Category ArchiveAnn Arbor, Michigan PR Firm
Start-up companies are becoming popular among entrepreneurs and experienced business people who have been “outed” from their jobs because of the economy and the implosion of the domestic auto businesses. This is true across Michigan and especially in the Ann Arbor region.
There are many organizations that provide pro bono counsel and services like business planning, investment, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, design, packaging.
CooLHeadS, which has developed its business to the extent it will show its creative new product, which covers heads and neck areas to prevent sunburn on hot summer and fall days, at the 12th annual EMU Exposure and Runway Show at Quirk Hall April 16.
CEO of CooLHeadS Tommy Green explains the firm has engaged the following groups, all pro bono, in his quest to organize and get the firm up and running:
The Sesi Business Plan Competition Committee (Paul Nucci, Richard King, Phil Rufe).
The B Side of Youth (Jack Bidlack).
University of Michigan Business Engagement Center (Nick Miller).
Michigan Manufacturing Association (Michelle Cordano).
“Having discussions helped mold my ideas into well-thought plans for execution,” says Green. “Each individual provided their own vision and insight on the project. “I listened, considered and put into practice. Each perspective gave me a truly different view of how CooLHeadS can become a solid business.”
Other infrastructure groups have developed in the past 10 years around the state are also available to help entrepreneurs — the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First. SPARK, The Right Place in Grand Rapids, Tech Town, Automation Alley and its Entrepreneurial Initiative.
Investment wise, the Michigan Venture Capital Association and the five angel investor groups across the state also fulfill key roles for emerging companies as they grow. There are Ann Arbor Angels, Blue Water Angels, First Angels, Grand Angels and Great Lakes Angels.
The Small Business Technology and Development Center guides new businesses through professionals in its 12 regions covering the state with 60 offices and affiliates.
In academia, we have Michigan State’s Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan Ross School of Business’s Zell-Lurie Institute and Wayne State’s Tech Town.
The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest, a business plan competition since 2000, provides a great source of guidance through its mentors for new companies.
We have the infrastructure strengths that did not exist 10 years back. Let’s use the groups established to bolster new businesses as we march toward a better Michigan.
The introduction of a new trend, formspring.me, has many people talking. This website allows users to create anonymous question boxes for anyone with an account. The choice of leaving an anonymous question allows anyone to ask the juicy questions that would normally be avoided. Is a website like this a good idea? Seems to me it is something that will quickly be abused.
In an age where cyber-bullying is an everyday occurrence, people should be more cautious in regulating the web. Adolescents are continuously using new forms of social media to taunt their unpopular peers. Not only adolescents, but also some parents have joined in on the taunting, such as a mother whose fictitious MySpace account led to the suicide of a 13-year old neighbor. Cases like these are on the rise and with the ever-increasing changes in technology will continue to ostracize many of America’s youth.
Permitting anonymous posts makes it easier for bullies to get away with their crimes. They can easily say hurtful words without having to deal with the consequences. Because high school students in our society continually utilize social media, formspring.me is gaining new users on a daily basis. Although formspring.me may have been created with good intentions, I believe that it will quickly be misused and perpetuate the mistreatment of many of today’s adolescents.
- Sami Kraslow
“Nerd” has attained positive new popularity across Michigan in the past few weeks since Rick Snyder, well known entrepreneur and strong advocate of building new businesses, began his “nerd” television campaign. As a former head of Gateway Computer and an investor in numerous technology businesses through his investment businesses, Snyder proclaims himself a nerd in the positive and meaningful sense — someone who passionately pursues intellectual activities and is familiar with all of the emerging technologies and businesses that are succeeding across the state.
Nerd is what many people may be emulating as we move inexorably toward Internet 2.0 — the latest iteration of technologies that are compelling all of us to learn anew — and to learn to use new media and technologies to our advantage. Internet 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that allow interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration.
An Eiler intern from 2009 has an interesting blog post on Web 2.0 and its place in the college classroom. Case Ernsting interned for Eiler last year, learning the ins and outs of public relations and the developing field of social media marketing. Case continues to explore digital marketing in his new role as Marketing Representative at MetaSpring Web Design in Ann Arbor. In a recent post for MetaSpring’s blog, Case outlined some key issues with Web 2.0 as it relates to job preparation for today’s college graduates.
Web 2.0 for Your Career
We’ve speculated on the job market in a few posts on this blog. It seems like college grads have the deck stacked against them in many ways. Whether it’s the economy, or skill set, many job seekers are having trouble.
Web 2.0 is a valuable asset to any college grad’s resume. More and more companies are looking to expand their digital presence. As a result, they expect entry-level employees to have the ability to implement web-based strategies. As Casey’s post points out, many recent college graduates are unequipped for these roles.
Here is a clip of the Casey’s post entitled, “Career Development 101: Teaching Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom”.
“Colleges need to step it up. As a recent college grad, I see academia’s sluggish embrace of technological innovation and Web 2.0 as a disservice to my fellow students. Today’s job market has suffered in these tough economic times, but employers still seek workers who can gather information, assess it and act. Those in the workforce already rely on the web-based information-gathering tools daily, but if you’re currently enrolled in undergraduate college classes, you probably don’t even know they exist.”
For the rest of the post, jump over to MetaSpring’s blog: “Piece of Our Mind”.
Social media (SM) users are relying on the web 2.0 sites for more than just networking these days. Might SM’s greatest contribution be mental health? SM’s use as a therapeutic outlet was studied and explored by Mental Health Camp, a Canadian-based conference in April 2009. This collaborative project investigated SM’s influence on mental health, both from a PR perspective and as a therapeutic outlet.
The all day Camp looked at ways to erase social stigmas associated with poor mental health “one tweet at a time” through social media marketing. Camp presentations and discussions pitched SM as an opportunity to release public service announcements from a personal perspective.
Additionally, presenters positioned SM as an outlet for those dealing with stress and anxiety. In terms of daily relief, individuals can blog and tweet away mental angst. According to Mental Health Camp counselors, mental health ranges from mental wellbeing (e.g. minimum stress, interpersonal problems) and serious illness (e.g. addiction, schizophrenia, anorexia). Mental wellbeing is our focus in this blog. Rather than keeping thoughts and burdens weighing on your mind, why not write a soothing blog or post on Twitter? In this sense, SM is a new age, productive version of the punching bag or stress ball.
Although the Camp concluded in April, online therapy continues on the Mental Health Camp’s website (here) as well on sites throughout the internet. As we have documented on this blog Web 2.0 and SM continue to weave into communication networks in productive ways.
Personally, I find blogging and other SM software both fun and therapeutic. In addition to a quick cure for boredom, networking with friends on Facebook is a great distraction from daily stresses. And when my girlfriend and roommates are sick of listening to my rants about my favorite sports teams, I continue the discussion on the blogoshpere. I know, I know…how pathetic right? Well, the stigmas surrounding these online outlets are quickly disappearing while the benefits are becoming more apparent.
Now is the perfect time to become an entrepreneur. That’s right, I said now.
With many older, established organizations running low on capital and funds, failed business models are being washed away. There’s room for fresh, new ideas. Obviously, it takes more than an idea to make it in this economy, and Ann Arbor is lucky enough to have three economic developers poised to incubate your burgeoning idea.
This driver of economic growth relies on collaborative efforts to build workforce and development initiatives. Automation Alley hosts networking events and skill-building exercises. Every level of business leader can find opportunities at Automation Alley. The Alley has created the Entrepreneurial Initiative of Southeast Michigan (EISEM) to highlight regional entrepreneurs. EISEM holds a bi-monthly forum with keynote speakers and local startups in order to extend each business’ message with customers and investors. The next forum will be held at Detroit’s TechTown on August 13. Please visit automationalley.com for more information and events.
This heavily lauded economic development corporation, headquartered in downtown Ann Arbor, strives to realize the tremendous amount of potential pouring forth from surrounding communities (U of M, EMU, tech groups, etc.). Like many economic developers, SPARK hosts networking events throughout the area and looks to educate and refine start-ups to their maximum potential. Entrepreneurs can open an account with SPARK and set up a profile to advance their networking potential on their website: www.annarborusa.org.
The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest
The GLEQ extends their economic vision throughout Michigan, inspiring venture capitalists and entrepreneurs throughout the state. GLEQ provides a tremendous database of educational resources to member companies. Unique to the GLEQ is the competition they hold for new participants in two categories; New Business Idea and Emerging Company. Cash prizes are awarded to top finishers. Read more about the GLEQ and their competition at www.gleq.org.
Many other economic organizations exist in Michigan with the mission evolving from education purposes to inspirational efforts amidst these economic downturns. While the auto-industry reassembles and reinvigorates, the work of economic developers and venture capitalists cannot be overvalued. Ross Perot said, “Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers. They will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.” And for that reason, the time to explore your entrepreneurial spirit is now.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Corporate Communications &Ecofriendly &Entrepreneurs &Environment &Marketing Communications &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights &Thinking Green 17 Jun 2009 10:02 am
On June 12, 2009 Main Street played host to the 9th Annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair. Underneath the lush green leafy canopy of Ann Arbor’s city center, local eco-friendly vendors and businesses gathered to discuss, exhibit, explain and sell all things Green. Booths lined both sides of downtown Main Street between Huron and William with companies both large and small, profit (Whole Foods) and non-profits (Friends of the Allen Creek Greenway) encouraging visitors to focus on environmental-sustainability for the future. BikeFest, with tutorials and ideas on bicycle transportation was also included in the festivities.
The annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair signifies the growth and opportunity the Green Industry represents in our current economic climate. The traditional preservation communities made their appearance at the Fair, but also notably present were industries that do not immediately suggest “environmentalist”. Examples of these include: The Bank of Ann Arbor, Amtrak and Ann Arbor division of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As a casual onlooker and job seeker, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity towards Green initiatives. Also particularly interesting is the governmental support of eco-sustainability. In addition to the Mayor’s continued backing of the Fair (scheduled in the heart of Festival season by the way), Washtenaw County showed off their ecological commitment with exhibitions on weatherization, water resources and environmental health. More on Washtenaw County’ s Green initiatives can be found at their homepage.
“Going Green” is no longer just a fad, but a serious consideration for any business leader or those looking for business or jobs. The sophistication of green-centric organizations was on display at last week’s Fair. A list of companies and businesses that appeared at last week’s Fair can be found here. The city of Ann Arbor listing for the event can be found here. In order to take eco-friendly businesses to the next step in terms of impact and economic stability, I believe it is time for these businesses to enlist traditional marketing and public relations expertise. The audience is ready to listen. Attendance of the Green Fair was bustling and curious. Each booth attracted three to four visitors and musical acts entertained at each corner. The Green Fair even out-paced the turnout of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s First Night gathering just 5 blocks north. “Going Green” is no longer simply the way of the future, but as the Green Fair showed, the future.
If you’re at all into Social Media you know about Twitter; but do you know how you can use Twitter to effectively market your company?
One company using Twitter to their advantage is Kogi BBQ, they are a Korean-Style taco vendor that sells their food out of a lunch truck, and they are using Twitter to their advantage. Kogi “tweets” the location of their two lunch trucks throughout Los Angeles as well as extra items not mentioned on the menu. Kogi has only been around since November but is already one of the most recognizable names in the country. They have close to 24,000 followers.
Another company out in Los Angeles using Twitter is The Westin Bonaventure, a hotel in the heart of LA’s financial district. Recently they gave away rooms to twenty-five followers. This created such a buzz that media outlets such as USA Today and The Los Angeles Times picked up the story. Obviously, all their followers knew about it and around 100 of them retweeted the news as well. In an interview with the PR firm responsible, an estimated twenty million impressions were generated from this campaign. Twenty million impressions resulting from a single tweet, you can’t ask for anything better.
As you can see, Twitter can be very powerful. If used correctly, it’s a great way to reach the masses in expensively. Find a unique way to grab people’s attention, and the rest will follow. Twitter is free and easy to use, so if you and your company aren’t already using Twitter, it’s about time to start. Happy Tweeting.
It’s hip, it’s fun, but most of all it’s entirely original; it’s Skittles new website. If you haven’t gotten the chance to check it out yet, here’s the link www.skittles.com. Skittles created a fresh new site that is nothing but their Social Media pages. Their Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Flickr, and Youtube pages make up the bulk of the website. This is a pretty daring move since they can’t very well control the information being shared. Skittles must have a strong belief in their brand because all it takes is one bad comment to start an avalanche of negativity. Looking at the comments left on their Twitter and Facebook pages this seems to be a success.
Skittles has done a great job appealing to the social media crowd, which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone now. This website has generated all types of buzz over the website, surprisingly bloggers hate it. This is interesting because everyone posting on the site seems to love the idea.
Here’s a list of a few things I think Skittles could do to better the experience.
1. For it to truly be social media Skittles will need to step in and engage in conversation.
2. For the people who aren’t in to Social Media or just don’t understand it, there needs to be a out-out option that will bring you back to their old website. This way using an analytics site you can track the number of users on the new website versus the old which will tell Skittles when it’s time to switch back to the traditional style website.
3. The widget-like menu needs to be movable.
If they can change those three problems, then all that negative buzz over their website will begin to fade.
An over-whelming majority of blogs out there regarding this subject, seem to think it’s over the top or think that Skittles took the easy way out. Even so, Skittle’s new site has all the information that any other website would have but they did it unlike anyone else.
Kudos to Skittles for being bold and trying something never done before, but as great an idea as this is, I think it won’t last very long. This is a great way to temporarily boost interest in Skittles and learn about their customers; but in the end the hype will wear off and people will want the website back to the traditional style.
The continued boom of various social media sites gives me some reason for concern. As an employer I question if employees become so addicted to using the sites that the main function of their jobs suffers. I’d be interested in others comments. Expectations in our business is that employees are 80-90% billable. How does that happen if a lot of time is spent on Facebook, Twitter etc.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Corporate Communications &Leadership &Marketing &Public Relations Tools &Social Media &Technology PR Insights 24 Mar 2009 04:26 pm
“What’s on your mind”? With this simple query that appears on the front page of Facebook profiles, Facebook has thrown down the gauntlet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had Twitter on his mind for a while now, and struck back at the up-and-coming social networking site two weeks ago. The much anticipated and incredibly hyped Facebook profile changes appeared on browsers everywhere on March 13. How BIG were these changes? As you can see here, the evolution of Facebook’s façade earned Zuckerberg an invite to appear on Oprah. Clearly, dorm room tech geeks aren’t the only ones noticing the social media frenzy.
Where’s all this buzz coming from? Well, Zuckerberg’s changes mark the latest chapter in the clash between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter has built its reputation on simplicity since CEO Evan Williams launched the site in 2006. Zuckerberg threw subtleties aside when he joined the 6 million on Twitter with a username of his own (thezuckerberg), apparently researching the micro-blog from the inside. (For those scoring at home, add “Espionage” to the list of professions social media has transformed.) The most obvious examples of Facebook’s robbery: When users sign on to Twitter they are greeted with the eerily coincidental question, “What are you doing?”. Facebook’s revamped look helps companies develop a presence on the site beyond the traditional “Fan Pages”. With Facebook’s improved business-oriented functionality, look for Facebook’s membership to spike in the upcoming months.
In the past six months, Twitter has really found its stride attracting celebrities, musicians, politicians, professional athletes, news agencies, businesses, and even President Barack Obama (username: BarackObama). This diverse, informational, and entertaining Twitter population was growing so much (752% In the last year!!) that Facebook looked to purchase the site last year to the tune of $500million in stock. Twitter and Williams rebuffed the offer, proclaiming that “Twitter is just getting started”. Facebook’s offer and subsequent rejection is even more astounding when you discover that Twitter is not a revenue-generating machine. Perhaps these are the changes Williams’ and his team foresee.
What’s the next step in this titanic clash of social media giants? It’s hard to speculate, but definitely fun to watch. Stay tuned.