Paper or Plastic?

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Both! When it comes to generating strong buzz around a client, both print and online coverage are absolutely key. Does one trump the other? Not at all. In fact, if anything, the two mediums complement each other to a T. Despite this powerful combination, however, many clients find themselves leaning towards one or the other. As communications professionals, it is our job to educate them on the powerful partnership between print and online.

Though today’s brands are tuned in to their online presence, it’s that tangibility of print coverage in a newspaper or popular magazine that gets them going. Passing articles around the board meeting table, including coverage in valuable sales kits, having features on hand at trade shows – all of these are fantastic ways for clients to leverage print coverage in the pursuit of company success. For years, print has been the way of life for communications, and in its history we continue to draw on its value in our everyday conversations with the media.

Despite the craze for print that clients crave, online coverage can in no way be discounted. We’ve seen the power of “unique visitors per month”, a number that if high enough can have us on the edge of our seats in excitement. Whether it be via tablet, smart phone, desktop or laptop, each one of us is plugged into the online world – social media as well in many cases – gathering details about the latest in breaking news. With such a vast audience glued to these screens of information, it’s essential for brands to be front and center in the online community.

What’s next? Now is the time to shed light on the value of an online and print media combination for successful brand amplification, product placement and customer expansion, not to mention a whole new level of consumer interactivity. With a plastic mouse in one hand and the daily paper in the other, never before has morning coffee been so complete!

Call to Action

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A prospective client is on your Website – you have lots to offer but how do you engage him? An effective call to action is the linchpin of a successful site and involves not only requesting your visitors to do something, but also being creative in your presentation.

It’s not enough to ask prospective clients to “visit our website.” It’s a very common mantra, but has little impact because it’s not specific. Give people a reason to visit your page and a way to engage further once they get there. For example, ask people to not only visit your website or “like” your Facebook page, but to also comment on a specific question or vote on his/her favorite product.

The true goal is to have customer engagement without even asking. Giving fans of your brand the opportunity to give their two cents on industry topics or product upgrades will encourage them to go out of their way to give their input. Create a call to action that is so effective people don’t even see it as a formal call to action.

It’s easy to ask people to like, retweet or click on something (and it can be effective too) but don’t settle.  For instance, encourage customers to keep track of a product from inception to completion by creating a journey to share. Creating a story for the brand and encouraging users to follow the action is a creative way to effectively raise brand awareness.

Great content leads to engagement and a call to action will get your company its highest levels of feedback. Part of your strategy should be to create content that will always elicit a response. If it is done right, it can generate a real measurable return on investment.

Guest Commentary from EcoDog, Inc: 5 Ways to Keep Your Cool While Reducing Energy

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While summer temperatures are close to the 100 degree mark in places across the country, it can be a challenge to reduce energy while the air conditioner is going full force. Here are five things you can do to reduce energy consumption and costs while keeping your cool:

1. Run or install ceiling fans to circulate the air instead of using the air conditioner. Today’s ceiling fans are very economical and have various settings including one to reverse the blades to optimize air circulation.

2.  If your home is well insulated, keep your windows closed to keep in the cooler air. If not, it’s wise to look into energy saving insulation. And, you may qualify for a 10 percent Federal energy tax credit for buying qualified energy efficient improvements. To qualify for the tax credit, the energy improvement must meet or exceed the criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code. The home insulation improvements must be made inside the taxpayer’s main home in the United States.

3. Run dishwashers and washer/dryers later in the evening, during non-peak usage times. The electric utilities are charging us all more to use appliances during peak times. By running appliances later in the evening, you’ll save $$ and keep you house cooler too!

4. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and don’t forget to use more energy-efficient landscape lighting! This is an area that many homeowners forget to check. Did you check the timer to adjust for longer daylight hours? Can you reduce the number of hours that the lights are on?5.

5. Invest in a home energy monitoring system. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. By understanding where you’re using the most energy – whether it’s the washer/dryer or your kid’s gaming center, by identifying the energy hogs in your home you can adjust the time and length of operation. Or, you might find that the extra refrigerator you have in the garage or man-cave is not up to EnergyStar® standards and is costing you a bundle to power. Easy-to-use monitoring software can help you understand your energy usage habits and arm you with information that can help you not only understand where you’re using the most energy – room by room – but will also help you understand your utility bill! The investment is well worth it and will pay for itself in no time. Typical users of our home energy management system, FIDO®, are seeing 20-30 percent savings.

Here’s to more money in your pocket and staying cool!

 

Twitter Down: #Olympics to Blame?

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Today, look social networkers across the globe were unable to access their Twitter accounts for the second time in just over a month.  Initial stories pointed towards a possible link to the 2012 Olympics which start tomorrow (7/27).   The notion seemed very possible as earlier this week, a twitter spokesperson told the Associated Press (AP), “There were more tweets about the 2012 Olympics on a single day last week than there were during the entire Beijing Games.”  However, it has since been confirmed that the downtime is a result of something greater than the mass volume of #Olympics tweets.

According to the AP, the outage was due to a double failure in its data centers.  Twitter’s services rely on two parallel systems (when one fails, the other takes over).  However, today Twitter’s redundant setup experienced failure with both systems, making the widely used social media service unavailable for two hours.  On June 21, Twitter experienced a similar outage which was caused by “a cascading bug in one of our infrastructure components.”  No comments have been made linking these two instances.

DOE and Software Developers are Driving Energy Saving Tools

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The U.S. Energy Department’s Apps for Energy competition is offering $100, in prizes to software developers for the best new apps that help utility customers make the most out of their Green Button electricity usage data. Green Button is an open standard for sharing electricity data that will be available to millions of utility customers. Understanding energy usage is at the pinnacle of making better informed energy decisions and reducing costs.

Having easy-to-use and understandable insight into energy usage puts the power back into the consumer’s hands, literally. Saying that I used 50 kilowatts of power last month on my utility bill is not useful. This lack of meaningful information from utilities has launched a new industry known as Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS). These systems offer consumers an energy management tool that is tailored to their particular lifestyle. And, thanks to some very creative folks in the industry, many of these tools are very user-friendly.  One software tool in particular from EcoDog can not only show you where you’re using energy and how to save dollars, they’re app can show you how much money you’d save installing solar or predict how much it will cost you to run your electric vehicle. Very cool!

The Smart Grid is a brave new world for utilities and thanks to open standards, developers will be instrumental in creating useful tools to help us understand energy usage better and positively change our behaviors.

Yep, there’s an app for that…now, if I could just move to the next level in Angry Birds!

PJ Jennings

© Copyright Jennings & Associates Communications, Inc.