Hello 2014, But First Goodbye 2013

happy new year 2014

Happy New Year! I hope 2014 is a happy, healthy and successful year for you and your families. But before moving forward, here are a few updates on what went on since the summer when work needs distracted me from this blog: Read more of this post

Moms — Online and Off

Infographic: The Digital Lives of American MomsI feel it’s appropriate, as we redefine the definition of “marriage”, that on Mother’s Day we recognize that the extended definition of what a mother is today. After all, the methods of conception and delivery are more varied than in the past. And children are more frequently raised by people other than their birth mother.

Mother’s Day reminds us that mothers come in all shapes, sizes and circumstances. Whether they are birth mothers, step-mothers, foster mothers, grand-mothers who are raising another generation, godmothers, savvy aunties, big sisters, guardians, mentors and more. Mothering is a skill set both learned and earned. Being a mother comes by chance to some, by choice to others.

Regardless, how do moms spend their time online? According to NeilsenWire.com (see accompanying infographic) their experience can be summed up in three words: Facebook; Twitter and blogs. In March 2012, 3 out of 4 moms visited Facebook; and 1 of 7 visited Twitter and 2 out of 5 visited blogging platforms (Blogger; WordPress and Tumblr). ‘Mommy Bloggers’ are a force representing about 1/3 of all bloggers.

Fact: The Census bureau estimates that there are 85.4 million mothers in the U.S. If she were alive today, the founder of Mother’s Day would not be among them.

Anna Jarvis never had children. She organized the first Mother’s Day as tribute to her mother in Grafton, W.Va. and Philadelphia in 1908 and later petitioned Congress to create the national holiday in 1914. It didn’t take long, however, for Jarvis to hate the very day she created due to over-commercialism.

So, let’s remove the restrictions on how we view Mother’s Day, and mothers as well.  Celebrate all the women who help mold us into the people we are, and let’s do so every day of the year.

On International Women’s Day — Just STOP! #IWD2012

March 8, 2012: International Women’s Day — first observed in 1909 as a day to celebrate women, their accomplishments and contributions to society — is a day when I ask everyone to just STOP!

STOP devaluing women in the workplace.  Equal pay for equal work certainly sounds like both a logical and inherently American principle especially in 2012. But, as I’ve written previously, it remains an unobtained goal

STOP eroding women’s rights. Women are not second-class citizens and should not be treated as such. Attacks on rights granted by the Supreme Court should not be eroded by individual states that increase barriers to participation, such as, requiring a medical procedure prior to exercising your court sanctioned rights (yes, I am talking to you, Virginia and even worse, Texas), as that is as un-American as the old poll taxes and intelligence tests required by some states before African-Americans could vote until outlawed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

STOP attacking women in the workplace, in particular one of our most important resources – teachers. Yes, the education system needs a major overhaul but that involves issues related to policy, accountability and funding. Teachers are being attacked en masse (yes, I am speaking to you Pennsylvania with your “special rules” for the Philadelphia school district and to you New York) because they are an easy target for people frustrated with government, taxes, crime, etc. Oh yeah, and they’re 76% female.

STOP demeaning women in the media.  Please view this trailer for the documentary “Miss Representation” by filmmaker Siebel Newsom to understand how media affects women’s self-esteem, skewed body image and aspirations.

Now,that you’ve stopped– GO! Get mad and do something about it.

Social Media Week 2012: Love, Personalization and the Death of Serendipity


Ah, love. Each February 14 we celebrate all things love in remembrance of St. Valentine, a priest who (literally) lost his head over the emotion.  And so, by the powers of the Roman god Cupid; the Greek god Eros; and the consumer goods god Hallmark, we enjoy love found, curse love lost and are hopeful for love to come.

The logo for Love@AOL

Love@AOL - one of the first online dating sites

For me, it also brings back memories of my first “real” job in social media, as a Community Manager at AOL for one of its largest channels, Love@AOL. Launched as a Valentine;s Day special feature in 1996, it did so well that it became a permanent channel, with (at the time) the largest collection of online dating profiles featuring the newest innovation of the day — photos! Simply put, people — even online —  expressed a need to connect, to be social.

Fast forward to yesterday in New York City at the Third Annual Social Media Week New York. In his keynote speech titled ‘Top 2012 Trends in Social,  JWT CEO David Eastman pointed out that four key operators own almost all of the information about you  online. He called them “GAFA” (pronounced “gaffa”), they are: Read more of this post

The Circle – Farewell 2011, Hello 2012

New Years-1-002

♫… All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around. …♫

In a few hours, the books will close on 2011 and another volume will begin as we chronicle the new year. 2011 was in many ways a year of continued transition. For social media,  2011 was the year of acceptance, one where Twitter accounts and Facebook pages are now prominently displayed on mainstream media advertising. Where tweets brought about social change and individual failure; riots, occupation and revolution.

♫… All my life’s a circle; But I can’t tell you why; Season’s spinning round again; The years keep rollin’ by. …♫

Despite those gains, a lagging economy still nags true economic prosperity, and so social media hiring, while more prevalent than in the past, seems stuck in first gear. Instead of seeing VP/Director level social media opportunities, it is more common to see Social Media Manager or even Social Media Coordinator job openings. Worse, lately a large increase in social media intern positions has been seen.

♫… It seems like I’ve been here before; I can’t remember when; But I have this funny feeling; That we’ll all be together again.. …♫

What this means is that even though more companies have made the determination hat they need to add social media to their company tool-set, they fail to make the commitment to do so with both feet.

♫… No straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings; And so far no dead-ends.. …♫

What does work is hiring a social media professional, one paid to enact social media as a profession with at least seven years experience, to be both strategist and tactician to create its social media roadmap, create policy and procedures and get accounts up and running. Only then hire staff as the need arises.

♫… I found you a thousand times; I guess you done the same; But then we lose each other; It’s like a children’s game. …♫

And so the cycle continues. 2011 turns into 2012 full of hope for better times and (for many) a better job. Will this be the year? Each new year is full of hope, so until we learn otherwise I choose to believe that 2012 will be better than 2011 — and I wish that for you, too.

♫… As I find you here again; A thought runs through my mind; Our love is like a circle; Let’s go ’round one more time …♫

–“Circle” by Harry Chapin

In Defense of Women, or “Another Day, Another 77 Cents”

Women don’t need me (or any other man) to defend them, as they are quite capable of doing so themselves. But they do deserve my support and that of all men in their long and ongoing effort to achieve equality when it comes to treatment in the workplace, today earning about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for similar work.

Married to a top corporate executive with two daughters working in the education and government fields, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges each face in pursing their careers. Two events last week got me thinking once again about this issue. The first, was the celebration of Equal Pay Day (Apr. 12) which strives to increase awareness of the discrepancy between male and female wages. The second was attending the “Shine On: Celebrating Women Making a Difference” awards at Radio city Music Hall (Apr. 11).

Despite the emergence of women as keen, capable business leaders the latest info shows they still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for a similar job. To quote the Department of Labor,

While women hold nearly half of today’s jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income that sustains the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men’s wages for similar work.” (Dept. of Labor, Equal Pay Day Toolkit)

Yes, progress has been made over the years, and certainly,  there has been a fundamental change in the role of women in the workplace. While Stay at Home Moms (SAHM) remain a vital part of society wage equity has certainly lagged behind the realities of today’s workforce where men are not necessarily the family’s main wage-earner.

Portrait Monument image via WikipediaCongress as well has hampered equal pay progress by failing to pass HR:1519 The Paycheck Fairness Act in both 2009 and 2010 (although reintroduced last week with 168 congressional representative sponsors). Ironically, Congress itself is an equal-pay workplace, mandated to pay senators and representatives specific salaries regardless of gender. Of course, Congress also kept the Portrait Monument (left), dedicated to the pioneers of women’s suffrage Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, in the basement of the Capitol for 76 years before restoring it in the Rotunda in 1997, and even then said it’d only be there for one year (though obviously extended).  Hmm…

On a brighter note, Good Housekeeping — a “main stream media” magazine publisher that has remained relevant for over 125 years — celebrated women making history with its Shine On awards. This year’s winners were:

  • Christy Turlington Burns – For her work as an advocate via her Every Mother Counts
  • The sOccket Girls – Four Harvard grad students for combining  soccer with enlightenment
  • Elizabeth Blackburn – Nobel prize-winning scientist whose work may unlock a cure for cancer
  • Michelle Rhee – Controversial forward-thinking educator for her Students First organization
  • Lisa Switkin – Urban planner of green space including the High Line park in NYC
  • Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, Inc. also active in Water.org

Amazing people all, I was impressed with their intelligence, eloquence and passion to improve society.

Oh, and they just happen to be women.

On Employee Appreciation Day, How Will Yours ‘March 4th’?

March 4th! The only day of the year that is also a command. In today’s socially networked environment, where companies are forced to realize that they don’t control their brands — their customers do — their best “Brand Ambassadors” are often overlooked, under appreciated and underutilized: their employees.

Employees appreciate the annual Bloomberg L.P. picnic

And that’s dangerous. When 50% of employees who say they have considered leaving their job (source: MarketTools, Inc.) mix with the explosion in social media a potentially brand killing lethal combination ensues.  For example, let’s say you frequent a social media site where new autos are discussed and saw a valued member of the community who worked for an automaker but had nothing good to say about the company, you’d think twice before considering buying one of their models.

Social media builds engagement with employees, too. Traditional internal communications efforts, typically administered by your HR team and utilized to inform employees of company news and events via e-mail, newsletter or a Web 1.0 designed internal site are no longer enough. These cascading, ‘sermons on high’ one-way communications are often discounted or (worse) ignored by employees — especially in large companies with multiple offices spread over widely divergent geographic areas.

“Just as ‘All politics is local‘; ‘All communications is social'”

As mentioned in a prior post, let Communications/Public Affairs handle PR; let Marketing handle marketing; and now, let HR handle human resources – but rely upon a social media professional (yes, that skill set, again) to optimize all three.

The application of current social media two-way conversation strategies will engage a company’s employees the same way social media is used to connect the company with its customers. The more the employees feel connected to the company, its brands and products the more supportive they will be. Acknowledge that their opinion matters and is heard.

As for quick things you can do today, Read more of this post

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