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

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

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

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

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