Archive for December, 2009

A New Decade Ushers in Its Own History

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by innovativemediapr

What a difference a decade makes.  There was buzz aplenty as 1999 wound down.  It was all about the millennium then. The year 2000 had a magical feel to it and there was certainly great anticipation. Who can forget the Y2K fears?

What a difference a decade makes.  Is anyone really excited to head into 2010 and the start of a new decade? Just think what the last 10 years delivered.  It started with a contested presidential election and then came the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Then, war in Afghanistan followed by Iraq. The election of the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama and the start of his administration certainly caused excitement in the final year of the decade, but that was tempered by an economy ravaged by recession, continued warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, and, on Christmas Day, a failed terrorist act on a Detroit-bound flight.

While there may not be as much excitement heading into 2010, businesses, like ours here at iMedia Public Relations and individuals alike surely hope for better returns.  As we approach the new decade, I thought it might be interesting to turn the clock back 100 years to see what the leading events were heading into the new decade, starting in 1910.

As you will see by some of the important events listed, courtesy of Brainy History, like 2009, there were some major developments that gave pause for great anticipation for the new decade.  Highlights of 1909 included the inauguration of President Taft; the formation of the NAACP; exploration achievements at the South and North Poles; the debut of the Lincoln head penny; Wright Brothers delivering first plane to US military; the invasion by the U.S. of Nicaragua; and multiple title defenses by heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson among other highlights.

Of course, 100 years from now, historians will look back at the major events of 2009. While we can name those we feel important now, since we’re living in these times, only history will record what was truly impactful.

Here, courtesy of Brainy History, are some of the significant historical events of 1909.  Happy New Year

Tom Cosentino

Jan. 16                  British explorer Ernest Shackleton finds magnetic South Pole; David, Mawson and Mackay reach south magnetic pole

Feb. 9                    First federal legislation prohibiting narcotics (opium)

Feb. 12                  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) forms

Feb. 16                  First subway car with side doors goes into service in New York City; Serbia mobilizes against Austria-Hungary

Mar. 1                    First U.S. university school of nursing established, University of Minnesota

Mar. 4                   President Taft inaugurated as 27th president in 10 inch snowstorm

Mar. 30                 Queensboro Bridge opens linking Manhattan and Queens

Apr. 6                    North Pole reached by Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson

Apr. 18                  Joan of Arc declared a saint

May 7                    Construction begins on first 100 houses in Ahuzat Bayit (Tel Aviv)

May 29                  Frank “Home Run” Baker’s 1st career home run

Jun. 12                  “Shine On, Harvest Moon” by Ada Jones and Billy Murray hits #1

Jun 16                   Jim Thorpe makes his pro baseball pitching debut for Rocky Mount (ECL) with 4-2 win, this will cause him to forfeit his Olympic medals

July 12                  16th Amendment approved, power to tax incomes

July 25                  France’s Louis Bleriot, makes 1st airplane flight across English Channel

July 27                  Orville Wright tests 1st U.S. Army airplane, flying 1h12m40s

July 30                 Wright Brothers deliver 1st military plane to the army

Aug. 2                   1st Lincoln head pennies minted; Army Air Corps formed as Army takes 1st delivery from Wright Brothers

Aug. 11                  SOS 1st used by an American ship, Arapahoe, off Cape Hatteras, NC

Aug. 19                 Indianapolis 500 race track opens

Aug. 24                 Workers start pouring concrete for Panama Canal

Sept. 6                  Word received, Admiral Peary discovers North Pole 5 months earlier

Sept. 9                  Jack Johnson fights Al Kaufman to no decision in 10 for boxing title

Oct. 9                    Ty Cobb steals home in World Series game

Oct. 14                  Pirates beat Tigers, 5-4, forces 1st full 7 game World Series

Oct. 16                  Jack Johnson KOs Stanley Ketchel in 12 for heavyweight boxing title

Nov. 11                  Construction of Navy base at Pearl Harbor begins

Nov. 18                 U.S. invades Nicaragua, later overthrows President Zelaya

Nov. 23                 Wright Brothers forms million dollar corp to manufacture airplanes

Dec. 1                    1st Christmas Club payment made, to Carlisle Trust Co, Pa

Dec. 11                  Colored moving pictures demonstrated at Madison Square Garden, New York City

Dec. 21                  University of Coopenhagen rejects Cook’s claim that he was 1st to North Pole

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St. Nicholas Deserves Some PR

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2009 by innovativemediapr

You cannot escape seeing the image of Santa Claus at this time of the year.  Although the Christmas season is really about the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Santa Claus figure dominates the retail season and the mindsets of children worldwide as they anxiously await the toys and goodies he will bring on his sleigh come Christmas Eve.

For many of us, the innocence of childhood can best be reflected in our belief in this jolly old soul. From the letters we wrote to him at the North Pole, filled with our wish list of the toys we wanted for Christmas, our visits to him at the department store or mall and the numerous shows and movies we watched on television, Santa Claus was as real as the full head of hair on our childhood head.

But then, at some point along our path through grade school, our innocence was shattered as a fellow classmate, sibling or eventually our parents, broke the news that Santa wasn’t real at all.  Christmas was never the same again, until we had children of our own and suddenly, we couldn’t wait to share with them the stories of Santa and our beliefs in him. 

What has always struck me is why this need to raise the spirits of children, only to see them shattered when there is a true historical person that the legend of Santa Claus is based on.

Christians know him as St. Nicholas and history records him as Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.  His is a tale of great courage, charity and a love of children. It is no wonder why his life and legend became the basis for the Santa Claus character. This belief was brought to this country by Dutch settlers and was later immortalized in Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas.”

Although St. Nicholas is not a client of iMedia Public Relations, I thought it was time that someone did a little publicity for his cause. We’re not the only ones that feel that way.

A tremendous resource for learning about the life of Nicholas is through the St. Nicholas Center, a registered non-profit corporation in the State of Michigan with federal tax exempt status, which cooperates with other organizations around the globe that share its concerns for St. Nicholas. They have created a virtual knowledge center about St. Nicholas. Their gives a great accounting to the life of Nicholas, his legend, good deeds and role in the early Christian Church.  Here’s a brief biological sketch of Nicholas taken from the home page.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas of Myra became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6 (December 19 on the Julian calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

In addition to the St. Nicholas Center it also appears that there soon will be a motion picture of Nicholas of Myra, which should help drive the message to the masses.

So, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let us all take a moment to give some publicity not to a costumed figure at the mall, but to the life of an individual who can truly inspire us all.  There’s no need to dampen the spirits of children the world over.  Teach them about a man who truly lived and followed the teachings of Jesus, the one the Christmas season is all about.  Nicholas was all about giving, and whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or even an atheist, he is a person who inspires good in all of us. 

Now it’s up to us, to tell the world and our children about the real Santa named Nicholas.

Tom Cosentino

Google Adds Live Social Media Updates to Search

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by innovativemediapr

The announcement yesterday that Google will now supplement its search capabilities by providing instantaneous updates from postings on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, lends even more importance to creating a social media strategy for your company.

In the past, blog entries and other social media postings took several minutes before appearing in the Google search engine. According to a New York Times story on the announcement made in Mountainview, CA, Google recognized the need for instant access to these postings was reflective of today’s communications needs.

“Clearly in today’s world, that’s not fast enough,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, said at a press conference at the Computer History Museum here. “Information is being posted at a pace we’ve never seen before, and in this environment, seconds matter.”

Although providing access to these social media postings is not new for Google, the fact that they will now become instantly available in search listings can be a boon to those wishing to promote live events or appear prominently in stories surrounding breaking news.

The New York Times story reviewed a couple of cases on how the new search features were being incorporated into major news topics on Google.   

A search for “Copenhagen” on Google, for instance, where global climate talks are under way, produces the standard Web results, but with a box in the middle of the page where blog items, press releases, news articles and tweets scroll past.

The box updates every few seconds. A tweet from Tom Nguyen (@tomng) in the Bay Area read: “It’s snowing in North Beach. Explain that, Copenhagen.” Searching for “Pearl Harbor” on Monday, the 68th anniversary of the attack, turned up tweets from people who were memorializing those who died there, while the live results for “Tiger Woods” were less family-friendly.

For those companies looking to take advantage of these search engine capabilities, relevance remains the key element in the approach.  For companies like ours here at iMedia Public Relations, we’ll continue to look for ways to get our client’s message out on Twitter, Facebook and other outlets in a way that maximizes exposure for them and is relevant to news topics of the day.

Having a strategy and sticking to it starts you on the path. How you navigate it determines where others find you or your clients in their search for information.

 Tom Cosentino

Content Will Have a Price on the Web

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 1, 2009 by innovativemediapr

This week in Washington DC, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission held a two-day workshop on the future of journalism in the Internet age.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is still bullish on the industry.

The key to competing in tough economic times is to invest more, not less, in journalism, Mr. Murdoch said.

An advocate for charging for media content, Murdoch feels the industry needs to step up and provide content that consumers will be willing to pay for.   

“Good journalism is an expensive commodity,” he said. “Critics say people won’t pay,” Mr. Murdoch said. “I believe they will.”

While Mr. Murdoch gave his opinions on the future of editorial content on the web, another major media outlet is preparing to launch its own brand of content that will be appetizing to readers and sponsors alike.

AOL, which has been looking to eliminate about a third of its editorial staff, has been hiring freelancers for the purpose of developing original content.  However, this new editorial content system will directly be correlated to what readers feel are the most important stories.

Drew Grant wrote a piece on AOL’s new editorial strategy in the Nov. 30 issue of Media Bistro.

The company has also been hiring teams of freelancers to produce original content for its sites at a time when most media companies are cutting back, putting them in a unique position: AOL can produce original news without having to aggregate it from other sources. (However, despite its hiring blitz, AOL is still seeking to trim about a third of its staff in order to cut its budget for the New Year.)

And now it’s time, says AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong, to start raking in the cash from this production after its split from Time Warner next month, through the use of an automated system that will tell editors and advertisers which content should draw the biggest audience.

While this all sounds like a new, inventive way to both produce news and give jobs back to writers, it comes at a cost: AOL sites’ advertisers, who will have a large role in what is being placed on the pages they pay for. Not directly, AOL promises, by overseeing the content, but marketers will be able determine how much freelancers will get paid. PaidContent.org suggests:

“AOL will be using the forthcoming site Seed.com to coordinate article assignments among its 3,000 freelancers. The new system will also help determine how much freelancers get paid, as it predicts how much marketers might pay to advertise on a particular article…The automated tracking system could also mean that AOL’s freelancers make additional money. Technology predicts marketers will pay to advertise next to their articles or videos. The predictions of what an advertiser might pay ranges from zero to over $100.”

So no, editorial on AOL’s website won’t be dictated by advertisers, though you might want to keep in mind the products sponsoring your site when writing freelance for the company, at least if you want to get paid.

The era of all Internet editorial content being free for consumers is quickly evaporating.  For media outlets it means survival.

Here at iMedia Public Relations, we have actively looked to create Internet-related content for clients, whether it is online video, blog postings, social media outreach or web site editorial.

Now, as the industry begins moving to a pay scale, opportunities may also come for clients as sponsors or direct content producers for media partners looking for information that will bring more viewers to their sites.

This new content era will create a fine line between what is editorial and what is commercial content.  The FTC will be watching and it will behoove all public relations professionals to monitor closely how content is developed and positioned for clients on the Internet.

Tom Cosentino