There’s an Extinguisher for that

Many people think that when a small emergency fire breaks out, you can point any random fire extinguisher at it and solve the problem.  But different types of materials burn in different ways and therefore might need a special type of extinguisher.  Luckily, fire extinguisher suppliers like Gateway Fire Supplies provide information on the five different types of fires.

The first type of fire burns materials such as wood and paper.  These are called class A fires.  Most burning trash is also included in this category, as well as most plastics and rubber.

The second type of fire is class B, and it includes liquids.  Class B liquids that can catch fire are oils, tars, petroleum grease, solvents, and some paints.

Class C fires involve electricity.  If a power cable overheats or an appliance short circuits, you have a class C fire and need to make sure your extinguisher covers this type of problem.

Most A, B, and C class fires can be put out with the same type of extinguisher.  You will see find the extinguisher is labeled by class, such as a 5lb Buckeye ABC fire extinguisher.

Class D fires deal with metals.  You would think all metals are fire-proof but magnesium, sodium, and potassium are flammable.  Naturally, these types of fires are most likely to be found in an industrial setting.

Similar to class B fires, cooking liquids that catch fire are class K fires.  Vegetable oils, animal oils, and fats comprise class K fires.

Business Tips for Software and Automation

We live in an increasingly digital world and our partnership with software continues to add benefits. As your business continues to automate, remember to incorporate the same simple concepts that Financial Network INC (FNI) did to make your business better. They sell loan origination software, but these ideas apply to almost any product or service that can be sold.

Be diverse and unique. These two qualities allow you to better serve clients who often have a wide variety of different requests. FNI adapted to create mobile software and uses custom approaches to acquire new clients.

Cater your automation. Your business will be most efficient if you repeat the same process but people are not “one-size-fits-all.” Remember that FNI created software that could be either entirely automated or run manually for a hands-on approach. Your process might need the same flexibility.

Integrate entirely with the means for your success. Find out what is critical and put all your resources towards that entity. The crux of loans are credit, so FNI integrated with all the major credit bureaus.

Network with the competition. Long-term success often depends on expansion, so don’t be afraid to share resources in the short-term if it means building contacts and pulling in third parties.

Focus on your client. It’s no big secret to keep a client by making sure they are happy, but FNI took on the challenge of using software to stay in touch with clients. Their clients have access to their decision data and decision-makers look at customer relationship data.

Use these tips to achieve success as you automate and facilitate technology to run your business. Your business model might not be centered on loan origination software, but improving is always a suggested option.

The Ins and Outs of Sports Marketing

The Ins and Outs of Sports Marketing

All You Need to Know About Sports Marketing

Sports marketing is a fairly broad term. It’s used quite a bit by people in marketing and by people who like to think they’re familiar with advertising and marketing. Chances are if you’re using the phrase “sports marketing” or “sports advertising“, you’re probably using it correctly, that’s how broad of a term it is. Since the term is so broad, there’s a lot to sports marketing and sports advertising. It’s a popular major among younger guys who like sports but could never play sports. Sports marketing has this sort of charismatic and hip vibe. Whenever a sports marketing firm is portrayed in TV and movies, there are always famous athletes roaming around some vintage hip start-up. As one would expect, that’s not always the case.

We talked with St. Louis sports marketing and advertising firm, Caprola Squad to learn the ins and outs of sports marketing.

Sports Advertising on a NASCAR

What Exactly is Sports Marketing?

Sports marketing is a subdivision of marketing, as one would expect. However, in sports marketing, sports advertisers and marketers advertise and market multiple aspects of sports. Unlike with other types of marketing, you don’t just market one thing. Sports marketing includes a variety of subdivisions within itself. Just think about the last time you saw sports in marketing, it probably wasn’t marketing the sport itself. Here are three general categories in sports marketing.

1. Marketing a League or Sport

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably seen ads for Monday Night Football or just general ads for the NFL. If you live in a US city with a large soccer base or in Europe, there are frequent ads for the various soccer leagues including the English Premier League or La Liga. During the Olympics or around other major sporting events, you’ll often time see ads for sports involved in the competition. This is marketing a league or a sport. This category is similar to the third category, however, keep in mind, this type of marketing is usually just to get people to watch or attend a sporting event. This type of sports marketing has very little to do with encouraging participation.

Marketing a league of a sport can come in a variety of forms. The most prominent form in the United States is via TV or other media. Twitter and Facebook ads are accompanied by NFL ads during commercial breaks. Print ads are becoming less common but simply visit a major sports city and take the train or a bus. Chances are you’ll see an ad for their most popular teams. A third way sports marketers market certain leagues or sports is co-branding merchandise.

Think back to the most recent summer Olympics. Think back to all of the merchandise you saw with the Brazil 2016 logo. You probably saw the colors yellow and green a lot more than usual. That’s because major companies like Nike, Adidas, Coke, and McDonald’s work with sports marketers to co-brand their products to push the Olympics and the sports featured in the games.

2. Marketing a Product Using Sports

The second category, marketing a product using a sport or athlete is often what we think about when we hear the term sports marketing or sports advertising. When college guys (and gals) say they want to get into sports marketing, they mean this type of marketing. When marketers and advertisers market products or brands using sports, they get to interact with famous athletes and market the latest products. It’s a very appealing field. There’s also a lot of money to be made in this field.

This is the field in which Caprola Squad specializes. Caprola Squad is unique in that they’ve recognized a change away from traditional marketing and towards stories and experiences. This is a general trend to captivate new, more hip, and younger audiences. Just think back to some of the more gritty and abstract shoe commercials or Nike commercials. Right now, this category is all about who can create the most visually stunning and viral ad campaigns.

The purpose of this category is less to market the sport and more to use the popularity of sports to market a product or an entire brand. You have this category to thank for the rise of Nike.

3. Marketing a Sport to Encourage Participation

Like I said, this category is a lot like the first category. Marketers and advertisers work to market or advertise the sport. However, when talking about the third and final category, marketers are doing so to encourage participation in a sport. This is called grassroots sports marketing. Grassroots sports marketing is done by major leagues, major brands that sell sporting equipment, and even governments promoting activity among youth. There’s often less money to be made in this field and less of a market so, as noted, this isn’t typically a field in which sports marketing or advertising firms like to focus.

What is Net Neutrality?

What is Net Neutrality?

A Popular Buzzword, What Is Net Neutrality

Yesterday, Wednesday, July 12th, tech companies across the United States united in their stand to protect net neutrality.  Advocacy groups and major companies all rallied in protest against the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to get rid of net neutrality.  Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook were just a few of the major tech companies that ran ads, alerted users of the proposed changes, or took action to stop the FCC’s efforts.  Though Wednesday was dedicated to net neutrality, net neutrality has always been a popular buzzword.  The word itself dates back more than ten years but the concept goes beyond that.  Here’s a short and sweet explanation of net neutrality.

It might seem too good to be true but you can actually just look at the word and break down both Net and Neutrality to understand what it means.  Net refers to the internet while Neutrality refers to, well, being neutral.  Net neutrality is all about the internet being a free and neutral environment.  Since its creation, that’s what the internet has always been, free and neutral.  When the internet became a staple in consumer households and later on our cell phones, the federal government actually stepped in and defined what net neutrality met.  Under the Obama Administration in 2010, net neutrality became policy and it appeared that the internet would remain a neutral environment in which data is shared and communication made.

Net neutrality doesn’t face much opposition on the consumer side.  Keeping the internet a neutral and free place is fantastic consumers.  Here’s why.

A perfect counterexample to net neutrality is cable TV or flying first class on an airline.  Regarding cable TV, TV isn’t neutral.  Sure everyone in the US has access to basic local affiliates, however, there are better and more attractive options.  That’s why cable and satellite providers created TV packages.  There are usually four or five packages from which consumers can choose.  Based on how important TV is to the consumer, the consumer will pick the package that best fits their needs.  Compare cable TV to the internet, the internet is like cable TV except they’re aren’t any packages.  There are different ways in which you can access the internet and speeds vary but once you’re connected, all content is available to you.

Unless you’re on a data restricted cell phone plan, data isn’t typically restricted.  Moreso, internet service providers (ISPs) can’t limit data on particular sites.  That means everyone using the internet can access any site and won’t have to worry about being charged a “premium site” fee.  The internet is available to almost everyone and once you’re on, you can do almost anything worry free.  However, the Trump Administration wants to change that.

Motivated by the idea of “conservative ideals and economics”, the new FCC director hopes that net neutrality will be a thing of the past.  The new FCC director, Ajit V. Pai, wants the internet to be a place of fees and charges.  Eliminating net neutrality would allow ISPs to charge more for accessing certain sites or using data on one site versus another site.  It creates a cable TV situation where certain sites are then packaged and consumers can be charged for those packaged sites.  It can also allow ISPs to restrict access to competitor’s sites and sites that use more data.

Essentially, eliminating net neutrality makes the internet just another online marketplace that isn’t free to move about.  If net neutrality is eliminated, you could actually have to pay a premium to use Google over Bing.

Instagram is a Coffee Shops Best Friend

Instagram is a Coffee Shops Best Friend

Coffee Shops Must Embrace Social Media to Flourish

According to Pew Research, in 2016, 86% of adults aged 18 to 29 used at least one social media site.  That same report found that 80% of 30 to 49-year-olds used at least one social media site.  Like it or not, social media is here to stay.  Millenials love to share their thoughts, feelings, and activities whether or not people want to hear it.  Though millennials love sharing, the next generation, those who are now ages 13 to 17 love to share even more that past generations.  Fueled by the growth of Snapchat, new features on Instagram, and the growing popularity of Twitter, social media continues to have a large presence and impact in and on our daily lives.  Sure, a lot of negativity stems from social media, however, there are a lot of ways in which social platforms can play a positive role.  Social media can even act as the perfect free marketing tool.  That said, here’s why it’s essential that places like coffee shops and restaurants embrace social media.

Things are changing.  Millenials have, for the most past, graduated college and are finally earning a significant disposable income.  Whether or not older generations want to accept it or not, businesses need to cater to the generation who will determine the trends for the next couple decades.  The generation determining what businesses and trends will survive are like minded and have just a few simple demands.  Young people want to be able to visit trendy, unique, and innovative restaurants and coffee shops that give the feeling of personalized service.  One way in which restaurants and coffee shops can cater to younger generations is by creating a brand that people want to share.

There’s a Reason People Don’t Post About Visits to McDonald’s

When the majority of people visit a fast food or traditional chain restaurant, they don’t post about their visit.  Why?  Fast food and places like Applebee’s or Chili’s are generic and boring.  They don’t do a great job catering to young people and there’s no reason millennials or young people would want to talk about their visit to these restaurants.  Though a coffee shop or local eatery might be trendy now, that might not always be the case.  However, if cafes and bistros want to remain on the map, it’s important to embrace social media.  Here’s how.

Coffee shops and cafes are in a prime position to create a personalized experience for the social sharers.  Younger generations are opinionated about where they go to get coffee and are loyal to certain establishments.  Places with a unique and trendy vibe already have an advantage.  However, there are a few other steps that coffee shops could take to win over young people.  Using the embrace social media model, one very simple addition to a coffee shop is adding something like custom coffee sleeves and custom coasters.  Why?  Funny or innovative custom coffee sleeves will trigger someone to share a picture of their beverage on social media.  Using custom printed coffee sleeves with trendy branding, that picture on social media will attract dozens of new customers.  Other musts that will create a stir on social media is adopting the latest coffee beverages including nitro-brewed coffee and fair trade organic roasts.  Creating a line of to-go cold beverages in customized cans or cups can also help a coffee shop attract new customers.

Social Media Release Criticism: Nine Points to Consider

Social Media Release Criticism: Nine Points to Consider

The recent release of the Social Media Groups Digital Snippets social media release (SMR) template caused a wave of excitement and criticism, both on and off line. Just to recap some of the posts:

Shannon Whitley: “There seem to be more entries in the world of SMNR creation tools, which is great news because we can all benefit from this creativity. However, Id like to throw out a challenge to folks like Edelman, WebITPR, Social Media Group, et. al. Ive been working on hRelease for several months now. Its supposed to be a community effort that will help move the SMNR distribution process forward.”

Jason Falls: “The template basically says you can share information about this product or company (Digital Snippits was developed in Social Media Groups work with Ford Motor Company) but we dont really want to make it easy for you to see an independent third partys review of it. in my opinion, it isnt a step forward in the evolution of the social media release.”

Chris Heuer does a nice video recap on the history of SMRs and their purpose.

Off-line criticism that Ive been privy to:

  • Digital snippets is really just PR Newswires MultiVu socialized
  • Lack of comments on Digital Snippet SMRs
  • Ive also received a couple of remarks from folks who seem miffed that newbies and sophomores with at most two or three years of social media experience are disturbing the process. That not enough research has been done.

Thoughts Moving Forward

Before moving forward, I advocate for SMRs. They’re in Now Is Gone and one of the most successful posts on this blog was an SMR case study.

Press releases are not exciting documents, often loaded with spin and jargon. While still a tool in the communications professionals arsenal, they do not comprise strategy, nor should they be relied upon as ground-breaking news mechanisms. Social media environments require a different way of disseminating news so that content creators, individual stakeholders reading social media, and possibly journalist can get this information. Enter the SMR.

But to date the SMR has not been widely adopted (though picking up momentum), and there is increasingly greater separation on SMR thought and purpose. The following candid points seek to address some of the criticism to date, and perhaps help SMR developers create widespread adoption:

  1. SMRs and press releases are tools, not strategies. If you dont have a great story to tell, they wont work. Many folks have said this, and this fact should always frame SMR discussion.
  2. We are inside the bubble, and much of the discussion to date revolves around technical merits (comments, MultiVu, YouTube or not) and means nothing to the average PR practitioner.
  3. The average PR practitioner wants a tool that serves a function: Communication with social media communities. Adoption of SMRs relies on intelligent discourse about what social media stakeholders want and need, not what we the PR 2.0 community thinks. Maggie Fox and SMG have done some research to this end, and it shows in her template. Thats why it is a step forward. Sharing this research would be helpful.
  4. Discourse needs to revolve around actual experiences on what has worked and what has not. Again, inside the bubble chatter means little, what does mean something is results. Enough SMRs have been published that we should be able to discern what works. That means people need to share their results.
  5. The ideal result from an SMR should be to engage social media communities, in turn causing community members to create their own discussions. Kami Huyse and I call this storyboarding.
  6. Whats becoming very apparent in my experience and from seeing other SMRs is they are not ideal vehicles for hosting conversation. The fundamentalist view that comments must be part of an SMR seems ridiculous to me. A nice value-added feature, but here are eight ways to have a better conversation: 1) Post SMR in blog and ask for comments, 2) better yet, write a post thats more conversation in tone 3) Use Facebook Ask Qs on the SMRs topic 4) YouTube/Seesmic 5) Utterz 6) Solicit feed back from bloggers before releasing 7) Twitter it with Qs. 8) Get a guest spot on an established BlogTalkRadio show. Etc., etc.
  7. Old-timers in the social media space need to remember theres a great influx of new readers and minds. They would be better served embracing these people, and making their past content easily available than kvetching about how no one researches.
  8. Old-timers in social media need to realize that innovation and adoption will occur with or without them. History means nothing when people with two years, two months or two days of social media experience are trying to create a solution that will work for their companies and paying clients.
  9. A reality check is in order, too. Dismissing people for lack of social media experience when theyve embraced it 1) pushes them away; 2) reduces the amount of valid real world marketing experience in the process. My blog is two years old. Yet one of my first article assignments professionally in 1994 was on this crazy technology called Mosaic. 15 years of technology PR and marketing experience later, I find this elitist point-of-view to be invalid and insecure.

Collectively we can do more than individually. Collaboration works better than ivory tower development.

My one major concern is that technical form must serve functional need. Great technical toys without purpose dont help us. Web 2.0 has been great, but we need to keep our eye on the prize, which is business function. The SMR has great potential for communications professionals, but its the entire online communications industrys responsibility to participate and help make something that will work.

To continue the discussion, Shannon Whitley has agreed to a Buzz Bin interview. In addition, after SHIFT releases its next version of the SMR template, there will be a roundtable on SMRs hosted on Now Is Gone. Todd Defren, Jason Falls, Maggie Fox, B.L. Ochman and Brian Solis have agreed to participate.

Women Snubbed in Top Ten Speakers List, Industry in General

Women Snubbed in Top Ten Speakers List, Industry in General

In a blog post listing the top ten social media speakers, The Speakers Group (TSG) listed voices for your consideration. Not one of the speakers was a woman, highlighting a much larger social media services industry problem where women are often overlooked for top speaking gigs, and don’t rank as well as men.

Ironically, this topic first came to mind last week when Allyson Kapin a.k.a. @womenwhotech led a spirited DC Media Makers session (pictured below) on the same topic. So when I saw the TSG post, I felt compelled to write. I come to this discussion as someone who organizes BlogPotomac, a successful, regional social media conference that intentionally highlights female speakers; as a blogger who has discussed the social media and PR industrys glass ceiling both in the office and in the blogosphere; and, yes, as a man who speaks frequently on social media.

There are three problems in the TSG post: 1) A lack of transparency and professional responsibility in the blog post itself; 2) the complete snubbing of women in a highly questionable top ten list, and 3) the larger industry issue that conference organizers apparently want male speakers more than women. For those of you who are used to short posts, I apologize in advance. I am going to handle each of these three issues independently.

Goodness Gracious, Great Blogs of Fire

Goodness Gracious, Great Blogs of Fire

Stephanie Massler examines how brand enthusiasm impacts media buying on Doe Anderson. Stephanie provides two thoughtful examples and offers five guidelines for an advanced media purchasing framework. These include focusing not on how many people you reach, but in how you are able to connect with your audience. She also suggests focusing on your cost per engagement. Visit Stephanie’s post for her full details and share your thoughts.

Is “trading off people’s feelings for page views and Twitter followers” worth it? Jason Calacanis’ email – posted on – is a power reminder of the importance of remaining human online. Jason shares his firsthand account of Josh Harris’ story, and he pulls from his own experiences to make a statement that there needs to be more online empathy. Read Jason’s powerful email and remember his words as you contribute online.

Are you looking for additional opinion on the brand winners and losers from the Super Bowl? Rohit Bhargava’s says, “Some of the best campaigns of the Super Bowl season were efforts launched online or that had a significant online component, but the fact remains that many Super Bowl ads simply didnt work this year.” Rohit offers valuable lessons for why the losers failed, and substantiates on why others were successful. Read Rohit’s analysis, and share your own thoughts on Influential Marketing Blog.

“Pop quiz: What was the brand or branded product most often mentioned in social media at the end of last year?” asks Abbey Klaassen of Abbey shares with her readers those brands which led the internet with the most social media mentions. Abbey’s data was provided by Virtue, and it examined approximately 2,000 brands. It is no surprise that the iPhone topped the list, but see what other brands rounded out the top 50.

(Disclosure: Network Solutions is a client of Livingston Communications) On KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog, Katie looks at how social media, especially Twitter, can be used quickly to take advantage of a marketing opportunity. Katie offers four lessons from Network Solutions Twitter coupon campaign, which ran in response to GoDaddy’s Super Bowl advertisements. Katie says, “Social media offers an incredible opportunity to organizations that listen carefully and can move quickly in response to a Twitstorm.”

On PR Squared Todd Defren asks buyers of PR services to take a different approach when they are not satisfied with their current results. Todd suggests, “If your problems are related to the performance/creativity of your team but not to the agency’s training and capabilities, consider asking for a brand new team, instead of firing your agency outright.” Todd’s point is that part of a successful working relationship is developing chemistry, and a different team within a larger agency may be able to offer a better chemistry.

One Dimensional Social Media Sucks

One Dimensional Social Media Sucks

Ever since Forrester put out its report stating that consumers don’t trust 86 percent of corporate blogs, there have been a plethora of blog check up, and reasons why posts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • A blog should feel like a gift (Kami Huyse)
  • Health Check: How trusted is your blog (Jeremiah Owyang)
  • No News Here (Debbie Weil)
  • On the Other Hand, Maybe Your Company Shouldn’t Blog (Mitch Joel)

In the end, consumers don’t trust corporate blogs because they are one dimensional pieces of propaganda, and no one want to read corporate drivel (see Blog Council post on topic). It sucks!

Really, it’s that simple.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone: Social Media

One dimensional social media is about me, my personal brand (good Conversation Agent discussion here), my company, our products, buy, buy! Note the absence of real world matters, meaningful dialogues about better products or fixing broken ones, discussion of marketplace problems, meaningful macro trends, cross-links, comments or community issues. There is no substance in your average corporate blog, Twitter microblog ,influencer relations effort or Facebook engagement. Heck, for most corporate communicators engaging on that level is like visiting the Twilight Zone.

This is something that gets to the very heart of social media. People are not an audience, they are a community that wants to be engaged, not messaged at! Want to be safe? Publish a newsletter. Want to build relationships and have meaningful dialogue, then stop publishing content and participate!

Participation is marketing, not tossing a bunch of chic advertising agency designed contests at the blogosphere. Creating meaningful calls to actions that people care about, that’s social media engagement. Create environments for people to engage and get out of their way! Help others achieve their needs and wants. Resolve their problems! That’s what companies should do (case studies here and here).

It’s common sense, but it’s not safe. Because it involves risk, it involves putting the company out there, and taking feedback. It means talking about things other than you or your organizational endeavors. It even means being wrong sometimes.

86 percent stinks. I don’t anticipate that changing too much more towards the positive. Why? Because PR, marketing and corporate communications are incapable of performing on the front line. No matter how much smack they talk.