Thursday, December 15, 2011

Facebook and Google attempt to throw out a lifeline

By Jen Schiller

In 2011 bullying and social media took center stage yet again, often converging, for good and bad. The rise of social media allows cyber-bullying to hide its ugly face, but it also facilitates campaigns dedicated at ending all different types of bullying, many of which have gained celebrity notoriety.

Facebook and Google have introduced different methods to try and not only end cyber-bullying but to offer those who may be suffering the necessary tools to seek help.

While both companies have been engaging in anti-bullying policies for a number of years, they recently teamed up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to offer new services and information for at-risk users. Facebook will now offer the option of reporting concerning statuses and posts to crisis counselors. Google meanwhile will provide the contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the top of the page when certain red-flagged phrases are keyed in to the engine.

Facebook’s use of the buddy system raises many questions and does not have unanimous support from the online community, but if nothing else the social media giant is taking a stance. It’s a slippery slope, but so is everything on the internet.

Social media is an all-encompassing beast we now know is capable of effecting change. Earlier this year it was Facebook that was credited for the revolt in Egypt, and Twitter campaigns have been crucial in ideas such as the Occupy protests. As social media platforms continue to surge it is inevitable that they creep closer and closer into our daily lives, blurring the pre-existing realms of public and private information.

But it’s also important to note we’ve let them. No one forced a Facebook or Twitter account on us when they first started; we sought out the type of global contact they generate, allowing them to gain such a precipitous position in our daily lives.

So while it may be startling for some to see the intrusion of Facebook in the very personal matters of suicide, it is not surprising. Google and Facebook are not calling the police themselves; they are simply providing increased information to those in need and those who are concerned.

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, these new partnerships will have, but this is the first campaign for Facebook which does not just try to stop bullying but to help those in need.

It’s an important issue and whether I agree with the new policies or not, I am glad to see the social media powers attempting to help rather than just covering themselves from potential lawsuits. It may prove disastrous, it may prove ineffective, it may save lives but at least it’s something and often times a little bit goes a long way for people in need, especially this time of year.

Jen Schiller is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Jennifer@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Albert Pujols' Lessened Legacy

By John Maroon

Today Albert Pujols, the great slugger who was a staple for the St. Louis Cardinals for the last eleven seasons, agreed to terms on a ten-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels are an outstanding organization in a major media market and this move may just put them over the top and send them to the World Series in 2012…Pujols is that good.

The thing that bothers me is that, by accepting the contract from the Angels, Albert may have lessened his legacy a bit. Regardless of the decision he will go down as one of the game’s all-time great players but in the world we live in today, how many great athletes spend their entire career with one team, especially in baseball where the career length is much longer than the other sports?

Albert is beloved in St. Louis and led them to two World Series titles. He has established a terrific charitable foundation there and he was the face of that storied franchise. Had he elected to take a little less money he would go down as one of the greatest Cardinals in history right alongside the legendary Stan Musial.

When you think of Derek Jeter you think of the Yankees, when you think of Cal Ripken you think of the Orioles, when you think of Chipper Jones you think of the Braves and when you think of Kirby Puckett you think of the Twins. Now when you think of Albert you will think of a great player but his ties to a city will be fleeting and he will split his illustrious career between at least two teams.

Let me stress that I don’t think less of his for leaving the Cards and I don’t begrudge his right to go wherever he wants and make all the money he can. I just wonder if he would have stood for so much more in the history of the game if he stayed in St. Louis.

The days of our athletes coming to an agreement with one team over the course of their career is very rare and it isn’t anyone’s fault, just the way the system works these days. No one is to blame for his departure. The Cardinals could have locked up Albert a few years ago and not waited for him to become a free agent and Albert could have chosen to accept a little less time and a little less money but neither happened.

I wish him the best…good guy, great player…but I believe his legacy could have been so much greater had he stayed in St. Louis.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Facebook: The Virtual High School Reunion

By Katy Fincham

As we close in on the end of another year, I’ve recently taken some time to reflect on the last twelve months – the highs, the lows and what lies ahead for 2012. And then it hit me…My 10-year high school reunion is right around the corner!

During my senior year, I was an Editor for our school newspaper and the thing I most looked forward to was working on our final issue, which featured the popular Senior Issue insert. This section included the much anticipated announcement of the Senior Superlative winners (“Most Athletic”, “Most Likely to Succeed”, and my personal favorite, “Most Likely to Water a Plastic Plant.”) and Senior Goodbyes, where we each had an opportunity to leave behind messages to our fellow classmates, teachers and coaches.

The section of the Senior Issue that I personally worked on was “Where Do I See Myself 10 Years from Now.” At the time, it was fun to see my classmate’s hopes for the future and wonder how accurate they would be in 2012. Little did we know, we wouldn’t have to wonder much longer.

The popularity of Facebook completely eliminated the excitement of high school reunions. For the last seven years, each of us has had almost instant access into our classmates’ everyday lives. Whether I want to or not, I’m aware of who’s married, who’s engaged, who has kids, where people work, where they’ve traveled to, etc. Who needs to have a high school reunion, when every day is virtual reunion?

While I’ve had a Class of 2002 information overload throughout the years, I still hold out for a reunion where everyone can catch up in-person, instead of on our Facebook walls.

By the way, in 2002, my answer to “Where Do I See Myself 10 Years from Now” was as an editor for Sports Illustrated. Heading into 2012, I may not be an editor for Sports Illustrated, but I’ve at least pitched stories to them! Not too far off, right?

Katy Fincham is an Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Katy@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tiger Woods Gets His Groove Back…and it only took 749 days!

By Sarah Gubara

Tiger Woods finally got a chance to celebrate again on December 4th, 2011 after his birdie putt on the 18th hole led him to win the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in California. He finished 10 under par to beat Zach Johnson by only ONE stroke. Sorry Zach…

Tiger Woods won his last title in 2009 at the Australian Masters. Since then he’s struggled to repair both his public image and athletic skills.

It took Tiger 749 days to return to victory…here’s what’s happened since then:
  • The Texas Rangers lost in the World Series...Twice
  • The Saints and Packers both won the Super Bowl
  • Lebron James took his talents to South Beach
  • South Africa hosted the World Cup
  • Michael Vick was forgiven
  • Prince William got married
  • Osama Bin Laden was found and killed
  • Gaddaffi was toppled
  • The NFL lockout began
  • The NFL lockout ended
  • The NBA lockout began
  • The NBA lockout ended
  • The Boston Bruins get a long-awaited Stanley Cup
  • Brett Favre has retired, and unretired, and retired, and...
  • Tiger changed his swing, then his coach, then his caddie.
In the midst of all of this, we had forgotten all about Tiger Woods. In fact, even my Xbox’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘12 forgot about his success on the green, because the gaming version of Tiger has been missing a lot of shots lately, in addition to hitting people in the crowd. At the end of the day there’s only one way to know if Tiger Woods really got his groove back…endorsements—once those start rolling in again we’ll know that he’s back for sure.

Sarah Gubara is the Manager of Social Media at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Sarah@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Frank the Walmart Holiday Fruitcake

By Kate Korson

The countdown begins today. December 1st means 25 days until Christmas. The “holiday season” is officially in full swing and so are online holiday advertising campaigns. One of the most successful online holiday campaigns is Office Max’s Elf Yourself. If you are not familiar with Elf Yourself, it is a website  where anyone can upload photos of loved ones to create an interactive music video of family/friends dancing in the form of elves. Within the past six years, Elf Yourself has become an online holiday staple. Each year, I know at least one Elf Yourself is coming from friends or family. Here is an example from YouTube:



This year, Walmart is attempting to compete with Elf Yourself in the form of a fruitcake, named Frank. He lives on a website and encourages visitors to share him on Facebook. Frank symbolizes the typical unwanted gift and occasionally cites Walmart as a place where you can purchase a variety of gifts everyone will enjoy.

For the most part, Frank just annoyingly rambles about obscure holiday topics. Viewers can’t customize Frank, he just talks…and talks. It will be interesting to see if he actually gains popularity among social media users this holiday season. The fact that Frank can’t be altered decreases his chance of success. Elf Yourself broke boundaries in the viral world and opened doors to other customizable campaigns, not limited to the holidays.

So far, it seems that Frank is off to a slow start. After conducting a little research, I discovered that Frank only has about 260 fans and 30 active monthly users on Facebook (which means only 30 people actually use the “Frank the Fruitcake” application). Users are also complaining on Frank’s Facebook wall, claiming that he does not function properly. Clearly Walmart has a few bugs to work out but we all know that viral campaigns can travel fast, especially around the holidays. So Walmart, 25 days and counting.




Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Kate@MaroonPR.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sales Soar on Cyber Monday

By Eve Hemsley

After the turkey is carved on Thanksgiving, the mashed potato bowl is emptied and all the pie tins have been licked clean, the last thing I want to do is fight big crowds and go shopping – but for some people it’s a sport, and the Olympics of shopping occurs on Black Friday. Black Friday has reigned as the ultimate shopping day of the year until recently when a new contender stepped up: Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday has become the popular alternative to shoppers who like to relax after their turkey and get a good night’s sleep.

Over the past few years, the popularity of Cyber Monday has grown into record breaking numbers and 2011 tops the charts. In 2010, Cyber Monday was the biggest day of online shopping with sales exceeding $1 billion. According to IBM’s Coremetrics report, 2011 sales were up 33% over 2010 and up 29.3% over Black Friday.

Among those shopping online, 10.8% of people used their mobile devices to visit retailer’s sites; Apple’s iPhone and iPad topped the list for mobile device retail traffic. To capitalize on this trend, stores implemented incentives like hourly deals and free shipping, making online shopping more convenient and easy on your bank account. Retailers are realizing the impact of Cyber Monday and creating promotions to take advantage of it.

And what would a big online event be without the influence of social media sites? Facebook led the charge by dominating 86% of all social media traffic. Discussions on the popular networking site included tips about price comparison websites, online scams and in-store shopping experiences. IBM’s Coremetrics report also noted that discussions on social media sites leading up to Cyber Monday increased 115% from 2010 and referrals from social networks increased slightly from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

Personally, I can see the draw of getting your Christmas shopping done while sitting comfortably on your couch (or where ever you may be with your mobile device), but there is a certain charm to feeling the weight of shopping bags on your arms and seeing the mall Santa lift kids onto his lap. My suggested solution – get the best of both worlds and do both (just maybe not at midnight on Black Friday)!

Eve Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Eve@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making a Difference Overseas

By John Maroon

In 2007 Cal Ripken was named a Public Diplomacy Envoy to the U.S. State Department. Essentially that makes him a goodwill ambassador representing our nation and in that role he uses baseball as a way to connect with kids and parents in other parts of the world.

In 2007 he traveled to China and in 2008 he visited Nicaragua. This year we were working with the State Department on our next trip and after the devastating tsunami and earthquake rocked Japan it was a no brainer. Japan is a baseball-crazed nation and they definitely needed a boost and a small gesture to remind them that the American people care for them and are here for them.

From November 7-16 Cal, and his former teammate Brady Anderson, visited Japan and put on baseball clinics for girls and boys throughout the country…most notably visiting the areas that were heavily impacted on March 11 by the tsunami and quake.

During that time Cal did a lot of interviews about his visit…in fact more than 65 Million people in Japan and 7 Million people here learned about Cal’s visit through the media. This strong PR push, coupled with a daily video blog, helped raise awareness about the fact that eight months after the earthquake and tsunami, things are not back to normal and more help is needed. Included in that effort is an initiative called Tomodachi, which means “friend” in Japanese. It is a public-private initiative that is helping restore some normalcy to the kids in Japan through sports.

Cal will continue in his role as a Public Diplomacy Envoy and we don’t know where we will be headed next but it is good to know that in this day and age filled with controversy and scandal there is still plenty of good being done through sports.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Need for Information in the Internet Age

By Tim Richardson

It’s all about content…and getting it instantly.

It’s no secret to anyone that the media landscape has changed dramatically over the past several years. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and items like cell phone cameras and flip cams have aided in changing that scope. Additionally, a large number of print publications have resorted to charging visitors for their content on the websites…Sporting News Today, American City Business Journals and, most recently, BaltimoreSun.com are good examples.

But the high-paced Internet world has also fostered opportunities to be creative to utilize a website as a main business, not just a complementary piece to a company. Great examples include Zappos.com and SchooloftheLegends.com.

In the simplest of terms, Zappos.com was born because its founder, Nick Swinmurn, couldn’t find the right pair of shoes… either in the mall or online. After searching the Internet, Swinmurn was amazed that there wasn’t one major retailer that specialized in shoes. So, he became that retailer by launching a business selling shoes through a website…a website that in November 2009 was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. Although an online business, Zappos.com understood that reputation was important and was dedicated to being the elite online service leader while also offering customers the best selection….i.e. valued content. Getting customers to associate the Zappos.com brand with premium service was part of the ultimate PR strategy.

About a year ago, a group from Brentwood, Tenn. had a “Swinmurn moment” and launched a website, as a business, dedicated to providing football fans with the opportunity to become even more engaged with their favorite NFL players, past and present. SchoolOfTheLegends.com (SOTL.com) set out to be the number one online social community for football fans and athletes. Capitalizing on the fact that the NFL is America’s most popular sport and that fans can’t get enough of their teams and players, SOTL.com’s goal was to provide those fans with something that they didn’t have before…a unique, content-driven hub for connecting with NFL players. Imagine Facebook, Twitter and YouTube combined…but ALL about football.

Today, SOTL.com has tens of thousands of fan-members, along with more than 2,000 current and former NFL players, and offers a social community that is free to join. It has also evolved to provide content that includes reporters from player correspondents and each team page enables fans to follow games with real-time stats and interact online with fellow fans and former players.

Our desire for information, and in a quick manner at our fingertips, will never end. That is why it is even more important for web-based businesses to provide unique content in a user-friendly manner.

It’s all about the delivery of unique content…without that, you are just another bump on the “Information Super Highway.”
Tim Richardson is Executive Vice President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at Tim@MaroonPR.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Lasting Symbol: A Woman & A Ribbon

By Mitchell Schmale

On November 12, 2011, breast cancer activist Evelyn Lauder died at her home in New York City. She passed away after losing a five year battle with ovarian cancer, but will forever be remembered for her contribution to the battle against breast cancer and for helping to create a simple, yet powerful symbol for the fight against the disease.

The now internationally known campaign was created in 1992 when Lauder and her friend, Alexandra Penney, the former editor-in-chief of Self magazine, created a simple pink ribbon to help raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. It started small – so small in fact that during the early days of the campaign, many people confused the pink ribbon as a symbol for AIDS awareness. Evelyn Lauder and her husband, Leonard, with the Estee Lauder cosmetics company, created the first of the tiny bows to hand out to women at department store cosmetic counters.

From those simple first steps, the campaign grew to symbolize an entire movement and countless fundraising projects from numerous organizations. Ultimately, the campaign helped raise more than $330 million in donations (and counting) to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that Lauder founded, as well as elevating overall awareness about the disease.

Lauder was born in 1936 in Vienna, Austria and came to the U.S. after fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe with her family. She met her husband in college, the son of Estee Lauder, who owned a small, but growing cosmetics company. Evelyn Lauder was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, but continued to take part in numerous cancer-related events around the world.

Breast cancer will strike roughly one in eight women in the U.S. But, thanks to greater awareness which has led to earlier detection from screenings, death rates have been falling since 1990. It’s amazing how much of a difference one person and a simple idea can make in the lives of so many others around the world. Thanks to Evelyn Lauder for being one of those people and for making a difference.

Mitchell Schmale is Vice President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at Mitchell@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seasonal Treats: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

By Kristen Seabolt

With so many saddening stories in the media this week, from the tragic death of legendary boxer Joe Frazier, to the abduction of baseball player Wilson Ramos, to the horrifying scandal at Penn State, I wanted to take my blog this week in a lighter direction…the direction of fall and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Every fall, millions around the country (and maybe even the world) anticipate the return of the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte to their nearest coffee shop. In recent years especially, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has risen to fame among coffee and latte drinkers across the map. Starbucks for example has seen a dramatic increase of 44 percent in sales of the Pumpkin Spice Latte this year alone, according to CEO Howard Schultz. Speaking personally, I have not had a normal coffee since the Pumpkin Spice Latte returned…I even have Pumpkins Spice coffee creamer (courteously of International Delight).

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are not only a delicious warm beverage, but are also synonymous with the end of summer and the start of the holiday season. When you drink a Pumpkins Spice Latte, you think of fall, pumpkin pie, football, Thanksgiving, leaves changing, holiday music and other sweet treats.

For years, Starbucks has seen so much success and anticipation of their Pumpkin Spice Latte, that other companies felt the urgency to begin concocting their own versions of this seasonal sensation. With that being said, I thought it only necessary to provide you with my consumer feedback of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread.

Starbucks
  • Pros – Quality coffee, Well known brand that specializes in coffee, Not too sweet but great pumpkin flavor, Option of whipped cream, Several options of milk (whole, skim, soy), Option for iced, Recyclable cups, Cozy atmosphere, Drive Thru’s at some!
  • Cons – Price (roughly $4.00 for a grande/large), Cup sizes (16 oz. in a grande/large), Strong coffee, Long lines in the morning/lunch time
Dunkin’ Donuts 
  • Pros – Less expensive (roughly $2.00 for a large), Not too sweet but can still taste the pumpkin, Good cup sizes (20 oz. in a large), Quick service, Drive Thru’s at some!
  • Cons – No whip cream option, Styrofoam cup (non recyclable), In-and-out rushed atmosphere, Known for donuts & munchkins more so than their coffee
Panera Bread 
  • Pros – Option for whipped cream, Nice atmosphere 
  • Cons – Too sweet and masks the pumpkin taste, Not as well known for their coffee (known for their bagels), Semi expensive (roughly $3.50 for a large), Cup size (16 oz. in a large), Only 10% recyclable 
My vote: To be honest, I am torn between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. If I am in a rush and need a quick and inexpensive tasty Pumpkin Spice, my vote is for Dunkin’, but if I am looking for a cozy atmosphere and quality coffee, I vote for Starbucks. Good thing both are within a mile or two of the office. :)

So, enough about my obsession with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, what’s your favorite holiday beverage?

Kristen Seabolt is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Kristen@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

#ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage

By Pete DeLuca

I am not much of a follower of celebrity gossip. I could care less about which star is dating who, or which celebrity looked better on the red carpet. Still, I – like millions of people worldwide – know who Kim Kardashian is. I am not exactly sure why I know her; she’s not really a singer or an actor, and she doesn’t appear on anything I would ever watch – but still, I know she is popular for being popular (if that makes sense).

But it wasn’t until this week that I realized how popular she is.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story – let me quickly catch you up to speed. Kardashian married NBA player Kris Humphries on August 20, 2011 – after receiving a 20.5 carat engagement ring. After only 72 days, Kardashian filed for divorce on Monday. This is a ridiculous set of circumstances in itself - but that’s not even the most fascinating part.

What I found the most interesting was the astonishing amount of attention this news generated. According to an article from The Hollywood Reporter, news of the couple’s split peaked on Twitter at 12 PM on Monday, with over 1.75% of all tweets dedicated to Kardashian. Among the popular search terms were “72 Days”, “filing for divorce”, “Wedding”, “Marriage”, and my personal favorite “#ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage”. At one point, Kardashian-related topics represented nine of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter.

On Google, “Kim Kardashian” and “Kris Humphries” ranked third and fifth respectively as the most searched terms on Monday. On Tuesday, Yahoo reported that the Kardashian craze was still in full effect – with Kim, Kris, Kris Jenner (Kim’s mother), and Khloe Kardashian (Kim’s sister) all among the most searched topics… nearly 24-hours after the story broke!

I’m checking out at this point – three days of Kardashian news is more than I ever want to experience in my life again. Back to my normal routine of following the NBA lockout – which hopefully will not appear on #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage.

Pete DeLuca is Manager of Creative Services at Maroon PR.  Contact him at Pete@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Devil Town


Halloween is not just another day in my house; it’s a spoocktacle.

For starters my younger sister was born on Halloween with an eerily costume-like head of spiky black hair on a dreary Edgar Allen Poe-esque day (Happy Birthday Cath!). Additionally, and more pronounced, I live in the “Halloween House” (see picture). So I found it rather fitting that I randomly be assigned a blog entry on Halloween.



One year I coached at a basketball camp and one of my campers happened to live down the block from me. I told him, “I bet you can’t guess which house is mine?” And when he found out I lived in the quote, “Halloween House” he told me my house was awesome. But it wasn’t my camper’s response which really resonated—after all what elementary school kid doesn’t love a decked out house which gives out goody bags full of candy—it was his mom’s. She came to pick him up the next day and shot right over to me. I will never forget her exclaiming, “I love your mom! Her decorations just make me so happy. I want to send her flowers every year.”

When I was in high school living in the most recognizable house on the block embarrassed me. I certainly didn’t love it, and didn’t really embrace it either. But as time has passed, and probably because I’ve removed myself from it by moving 700 miles to the East Coast, I’ve come to appreciate the house and all its over-the-top glory.

As I’m reminded by strangers yearly, the decorations are like a smile in their own way, small in the grand scheme, but contagious spreading happiness to the hundreds of cars and neighbors who pass by and stop to wander around. People now drive from different cities around the North Shore of Chicago to see my house each year. My mom, inadvertently, created her own pre-social media viral campaign attracting 600+ families to our house each year.

So tonight, while I pass out candy to the few trick-or-treaters in my apartment complex, my parents will be back in Chicago passing out 600 goody bags to kids, 280 water bottles to parents and generally entertaining an entire neighborhood and beyond.

Happy Halloween everyone!



Jennifer Schiller is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Jennifer@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bridging Distance: Virtual Bridal Showers

By Sarah Gubara

This time last week, I was in California for a gorgeous wedding. The bride and groom had a beautiful, traditional wedding, which incorporated the bride’s Jewish tradition. It was everything you would expect from a great wedding.

Yet, there was one very unexpected guest during their wedding process. The internet.

The bride-to-be has a wonderful group of family and friends. The only problem is--they live in different parts of the country.

Refusing to forgo the tradition of the bridal shower, the bride’s Sister-In-Law surprised her with a VIRTUAL Bridal Shower. In a couple of simple steps, she was able to keep the tradition alive:
  • She used webinar.com to create the event page.
  • She had the bride’s loved one’s send her the gifts, which she mailed to her brother to hide until then.
  • She created a slide show which had a picture of everyone’s gifts, recipes, and a message to the bride.
  • Finally, she sent an E-vite to everyone with the time and login information.
Everyone tuned in with their digital cams and was able to watch live as the bride opened each present, and cried with joy. They also included pictures of the recipes they sent the bride for her future home, as they all chatted about which one tasted better. Needless to say, the event was a huge success and the bride was so moved by how everyone made the time to “attend” her virtual show.

As a Manager of Social & Digital Media, I spend a good portion of my day on the internet and I’ve seen a lot of creative social media tactics. Yet, I was still shocked to hear about this new way of keeping traditions alive. It’s incredible how social media can help people transcend physical barriers and allows so many opportunities for families to stay connected. Nowadays, “the family that Skypes together, stays together.”

Sarah Gubara is Manager of Social & Digital Media at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Sarah@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It’s Ok…You’re Allowed to Love Where You Work!

By Katy Fincham

During our annual company retreat in January, we as a company unanimously agreed that one of our top priorities in 2011 is to have fun! What’s that you say? You’re not allowed to have fun at work? I beg to differ!

As a member of the Maroon PR Happy Committee, it is our job to find creative ways to keep company morale up, remind our co-workers that life does exist outside of the office and that it is OK to have fun…in fact, it’s a MUST!

Yesterday, we closed the office an hour early and channeled our inner child, spending the evening playing Monster mini-golf, followed by a delicious meal at On the Border. Other Happy Committee activities have included a trip to the movies, numerous corn hole happy hour and pot luck lunches!

As cheesy as it sounds, the team that plays together stays together. If you ever find yourself or your company in a rut, don’t be afraid to get up, get out and have fun. Step away from your computer, turn off your Blackberry and turn on a good attitude!

Katy Fincham is an Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Katy@MaroonPR.com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gabe Maroon - Entrepreneur

By John Maroon

I wanted to take a minute this afternoon as I wind down my day at work to pay tribute to my dad, Gabe Maroon. Dad was a true entrepreneur. He had to stop going to school after the 6th grade when his dad passed. Up in North Jersey he quickly started selling cars on the gas station that his father left behind to support his mom, sister and three brothers.

That quickly morphed into a car dealership that he gave to his younger brothers and they turned around and made it one of the most successful dealerships on the east coast that is still going strong today.

He then went on to start a number of businesses (too many to mention and almost all were very successful). One of the most notable ones is a legendary New Jersey eatery called The Hot Grill. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Hot Grill opening its doors. It looks pretty much the same today as it did when he owned it and I can still taste those “hot dogs all the way”. A few years after opening The Hot Grill dad sold it to the guys who still own it today. I remember when they sought me, my brother and sister out at dad’s funeral in 2001 and told us how much they respected and appreciated him and what he did for them. It meant the world to us.

When I opened Maroon PR in 2006 I was scared and my brother insured me that we all had dad’s “entrepreneurial gene” and it would be fine… he was right. And today my brother, my sister and I all have successful businesses.

Thanks mom and dad for all that you did for us. We miss you both everyday but we know that you loved us and cared for us deeply…and you gave us the ability and the nerve, to go out on our own and be successful.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com.

Sun Shines Brightly Today in the Black Hole



Tim Richardson is Executive Vice President at Maroon PR. Contact him at Tim@MaroonPR.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reebok: EasyTone, Schmeasy Tone

By Kate Korson

As a public relations and marketing undergraduate, we study examples of advertisers making faulty claims. I came across this story about the Reebok EasyTone sneakers and thought it would an interesting case to study.

It all started in 2009, when Sketchers first released the “Shape Ups” sneakers, which promised to tone leg muscles. Since then, other athletic brands such as Reebok and New Balance, have been competing to create a similar product. Reebok went above and beyond, producing clothing that promised effortless toning of the arms, back and legs.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently investigated Reebok’s advertising claims, which indeed turned out to be false. The ads in question say EasyTone shoes result in 28 percent increased tone and strength in the buttock, and an 11 percent increase in the strength of calf and hamstring muscles. Rather than engaging in a drawn-out legal battle, Reebok agreed to settle by refunding $25 million to customers.

Reebok refuses to admit to the FTC’s allegations, claiming they have received “overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback” from EasyTone customers and sales numbers support their statement. Customers have always been skeptical of EasyTone and other toning shoe brands, but it did not prevent them from making the purchase. In any other industry, an event to this caliber would discontinue a product and diminish the credibility of the brand. Research analysts do not believe these FTC allegations will ruin the product line because of its nature as a beauty-enhancing product, and the sense of hope that goes along with the purchase.

Despite the questionable legitimacy of advertising promises, customers purchase EasyTone shoes envisioning a healthy lifestyle with the ultimate multitask: working out while you go through your daily schedule. Even if the product is not proven, it gives customers a boost of confidence and the resistance feels like your legs are being toned. So unfortunately those goofy-looking toning shoes are not going away anytime soon—toning or not.

Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive for Maroon PR.  Contact her at Kate@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Measuring Your Social Media Influence

By Eve Hemsley

For those of us working in the PR world, measuring the reach and impact of the messages we send out is a big part of the job. Finding values for traditional media outlets can be a challenge, but when you add social media marketing into the mix, measuring our effectiveness becomes even harder. But it’s not just public relations firms that have to deal with such a quandary, every company from Ford to Joe’s Backyard BBQ is on Facebook these days trying to promote their services and spread the word about their products. Companies are creating entire departments dedicated to the strategic upkeep of their social media networks, and, when managed correctly, can use social media as an effective tool to increase their company’ visibility and influence. But how does anyone really know that they are making an impact and achieving their desired results? What percentage of posts, pics and tweets are actually reaching your audience in a productive way?

While an exact science for figuring out these questions has yet to be discovered, a few sites have popped up that are a good first step in measuring how effective your social media accounts are. Social Media Examiner put together a list of the top five tools that offer easy ways to keep track of your influence. Among the more well-known is Klout, a resource that uses data from your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare accounts to evaluate user’s behavior and analyze content to measure a user’s influence. Klout’s influence score is based on a user’s ability to drive action through tweets, mentions, etc. Similar to Klout is TwentyFeet. TwentyFeet analyzes much of the same information while also giving a quick overview of your activity and influence over a period of time as well as in-depth information about your followers.

My Web Career gathers information from your various social networking accounts as well as web search results to determine the size of your network, your overall social media presence, and the strength of your connections. It also provides insight into exploring your connections and taking advantage of your network.

Number four and five on the list are focused on a user’s Twitter account. Crowdbooster, which I find extremely interesting and potentially quite useful, determines when your posts will receive the most interaction and have the most influence. It can recommend the best times for you to tweet and shows stats for your account like your number of replies, retweets, likes, comments and the number of people that have been reached.

Last but not least is TweetStats. TweetStats provides a general overview of how you use Twitter and can even compare your account to others. Generally focused on your Twitter activity, TweetStats creates graphs, timelines and ‘clouds’ detailing which days you are most active, whom you interact with the most, which interfaces you use most regularly, friend and follower growth and finally what user names and hashtags you use on a regular basis.

Eve Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her Eve@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Apples Are Amazing

By John Maroon

Yesterday the visionary leader of Apple, Steve Jobs, lost his battle with cancer. The business wars that Jobs endured are legendary and in the end he persevered and his company completely changed the way that we live as a society…what a legacy. iPod, iPhone, iPad…incredible.

It got me to thinking about apples overall. What’s the old saying? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and it has become our country’s most popular fruit with countless health benefits (I’m eating one now!).

Then there is Apple Records, the legendary recording label of The Beatles. They only changed the way the world understood and appreciated music. Their first album came out in 1963 and their last in 1970. During that time they turned out 12 albums and dozens of legendary hits.

I guess my point is that today we should take a minute to celebrate The Apple as a whole…the visionary company, the legendary music label and, well, the terrific fruit.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Armadillos Are Coming!

By Mitchell Schmale

Climate change is being credited with some interesting and unusual side effects across parts of the United States. Armadillos are on the march and heading north into areas never expected by biologists. Scientists attribute the climate-related migration to a warming atmosphere across much of the country.

Armadillos have been synonymous with images of Texas and parts of the South for many years, often as road kill on the side of desert highways. But, the unusual looking mammals are packing up their armored shells and heading north to try their luck in some new territory and crossing some different highways. They have already made it as far as parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri – one tiny step at a time. Scientists say that if the northern migration continues, armadillos may end up making it as far north as Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and parts of New Jersey.

I wish them luck on the journey. The more the merrier. I think it would be cool to have armadillos hanging out as the newest addition to area wildlife on the east coast, despite stories of them digging up backyards and gardens looking for food. So, the next time you are sitting in traffic on your commute to work in Washington, D.C. and an armadillo crosses your path… you aren’t seeing things. The armadillos have arrived.

Mitchell Schmale is Vice President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at Mitchell@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, October 3, 2011

: ) Happy Birthday Smiley Face ; )

By Kristen Seabolt

A colon, a hyphen and a bracket...who would have thought : - ) could start an emotive phenomenon?

Twenty-nine years ago in 1982, Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, first proposed these three characters as a way to convey emotion using text. His logic behind it was simple – Typing lacks body language and tone of voice, so if someone types a sarcastic remark or joke, people fail to understand its meaning.

However, even though Fahlman is credited with proposing the first emoticon, it is no secret that using symbols to convey emotion were used long before the 80's. In 1862, more than 100 years earlier, a speech by President Abraham Lincoln appeared in The New York Times, and within the transcript was the symbol ; ) (coincidental typo or not?). Furthermore, the bright yellow smiley face we have grown to love came about in 1963, when a freelance artist Harvey Ball designed it for a button to boost company morale.

Since then, much like computers, emoticons have grown to become more than a simple : - ) and : - ( . Hundreds of characters and codes have been created to express emotions and objects, ranging from love, shock and greed, to pigs, cows and monkeys. Back in 2007, Yahoo! Messenger released a survey which showed that 82 percent of users at the time used emoticons on a daily basis, and 61 percent said they felt they best expressed themselves in instant messaging using these symbols.

However, in our fast-paced and ever-growing digital age, are elaborate and detailed emoticons losing steam and popularity? Today, the iPhone text message does not automatically support emoticon graphics, and Gmail’s Gchat default emoticon settings are text-based with simple animation. Are the days of ô¿ô behind us (yes, I remember that code from my days of AOL IM)?

But, if you are one of those who can’t get enough smiles and smiley faces, this Friday is World Smile Day, which is celebrated every year on the first Friday of October. Be sure to show off your smiley pride in your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Gchat and blog worlds : )

Kristen Seabolt is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Kristen@MaroonPR.com.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grantland

By Pete DeLuca

With football season in full swing and baseball’s postseason rapidly approaching; I - like millions of fans worldwide – remain glued to ESPN for constant highlights, news, and updates. And whether it is the Coors Light Cold Hard Facts or the Chevrolet Clubhouse, I find myself willing to sit through any poorly named segment in order to get information about my favorite team – regardless of SportsCenter relentless product placement.

But just when I thought I was wise to all the Gatorade Ultimate Highlights and Bud Light Top Ten Plays segments – ESPN throws a curve ball and begins airing this commercial:



Wait… What is Grantland? I saw a Subway logo in there, and Dove soap one too… but what is Grantland?! Thirty seconds and I was hooked. I caved. I ran to my computer, opened up Explorer, and typed in “grantland.com” so fast that I misspelled it twice.

Turns out, Grantland.com is a new website launched by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons. The site provides a new take on sports journalism – articles written in a narrative format aimed at connecting sports to broader cultural trends. Simmons, as well as a collection of other talented writers, cover everything from Fantasy Football to Brad Pitt’s Moneyball Oscar Odds. I spent a few minutes on the site before closing my lap top and moving on.

ESPN launched Grantland.com as a new, innovative way to present sports news. But, the marketing of the site breaks from their norm. For a channel whose lineup includes such shows as “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot” and the “GMC Post Game Show”, it was intriguing to see such a subtle advertising. And it worked. It’s a lesson that thousands of advertisers can learn from.

Pete DeLuca is the Manager of Creative Services at Maroon PR.  Contact him at Pete@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Too Big a Target?

By Jennifer Schiller

Want to cause a massive crash of your online shopping system? Offer one of the most high-end fashion labels at bargain prices. That’s what happened to mega-everything-retailer Target last week when it offered a line designed by uber-chic Italian brand Missoni.

Just minutes after launch the site crashed due to high volume and many of those who waited anxiously were left without the pieces they had coveted since the collaboration was announced. Stores too were left dismantled only hours after opening.

Now, the Associated Press is reporting that many of the customers who thought they had purchased one of the line’s many items - from clothing to house wares - are experiencing delays with shipping or having orders canceled. Many of those dissatisfied shunned brand loyalty and taken to social media outlets to protest and encourage others to no longer shop at Target or Target.com.

This was not Target’s first major label collaboration, having worked with industry giants like Jean Paul Gauliter and popular Liberty of London in the past. But this time Target’s PR folks did such a phenomenal job drumming up unparalleled levels of anticipation the tech world could not keep up, leading to the problems facing the giant now.

All of which begs a question: can a brand get too big? Is it really possible as the article suggests that Target was too good for its own good in this case?

In the popularity contest that is retail is losing some disgruntled shoppers worth the risk of gaining celebrity attention with tweets from stars like Jessica Alba and lines around the corner? And as social media grows can the average person outweigh celebrities and brands in terms of clout?

Only a week removed from Missoni-mania it remains to be seen how much of a hit Target’s image will take from the ordering and site issues. Analysts disagree on the long-term effects for the chain-retailer with some saying the disappointment is fleeting and others forecasting larger worries. However, in the immediacy it brings to the forefront whether an idea and campaign can be so good, it’s bad.

Personally I will enjoy my Missoni for Target heels I picked up worry-free at a nearby, nearly empty Target, but as I do I will wonder did Target create too big a bull’s-eye, one it simply couldn’t escape?

Jennifer Schiller is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Jennifer@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Social Media, First on the Scene

By Sarah Gubara

Long gone are the mornings where you’d see a man in his pajamas, sipping coffee, and reading the newspaper. Instead the likely image is that of a young woman with a Starbucks to-go cup in her hand and a smart phone in the other, browsing her social feed.

A survey conducted by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 65% of people cast the internet as their main source of news. While, the Canadian Media Research Consortium found that 43% of social media users get their daily news via recommendations from friends and family on sites like Facebook.

Social media sites, especially Twitter, have proven to be the fastest and most effective way to monitor events and stories as they’re happening. The no commitment 140 character limit on Twitter allows you to quickly browse multiple perspectives and opinions of people around the world on any given topic.



You’ll find that more and more stories break on Twitter first, such as the revolutions in Egypt and India or the crash of Continental Airlines Flight 737, where passenger Mike Wilson was the first to tweet. Another vivid example was the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death as Keith Urbahn, Former Chief of Staff for Donald Rumsfeld tweeted “I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot Damn.” Within 2 minutes, Keith Urbahn’s tweet had been shared over 300 times, stealing thunder away from the Presidential Address that was to come later that night.

The advantage is clear, Social Media has what traditional news sources don’t always have: personality. On Twitter, people contribute their own reactions while sharing news, which makes it not only faster but way more entertaining than traditional outlets.

While news spreads quickly via social media, so do rumors. It’s unbelievable to seen the chain of events and speculations that can ensue from a single tweet. I’m sure you’ve heard of many celebrities who were declared prematurely dead on Twitter including Johnny Depp, Justin Bieber, and Tom Hanks. Although, it can become a challenge to balance social commentary against socially useful news, the novelty of communicating news over social networks is still ingenious. As for the useless chatter that comes along with it, my advice is to follow credible sources and verify content before you start writing your eulogy for Justin Bieber.

Sarah Gubara is the Manager of Social and Digital Media at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Sarah@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Media & 9/11…Ten Years Later

By Tim Richardson

When planning my blog for this month, I had an idea in place for many weeks. But as I sat in my living room on the morning of September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the horrific day that forever changed our way of life, I was moved to change my topic.

The morning of September 11, 2001 began as any other day. People got up to go to work; pilots and passengers boarded airplanes for what they expected to be normal business trips, social travels, etc.; and America went about its business as normal…until 8:46 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. At first, many, including the networks reporting the story, speculated about what happened…was it just an unbelievable accident? That conjecture ended just 17 minutes later when United Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower. Add in the strike at the Pentagon and the crash in Shanksville, Pa., and we knew that our nation was under attack.

Whether it was a national network or a local radio station, every media outlet in the country had to decide how they were going to cover the unfolding stories of that day as chaos and confusion swept the country. Decisions were made in newsrooms across the nation that would have critical and lasting impacts on how the media would cover stories in the future,

This was new territory for the media and they had to evaluate whether exercising sensitivity outweighed the choice to often exploit sensationalism. In the days after the attacks, David Westin, the president of ABC News, ordered that video of the jets hitting the World Trade Center was not to run repeated on the air so as not to disturb viewers, especially children.

Westin’s decision was unique and admirable. In the introduction to “September 11, 2001,” a book that compiles the front pages marking the attacks, former Executive Editor of the New York Times, Max Frankel, describes the media’s role in the hours and days after the terrorist attacks: “honest and reliable news media could instruct the world in its vulnerability, summon Americans to heroic acts of rescue, and ignite the global search for meaning and response. Only trusted news teams could discern the nation’s anxiety, spread words of hope and therapy, and help to move us from numbing fear toward.”

Ten years later, we live in a world with a completely new media landscape. Those “trusted news teams” are much smaller or no longer in existence. The majority of Americans get their news from the Internet. Plus, neither Twitter nor Facebook existed in 2001…can you imagine how that day would have unfolded in the social media universe?

According to Vice-President Biden’s speech from the Pentagon last Sunday, more than 2.8 million people of the “9/11 Generation” joined our Armed Forces following the attacks that September day in 2001 “to fight for the people who died that day” and to protect those of us who live under the blanket of freedom that is America.

My father is part of what is known as “America’s Greatest Generation” and that is a label that he and so many others richly deserve. He was alive on “a day that will live in infamy” when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and killed over 2,400 Americans. I remember my dad telling me 10 years ago that he never thought he would live to see another day where our country was attacked in such a catastrophic way. He also talked about how incredibly different it was in terms of how Americans learned of that attack in Hawaii, compared to the media coverage of 9/11. Close to 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001 and I believe that the “9/11 Generation” will go down in history as our nation’s most resilient and united in a time of great sorrow.

Finally, then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue chose to cancel the NFL games scheduled for the Sunday following the attacks in 2001…a decision that has been applauded and criticized. So it was ironic that the 10th anniversary fell on the opening weekend of the NFL season. Sports are something that tend to unite people, and the NFL should be commended for the role they played on Sunday in uniting a nation:



Tim Richardson is Executive Vice President at Maroon PR.  Contact him at Tim@MaroonPR.com

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nike Brings the “Future” to the Present

By Katy Fincham

“The greatest shoe never made” is finally here….and it’s four years ahead of schedule!



In the 1989 cult classic film “Back to the Future II,” Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) have once again been sent through time and finds themselves in the year 2015. Clearly dressed for the 1980’s, McFly is given a pair of NIKE’s in efforts to blend in with the youth of the future. Since their pictorial debut, fans and sneaker collectors have begged for NIKE to release a model of the shoe for purchase.

On Thursday, September 8th, NIKE announced that 1,500 pairs of the mythical 2011 NIKE MAG shoes will be auctioned on eBay and all of the net proceeds will go to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's disease research. The ten-day auction has already created a buzz and awoken their cult following. As of today, the highest winning bid reached $37,500.00 for one pair!

According to NIKE, “the 2011 NIKE MAG was designed to be a precise replica of the original from Back to the Future II. The aesthetic is an exact match, down to the contours of the upper, the glowing LED panel and the electroluminescent NIKE in the strap. The 2011 NIKE MAG illuminates with the pinch of the “ear” of the high top, glowing for five hours per charge.”

The promotion and marketing behind the NIKE MAG is just as clever and fun as the shoe itself. Commercials are already out, featuring Christopher Lloyd playing his memorable role as Doc Brown; and Michael J. Fox officially debut the shoe during a guest appearance on David Letterman last Thursday. With funds going directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, fans and collectors get a sense of helping those in need, while also satisfying a childhood fantasy.

The only thing NIKE MAG is missing? Power laces….guess we’ll have to wait until 2015!

Katy Fincham is an Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Katy@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Marketing of a Female Sports Fan

By Kristen Seabolt

With the official kick-off of the NFL season tonight at 8 p.m. EST when the Saints and Packers face off, I thought it fitting to discuss the growing popularity of football (and sports in general) among a growing market…women.

I consider myself to be a knowledgeable female sports fan. I have played soccer since I was five, watched the Orioles since back when they were a decent team, and have supported the Ravens since they came to Baltimore. However, until recently, I was one of the few people in my group of personal friends who knew the difference between a cornerback and a running back. Now, I know many female fans who know more than most men do.

Over the past decade, women have broken into the billion dollar sports industry that has long been dominated by men, and they are here to stay. Professional sports teams and league organizations alike have picked up on this growing trend, and have altered their marketing tactics to include this new audience. In the NFL for example, more than 40% of fans are female, so why wouldn’t teams and league offices want to draw their attention…and their wallets?

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, several offer exclusive clubs or promotions to their female fan base. The Washington Redskins recently launched “WOW,” the Women of Washington Redskins club. The Baltimore Ravens offer the “Purple Club,” and every year host a “Purple Evening” meet & greet with the Ravens players and coaches for women only. Last season, the Green Bay Packers offered a “Football 101 NFL Workshop for Women” for females to come out to the field and learn the rules and plays of the game.

The NFL as a league also boasts a growing female merchandise section of their online NFL Shop, featuring everything from pink jerseys and earrings to bras and underwear. Actress Alyssa Milano’s Touch collection, hosted on NFLShop.com, has seen a 40% increase in sales over the past five years.

And no one can forget that month of the season when, across the league, players sport pink cleats and arm bands in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. In addition, women’s clothing stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Motherhood Maternity, Kohl’s and Macy’s all sell licensed female merchandise. And it isn’t just the NFL that has geared their marketing toward women. Both the MLB and NHL offer female clubs and promotions. Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Phillies hosted a “Baseball 101” for female fans who want to learn the game, and the Washington Capitals have a very active “Washington Scarlets” club that frequently meets and attends games together. Lastly, and very recently, ESPN launched ESPN W, a website geared specifically for female fans talking both male and female sports.

The need to market to the female fan is clear, whether it be to make them happy or just to make money - and overall, I think they have done a good job so far. As we welcome football back tonight, notice the number of females in the stands with painted faces and ridiculous costumes chanting with the rest of them for their favorite team.

Kristen Seabolt is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at Kristen@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Online Privacy Settings: Putting Up the Virtual Fences

By Eve Hemsley

Controlling who sees what and where you post is the new hot topic of social networking sites like Facebook and Google +. Battling over privacy settings have companies creating new features to immediately control who will see your post as you write it – and photo sharing sites like Flickr will not be left behind in the fight.

Flickr’s latest defense to keep up with the new genre of privacy settings is geofences, a new precautionary feature that allows users to map out zones and set distinct location sharing settings for those areas. With location services now being standard in online interactions, Flickr front-end engineer Trevor Hartsell felt that geofences was essential for adapting to the new standard.

In the words of Mashable’s Associate Editor Jennifer Van Grove, here’s why geofences matters: “Fluffy the cat is being extra cute today. You snap a photo of Fluffy with your smartphone and share it on the web. The photo of Fluffy, depending on your default settings, could carry with it metadata that exposes your home address. Now you have a potential privacy kerfuffle on your hands.”

Jennifer poses an interesting problem that people do not often consider while they are constantly updating their every move and location. Geofences is in place to ensure that only those in your safe and familiar circle will be able to see Fluffy and her exact location.

When setting up a geofence, users can create a 250-meter radius surrounding their home and then specify a group of people (family, friends, etc.) who would be able to see the more specific origins of posted photos within that radius. Users will also be able to go back and create privacy settings for pictures posted in the past.

The endearing aspect of Flickr’s geofences is that it does seem to have everyone’s safety in mind. As the virtual boundaries of the world get smaller and smaller, Flickr is working to at least keep your address a mystery.

Eve Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Eve@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roy Halladay: An Exception to the Rule

By Kate Korson

It is not a secret that Roy Halladay is arguably one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB). It is also not a secret that he worked hard to get there. Yes, as a life-long Phillies fan I will admit that I am partial to this story. But as a public relations professional, I could not resist sharing it.

Sports Illustrated awards Sportman of the Year annually each November. For the past few years Roy Halladay’s name was thrown into the mix for a variety of reasons. Not only is he a future Hall of Fame pitcher, but his work ethic is that of a rookie. Though unbeknownst to most is Halladay’s selfless and humble attitude, which was put on display last October when he was invited to make an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

As a PR professional, it is a dream that your client makes an appearance on a show of the caliber of Late Show. Also, as a PR professional it is a nightmare for your client to turn down such an opportunity. Late Show with David Letterman was not the only show Halladay turned down; add CNN and CBS Morning News to that list.

Halladay did not decline the appearances because he was too busy or nervous; Halladay declined because he did not want to overshadow his teammates.

That is the real essence of sportsmanship, the humble and selfless act of putting your team first. Halladay is a true role model. Not just for young children but for other professional athletes. Should all professional athletes start declining major media interviews? Absolutely not. But a small act of selflessness can go a long way. Generally it is frustrating for PR professionals to have a client who is unwilling to participate in interviews. However, Halladay proves an exception to the rule and I respect and admire his decision.

Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Kate@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Facebook Places Checks Out

By Pete DeLuca

A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog about Facebook’s latest innovation, “Places” – an online application that allows users to “check in” to various locations to show their online friends where they are. The plan, as President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, was to take the virtual relationships created through Facebook and bring them into the physical world.

Well, the plan failed. With only 6% of Facebook users actively using the application, the company decided that it was time to pull the plug on Places last week.

Keep in mind, even though only 6% of Facebook’s audience used Places that still represents over 30 million people.

Take that number, as well as the amount of people using Foursquare, Gowalla, and other similar services, and you have an enormous amount of people interested in location-based apps. Removing the technology completely would be foolish; instead the geniuses at Facebook are making “checking in” even easier.

In a blog post on August 23, Facebook described the new process:
“Before: You could only "check in" to locations using the Places feature on a smart phone. Going Forward: Now you can add location to anything. Lots of people use Facebook to talk about where they are, have been or want to go. Now you can add location from anywhere, regardless of what device you are using, or whether it is a status update, photo or Wall post. Of course, you can always choose not to add location at all.”

It’s that simple. Instead of using your Smart Phone and the Places app to “check in”, now you can do it through a status update from anywhere. You can check in to where you were, where you are, or where you are going. When a waiter places down your delicious-looking dinner and you want to upload a picture of it, it comes with a “check in” of the restaurant you’re sitting at. And all you have to do… is the same thing you were doing in the first place. You’ll be “checking in” and you won’t even know it. Genius.

Do not misinterpret Facebook’s elimination of Places. They are not moving away from “checking in”, they are embracing it. It is ideas and innovations like this that make Facebook the most visited site in the world.

Pete DeLuca is Manager of Creative Services at Maroon PR. Contact him at Pete@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Changing the World through Social Media

By Mitchell Schmale

The power of social media to change the world continues to amaze and inspire others to use the medium to make a difference in their own corner of the world.

From local community projects to global issues, creative thinkers and activists are finding ways to harness the power of social media to help find solutions and change the lives of others.

To showcase this month’s World Humanitarian Day, which celebrates those people worldwide who work to improve the lives of people in underserved communities, Mashable.com profiled 12 amazing Internet activists and how their work is changing the world. Their work inspires us all to think more creatively and develop philanthropic ways through social media to make a positive impact on our own part of the world. Congrats to these leaders and anyone daring enough to follow in their footsteps to make their own dreams a reality to help others in need.

Mitchell Schmale
is Vice President of Maroon PR. Contact him Mitchell@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Friends with Business Etiquette

By Katy Fincham

In a recent national study, The Creative Group found that nearly half of all advertising and marketing executives use Facebook for business purposes; and one out of five Facebook friends are work related.

While social media continues to evolve, I find myself wondering how to best use my own personal networking sites, i.e. Facebook and Twitter. When I first joined Facebook, I used it as a way to simply keep in touch with former classmates and family members. While I still use Facebook to socialize and Twitter to keep up on the latest sporting news and celebrity gossip, I’ve found that I have increasingly started to add “friends” and follow more work related, industry professionals to my list.

The Creative Group offers five simple tips for Facebook business etiquette:

1. Divide and conquer. Not everyone in your social network needs to know about your Friday dinner plans or musings on the latest blockbuster movie. Segment your friend lists so professional contacts aren't inundated with updates they wouldn't want to -- or shouldn't -- see. Also check your privacy settings to control who has access to what information.

2. Be a guru. Share nuggets of useful information with your business contacts, and offer advice when they ask for recommendations or ideas.

3. Give and you shall receive. Be generous with your contacts by offering to make introductions or sharing useful information they post with your own network.

4. Use photo features. Even if you maintain a personal website or digital portfolio, you can provide your online contacts with a snapshot of your latest professional project or even your entire body of work. Creating albums on Flickr or Facebook, or using Twitpic or similar photo-sharing tools, is an easy way to visually show potential clients or employers your career accomplishments and showcase new skills.

5. Resist the urge to rant. Never say anything disparaging about your current or former company, coworkers, clients or other business contacts. You never know who might see your comments and forward them on.

It still amazes me how much a site like Facebook evolved over the past five years, from being an exclusive network for college students, to becoming a world-wide leader in business networking and industry advancement. How many of your friends are work-related?? The answer might surprise you…

Katy Fincham is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Katy@MaroonPR.com.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fruit Ninja—Karate Chopping New Media Barriers

By Kate Korson

The iPhone application sensation, Fruit Ninja will soon move to the “big screen” as an interactive video game on X-Box Kinect. If you’re not familiar with Fruit Ninja, the concept is simple — slice as much flying fruit as possible in a given amount of time. It seems trivial, but from personal experience I can tell that something about karate chopping fruit leaves you wanting more.

What happened to the days when hit movies and comics were the inspiration for video games? Within the last decade, the flow of new media often moved from television and movies to video games, and then potentially to phones. For example, in 2006 after the release of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" fans could text ‘Hermoine’ to 9983 to receive a graphic on their phones of their favorite character.

Today, Fruit Ninja is moving in the opposite direction. The game was originally created as an app for the iPhone, but after the unbelievable increase in demand creators are developing new ways to play Fruit Ninja on popular home video game consoles.

Could this 'reverse trend' go even further? In the future, is it possible that iPhone games could be the inspiration for movies? Could we see Brad Pitt cast as the Fruit Ninja Warrior?! It seems silly, but as the popularity of iPhone apps continue - it could become a very realistic scenario. Until then, I'll stick to slicing watermelons and grape fruits.

Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Kate@MaroonPR.com.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snapshot of a New Social Media App

By Eve Hemsley

Most popular social media sites focus on either words or pictures. There are obviously crossovers, such as posting pictures to Facebook and posting Twitpic links via Twitter, but the creators of the newly popular app Instagram took the combination one step further. Instagram is essentially a mobile-based blend of photo-sharing sites such as Flickr and the ever-popular Twitter.

Founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, their company of 4 employees aimed to create a product reminiscent of the days of Polaroids, which marketed themselves as ‘instant.’ The group wanted to make sharing your life as instant and magical as those first Polaroid pictures – thus creating Instagram.

Currently restricted to iPhone owners, Instagram users can take pictures with their iPhones and automatically add effects and share it through the app or across other platforms. Users can then enjoy familiar features, such as following others and being followed, liking and commenting on others’ photos, and browsing popular photo tags/users. There are also select website that will allow you to view your Instagram pictures on the web.

In May of 2011 Instagram boasted over 4.25 million users with the goal of continuing to grow. Added search features such as username autocomplete and a news tab which alerts users to new Twitter friends that have joined the app are predicted to boost user numbers and the connections between them.

The formula seems simple, integrate popular traits from already popular social media tools - such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, FourSquare and Tumblr - but Instagram has seemed to do it a way people are getting excited about. Used for fun or professional purposes this visually based social media platform seems to be the up and coming app.

Eve Hemsley
is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Eve@MaroonPR.com.