Maria Perez

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    • Title:Director, Online Community Relations
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    Expert Roundup: Death of Osama bin Laden

    Monday, May 2, 2011, 2:51 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Following are experts who are available to discuss various aspects of the death of Osama bin Laden, including the impact on al-Qaida, implications to national security, the psychological impact, political implications and more. Additional updates will be posted on Wednesday. We have also started a Twitter list on this topic. You can view that here.

    **1. Zachary Roth, senior national affairs reporter for The Lookout, Yahoo!'s national affairs blog, can speak to the unfolding events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden. He is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly, and has also worked at Talking Points Memo and Columbia Journalism Review. In addition, he has written for The New Republic, The Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, and other outlets, and has appeared on MSNBC, NPR and C-SPAN. He was born in London, graduated from Yale University, and currently lives with his wife in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can read his column on Yahoo! News here. News Contact: Becky Auslander, Phone:+1-212-381-6909

    **2. Holly Bailey, a senior political writer for Yahoo! News, can speak to the unfolding events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden and what it will mean for President Obama’s re-election bid. Previously, she was the White House correspondent for Newsweek, covering George W. Bush’s second term and the first year of Obama’s presidency. In 2008, she was the magazine’s lead reporter on the GOP presidential race, covering Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and John McCain. She has written for Slate, Salon, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune and the Washington City Paper. She is based in the NYC area. You can read her column on Yahoo! News here. News Contact: Becky Auslander, Phone:+1-212-381-6909

    **3. Heather Cabot, Yahoo! Web Life editor, can speak to the online trends we are seeing related to this story, including numbers. Searches on Yahoo! for all things related to Osama bin Laden are spiking, including searches for his family, a map of Pakistan, American flags and more. Cabot can share what details the country is most interested in. In her position as Web Life editor, Cabot combines her reporting background with an everywoman approach to spot Web trends and advocate for consumers. She is a former network news anchor and lifestyle blogger who provides practical tips and perspective on how technology is reshaping our day-to-day lives. She has appeared on the “Today” show, “The Martha Stewart Show,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “The Early Show,” “Fox & Friends” and more. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of The Well Mom (, a new weekly e-zine that empowers and inspires moms to better care for themselves. News Contacts: Carolyn Clark, Phone: +1-917-324-7206, or Beth Florina, Phone: +1-312-255-3074 Twitter: @YahooSearchData

    **4. Thomas Gibson, professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester, has taught on Islam and global politics for the past decade in response to Sept. 11: “Al-Qaida is a decentralized network of religiously inspired revolutionaries who failed to achieve their objectives in their home countries and were kept alive by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, because it made the U.S. appear as the greatest threat to ordinary Muslims rather than their own corrupt governments. Recent pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria have made both ‘U.S. imperialism’ and radical Islamic revolutionaries seem less relevant to ordinary people. It is now clear to most observers that Arab dictators have been using the threat of Islamic extremism as an excuse to extract resources from the U.S. to maintain their power. So-called terrorist groups in South Asia are a different matter, and many of them are, in fact, tactical fronts for the Pakistani military's struggle with India. There is good evidence that the Pakistani military has deliberately played both sides in the Afghan civil war to extract military resources from Washington. The fact that bin Laden's villa in Abbotabad was just two miles from the Pakistani Military Academy and just 30 miles from the capital of Pakistan indicates that they have probably been using him as a bargaining chip for the past 10 years. The Obama administration may well use this as an opportunity to decrease its profile in the region, and Pakistan may turn to China, its other traditional ally in its confrontation with India. The Bush administration's attempt to cast foreign policy as driven by a ‘Global War on Terror’ can perhaps be finally laid to rest along with Osama bin Laden.” News Contact: Susan Hagen, Phone: +1-585-276-4061

    **5. Mark Ensalaco, director of the Human Rights Studies Program at the University of Dayton: "The hand of justice may not be swift, but it is sure. Bin Laden chose violence but died violently. However, I conclude in my book this will not end until senior clerics preach that blowing yourselves up in the name of martyrdom and Islam isn't acceptable. Bin Laden is dead, but his movement is dying as well. Everywhere he preached his message has turned into a disaster for him. You see that in the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. I would advise President Obama not to show the photos. That's beneath us." Ensalaco is the author of “Middle Eastern Terrorism: From Black September to September 11.” He has taught Political Science 452 – “the terrorism course" -- since 1989, started a concentration in peace and global security at the University of Dayton, and speaks regularly about political violence. He has experience with national print, radio and TV media. News Contact: Shawn Robinson: Phone: +1-937-229-3391

    **6. Sean Kay, Ph.D., politics and government professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, NATO expert, and author of “Global Security in the Twenty-first Century: The Quest for Power and the Search for Peace,” says the outcome “is a great testament to the military and civilians who have kept vigilance on attacking bin Laden, but reveals serious questions about what bin Laden was doing so well-protected in Pakistan, serious questions as to why military forces should remain in Afghanistan, and a major need to divert resources from Afghanistan to supporting the revolutionary moment in Egypt and beyond – where the war on terrorism has really been won.” At Ohio Wesleyan, Kay serves as chair of the International Studies Program and teaches courses on global issues, American foreign policy and international organizations. He also is a Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University. News Contact: Cole E. Hatcher, Phone: +1-740-203-6908

    **7. Dr. Steve Yetiv, professor of political science and international studies, Old Dominion University, is an expert on global oil security, including American foreign policy, the Middle East, terrorism and solutions to global oil dependence. His forthcoming book, “The Petroleum Triangle” (October 2011), explores how oil and globalization mixed to produce the al-Qaida threat. That threat had been decreasing in some ways and now more so with Osama bin Laden’s death, but it remains because, as the book says: "Al-Qaida affiliates, in particular, were the greatest threat to the United States. The status of these affiliates in relation to the original core organization is not fully clear, but they often appear to act like franchises of al-Qaida, with varying levels of allegiance to, direction from, and inspiration by the core al-Qaida group." News Contact: Susan Malandrino, Phone: +1-757-683-4683 Website:

    **8. Kevin Sweder, professor of forensic science, Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute, is an expert on DNA identification. Sweder's basic research in the areas of genetic toxicology, DNA repair and genomic stability form the foundation for his extensive expertise in applying that research to the development of new biochemical tools for bioforensic and bioterrorism detection to bolster national security efforts. Sweder's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the New Jersey State Commission on Cancer, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center of Excellence at Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. News Contact: Judy Holmes, Phone: +1-315-443-8085 Website:

    **9. Dr. Joseph Skelly, professor of history, College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., is a nationally recognized expert on terrorism and the Middle East. He is the author of several books, including “Political Islam From Muhammad to Ahmadinejad” (2010). Skelly’s articles are widely published in such publications as the Washington Times, and he frequently contributes to the online version of National Review. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his “exceptionally meritorious service” in Iraq, and he served as a Foundation for Defense of Democracies Fellow and participated in an intensive anti-terrorism program for a highly selective group of academics in 2003-2004. News Contact: Erin Walsh, Phone: +1-718-405-3345

    **10. Kiron K. Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and director of its Center for International Relations and Politics, is one of the country's most renowned experts in international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Skinner serves on the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Panel, the National Security Education Board and the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2001-2007, she was a member of the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Policy board as an adviser on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. News Contact: Shilo Raube, Phone: +1-412-268-6094 Twitter: @CMU_HSS

    **11. Dr. Bradley Thayer, professor of political science at Baylor University: "Osama bin Laden’s death has a large symbolic impact, because he was a huge figurehead, the soul of al-Qaida. This is a great victory for the U.S. But practically speaking, after Sept. 11, his time was past. Although he still had the ability to inform targets and attacks, al-Qaida has gotten used to operating independently, so this is a modest  practical blow." Thayer said Islamic terrorists will be angered by United States celebrations of bin Laden’s death, but nevertheless, “it’s right and proper that the American people celebrate. However, we should recognize this is a long struggle, and there are many battles to come in this war on Islamic terrorists." Thayer has briefed the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, as well as other components of the Department of Defense, and served as a consultant to the Rand Corporation. He has taught at Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, a department located in the Washington, D.C. From 2004-2008, he was an associate editor of Politics and the Life Sciences, the scholarly journal of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, to whose executive council he was elected in 2005. He focuses on international politics, including international relations theory; grand strategy; United States national security policy generally and nuclear deterrence, proliferation, and terrorism specifically; the rise of China; NATO and transatlantic relations; and insights derived from the life sciences into political-behavioral topics, including the origins of war and ethnic conflict and the dynamics of suicide terrorism. Thayer has been a Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has taught at Dartmouth College and the University of Minnesota. News Contact: Terry Goodrich, Phone: +1-254-710-3321 or +1-254-644-4155 Website: Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

    **12. Elan Journo, Fellow in foreign policy at the Ayn Rand Institute and the director ARI's Policy division, is available immediately for interviews. Journo’s book, “Winning the Unwinnable War,” looks at what went wrong with America's response to Sept. 11, and what we should do going forward in the face of an Islamist threat. He has appeared on Fox News Channel, PBS and NPR affiliates, and numerous nationally syndicated radio programs, including “The Thom Hartmann Program.” He has been a guest commentator on Front Page with Allen Barton on Video clips: and  News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **13. Michael Barnes, attorney and political policy advisor with DCBA Law & Policy in Washington, D.C.: “The United States needed this victory to remind it of the strength of our will.” Barnes comments on a regular basis on “Fox & Friends,” RT TV, HLN and various radio outlets. Video clip:  News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **14. David Selig is an NYC businessman whose business was affected by Sept. 11, and a former Marine. He has been seen on “Fox & Friends” and CBS, and has been heard on radio all over the U.S. News Contacts: Mark Goldman, Phone: +1-516-639-0988, or Ryan McCormick, Phone: +1-516-901-1103

    **15. Frank Farley, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Educational Psychology at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association, can discuss the psychological impact of the death of Osama bin Laden, including closure for many, as well as those who did not lose friends or loved ones; reduction in personal fear level for some; anger in some for what it has cost this nation to get him; increased pressure to get out of Afghanistan; pride in military; conspiracy theorists who will ask where his body is; increase in the positive atmosphere surrounding the developments in Middle East (e.g., Egypt, Tunisia) and the spread of freedom; and another major enemy of freedom gone. News Contact: Preston M. Moretz, Phone: +1-215-204-4380 Website: Twitter: @TempleU_SciTech

    **16. Gary W. Bowersox, world-renowned traveler and one of the few Americans who know Afghanistan and Pakistan like the back of his hand, has said for years that bin Laden could not have remained "hidden" this long without major support from politically connected "friends.” Bowersox has traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan every year for 35 years buying gems for sale worldwide, and is the author of “The Gem Hunter, True Adventures of an American in Afghanistan.” He served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense shortly after Sept. 11. The Department of Defense wanted to know about Afghanistan -- where the landmines were, the tunnels, where the troops were, and who's who in the Northern Alliance and where their loyalties lay. Few Americans have his depth of knowledge about the people, the war and the potential future of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bowersox was personal friends with the late Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Northern Alliance leader bin Laden had assassinated a few days before the events of Sept. 11. News Contact: Scott Lorenz, Phone: +1-734-667-2090 Website:

    **17. Pvt. Christopher Durante, Army combat engineer, can discuss the death of bin Laden. The attack on Sept. 11 inspired Durante to join the Army, and he documents the brutal truth of the war in his photo documentary book, “330 Days: The Uncensored War in Iraq,” which is filled with photos taken by American soldiers. News Contact: Kelly Brady,, Alex Ingenito,, or Tyler Burrow, Phone: +1-212-966-7900

    **18. Dr. Sheila Carapico, professor of political science and international studies, University of Richmond, is a specialist on Yemen, known for years as an al-Qaida operations center, and has been on sabbatical teaching at the American University of Cairo in Egypt (staying during the protests and fall of the Egyptian government). She is watching events in the Arab world very closely. News Contact: Linda Evans, Phone: +1-804-289-8056

    **19. Pete W. Moore, associate professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University: “The killing of Osama bin Laden is more important for politics in Washington, D.C., than events in the Middle East and wider Muslim world. Bin Laden and his organization were never a serious political or social force in the region, as assumed by leaders in Washington and the dwindling number of Arab autocrats and monarchs who today cling to power. What gave his organization prominence was the claim by Washington and its allies that al-Qaida was behind so many threats to the U.S., the majority of which turned out not to be so. Sadly, that hype was used to justify deadly decisions to invade and bomb numerous countries, imprison and torture people, and curb the rights of American citizens.” News Contact: Susan Griffith, Phone: +1-216-368-1004 Website:

    **20. Robert W. Taylor, Ph.D., is adjunct professor of criminology at the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and the executive director of the W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute at Dallas. Taylor has studied police responses to terrorism, focusing on issues in the Middle East. He is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice working with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research and acts as a lead instructor in the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program responsible for training law enforcement and other related professionals (specifically, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces and the DEA High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area Strike Forces) on Middle Eastern groups. He is also an instructor for the U.S. Department of State, Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program and teaches internationally to executives of foreign governments, and has authored or co-authored over 200 articles, books and manuscripts. Taylor was awarded the University of North Texas Regent's Lecture Award for 2003 for his work in the Middle East; most recently, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences presented Taylor with the 2008 O.W. Wilson Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to police education, research and practice. News Contact: Emily Martinez, Phone: +1-972-883-4335

    **21. Raymond F. Hanbury Jr., Ph.D., is part of the American Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network. He participated in response activities to Sept. 11 in the New York/New Jersey area. He has also participated in a number of federal disaster exercises/drills. He is a member of the Disaster Medical System, Disaster Medical Assistance Team for New Jersey. He is a private practitioner and a consultant to police departments. He is based in Manasquan, N.J. Hanbury: or

    **22. Gerard Jacobs, Ph.D., director of Disaster Mental Health Institute, University of South Dakota, participated in response efforts following Sept. 11. He is an internationally renowned disaster mental health expert and has been teaching the subject for more than 15 years. He is often tapped to consult with U.S. federal agencies and other international organizations. Jacobs:

    **23. Laura Barbanel, Ph.D., private practice, taught at the School of Education, CUNY - Brooklyn College, School Psychology program. She has been active in the psychological work in the aftermath of Sept. 11 in New York City, and has trained others to do trauma work. She was involved in the design and development of the “Firehouse Project,” whereby clinicians were assigned to firehouses that lost members on Sept. 11. She also co-chaired the APA taskforce on Promoting Resilience in the Response to Terrorism. She is located in Brooklyn, N.Y. Barbanel:

    **24. Sheila Erlich, Ph.D., private practice, supervises interns at Mt. Sinai Hospital as part of their psychotherapy training, and can discuss trauma, Holocaust survivors and bereavement. Erlich did some counseling for Sept. 11 terrorism victims. Erlich:

    **25. Carol Goldberg, Ph.D., president, Getting Ahead Programs, can discuss Sept. 11 issues, PTSD, resilience; psychological testing, including learning disabilities; psychological reaction to news events. Since 2001, Goldberg has been host and producer of her own TV show, "Dr. Carol Goldberg & Company," a weekly interview show on health topics. She is located in Syosset, N.Y. Goldberg: Websites: and

    **26. Susan Lipkins, is a psychologist and CEO of Reel Psychology, LLC, has been in private practice for 20 years and is also a school psychologist. She can discuss the effects of Sept. 11 on children and adults, and those directly and indirectly affected. She is located in Port Washington, N.Y. Lipkins: Websites: and

    **27. The following experts from American University are available to provide expertise and commentary on President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Abbottabad region, terrorism, al-Qaida, Islamabad, social/political reaction about justice, freedom and democracy, Ground Zero, World Trade Center, Pentagon and more:

    -- Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. The former Pakistani Ambassador to England, he has advised General Petraeus, the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and met with Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, in addition to other high-ranking officials: “This is a seminal moment in 21st century history. America finally has closure for Sept. 11 and has no real reason to stay in Afghanistan, and the Muslim world can now see Osama bin Laden’s method brought nothing but death and destruction. The way ahead is to strive for democracy and dignity as in Arab revolutions. As for Pakistan-U.S. relations, I suggest there is more to it than meets the eye. It was in interest of both to say this was a U.S. operation and Pakistan did not know about the mission. This is a significant moment for both U.S. and Muslim leaders and gives new, more hopeful direction to world.”

    -- Jordan Tama, assistant professor, School of International Service, is an expert in security strategy, terrorism, intelligence, Congress, the presidency and advisory commissions. He is the author of “Terrorism and National Security Reform: How Commissions Can Drive Change During Crises” (Cambridge University Press, 2011): “The killing of bin Laden is a great achievement for the United States and great news for the world. We owe thanks to all of our public servants who have worked so hard in a very difficult environment to track and capture or kill him over the past decade. The fight against al-Qaida is far from over, but this is a big step forward in the dismantlement of its central leadership.”

    -- Kristin Diwan, assistant professor of comparative and regional studies, School of International Service, is an expert in Middle East politics, Arab politics, Gulf politics, politics of Islamic finance, political economy of Islamism; specifically, how Islamic political movements build support and further social Islamization through the economy. Diwan’s most recent project entails researching the social and institutional origins of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf region.

    -- Diane Singmern, associate professor, Department of Government, is an expert on Middle East politics, urbanism in the Middle East, youth in the Middle East, gender politics, marriage and its financial costs in the Middle East, the informal economy, economic and political development, Islamist activism, religion and politics, social movements, and studies of resistance. She can speak Arabic.

    -- Gordan Adams, professor of U.S. foreign policy, is a former legislative director to President Clinton and can discuss national security policy and the defense policy process: “The U.S. made Osama bin Laden in the 1980s; the U.S. has taken him off the stage 25 years later. He became the symbolic focus of a major deployment of American force into the Middle East and South Asia. While he may be gone, the consequences of that deployment will be with us for decades to come.”

    -- Allan Lichtman, professor, Department of History, is an expert in public opinion and politics. Known for his “13 keys” system, which allows him to predict the outcome of the popular vote solely on historical factors, Lichtman has predicted another Obama win in 2012.

    -- Danny Hayes, assistant professor of government, and Fellow, Center for Professional and Presidential Studies, can discuss political behavior and political communication in American politics, public opinion, political participation and the media.

    -- Leonard Steinhorn, professor, School of Communication, can discuss politics, and the media’s role in politics and elections. He teaches politics, strategic communication, and courses on the presidency.

    -- Jane Hall, associate professor, School of Communication, is a former media reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She is an expert on media issues, and can provide insight on politics and the media, and young people and politics.

    -- Additional experts are available at American University’s searchable expert’s database.

    News Contact: AU Communications Office, Phone: +1-202-885-5950


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    Blogging, Videos and AP Style: The Top Five Posts for the Week of April 18

    Monday, April 25, 2011, 9:46 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    ProfNet Connect users have been sharing some pretty interesting blog posts lately, with topics ranging from social media and blogging to promotional videos and AP style.

    Here are some of the top blogs for the week of April 18:

    • Thomas Hynes, manager of blogger relations for PR Newswire, continued his "A Brief Blog Profile" series with -- you guessed it -- a brief profile of the automotive blog Speed:Sport:Life.

    What were some of your favorite blog posts of the week?

    Ten AP Stylebook Entries That Should Be Changed

    Thursday, April 21, 2011, 3:32 PM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    ProfNet Connect member Steve Vittorioso recently posted, “Twelve Common Mistakes of AP Style,” in which he shares some of the more common mistakes people make regarding AP style.

    I love Steve’s post because, as you might know, I am an AP-style junkie. My obsession started back in college (waaaay back in college, but that’s neither here nor there) during my first journalism class. My professor, a reporter for a local newspaper, handed every student a copy of the “AP Stylebook” and said, “This is your bible. Learn it.”

    Of course, me being me, I read the entire book, cover to cover, that night. (Then again, I am the type of person who reads “Lapsing Into a Comma” and “Eats, Shoots & Leavesfor fun.)

    The Stylebook, with its 5,000+ entries, can be a writer’s best friend -- but that’s not to say it’s infallible. There are a few rules I disagree with:

    email: Many people rejoiced when the AP changed “e-mail” to “email.” I was not one of them, mainly because e-commerce, e-book and e-business remain hyphenated. I don’t agree with the logic behind changing just one “e-“ word. That’s like giving me a basket of cookies but asking me not to eat the chocolate-chip ones.

    voice mail: If e-mail can be changed to email, then certainly we can accept voicemail, can’t we? Pretty please?

    -care words: The Stylebook has health care, child care, hair care, skin care, etc., as two words. That seems like a waste of a perfectly good blank space, especially in a 140-character world. (Yes, I just went there.)

    page view: I acknowledge that “page view” is grammatically correct but, again, it seems to me that one word – pageview – would suffice.

    best-seller: Why can’t we just say bestseller? (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

    ampersand: The Stylebook says an ampersand should only be used when it is part of a company’s formal name or composition title (e.g., Procter & Gamble, House & Garden). I think it should also be acceptable for certain words that go together naturally, like “arts & entertainment,” “health & medicine,” “law & order.”

    tea party: When I hear “tea party,” I picture a 5-year-old girl sitting at a miniature table, sipping chamomile and giggling as her stuffed bunny rabbit Hoppy regales her with stories of his adventure through the garden. Whether or not you agree with the party’s ideology, it has become a significant political movement. If Democratic Party and Republican Party can be capitalized, so can Tea Party.

    EDT/EST: I’m not debating the merits of daylight saving time, but does it really matter whether it’s EDT or EST, PDT or PST? Can’t we just say ET or PT? If it’s 4 o’clock, it’s 4 o’clock, regardless of whether or not we’re observing daylight saving time. (And really, 4 “o’clock”? Can’t we just say 4:00?)

    spokesman/spokeswoman: AP style is to forgo using the generic “spokesperson” and instead reference the person’s gender, a rule that also applies to chairman/chairwoman. As a woman, I take offense to this rule. OK, not really, but I do think the more generic “spokesperson” should be acceptable.

    Q-and-A: Dear Stylebook, if you change Q-and-A to Q&A, I will gladly agree to drop my issues with all of the above entries. Love, Maria.

    What do you think of my choices? Do you disagree with any of them? Are there any other Stylebook entries you’d like to see changed? Please comment below.

    Can’t We All Just Get Along?

    Thursday, March 10, 2011, 11:39 AM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Last week, there was a bit of chatter about yet another website “outing” a PR person they thought did a poor job.

    Also last week, I saw several tweets from a reporter complaining about an unresponsive PR person, and identifying the person by name.

    And while it happens less often, I do see the occasional tweet from a PR person who is upset with how so-and-so publication covered their client.

    My question to you: Can’t we all just get along?

    I understand the base need to out someone by name. You’re frustrated and you want other people to know it -- and to tell you you’re right -- and Twitter makes it especially easy to do that.

    So what? Just because you can, does it mean you should?

    Life sometimes doesn’t go our way. People are sometimes rude. Restaurants sometimes get your order wrong. Kids cry and dogs bark. Get over it.

    Are all reporters considerate? No, but many are, and we don’t hear enough about those.

    Are all PR people good at their jobs? No, but many are, and we don’t hear enough about those, either.

    If you are going to complain, leave the person's name out of it -- you can get your point across without it. Identifying specific people can be seen as vindictive and petty -- and the person who winds up with the bad rep could be you.

    What do you think? Do you appreciate it when people call out specific individuals or companies, or do you find it in poor taste? Does it influence your opinion of said person/company, or do you just like hearing about it?

    Content and Conversations: How Leading Consumer Brands Are Leveraging Social Media

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 12:41 PM [General]
    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    This was my first year attending Social Media Week, a series of gatherings that connect people interested in emerging trends in social and mobile media.

    There are many interesting panels taking place throughout the week, but one can only be at one place at a time, so I settled on "Content and Conversations," which focused on how leading consumer brands are leveraging social media in their marketing campaigns and how they measure success.


    Media and Social Media

    Randall Rothenberg, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Time Inc., kicked things off by talking about the history of social media and where it is now.

    “There’s nothing new about social media,” said Rothenberg. “There’s nothing new about connecting with other people on a social level. The difference is that, today, it’s being codified.”

    Magazines were the original social networks, he said. They filled a void for men and women who were otherwise isolated. They were the original connection points that got people thinking about things outside of their community. Media inform “opinion leaders,” who then spread the word to other people, who then spread the word to even more people, and so on.

    While there’s nothing new about marketing, what has changed is the technology and tools used in marketing. “Social media has evolved into tools for marketers,” said Rothenberg. “We have found new and dynamic ways to communicate with our customers. Social media is critical to what we do and how we think.”

    But the bottom line is still the same: You have to listen to your audience and communicate with them. Social media just gives marketers another avenue for doing that.


    Social Media and Innovation

    Next up was Steven Berlin Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.” In his book, Johnson explored the common characteristics of the spaces that have unusually innovative thinking. He asked, What are the core ingredients that push people to think in innovative ways?

    Historically, coffee houses were where many of the breakthrough ideas were taking shape, and he looked at what it was about these spaces that fostered such innovative thinking. What he found was that coffee houses typically brought together people with diverse interests and opened up free-ranging conversations about many different topics. Interesting sparks would fly and connections were forged. This points to the importance of diversity in innovation.

    “Innovators have weak ties and loose connections to a larger, more diverse range of people,” said Johnson. “It’s in those fluid, unplanned conversations that interesting new ideas are sparked.”

    Diversity in our social networks is important for innovation, he continued. On some fundamental level, we’ll be smarter, more original and more creative because of those connections.

    While a lot people believe social media only reinforces our beliefs and that we’re getting more insular, Johnson disagrees. “We are also connected to way more potential diversity than we were in, say, the age of television,” he explained. “If you are seeking out diversity, the Web and social media are the greatest tools ever to do that.”

    Johnson also believes the linking that social media allows is key to that diversity. “It’s not about the 140 characters, but about the links [your connections] send you. My followers have more impact on what I read than does the entire editorial board of the New York Times.”

    Ultimately, he said, what drives innovation is the combination of old ideas and new configurations.


    Social Media Marketing

    We also heard from several key brands and how they are using social media to create awareness.


    Mike Melazzo, head of sponsorship for Nokia, shared a case study of how Nokia partnered with Disney to cross-promote the new Nokia N8 touch-screen phone and “Tron: Legacy.”

    The promotion involved several tactics:

    • Nokia N8 product integration in the film;
    • Exclusive “Tron: Legacy” content, which facilitated dialogue through the device and helped Nokia tell a story;
    • 360-degree campaign (TV, retail, digital, PR, Nokia’s own media, etc.);
    • Retail and customer marketing (movie trailer featured in Nokia stores);
    • Social media and word of mouth, which helped drive positive conversations about Nokia and Nokia N8.


    More than 80,000 people got involved in the promotion in the first 24 hours. Nokia’s Facebook page jumped to more than 1 million fans, with more than 9,000 likes and 3,000 comments. They also saw a 150 percent increase in their average daily site visits, and doubled the number of @nseries ( Twitter replies and retweets.

    Lessons learned:

    • Keep it in real time, with immediate benefits for audiences and consumers.
    • Take the party to the people: Make sure the activity is centralized around where people naturally converge online.
    • Reward participation and collaboration, which will encourage people to get involved.
    • Understand how your audience wants to be engaged. “We knew we had an uber-techy audience,” said Melazzo. You have to find out what is interesting to  your audience.
    • Add something for people at all levels. For example, Nokia provided hidden code on their page code for those who were tech-savvy, while still providing entertainment and value for those who wanted less interaction.
    • Leverage partnerships to build relationships with new audiences. “Find out who those partners are,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a channel partner.”


    People Magazine

    Kimberly Miller, vice president of consumer marketing for Time Inc., then shared her experience with People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive promotion. The magazine focused their goals for the 2010 list on Facebook. They wanted to: grow their “fan” base, create an engaging experience for consumers and expand the core franchise to be multi-platform.

    Their core concept, she said, was a consumer poll. The editorial team selected five social media-savvy male celebrities, and let people vote on which one they thought was the sexiest. The poll ran for only 10 days, and people had to “like” people before they could vote. Users could vote multiple times, and the winner would be featured in the Sexiest Man Alive issue.

    Within two weeks, People added 240,000 fans to their Facebook page, and surpassed half a million “likes.” They saw about 50 percent engagement, a significant increase from the average of 10 percent.

    To promote the poll, they posted the information on their Facebook wall, tweeted about it to their followers, and ran a Facebook display ad campaign. They also promoted it in the print magazine, and did PR outreach (press pickup included CNN, MTV, Mashable and “Entertainment Tonight”).

    The men in the poll also promoted themselves on their own Facebook and Twitter accounts and on their websites. The celebrities’ friends tweeted on their behalf, as well. Old Spice even tweeted on behalf of the “Old Spice Guy,” one of the celebrities featured in the poll. One exception was Vin Diesel, who didn’t tweet or post on his wall at all. However, his “rabid” fans mobilized on his behalf, and he wound up winning the poll.

    Key learnings:

    • Facebook users love to take polls on Facebook.
    • Ads can serve as a discovery tool for users.
    • Using other platforms to drive users to Facebook works.
    • Engaged consumers keep coming back.


    Banyan Branch

    Dave Hanley, principal, Banyan Branch, shared several case studies.

    First, he shared a promotion for the Get Schooled initiative, which was co-founded by Viacom and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to generate greater awareness and engagement in addressing the nation’s education crisis and to offer practical resources and support to students. They knew they had to use social media to reach high-school students with their message, so they created a series of videos featuring celebrities, such as Lil Wayne, who then leveraged their supporters and platforms to reach out to their fans. They also contacted journalists and bloggers who cover music and got them to promote the message. In addition, they created a Get Schooled tour, featuring Ludacris, which went to schools all around the country, allowing them to localize the message.

    For another client, Univision, they came up with a promotion for the channel’s new soccer channel, Univision Futbol, during the World Cup. They launched a mobile application and a Facebook page. They also listened to what bloggers were saying about the World Cup, and created a list of the 600 most influential ones and provided them with World Cup info every day, giving them valuable content to share with their own readers. The result: While bloggers normally make up about 1 percent of traffic to the site, they pushed about 30 percent during the promotion.

    For Gilt Groupe’s launch of their new kids’ fashion line, they again listened to what bloggers were saying about the brand or using competitive terms and got them involved by offering them guest postings, inviting them to great contests, etc.

    “Bloggers can help you reach new audiences,” said Hanley. Uncover champions through monitoring, and build close relationships. Connect them with the brand, editorial and experience, and they can help you build a community of supporters.


    Kraft Foods

    Jessica Robinson, associate director of consumer engagement, Kraft Foods, said companies should look at how they are connecting with their community and their fans. It’s not just about what your brand gives consumers, but what they give back to you.

    “Once upon a time, the brand URL was the primary destination,” said Robinson. Now, you have Facebook, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, websites and many other avenues for engaging with an audience.

    Robinson shared details of Kraft’s recent campaign for Oreo cookies. Oreo’s digital vision was to reach moms where they already are. Because moms spend nearly 20 percent of their online minutes on Facebook, the company launched a Facebook page in August 2009. They not only posted new product information and news, but they also actively listened and engaged with consumers. The page now has 16 million fans, making it the third largest brand on Facebook.

    Because they are a global brand, their page is also global, which content and interaction in English, Spanish and French.

    A good social media promotion provides an experience that connects digital and social, she said. It has to inspire consumer engagement and advocacy.

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