outcome will have a significant effect on the industry." News Contact: Barry Pound, barry@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **7. LAW: TO VACCINATE OR NOT TO VACCINATE -- THAT IS THE QUESTION FOR EMPLOYERS AS FLU SEASON APPROACHES. Edel Cuadra, a partner in the Dallas office of national labor and employment law firm Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, can offer insight into whether employers can lawfully compel employees to submit to influenza vaccinations, or at least encourage it. If it is lawful, should they? Cuadra can provide tips on how to avoid the inevitable risks of requiring and/or asking employees to go under the needle: “Many companies now have voluntary, incentive-based vaccination plans for employees. Others, particularly in the health care and health care support industries, have mandatory vaccination policies for both influenza and other potential pandemic diseases. But relying in part on Title VII and the newly enacted Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released guidelines stressing the importance of protecting employees who have medical or religious reasons to refuse a vaccination when drafting both incentive and mandatory vaccination policies. If you thought getting a child to sit still for flu shot was tough, making an employee do so might cost you more than a sugar cookie unless you follow the EEOC's guidance.” News Contact: Wendy Angel, wangel@constangy.com Phone: +1-404-230-6724

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES:

    Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

    **1. INTERESTING EXPERT OF THE WEEK, CURSIVE EDITION: ProfNet Director Maria Perez presents handwriting and cursive expert Michael Ray Smith: bit.ly/njPAP2

    **2. FEDS FINALLY KEEN ON RENT TO OWN HOUSING: Robert Eisenstein outlines potential economic initiatives of renting foreclosure properties with an option to buy: bit.ly/pqJV6r

    **3. UNEMPLOYMENT? MAKING THE NUMBERS FIT: Art Papas discusses why unemployment is so high while companies are also having a hard time hiring: bit.ly/qyiPHv

    Dear Gracie: How to Network Like a Pro

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 11:45 AM [Dear Gracie]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of more than 44,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you've been wondering that none of your friends can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

    Dear Gracie,

    I'm attending an important networking event next month and would like to get some tips on how I can make the most of it and come off like a real pro.

    Networking Newbie

     

    **********

    Dear Networking Newbie,

    Here is advice from 12 ProfNet experts:

    "The old adage 'It's not what you know, it's WHO you know," has never been truer," says Virginia Hemby-Grubb, a business communications professor at Middle Tennessee State University. "Building a network of contacts is important -- whether you're seeking a job or looking to build business."

    To network, you need to show up to events and be "present," says Lloyd Princeton, managing member at iMatchDesigners and managing director at Design Management Company. By "present," he means don't talk with your colleagues or surf the Internet on your phone during an event. You should go with the intention of meeting someone that you don't know.

    So remember to fish where the fish are, says Thor Harris, president at Percepture, Inc., a marketing and PR firm. Don't attend your own industry's networking events if you're looking for potential clients. With so many similar people at the same event looking for the same potential clients, you won't make any headway, he says.

    For example, if you're a PR professional trying to expand business into the technology sector, don't attend a PR event. Instead, attend a technology conference.

     

    Prepare

    "When attending a networking event or opportunity, individuals should take personal business cards (either hard copy or e-cards), says Hemby-Grubb. "People stand a far better chance of remembering individuals they meet when they have a business card for reference."

    Also, bring a notepad and pen, says Muzafer Najfi, professional network marketer and co-author of "Wealth Matters Makeover Edition." During the event, take notes for future reference.

    You don't need to bring your resume unless specifically requested, says Hemby-Grubb, but keep your resume up-to-date, just in case someone asks you to email it afterwards.

    Determine the makeup and focus of the networking event ahead of time, so that you can prepare for the group that will be in attendance, says Billie Blair, president of Change Strategists, Inc., a management consultant company. Who would you like to meet? Acquire a guest list if possible and research the companies ahead of time.

    Make a networking plan and carry it forward, agrees Adrian Miller, president of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales and customer service consulting agency. Make a goal for how many people you want to meet.

    Having goals and objectives is the clear difference between socializing and effective business networking, says Holly Munter Koenig, vice president of Kellen Company, a business management, PR and marketing company.

    So prepare what you will say when you meet someone, says Blair. What are the most important things to convey about yourself and your business? Consider how you will get introduced or how you will introduce yourself.

     

    Work the Room

    Go to the event early, says Miller. "By doing that, you are the 'center of influence,' and everyone gravitates towards you."

    Don't arrive late, or you'll only meet the coat-check person, agrees Drew Stevens, president of Stevens Consulting Agency, and an expert in sales and business development.

    "Don't make a beeline for the food and drink," says Jacqueline Whitmore, international etiquette expert, certified speaking professional and founder of The Protocol School, a business etiquette consulting firm. Eat a little something before you go to an event. "Scope out the crowd first and the goodies second," she says. Don't talk with your mouth full, and carry your glass in your left hand, so you can shake with your right.

    Also, if there's an open bar at the event, remember that it's not an open invitation to drink yourself into oblivion, Whitmore continues. "Indulging in too much alcohol could have unfavorable repercussions if you're not careful. To maintain your professionalism, limit your alcohol intake to one or two drinks."

    Avoid talking with only those you know well. Circulate, and introduce yourself and your guest to others, says Whitmore.

    But don't bring a guest to an event unless the invitation made it clear that guests are welcome, says Whitmore. It's not an open house, so plans have been based on a specific number of attendees.

    A good place to meet and greet, and see and be seen, is near the entrance, says Whitmore.

    "As far as introductions go, you should smile, make eye contact, extend your hand and introduce yourself," says Hemby-Grubb. "Women, especially, should make the first handshake contact, as men may be hesitant in some cases to extend a hand -- thinking mistakenly that they should not do so."

    Nervousness is nothing to be ashamed of, says Jill Spiegel, author and founder of Goal Getters, a communications consulting firm. "It means you care," she says. So go ahead and approach someone and introduce yourself. "Your genuineness and courage will create an instant connection."

    "When you first learn someone's name, think of someone you know or someone well-known with the same name. Picture that familiar face next to this new face," says Spiegel. "This easy visualization locks names in your mind."

    If you can't remember someone's name, don't fret, says Whitmore. "Simply say: 'I'm sorry, it's been one of those days and I've gone blank. Please tell me your name.'"

    Likewise, if you have a name that is difficult to pronounce or spell, do something when you say your name so people will remember you when you say hello, says Susan Blond, president at Susan Blond, Inc., an entertainment and lifestyle publicity agency.

    If you're the less famous person, don't remind the person who forgot you that you remember them, unless you want to appeal to their ego, says Blond.

    When introducing two friends, mention what they have in common to get the conversation started, Blond continues. You don't even have to remember their names to do this!

    And remember, people often make the mistake of wanting to hand out their business card to everyone they meet, says Shari Alexander, founder and president of Presenting Matters, a business presentation consulting firm. "Instead, your focus should be on getting the business card from every person you talk to. That way, the power and ability to follow up with them is in your hands."

    "Do your best to write on each business card where you met the person, along with any other details about them and your conversation," Alexander continues. "You will meet many people and it will be hard to keep them all straight days after the event. This will help jog your memory."

     

    Make Real Connections

    "To establish a rapport with someone, you should begin the conversation with small talk because everyone can participate in the conversation, since it involves general information or topics," says Hemby-Grubb.

    For example, Blair reads up on world events prior to a networking event. After sensing something about the person he's talking to, he will make remarks on a current topic he thinks the person will find interesting.

    This will allow you to appear knowledgeable, and lets the other person affiliate you to a greater degree with specific thoughts and views, he says. "In other words, you begin to establish a relationship."

    People generally like to talk about themselves, so ask questions, says Hemby-Grubb. The more you encourage them to talk, the better. Choose thoughtful questions, ask them slowly and give the individual time to talk, she says.

    "When you are passionately curious about other people, you make them feel interesting, special and connected to you," says Spiegel.

    To start engaging conversations, Najfi recommends following F.O.R.M.:

    • Family: "Tell me about your family."
    • Occupation: "What do you do for a living?"
    • Recreation: "What do you do for fun?"
    • Motivation: "What do you like most, and what do you like least?"

    During your conversations, if someone offers you advice, make them feel helpful, says Spiegel. "We all encounter people who give us advice that we didn't ask for or agree with. If we respond by explaining why their suggestion won't work, we disconnect and create tension." So respond with appreciation and diplomacy.

    Also, help people who brag feel successful, says Spiegel. Instead of feeling the need to compete with them, celebrate with them. It will instantly create a warm connection.

    When people criticize, we tend to label them as negative, Spiegel continues. But once we understand where their negativity comes from, we can connect with them through questions and empathy. By asking them questions about what they are unhappy with, you'll validate them. "When people who criticize feel understood and appreciated, they become receptive and supportive."

    Furthermore, don't gossip at events, as it creates mistrust, she says. Others will wonder: "What will this person say about me?" If you hear gossip from someone else, change the direction of the conversation.

    At some point in the conversation, the individual with whom you are speaking will want to learn more about you, says Hemby Grubb.

    "Wait until they ask you about your business," says Miller. If they don't, they're not worth your time.

    When someone asks you a question, respond with passion and purpose, and don't give a generic answer, says Spiegel.

    Usually people answer "What do you do for a living?" with a simple description, like "I'm a designer." But that kind of response doesn't invite a meaningful connection, she says. Instead, say something like:

    I own a design company called Patterns. I love to brighten homes with colors and textures. I also enjoy playing tennis.

    Sharing your interests will help you connect with the individual on more topics, she says.

    But don't speak for too long or dominate the conversation, reminds Hemby-Grubb. "Your goal is to learn as much as possible about the individual."

    "Be alert to the interest level generated by the conversation," says Blair. Timing is an important component of networking, as your objective is to meet more people and spread the word of your company more broadly. "When there is no obvious interest, it's time to move on and find someone else with whom to converse."

    When it's time to end the conversation, exit with "compliment, feedback, compliment," says Spiegel. Say something like: "It's been so much fun talking with you. I'm going to go check out the band. Your smile has given me a lift!" Surrounding your exit statement with two compliments keeps your connection lasting.

     

    Follow Up

    When you return home or to the office after this networking event, send a message or leave a voicemail message telling the individual how much you enjoyed meeting him or her, says Hemby-Grubb. Repeat something from the conversation to remind the individual of some commonalities. Be sincere, but not sappy. 

    Follow up immediately, Miller agrees. "Time counts."

    Generic follow-up emails are boring and easily ignored, says Alexander. "Personalizing every follow-up email may take more time, but it yields higher replies." He suggests writing something like this:

    It was great meeting you at (insert event here)! I really enjoyed talking with you about (insert personalized information referring to previous conversation here). I definitely want to keep in touch to learn more about you and your business. Do you have any time for a casual phone chat in the next couple of weeks? Here are my upcoming available times: X, Y, Z. Looking forward to talking again!

    Also, send a thank-you note to key persons who helped organize the event and to those who made the event possible, says Whitmore. "Saying thank you is not only cordial behavior, but will make you stand out from those who don't express their gratitude."

    "To build and maintain a personal network, you have to be willing to spend the necessary time to remain connected with the members of your network. Merely making an initial contact and moving forward does not ensure continuity of your network," says Hemby-Grubb.

    Join and participate in organizations where you would come into contact with this individual; send occasional email messages to say hello, seek advice, etc.; join LinkedIn and see if the individual is also a member, and if so, make a connection, says Hemby-Grubb.

    Set a reminder to check in with them again, like every six months, just to stay on track, suggests Princeton.

    Networking works like gardening, says Miller. "Plant seeds, and perhaps you can get results in a few weeks, months, years."

    And remember that most people genuinely want to help, but are often too busy to stop and understand how they can help, says Princeton. You must lead them, and most importantly, send something their way first.

    Gracie

    Expert Alert: Wildfire Insurance / SaaS / Social Gaming

    Monday, September 19, 2011, 2:32 PM [Expert Alerts]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    1. Business: National Export Initiative: Exports and Job Creation

    2. Careers: Lawyer Advises Young Women to Embrace Ambition

    3. Finance: How Consumers Can Help Streamline the Mortgage Process

    4. Finance: Insurance Tips for Wildfire Victims

    5. Technology: Cloud-Based Software as a Service

    6. Technology: Social Game Success Leading to Lawsuits

    7. Workplace: First-of-Its-Kind Ruling on Social Media in Workplace

    8. Workplace: What Can Educational Institutions Do to Prevent School Bullying?

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES

    1. The Power of Public Relations

    2. Interesting Expert of the Week, Cursive Edition

    3. The Five Biggest Desktop Virtualization Mistakes

     

    ***************************

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts who are available to discuss timely news topics. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please see the contact info at the end of the alert. You can also find Expert Alerts online on ProfNet Connect at bit.ly/pncalerts

    **1. BUSINESS: NATIONAL EXPORT INITIATIVE: EXPORTS AND JOB CREATION. Daniel L. Gardner, CEO of Ocean World Lines, is passionate about free trade and its critical role in creating jobs and fueling exports and the U.S. economy. As a professor, international executive and author, he has spent the last 25 years in global trade: "The government should be commended for promoting trade, but Uncle Sam can't go it alone. The simple reality is that for exports driven by small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) to impact job creation, the entire shipping community is going to have to get behind the National Export Initiative (NEI). In that context, it is incumbent upon U.S. third-party logistics (3PL) providers to not just move the goods that are being sold today, but to provide pro bono services that make it easier for SMEs to find new customers in the markets of tomorrow. Anyone involved with international business knows that the trick to 'going global' is finding motivated buyers that pay their bills." Gardner most recently wrote a book-length essay called "No Encore: An Essay Concerning the Competitive Decline of the United States of America." He is available to discuss how the U.S. can increase exports and drive job creation, starting today. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/gardner  News Contact: Melissa Bradley, bradleycomm@earthlink.net Phone: +1-928-208-9300

    **2. CAREERS: LAWYER ADVISES YOUNG WOMEN TO EMBRACE AMBITION. Kathleen Wu, partner in the Dallas office of Andrews Kurth: "As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared in the commencement speech at Barnard College, rather than downshifting their careers in anticipation of needing balance, young women professionals should step on the gas and maximize their work life. That way, when they need to make a choice whether or not to stay home to raise children, they won’t be so bored at work that their choice is already made for them. You shouldn’t downplay your abilities or your ambition because you want to be a mommy someday. I promise, you can do both. But you'll only want to do both if you've started today, right now, to lean in." News Contact: Amy Hunt, amy@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **3. FINANCE: HOW CONSUMERS CAN HELP STREAMLINE THE MORTGAGE PROCESS. Chip Poli, CEO of Poli Mortgage Group, Inc. in Norwood, Mass.: "The key component to getting a mortgage approved and closed is to have all of the requested, required documentation returned to the loan officer within days of the request. Even the most efficient mortgage professional has their hands tied without the proper paperwork from a client. Be sure to explain all aspects of your employment and other financial situations to the loan officer upfront. Waiting until later to tell the loan officer that you just began construction on your home or that you just bought a new car could drastically change your ability to get approved. Be sure to ask your loan officer if you have questions on any of the instructions you receive." News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com

    **4. FINANCE: INSURANCE TIPS FOR WILDFIRE VICTIMS. Phillip Sanov, Houston attorney and head of The Lanier Law Firm's Bad Faith Insurance Practice Group: "Recent wildfires could end up causing more than $200 million in property damage for hundreds of homeowners and businesses in Texas alone. While insurance companies may do their best to help those affected, the amount of damage is sure to cause a significant backlog in claims, leading to delays that can be costly for home and business owners. The No. 1 tip I can give to those affected is to document everything, from every conversation with adjusters to every dollar spent on essentials during evacuations. This information can help speed the claims process and ensure that you get paid what you’re owed." News Contact: Alan Bentrup, alan@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **5. TECHNOLOGY: CLOUD-BASED SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE. Steve Starace, vice president of CGI, a leader in information technology and business-process services: "As enterprises increasingly become consumers, rather than providers of IT, cloud computing -- and software as a service (SaaS) in particular -- offer a compelling alternative. By providing low-cost, on-demand access to state-of-the-art applications, SaaS-based solutions can help enterprises fast-track their technology modernization at no great expense to themselves. Moving legacy systems to a managed service application delivered in the cloud helps accelerate expansion of banks' global trade business, while ensuring a secure and reliable platform." Starace can speak about the importance of cloud-based technology in the banking and trade finance industries. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/steve_starace&nbs... News Contact: Jamie F. Meredith, jamie@meredithinc.com Phone: +1-703-217-2352 Website: www.cgi.com

    **6. TECHNOLOGY: SOCIAL GAME SUCCESS LEADING TO LAWSUITS. Holt Foster of the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight: “The social gaming market will pass $1 billion this year, with almost 70 million Americans expected to be playing social games such as ‘Farmville’ and ‘Zuma Blitz’ by 2012. While still a fraction of the overall $25 billion video game industry, the lower development costs and increased accessibility on smartphones presents a bright future for online game companies. Based on the rising number of users and advertisers, and willingness of players to purchase virtual items that enhance the gaming experience, there is an economic model for success. But the sector is experiencing a corresponding rise in litigation, with industry giants such as Zynga facing patent infringement claims. As we’ve seen with other technology sectors, there are broadly defined patents affecting the social gaming space and legal challenges are inevitable. The outcome will have a significant effect on the industry." News Contact: Barry Pound, barry@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **7. WORKPLACE: FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND RULING ON SOCIAL MEDIA IN WORKPLACE. Audrey Mross of Munck Carter in Dallas: "More than once, employees have found themselves holding pink slips because of something they said about their jobs on some social media outlet. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reports an increasing number of charges related to employees' use of social media to discuss their employer and each other. But employers should be very careful with such terminations. For the first time, an administrative law judge with the NLRB ruled recently that a Buffalo, N.Y., company wrongfully fired five employees because of what they said on Facebook. Basically, the NLRB is saying even disparaging comments about terms and conditions of employment among co-workers can be protected speech, whether it happens at work or after hours, via Facebook." News Contact: Mark Annick, mark@androvett.com Phone: +1-800-559-4534

    **8. WORKPLACE: WHAT CAN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS DO TO PREVENT SCHOOL BULLYING? Gregory Keating is a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm representing management: "School bullying cases are gaining national attention as more and more headlines reveal traumatizing situations that are raising real questions with school administrators across the country. With the proliferation of new communication channels, including text messaging and social media, bullying is no longer limited to verbal or physical abuse. While a number of U.S. states currently have some rendition of an anti-bullying law in place, many are outdated and leave too much room for interpretation, raising questions regarding liability, criminal activity and consequences. It is important to train school officials on federal and state anti-bullying legislation, as well as to develop and implement school anti-bullying policies and spot bullying behavior on an ongoing basis. It is also critical to identify the appropriate response, documentation and reporting procedures for students and teachers, and consider how to manage litigation when children are charged as criminals.” Keating is available to discuss the legal implications of students being charged as criminals and can outline the steps schools should consider to prevent bullying in the first place. News Contact: Laura Herbert, herbert@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES:

    Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

    **1. THE POWER OF PUBLIC RELATIONS: Drew Stevens discusses the competitive advantages of establishing your business as a hometown brand: bit.ly/nZ6JiJ

    **2. INTERESTING EXPERT OF THE WEEK, CURSIVE EDITION: ProfNet Director Maria Perez presents handwriting and cursive expert Michael Ray Smith: bit.ly/njPAP2

    **3. THE FIVE BIGGEST DESKTOP VIRTUALIZATION MISTAKES: Oliver Bendig discusses the top five mistakes IT leaders make when undertaking desktop virtualization: bit.ly/nSzpMy

    Seasickness, Food Scraps, Video Games: My Favorite Queries of the Week

    Friday, September 16, 2011, 11:05 AM [Favorite Queries]
    0 (0 Ratings)

     

    What do seasickness, food scraps and video games have in common? They all made my list of favorite queries this week:

     

    Benefits of Bathing. Number 1: Not stinking.

    Dia de los Muertos-Themed Cocktails. Mummy Margaritas. (Ew.)

    Evolution of Video Games and Platforms. Soon we will all be Johnny Moronic.

    September Is Better Breakfast Month. When is Worse Breakfast Month? (Remind me to sleep in.)

    Bad Habits on the Job. Otherwise known as "Horror Stories of Bad Co-Workers."

    What Is Dinnertime Like at Your House? Just ring the cattle bell.

    When Is White-Collar Automation a Bad Idea? When dealing with mortgages or foreclosures.

    Adults Who Are Picky Eaters. AKA man children.

    How to Get Rid of a Song That's Stuck in Your Head. With a very large hammer.

    Seasickness and Cabin Location. It's spelled C-A-B-A-N-A and it's located on land.

    Chefs Who Cook With Food Scraps (Broccoli Stalks, Root Leaves, Etc.). The school lunch lady.

    How to Feel Less Guilty. Do the right thing?

     

    *Publication names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

    What were some of your favorite queries this week? Did they make this list?

    Dear Gracie: How to Create Useful, Eye-Catching Infographics

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 11:20 AM [Dear Gracie]
    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of more than 44,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you've been wondering that none of your friends can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

     

    Dear Gracie,

    What are infographics and why should we include them in our PR campaigns? What are some tips for design, layout, content?

    Green Grapher

     

    ********

    Dear Green Grapher,

    Eight ProfNet experts share their knowledge on infographics:

     

    What Are Infographics?

    "Infographics, also known as data visualizations, are changing the way people view, experience and understand data in the age of information overload," says Carol Scheffler, graphic design specialist at Eastwick Communications, a tech PR agency in Silicon Valley that uses infographics for re-branding efforts, press releases, trade shows and more. "[Infographics] can present complex data in a compact, clear and creative way, allowing intricate statistics, facts and information to be easily digested by the viewer."

    "Attention spans are shorter than ever," says Dean Hollander, chief content officer at Fenton Communications, a PR agency. "And infographics are great short-attention-span communication tools." They deliver the information quickly and in an entertaining way.

    Jonathan Asher, senior vice president at Perception Research Services (PRS), a consumer-research and marketing company, explains why infographics are so effective: Communicating via visual cues as supplements to, or replacements for, verbal messages has become more critical in recent years due to:

    • Multi-lingual considerations
    • Literacy limitations in some places or among some industry segments
    • Limited space available due to down-sized packaging and/or additional legal constraints
    • General shift to a generally greater visual approach to the world in our digital age

    To be effective, an infographic must be sufficiently visible, intuitive and evocative of the desired response, Asher continues.

    The infographic doesn't have to be the largest element of a PR campaign, or even the first thing seen necessarily, but if it's not seen enough, it won't matter how wonderful it looks, says Asher. Visibility is best achieved via contrast (mostly color, but also shape).

    As for being intuitive: "A picture is worth a thousand words, but only if it is immediately obvious what it is a picture of," says Asher. Or, more to the point, an infographic is effective only if the intended meaning or message is obvious and not prone to misinterpretation. "Can it be misconstrued as something else? Does it suggest something different in different cultures or contexts?" These are important questions to consider.

    And lastly, the infographic must be evocative of the desired response, says Asher. "This could be positive, like "friendly" or "appetizing," or negative, like "danger" or "poisonous" -- but it should create the intended reaction," he says.

    "[Infographics] are very effective tools for engaging people because they are fun to look at," says Hollander. "Sometimes they even feel a bit like a puzzle -- the headline pulls you in, and then you have to find out how the story is told."

    "Charts have always been an effective way of displaying data," Hollander continues. "But infographics take it one step further by telling a story."

    Scheffler agrees: "The key to a successful infographic is a strong story and the right graphic visualizations that represent that story in a compelling way. The data has to tell a story, otherwise the infographic is not an infographic at all, but rather a list of data and facts or a jumble of random graphs and charts."

    So make sure your information adds up, says Hollander. "For example, telling us that 50 percent of busses run on electricity is fine, but there must be a reason that is important."

    Ross Crooks, co-founder of Column Five Media, a creative marketing agency specializing in data visualization and social media strategy, suggests using typical journalistic research methods to pull together information for infographics, particularly by tapping into public and government resources for general topics, and companies' proprietary data for industry or consumer-specific insight.

    "Eliminating bias is important in telling any story with integrity," Crooks reminds us. "That is not to say that a good infographic doesn't include a thesis or some element of opinion. The data shapes that story we are telling, and it is important that proper attention is given to that which is interesting."

     

    Boosting Clicks and Social Sharing

    "The right graphics can boost clicks, drive more shares and attract more comments than traditional content," says Scheffler.

    Bloggers and writers on the Web will take ideas and reproduce them in text, but images, video and infographics are tough to reproduce, says John Cass, director of marketing at Newlogic, a strategic R&D consulting company. "Instead, writers want to embed the infographic into their website, so if you provide an infographics embed code, and make sure the code contains text and a link, you just helped with your SEO efforts."

    "If you include text in your embed code as well as the infographic, then you will also have the opportunity to place text, the infographic and a link on other people's websites," he continues. "The more links you get, the better for your rankings."

    He also suggests including a variety of keywords in the link itself, also to boost clicks.

    Following is an example of a link to an embedded infographic, created by Voltier Creative and suggested by William J. Ward, social media professor at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The infographic is actually about how to create infographics, and the link includes keywords, which will help drive SEO traffic.

    Here is an example of the embedded infographic, which was reposted from Voltier Creative's website onto Ward's website.

    And here is an example of the inforgraphic with the link for embedding, which you can find at the bottom of the page underneath the infographic, in the box labeled "Use the Image on Your Site." Note the keywords in the link like "Infographic Marketing."

    "One way to tell if infographics are successful is how often people discuss them, share them with their social networks, and embed them on their blogs.  You can run analytics to see how many likes, +1's, clicks, RTs, mentions, etc., have been shared," says Ward.

     

    Infographic Styles and Visual Content

    "Infographics come in many shapes and sizes and can be serious, fun, comic or even whimsical depending on your strategy or audience," says Ward.

    "Part of the beauty and excitement around infographics is that they don't have to look a certain way or include certain types of information," agrees Hollander. "There is no hard-and-fast rule."

    In general though, there are two main approaches: literal and metaphorical, says Brian Compton, digital media manager at Lewis PR.

    "Literal infographics visualize the data in a report-like manner," he says. So the data is presented in a straightforward way. This style is better for serious subjects or topics with complex data.

    Metaphorical infographics use themes to carry a message and offer interesting visual twists, says Compton. For example, using an hourglass or stopwatch to communicate urgency.

    It's also important to present the data with the right kind of graph, chart or visual representation, says Scheffler.

    Infographics might include flow charts, graphs, maps, timelines, illustrations (with size representing data amount and color representing data type), lists, diagrams or more, says Compton. "Some infographics use facts and figures accompanied by imagery only."

    "The most basic forms of data visualization are standard bar charts, pie charts and line graphs," says Crooks. "These are valuable tools because people are familiar with the format, and they are instantly understood."

    "If you are showing change over time, a bar chart or line graph may be useful, whereas if you are comparing quantities, a pie chart may be the way to go," Scheffler recommends.

    But some trends and patterns are better displayed in other formats, like the scatterplot, Crooks explains.

     

    Design Elements

    When creating an infographic, start with the story you want to tell, says Hollander. "Outline the story so you are clear on what points you want to communicate, in what order." Make sure the data adds up.

    "It is a very collaborative process and you should work closely with a graphic designer who knows how to interpret information into visuals," he says.

    A short introduction is useful, as well as key quotes or bullets, says Scheffler. "Too much copy will take away from the compact, visual message and turn your infographic into an article accompanied by graphics." So the less text, the better.

    "Too much of anything isn't a good thing," says Hollander. "Text, graphics, icons and colors need to be well balanced." But the text should support the graphics -- not the other way around.

    Use color in a strategic way, says Scheffler. "Often times, designers are constrained by specific brand colors and graphic styles. While it is important to color within the lines, color can also be used as a key design tool to symbolize or highlight specific data."

    "Color translates an enormous amount of personality wherever it's applied," says Paul Templeman-Holmes, director of branding and business development for Baltus, a high-end furniture company. For example:

    • Dark colors can imply status, prestige and even mystique; in contrast, they can also seem aloof and imposing.
    • Light blue can be calming and relaxing, but also unfriendly and cold depending on the context.
    • Yellow is warm, outgoing and confident, but rarely conveys sophistication.

    Ultimately, color is subjective, says Templeman-Holmes, and will affect different audiences in different ways.

    "So be aware of how you use color," says Scheffler.

    A good layout design is also vital, Scheffler continues. "The way you organize your data will impact the way a viewer understands it. Take into consideration in what order the visual story should be read. Think about how the viewer’s eye will travel around the page."

    There's also no need for embellished decorative design, she continues. "People are viewing your infographic to understand or learn something, not just to view your design abilities." So make sure the design is clear and clutter-free, and let the data speak for itself.

    Remember, infographics are about information first, says Hollander. Graphics play the supporting role as the vehicle to communicate the information.

    Evaluate your infographic by getting a bystander to look at it for only five to 10 seconds before turning away, says Hollander. Did they get the point of the story? Were they engaged enough to want to learn more? "If you can tell the story clearly and efficiently to someone who is not in the know, then you know it's working."

    So essentially, infographics are a mix of journalism, analysis and design, says Scheffler. She sums up infographics with this easy equation:

    Story + Data + Design = Infographic!

     

    Gracie

    Expert Alert: Patent Legislation / Hospital Finance / Dodd-Frank

    Monday, September 12, 2011, 4:43 PM [Expert Alerts]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    1. Building: How to Protect and Maintain Your Driveway

    2. Business: Federal Patent Legislation

    3. Real Estate: Making the Most of Your Porch or Deck This Fall

    4. Technology: A New Financial Incentive for Hospitals to Take Better Care of You

    5. Workplace: Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley Drive Uptick in Whistle-Blower Matters

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES

    1. Upcoming PR/Media Events

    2. Weekly Roundup: Journalists and iPads, PR Salaries

    3. How Playing, Reading and Singing Improves Your Writing

     

    ******************

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts who are available to discuss timely news topics. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please see the contact info at the end of the alert. You can also find Expert Alerts online on ProfNet Connect at bit.ly/pncalerts

    **1. BUILDING: HOW TO PROTECT AND MAINTAIN YOUR DRIVEWAY. Brian Kearney, owner of Neponset Valley Construction in Norwood, Mass.: "The most common issues regarding driveway maintenance are cracks, edge erosion and potholes. Water damage is the common root of driveway damage. Once it's started to erode, every time you use your driveway it erodes even more. Install a slight curb in order to avoid this problem. If a pothole forms, it will continue to grow over time, especially when exposed to water and the weight of a car. Snow and ice should be removed from the driveway as soon as possible with a plastic shovel, as metal shovels can scratch and damage the surface. Salt can be used to make removing ice and snow a lot easier, but it can damage paint, lawn and plants." News Contact: Lucia Scott, Lucia@exposeyourselfpr.com

    **2. BUSINESS: FEDERAL PATENT LEGISLATION. Robert M. Bryan, an attorney at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson in Charlotte, N.C.: "Congress’ vote on Thursday to overwhelmingly pass the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act represents the most significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in 60 years. The patent bill is designed to streamline a system that has resulted in a backlog of 1.2 million pending patents. The bill would also switch the U.S. from the ‘first-to-invent’ system now in effect to the ‘first-inventor-to file’ system for patent applications, an approach designed to reduce costly litigation, create certainty about patent ownership and make our system consistent with those used in the rest of the world." News Contact: Michael Henry, mhenry@wrayward.com Phone: +1-704-926-1364

    **3. REAL ESTATE: MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR PORCH OR DECK THIS FALL. Kelly O’Ryan, office manager at Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Mass.: "If there's room on your front porch or deck for a couple of chairs and a table, even if it's a small one, you should definitely invest in a set. If your space is small, make sure you don't buy anything too big because it will make the area seem more cramped. By adding a comfortable place to relax on your deck or porch, you’re basically adding an entire room to your home that will impress prospective buyers before they even walk in your front door." O’Ryan: Kelly.oryan@nemoves.com

    **4. TECHNOLOGY: A NEW FINANCIAL INCENTIVE FOR HOSPITALS TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOU. Jeffrey Bunting, founder and president of ActiveStrategy Inc., which specializes in peak-performance management and measurement: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a piece of 2010 health care reform legislation, significantly changes the way hospitals will be reimbursed. Starting in fiscal year 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will withhold a growing percentage of reimbursement dollars; these funds will only be rewarded to hospitals that demonstrate positive performance in several areas, including patient safety, quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. Even small health systems estimate that this change could put at least $1 million at risk by 2013, and perhaps double that amount by 2017. Anticipating this change, hospitals are putting new processes and technology in place now that will help them retain every bit of their reimbursement dollars in the future. For example, leading hospitals have recently started using apps created to run on iPads and iPhones that automate what have typically been very manual, time-consuming and error-prone processes, such as safety observations, patient-satisfaction assessments and quality audits. Automating these surveys and observations has saved hundreds of hours of data-collection and input time, while reducing errors and driving major improvements in patient satisfaction and quality metrics.” Bunting is available for media interviews. News Contact: Richard Berman, BermanTrenckCommunications@gmail.com Phone: +1-914-572-2707 Website: www.activestrategy.com

    **5. WORKPLACE: DODD-FRANK AND SARBANES-OXLEY DRIVE UPTICK IN WHISTLE-BLOWER MATTERS. Greg Keating is a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, a law firm that recently formed the standalone Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice, and the author of a national treatise entitled "Retaliation and Whistleblowing: A Guide for Human Resources Professionals and Counsel." Littler Mendelson reports a 25 percent increase in the number of whistle-blower and retaliation claims the firm has handled between 2009 and 2011, as a result of changing regulations stemming from the Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) acts. Keating is available to speak about this topic and the actions employers should take: "As allegations mount, the question becomes when, not if, whistle-blowers will come forward. With the implementation of Dodd-Frank’s whistle-blowing regulations, as well as the U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health’s heightened focus on strengthening the act’s Whistleblowing Protection Program, employers need to be well-prepared for the potential impact of whistle-blowing legislation now more than ever. Whistle-blowers can have a major impact on a company, regardless of its size, so employers must understand how to recognize protected activity and effectively initiate and manage a corporate investigation." News Contact: Shani Wright, wright@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES:

    Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

    1. UPCOMING PR/MEDIA EVENTS: ProfNet Director Maria Perez shares upcoming industry events: bit.ly/r8o2nk

    2. WEEKLY ROUNDUP: JOURNALISTS AND IPADS, PR SALARIES: ProfNet Editor Jason Hahn presents last week's interesting PR- and media-related stories: bit.ly/pYGDiw

    3. HOW PLAYING, READING AND SINGING IMPROVES YOUR WRITING: Samantha McGarry presents tips to improve your writing: bit.ly/ppZLmL

    Dear Gracie: How to Stand Out on a Panel

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 11:48 AM [Dear Gracie]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Each week, Dear Gracie answers questions from ProfNet Connect readers with advice from our network of more than 44,000 ProfNet experts. Has there been a question burning in your mind lately, something you've been wondering that none of your friends can answer? Please send it to grace.lavigne@prnewswire.com

     

    Dear Gracie,

    I've been invited to speak on a panel at a conference. It will be recorded and later shown on TV and to other industry professionals. Any tips for how to rock on a panel?

    Panel Prepper

     

    *******

     

    Dear Panel Prepper,

    Here is advice from 12 ProfNet experts who are experienced panelists and communicators:

     

    How to Prepare

    "There is no such thing as an impromptu speaking engagement," says Robb Leer, media consultant and coach, and founder and president of Leer Communication & Consultants; a PR, marketing and media relations company. "Anyone who stands up to address an audience does so drawing from their own experiences and knowledge."

    "So if you've been invited to be a panelist," he continues, "do your homework, collect your thoughts and practice in advance how you want to say them. Be clear about what you represent and believe."

    "Know your topic cold," agrees John Buchanan, chief marketing officer for the law firm Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin PC. Preparation includes rehearsing your answers to panel questions, and even writing down full answers or at least highlighting critical points.

    Understand and speak to your audience, says Bill Corbett, president of Corbett Public Relations. Be aware of the event organizers and what types of people and businesses will be represented in the audience. Also, be aware of any current events, trends or breaking news regarding the panel's subject matter.

    Try to rehearse with the entire panel and moderator at least once or twice if you can, continues Buchanan. An outline of the panel that includes all questions from the moderator and what the panelists might say will also help the conversation go smoothly.

    Although a table in front of the panelists might be more traditional, suggest a "talk show" format, says Buchanan. "Sitting 'out in the open' makes the panel more interesting and takes away from the 'panel-audience barrier' of a table," he says.

    Do not be surprised by changes in the moderator's personality the day of the panel. "An amiable person may become a tough investigate reporter on camera," says Leer.

    Definitely write out your panel introduction, which will promote you and your expertise, explains Leer. Keep it under 20 seconds.

    Know the technology you want to use, says Patrick Richey, debate coach at Middle Tennessee State University. You should know how to use the tech equipment in your office, but you should also know how it will work specifically at the event. For example, is the software compatible with the venue's IT capabilities?

    Furthermore, understand how social media, including Twitter, is changing the way panels are conducted, says Jason Wonacott, founder and CEO of Wonacott Communications, LLC.

    Buchanan advises bringing your speaking notes, business cards, marketing materials (which are useful for business-development panels) and mints.

    Richey also suggests bringing a bottle of water, copies of your speech outline with contact information included (to give to audience members) and a binder or portfolio to keep notes in (since it looks more professional than a stack of crumpled papers).

    Corbett points that it is better to drink water out of a glass, if possible, as it will make you seem more professional. "A water bottle or soda doesn't portray the best image," he says.

    Remember to wear comfortable and well-fitted clothing, especially if the panel will be broadcast on TV, says Leer. "Black suits or white clothing may distort skin color due to light absorption and reflection. Blue is best."

    (Also, check out Dear Gracie: Tips for How to Appear on Camera)

     

    How to Speak

    "The most important consideration when contributing to a panel discussion is not when to start talking, but when to stop," says Patrick Schwerdtfeger, author of "Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed" (John Wily & Sons, Inc.; 2011) and a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. "The goal is to make your point in 15 seconds or less. Doing so will make you appear intelligent and concise."

    "Each time you speak, get to your main point fast!" says Kelly Lane, consultant at Levenson & Brinker Public Relations. If a speaker "builds up" to the point, they could be interrupted by the moderator or another speaker and may never get to it.

    The key is to remain calm, says Richey. Speak with a normal, friendly tone; and stay confident, but casual.

    "Clarity and sincerity -- not volume -- convey conviction," agrees Leer.

    "Speak slowly and with inflections so you don't put your audience to sleep," echoes Elaine Fantle Shimberg, a medical writer who has appeared on a number of panels for the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

    "If you have a microphone, make sure everyone can hear," adds Corbett.

    Don't be afraid to repeat your key talking points, says Leer. Use short, declarative sentences to stress your points.

    "Demonstrate your expertise and knowledge on the subject using examples to relate," says Corbett. But don't go overboard with numbers or statistics; they should be used sparingly or to drive home a point.

    Also, avoid acronyms or complicated terminology, says Leer.

    When in doubt: "Use self deprecating humor to lighten the mood and relate to the audience," says Rob Gelphman, chair of the Marketing Work Group at Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA).

    Leer concurs: "Don't develop a different persona for the panel. It's OK to laugh at yourself."

    And remember, the focus should be on education, and not making a commercial for your products or services, says Shel Horowitz, seasoned panelist and author of "Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet."

    "Know the difference between talking about yourself and staying on topic," says Wonacott.

     

    How to Interact

    "It's good to know who you will be sitting with and how you stack up against them. That way, you can try to find your differentiation point," says Brendan Kownacki, media strategist at Merge Creative Media and a regular panelist on the Washington, D.C.-based morning TV show "Let's Talk Live."

    "On a panel, you want to carve out a niche area for yourself that establishes your specific character and expertise," he continues. "This will even allow others on the panel to look for your response if the discussion heads down a certain path."

    The best panelists are the ones who truly take the time to understand where the other panelists are coming from beforehand, versus just positioning themselves and their product or services, agrees Robb Hecht, client strategy director at IMC Strategy Lab, a digital marketing agency.

    "That said," he continues, "the best panels are those in which one panelist is passionate and adamant about taking a really alternative view," because it keeps the audience engaged.

    "It's always positive to remember that the rest of the panel is there for mutual benefit to all," says Kownacki. "Play off the other panelists and look them in the eye as you do it, and don't forget that the audience is almost always the final member of the panel."

    So pay attention to the other panelists and the moderator during the panel, says Buchanan. "Don't daydream while others are speaking."

    Always look interested in the conversation, as the camera may be on you, adds Leer.

    Expect interruptions, as panels can spark random responses, Leer continues. Wait for the commotion to calm down. Stay focused, and never lose your cool. Don't allow yourself to be drawn into conversations about other topics.

    "You're never wrong to be polite and patient, even if the event is growing intense," he says. "Be the cool one on the panel. The hysterical one is only remembered afterwards in the bar as the goof ball."

    To respond to other panelists, Buchanan suggests using phrases like:

    • "While I appreciate that point of view, I have a completely different one."
    • "You have a valid point, but I think that the real issue is..."
    • "I'm going to play devil's advocate on this issue by saying..."

     

    How to Handle Questions From the Audience

    "When answering a question from the audience, first recap the question to make sure the other audience members hear the question, and then look the person asking the question straight in the eye and answer him or her," says Buchanan.

    Pause briefly before answering difficult questions to avoid "ums" and "ers," says Leer.

    "Panels are often created to drive the complimentary skills of all concerned, so if you're ever feeling stumped, you can throw it to someone else beside you, and that's not a cop-out," says Kownacki.

    Moreover, make sure to give other panelists space to respond, says Horowitz. "For example, if I answered one question first, I'll let one or other two panelists start the next round of answers before I chime in," he says.

    "Do not take more time than is necessary to answer a question," says Gelphman. "Think in terms of adding value to the conversation. If you have nothing to say, than don't say anything. If a straight "yes" or "no" is the best response, than stick with that."

    But never say "no comment," says Leer. "People perceive this as a 'guilty as charged' answer."

    And never lie either, he adds. "Make your answers straightforward and clear, but don't say more than you want to say."

    Buchanan agrees that the best thing is to be honest. When asked a difficult question, he suggests saying something like "I'm not really sure how to answer that question. Let me give it some thought. I think it's important, however, to remember that…" and then follow that up with a comment you think is relevant.

    Turn the question around make a point related to what they ask, says Gelphman. Say something like "You bring up an interesting point about X" and then frame their question in a broader sense.

    "Don't duck or make anybody feel stupid for asking a weird question," says Leer. Make comments like: "I've never looked at it that way before" or "That's interesting."

    And ask for clarification from the audience member if you need to, says Horowitz. If it's still unclear, defer to the moderator.

     

    Final Thoughts

    Being invited to be a panelist is a communication privilege, an opportunity, says Leer. "Embrace the moment, enjoy it, and arrive with a plan and a few talking points in your pocket."

    "Effective public speakers don't get tripped up by events like this. They handle these events effortlessly as savvy communicators -- not because they are smarter or more gifted -- no, it's just that they have prepared themselves for this moment," Leer adds.

    And perhaps most importantly, Shimberg reminds us: "Never accept being the 4 p.m. presenter on a Friday, on the last day of a three-day conference!"

     

    Gracie

    Expert Alert: Offshore Bank Accounts / Skipping Meals / Social Sharing

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 3:39 PM [Expert Alerts]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    1. Business: No Encore for U.S. Exports?

    2. Finance: Deadline Extended for Consumers to Report Offshore Bank Accounts to IRS

    3. Science: Assessing the Risk of Drinking-Water Contamination After a Hurricane 

    4. Technology: Why International Logistics Is Perfect for Cloud-Based Computing

    5. Workplace: Can Companies Pressure Employees to Skip Meal Breaks?

    6. Workplace: Texans Running Back Puts MRI on Twitter: Consequences of Social Sharing

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES

    1. Minding Your Communications Manners

    2. #ConnectChat Recap: Making the Switch From Journalism to PR, Part 2

    3. Smart Cards: Next-Level Enterprise Security

     

    ***************

    EXPERT ALERTS:

    Via Expert Alerts, ProfNet members can alert reporters to experts who are available to discuss timely news topics. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please see the contact info at the end of the alert. You can also find Expert Alerts online on ProfNet Connect at bit.ly/pncalerts

    **1. BUSINESS: NO ENCORE FOR U.S. EXPORTS? Daniel L. Gardner, CEO of Ocean World Lines, is passionate about free trade and its critical role in creating jobs and fueling exports and the U.S. economy. As a professor, international executive and author, he has spent the last 25 years in global trade: “The prickly truth is the United States is in a competitive decline and it’s not China or NAFTA’s fault. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the May 2011 deficit of goods and services ($50.2 billion) was the highest since October 2008 ($59.5 billion). In the global marketplace, companies have to offer more than a quality product at a fair price -- they also need to create an additional competitive advantage through the tactics they employ when shipping goods overseas. Whether one speaks of the impact on landed costs, time to market, customer service, invoicing or collection of funds, properly designed logistics programs are a must for any successful export program." Gardner most recently wrote a book-length essay called "No Encore: An Essay Concerning the Competitive Decline of the United States of America." He is available to discuss how the U.S. can increase exports and drive job creation, starting today. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/gardner  News Contact: Melissa Bradley, bradleycomm@earthlink.net Phone: +1-928-208-9300

    **2. FINANCE: DEADLINE EXTENDED FOR CONSUMERS TO REPORT OFFSHORE BANK ACCOUNTS TO IRS. Michael Rozbruch, CEO of Tax Resolution Services, Co., one of the nation's leading tax negotiation and mediation firms: "The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) deadline that originally ended Aug. 31 has been extended to Sept. 9, due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irene. Extension or not, consumers need to consider having the help of expert tax resolution professionals on their side. What many consumers don't always understand is that they don't have to go to the IRS alone, and worse, that they would be ill-advised to handle this type of (potential criminal) matter on their own without expert professional representation in their corner. The IRS has given taxpayers an opportunity, and now an extension, to come clean about their offshore bank accounts. Tapping this deadline is important, but it is more important to do it right. The value of having expert tax resolution attorneys or tax resolution specialists to support you in navigating the offshore bank account maze can save time, headaches, money and possibly your freedom. It is nearly impossible for taxpayers to understand everything required by law if they have foreign bank accounts or have signatory authority over an offshore account -- a little help makes a big difference." Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/michael_rozbruch&... News Contact: Debbie Edwards, debbie@taxresolution.com Phone: +1-866-477-7762, ext. 326 Website: www.taxresolution.com

    **3. SCIENCE: ASSESSING THE RISK OF DRINKING-WATER CONTAMINATION AFTER A HURRICANE. Marc Hamel, product specialist at Horizon Technology in Salem, N.H.: "Up and down the East Coast of the United States in the wake of Hurricane Irene, municipalities and commercial testing labs are scrambling to quantify the risk to public drinking water from flood-water contamination. The first days after a flooding catastrophe like Hurricane Irene are critical in determining the risks to public drinking water. Harmful environmental contaminants can enter human drinking-water supplies through numerous sources during a flood event. Contaminants such as raw sewerage, flame retardants (found in most building materials), herbicides, pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons and other known substances migrate quickly from flood waters into public reservoirs, private wells and municipal pumping stations. Determining the extent and scope of this contamination early after a flood event is critical to protecting human populations. The analysis of increased volumes of water will strain even the most well-equipped environmental-monitoring laboratories. Demand for fast and continued analysis in the days during and weeks after flooding is crucial to insuring public safety. Labs equipped with automated water-monitoring systems are best suited to assist in the ongoing assessment." Hamel is available for media interviews. News Contact: Richard Berman, BermanTrenckCommunications@gmail.com Phone: +1-914-572-2707 Website: http://www.horizontechinc.com

    **4. TECHNOLOGY: WHY INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS IS PERFECT FOR CLOUD-BASED COMPUTING. Bryn Heimbeck, CEO of Trade Tech, an integrated global application service provider for the transportation and logistics industry: "No other industry is as geographically challenged as international logistics. Imagine if an assembly line had to stretch across continents or oceans. In many ways, logistics is the assembly of pivotal information and command sets that represent and create the digital picture of a shipment. A cloud-based solution ties all of the global users within a logistics provider together on a single virtual assembly line and then ties them all to all of the essential services they need, such as customs organizations, carrier portals, insurance companies and financial institutions. Electing to participate in a cloud means companies do not have to build all of these connections on their own.” Heimbeck is available to discuss unique views and expertise on cloud computing today and its applications in international logistics and other industries. Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/brynheimbeck ... News Contact: Melissa Bradley, bradleycomm@earthlink.net Phone: +1-928-208-9300

    **5. WORKPLACE: CAN COMPANIES PRESSURE EMPLOYEES TO SKIP MEAL BREAKS? Alan Levins is a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm representing management. While under California law companies cannot pressure employees to skip meal breaks, they are not required to ensure that employees actually take their breaks. In Driscoll, et al. v. Granite Rock Company (“Graniterock”), the Superior Court of Santa Clara County ruled in favor of defendant Graniterock, determining they were not in violation of California law as it relates to off-duty meal periods, a wage and hour issue receiving much attention in light of the highly anticipated decision in the case, Brinker Restaurant Corporation, et. al. v. Superior Court. Levins is available to speak about the topic of meal-period regulation: “At the center of this case is the clarification of a critical wage and hour issue -- that employers are required to make meal periods available to employees but are not required to force employees to take a lunch break. When faced with a wage and hour lawsuit, employers can become bewildered with California’s meal-period regulations and settle their cases. The elements of proof needed are a clear policy providing meal periods, company-wide communication on this subject so that employees know their rights and clear opportunities for individuals to express to the employer their meal-period preference.” News Contact: Shani Wright, wright@formulapr.com Phone: +1-212-219-0321

    **6. WORKPLACE: TEXANS RUNNING BACK PUTS MRI ON TWITTER, A REMINDER OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF SOCIAL SHARING. William J. Ward (a.k.a. "DR4WARD"), professor of practice in social media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, can talk about Houston Texans running back Arian Foster sharing an MRI scan of his hamstring on Twitter, which violated the team's Twitter policy: “Foster's tweet has the potential to be a multimillion-dollar misstep. By sharing his injury on Twitter, Foster released valuable information that could help opposing teams exploit the situation and develop a strategy to take advantage of Foster and the team’s weakness. The early release of this information on social media also has the potential to alter fan attendance, viewing behavior and odds makers’ projections on the outcome of games. This is yet another example of people not understanding the dynamics of social sharing or choosing to ignore company social policy, with the consequences having a far-reaching impact beyond the individual act.” Here is a related presentation from Ward: bit.ly/fy1j0n  Profile: www.profnetconnect.com/dr4ward  News Contact: Wendy S. Loughlin, wsloughl@syr.edu Phone: +1-315-443-2785

     

    OTHER NEWS & RESOURCES:

    Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

    **1. MINDING YOUR COMMUNICATIONS MANNERS: Beth Monaghan discusses modern phone etiquette: bit.ly/nw3i1l

    **2. #CONNECTCHAT RECAP: MAKING THE SWITCH FROM JOURNALISM TO PR, PART 2: ProfNet Editor Evelyn Tipacti spotlights marketing expert Michelle Mekky: bit.ly/qfXjIp

    **3. SMART CARDS: NEXT-LEVEL ENTERPRISE SECURITY: Hilding Arrehed explains how smart cards promote security in the IT environment: bit.ly/ru1Gd3

    Hurricane Cat, Procrastination, Fake Sunglasses: My Favorite Queries of the Week

    Friday, September 2, 2011, 11:24 AM [Favorite Queries]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    What do Hurricane Cat, procrastination and fake sunglasses have in common? They all made my list of favorite queries this week:

     

    Why Do We Procrastinate? Due yesterday…

    Annoying Problems in Life. Shouldn't this be retitled "Life"?

    Leafcutter Ants. I knew this degree would come in handy one day.

    What Was the Media's Role in Hurricane Irene? Did It Help or Hurt? Well it helped Hurricane Cat: bit.ly/nFOSsI

    Cutting Down on Spam Email. Don't turn your computer on.

    How Stars Keep Pregnancies Under Wraps. They pretend they're getting fat.

    Making Your Patients Feel at Ease. "Personally, I just gas them."

    The Dangers of Fake Sunglasses. Comments like: "That's a nice pair of Jokelys."

     

    *Publication names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

    What were some of your favorite queries this week? Did they make this list?


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