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To Blog or Not to Blog?

April 21, 2010

To blog or not to blog that is the question.

For someone who always has an opinion, the thought of starting a blog didn’t seem too difficult when I was given the semester-long assignment.  To my surprise, it was more challenging than I anticipated.  More often than not I questioned what I should write about and when.

So what?

I found that the topics most interesting to me were not necessarily those that had public relations implications or a social media angle.  Therefore, I had to dig a little deeper to come up with applicable topics each week.

Where or where did the time go?

Between blog posts, tweets, assignments for other courses, and professional/personal projects, sometimes it felt as if I didn’t have enough hours in a day to accomplish everything on my priorities list.

Engage and inspire.

However, I still found joy in creating and maintaining Social Radiance.  It allowed me to engage and inspire – a part of me.  Sharing my thoughts with others has always been rewarding for me.  Through blogging, I found a way to offer my voice to relevant issues and interact with readers through comments, which led to an overall pleasant experience.

So the answer to the question… to blog.  I can continue to share information and shine my light; Social Radiance will remain.

Stressed Out?

April 17, 2010

With the semester’s end approaching, I feel anxiety about the amount of papers, projects, and exams I have to get through in just a couple of weeks.  Knowing that I am not alone, I thought it would be helpful if I asked a group of friends how they manage stress.

Using the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)application on my BlackBerry Tour, I sent a broadcast message to all of my BBM contacts asking them to tell me in a few words how they cope. Their top 25 stress reducers are listed below.

25 Stress Relievers

1.   The key to coping with stress is first recognizing the signs of stress. This includes headache, aching body, loss of concentration, and fatigue. If you recognize stress at this level you can then combat it.

2.   Get on the treadmill/go to the gym. It releases endorphins.

3.   Take a nap.

4.   Do the opposite of the stress inducing activity…use the other side of brain.

5.   Speak to family and friends.

6.   Have a good laugh or conversation.

7.   Enjoy a glass of wine.

8.   Listen to music.

9.   Spend time in prayer, reflection, and meditation.

10.                Have a cocktail.

11.                Try to do something relaxing to take mind off the issue.

12.                Read a book or watch television.

13.                Limit your schedule.

14.                Read the Bible.

15.                Take a hot bath.

16.                Watch a good movie.

17.                Have some “me time.”

18.                Reflect on your blessings.

19.                Sit back and relax.

20.                Remember that many stressful things go away eventually, so just sit and be patient.

21.                Indulge in a great massage.

22.                Participate in a physical activity to release the tension.

23.                Place stress in a box and deal with it when you get bored.

24.                Ignore the stressor and concentrate on controllable things.

25.                Confront it head on and put 100% energy into solving it to move on

Do you already do any of these things when you feel stressed? Is there anything else you find helpful?

The Next Time Around

April 14, 2010

I went back home to Syracuse this past weekend and someone asked me, “so how is your second book coming along?”  I had to stop and share that with being in grad school, the book is on hold at the moment.  However, once I went to bed that night I couldn’t stop thinking about possible ways to begin Chapter One.

Maybe the main character, Angela Rae, will receive a nice text message from someone special.  Or perhaps she’ll tweet some new finding.  Whichever lead I create, I know that social media will be infused into the story line.

Not only will it be part of the story, social media needs to be fully utilized to promote the book.  With my debut, “If Your Heart Isn’t In It,” the use of social media was limited to email and the Website.  Being a one woman show, I handled my own marketing and publicity, being sure to send press releases to editors, along with promo copies of the book.  Although it did land me a blog post on, I know that the more I use social media the greater the potential for future exposure.

I must say that I’m looking forward to the day when I can sit still long enough to pen that sequel. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and blogs are just some of the mediums I’ll be fully engaged in.  Then I can apply what I now know, the next time around…

How about you? Taking into account what you’ve learned over time, what is one project you have done that you would do differently?

Less Cancer and More Birthdays

March 29, 2010

I can remember it like it was yesterday…it was the summer of 1992.  My mother shared that when she was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors said she had two years to live. Seeing that it was two and a half years after the diagnosis, I thought she was telling me that she had beaten the odds and would grow old with me. The reality was that her head and neck cancer was in stage four, had spread to her brain, and she was living out her last days.  Then my mother died one month later, never seeing her 36th birthday.  Since that day, I have always hoped for a cure so that no other child or family would have to experience a deep loss like mine.

Mirroring my hope, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has remained dedicated to the plight.  Through research, education, advocacy, and service, the organization’s mission is to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by prevention, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer.

The Official Sponsor of Birthdays™

With its informative Web site and use of social media, ACS is effectively increasing awareness and activism.  As the Official Sponsor of Birthdays™, ACS has created a transmedia storytelling movement focused on creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays.  Getting people involved with online donations, donations via text, blogging, competitions, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are just some of the tools used.

You can interact by using one, some, or all

  • Donate Online – By using a credit card you can make an online donation. A general donation helps support the mission wherever the need is greatest. A memorial gift celebrates the memory of a loved one, and an honor gift commemorates a special person or occasion.
  • Text Donation – You can also make a difference by fighting cancer with your mobile phone.  By texting FIGHT to 20222, a $5 donation will be made to ACS and added to your cell phone bill.
  • The Official Birthday Blog – With over 400 general posts and double-digit celebration stories, you have the ability to get birthday tips or add your voice by becoming a blogger.
  • Taste More Birthdays Cake Contest – ACS partnered with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) by having its students create a better-for-you birthday cake. You can now download the winning recipe, view the finalists, and meet the winner.
  • More Birthdays Facebook Fan Page – Nearly 40,000 people have become a fan of More Birthdays, including me.
  • Morebirthdays on Twitter – You can join the 1,748 followers and receive frequent tweets from Morebirthdays… the latest being about Kate Gosselin turning 35 and Mariah Carey celebrating her fabulous day.
  • YouTube – The American Cancer Society YouTube Channel has videos spotlighting why birthdays mean so much and how there can never be too many candles.

Please consider joining the movement with me. A world with less cancer is indeed a world with more birthdays.

Looking to the Day: When the Digital Divide is So Yesterday

March 21, 2010

The digital divide has existed since the evolution of the Internet and it’s still a prevalent issue. Beyond the folks who desire to have high-speed Internet in their rural American homes, there are also families in metropolitan cities and other countries that lack the basic resources necessary to own computers and pay for Internet connections.  So with the global growth of social media and Web 2.0, these people are at a serious disadvantage.

Things that we may take for granted are others’ dreams deferred. Whether it’s doing research and school work at home, searching for employment and career opportunities, reading the news, shopping, or looking up information about doctors, there are those who only experience the World Wide Web in shared environments such as public libraries or in classrooms.  

But with the help of the following organizations and legislation to support them, diminish of the digital divide can someday become a reality.

  • Internet for Everyone – Its goal is to make sure everyone can benefit from the new economy and guarantee that all citizens play an active role in our democracy.
  • The Benton Foundation – This non-profit believes in seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity, and by demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all.
  • Speed Matters – Its focus is on universal Internet access for everyone, because high speed Internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.
  • One Economy – Its mission is to maximize the potential of technology to help low-income people improve their lives and enter the economic mainstream.

In addition to the organizations built to bridge the digital divide gap, I believe there are things we can do as individuals to help.  For example, I donated my PC when I moved and now that I have a new laptop, I’m thinking of giving my first one to a family member that doesn’t have a home computer. It may be a small contribution to a large problem, but every bit of effort matters.

So what do you think you can do to assist in overcoming the digital divide?  If nothing, do you believe there is any hope at all?

The Redemption of Michael Vick

March 18, 2010

It can take years to build your brand, a moment for it to crumble, and severe focus to regain what you once had.  Look at Michael Vick’s situation for instance.

In 2001, he was the NFL overall draft pick and became the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons from 2001 to 2008.  Then in April 2007, his fall from grace began with the accusation of operating an unlawful interstate dog-fighting ring.  After pleading guilty to felony charges in August 2007, Vick lost major endorsements and was imprisoned for 21 months.  Still regarded as an exceptional player, he was reinstated by the NFL in July 2009, signed to the Philadelphia Eagles, and given a second chance.

He’s on a positive track with using open communication to “right his wrongs” while rebuilding his brand, re-establishing confidence among fans, and partnering with organizations to speak against animal cruelty and educate youth on its detriments.

Righting His Wrongs with The Michael Vick Project

The 10 episode reality series, executive produced by Vick, airs on BET on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. Vick said, “I am not doing this documentary to show people that I’m back and unchanged by the experiences of the last few years. I’m allowing the cameras to see the truth in the good, the bad and the ugly results of my decisions.”

Re-Establishing Confidence Among Fans

At the start of the December 2009 Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles game, the crowd chanted. Going forward, by focusing on the game and displaying his athletic ability, Vick is working towards reclaiming middle ground fans and those he lost along the way.

Partnering with Organizations to Speak Against Animal Cruelty

Dedicated to working with the Humane Society, Michael Vick travels across the country speaking to the youth about his mistakes. A few weeks ago, he visited the New Horizons alternative school in Durham, North Carolina to talk to them about the need for making good choices.

In spite of his efforts to redeem himself, there’s still a possibility that he may never regain trust among animal lovers and activists groups, he risks not being endorsed as strongly as in the past, and the lack of endorsements would result in reduced earnings.

How do you feel about what he did? Do you think that once a man rights his wrongs he should be able to rebuild himself and have another try at his career?  Martha did and she’s back on top.

Excuse me, can you respect my privacy?

February 24, 2010

OMG, how did something so casual amongst our friends become so serious?  Now we have to worry about protecting our privacy and security on Facebook, instead of just being able to interact with family and friends as we have in the past.  Mr. Facebook, if me disclosing details is what’s necessary for your organization to thrive, why didn’t you say that when I opened my account? Sir, no…I do not want the world to be able to know my birthday, hometown, and where I went to college.  Let alone do I want anyone outside of my friends to have my contact information nor anything else that I deem as private.  This is a serious matter, so just like millions of Facebook account holders I have set my privacy settings to “only friends.”  Anyone with an account, who hasn’t done so, should make sure you’re protected too.

Protect Yourself

  1. Review your privacy settings on Facebook. Go to “Account” then “Privacy Settings.”  For the highest level of security, select “Only Friends.”  Any other selection allows people you don’t know to obtain intelligence about you.  Keep in mind that not everyone has your best interest at heart.                                                                    
  2. Use common sense. Be careful about posting information that could be harmful to you if it ends up in the wrong hands or in front of evil eyes.  It’s wise to abstain from giving your date of birth, and even something as innocent as telling people that you’ll be vacationing for a week.
  3. Monitor your credit. Although we don’t want to live in a society filled with paranoia, identity theft is rampant and social media has become a grand source for such thieves.  Identity theft speaker, Robert Siciliano, recommends that you even get a credit freeze, making it difficult for a potential identity theft to use your Social Security number.

We live in times where security and privacy are major concerns.  Identity theft is prevalent, personal safety is compromised daily, and there are many bad apples out there.  So yes it is okay to enjoy social networking, the magnitude of social media, and all that they have to offer…but be careful.  This also means if some of your friends (who you may not really know) turn out to have a bit of suspect behavior or characteristics, don’t feel badly with wanting to remove them from your friends list.  Go right back in your account settings and exercise your power to…DELETE.

Embarking On A New Journey

February 17, 2010

When I was a kid I was the little girl that would rave “my daddy this” and “my daddy that.” Oh how beautiful for a young black girl to have her father prominently in her life; to be able to boast in such a way.  Fast forward many years later to the present and I can still say “my daddy.”

This past week, Sam Roberts, Syracuse native and MY dad, registered his formal campaign fundraising committee for the 119th New York State Assembly District seat.  If he leads a victorious campaign, he will be the first African-American Assemblyperson to represent Central New York.  The district includes DeWitt, Onondaga, Salina, and Syracuse’s east and south sides.

Since I can remember, he has always found a way to be of public service.  While working as a Journeyman Tool and Die Maker with General Motors Corporation, he was that hard-working man who came home from third shift, changed out of his blues, and went out to see how he could help someone else.  Over the years, that desire for lending a hand cultivated into much more.  He not only served as an Onondaga County Legislator for ten years, but he also worked diligently, volunteering his time for other elected officials.  From the Democratic campaigns of Honorable Rosemary Pooler (former Congressional candidate), Senator Nancy Lorraine Hoffman, and Assemblywoman Joan Christensen, to those of President Bill Clinton and former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, he stayed committed to his philosophy of being of good service.

Never losing sight of his dream to help institute laws at a higher level for the betterment of his constituencies and community, I proudly introduce to you the Committee to Elect Sam Roberts.  Now that the campaign is official, you will soon see the implementation of a well thought out communication plan, his Facebook fan page will keep you informed, and with your assistance Sam Roberts will be the next Assemblyman for the 119th New York State Assembly District.

For more coverage, you can view an article written by John Mariani of The Post-Standard,  “Former County Legislator Sam Roberts to seek Joan Christensen’s Assembly seat.”

Also, please feel free to contact me if you want to be a volunteer  for the Committee to Elect Sam Roberts or if you would like to be included on communications about the campaign and events.  If you can’t already tell, I’m saying it loud…that’s my daddy, he’s embarking on a new journey, and I’m proud.

(photo: Sam Roberts and daughter in Morningside Park by D. Bey)

The Changing Media Environment Affects Role Of Professional Communicators

February 10, 2010

A wise man (better known as Fraser P. Seitel and Brad Pitt to some) says that as professional communicators we need to know about everything from Dr. Phil to Dr. Dre. That also includes knowing how to reach our key constituent publics around the world with traditional media, social media, and whatever media is to come. (source: The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition)

So reading the newspapers, trade journals, and on line publications, as well as writing well, telling the truth, and exhibiting transparency — helps us to stay on top of our game and achieve peak performance. Whether we have a subscription to The New York Times that gets delivered to our door, or we check the Wall Street Journal on our laptop when we wake each morning, the key is that we read what’s going on, analyze how we would handle it if the people and businesses involved needed our help, and always be aware of what’s going on in the world.

But what’s different?  Social media has added an entirely different dimension to our profession.  Instead of the usual day of perusing the papers, we must add Twitter, Facebook, and our RSS feeds to that list.  When we compose a press release and look to distribute it to the media, we also have to keep in mind how the editors will best read our information.  No longer are we living in the days where we devise a release and fax it to our destinations.  It’s all about electronic and web space.  As Shel Holtz stated, although the press release is still important, our efforts to earn coverage need to grow with the more complex news space.

Such growth can be a challenge.  It takes desire and interest to learn new mediums.  The learning curve may exist at first, but with anything else, once we utilize the tools, the challenge can then lead to an opportunity. 

Personally, as a New York University student in the Master’s program of Public Relations and Corporate Communication, I feel like my opportunities are endless.  If I understand the new media environment and link that with the communication skills and connections I already possess, I’m sure that there are opportunities right in front of me that I can’t even see.  There are doors to be opened, steps to be taken.  So as long as I am willing to evolve, I will always keep up with the evolution of this ever-changing industry.

They’re Just Like You And Me

February 3, 2010

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a consulting project in the day and going to class in the evening.  My schedule is very rigid and each day without fail I have come home griping about how tired, cold, and hungry I am… yet today I have no complaints.

I have to attribute that to my drive home from Cooper Square.  In the bitter cold, less than ten minutes from my home, I passed a woman and her son holding a sign that I couldn’t read due to the hastily falling snow.  However, I did notice that they appeared to be homeless and in need.  With no change on me, I mouthed “sorry”, looked in my rearview mirror, and felt helpless as I continued to ride.

But now that I’m indoors with warm Victoria Secret flannel pajamas on, I can’t help but to think about how it’s freezing outside and that there are homeless people right in my community who have no shelter.

Days like this, I have to pause and give special thanks for being blessed to have a home of my own, ample heat, a wide selection of food, and clothing.  It’s also a time to stand still long enough to figure out how I can be of service to someone else in need.  How can I do the right thing?

After some deep thought, I have decided to trade my topic for the day — social media tools — for something a bit more compelling.  With web research, I learned that there are over 1.3 million homeless and street kids in the United States.  That’s 27% of the homeless population in America; and with the rise of unemployment that number may good and well increase.  The heartwarming fact is that there are organizations focused on eradicating this issue.

Covenant House New Jersey is a local non-profit that has provided services to homeless youth for over 20 years.  3,490 New Jersey youth are served with help every year.

Another organization committed to improving the lives of homeless kids throughout America is Stand Up for Kids.

So, tomorrow my day will go a little differently.  I’m giving Covenant House a call in the morning to see how I can get involved.  If you live in the area, maybe you can, too.  Or if you don’t have the time to give, Stand Up for Kids utilizes social media to accept donations.  It’s easy to contribute $5 by texting “STANDUP” to 85944.

Let’s not only be thankful for what we have, but instead take it a step further and help make a difference.  Will you join me in taking a stand?