Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Video Blog: Andrea Kunicky Discusses Pathfinders for Autism

By Andrea Kunicky; Video by Abby Draper

Maroon PR will work with Pathfinders for Autism's two major events this year; their 9th Annual Golf Tournament and their Fashion Show in the fall. For more information, visit

Andrea Kunicky is an Associate Account Executive. Contact her at

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Harlem Globetrotters - a Wonderful Lasting Brand

By John Maroon

The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to Baltimore next week and the thought of the Globetrotters brings back memories of childhood and a wonderful time in so many of our lives.

The Globetrotters have been a part of American pop culture for 84 years and they stand for all of the right things … fun, family and giving back. They have also done great things in terms of bringing together people of all ages, races and economic standing in such a subtle way. If you have ever been to a Globetrotters game you’ve probably noticed a great deal of diversity in the crowd, with everyone having a wonderful time.

In the world we live in today with video games dominating kid’s interest, it is so refreshing to see that the Globetrotters have not only endured but have grown in popularity internationally. They have 6,500 fans on Facebook and 2,500 followers on Twitter. They travel the world and draw full houses wherever they go.

The Globetrotters represent the game of basketball with honor and class. In the community, they run programs that teach character development to children and they help educate kids about the importance of exercise with their Some Playtime Is Necessary (SPIN) initiative.

Thanks to the Harlem Globetrotters for still providing the world with good, old-fashioned, wholesome fun in a time when we need it most.

John Maroon is the President of Maroon PR. Contact him at

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Photo courtesy of Flickr's Bob n Renee

Friday, March 26, 2010

Should Facebook Adopt Video Chat?

By Abby Draper

A new Hitwise report on Monday proved Facebook has overtaken Google as the most visited Web site in the U.S. While this comes as really no surprise, it has inspired many social media fans to share their thoughts.

Social media consultant, Vadin Lavrusik, shared through his blog the idea of adding a video chat option to Facebook and allowing its users to communicate “face-to-face.” With the success that Skype and Google Chat have seen, Lavrusik claims adding the video chat feature would assuage the issue of having “disjointed conversations.” Lavrusik also suggests creating a mobile phone application that would allow Facebook users the opportunity to communicate with “friends on the go.”

Being a huge fan of both Skype and Google Chat, I think this is a fantastic idea. One of the most powerful concepts of Facebook is that you have the ability to connect with friends, family, clients, and other professionals who you may not otherwise be able to. Adding the video chat opportunity could only improve these personal and professional relationships by increasing the amount of face time between you and your Facebook community.

Abby Draper is the Manager of Social Media. Contact her at

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video Blog: Tim Richardson Discusses Tiger Woods

By Tim Richardson; Video by Abby Draper

Tim Richardson is Executive Vice President. Contact him at

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MLS Avoids Lockout, Signs Labor-Contract

By Stefen Lovelace

A few weeks ago, I chronicled how much of a mistake it would be if Major League Soccer (MLS) had a lockout this year. At the time, players and owners were far off on labor-contract negotiations, and there was a very real fear of the players going on strike.

Luckily for the MLS, news came out this week that both sides have agreed to a new five-year labor contract.

Negotiators began intensive talks Thursday in Washington, D.C., and the deal was signed shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, about 5½ hours before the opening of $200 million Red Bull Arena, the league's latest showpiece stadium.

This is obviously good news for the league and all soccer fans. My biggest concern for the MLS potentially not playing this year was it would miss out on drawing fans to its league during a time when all eyes will be on soccer - with the 2010 World Cup being played in June.

The new contract has its positives and negatives. The reason that the lockout was looming in the first place is that the MLS markets its players as legitimate professional athletes, yet hardly treats them like ones. Salary and player rights were the main reasons for the dispute.

MLS Players Union head Bob Foose said a majority of players will receive guaranteed contracts for the first time and there will be increased player rights within the league when contracts expire. Still, the union did not achieve its goal of free agency.

"From our perspective, these negotiations were always about players' rights," Foose said, with his members wanting to bring their rights "more in line with leagues from around the world."

"Soccer is a global game and we were adamant that these changes were necessary to make MLS as competitive as possible," Foose said.

MLS players certainly made some gains with this deal, but the lack of free agency needs to be considered a significant blow. Not having the ability to increase your value and move to different teams as you please after your contract is up is one of the most lucrative rights a professional athlete can have. The full details of the labor deal can be found HERE.

Ultimately, it's great that the MLS will get a product on the field this year, and the league has made important strides with this deal.

But the contract also proves that the MLS has a long way to go if its ever going to be considered a major player in professional sports.

Stefen Lovelace is an Associate Account Executive. Contact him at

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reuters Journalists Can't Break News on Twitter

By Stefen Lovelace

Last week, reported on an interesting decision by the brass at Reuters. The UK-based news service has forbid their journalists from breaking news on Twitter before releasing the story on the wire first.

The strict instruction makes it clear that even though news continually breaks on Twitter first – especially in disaster scenarios – Reuters journalists are to break their stories first via the wire and not Twitter.

I found this to be a very odd decision on Reuters’ part. I admit I was skeptical of the Twitter phenomenon when it first became popular, and as an ex-journalist, I certainly saw the dangers of using it as a legitimate news breaking service. But after using Twitter for some time now, I see that its pros far outweigh its cons when it comes to breaking news.

What’s nice about Twitter is that as soon as news happens, journalists have the luxury of getting it out to their readers immediately. Since there are only 140 characters to work with, they can stick to just stating the most important fact, while working on a longer story with all of the details. When that story is complete, they can use Twitter to drive traffic to their full story.

If anything, Twitter should be viewed as a valuable tool for journalists and used accordingly. By forcing their journalists to break news on the wire first, Reuters is giving them an incredible disadvantage against the competition. Do you think a Reuters’ journalist will be able to write a wire story faster than a CNN or MSNBC journalist can tweet about it?

Judging by the story, it seems like Reuters has issues with social media as a whole.

…journalists are advised to get manager approval before using Twitter for professional purposes, have someone double-check their tweets before posting, avoid disclosing personal biases (especially political), and to separate professional and private activity with separate accounts.

The policy as a whole is a fascinating read and exposes that Reuters, as a media organization, is torn between encouraging employees to use social media and the realization that the online behaviors of their staff put them at risk, a sentiment expressed in the comment that these tools, if misused, could “threaten our hard-earned reputation for independence and freedom from bias or our brand.”

It’s no secret that you have to be careful with everything you post using social media. But Reuters’ journalists are trained professionals. If they’re working at a news organization as well-respected as Reuters, I’d like to think they know the importance of using discretion and eliminating their own personal biases.

The most important thing to take from this new policy, addresses in the last sentence of the story:

As other news organizations, reputable or not, continue to break stories on Twitter and even mandate social media usage, it will be interesting to see whether or not Reuters can maintain their relevance and position atop the news chain.

Without embracing social media, it’s hard to believe Reuters will be able to.

Stefen Lovelace is an Associate Account Executive. Contact him at

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Privacy in a Social Media Era

By Matt Saler

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines privacy as “freedom from unauthorized intrusion”… but in today’s evolving world of Google, Facebook, and everything else, it’s time that definition gets modified.

There is a phenomenal article in PC World this week that discusses this exact topic, focusing in on how privacy is at the center of this new social media universe.

The article does a great job of summing it up:

…privacy is subjective. There is no clear answer because my definition of privacy may not be the same as your definition of privacy… people just want control over when and how their information is shared.

Social networking sites are an extreme example because, by definition, they exist to share information socially. However, all businesses are entrusted with data of some kind and have an obligation to protect it. It is important that organizations understand that privacy is not dead, and it is important to keep user concerns regarding privacy in mind while adapting to evolving technology.

The article also talks about a case where a high school was the subject of pretty incriminating accusations. Recently, the high school that I attended (not our proudest moment) was under fire...

...when it implemented the ability to enable the webcam on laptops issued to students without their knowledge or consent. Does the obligation of the school to monitor extend to a right for the school to watch students getting dressed in the morning?

If these allegations are true, the line of privacy has been crossed on a variety of levels and those accused must be punished accordingly.

So must the concept of privacy now have to adapt and change with modern society? Has modern technology killed privacy altogether?

For society’s sake, lets hope not.

Matt Saler is an Account Executive. Contact him at

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Photo courtesy of Flickr's alancleaver_2000

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness Another Great Opportunity for Social Media

By Abby Draper

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, with the announcing of the 64 teams that will play for the Championship on April 5. While March Madness has always been an exciting time of year for college students, alumnus, and sports fans, this year marketing professionals are added to the mix.

With social media marketing still on the rise, brands are looking forward to taking advantage of the endless opportunities during the tournament. “It’s the ultimate sporting event for social media” says Jason Knit, GM of

USA Today lists the top-5 ways in which marketers are chatting about the tournament through social media:

Involvement. Coke Zero is sponsoring a Department of Fannovation Brain Bracket asking fans to vote online for the best idea to improve the tournament. "We're empowering fans to shake up the status quo in college basketball," says Linda Cronin, director of interactive media.

Phone apps. MillerCoors launched an iPhone app, Tip 'n Spin, in which folks earn points by balancing a basketball on a Miller Lite bottle. "Marketers struggled in the past for a forum for daily interaction with consumers," says Mike Davitt, Miller Lite marketing chief. Social media offer that forum.

Contests. Applebee's is offering $1 million to whomever picks the winners of all 63 tourney games via its Facebook page with Twitter updates.

Sweepstakes. Papa John's Papa's in the House Hoops Sweepstakes on Facebook let fans pick the prize: a $2,000 shopping spree and pizza for a year, says Jim Ensign, digital marketing chief.

Sex appeal. Captain Morgan rum is asking fans to pick their favorite Morganette (women who tout the brand at bars) on Facebook to win a free trip to Las Vegas. "This is how our target customer lives his life," says Tom Herbst, marketing chief. "He chats, e-mails and watches TV on his computer. It's where he communicates."

After the success we saw with social media marketing through the Super Bowl and the Olympics, March Madness is sure to only continue to push the bar.

Abby Draper is the Manager of Social Media at Maroon PR. Contact her at

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Marketing Myths

By Mitchell Schmale

In a struggling economy, many companies fall into the trap of cutting certain internal budgets to manage costs and survive the tough times. Often, the marketing budget is one of the first to be slashed.

Effective marketing is vital for a company to remain competitive during the tough times so that they are poised to be successful when the economy improves. Companies may have to make tough decisions in managing expenses, but slashing its marketing budget should not be the easy fix. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

A slow economy is one of the best times to raise your corporate profile as a leading company in your respective industry and capture valuable market share. Rather than turning to traditional advertising to raise brand awareness, many companies find a greater return in investment in public relations. PR and marketing support can grow customer awareness, create an exciting buzz around a company and help gain strong third-party endorsements in the media. During a down economic time, corporate and customer success stories shared through an effective public relations and media campaign often resonate much more powerfully with consumers than a stand-alone advertising campaign.

It’s time to dispel the myth that a company has to cut its marketing budget because it is not yielding the expected returns, when in fact, the truth may lie in spending its marketing dollars more creatively.

Mitchell Schmale is the Vice President of Maroon PR's Corporate Division. You can contact him at

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Repercussions of an MLS Lockout

By Stefen Lovelace

2010 should be the year for soccer in the United States.

The World Cup will begin this summer in South Africa, which always brings American viewers interest to a peak. The current US team is already gaining tremendous support, thanks to great play in qualifying leading up to the Cup, and our best players (Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jozy Altitore) all playing against the best in the world overseas.

Soccer’s always had a hard time gaining mainstream exposure in the US. One reason is that our professional soccer league, the MLS, has always been looked at as inferior when compared to the top leagues in Europe. Still, with soccer on the mind of most Americans, the MLS could have hoped to see a boost in popularity based on the overall hype of the upcoming World Cup.

It looks like the MLS may actually be going in the opposite direction. It was reported today by USA Today that the MLS is in very real danger of having to lockout its upcoming season.

The league's first collective bargaining agreement expired Thursday after the sides twice extended the five-year deal, which originally was to have run out Jan. 31.

The MLS Players Union failed to match league management's no-lockout pledge with a no-strike offer, leaving the start of the season on March 25 in doubt.

The owners - seeing the importance of getting a product on the field during a year where soccer will be on the front of sports pages around the world - have agreed not to lock out the players. The players though, have not agreed to not strike if the owners don’t make concessions.

In this case, the player’s have a legitimate gripe. The MLS tries to market itself has a major league composed of the best talent the United States has to offer. Yet, according to a SportsBusiness Daily story last week, some of the players make less than $30,000. That’s a laughable amount for a professional athlete.

The timing of this argument couldn’t be worse. The MLS will probably never have the popularity of the NFL or NBA in this country (or even the NHL for that matter). But it can certainly fill a niche, and utilizing the exposure of the World Cup to bring attention to the league is an absolute must if the MLS hopes to survive.

The owners and the players need to come up with some resolution, and quickly. If they want their league to hold a torch to the big guys, the owners have to open up their checkbooks a bit. And the player’s need to realize that they’ll never command the salaries of their counterparts in the other sports leagues and accept it.

Time is running out for both sides too, as the league opener is a mere three weeks away.

The Philadelphia Union plays at Seattle in the MLS opener on March 25 and [Major League Soccer commissioner Don] Garber acknowledges that talks could go on until then.

"It's conceivable, but my expectation is not to be negotiating an agreement an hour before kickoff," Garber said. "I would describe these as big-league problems. Years ago we had nothing to fight about, so we didn't have labor issues.

"Now that the league is growing and there is a bit more at stake, the players want to see improvement in their salaries and their working conditions. And we need to understand, we need to listen and take their issues into consideration."

It’s good to see that Garber realizes how important it is to get this issue fixed as soon as possible. Time will tell if the rest of the MLS see that importance before its too late.

Stefen Lovelace is an Associate Account Executive. You can contact him at

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Video Blog: Thoughts from the Intern

By Chris Grant.

Interview by Stefen Lovelace; Video by Abby Draper

Chris Grant is the Maroon PR intern. Contact him at