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    Expert Roundup: Trump's Tax Reform Plan

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 9:22 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Following are experts from the ProfNet network who are available for interviews regarding Trump’s tax reform plan.

    You can also submit a query to the hundreds of thousands of experts in our network – it’s easy and free! Just fill out the query form to get started:

    Trump’s Tax Plan
    Rebecca Kysar
    Professor of Law
    Brooklyn Law School
    Kysar is available for comment on Trump’s tax plan. Here is an excerpt from a January op-ed she wrote for Slate: " It is not realistic to expect the tax code to be set in stone. But the pillars of tax reform should be stable enough to form the basis of long-term investment and growth. Radical, partisan tax reform will prove short-lived and ineffective. Reform that gives the lion’s share of its benefits to the wealthy and adds trillions to the debt runs the risk of exacerbating inequality within and between generations, perhaps alienating Trump voters who elevated him to the White House based on his populist rhetoric."
    Kysar teaches and researches in the areas of federal income tax, international tax, and the federal budget and tax legislative processes. Her recent scholarship examines tax treaties, as well as the tax legislative process. Her articles have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Washington University Law Review, and the Yale Journal of International Law, among others.
    Contact: John Mackin,

    Trump’s Tax Reform Proposal
    Robert Duquette
    Professor of Practice in Accounting
    Lehigh University
    Duquette is available to discuss President Trump's tax reform proposal, as well as the House proposal and the need for tax reform. He can comment on who benefits from these proposals, their projected impact on economic growth and national debt, whether they will pass, and why true tax reform is needed: "President Trump's plan consists of three individual tax brackets: 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent; and a doubling of the standard deduction. That would mean, for example, the first $24,000 of a couple's taxable income would be exempt from taxes. The House's version also provides for new, higher combined exemption deductions of $12,000 for singles ($18,000 with children), and $24,000 for couples filing jointly, and consists of three tax rates: 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. Who benefits the most from these plans? The Tax Foundation projects that taxpayers would see an average increase in their after-tax income of between 1 percent and 10 percent in total over 10 years. However, the top 1 percent would benefit the most, with the wealthiest taxpayers seeing an increase in their after-tax income of 5 percent to 20 percent. What is the impact on economic growth and the national debt? A significant part of the cost would be offset by broadening the tax base through elimination of many deductions and credit, loss of business interest deductibility, loss of the domestic manufacturing deduction, and possibly a tax on some type of imports. All independent analyses of the proposals indicate there would probably be trillions of dollars added to the federal debt over the next 10 years. I'm not optimistic of passage of this tax reform in Congress. Even if it does pass, no reputable study has yet suggested it can help mitigate the growth in the national debt from the present $20 million to $30 trillion over the next 10 years."
    In addition to teaching taxation and accounting, Duquette is a CPA and has worked in tax and audit advising for three decades.
    Contact: Amy White,

    Corporate, Trust and Estate Planning-Related Questions
    Michael Kosnitzky
    Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
    “The Trump tax proposal to reduce rates on business income from flow through entities like S corporations and domestic limited liability companies has the potential to cause tax inequities. However, the Treasury and the IRS have ample tools under existing law to police this unfairness. Taxpayers should look to IRS policy on ‘reasonable compensation’ and the existing tax regimes under the so-called passive activity rules and net investment income tax rules for guidance on how the government will deal with aggressive taxpayers in similar situations.”
    Contact: Matt Hyams,

    Tax Rates for Businesses
    Larry Elkin, CFP, CPA
    Palisades Hudson Financial Group, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
    “President Trump thinks income generated by privately held Palisades Hudson Financial Group should be taxed at the same rate as income generated by Alphabet Inc., Google’s publicly traded parent company. And he thinks the rate for both businesses should be an attractively low 15 percent. You might expect me to be delighted by this news. I am a Republican, and we Republicans generally believe tax rates should be as low as possible. I also happen to be the owner of Palisades Hudson Financial Group. And I would be delighted with Trump’s proposal, except for one thing: It’s a phenomenally bad idea. Trump’s proposal that all business income be taxed at the same (low) rate makes rhetorical sense, but not logical sense. To see why, consider the two companies I just mentioned. Alphabet is what tax nerds call a C corporation. It pays its own income taxes and then, when it distributes remaining income to shareholders in the form of dividends, that income is taxed again at the shareholders’ rate. This means that by the time a single dollar of Alphabet’s pretax income reaches a shareholder, federal taxes have reduced it to as little as 52 cents. But Palisades Hudson is not taxed that way. Like nearly all owner-operated businesses, it does not pay its own taxes as a separate entity. Instead, its net income is included on the owner’s tax return and is only taxed once. This is what is meant by a ‘pass-through’ entity. Cutting my taxes on Palisades Hudson’s net income to 15 percent would mean my income would be taxed at half the rate of the wages I pay many of my employees, or even less. And this would be the case for many firms nationwide under the proposed rules, including some much larger than mine.”
    Contact: Henry Stimpson,

    ‘Pass-Through Rate’ and ‘One-Time Repatriation Tax’
    Michael Faulkender
    Professor of Finance and Associate Dean of Master’s Programs
    University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
    On the pass-through rate: “President Trump’s 'pass-through' proposal asks for abuse. Small-business owners could easily reclassify expenses to be net income and vice versa. If one mechanism has a lower tax rate than the other, the reclassifications will take place. Ideally, all income is subject to the same rate at the personal level, thus eliminating the incentive to reclassify the income.”
    On the one-time repatriation tax: “A one-time tax on accumulated foreign earnings rewards corporations that have moved operations to foreign jurisdictions for gaming the tax system. Firms in position to move profits abroad (by transfer pricing of intellectual capital), and that anticipated being subject to the tax on the differential, would see that tax liability fall from as high as 35 percent to perhaps 5-8 percent.”
    Faulkender’s “Taxes and Leverage at Multinational Corporations" is published in the Journal of Financial Economics (summarized here:
    Contact: Greg Muraski,

    Eliminating State-Local Deductions
    Albert “Pete” Kyle
    Professor of Finance
    University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
    “Eliminating the tax deductibility of state income taxes, while preserving the tax deductibility of property taxes, would encourage states like California and New York to lower income taxes and increase property taxes. In particular, I would expect property tax caps in California to be phased out over time if these changes are made.”
    Kyle has served as an economic advisor to NASDAQ, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
    Contact: Greg Muraski,

    Trump’s Tax Reform Proposals and the GOP Blueprint
    Stephen M. Breitstone
    Partner and Vice Chairman
    Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, Mineola, N.Y.
    A tax attorney, Breitstone can readily discuss how Trump’s tax reform proposals and the GOP blueprint could affect business in general, and especially the real estate industry, from commercial, office and rental owners and investors to individuals. Among other issues, Breitstone can discuss the implications of: standard and itemized deductions; repeal of the deductions for state and local taxes and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT); tax on business; Immediate expensing of capital expenditures and elimination of interest deduction; estate and gift taxes.
    Says Breitstone: “It is likely that any tax reform would also include ‘immediate expensing.’ The GOP blueprint proposes ‘immediate expensing’ of capital expenditures, including machinery and buildings, but not land. This is coupled with the elimination of the deduction for interest (all interest, except interest on personal mortgages, which hardly anyone would claim due to the increased standard deduction). For businesses that make investments in buildings and machinery (and probably for the owners of pass-through entities as well), the tax rate of 15% is mostly for show. The actual tax rate, at least for the next few years, will be zero. Immediate expensing will wipe out all income tax liabilities, at least in the short run. This may result in an increased flow of liquidity to these businesses to invest and to grow. But this will be short-lived. After the deduction for immediate expensing is used up, there will be no depreciation deduction and no interest deduction on the debt incurred to fund these investments. That means the effective tax rate on these businesses will soar.”
    Breitstone further questions immediate expensing as proposed, as it doesn’t target growth in areas where we really need it, such as education, technology and infrastructure. If you throw money at dying industries, it may only accelerate the further layoff of employees by encouraging increased automation.
    Contact: Peggy Kalia,

    Impact of Trump’s Plan
    Adnan Mahmud
    LiveStories is a civic data intelligence platform used by local, state, and federal governments to make massive data stores easier to understand for the general public. The company released a report called, "Five Facts: State Taxes and Spending" that includes findings on state and local expenditures based on the most recent U.S. Census. Mahmud is available to explain what this data can tell us about how Trump's tax reform plan will impact Americans. He can use these findings to illuminate opportunities and challenges that need to be considered in light of these policy changes.
    Contact: Rosie Gillam,

    How Reform Will Impact Citizens at Different Tax Levels
    Jinette Chiappetta, CPA
    Wealth Manager
    Equity Concepts
    Chiappetta can discuss how reform will impact citizens at different tax levels, as well as the overall economy. She is a wealth manager at Equity Concepts, a Richmond, Va.-based wealth management firm that serves more than 2,000 households and oversees approximately $875+ million in assets. Prior to joining Equity Concepts, Chiappetta spent 20 years in the tax field, with 15 years of public accounting experience and five years of corporate tax experiences. As a CPA, she places an emphasis on analyzing the impact of investment strategies on tax situations.
    Contact: Kelly Holcombe,

    Impacts on Individuals and Business Owners
    Bill Smith
    Managing Director, National Tax Office
    Smith is available to address the impacts of the plan on both individuals and business owners, the feasibility of the plan, and how it may evolve over time. He has more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, including five years in the office of General Counsel at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he was responsible for all aspects of the firm’s tax practice; five years as a tax lawyer for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and 12 years in private practice in San Francisco, representing businesses of all sizes and high-wealth individuals in developing and implementing tax strategies or negotiating with the IRS in Tax Court or administratively. Smith assumed his current position more than 15 years ago and is based in Bethesda, Md. In this role, he consults nationally on a broad range of tax services, including foreign and domestic transactional tax planning for corporations, partnerships, LLCs and individuals, such as mergers and acquisitions, domestic and international restructuring of businesses and investments, and negotiating partnership and other transactions. He is a frequent speaker at national conferences, and serves as a testifying expert in the area of accountants' professional duties and ethical obligations.
    Smith is well-versed on Trump’s tax plan, having authored the following blog posts/columns: “Key takeaways of Trump’s tax plan for business owners” (, “The votes are in: Introducing the new president’s tax plan” (, “Comparing presidential candidates’ tax reform plans” (, and “Trump’s tax plan could help businesses, but questions remain (
    Contact: Lauren Davis,

    Retirement Planning
    Ed Slott, CPA
    Founder, Ed Slott & Company
    Slott is a New York-based nationally recognized IRA expert, television personality, and best-selling author who has dedicated his life to educating Americans on saving for retirement and the intricacies of IRAs. He was named “The Best Source for IRA Advice” by The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today wrote, “It would be tough to find anyone who knows more about IRAs than CPA Slott." He is the author of “The Retirement Savings Time Bomb … And How to Defuse It” and “Parlay Your IRA into a Family Fortune.” His most recent books include “Fund Your Future: A Tax-Smart Savings Plan in Your 20s and 30s” and “The Retirement Decisions Guide: 125 Ways to Save and Stretch Your Wealth.” He is the host of the 2015 public television show “Ed Slott’s Retirement Road Map,” which airs in markets nationwide. He is a frequent columnist and resource for national media and has hosted many best-selling public television specials. Through his firm, Slott provides the highest level of IRA training to financial professionals, CPAs and attorneys; and through his website, he offers free resources to consumers.
    Contact: Mindy Eras,

    Tax Planning
    Greg Hammer
    Tax and Wealth Advisor
    Hammer Financial Group, Inc.
    Hammer specializes in coordinated, holistic financial planning for Lake County, Ind., and Chicago-area residents who are approaching retirement or currently retired. Bringing tax preparation and planning, Medicare supplements, estate planning, insurance and investments all under one roof, he aims to provide complete and convenient financial solutions for the best interest of the clients he serves. Hammer trains and coaches independent financial advisors nationwide on how to build their business to better serve the holistic financial needs of American families. In particular, he has helped develop and refine processes to integrate tax preparation and Medicare supplement services into a financial advisory practice -- a unique addition within the financial industry designed for the ultimate convenience and benefit of clients at and near retirement. He earned a B.A. in Applied Mathematics with a focus in economics from Yale University and has more than 23 years of experience in the financial services industry. In addition to his series 6, 63, 65 and 26 and life and health licenses, Hammer maintains Master Elite Membership with Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group for continued study and mastery of IRAs and applicable tax laws.
    Contact: Mindy Eras,

    Retirement Planning
    Jeff Warnkin, CPA and CFP
    The JL Smith Group
    Warnkin specializes in holistic financial planning for the pre-retired and retired residents of Ohio. As a holistic planner, he incorporates investments, insurance, taxes and estate planning when building financial plans in order create an optimal solution for the retirement years. Warnkin has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Series 7 and 24 securities licensed, has a Master of Taxation (MT) degree, and is life and health insurance licensed. He has also been personally trained by nationally acclaimed IRA expert Ed Slott, CPA, as a member of the exclusive Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group.
    Contact: Mindy Eras,

    Impact on Families and Investors
    Bijan Golkar
    CEO, Senior Advisor
    FPC Investment Advisory
    Golkar is a Northern California investment advisor that has been a licensed tax preparer since 2007 and earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification in 2013. He is frequently quoted in national media as an expert on investing and financial planning topics. In addition to his duties as the firm’s CEO, Golkar provides comprehensive advice to high-net-worth individuals and families. He often creates and leads teams of legal, accounting and insurance experts to help these clients meet their goals. He also consults with small businesses on buyouts, employee benefits and other matters.
    ProfNet Profile:
    Expert Contact:

    Expert Roundup: The Future of Obamacare

    Thursday, May 4, 2017, 10:30 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    In light of this today's healthcare vote, following is an expert roundup we ran in January that featured experts from the ProfNet network who are available for interviews on the future of the Affordable Care Act, the likelihood of a repeal, what a new plan could look like, and more.

    You can also submit a query to the hundreds of thousands of experts in our network - it's easy and free. Just fill out the query form to get started:

    David Bowen, MD
    Executive Vice President and Global Practice Director for Healthcare
    Hill+Knowlton Strategies
    Dr. Bowen's involvement with the Affordable Care Act began with a blank sheet of paper and a cappuccino. As health policy director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy, Dr. Bowen had a key role in what became known as Obamacare, from writing the first draft of the ACA to negotiating its key provisions, and shepherding the bill through Congress. Earlier in that role he was also responsible for legislation and policy on issues that included drug safety and health information technology. After leaving government, he went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the deputy director of global health policy and advocacy, and then became CEO of the nonprofit Malaria No More. His doctorate is in neurobiology. He was a visiting faculty member at Harvard Medical School. Currently, Dr. Bowen is based in Washington and leads the global healthcare practice at global communications consultancy Hill+Knowlton Strategies.
    Contacts: Bianca Hutton,, or Rebecca Ballard,

    Al Jackson
    Executive Vice President, Public Affairs
    Spectrum Science
    "As Republicans take the first steps toward fulfilling their repeated promise to 'repeal and replace' Obamacare, we are all reminded yet again that this is complicated stuff. We remember the debate over Obamacare, but also the discussions in 1993 and 1994 when President Bill Clinton and then First Lady Hillary Clinton tried health care reform the first time. Republicans, who will now have to drive the bus, need to figure out how to protect the pieces everyone likes without those they have campaigned against. Requiring insurers to ignore pre-existing conditions and outlawing lifetime limits on coverage are provisions embraced by Trump and Hillary supporters alike. Keeping those provisions without the mandate so roundly opposed by Trump supporters will, one would think, have to mean dramatically higher -- not lower -- insurance premiums. Further, well over half of the estimated 22 million Americans who are covered through Obamacare get their insurance as a result of Medicaid expansion. But we know most Republican governors (with the notable exception of Vice President Elect Mike Pence) have rejected Medicaid expansion. How will that needle be threaded? I don't know anyone who believes the Affordable Care Act is working perfectly. But replacing it with something better, a plan that adheres to Republican principles while maintaining coverage for those who already have it, will be even harder than getting Obamacare passed in the first place."
    A veteran Washington, D.C., healthcare public affairs executive, Jackson has nearly 30 years' experience in public affairs, issues management, health advocacy and legislative and grassroots communications. Jackson currently leads the Spectrum Science's Public Affairs practice. Spectrum Science is a leading independent health and science public relations agency, committed to achieving the goals of clients who are involved with issues, products, provider services or research in life and human health sciences.
    Contact: Michelle Anderson,

    Jeff Drummond
    Health Care Attorney
    Jackson Walker in Dallas
    "Nobody knows for sure what will happen, because this is a very unique situation with a president who has no political track record. However, I predict: 1) Repeal is almost entirely certain, and will be near immediate with the new Congress. 2) It will be done using the same reconciliation technique that allowed it to pass in the first place, thus avoiding the filibuster and the need for 60 votes in the Senate. 3) The effective date of the repeal provisions will be phased in over time, with very few if any immediately repealed, to allow the new Congress time to fashion replacement parts. 4) Much (maybe most, depending on how you measure it) of the ACA will be replaced by similar new legislation. 5) Keeping children insured on their parents' insurance until age 26 and elimination of lifetime limits will reappear in the replacement legislation. 6) Something looking like a pre-existing condition ban will be part of the replacement legislation, but it will look a lot more like HIPAA's 'portability' provisions (requiring previous group coverage). 7) The individual mandate will go away and won't be replaced. 8) Any really new provisions will be designed to increase insurance competition, such as interstate insurance sales."
    Drummond represents doctors, hospitals and other health care facilities in transactional and regulatory matters. He teaches graduate courses in health law, policy and regulation at UNT-Dallas. Since 2002, he has written a blog on HIPAA matters, and regularly tweets about HIPAA.
    Twitter: @JeffDrummond
    Contact: Kit Frieden,

    Hector De La Torre
    Executive Director
    Transamerica Center for Health Studies
    "There is talk of repeal-and-replace for the Affordable Care Act, and many are looking for insights into what the 'replace' policies will be. While none of us has a crystal ball, we can look to previous legislative action, rather than rhetoric, from those who will lead these efforts for an idea of what to expect. Many of the proposals from the House and Senate eliminate both the individual mandate to have insurance or pay a tax penalty and subsidies for purchasing a plan through a health insurance Exchange. There is also support among Republican leadership for a move away from guaranteed issue of health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions to a continuous coverage requirement for those with preexisting conditions." (Quote from FDA/CMA Summit panel in December 2016.)
    De La Torre is available to address health care policy, ACA/Obamacare, Medicare/Medicaid, state exchanges, impact of Trump administration, and impact of repealing the ACA on consumers and businesses. As executive director at Transamerica Center for Health Studies (a non-profit, non-partisan organization), De La Torre is focused on helping consumers and businesses navigate the healthcare landscape. He's a health policy and health insurance expert and can speak to public- and private-sector impacts of the evolving landscape. Among his accomplishments as an elected official in the state of California were expanding access to doctors in underserved communities, consumer protections against retroactive cancellation of health insurance, and supporting facilities improvements at Children's Hospitals. He appears frequently in the media, at industry events and regularly releases research and whitepapers. He is fluent in Spanish and English.
    ProfNet Profile:
    Contact: Meghan Graham,

    Cori Uccello
    Senior Health Fellow
    American Academy of Actuaries
    Uccello is available to discuss the potential consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement, including the effects on the individual market for health insurance: "With plans for repeal of all or part of the ACA being prioritized for action early in the 115th Congress, the Academy urges members of Congress to consider what would be needed should a repeal proposal not include significant measures to prevent substantial disruption and instability in the individual market. Avoiding these consequences means having in place measures to incentivize enrollment and prevent adverse selection. Delaying the effective date of repeal while a replacement is worked out likely won't be enough to assure the stability and sustainability of the individual market."
    Uccello can also discuss the features and risks of different options that have been proposed as part of a replacement for the ACA, such as proposals to expand the selling of insurance across state lines.
    ProfNet Profile:
    Contact: David Mendes,

    Harry Nelson
    Founding and Managing Partner
    Nelson Hardiman, Los Angeles
    "Obamacare was only a partial fix for U.S. healthcare, improving access but failing to improve affordability. As the story of Trumpcare unfolds, we expect the opposite: progress on affordability and lost ground on access. The real solution will take the courage to talk across the silos of U.S. politics, something Americans needs to do themselves because our politicians are incapable of doing so."
    One of the nation's leading healthcare attorneys, Nelson is the author of the upcoming book, "From Obamacare to Trumpcare: Why You Should Care," which looks at how healthcare became so broken, how it led to Obamacare and, most interesting, how he foresees it changing under Trump. Nelson offers a point-by-point breakdown of what the impact on healthcare will be if Trump and the Republicans do this. Nelson has a track record of real leadership at the nexus of healthcare and business challenges, focusing on federal and state regulatory compliance, business strategy, and developing practical solutions to vexing industry problems. He regularly advises a broad range of healthcare, life science, and technology companies (as well as their investors). He has deep experience working with entrepreneurial healthcare ventures, including telehealth issues and new business models. He also has extensive experience defending government investigations and enforcement actions, and has forged strong relationships with regulators across many healthcare sectors. His practice has extended to counseling healthcare companies in matters related to professional and facility licensing (including physicians, behavioral health, long-term care, and pharmacies), Medicare and private insurance reimbursement, FDA and DEA compliance, HIPAA and data privacy and security issues. He has developed extensive resources to facilitate compliance, including the development of compliance programs for hundreds of healthcare businesses. He has also launched a number of healthcare consulting and investment fund firms, including Compliagent, The Rx4 Group, and Adaptive Healthcare.
    Full Bio:
    Contact: Olivier Gibbons, Esq.,

    Vernita Todd
    Senior Vice President, External Affairs
    Health Center Partners of Southern California
    "Across healthcare professionals, elected officials and appointed policy makers, most can agree that our country's current healthcare funding model is unsustainable. Under the new administration, we can expect the Affordable Care Act to be repealed. However, because healthy people are the foundation of a flourishing economy, it is imperative that Medicare and Medicaid continue to be funded in order to ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare services for all. It is crucial for all stakeholders, including those of us immersed in the realities of federally qualified health centers, to work collaboratively with policy makers to identify fiscally prudent solutions to safeguard affordable health care for everyone across the economic spectrum."
    Health Center Partners is a consortium of federally qualified community health centers in Southern California that serve nearly 800,000 patients. Health Center Partners serves as a catalyst for transforming and enhancing primary care by helping members deliver quality health care to the safety-net population, through innovative programs, resources and advocacy. In addition to her role at Health Center Partners, Todd is a member of the National Association of Community Health Centers and previously served 10 years as CEO of the Heart City Health Center in Indiana. She can offer an objective and accurate view of the realities of the healthcare system in the U.S. and share what potential repeal and replace models may look like, as well as the impact those models would have on American economy and communities.
    Contact: Emily Lynn Ashley,

    Dr. David Kashmer
    Chief of Surgery
    Signature Healthcare, Brockton, Mass.
    When he's not answering the call of duty as a trauma and acute-care surgeon, Dr. Kashmer spends his time coaching the industry on how to improve healthcare quality. Like many of us, Dr. Kashmer is keeping a close eye on what Dr. Tom Price and the Trump administration will implement and the effects it will have our healthcare system, including costs. However, Dr. Kashmer believes the solution to keeping costs down now is to improve the quality of our healthcare system: "The bottom line is, come Inauguration Day, healthcare colleagues need to tackle how to recognize and measure the amount of waste and poor quality that exists in our system. Healthcare continues to be a decade or more behind other high-risk industries in terms of quality improvement. As Americans, let's work with Dr. Price and President-elect Donald Trump's leadership to make sure each of these important issues improve afterward."
    Each year, thousands of patients in hospitals and treatment facilities die or are seriously injured through errors caused by faulty care systems, outmoded surgical approaches, and medical-process failures. Dr. Kashmer is an excellent source to discuss why these issues need to be addressed now, no matter what happens with the ACA. He is the author of "Volume to Value: Proven Methods for Achieving High Quality in Healthcare," and "The Hidden Curriculum." He writes on quality improvement in healthcare for the Healthcare Quality Blog and is a contributor for The Hill.
    Contact: Robin Rectenwald,

    Leslie A. Muller, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Economics
    Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Mich.
    "The ACA has many moving parts, and the repeal of just one tenet of the law may have a domino effect within the economy, particularly in the private insurance markets. Firms may also feel the effects, both in their labor market decisions and health insurance offerings. Even if a particular individual or firm is not directly affected by a repeal, the uncertainty that is created can have substantial effects on economic markets."
    Dr. Muller has conducted several surveys of firm and patient experiences with the Affordable Care Act. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level health economics courses analyzing the economic effects of the ACA on firms, health insurance markets, labor markets and patients. She has given several interviews with state and local media on her survey results, as well as the possible economic outcomes of events such as the Supreme Court decision on federal subsidies and 2016's substantial premium increases in the ACA marketplace.
    Contact: Dottie Barnes,

    Cynthia Borrelli
    Principal, Insurance Practice Group
    Bressler, Amery & Ross
    Borrelli can discuss what will happen with Obamacare and insurance plans under the Trump administration. Borrelli notes that Trump is a Republican so he believes in free competition. He will probably get rid of most of the subsidies embodied in the ACA. By doing that, we take the IRS and the DOL out of having jurisdiction over parts of the ACA. Trump is also likely to support legislation which is dependent upon a private exchange or a series of private exchanges, with free competition setting the price. Companies and even individuals will want to participate. More competition brings the price down and provides a larger community for rating purposes. Borelli says Trump will get rid of the government-funded marketplace, but he has to leave in some ACA parts -- prohibitions on pre-existing conditions, portability, and perhaps employer mandates to continue to promote access to healthcare, etc. He may use the private exchange to cover basics but offer other insurance for serious or even just catastrophic illnesses which creates a federal reinsurance mechanism. To the extent that free competition is ultimately restored and the risk adjustment factors are phased out with respect to the small and individual markets, carriers may see a decrease in the cost of providing the coverage. "My concern is how long this will take while carriers have already made substantial investments in ACA compliance, and what happens to the insured marketplace while realignment is ongoing," she says.
    Borrelli's practice focuses on regulation and compliance for insurers, brokers and trade associations in the property/casualty and life and health areas. She has experience in advising clients in matters involving holding company regulation, corporate restructuring, market distribution and regulation of sales practices, product design, anti-trust and restrictive covenants in the insurance arena, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as implementing regulations. She is vice president of the Federation of Regulatory Counsel, most recent past chairman of the Board of Directors, and chairs the Admissions Committee. She also chairs the Legal Committee of the National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds.
    Contact: Andrew Blum,

    Michael Rosko, PhD
    Professor of Health Care Management
    Widener University, Chester, Pa.
    Rosko shares key features of Obamacare he believes President-elect Trump should consider keeping: "1) Provisions for mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions should not be repealed; however, the only way this works is if most everyone is required to participate. Exceptions could be made for small businesses, because mandated participation for them might drive them out of business. 2) Children under age 26 should also continue to have the option to receive coverage under their parents. This group tends to be very healthy, so it does not cost that much and it may give them access to preventative services, which ultimately help to save money and lives. 3) Value based purchasing and bundling of services should continue as they provide incentives to increase quality and reduce costs."
    Other things President-elect Trump should consider regarding healthcare, says Rosko: "1) Allow Medicare to use its purchasing power to drive down Rx prices. 2) Consider single-payer for hospital care or all-payer rate regulation. 3) Consider outcomes research when determining services to be covered. I know Sarah Palin called this 'death panels' and it was a strong and effective soundbite, but this would be a more effective way of rationing our scarce resources. I used the r-word (rationing). While this may frighten some, they do this in the UK, and it works fairly well."
    Contact: Allyson Roberts,

    Darrell Spurlock Jr., PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF
    Associate Professor of Nursing
    Widener University, Chester, Pa.
    "Many lesser known and publicized provisions of the ACA have, in many ways, fundamentally reshaped the U.S. healthcare system. These provisions are designed to provide better care at a lower cost, and to more people. The ACA has exerted significant influence on healthcare systems and clinical care providers through payment reforms, quality improvement initiatives, and innovations in health workforce policy and research priorities. Through the use of financial incentives and penalties for hospitals not meeting quality benchmarks set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS), researchers have reported that through 2015, 150,000 hospital re-admissions had been prevented through the use of care coordination and evidence-based clinical treatment strategies. Similar efforts to reduce hospital-acquired harms (like receiving the wrong medication or having an operation at the wrong surgical site) have also shown success, having prevented over 50,000 such events, with an estimated cost avoidance of $12 billion. The ACA has also created structural change to how healthcare is delivered in the United States. We've seen the development of a new type of healthcare organization, the Accountable Care Organization (ACO), designed to bring together hospitals, primary and ambulatory care providers, and rehabilitation agencies to provide care in a collaborative way, across the health continuum – from wellness through illness, and back to wellness. We've also seen promotion of innovations in how primary care is delivered, with initiatives to facilitate creation of "medical homes" where an individual's primary, dental, mental health, and pharmacy care can be provided in a "one stop" setting, and investment in additional Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) to care for the most vulnerable in our communities. The ACA has also bolstered the healthcare workforce and promoted innovation in research critical to long-term improvements in healthcare quality and cost savings. In an example of the innovation that the ACA promotes, the independent non-profit, nongovernmental Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was created in 2010 to help people make informed healthcare decisions and improve healthcare delivery and outcomes by producing and promoting high-integrity, evidence-based information that comes from research guided by patients, caregivers, and the broader healthcare community. Though PCORI's work is just beginning, it has funded $670.8 million in projects dedicated to improving healthcare delivery and outcomes."
    Contact: Allyson Roberts,

    Michael La Vean
    Founder and President
    Conceivex – The Conception Kit
    "Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines will drive costs up -- not down. A national insurance market will take the treatment costs in the highest-priced markets (like New York and Boston) and use them as the floor to establish the costs for every other market across the country. In fact, the cost of care in the majority of states will rise to match the higher numbers in just a few states, not the other way around."
    La Vean has more than two decades of healthcare and insurance experience, based on his background with several companies he founded that have, and continue to, provide FDA-approved fertility treatment care with insurance co-pays.
    Contact: Michael W. Robinson

    John Desser
    Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy
    Desser is vice president of government affairs and public policy at, the largest non-government website licensed to sell "Obamacare" health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act's government-centric approach to health care reform failed because one key customer demographic (Millennials) rejected the products and did not sign up. President-elect Trump's victory now puts tremendous pressure on the private sector to help health reform succeed. If "Trumpcare" fails in the way that "Obamacare" failed, the 2020 election could be referendum on a single-payer health care system.  Desser can talk about what it will take to make Trumpcare succeed where Obamacare failed, as well as the bad insurance products, the bad technology and the bad partnerships between government and the private sector that led to Obamacare's failure.
    Contact: Jennifer Werdel,

    Kosali Simon
    Professor of Health Policy and Economics
    Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs
    Simon is a nationally known health economist who specializes in the intersection of health insurance/policy with labor markets and has conducted some of the seminal research on the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Her primary research area is applying economic analysis in the context of health insurance and health care policy. She is the 2007 recipient of the John D. Thompson Prize from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration for contributions to health services research. She is a board member of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon), and she serves as the health co-editor for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and an Associate Editor of Health Economics.
    Contact: Kemba Neptune,

    Deborah Dorman-Rodriguez
    Leader of Healthcare Practice Group
    Freeborn & Peters LLP
    Dorman-Rodriguez can discuss the following aspects of Obamacare: 1) The future of the ACA:Will the controversial healthcare law be rolled back entirely, or will portions of it remain? If parts are to be replaced, what will the new government potentially propose and how will this affect payors and providers? 2) The future of ACOs: Accountable Care Organizations have seen mixed success. Will these industry innovations remain as a way to help reduce healthcare costs by creating efficiencies? 3) The future ofMedicaid/Medicare:What do the results of the election potentially mean for Medicaid and Medicare programs? Could we see a push for privatization? 4) Insurer lawsuits against the government:The DOJ and insurers are currently engaged in litigation over what are known as risk corridor payments. Risk corridor payments are intended to compensate insurers who had excessive losses due to qualified health plans sold on the government-run healthcare exchange. The payments are supposed to be from insurers with qualified health programs that experienced excessive profits. However, due to shortfalls, these payments have not been made in full. Whether the government will continue to defend such litigation or settle remains to be seen.
    Dorman-Rodriguez is the former chief legal officer of Health Care Services Corp., the largest customer-owned health insurer in the U.S.
    Contact: Keith Ecker,

    David M. Kaufman
    Member of Healthcare Practice Group
    Freeborn & Peters LLP
    Kaufman can discuss the following aspects of Obamacare: 1) The future of the ACA:Will the controversial healthcare law be rolled back entirely, or will portions of it remain? If parts are to be replaced, what will the new government potentially propose and how will this affect payors and providers? 2) The future of ACOs:Accountable Care Organizations have seen mixed success. Will these industry innovations remain as a way to help reduce healthcare costs by creating efficiencies? 3) The future of Medicaid/Medicare:What do the results of the election potentially mean for Medicaid and Medicare programs? Could we see a push for privatization? 4) Insurer lawsuits against the government: The DOJ and insurers are currently engaged in litigation over what are known as risk corridor payments. Risk corridor payments are intended to compensate insurers who had excessive losses due to qualified health plans sold on the government-run healthcare exchange. The payments are supposed to be from insurers with qualified health programs that experienced excessive profits. However, due to shortfalls, these payments have not been made in full. Whether the government will continue to defend such litigation or settle remains to be seen.
    Kaufman is a partner in Freeborn's Healthcare Practice Group and formerly served as the general counsel of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois, as well as general counsel to the New Mexico State Corporation Commission, counsel to the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance, and an assistant attorney general for the State of New Mexico.
    Contact: Keith Ecker,

    Mark Rust
    Managing Partner, Chicago Office
    Barnes & Thornburg, LLP
    Rust, the immediate past chair of the firm's national Healthcare Department, concentrates his practice in transactional, regulatory and medical-legal issues affecting healthcare entities and provider organizations. For nearly 35 years he has written about or practiced in healthcare law, writing in a wide variety of publications from the Journal of the American Bar Association to USA Today. He is listed as a notable healthcare lawyer in Chambers USA, Top Healthcare Lawyers of Illinois, Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America. He has represented hospitals and hospital-physician joint ventures, multi-specialty clinics, large radiology, anesthesiology and cardiology groups, medical staffs, healthcare management companies and managed care organizations including provider-sponsored insurance companies and HMOs. He routinely is engaged to advise on mergers and acquisitions, contract formation and negotiation, and regulatory issues. In addition to federal fraud and abuse and Stark analysis and state healthcare regulation, Rust has focused on the application of ERISA pre-emption to the healthcare field. He and his firm appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in Rush Prudential v. Moran, 536 U.S. 355 (2002), successfully arguing, for the first time, how the relationship between providers, patients, managed care and state regulation should work under the federal law known as ERISA; and Rust was counsel of record on behalf of the American Medical Association and fifty state medical societies on the same topic before the Supreme Court the following year in Kentucky v. Miller, 538 U.S. 329 (2003). He also focuses his attention on analyzing and explaining antitrust issues. For Thompson West Publishing, Rust regularly updates the antitrust section of The Law of Medical Practice in Illinois, Third Edition. He has appeared before the United States Congress and several state legislatures providing testimony on healthcare delivery and managed care.
    Contact: Tyler Rabel,

    Larry Kocot
    Leader of the Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight
    Kocot is a subject expert on CMS, Medicare, Medicaid, helped launch Medicare Part D, medication therapy management, healthcare policy, healthcare reimbursement, health plans, pharmacy benefit managers, drug stores. The Center follows health care regulatory and policy trends driving health care transformation and industry convergence and the broader implications of operating in a more collaborative and integrated U.S. healthcare payment and delivery environment. Kocot is a former senior advisor to the administrator of the Centers for and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, he was involved in a wide range of health care policy issues and operations related to Medicare and Medicaid, including the launch of Medicare Part D. Prior to joining KPMG, Kocot practiced law in Washington and was a visiting fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and deputy director of the Engelberg Center for Healthcare Reform at Brookings.
    Contact: Bill Borden,

    Jeff Smedsrud
    HealthValues and
    Smedsrud says the ACA will inevitably observe significant changes or total replacement. While these changes won't go into effect for a considerable amount of time, individuals should prepare for what the Republicans want to change. Smedsrud can address the Republican tax credit and the modified community rating. Republicans plan to modify the community rate from 3:1 (under current ACA) to 5:1, which means older individuals will pay five times more than what a young individual will. For example, if an 18-year-old pays $116, a 64-year-old would pay $584. Thus, costs for younger people will go down and the cost for older people will go up. Subsidies would then be provided based on attainted age. Younger people -- no matter their income -- will get fewer subsidies but pay less and older people will get more subsidies because they pay more. With the Republican tax credit, the older you are, the less costly insurance will be.
    Smedsrud has spent a lifetime creating new ways for consumers to gain more control over their health care costs, and served as a health care reform advocate for much of his career, providing expert testimony on healthcare issues before national and state committees. He is a co-founder and senior advisor for, and was previously the chief marketing strategy officer and senior vice president of The IHC Group. He serves on many non-profit health care boards, including the Coalition of Affordable Health Coverage. He is able to discuss the effects of mandates/penalties; growth in faith-based insurance platforms; private companies administering subsidies (less reliance on; incentives from private insurance (receive bonuses to reward health behavior; liken to other industries, such as auto, life, etc.).
    Contact: Jennifer Brough,

    Joan Budden 
    President and CEO
    Priority Health
    "Michigan is unique in the nation. In conjunction with the ACA, it employs the Healthy Michigan Plan, a health coverage program that allows the state to make health care benefits available to low-income Michigan residents. Since its inception, more than 568,342 beneficiaries have gained coverage through the plan, according to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services. Of those beneficiaries, nearly half were between the ages of 19 and 34, an age group that has had high uninsured rates in the past. The uninsured rate in Michigan in 2015 was 6.1 percent, down from 12.4 percent in 2010."
    Budden is president and CEO of Priority Health, a Michigan-based health insurance company.
    Contact: Sara Bloomberg,

    Why People Are Jerks on Social Media – and What Brands Can Do About It

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 3:24 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    WARNING: This blog post is rated R for mature language. Wink

    It’s almost impossible to interact on social media without seeing nasty arguments or scathing comments between people who, in real life, are probably nice. So why do social networks often breed negativity?

    At a recent Social Media Week panel, Len Kendall and Nicole Rehling of Carrot – The VICE Digital Agency, explored the psychological causes of negative conversations on social media, and what brands, publishers and agencies can do about it.

    To view the full presentation, you can get a digital pass here: SMW Insider. The pass will also let you view other fantastic panels from SMW events in New York, Los Angeles, London and Chicago.

    Here's a quick recap of this panel:

    Why People Act Like Jerks on Social Media

    This video from Key & Peele is a good (and hilarious) example of miscommunication, which is one really simple reason for why people get nasty online:

    Everyone has seen a family member or a friend be kind of a jerk on social media. Maybe you were even that person recently. So let’s dive in and understand why:

    1. The lack of disconnect from societal repercussions.

    “Online conversations are nothing like what we experience in our life,” said Rehling. “We are removed from the impact of our poor judgment or the mistakes we might make.”

    If harsh words are directed at you on social media, you’re literally a couple of clicks away from ceasing that person’s connection to you. As a result, people show less restraint and spew negativity much more often.

    2. The self-esteem paradox.

    On social media, many of us cultivate our networks in such a way that constantly have people telling us how awesome we are – and eventually we begin to believe it. Not only might we start to believe we are better than we are, but we might start to believe we are better than a lot of people around us.

    “When you have this sense of ego that develops because of all this constant attention and praise, it makes it really easy to criticize other people who you perceive to be less interesting or smart or attractive than you, especially when those people are not getting all the internet praise you are,” said Kendall.

    Internet praise is becoming a sort of social validation, he said: If someone isn’t getting as much as you are, they must be inferior to you.

    3. Mob mentality.

    Before social was really popular, you had a small handful of people who could take your brand down – maybe a journalist or a comedian. If a brand did something stupid, a someone would make a joke about it, and then people would talk about it at a bar, and that was the end of the cycle.

    Today, everyone can react to everything.

    In 2015, KFC posted on Facebook about the new Colonel Sanders. More than 900 people took the time out of their day to comment on whether or not they liked the new Colonel Sanders.

    “It’s silly, but it’s proof that we are being force-fed debates,” said Kendall. “And again, it’s an easy way for us to be right, and sometimes it makes us kind of be jerks.”

    4. Pushing others down lifts some people up.

    “Unfortunately, social media has made it really easy and efficient to be a bully,” said Kendall.

    We watch shows like “Real Housewives” and gossip about coworkers because, a lot of times, we can show ourselves that somebody else is worse off or has a worse life, and it makes us forget about our own problems. But while you might feel better for yourself for a short amount of time, that feeling is temporary. People who get pleasure from this behavior have to do it over and over again.

    5. Broken patterns.

    With platforms like Facebook and Instagram adopting algorithms that serve us content we’re predicted to like, content that falls outside of those norms becomes much more obvious to us, and enables a defense mechanism to react and use negativity as a form of getting our point across faster: “This is not my belief, this is not my opinion, and I want you to know it.”

    Navigating the Waters

    The foundation of any kind of social or PR plan is to make sure you’re studying existing conversations around the content you’re either building or publishing.

    Rehling cited a Carrot project in which they partnered with Cartoon Network to build a Powerpuff Girls avatar generator to commemorate the relaunch of the series.

    “It was widely successful, but as we were discussing the user interface and the user experience, we did some pretty extensive research on other avatar makers that have been built,” said Rehling. “We looked at their response in the social environment and what things were said about them, and paired that with a lot of the conversations that were happening around that time on gender norms and gender stereotypes. We actually provided Cartoon Network with a recommendation to not include a gender selection in the user interface experience.”

    At the time, it felt like a small decision. However, once it launched, the press picked up on the decision and touted Cartoon Network for taking a forward-thinking measure.

    And there’s really no excuse to not do that every time, said Kendall.

    “There are now 10+ years of social data, and anything that you want to put out there, you can pretty much go back in time and find something else that someone created that might be similar to what you want to do. There’s plenty of room to study conversations in the past and learn from what worked and didn’t work.”

    Know When to STFU

    Sometimes, replying to something negative can draw undue attention to it and actually cause the problem to be bigger, said Rehling.

    Brands should also be careful when inserting themselves into trending conversations, added Kendall.

    One example is AT&T. On the anniversary of Sept. 11, the brand decided to post this picture, which they meant to be a commemoration. However, people saw this as opportunistic and inappropriate. AT&T publicly apologized and took the post down.


    Sept. 11 is one of those topics that brands don’t really have a place commenting on, said Kendall.

    “AT&T has done a lot of great work, but this is a misstep,” he added. “They shouldn’t have this controversial subject because there was really no way of winning.”

    Looking Into the (Near) Future

    Kendall and Rehling cited three trends that all marketing pros should be looking to in the near future:

    1. A return to one-way conversations.

    With Snapchat and Facebook Live, there is a trend of moving back to broadcast conversations or talking-head scenarios, said Rehling. And while this does discourage trolling and limits people’s ability to provide negative feedback, it also means the content is less discoverable. It’s a one-way conversation.

    2. Closed communities on the rise.

    In terms of more traditional forms of communication, closed communication – like messaging – is growing. For brands, the upside is that people might vent about your brand privately in a messaging platform, as opposed to publicly on Twitter. The downside, of course, is that it’s harder for brands to participate in messaging platforms.

    3. Virtual reality: the unknown frontier.

    Kendall sees VR impacting brands with customer service in particular.

    “It’s really hard to make someone happy when you’re trying to solve their problem over Facebook or Twitter or email,” said Kendall. “There’s so much context that isn’t there. But if you imagine virtual customer-assistance people who are helping you to solve your problem, and you can see them and they can empathize more easily with you, this is actually a really promising thing.”

    Virtual reality, he added, will help brands solve problems more easily and de-escalate any other issues that pop up.

    View more SMW panels with the SMW Digital Pass here:

    The Secret Sauce: 9 Tips for a Successful Social Media Strategy

    Friday, March 10, 2017, 9:52 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    How do you satisfy your core audience while still giving them a variety of what’s trending or relevant?

    That was the question posed to a panel of social media experts representing three Hearst titles -- Esquire, Marie Claire, and Elle – during a Social Media Week New York panel earlier this month.

    The panel, titled “How Hearst’s Prestige Brands Are “Doing the Internet,” featured:

    • Ben Boskovich, social media editor, Esquire
    • Elizabeth Brady, associate director of social strategy, Hearst Digital Media
    • Rosa Heyman, social media editor, Marie Claire
    • Gena Kaufman, social media director, Elle
    • Kate Lewis, VP of content operations and editorial director, Hearst Digital

    To view the full presentation, you can get a digital pass here: SMW Insider. The pass will also let you view other fantastic panels from SMW events in New York, Los Angeles, London and Chicago.

    Here's a quick recap of nine strategies mentioned during this panel to help you achieve social media success for your brand:

    Social Strategy Teams

    There are 22 brands at Hearst, each with a dedicated site team, and each of those teams has a dedicated social editor. There is also a brand-agnostic Social Strategy team that counsels the social editors, helping them manage their relationships with the social networks.

    The Social Strategy team is a centralized resource that helps make adaptation a little easier for the editors. Adaptation is crucial because social changes every 3-6 months, if not more frequently.

    “It’s such an accelerated evolution cycle for a social editor to grapple with and succeed in,” said Brady, “especially when they’re the ones in the weeds doing the day-to-day posting, pushing content out, and then also paying attention to everything that’s going on in the ecosystem.”

    The Social Strategy team has developed a suite of reports they share with the teams to teach them about their audiences. Editors get alerts every day so they know which stories are getting viral traction and which ones aren’t. They also have other centralized resources, like a social media Wiki for the entire staff.

    Through these reports and resources, teams are kept up-to-date on when Facebook rolls out a new algorithm update, or when Instagram announces a new feature, like multi-photo posts. If a site has a video that’s going viral on Facebook, everyone knows about it immediately and can discuss how to capitalize on it.

    The Social Strategy team also provides granular statistics for the brands.

    “Elle might come to us with a question on what types of beauty content are doing the best on Facebook and which types might not be worth posting,” said Brady. “We’ll dive into the data and we’ll say, ‘Food videos are working for you, but really only if they have cheese.’ Other times, it’s a little bit of detective work. We’ll notice an old post is getting a lot of engagement on Chartbeat, so we’ll investigate where that’s coming from and spread the intel from there. It helps teams understand how to prioritize things and benchmark.”

    The ‘Secret Sauce’

    Hearst has 126 million followers across social networks, up 39% from last year. In 2016, there were more than 50 million engagements on Facebook posts, and Facebook shares increased by 33%.

    The “secret sauce” to this impressive following is that Hearst social editors spend their time using social as a tool for listening, which Boskovich calls the backbone of the social editor’s job.

    “As social editors, we have a huge benefit in living and breathing in each of the social networks every single day, and that helps us bring information back to our editors,” explained Boskovich. “We know, for instance, that our Twitter audience has a more elevated, probably more educated, interest, so they’re going to want more tweets about the 10,000-word features that we’re writing. The Facebook audience, on the other hand, is more interested in snackable news and videos. I learned that just by it being a part of my life 24/7. I tell my editors, ‘Hey, that’s probably not going to go on Facebook, but I’ll send out four tweets about it because it’ll even out in the long run.”

    Kaufman agrees that this is an integral part of their strategy: “We do that every day, and especially when a big event is coming up, like the Oscars. I’ll look at last year and put together a report on what our top social content was, and send that around to all the editors and say, ‘Hey, this is a way to cover this event that works.’”

    Brady also does a lot of reporting on live events and can attest to the importance of listening to your audience.

    “On social, it’s best practice to be speedy, to be creative, to be authentic, but there is another pillar: Just pay attention. Listen, have that observational attitude with your followers, and dig in, because there’s always something new to uncover – like a weird fandom – that your audience will be interested in. You can really tap into that and replicate successes.”

    Of course, she adds, you always have to be ready to do something different in a month, “because it’s not going to last.”

    Ditch the Clickbait

    While using clickbait headlines might seem like an easy way to get readers to click through to articles, it doesn’t always translate into engagement.

    The Elle team was originally reluctant to ditch the clickbait, worrying that if they shared too much information in their Facebook posts, readers wouldn’t be driven to the website. However, Brady and her Social Strategy team pushed Kaufman’s team to focus less on posts that drive clicks and more on engagement, posting photos and videos that will drive comments, likes and shares. They also tried to package their stories to be more shareable and less clickbait-y.

    “We were hesitant to do that because you don’t see an immediate result,” said Kaufman, “but now that we’ve focused on doing that, not only has our engagement grown, but so has our social traffic.”

    Social networks’ algorithms also make a case for ditching the clickbait.

    With networks increasingly controlled by algorithms that might not necessarily reflect what is happening, shares – not clicks – are more important than ever.

    “If you don’t have people sharing and interacting with your content, there’s a pretty good chance no one is going to see it at all,” explained Brady. “We have to be much more strategic about what we’re putting up because we need it to get surfaced, whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram. We’re always looking for a higher threshold of engagement.”

    To do this, the teams basically give the story away on their social networks.

    “We’re totally fine with the social editors giving it all away, whether it’s a photo or a link. If somebody just had a crazy makeover or there’s a new photo of someone, show it in the thumbnail, tell us what happened. It’s not about gaming the algorithm or nuancing something to try to trick someone to clicking in. Make it its own entity. Make it shareable so your audience is going to help you distribute it throughout. You’re almost deputizing your audience to be ambassadors for you.”

    “Which is why clickbait just doesn’t work,” added Heyman, “because who’s going to share that?”

    Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

    The teams work really closely together at Hearst, and while there’s a healthy dose of competition, there’s also a lot of sharing between the teams.

    “When one brand finds something that works, we can all borrow it,” said Heyman. “Elle was seeing a lot of success boosting their engagement on Facebook by commenting on posts that were already doing well with additional reading links. Let’s say Selena Gomez and The Weeknd are dating and they posted about each other on Instagram. Elle has a timeline of their relationship, and by posting the timeline link in the comments section and engaging with the readers in a conversation that’s already ongoing, it can help boost engagement.”

    Kaufman agreed, adding that the related-links strategy – also called “swarming” -- is something she learned from another Hearst brand, Cosmo.

    “Cosmo is a brand at Hearst that does it really well,” said Kaufman. “When there’s a big topic, everyone rushes to cover the first news story. Since everyone does it, the traffic gets split among them. What we really try to do now is think, ‘We already did the quick news story. What can we do in the next hour? What’s the additional story we can do tomorrow? What’s the story we can do next week?’ We’re really taking one topic that’s working and finding different ways to keep the coverage going that feels more specific to Elle and our audience, rather than just announcing news.”

    Esquire’s Boskovich shared another strategy he’s learned from the women’s brands at Hearst: Facebook Live.

    “We’ve been doing a ton of Facebook Live videos,” he said. “On the videos, we talk about and reference stories. For example, every Thursday we have style lessons with myself and our senior style editor, Jonathan Evans. We talk about celebrity style and teach readers lessons from mistakes or accomplishments these men have made with their clothing. So while we referenced articles we’ve written during the broadcast, we weren’t posting them in the comments so our readers could click on it as they’re watching, so we started doing that. It’s a way for Facebook Live to generate some traffic.”

    Embrace Native Content

    Social best practices change quickly. What worked last year doesn’t necessarily work now. For example, native content – videos, photos or some other type of asset that is put on social first -- has become much bigger than it was.

    “In years past, if a video or photo took off, it might have been a little more serendipitous,” said Brady. “Now it’s really strategic. We’re thinking more and more. For most of our brands, 30-50% or more of their daily Facebook inventory is native content, which is a huge pivot compared to a year or two ago.”

    “There’s something freeing about that as an editor,” added Lewis, “because if you’re a content creator, what you really want is to make someone read your content. The advantage now is you begin to see social platforms just as a place for consumption vs. a place where you’re trying to ‘game the system’ to get something to happen.”

    Use Social to Drive Traffic

    One strategy Boskovich has found successful in driving website clicks from social is to take the traditional path of social-to-site and flip it backwards:

    “We have our political commentary via Charles P. Pierce, who is a powerhouse, but also this enigma on the internet. Most of his traffic was coming directly from people who not only bookmark his blog but sit on it all day and refresh it and wait for a new post to come up, which is super-primitive. So when it came time to amplify his social presence, we took a backwards approach and took the comments off of his blog and at the end of the post, we started directing people to a new Facebook page we had built for him.”

    That Facebook page is now one of the fastest-growing “toddler” pages (aka subpages or satellite pages) at Hearst Digital Media.

    “It was a way to capitalize on an already super-loyal captive audience and send them backwards to social,” explained Boskovich. “And now we have a huge social audience on his Facebook page that are loyal and go back to the site.”

    Brady said Hearst has experimented quite a bit with toddler pages at Hearst, but shared two caveats for those considering using them:

    First, you need to have a lot of native content – video, etc. -- to help spike growth of the page. If you don’t have the content, “you’re really going to be struggling,” said Brady. “It can’t just be a links page.”

    You also want to make sure you’re attracting new people who might not already be connected with the flagship.

    “If you’re going to be funneling a lot of effort into this secondary page, you really want to make sure those people aren’t likely to already be liking your main page, or you might as well put that effort on your main page and grow that one,” explained Brady. “You really want the audiences to be different, but tracing back to your same source.”

    Standing out With Video

    Video is another strategy at Elle that has paid off.

    “Video was a really small portion of my job when we started, and now it’s everything,” said Kaufman, whose team has increased their Facebook video views by 2,000% in the last year.

    To achieve that impressive increase, they’ve diversified their sources – and adjusted their thinking:

    “We have a video team that shoots and produces original video, which really helped grow one of our toddler pages. We do as much video as we can. We even turned our Street Style photographer into a videographer, instead of just having snaps of people at Fashion Week in their outfits. He’s putting a GoPro on his camera so that we can get these videos of what it’s like to be on the Street Style scene at Fashion Week, which has been a really cool new way to cover that and another source of more video all the time.”

    At first, it was hard for the teams, who were used to thinking of stories in words and pictures, to embrace video.

    “There’s a real temptation for us to structure videos exactly the way we do stories: here’s what happened, beginning, middle and end,” said Kaufman. “We still do that with news stories that turn into videos, and that works, but we’re really trying to think about videos as telling their own story in their own way or supplementing stories on the website.”

    One thing the Elle team has done successfully is to use short Getty video clips to push traffic to their articles.

    “The Oscars just happened, so say we want to do a story on Emma Stone. We’ll grab a little video of her and post it on FB with a caption that describes what the story is,” explained Kaufman. “So in a sea of identical headlines, the video stands out and ultimately gets more people to click into your story than just having the same photo everyone else has.”

    Esquire’s Boskovich has also experimented with video to great results. Esquire editors were originally opposed to seeing their 1,000-word story become a one-and-a-half-minute video, but they saw how it helped give readers a snackable version of the story, which translated into more eyeballs on the article.

    Another benefit of using videos on social is that it can be a good way to experiment with and test out new topics:

    “We posted a video for Justin Trudeau’s birthday on ‘15 times Justin Trudeau made you fall in love with him,’ and it took off,” said Heyman. “It was crazy. We’ve never covered Justin Trudeau before and our audience was obsessed with him.”

    The response to the video led Marie Claire to start covering Justin Trudeau more.

    “Now we cover his every single move,” said Heyman,” and it does really well for us. It was cool to see that. It wasn’t something that we planned on devoting resources to or writing a story about.”

    Battle of the Brands

    One of the challenges of a company like Hearst that has various brands under its umbrella is how to differentiate the brands for their audiences. It’s especially tricky with women’s brands, whose audiences are largely interested in the same topics.

    “There are so many great women’s brands at Hearst, and the audiences are largely interested in the same topics, but I do think they have really distinct voices and distinct audiences, so we try to think of it as covering the same topics in a more specific way,” said Kaufman.

    For example, the Harper’s Bazaar reader is a little more artsy and high end than the Elle reader. So if Harper’s is doing a story on “10 investment bags to buy” that the Elle reader would not necessarily be able to afford, Elle might cover it as: “This is the cheapest place you can buy a Louis Vuitton bag right now.”

    “We try to cover it in a way that it’s the same topic, but a slightly different angle,” said Kaufman.

    Boskovich agreed, adding that readers go to specific brands for their voice: “Our competitors are writing the same things as we are. If we don’t give them a reason to care about what Esquire has to say and why that’s unique, they can go anywhere and get that.”

    Figure out what the audience is interested in and how to talk about it so readers feel like they’ve been given something special and that emotionally connects to them in some way.

    Let the Platform Lead You

    When it comes to growing, Brady suggests letting the platforms lead you a little bit.

    With new features emerging every day, be ready to experiment and dive in and try new things, like 360 video and vertical video. People will pay attention to you and will be really excited to see you offering something fresh, new and visually compelling.

    Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 12:56 PM [General]
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    It’s my favorite time of year -- time for all the “best of 2015” lists. We had a lot of fantastic content on ProfNet Connect this year, but we know you’ve been busy and might have missed a few posts here and there. So, to recap the year, here are the top 10 blog posts of 2015:

    Pitching to National Morning and Daytime TV Talk Shows.
    The Publicity Club of New York held a fantastic panel luncheon featuring some of the most prominent journalists in daytime television: Debbie Kosofsky, senior producer (food), "Today"; Melissa Lonner, senior talent executive, “The Meredith Vieira Show”; Jesse Rodriguez, senior producer, “Morning Joe”; Carl Leibowitz, booking producer, “Wake Up With Al”; and Sarah Kunin, senior producer, “Good Morning America." Here are some highlights from the luncheon:

    How to Turn a Reporter off With Just Five Words. If you were on Twitter in mid-August, you might have seen tweets with the hashtag #sourcefromhellin5words. The brainchild of Linda Formichelli, co-founder of The Renegade Writer and, the hashtag gave writers the opportunity to share five-word phrases that make them never want to interview a source again. We put together a roundup of some of the top phrases shared by writers:

    Using Social Media to Land Writing Gigs and Make Money. As writers become more familiar with multimedia storytelling, social media has developed into a powerful tool to gather an audience and promote content -- that is, if you know how to use it. At the ASJA Writers Conference, five journalists shared their experiences with social media and how they use it to their advantage:

    A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Google News Lab. Realizing that ways of creating and sharing news changes constantly, Google released News Lab, an online network that aims to connect journalists with programs, data and other resources to aid in their reporting. We sat down with Daniel Sieberg, head of media outreach with Google News Lab, to find out more:

    Pitching to National and Local Morning Talk Shows. The final Publicity Club of New York panel luncheon of 2015 featured some of the top producers in national and local morning talk television: Siobhan Schanda, supervising talent producer, “The Wendy Williams Show"; Jessica Cohen, senior producer, “Good Day New York”; Scott Easton, producer, “Live with Kelly & Michael”; and Marcia Parris, senior producer, “PIX Morning News.” You can read highlights from the luncheon here:

    A Conversation With CNBC’s Kerima Greene. What does it take to get your brand, story or executive on TV? Is it magic, luck or actual hard work, and does it have to be tied to a big trend or news of the day? Today on ProfNet Connect, Elizabeth Yekhtikian of InkHouse shared her conversation with Kerima Greene, Senior Talent & News Producer for CNBC's “Power Lunch”:

    Meet the Media: Medical/Health Reporters. The Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Society of Greater New York held a panel discussion with medical/health care reporters and producers from WNYC, Medpage Today, CBS Evening News, Wall Street Journal and more. The panelists discussed the beats they cover, how they choose certain stories, the best ways to work with them, and much more:

    There’s No Place Like Newsrooms for the Holidays. Contrary to popular belief, all the media wants for Christmas is a public relations pitch. That may be a bit of an overstatement, but reporters, editors and producers staffing the newsroom for the holidays generally welcome a good lead on a unique story idea. That's particularly true as hard news often slows to a trickle despite all the hustle and bustle of the season. Here are a few tips for a successful holiday pitch strategy:

    8 Writing Tools for Faster, Professional Content. Today’s content cycle moves at breakneck speed, and a writer’s mind is never at rest. Fortunately, there are tools available that make the writing process easier every step of the way, from jotting down notes and editing, to finding sources and multimedia. Here are some of our favorites:

    Journalist Spotlight. There are a lot of articles out there on what PR professionals should and shouldn't do when pitching the media. Each month, via our Journalist Spotlight series, we find out straight from the journalists themselves. This year, we caught up with Sean Powers of Georgia Public Broadcasting, Mike Fitzgerald of the Belleville News-Democrat, Laurie Mason Schroeder of The Morning Call, Thomson Reuters’ Melissa Sachs, George Putic of Voice of America, and more. Check out all of this year’s Journalist Spotlight posts here:

    Want to see more? Check out the Blogs section of ProfNet Connect to view all of the blog posts from this year, and keep an eye out for some great ones coming in 2015. Happy new year to all!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. The best part? It’s easy and free! Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR professionals in the ProfNet network.

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