Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rigorous Political Debate is in the American DNA

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

It is in the American DNA to speak our mind, and today’s political debate is on!

Our founding fathers started it all with the first cries for liberty in the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution to ensuring American citizens’ the right of free speech with the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution – it’s in the DNA of the American culture and the American people to speak our mind politically.

Anticipating the 2012 election year, everyone is talking politics - with cab drivers, bartenders, hair stylists, fellow employees, friends, family, and just about everyone. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams would be proud.

Today’s political debate is on in America from the Internet to family dining room tables. President Obama and Congress have sparked a passion in the American people on all sides of every issue and within all political parties. The debt ceiling, annual deficit spending, and an accumulated debt in the trillions have brought citizen and politician debate to a fever pitch.

Americans are engaged and debating their political positions with passion fully exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Voters are joining Facebook political pages, following politicians on Twitter, posting political commentary on blogs, writing editorials to traditional newspapers to express their views, and sending politicians emails and letters directly.

We are watching political programs on television or the Internet, and we are reading political themed books to the extent these books are on numerous best-seller lists. Political speakers are a big draw on college campuses. Political blogs and news articles abound on the Internet with a huge following and comment participation.

Over the last two years, Americans have attended political rallies, protests, and town hall meetings in record numbers and are speaking their mind.

Americans question our government and its policies, simply because we can and we care. Voters express their positive and negatives opinions of President Obama and members of Congress without fear of censorship or reprisal.

We debate specific legislation and the way in which our tax dollars are being spent by Congress. As was the debate with the framers of the U.S. Constitution, Americans are discussing what role government can and should have in our lives and businesses by constitutional law.

Many are exploring the benefits of our Christian founding and our capitalist roots. Many declare in the debate our country was not founded on Christian principles at all. Many today know the definitions of capitalism, socialism, Marxism, and communism which they may not have thought about or discussed a year ago.

We are discussing the differences between these political philosophies from an American perspective. We are discussing whether or not America is in fact being fundamentally transformed by this President and Congress with a legislative agenda; and, if so, what this change really means in America and for Americans.

Americans are discussing the difference between a democracy and a republic. This all makes for a passionate and sometimes heated debate no matter which political party and policies one is aligned.

Americans are getting back in touch with the U.S. Constitution. For the first time since high school, many Americans are reading the Constitution again, and many are specifically looking up the 10th Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

In today’s world of 2,000+ page legislative health care bills coming out of Congress, a 48 page Pocket United States Constitution that also includes the Bill of Rights, Amendments 11-27, the Declaration of Independence, and a complete index of the Constitution is a big seller and even being sold on eBay and other sources online in volume packages.

Americans are questioning if various federal legislation that is being considered or has passed is “constitutional”. We are debating our beliefs and positions on the original framers’ intent of the specific rights given to the people, states, and the federal government in the U.S. Constitution in particular.

Political comments and debate are all over the Internet and social media platforms. Voters are engrossed in the political debate, and social media is a perfect platform as evidenced by thousands of political themed pages and groups on Facebook and profiles on Twitter. YouTube has political videos and clips too numerous to count. LinkedIn, the all professional social media site, now has raging political debate in many of its discussion groups.

The rhetoric is usually civil, but sometimes it is not. It is not uncommon for one to have been friended, followed, hidden, defriended, unfollowed, and even blocked on social media by friends and acquaintances for their political views.

Everyone has a right to say whatever they want with a few lawful exceptions, yet there is also an ethical responsibility in free speech and a true logic in effective debate that does not persuade by spouting political spin and myth as fact.

With our 1st Amendment rights comes the common sense responsibility to debate our position on issues and not with demonizing a political party or personal attacks and name calling.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, before he was a GOP presidential candidate, held the first Facebook town hall meeting on March 31, 2010. It was well received, and it proved out to be a great use of social media to provide a real-time, transparent, economical, and interactive way to talk with voters.

President Obama held a town hall meeting on Facebook April 20, 2011, and one on Twitter July 6, 2011. They were both well received with thousands attending.

Americans are tuning in to politically based television programs, especially on cable networks like CNN and Fox, with increasing numbers beginning with the 2008 presidential campaign and election. Whether you like Fox News or hate it, there is no denying FNC program The O’Reilly Factor and the recently departed Glenn Beck program has dominated the cable ratings.

Glenn Beck was the only person in America, other than Oprah Winfrey, whom was able to catapult a book to the top of popular best seller book lists simply by mentioning the book on his program – and, these were political and history themed books.

Whether you drink coffee, tea, kool-aide or just plain water, everyone has an opinion. There are usually very different ones in the same family. In my own family of four sisters, debate is lively as I suspect it is in every American family.

One sister is a die-hard Republican, and one is a died-in-the-wool Democrat. One believes President Obama wants to move America to a European style socialist culture, and one believes social justice policies which redistribute wealth are just fine and fair.

One thinks the new health care legislation is unconstitutional, and one believes everyone should have “free” health care. One was upset over the check she had to write when she filed her taxes in April, since she felt the government already took too much out of her pay all year. And one does not pay federal income tax and thinks a hike in the tax rates of the rich is the only way to pay for needed government programs.

One can not wait for the 2012 election which she feels will surely replace President Obama, and the other thinks that sister is just an Obama hater. Yep, Elizabeth and Rosie are still debating from the view inside of my family.

The only hot button issue we all seem to agree on is same-sex marriage should be legal, and we were happy to see the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell policy repealed. Of course other family members then debate us all on our equal human rights position and the definition of marriage.

Thousands of Americans do not just express opinions with each other. Many also call their representatives in Washington or write them as part of the American political debate – in fact, many in 2010 and 2011 have done this for the first time in their lives. Every day Americans want and expect a seat at the table of political discussion and debate.

Some say America‘s best days are behind us. I do not believe that. As 2010 and 2011 already reflects, Americans are not complacent about our Constitution, politics, politicians, and government policy. The majorities of Americans love their country and are willing to debate for their vision for it - no matter what side of the political isle they support.

Our founding fathers are looking down on us and smiling. They are pleased we are proud of the political roots they firmly planted and that we are still discussing their work and legacy. Perhaps they would have liked the Internet, and without a doubt, each would have had their own political blog and offered Facebook and Twitter town hall meetings.

They are fist-bumping each other that we, as American citizens, continue to engage in passionate political debate; and that we regularly utilize our 1st Amendment right of free speech to do so without fear or censorship. This is one of the ways we honor our heritage and their legacy. The political debate is definitely on in 2011 and into 2012 - as it should be by the intended design of the American culture’s DNA.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

“What’s that mean?” – Common Social Media & Mobile Acronyms List

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

Have you recently read a news article or email at work on social media or mobile technology that included two or more letter acronyms wondering, “What’s that mean?” Have you sat in a meeting at work to discuss a social media or and mobile marketing plan hearing those same acronyms and was too embarrassed to ask, “What’s that mean?”

I am the go-to-girl for family, friends, and many business associates for social media network and blog how-to questions as well as mobile app and general technology questions and ideas. Something I noticed recently is how much I take for granted in talking to people about this.

According to a new study by Forrester Research, “Now more than four in five US online adults use social media at least once a month, and half participate in social networks like Facebook.”

Of course most are not social media experts or strategists. They don’t necessarily use it in their everyday work for example like I do. I often answer questions with common social media and mobile acronyms without thinking about it. More times than not, I am then asked “What’s that mean?”

There are several good social media term glossaries on the Internet, so I decided to provide a quick list of the common “acronyms” spelled out for the ones I come across the most in my social media based work. I think the majority of people know what the common social network and text acronyms mean such as LOL, OMG, IMHO, or the like; so here is my list for the common professional-use acronyms.

Following the social media list is a mobile list I most often see in my work. Did you know Mobile means Mobile Source Emission Model? I didn’t until recently.

Social Media:

AJAX – Asynchronous Java Script and XML

API – Application Program Interface

APP – Application

BP - Brand Page

BP – Business Plan

CB - Click Bank

CGM – Consumer Generated Media

CPA - Cost Per Action

CPC - Cost Per Click

CPI - Cost Per Install

CPM - Cost Per Mile

CR – Conversion Rate

CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets

DN – Domain Name

EFF - Electronic Frontier Foundation

EM – Email Marketing

EZINE – Electronic Magazine

FAVICON – Favorite Icon

FB – Facebook Social Network

FFA – Free For All Links

FP - Fan Page

FTP – File Transfer Protocol

GPL - General Public License

HTML - Hypertext Markup Language

IM – Instant Message or Messaging

IM – Internet Marketing

IMAP - Internet Message Access Protocol

IP - Internet Protocol Address

JAV or JVS – Java Script

LI – LinkedIn All Professional Social Network

MRR – Master Resale Rights

MS – MySpace Social Network

NAV – Navigation

NGO – Nongovernmental Organization

OID – Open ID

OM – Open Media

OP – Open Platform

OS – Open Source

PLR – Private Label Rights

PM – Private Message

POST – People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology

PPC – Pay Per Click

PPL – Pay Per Lead

PPP – Pay Per Post

PR – Page Rank

PRT – Please Retweet

PSM – Paid Search Marketing

RBOX – Resource Box or Bio Box Area

RL – Reciprocal Link

ROR – Ruby on Rails Programming Language

RR – Resell Rights

RSS – Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary

RT - Retweet

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SES – Search Engine Strategy

SG – Social Graph

SIG – Signature, Place to put your name, URL, etc.

SM – Social Media

SMC – Social Media Campaign

SMM – Social Media Marketing

SMO – Social Media Optimization

SMPR – Social Media Press Release

SMS – Short Message Service

SN – Social Network

SROI - Social Return on Investment

TBL – Triple Bottom Line

TC – Tracking Code for Payment

TOS – Terms of Service

UGC – User Generated Content

URL – Unique Resource Locator

UV – Unique Site Visitors

VM – Viral Marketing

VPS – Virtual Private Server

VW – Virtual World

WD – Web Directory

WHOIS – Displays domain owner and host location detail.

WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get generally referring to screen to print.

XML – Extended Markup Language

As more and more people are writing and reading blogs, I am also often asked what do terms coming out of the blogosphere mean. Here is a simple explanation for the growing blog type descriptions.

FLOG – Fake blogs.

MICROBLOG – Very short blog posts like those from Twitter and Tumblr.

MOBLOG – Blog posted directly from mobile devices like cell phones.

SPLOG – Spam blogs.

VLOG – Video blogs.

Mobile Acronyms:

802.11 – IEEE Networking Standards for WiFi Equipment

1G – First Generation

2G – Second Generation

2.5G – Second and a Half Generation

3G – Third Generation (And so on with future 4G, 5G, etc.)

3GPP – Third Generation Partnership Project

3GPP2 – Third Generation Partnership Project Two

AAA – Authentication, Authorization, Accounting

AUC – Authentication Channel

BC – Billing Channel

BCH – Broadcasting Channel

BER – Bit Error Rate

BPS - Bits Per Second

BS – Base Station

BSC – Base Station Controller

BTS – Base Transceiver Station

CBR – Constant Bit Rate

CDMA - Code Division Multiple Access

CDR – Call Data Record

CN – Core Network

DCC – Digital Color Code

DTA – Data Transfer Adapter

DTC – Digital Traffic Channel

EDGE - Enhanced Data

GSM Environment

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange

EIR – Equipment Identity Register

ETP - Email Transfer Protocol

EVDO - EVolution-Data Optimized

FM – Frequency Modulation

FSK – Frequency Shift Keying

FTMD – Full Track Music Download

GPRS - General Packet Radio Service

GPS – Global Position System

GSM - Global System for Mobile communication

HLR – Home Location Register

iDEN - Integrated Dispatch Enhanced Network.

IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

IMEI - International Mobile Equipment GSM Identity Code

IMSI – International Mobile Subscriber

LBS – Location Based Services

MC – Message Center

MCS – Mobile Cellular System

MDS - Mobile Data Service

ME – Mobile Equipment

MIN – Mobile Identification Number

MMS - Multi-Media Messaging

PCN – Personal Communication Network

PCS – Personal Communication Services

PDA – Personal Digital Assistant

PIM - Personal Information Management

PPP - Point-to-Point Protocol,

POP/POP3 - Post Office Protocol or Post Office Plus 3

PTTPush to Talk or Press to Transmit

QOS – Quality of Service

QR Code - Quick Reference, Bar code to bring user to website or more information.

SIM Smart Card or Subscriber Identity Module

SIS – Subscriber Identity Security

SMS - Short Message Service

Smishing – SM Phishing

SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

SMS – Short Message Service

SMSC – Short Message Service Center

TACS – Total Access Communication System

TIA – Telecommunication Industry Association

UE – User Equipment

UMTS – Universal Mobile Telecommunication System

UPR – User Performance Requirements

USB – Universal Serial Bus

VLR – Visitor Location Register

VMS – Voice Mail System

WAP - Wireless Application Protocol

WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy.

WLAN - Wireless Local Area Network

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life in the Tech Lane with a Moving Disruption

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

It is Monday morning, and I do not know what to do with myself. I have lots to do, but I am unable to work. My network is down. It is not my desktop computer. It is the network. At least I have power.

Even with the big storm that woke me up this morning, – high Chicago winds and crashing rain – I still have power and satellite TV, so it is definitely my network’s Internet provider. The network light is flashing even after I reset it.

I call Comcast. A recording states they are aware of service interruptions due to severe weather. They are working to restore service. Local news is reporting large areas with power outage and cable and Internet disruption due to the storm.

It could be worse. At least I am not sitting here without air conditioning in July. I can brew a much needed cup of coffee. I am going to think positive. A moving disruption is part of life in the tech lane.

I will try to work anyway. I make a few business phone calls. No one is in, or their cell phones are off, or they are letting it go to voice mail. I do not think it is me – that they do not want to talk to me - but who knows? They usually respond immediately to text or email, so no, it is probably not me. I wonder, “Why am I thinking like this?”

Sitting alone with no Internet resource and ability to communicate online leaves me time to just think, and I am kind of bored. Time is moving very slow. I call a few friends and my favorite sister just to say “Hi” for a minute or two. All of these calls go to voice mail. I do not leave any.

Even my unemployed friend did not answer her phone. Oh wait, she just sent me a text, “Impossible to talk right now with my son around. Everything ok?”

I could call my mom. She loves it when I call her out of the blue. I have not talked to her in a week or two. No, she is probably having coffee and danish with her friends. She is a social butterfly and always out somewhere. She loves bakery goods. I really need to get to work.

Another friend texts me, “Saw you called. Are you ok? Need something?” I do not call either friend back. I was just calling to say “Hi” anyway. I check the network. It is still down. I go back to just thinking.

It is strange now days that everyone has a phone, one they even carry around with them everywhere, and yet, lots of people do not really call to just say “Hi” anymore. People use their phones to do everything except literally speak on it to people it seems. Most people seem afraid to miss a call though. People are always busy.

Time is moving slower without my Internet capability. Random thoughts are moving faster without it.

The world is kind of funny now. Online friends, some whom you have never met in person or may not actually have their phone number, comment on your every day life posts on Facebook. They text you, tweet you, email you, and iChat you just to say “Hi” or ask “What’s up?” These conversations are usually without any real purpose – kind of like a real phone call just to say “Hi.” I guess they do video chat.

My third friend texts me in response to my earlier call, “You called. Are you ok?” Back to just thinking.

It is odd that people will leave a comment on your wall on Facebook expressing they miss you or love you, but they do not seem to call you to express this as much. They let your calls go to voice mail, because they have busy lives.

My sister returns my call. She greets me, “Is everything all right?” I explain I just called to say “Hi.” I explain my network problems. I tell her I am kind of bored waiting for it to come back up, and I need to get to work. I need email and the Internet to do what I have to do. She asked me if there was a storm in Chicago.

I ask her if anybody just calls to say “Hi” anymore. She answers she knows what I mean. She tells me when she texts her friends, they respond immediately. She says if she calls, they never pick up but will text immediately asking if everything is ok.

She notes if she leaves a voice message, it takes them 2-3 days to return the call. They always start the conversation with how busy they are. She says she does not get it, but she accepts it.

Then we start talking about her latest tribulation with her blended family. I tell her the real problem is she is not setting expectations, and then when her unknown expectations are not met, she is frustrated.

This is not really what she wants to hear from the sister with no kids. She tells me, “You are yelling at me, and you do not understand.” She hangs up on me.

I check the Internet. It is still not up. I grab a notepad and pen and start writing down my thoughts. My friend texts me, “Need something? Can’t talk. Super busy.” I smile to myself.

This is the friend that immediately starts an iChat with me every time, and I do mean every time, I get on Facebook no matter the day or time. It drives me nuts. I have a few friends like this. It makes me go on Facebook with iChat off-line most of the time.

Facebook is not just for fun for me. Facebook is a part of the social media element to my work. I wonder, “Would these iChat addicted people pick up the phone to have a real conversation if I actually called them?”

That makes me think of the most outrageous examples of this paradigm I have experienced.

I remember when my mom went into the hospital unexpectedly with pneumonia. I am the only daughter of the four that lives in the same state as my mom, so I called my sisters with updates. After the second update call, one of my sisters told me she really did not have time to take phone calls. She asked me to text or email her mom’s updates.

One of my close friends used to text me at night a few days a week. She would carry on a full conversation for over an hour via text. I would call her, and she let it go to voice mail. I finally began texting her back “Call me.” She would usually text back, “Don’t have time to talk.”

She rarely actually called. She seems to always return my calls with a text. We do not see each other that much anymore. At the time, I remember chuckling to myself about the irony of having a conversation strictly by text on an instrument meant to speak with others.

Time is a strange thing too. Or at least the perception of it can be odd. One of my sisters drives all of us crazy, because she will not return a phone call. When you do finally talk to her, she always explains she does not have 20 minutes to talk on the phone with anyone.

This is usually being explained during an hour lunch in which she is texting the whole time. She does not think this is rude, and she does not care if you do. After all, her time to just talk is limited. Her life is very busy, and she has told you she does not like spending her time talking.

One of my business calls returned my voice mail with a text, “Email you. Skype later?”

Even on a business level I see this. I will set up an interview via email. More than a few times, the person will suggest we set up a conversation via the Internet as opposed to the phone. I like to talk to people I am interviewing at least once in person even if that is over the phone. I love technology, but maybe I am just old-fashioned in this particular instance. I wonder, “Am I old-fashioned or getting old?”

Internet service is still down. Maybe I should call my mom. You know, she is funny. She does not see the need for a computer. I got her one as a gift several years ago. After trying to show her how to use it a few times, and even writing down step-by-step directions for email and taping it to the computer, she never got the hang of it.

She never understood why everyone wants to talk on the computer. She ended up giving the computer to a neighbor’s son a couple of months later. I was not happy. But then I realized she did not know the cost of a new computer, and it did not have any real value to her. It is what it is.

I check the network. It is still down. I am annoyed now. I go to my computer and start writing this article with Word, since I do not need a connection to do this. I write from my hand written notes. It was then I realize I never write out articles longhand before I compose them. I wonder, “Does anybody do that anymore?”

A business call returned my voice mail with a text, “In meeting. Emailed research link.” My last friend text me, “Saw you called. Text if you need something.”

Winslow, my white German shepherd, bounds in my office and barks at to me to let her out. She likes to speak, howl, yodel, and moo. She would pick up the phone if I called her just to say “Hi.” She has no opposable thumbs. She is a verbal talker dog. She genuinely loves me.

I have had four cups of coffee. I need to start drinking water. I should eat something.

I go back to thinking and writing. Maybe my mom is the one whom has it right, at least on a personal level, after all. It is nice to have a real conversation and to hear real laughter instead of reading LOL.

It is fun to flip through an old photo album and actually see the aging of the photographs. I do like curling up on the couch on a snowy Chicago night to read a book instead of looking at a screen to read it. I do like the feel of the physical book and turning real pages. I like the smell of a real book too, especially old ones.

But then again, I’m half Italian with three sisters. I must say, fighting via email is the only way we all ever get to make our points without being interrupted. We certainly have fewer yelling matches and less hanging up on each other.

Note to self: Text my sister later and apologize. She was right. I do not have kids, so I may not understand. I was not yelling at her though. Pointing this out defeats my purpose and is not a good idea. I am right fighting. Let this one go.

I check again. It is still not up. I call Comcast again. I receive a constant busy signal. This is not a good sign.

I am officially irritated. It has been four hours. It feels like it has been ten hours. I remind myself life is attitude, and attitude is a personal choice no matter the circumstances.

Maybe it is time for a Plan B. Should I transfer the files I need onto my laptop and go over to Starbucks? I wonder if they have power and Internet service. I should call them.

I have a deadline today on submitting one of my series articles. It was completed last week. I should have sent it then instead of waiting until the deadline date. I wonder, “Why didn’t I?” Note to self: Send articles when completed no matter the deadline date in the future.

Local news is now reporting there are over a half a million people being affected by the power outage. Another business call returned via text, “Power down. Need 2 talk 2 u.” It occurs to me the two nearest Starbucks probably do not have power or Internet. Plan B is probably a bust.

My phone is ringing. It is my mom. She is surprised when I pick up the call. I ask her “Is everything ok?” She answers, “I just called to say hi.”

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Unemployed 2+ Years - Do Politicians Really Care?

Both Photos Credit - Flickr Common

Napa, California resident Bill Bianco’s morning routine is probably fairly similar to many Americans. Upon waking every morning, Bill jumps in the shower and takes his vitamins. He then researches and applies for “each and every possible job.”

Bill applies on job sites like Monster.com, TheLadders.com, and Yahoo.com. He researches local publications online and in print for job openings. He makes phone calls and emails his resume. He utilizes his VP/General Manager level core competencies daily in his job search - communication, management, organization, and marketing.

What Bill does next is probably not a part of the average American’s daily routine. From December 2, 2008 to today, Bill’s morning work also includes faxing a letter to California’s two U.S. Senators Feinstein and Boxer and now former House Speaker Pelosi.

Bianco’s letter addresses the Washington mindset in bailing out Wall Street and bankers to keep them solvent while ignoring the recession’s negative impact on small businesses. He explains the plight of small business owners trying desperately to keep from closing their companies that have prospered for decades prior to 2008.

Bill details exactly what happened to the company he help build for the last ten years. He notes that while companies considered “too big to fail” were saved with taxpayer’s money, small companies that paid these taxes were “wiped off the map”. He implores Washington to consider that their economic policies are not helping small companies that are failing though no fault of their own but simply because of the economy.

Bianco explicates how government policy and banks affected small business when business credit availability was pulled and disappeared at the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008 right after banks were bailed out. He recounts the death spiral of his company and the American horse breeding and sports industry.

He notes the millions and billions given in the stimulus package did not go to small business loans that could have bridged small companies through the recession crisis. This could have saved American small business closings and the unemployment rate rising. He specifically asks what options are available for failing small businesses and for constructive input from Feinstein, Boxer, and Pelosi for private sector companies.

Bill also describes the effect on business owners and company management whom are now unemployed due to the huge amount of small business closings in the last two years. Most of these former owners and managers are over 45. They now face financial devastation along with age discrimination in seeking to rebuild their lives starting with new employment. Bianco uses his personal situation as a detailed example.

Senator Feinstein did respond on May 28, 2009, approximately six months after Bill began his daily fax of his letter. Feinstein’s response appeared to be a form letter sent to those requesting information on government grants referencing a book on grants that came separately approximately three months later by mail on September 3, 2009.

Senator Boxer and Former Speaker Pelosi have not responded. Even though it has been over two years of daily faxing his letter to them with no response, Bianco continues to try to engage them in what he sees as the realities of the non-political and unconnected class of small business and people. He remains positive and optimistic, yet he is also realistic against what he knows are David and Goliath odds.

Who is William Bianco III? He is a man with a proven record of management success with core competencies in public relations, marketing, customer service, financial management, strategic planning, and process development. He has fourteen years experience in managing business and personnel from retail to professional sports. He excels at business development from conception to implementation. Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

In the words of CPA Carter E. Wicks, one of Bill’s many professional references: “I had the pleasure of working with William A. Bianco III (Bill) for several years at Sunset Stables. In a matter of a few years, he managed to transform Sunset Stables from a very small operation to a viable Thoroughbred Horse Racing and Breeding concern. It was impressive to see him take his previous business experience and apply it to an industry new to him. I feel that his passion for both horses and the sport drove him to success. His thorough research led Sunset to make many wise and profitable decisions regarding its’ breeding strategy.”

Wicks further notes, “Unfortunately, the economic downturn in 2008 hit the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Industries very hard. This combined with other factors beyond Bill’s control forced Sunset to drastically downsize. The downturn of Sunset’s fortunes was in no way reflective of the hard work and passion that Bill gave to the Stable.”

At 49, Bill has been looking for new employment for almost two years. He never dreamed he would be in this situation. His friends and family can not believe he is in this position either, and he finds those that are not facing unemployment over 45 do not understand it. Many now avoid him, because they find his situation awkward for them.

Bianco is willing to relocate and has researched and applied for every employment option available. Like many professionals out of work over 45, he has only received one interview. It was with Yellow Cab. Even with a perfect driving record, they did not call him back, for they only wanted to hire experienced drivers.

It’s very tough to find a job today. Bill is again realistic, and he is not sure which is worse in his situation - employers not wanting to interview the unemployed or candidates over 40 for open positions. Recruiters have told him, off the record of course, they know of very few companies that will interview, let alone hire, someone unemployed at his age. Bill believes he just hasn’t knocked on the right door yet.

At 43%, almost half of the long-term unemployed are 45-years and older. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. workforce’s demographics are changing with more than 50% of the workforce turning 40 years and older in 2000. It is illegal, yet it is common knowledge one of the chief reasons older workers are not hired is they are perceived as increasing health care costs to a company. Age discrimination is very hard to prove in reality.

The EEOC’s government facts include “The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training.”

“The ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.”

Adding to Bill Bianco's employment search obstacles, and millions of Americans like him, is the hiring bias well described in a May 23, 2011 Time.com case study article titled “Jobless Discrimination? When Firms Won’t Even Consider Hiring Anyone Unemployed.” The article contains:

“When Sony Ericsson needed new workers after it relocated its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta last year, its recruiters told one particular group of applicants not to bother. "No unemployed candidates will be considered at all," one online job listing said.”

“The cell-phone giant later said the listing, which produced a media uproar, had been a mistake. But other companies continue to refuse to even consider the unemployed for jobs — a harsh catch-22 at a time when long-term joblessness is at its highest level in decades.”

“Refusing to hire people on the basis of race, religion, age or disability — among other categories — is illegal. But companies that turn away jobless people as a group are generally not breaking the law — at least for now.”
In the meantime, Bill Bianco provides consulting services to his last employer and the sports industry without pay to remain connected to the work environment. He has volunteered for Toys for Tots, Goodwill, and The Salvation Army.

Bill and his son also collect recycling items and give them to people waiting in line at the Napa recycling center. He wants to continue the charitable giving he and his family have done for years. For now, this is a way he can be charitable to others costing him only his time to collect items to give them.

Bianco has downsized. He has sold what personal belongings he could. He has almost gone through his savings. He has not applied for any government assistance programs. This is not out of ego or pride. Bill “believes government handouts are not the solution and not a way of life he will accept.”

Even under financial pressure, Bill wants to set a good example for his nineteen year old son whom is attending college part time and also looking for employment. He wants to be “a strong role model for his son on weathering life’s ups and downs with personal responsibility.” He believes “self reliance is one of the strengths of America’s prosperity ultimately.”

Bill explains the daily letter fax, “As a citizen I send the letter, because I want the voice of small business to be heard on a real world and real life level by our politicians. They don’t have to live it personally, but they make the policies which can either help or hurt the environment in which the private sector can create jobs.”

Bianco ends our interview on an upbeat note, “My last position was as a Vice President and General Manager, but that was just a title. Managing and keeping things neat, organized, and running smoothly is what I did. A job that requires strong management, organizational, and research skills would be ideal. Of course, at this point, I would take any job offered to me.”

Should you sincerely like to talk to William Bianco III about an open position you have or are a recruiter willing to work with him, he can be contacted directly at wbiancoiii@hotmail.com. It’s not on his resume, but many would agree, Bill is persistent in a good way and has integrity.

On a wider scale, as a nation, let’s end employment myths and discrimination on the basis of age and someone being unemployed. Let’s all live up to a “This Could be My Mom or Dad 2011 Employment Challenge” of each employer hiring at least two people who are unemployed and make at least one of them over 45.

This challenge can make a big difference in ensuring those most affected by the recession do not get discounted and discarded in our society. It truly is time to remember, you will be over 45 and/or unemployed at some point in your life. When you are, how would you like to be treated?

Follow Brenda on Twitter and on Facebook.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Here's Why Facebook Is Worth $70B

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

It’s standard now days to see an icon on a company’s website that allows readers to connect with the company on their Facebook page with one click.

Have you noticed a recent change at the end of television commercials? In many ads, the consumer is now directed to the company or product’s Facebook page instead of to their website.

Did you know 1 in 9 people in the world, yes the entire world, are now on Facebook?

On June 29, 2011, USA Today reported, “Facebook has an estimated 750 million members worldwide.”

On May 11, 2011 About.com offers, “The latest official current world population estimate, for mid-year 2010, is estimated at 6,852,472,823.” National Geographic estimates there will be a world population of 7 Billion at the end of 2011.

According to CNET on June 20, 2011, “Facebook is on the verge of becoming the largest display advertiser in the United States, displacing Yahoo.”

Facebook may be the Microsoft of the 2010s. It has changed the way the world communicates and interacts. With this kind of exposure, social media in general, and Facebook in particular, are changing business standards especially in the advertising and public relations sectors.

While some in the PR area have not been early adopters, PR expert Rebecca Crowley, CEO of innovative RTC Publicity, is rapidly moving clients to what she calls “PR 2.0.” With a decade of experience in Public Relations, Rebecca has had an eclectic client base allowing her to pull from many different areas of her vast history in the industry.

Rebecca believes passion for the story and “the business” keeps her ideas fresh. Often, Rebecca is called upon to manage traditional marketing and social marketing campaigns. She knows why Facebook is worth $70B. Rebecca explains the difference between “traditional PR” and “new PR” in the evolving public relations sector, “A year or so ago the term “traditional PR” did not exist. It was created to define the difference between what most of the business world is familiar with and digital marketing which became strong in 2010 with initial momentum in 2009.”

She notes, “Traditional PR is ‘media relations’ with outlets that have been around for years such as print (dailies, weeklies, monthlies), and broadcast TV and radio. It involves a publicist using their contacts in order to properly pitch a story idea to journalists/editors/reporters/producers. It focuses on conveying a ‘key message(s)’ of a company, product or individual. It is said that the term PR or Public Relations Representative as we know it today was created by Edward L. Bernays in the 1920’s. Other forms of a traditional publicist are those that produce events, trade shows and handle crisis management.”

Rebecca continues, “The ‘New PR’, or as she calls it ‘PR 2.0.’ involves pitching blogs and creating social media campaigns involving such sites as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flckr, YouTube, and others. The idea is to join a conversation versus to only deliver a key message.”

She advises, “When complimenting a traditional PR campaign with a social marketing campaign, often times traditional media outlets get their news from these conversations had online. In the reverse, many of the things that bloggers are writing about stem from things read or seen on TV. Many of the articles that are shortened and posted online come from traditional media sources. PR 2.0 has created the need for today’s publicists to be savvy in both areas - messaging and conversations.”

Rebecca understands why some in the PR industry have been slow to move to this new PR. “I think a big part of this is fear of new technology and new social media outlets. It is a lot to keep up with. Facebook and the likes are constantly changing interfaces. If a publicist is not engaging in these activities or reading the latest happenings, it is easy to quickly get lost in the technology. It also requires a lot of time investment.”

She believes “Today’s publicist should be engaging in conversations online not only for their own companies but their own clients. For so long it was believed that if you called a media player enough they’d take the time to hear your pitch.”

Rebecca offers, “ A lot of ‘old school’ publicists still believe in blasting the media and seeing what sticks. It’s now time to engage them not spam them. By hanging out online and reading whatever you can, a publicist, or any individual, now can know inherently what the editors and producers want to hear. A lot of power has been given to the individual outside of PR messaging only. Publicist must respect that and capitalize on the power of the immediacy of social marketing.”

Rebecca does see her PR colleagues catching up and moving more quickly to new PR in 2011. She notes, “The 2009 ‘social marketing expert’ could be anyone who knew the technology. Now it is apparent that having traditional PR experience while understanding the technology is an important advantage. It is a very exciting time to be a publicist. If you are ‘with it’, you’ll be in the PR game for quite some time. It makes me said when I hear or see one of my colleagues doing things the ‘old’ way. I call them pitching machines. There’s no strategy or new knowledge to it.”

Ms. Crowley recommends these basics to clients beginning a new PR strategy: “Know the audience and know that people now expect information instantaneously. They must also respect that traditional PR is not dead, just enhanced. While focusing on social marketing, it is still necessary to go after more traditional media outlets. This takes more time, but the two together are a powerful combination. Above all, anyone who is looking for a good publicist should do their homework and not hang onto only dreams of getting the ‘biggie’ traditional outlets. A blog with the right demographic can be just as powerful of a hit.”

Her advice to the PR industry in general for 2011 is simple, “Stay tuned. Web 2.0. is not going anywhere, and Web 3.0. is being conceived. If a publicist or company feels behind in the times, it is time to brush up.”

Rebecca summarizes, “There is plenty of good literature out there both in print and online. Joining social marketing sites often also has feeds for news on the latest developments in technology and trends in social media. If a publicist or company does not catch up now, early in 2011, the year will rapidly leave them behind as new developments take place. There is more competition than ever out there now that the consumer has been given great power.”

It’s hard to believe the PR industry would not understand and embrace the strategy of social media universe and buzz creation. This has been the holy grail in business social media marketing emerging with growing strength since Obama’s presidential campaign in 20078

Bloggers and social media platforms can be the medium for a business’ planned “grassroots” marketing campaign as well as a spontaneous, unplanned, unexpected, and genuine grassroots buzz around a company or product. Facebook is certainly a the leader in this aspect.

Micah Warren of Large Media, Inc. specializes in designing and implementing unique social media marketing strategies. He touts the power of bloggers in the new PR reality, “The PR aspect I like about bloggers is how their content can spread across the internet like wildfire. One hit on an important blog, and you could have an extra 20, 50 or 100 more hits when it gets picked up by other websites and blogs. In PR, that is gold. And if all these sites are including the link to your website, then that is built-in SEO. Those inbound links are great for increasing your rank amongst search engines.”

He continues, “It’s an absolute must companies monitor blogs and forums to see what their customers are saying about them. Nothing is worse than someone posting a complaint about your product on a forum and then you standing by and doing/saying nothing. By logging on and addressing the issues, customers see that you actually care about them and are actively looking to react to their concerns.”

Micah relays why companies are now directing consumers to their Facebook page in ads, “Its one thing to have company news and information on your website. It’s important. But, how often are people hanging out on your corporate site? Probably not that often. Where ‘are’ they hanging out? Places like Facebook and Twitter. So go to where they are and engage them.”

He offers an understanding to adding social media to a PR campaign, “It has to be noted that interacting with your customers on Facebook should not be looked at as a direct pipeline to sales. It’s not. It’s about building long-term relationships between your brand and your customers. Looking for quick sales with Facebook is a big mistake companies make that turns them off to the whole process. They get turned off because they didn’t look at it the right way in the first place.”

Micah offers realism to clients with, “Another huge mistake companies make with Facebook and Twitter is thinking that this is all about them and what they want to say about themselves. That is a great way to get people to ignore you completely. Social media is about them, not you. So engage your audience and start a conversation with them. Listen to them. Social media is about the time to listen, not speak.”

Looking forward in 2011, the PR industry must understand consumers now want a real seat at the table. To serve their clients in a meaningful way, they must understand social media can easily facilitate this. Potential and existing consumers become most invested when they feel ownership in the process.

The expectation of two-way participation and communication in real-time is an emerging and lasting dynamics with social media user consumers. The days of business CEOs thinking the dynamic remains I talk, you listen, and you don’t question my message are over. The PR professional must understand the new consumer dynamic is you spoke, I listened - now you listen to me as I speak my experience and opinion.

An exchange and a more personal individual relationship are expected. Should a business CEO ignore the two-way communication that social media fosters and consumers expect, they will be viewed as out-of-touch and replaceable no matter how great the initial excitement, the strength of message, or the value of the product.

Solicitation and participation in two-way communication is how consumer loyalty can be achieved and solidified. Those that facilitate a successful Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter campaign for their products and services that go viral are the winners in turning social media platforms into a positive return on investment and consumer base increase.

Companies can excel at using social media to bring together like-minded people that love their product and are a target market for their product. They can encourage proactive two-way participation and communication with their customers cementing loyalty to their company and their brand.

When the PR professional comprehends that consumers are producers, directors, and have control over message to other consumers ultimately, they will add to their success by not only developing their client’s message with consumers, but by developing their client’s real-time relationship with their consumers via social media.

Micah Warrens sums up the necessary PR mindset shift, “Think about it just from a media point of view: how many stories are broken on Twitter first? Tons of them. You’ll see mainstream media outlets passing along breaking news from the Twitter accounts of other journalists. It is the age of immediacy and you can either join in and embrace it, or continue to wait for a morning newspaper with information that you could have had the day before at 2 p.m. Heck, why do you think all the newspaper websites now have blogs and Twitter pages!”

On June 30, 2011, Reuters noted, “Chief Executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a visit to Facebook's Seattle office on Wednesday that the company planned to ‘launch something awesome’ next week.” The awesomeness will most likely be in the mobile or tablet arena.

On June 27, 2011, CNET headline says “Facebook valuation seen at $70 billion.” Two weeks earlier on June 13, 2011, CNBC headline says, “Facebook IPO Valuation Could Top $100 Billion.”

With 2011 half over, business can still successfully establish a winning PR campaign and consumer relationship by accepting the new marketing paradigm components are real time information, consultation, and participation. Social media is the perfect platform, and Facebook may well be the perfect social network – for now. That’s why Facebook may well indeed be worth $70B.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.