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Grandpa Gets a Puppy

After losing his wife of 63 years and his beloved dog within months, the Vanhaesendonck family decided to give their beloved grandpa a puppy to help him cope with the loss.
“You’re not alone anymore, Grandpa,” the family said.

“And what is his name?” Asks the Grandfather.

“Snoopy.”
The perfect name for man’s best friend. Through a time of grief, this family has made sure that no one feels alone, especially grandpa.
Unbelievably moving.

 

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For Most Of Us, A Warmer World Has Become The New ‘Normal’

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By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Global warming has been going on for so long that most people were not even born the last time the Earth was cooler than average in 1985 in a shift that is altering perceptions of a “normal” climate, scientists said.

Decades of climate change bring risks that people will accept higher temperatures, with more heatwaves, downpours and droughts, as normal and complicate government plans to do more to cut emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Because the last three decades have seen such a significant rise in global and regional temperatures, most people under the age of 30 have not lived in a world without global warming,” Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told Reuters.

“On human timescales the changes in our climate can seem gradual, so we will increasingly need to remind the public about just how rapid and unprecedented the changes truly are,” Jarraud said.

February 1985 was the last month when global temperatures were below the 20th century average, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a leading source of global temperature data.

Meanwhile, the estimated median age of the world population in 2014 is 29.4 years, meaning half are older and half younger, Francois Pelletier of the U.N. Population Division told Reuters.

Taken together, the NOAA and U.N. yardsticks mean the world’s 7.2 billion population has shifted in recent weeks for the first time to a majority born since the last cool month.

“People have to get used to continuous change in the climate,” said Thomas Peterson, principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and president of the WMO Commission for Climatology.

Some other weather agencies, using differing methods and baselines, estimate later dates for the most recent cold month than NOAA. The WMO, which compiles annual data, says 1985 was the last colder-than-average year.

Global averages go largely unnoticed because individuals experience weather and climate locally – this past winter was bitterly cold in parts of North America, for instance. But the overall warming trend is clear.

DROUGHTS, FLOODS

Peter Thorne, a climate researcher at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, west Norway, said people are more likely to remember extreme weather events than to notice any fractional rise in temperatures.

“Heatwaves, droughts and extreme floods are more likely to trigger associations with climate change,” he said. And more extremes could in turn put pressure on governments to act.

Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a deal to slow global warming at a summit in Paris in late 2015, mainly by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and factories.

Governments have promised to limit warming to below 2 degrees (3.6F) above pre-industrial times – average temperatures have already risen by about 0.8C (1.4F).

Peterson said historical records of average temperatures, used by everyone from farmers planning crops to companies deciding how much insulation to install in new buildings, were no longer a reliable guide to the future.

His WMO commission said last month that the concept of “normal” weather should to be updated more frequently to take better account of warming.

Currently, the WMO period for normal weather is 1961-1990 and is due to be replaced by 1991-2020 in 2021. The Commission wants rolling updates every decade, meaning the current period would be 1981-2010 and become 1991-2020 in 2021. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky)

 

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Relationship App is ‘Too Explicit’ For Google.

Google has banned a magazine app for being too sexually explicit – despite it containing no nude imagery or erotic stories.

Raw Attraction Magazine is an independent publication which caters for men and women who want to improve their dating and relationships.

Yet the magazine’s app has been removed from the Google Play Store – where it had been available for download to Android mobile phone devices.

Google would only give the reason that the app is “too explicit”. An appeal by the magazine’s founder and editor Steve Burford has been refused.

In an email to Mr Burford Google stated: “We have reviewed your appeal and will not be reinstating your app. This decision is final and we will not be responding to any additional emails regarding this removal.”

The RawAttractionMagazine.com app remains available for download to Apple devices through iTunes where it has hundreds of positive reviews.

Mr Burford said he was puzzled by Google’s decision to remove the app for being too explicit. He said: “I can’t understand it as we have never had so much as a photo of a bare nipple in the magazine.

“There are far more explicit apps available in the Google Play Store. If you use an Android device and search ‘sex’ you will find ‘A man’s guide to oral sex’ and ‘A woman’s guide to oral sex’

“There’s also ‘The Porn Stars Guide to Great Sex’ and ‘The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex’ as well as many other sex based books or apps.

“Yet our little magazine promoting relationship advice is the one that gets picked on and banned and they won’t even explain why except to say it’s ‘too explicit’. I really am at a loss to understand this.

“Google’s non communication is farcical. Our mission is to educate men and women about the truth of our sexuality. For too long this information has been suppressed.

“For Google to shut us out from the Android market, 55% of the market, for no good reason is wholly unfair. It is a huge setback for a small, independent startup “

The contents of this email and any attachments are the property of The London PR Agency and are intended for the confidential use of the named recipients only. If you are not the intended recipient please notify us immediately at hello@LondonPRagency.com or on 020 7193 0566. Any disclosure, copying or distribution is prohibited.

 

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100 Internet Marketing Experts Speaking at SMX in NYC

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More than 100 of the world’s most knowledgeable internet marketers will present at Search Marketing Expo – SMX East, September 30 – October 2 in New York City. They’ll share what makes them successful, what keeps them up at night, and what you’ll need to know to succeed in the next year.

You’ll hear from:

  • Brand marketers from the Fortune 500, e-retailers and innovative startups. Learn the latest from IBM, Expedia, The New York Times, Intel, BET Networks, Ford Motor Company, Cisco and more.
  • Experts from full-service and boutique agencies with experience managing countless campaigns of all shapes and sizes.
  • Speakers from Google, Bing, Yahoo and other media companies will be there too. Don’t miss your chance to put your questions directly to the search engines.

See who’s speaking.

Insights on Leveraging Viral Content from BuzzFeed Founder & CEO Jonah PerettiEveryone talks about creating buzz, but few have mastered the art of creating viral content like Jonah Peretti. Jonah’s the founder of BuzzFeed, the wildly popular social news and entertainment site that scores huge successes with quizzes, listicles and even long-form content.

Join Jonah and Search Engine Land / Marketing Land founding editor Danny Sullivan for a wide-ranging probe of topics including compelling uses of social media, the new wave of brands and native advertising, where search marketing fits into the mix and more.

Register for SMX East today. All Access passes are just $1695, which includes 3 days of sessions, networking activities, breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Want to send your team? You save an additional 15-35% when registering three or more people. Check out our attractive team registration rates.

Helpful SMX East Links:

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | SEM Industry: Conferences | SEM Industry: Search Marketing Expo – SMX | SMX & DMD Alerts

 

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The Fed preaches positivity, patience

The U.S. economy seems to be behaving as well as it has at any point since enduring a near-meltdown almost six years ago. That’s the overall assessment when considering input from the Federal Reserve, the labor market, consumers, and a recent flurry of other data.

In the short term, of course, stocks frequently don’t follow the economy’s path. The week’s positive economic news may have even contributed to a difficult week for the stock market as investors considered the possibility of the Fed raising interest rates earlier than anticipated.

For the week ended August 1, 2014, the S&P 500 Index was down 2.7% to 1,925 (for a year-to-date total return—including price change plus dividends—of about 5%). The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 4 basis points for the week to 2.52%, for a year-to-date decrease of 52 basis points.

Fed officials appear cautiously upbeat

Fed policymakers this week acknowledged the economy’s progress but noted that patience is crucial as it decides when to start raising short-term interest rates. In a statement released after the July 29–30 meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank said economic activity rebounded in the second quarter, with labor market conditions improving. That led the Fed to further reduce its stimulative monthly bond purchases as of this month, from $35 billion to $25 billion. It has previously said it would end the program in October, if the economy progresses as expected.

As expected, the Fed maintained its guidance on interest rates, which it has held between 0% and 0.25% since late 2008. The Fed said it was likely to wait “a considerable time” after the end of its bond-purchase program before raising rates as it analyzes the labor market, inflation, and other economic developments. Although the Fed said the risks of excessively low inflation were fading, it expressed caution over the “significant underutilization of labor resources” and the housing sector’s slow recovery.

“The Fed continues to anticipate that the federal funds rate will remain at the current level for a considerable time,” said Vanguard economic analyst Vytas Maciulis. “However, the Fed’s statement had a tweak in its assessment of inflation, reflecting that inflation appears to be accelerating from a low rate. This doesn’t mean an inflationary spike is a concern, especially if long-term inflation expectations are well-anchored. The Fed will continue to closely monitor inflation-pressure indicators such as wages and inflation expectations in the near term, as well as a broad array of labor market indicators, to gauge when it will be appropriate to lift the policy rate from zero.”

Mixed news for the labor market

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, below economists’ expectations and the strong pace of the previous three months. Slower growth in service-sector hiring was a factor in the lower-than-anticipated figure. Still, the Labor Department’s report had a positive tone as May and June employment numbers were both revised higher for a combined total of 15,000 additional jobs.

Also, the three-month average of 245,000 new jobs is considered healthy, and job totals increased 200,000 or more for the sixth straight month. The unemployment rate edged to 6.2% from 6.1%, and the labor participation rate to 62.9% from 62.8%. Improvement was notable compared with a year earlier, when unemployment stood at 7.3%. About 1.7 million more people joined the nation’s payrolls over the 12 months.

U.S. employment

The nation’s economy bounces back

The U.S. economy rebounded strongly in the second quarter, more than offsetting the first quarter’s retreat. Real gross domestic product (GDP), the value of all goods and services when adjusted for inflation, grew 4.0%, according to the Commerce Department’s advance estimate for April through June. The growth exceeded economists’ forecasts and made up for the first-quarter decline, which was revised from –2.9% to a less steep –2.1%.

Inventory-building by businesses and a rise in consumer and government spending fueled much of the growth and overcame the detraction caused by imports growing faster than exports. Economists have largely attributed the first quarter’s contraction to the severe winter weather that affected much of the nation. Although the recent figures point to an upswing in the economy, the advance GOP estimate often undergoes major revision as the latest data become available.

GDP: Under the hood
1Q final estimate 2Q initial estimate
Real GDP growth estimates (annualized)
–2.1% +4.0%
Components: Contributions/subtractions (percentage points)
Consumer spending +0.8 +1.7
Housing-sector investment* –0.2 +0.2
Business spending and inventories –0.9 +2.3
Trade (exports minus imports) –1.7 –0.6
Federal, state, and local government spending –0.2 +0.3

*Together with business spending and inventories, the combined amount equals the “investment” category of GDP.
Percentages may not add up to 100 because of rounding.

Get a closer look at GDP and its components.

Consumer confidence jumps

Consumers gave the economy a round of applause. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index surged to 90.9 in July, above economists’ expectations. Also, June’s figures were revised upward. July’s improvement marks the index’s third-straight monthly increase and its highest reading since October 2007. Consumers polled in this household survey, which tends to correlate strongly with consumer spending patterns, were optimistic about the present situation as well as the future. The improving labor market lifted consumers’ appraisal of current conditions, while better short-term assessments of the economy and the job market led to the gain in expectations.

Compensation costs increase

The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of the price of civilian U.S. labor, rose 0.7% in the second quarter, exceeding economists’ forecasts and the first quarter’s 0.3% advance. A 1% increase in retirement and health-care benefits contributed significantly to the gain, along with a 0.6% growth in wages, which make up about 70% of compensation costs. For the 12 months ended June 30, total employment costs were up 2.0%, wages were up 1.8%, and benefits were up 2.5%. Overall, analysts said that the report offered reasons for optimism, and that the rise in wages may translate to greater consumer spending.

The economic week ahead

Economic reports scheduled for release include factory orders and the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index on Tuesday, international trade on Wednesday, consumer credit on Thursday, and productivity and costs on Friday.

Summary of major economic reports
Date Report Actual
value
Consensus
expected value
10-year note yield S&P 500 Index
July 28 +2 bp 0.0%
July 29 Consumer Confidence (July)
Source: The Conference Board
90.9 85.3 –3 bp –0.5%
July 30 Real Gross Domestic Product (2Q, annual rate)
Source: Commerce Department
+4.0% +3.0% +10 bp +0.0%
FOMC Monetary Policy
Source: Federal Reserve Board
July 31 Initial Jobless Claims (week ended July 26)
Source: Labor Department
302,000 300,000 +1 bp –2.0%
Employment Cost Index (2Q)
Source: Labor Department
+0.7% +0.5%
August 1 Unemployment Rate (July)
Source: Commerce Department
6.2% 6.1% –6 bp –0.6%
Nonfarm Payrolls (July)
Source: Commerce Department
209,000 235,000
Personal Income (June)
Source: Commerce Department
+0.4% +0.4%
Personal Spending (June)
Source: Commerce Department
+0.4% +0.4%
Construction Spending (June)
Source: Commerce Department
–1.8% +0.5%
ISM Manufacturing Index (July)
Source: Institute for Supply Management
57.1 56.1
Weekly change +4 bp –2.7%

bp=basis points. 100 basis points equal 1%. For example, if a bond’s yield rises from 5.0% to 5.5%, the increase is 50 basis points.

Notes

  • The economic statistics presented in this report are subject to revision by the agencies that issue them. For more information on the reports mentioned in this article, read our Guide to major U.S. economic reports.
  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

 

 

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The Critical Question We’re Not Asking About The Ebola Outbreak

AFRICA DEFORESTATION

The ebola outbreak in West Africa has the world on edge: Will the virus spill into new communities? Will it cross more borders? Even oceans? How can caregivers raise the victims’ chances of survival, as well as reduce their own chances of getting sick?

Some experts emphasize the importance of another, generally overlooked question: How can we thwart such deadly outbreaks in the first place?

“For very good reason, the news coverage and activities are subsumed with containing this outbreak and limiting human infections,” said Jonathan Epstein, a wildlife veterinarian with EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organization of scientists focused on the dual goals of conservation and public health. “That aside, at some point, hopefully sooner, we need to understand how the outbreak occurred, understand what the risks were and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

At the very end of “Contagion,” a short sequence of clips provides a prequel to the global pandemic that plays out in the film: A bulldozer clears a patch of trees for a new piggery, into which a displaced and diseased bat drops a chunk of banana, which is gobbled by a pig that later lands in the hands of a chef. The chef, who doesn’t wash his hands, infects Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, and a nightmare scenario ensues.

The ebola strain that has so far killed at least 729 people across West Africa does not spread through the air and therefore isn’t as contagious as the fictitious MEV-1 virus in the movie. Still, Hollywood’s story isn’t a stretch, experts say. A similar pandemic is quite possible. Even in the current outbreak, there is no treatment, and transmission is relatively easy through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva and diarrhea. More than half of those infected with the hemorrhagic fever die. And this virus, too, is likely zoonotic — meaning it jumped from animal to human.

In fact, the leading suspect in what is now believed to be the worst ebola outbreak in history is the bat.

Overall, more than 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases over the last six decades — from HIV/AIDS to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) to chikungunya — have originated in bats, primates and other animals. Of an estimated 1 million animal viruses out there, only about 2,000 have so far been identified.

The connection is sometimes mentioned by public health officials. Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, closed an ebola-related press conference on Monday with a reference to the need for a “better understanding of how this dreadful disease first crosses over from animals to humans so we can prevent this from happening.” But it was the only mention of animals during the press conference.

Making the shift from a reactionary to a proactive, precautionary approach, Epstein and other experts say, goes beyond the purview of public health officials and medical doctors. It requires the work of veterinarians, ecologists, economists, sociologists and politicians, among others. And such holistic efforts don’t happen naturally. Health care, at least in the U.S., is focused primarily on treatment, with pharmaceutical money behind much of the research. Meanwhile, doctors, veterinarians and other professionals have grown increasingly specialized — which is to say they’ve grown apart. So communication across disciplines is rare, making it easy to overlook useful links.

A multidisciplinary approach, so-called one health, seeks to remedy this situation. At its core, the one-health movement aims to raise awareness of the connections between the health of the environment, animals and human beings, and the importance of collaboration across both disciplinary and political borders.

Scientists may work together to study an animal virus and how it spills over into humans. But that is just the first step, according to Epstein. Experts are then needed to figure out why humans are coming into contact with infected wildlife.

Hunger is one obvious factor. In most parts of West Africa, sources of protein aren’t simply purchased at the corner bodega or strip mall supermarket. Desperation, as well as tradition, sends people into the forests to hunt wildlife, including bats. Lack of food for a growing population of people is also among the key drivers of deforestation in the region, as nations make room for more agricultural development.

Whether it begins with people venturing into wildlife habitats for food or development destroying wildlife habitats, the result is animals and humans sharing closer quarters.

“There’s solid scientific evidence pointing to the fact that human activities like agricultural expansion and hunting and deforestation do facilitate spillover and outbreak events and do pose some risks,” said Epstein.

Experts suggest that nearly half of the world’s emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are linked to changes in land use.

Laura Kahn, a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, pointed to a Catch-22 situation. “On the one hand, you want livestock to provide meat,” she said. “But how can you do it sustainably without destroying the forest? That leads you to large-scale farming — factory farming — and that has all of its problems.”

“Here in affluent Western countries, it’s easy for us to sit back here and speculate and tell them what they should and shouldn’t do. But we’re not in their situation,” added Kahn, a leader in the one-health movement. “We’re not starving.”

Epstein agreed. Still, he suggested, more can be done to at least educate local people about the health risks involved in how they hunt and butcher wild animals. “There are simple steps, such as hand-washing, that could really reduce the risk of spillover of viruses and prevent infection,” he said.

Of course, not everyone in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone — the centers of the ebola outbreak — is impoverished and undernourished. Corrupt government leaders, and the funds they strip from health services, environmental protection and public education, could be contributing to the outbreak, some say.

“The faction or fraction that has control of the government at a particular historical juncture uses political power to reap personal economic benefits through the processes of plundering and pillaging the public coffers,” George Klay Kieh Jr. said in Atlanta on Saturday, during a speech honoring Liberia’s Independence Day. Kieh is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Georgia, a political scientist, and the son of a Liberian politician.

“In short, the Liberian government became and is still like a buffet service, in which those who control the government and their relations ‘eat all they can eat for free,'” he added, “while the majority of Liberians look through the windows with empty stomachs.”

Kieh Jr. pointed to the heavy investments that Liberian leaders have made in the palm oil industry, with the public reaping none of the financial benefits. Deforestation for palm oil production, meanwhile, raises the risk of another disease outbreak. And outbreaks, as Epstein and his colleagues suggest, can be extremely damaging to the bottom line of a company or a country. The SARS outbreak in 2003 was estimated to have cost anywhere from $15 billion to more than $50 billion globally.

Even well-meaning governments may be missing the mark. In most countries, the department of health has minimal interaction with the department of agriculture, Kahn said. Neither may be looking for sick wildlife or livestock as a warning sign of a coming outbreak in humans. Likewise, doctors may not be looking for an animal-borne disease in a sick person, slowing down diagnosis and potentially spurring greater spread of disease.

“This isn’t just in Africa. It happens in the U.S., too,” said Kahn, who recalled multiple examples of sick families in which a doctor couldn’t make a diagnosis, but a veterinarian friend of the ill was able to immediately identify the zoonotic pathogen.

Tayo Babalobi, a Nigerian veterinary epidemiologist, is helping to lead the one-health charge in his country, where officials fear the ebola outbreak may spread. Nigeria is home to some 170 million people.

“The most important contributory factors [in the spread of disease],” Babalobi said, “are ignorance at high and low levels.”

 

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House Votes To Sue President For The First Time In History

Who needs jobs, an energy policy, health care, or foreign policy.
This is something they can PASS!

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AP Photo / AP
READ: Boehner Defends Lawsuit Against Obama In Op-edThe resolution authorizes Boehner to challenge Obama in court for exceeding his authority by unilaterally delaying deadlines under Obamacare. Although he has said he’ll target the one-year delay of the health care reform law’s employer mandate penalties, the text of the GOP resolutiongives the Speaker room to legally challenge implementation tweaks to other provisions of the law.

“This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats. It’s about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold,” Boehner said. “Are you willing to let any president choose what laws to execute and what laws to change? Are you willing to let anyone tear apart what our Founders have built?”

The move comes as Boehner feels elevated pressure to wage new battles against Obama from confrontation-hungry conservatives. It’s a politically awkward one for his party given that Republicans despise the employer mandate, and have voted to eliminate and delay it. Republican aides say they chose the issue for legal reasons as they think it gives them the best chance of victory in court.

VIDEO: Obama Dismisses Boehner’s ‘Stunt’ Lawsuit“Republicans want to sue the president for not enforcing a law they want to repeal,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “It is wrong. It is a waste of time. It is a waste of money. It is a distraction from the important issues so important to our people. This lawsuit is nothing more than a partisan bill to rally the Republican base.”

Democrats are aggressively fundraising off the planned lawsuit, portraying it as a precursor to impeachment. They’ve boasted about raising millions of dollars from donors recently over the two issues. Boehner has repeatedly insisted he has no plans to impeach Obama, describing it as a Democratic “scam.” The White House responds that House Republicans were discussing the issue long before Democrats mentioned it, and that GOP leaders also vowed they wouldn’t shut down the government before that happened last fall.

READ: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Judge Would Throw Out Boehner’s Lawsuit Against ObamaBoehner faces an uphill battle in court. The first big question is whether he can achieve “standing” which requires proving a material injury to the House. Legal experts say that’s a very difficult task because no lawsuit emanating from members of Congress against the president has ever achieved standing in court. The next question, if the courts grant standing, is whether the lawsuit has merit to succeed. Republicans may have better luck on this question, experts say, as Obama’s unilateral decision to delay a statutory deadline is arguably problematic from a legal standpoint.

Progressives and some conservative legal minds warn that if the lawsuit succeeds, it woulddeclare open season for the executive and legislative branches to sue each other over any legal disagreement and empower judges to resolve such disputes.

 

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How to be a Reporter’s Favorite News Source

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By: Ginny Grimsley

Reporters love sources who understand their needs.

Getting a call from a reporter who wants to quote you as an expert for his story, review your book or product, or invite you to write an exclusive article for a publication, is a major coup. It means that your marketing efforts are paying off.  Who would blow such an opportunity?

Unfortunately, a lot of people. Those who don’t understand journalists’ deadlines and needs are liable to be quickly passed over in favor of sources who do. That lack of knowledge can also rack up lots of wasted time and money for those who take a shotgun approach to blasting their message or products to any and all journalists. If you don’t consider their individual needs, you’re likely making a futile effort.

After a decade of working with journalists, arranging for interviews with and exclusive articles by the experts our public relations firm represents, I’ve learned what works – and what doesn’t – for them.

Here are a few of my tips for becoming a favorite news source:

•  Remember – many of them are working on tight deadlines. They need to find someone immediately – meaning right now. People who aren’t used to working with daily deadlines tend to think of “immediately” as “within 24 hours” or “sometime this week.” That won’t do for a reporter who has to report, write and file his story today. She will quickly move on to another source if she has to wait for you.

•  If a media contact wants to talk to you – whether it’s today or next Tuesday – make yourself available.  I’ve had clients say a particular requested day or time isn’t good because they’ve got a dentist appointment scheduled or a trip to the library. If The New York Times wants to interview you, reschedule the cleaning!

•  Have high-resolution image of yourself available. Journalists often want an image to go with their story and that’s great for you – more exposure! So be prepared. Print journalists need high-resolution images, usually 300 dpi (dots per inch). Instructing them to download your picture from your website likely won’t meet their needs. Most images on websites have a very low resolution of about 72 dpi, which looks fine on a computer monitor, but can’t be printed on paper. Instead, have a professional quality face shot of yourself, and your product or book, if applicable, at the ready to email.

•  To avoid wasting time and money when pitching your product or book to the media, learn which reporters and editors might have an interest in your message. The automotive writer will have no interest in gardening tips. Likewise, the entertainment editor won’t care about your business book. You should be able to find which journalists cover what beats by visiting the publication’s website. If that fails, pick up the phone and call.

•  If an editor invites you to write an article or blog post, pay attention to the criteria and the deadline. If you’re asked for 450 words or less, don’t send an 800-word piece. They may request you focus on a specific topic, or write in a specific format, such as tips or first person. Follow instructions, make sure your piece is finalized and proofread, and file on time. Early is better!

Being prompt, accommodating and reliable may also have some other benefits: You could become the source the journalist saves in her Rolodex and you might just hear from her again. Or, you may get a call from one of her colleagues; fellow staffers often share their good sources.

Whether the medium is a newspaper, magazine or blog, the journalists’ work can result in far-reaching exposure. Their articles are likely to be disseminated all over the Internet; one story could be seen by 1 million readers. How’s that for a return on your investment?

About Ginny Grimsley

Ginny Grimsley is a panelist at the Tampa Bay Marketing Summit (#TBMS14), www.tampabaymarketingsummit.com, scheduled Aug. 8 in Tampa, Fla. She is the print campaign manager at EMSI Public Relations, a national PR agency. She’ll join experts in social media marketing, SEO, online videos, advertising and other specialty areas for a one-day conference aimed at providing professionals and business people with the newest marketing tools and strategies.

 

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San Mateo County rents highest in nation: Average rent for the first quarter of year was $2,360

golden gate bridge

By Angela Swartz -

Apartment rates in San Mateo County continue to rise, as the county tied with Marin and San Francisco counties for the top three most expensive out of 3,144 other counties in the United States to live in, with renters needing to make $29.83 per hour to afford one-bedroom housing, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The average rent for an apartment in the first quarter of 2014 was $2,360. The average one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment was $2,136. The average occupancy rate was 93.9 percent, up 0.3 percent from the same time last year, according to RealFacts, a group that compiles apartment data. Minimum wage in San Mateo County is $8 per hour.

Development is growing along the Peninsula, said Nick Grotjahn, sales and client services representative for RealFacts.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth,” Grotjahn said. “People are starting to build properties in San Mateo because rents are out of reach in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Whenever builders see an opportunity where there’s quite a bit of demand, the outlying areas are going to grow as well.”

Meanwhile, Sally Navarro, a rental, sales and property management Realtor for AVR Realty in Burlingame, said the market has been crazy and ever changing in the last eight months. Navarro helps rent out spaces from Daly City to Menlo Park.

“They’ve (rents) just been going up and up and up just like during the dot-com boom,” she said. “People are willing to pay the prices because there’s such limited inventory. … In any given week, we’ll run out of one-bedrooms or don’t have any studios available. It really sort of cycles.”

She notes houses get snatched up pretty quickly. Clients are having to make some concessions to find a place to live too. She leased a house in Burlingame last year with no heat.

“There’s something out there for everything,” she said. “Whether there’s no heat or it’s little tiny one-bedrooms that people will rent.”

Those like Mark Moulton, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, say the discussion of housing in the county needs to be reframed and seen as an opportunity. His group works to accelerate the production of new homes in the county at all affordability levels to create opportunities and a viable quality of life.

“Let’s ask, ‘Who needs housing?’ he wrote in an email. “’Why do they need it?’ ‘Why does housing at the level they can afford to pay, not now exist in San Mateo County?’ Take a look at the downtown specific plan in Redwood City. Take a look at the Grand Boulevard Initiative. Ask, ‘Is San Mateo County together as 21 jurisdictions a place that can discuss the opportunity to grow our rate of housing production to meet our jobs growth?’”

There needs to be a forum to discuss growing housing production, Moulton said.

In the context of the recent local housing element updates, a coalition of groups, including the Housing Council, Greenbelt Alliance and Sustainable San Mateo County, sent letters to each of the county’s city councilmembers, along with a list of policies that may help the situation.

“We believe that the implications of these high housing costs for our community are serious and profound,” the letter dated March 27 stated. “They are regularly cited as one of the key constraints to economic development in San Mateo County.”

More development in priority areas and other transit-served locations carry with it the risk of displacement of existing low-income populations, the groups wrote. Potential policies recommended to the councils by the groups included committing to development without displacement; considering displacement risks early in the development process; focusing on both direct displacement and indirect displacement; stabilizing existing lower income residents/housing; considering rent stabilization, just cause eviction ordinances, one-for-one replacement of any housing removed from the supply and condominium conversion controls; and making affordable housing a key component of development strategy from the beginning.

Meanwhile, the county’s homeless rate has risen 12 percent since 2011, according to a report from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, compiled in January 2013. There are 2,281 homeless people in the county as of January, with 1,299 unsheltered homeless people and 982 sheltered homeless people, according to the report. The next homelessness count will be conducted in January 2015.

The number of people seeking shelter space doesn’t seem to have changed much since the last count, said Wendy Goldberg, homeless and shelter care manager at the Human Services Agency. One thing that has changed is that the Project WeHOPE shelter in East Palo Alto changed from being a seasonal shelter from Nov. 15 through April 15 to year round through county funding, making 50 extra beds available.

“There is an increase in the number of beds available in county year round, which is great,” she said. “There still are people waiting to get into the shelters who are staying with friends or staying in a motel.”

There are usually about 40-60 people per night who come and request shelter space and aren’t able to get immediate shelter, she said.

 

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Elon Musk’s Gigafactory may be popping up in Nevada — or not

15336565h1456509-600xx3992-2667-0-0Tesla may be building its Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev., or maybe not.

Eric Van Susteren

Each new report about where Elon Musk will place his Gigafactory battery plant sparks a round of speculation about the strategy and future of Tesla Motors Inc.

The latest report as to where Tesla will build the $5 billion battery factory? That the little town of Sparks, Nevada, just outside of Reno, may have landed it — or maybe it hasn’t.

Tesla first announced that it would build the factory in one of four southwestern states, later adding California to the mix. Then it said it may begin work on two or more sites at once so that it could avoid missing crucial deadlines.

Now attention is focused on Sparks, where 50 large earth movers had begun work on a site, enough heavy metal to build the 10 million-square-foot site, according to auto blog Jalopnik. Workers there were reticent about details of the project, which reportedly has been dubbed Project Tiger. That might seem like pretty thin evidence to some observers, but to others it means a lot. ( Forbes points out that lithium-ion batteries are often called Li-ion batteries, basing some speculation on carnivorous cat connections.)

Why build in Nevada? It’s the state that’s geographically closest to the company’s Fremont, Calif., factory. California is obviously closer, but Musk has pointed out that California’s circuitous regulatory and approval requirements makes it a distant possibility.

Nevada doesn’t have those problems. Also worth noting, the only lithium mine in the U.S. is located there. We’ve written in the past that the company will need 25,000 tons of lithium to meet its expectation of 500,000 battery packs per year.

Before you get too excited, it’s important to note that Nevada newspaper Reno Gazette Journal has reported grading has stopped at the site, after reaching 85 percent completion, without clarifying whether it’s a temporary pause or a full stop.

Hopefully we’ll learn more when Tesla reports its second-quarter earnings on July 31.

 

 

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