Friday, May 10, 2013 | Leave a Comment
The Boston Marathon bombing occurred a few weeks ago; however, memories are still fresh in the minds of many, including us here at Greenough. Our offices are located only a few blocks away from the finish line, and we had several employees in the area at the time who witnessed the attacks or were touched directly by the horror and chaos that followed. One of them was 26-year-old Rachel Vaccari, an account supervisor who left her job in television news to join our agency just days before the tragedy happened. This is a first-hand account of her experience that day.
April 15th. Marathon Monday. Patriots’ Day. A day off. An opportunity to enjoy a beautiful, 60-degree day with my younger brother. A day that terrorists attacked. A day that innocent people died. A day that families lost loved ones. A day that people lost limbs but not the strength to survive. A day that brought the city, the nation, and the world together to heal.
We spent the majority of the day in front of Lord & Taylor on Boylston Street — Marathon Sports to our right, Forum to our left. We were packed on the sidewalk so tightly that at one point I thought “Geez, I hope we don’t have to get anywhere fast.” If this had been right after 9/11 I would have thought twice about being stuck in such a large group of people, but it was eleven years later and I felt safe. The thought never even crossed my mind.
Around 2:30pm we decided to vacate our 2nd row spot along the barriers that we had fought hard to reach. We debated pushing our way towards the finish line but the crowd was overwhelming and seemingly impassable. So, we decided to walk in the other direction, heading to Towne a little over a block away from Forum. The bar area was busy. Floor-to-ceiling windows along the front of the building made it a desirable spot to have a drink and cheer for the runners. People were dancing and singing along to “Manic Monday” by The Bangles. I distinctly remember everyone joining in unison to yell happily, “It’s just another manic Monday…”
Then the ground shook. The music continued but the singing stopped. Outside of the same window where we had been cheering for runners who were only .2 miles from the finish line, we watched those same runners along with thousands of terrified spectators sprint past us in the opposite direction, trying to frantically outrun a billowing cloud of grey smoke. Some pushed into the bar to get off the street, many crying, others hugging their friends. The bar quickly became packed from the overflow of people seeking shelter. My brother and I asked each other a couple of times, “What is going on?” but we weren’t panicking, not yet. A guy next to me wandered outside and casually came back to report it was a manhole explosion. It seemed like an obvious answer and phone service was down so it was impossible to confirm otherwise. The thought still hadn’t crossed my mind that it could be a bomb.
Then a Boston Police officer stuck his head through the open, street-side window and screamed into the packed bar: “EVERYONE OUT! NOW! EVERYONE GET OUT OF THE BUILDING NOW!” Panic set in. I looked at my brother again and said, “Jeff, WHAT is going on?” By now my voice had risen with fear and it was clear to me, him, and everyone else crammed in with us that it must have been a bomb that went off, an attack of some sort, and that Towne could be the next target. I wrapped my arm through my brother’s and we pushed our way towards the exit. We got stuck trying to get through the doorway and I had flashes of what it must have been like for people fleeing The Station nightclub. As soon as we broke free, we ran, and we didn’t stop running, holding onto each other the entire time. Officers and emergency personnel sprinted past us towards the bombing site. A caravan of ambulances raced from Longwood. Soldiers who had run in the marathon rushed by to assist victims, holding the American flag high. When we got to the Museum of Fine Arts on Huntington Avenue, over a mile away from the bombing site, we finally stopped running. We were safe but shaking; our sense of security forever changed. We allowed ourselves to breathe for the first time since hearing the officer’s frantic instructions to run like our lives depended on it. We hugged, we cried. We had survived a terrorist attack. We had survived the Boston Marathon bombings.
Rachel Vaccari is an account supervisor, media relations at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @Rachel_Vaccari
Thursday, December 13, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Please fill in the blanks for this simple statement: My local hospital __________is great because it ______________. Don’t have affinity for a local hospital, you say? That’s too bad. Wouldn’t attach the qualifier “great” to the hospital you most frequent? That too is unfortunate.
One of many ways the Affordable Care Act is meant to transform healthcare is by putting the onus on hospitals to keep patients away. Yes, keep them away. And the reimbursement model to facilitate this – accountable care organizations (ACOs) – places financial responsibility on providers to improve care management and limit unnecessary expenditures without compromising favorable patient outcomes. No easy task.
Without arguing the merits of ACA provisions or ACOs, one fact stands out: hospitals must quickly adapt communications practices to patients to whom they are accountable WITHOUT necessarily knowing who those patients are. Try building a campaign for that. Since the population is undefined, hospitals can’t just communicate with known patients – they must, in a sense, speak to everyone.
Another name for “speaking to everyone” is marketing, and marketing, especially advertising, can theoretically reach everyone if infinite budget exists. But infinite budgets are fantasy. So that’s why today’s forward-thinking hospitals must become increasingly creative. So are they?
To be fair, it may be too early to judge our Massachusetts-based ACOs, which include Atrius Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Physician Organization, Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association and Partners Healthcare. Certainly, as hospitals that comprise these ACOs mature in the new model, we’ll likely see more evidence that accountability has fundamentally changed how they communicate.
For starters, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages are de rigueur across the hospital landscape. But what else can/should they be doing? Do best practices even exist? The answer is yes.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, part of the Partners ACO, has its Health Hub Blog and is actively experimenting with Pinterest. I’m sure Brigham doesn’t think its Pinterest page is THE answer, but who’s to say it won’t contribute meaningfully to better health and fewer visits. Sure, so far only one person has “re-pinned” the story about flu vaccine, but what if that one person avoids a hospital visit this year? You see, pins can add up.
I’m not suggesting that social channel activity is the litmus test for ACO success (or success for non-ACOs either). Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, as part of the Atrius ACO, provides access to the MyHealth Online Mobile App, from which patients can view test results, reply to messages from a clinician’s office or view upcoming and past appointments. This is just one of many new ways smart devices and applications have already evolved from differentiator into necessity.
We’re still in the early stages of ACA transformation, ACO transition and patient revolution, so the best is certainly in front of us. So whatever your opinion is of the ACA, it’s time to acknowledge that the train has left the station. Now, as a communicator, you must play an active part in making this grand experiment work. After all, effective, highly integrated communications that encourages new behaviors and promotes long-term patient engagement will one day be remembered as a critical success driver of healthcare reform. You’re not a bystander in all this!
If you’re unsure of how to get started or why, think back to the fill-in-the-blanks exercise above. If you’re the local hospital patients think of first (i.e., they won’t go outside the ACO) and your people and facilities have a reputation for greatness (quality, efficiency, wellness), it’s likely your brand story is resonating. And if it’s resonating, it is just as likely that your business-sustaining campaign – stay healthy and stay away – is working too.
Scott Bauman is executive vice president at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter @sbauman
Thursday, November 29, 2012 | Leave a Comment
During the holidays, many of us try to find time between bites of turkey and pumpkin pie to spend a few hours at a soup kitchen or dig a little deeper into our pockets for a favorite charity. Companies also look to the holidays as a time to assess their corporate giving and bolster philanthropic efforts. Whether through sponsorship of a food or toy drive, a company day of service, or developing seasonal products that support a cause [like Gap’s (Product)RED line], companies capitalize on the spirit of the season to do some good and get a boost in their sales or reputation in return.
Though the holidays are an excellent time to step up philanthropy, businesses can benefit from corporate giving year-round. In fact, at a recent Metrowest business conference, Leonard Schlesinger, president of Babson College, said that we must “recognize that it is going to increasingly become an expectation for our corporations [to engage in philanthropy].” With $2.13 million and 2,266 employee volunteer hours in 2011 to not-for-profit organizations throughout New England, Greenough client the Arbella Insurance Group and its Foundation (“Arbella”) is an example of corporate citizenship done right. Here are a few qualities of Arbella’s charitable outreach that make it such a success and a model for others:
1. Think Locally
Arbella is a local company and reinforces that message with its philanthropy. Arbella Insurance serves New England, so the company donates time and money to charities that are based out of and serve New England communities. Instead of focusing on big-name, national charities, Arbella partners with smaller, local groups like Boston-based Project Bread and Cradles to Crayons. Doing so ensures that aid goes directly to the communities where Arbella’s employees, agents and customers live and work, and in turn strengthens the company’s local roots.
2. Empower Your Employees
Though the focus of corporate philanthropy is often externally-focused —money or hours going to an outside organization and boosting the outward-facing reputation of the company— giving employees the opportunity to donate strengthens internal opinion of and loyalty to the company. Arbella gives its employees many ways to get involved in charities important to them, from hosting Pink Day, an afternoon when employees bid on auction items to support breast cancer research, to the Employee Giving Program, where employees enter a lottery held twice a year to donate $1,000 to the charity of their choice. Being able to give through your workplace invests the employer-employee relationship with a little more camaraderie. It makes employees proud of their workplace and rallies the office together around a cause.
3. Address New Needs as They Develop
When the economy took a hard hit a few years back, Arbella noticed the influx of news stories about food pantries in dire need. Arbella took action, launching its “Let’s Drive Out Hunger” campaign with its independent agents in 2008. This Foundation matched-donation program for local food pantries achieves steady participation of between 85 and 100 agents each year and since its inception has raised more than $280,000.
Similarly, when Arbella’s CEO started noticing an uptick in accidents caused by distracted driving, he realized that legislation wasn’t enough and that the issue had to be addressed with education. Arbella sponsored research in the area of distracted driving at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and then used driving simulations to develop Distractology 101, a high-tech mobile classroom that tours high schools and insurance agencies around the region to teach the dangers of distracted driving through video game-like simulators.
By addressing community needs as they develop, Arbella demonstrates its deep knowledge of the local landscape and commitment to the communities it serves. Through working on a local level, involving its employees, and addressing new needs as they come, Arbella has established itself as a leader in corporate citizenship in New England. Its giving strategies continue to positively impact the communities it serves, while at the same time strengthening relationships with employees and agents. It is an excellent model for companies to look to this holiday season and the whole year round.
Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella
Friday, November 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment
It’s hard to believe it, but Election Day came and went again. With this year’s elections came a whole new set of tools and technologies for both voting and getting results. While electronic voting isn’t a new concept, it has paved the path for increased integration of technology in terms of how election results come in. Let’s investigate.
According to techdive.com, 31 states are now using electronic voting machines. The most popular method of electronic voting is through direct-recording electronic voting machine (also known as the DRE). These machines were widely adopted in the United States in 2002 in accordance with the Help America Vote Act, which gave states $3 billion to upgrade their old punch and lever voting systems after Florida’s 2000 hanging chads fiasco. This year, roughly 25% of total voters casted their ballot electronically.
Because of Hurricane Sandy, this year also offered another version of electronic voting into the mix: voting through email or fax. New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno announced that voters who have been displaced by the hurricane can submit their votes by email or fax. Initially, there was some speculation as to whether or not this would affect the rate at which the ballots could be counted, but the fact that the race was called Tuesday night shows that this had no effect and it was business as usual. Plus, with electronic voting, if there is a question about vote totals, rather than manually re-counting all of the ballots, all officials have to do is press “enter” again and let the computer system re-compute.
But electronic voting isn’t always well-received. In Ohio, Green Party Candidate Robert J. Fitrakis filed papers in the Columbus federal court to block the use of electronic voting machines and software in vote counting, citing that they could be easily tampered with. He lost the case because he was unable to provide evidence that this risk is a realistic possibility. While it doesn’t show the ability to be easily tampered with, the fact that Florida is continuing to have problems counting votes shows that there are still kinks in electronic voting that need to be ironed out. But, according to Pamela Smith, vice president of the Verified Voting Foundation, “In general terms, the nation as a whole is moving toward more resilient, more recountable evidence-based voting systems and that’s a good thing. We’re better off than we were a couple of election cycles ago by a long shot and we’re better off than we were in the last election cycle, too.”
Lastly, technology helped to revolutionize how we got results. CNN and other network stations used smart boards to visually show predictions and results, and the New York Times, among other news sources, offered free apps that featured live updates, the electoral map, news analysis and blog updates. And, perhaps coolest of all, CNN displayed live-time election results on the top of the Empire State Building, using their custom LED panel technology for the first time ever.
What are your predictions for how technology will be used in the 2016 elections?
Gaby Berkman is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @Gabyberk
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Infographics are a fun, creative way to visually present information and data that is complex and/or lengthy. They appeal to today’s Internet users who demand information at their fingertips, but also tend to have a very short attention span. If executed correctly, infographics have the potential to help companies break through the clutter and get their messages front and center. They are also much more likely to be shared via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., compared to traditional articles. Below is a roundup of a few of our favorite Halloween infographics.
This first one covers a wide range of fun topics. It’s incredible to see how much spending for the holiday has increased over the years, and we love the section that analyzes social media costume inquiries. Take a look:
By the way, if you’re dressing your pet up, like this infographic predicts, be sure to enter our client Arbella’s photo contest!
This next one is great for the green tips it gives. We love the idea of DIY costumes or holding a costume swap with your friends after the holiday to reduce waste. Check it out:
While the zombie profiles of these social media users are humorous, there may actually be some good underlying social usage tips in this infographic:
If you haven’t explored the possibility of using infographics to strengthen your marketing initiatives, it may be time. Have a very happy and safe Halloween!
Lucy Muscarella is a Consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @lucymuscarella
Thursday, August 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment
We don’t always dip our toe into the stormy waters of legislative advocacy, but when we do we usually focus our attention on the acute need to expand investment and production tax credits to biogas to ensure its parity with other renewable energy sources.
Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives July 31 brought the clean tech industry one step closer to a key milestone: the first-ever investment tax credit (ITC) for biogas production.
H.R. 6212 – introduced by U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and John Lewis (D-GA) – addresses an acute need for the nascent biogas industry: expanding investment and production tax credits to biogas. This first-ever ITC for biogas will go a long way to ensuring its parity with other renewable energy sources.
As members of the House Ways and Means Committee – where all U.S. tax law originates – Reps. Kind and Lewis have crafted legislation that seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide a 30% ITC for qualifying biogas technologies. This continues previous groundwork on the subject laid out by U.S. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), who previously sponsored production tax credits for biogas.
This legislation still has a ways to go, of course, as it must pass through possible hearings and votes at both the subcommittee and full committee levels. From there it would likely need to get attached (stand-along advancement is unlikely for this bill) to a larger legislative vehicle for ultimate House passage. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, this legislation has several key components, including its recognition of biogas not just as a fuel to generate renewable electricity but also as renewable substitute for natural gas in vehicles, industry and homes. The bill itself embraces a wide range of biogas technologies, including anaerobic digesters and other biological, chemical, thermal, or mechanical processes which produce biogas with a minimum 52% methane content.
Now that’s cooking with gas!
Jay Staunton is vice president, account services at Greenough.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Governor Deval Patrick has had a few solid wins of late. At the risk of sounding partisan, the Governor’s varying initiatives to create new jobs is good news for all Massachusetts residents.
Whether he’s rallying the clean/green sector through the Green Communities Act, encouraging the growth of the Bay State robotics industry or pushing big data as the next Massachusetts IT sector, his various initiatives to help the local economy recover are encouraging.
Last week the Governor attended the grand opening of a new Thermo Fisher Scientific Center for Excellence in Tewksbury. The facility promises to add another 100 jobs in research, development and manufacturing over the next five years. The Tewksbury ribbon-cutting ceremony marks another event in a series of announcements preceding this week’s BIO International Convention at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Back in 2008, the Governor inked a 10-year, $1 billion investment package designed to spur research, investment, innovation and commercialization in the Bay State’s life sciences industry. Apparently it’s working: The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council reports that R&D jobs in Massachusetts increased from 46,380 in 2008 to 48,647 in 2010. The biopharma sector has seen more than 52 percent job growth since 2001, and statewide more than 80,000 employees currently work in life sciences or related industries.
Many experts believe that number will increase as more companies—especially European-based biotechnology and life science players–set up local operations in Massachusetts. In fact, “at least 15 companies from Europe have set up shop or expanded operations in the Bay State over the past four years,” according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.
No matter how you cut it, this is great news for Bay State businesses, consumers and job seekers. Keep up the great work, Governor.
Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | Leave a Comment
On April 5 the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed key energy legislation that advances the state’s efforts to lead the nation in the clean energy sector, as detailed by Janet Gail Besser’s blog for the New England Clean Energy Council.
I agree with Besser’s assertions that by acting overwhelmingly on S2214, An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity in the Commonwealth, Bay State legislators have demonstrated their shared belief that the innovation economy is a critical tool for the region’s economic development and for the state’s job-creation efforts.
Passage by the Senate sends the bill to the State House of Representatives, where members will likely take up legislative debate in the coming weeks.
S2214 strengthens important tenets of the landmark Green Communities Act (GCA), which Governor Patrick signed into law in 2008 as nation-leading energy efficiency and clean technology legislation.
To date the GCA has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of net benefits to electric and gas ratepayers in Massachusetts, primarily through smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. These investments have helped reduce energy waste and have lowered reliance on imported fossil fuels while promoting clean technology jobs.
Among the key provisions outlined in Besser’s blog, S2214 achieves the following:
- Preserves a framework for Massachusetts to enhance its nation-leading energy efficiency policy;
- Expands net metering opportunities, providing energy users with an incentive to install renewable generation and the ability to save on their energy costs;
- Opens net metering to anaerobic digestion, a renewable technology that reduces organic waste going to landfills, provides local economic development and reduces greenhouse gases;
- Extends and expands long-term contracting for renewable energy, reducing financing costs to developers and thereby reducing costs to energy customers; and
- Resolves property tax issues for solar projects, facilitating residential, commercial and industrial deployment of a technology whose costs are coming down.
I believe strongly that the Senate’s passage of S2214 is an important next step for our state. Do you agree?
Jay Staunton is Vice President, Account Services, at Greenough.
Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Leave a Comment
According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, approximately 66 percent of adult Internet users say that they utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. And the evidence is everywhere. People are tweeting and posting from the sidelines of NFL games, NASCAR racecars, red carpet events, the bathroom (ew) and even delivery rooms. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that our social media addiction carries over into the courtroom.
I recently read Steve Eder’s Jury Files: The Temptation of Twitter on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Eder refers to a new study in the Duke Law & Technology Review where, he writes, “one juror responded to an information survey by saying ‘nothing’ could prevent her from communicating through social media during a trial.”
It is with darn good reason that courts are concerned about what trial participants (primarily jurors) might say on social media. Insider information could leak before details can be made public and biases (or even perceived biases) could be formed based on a tweet or post. Even benign social media updates could raise serious questions about whether the juror is discussing the case elsewhere and could call into question a juror’s judgment/ability to follow instructions.
Late last year, a Florida juror sent a friend request to the defendant of the trial he was involved in and he was dismissed from the jury. Sounds like a clever way to get dismissed the next time you’re called for jury duty, doesn’t it? Well this juror didn’t quit while he was ‘ahead.’ He posted this comment on his Facebook page in response: “Score…I got dismissed!! Apparently they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant… ha ha.”
But the story doesn’t end there: His friend request, coupled with this remark, got the fool charged with criminal contempt of court and a three-day jail sentence.
While the potential impact of a juror accessing social media is huge, these seemingly small threats toward justice are difficult to detect. In a survey conducted by the Federal Judicial Center late last year, 79 percent of judges who responded said they had “no way of knowing whether jurors had violated a social-media ban.” Well, if judges don’t keep a firm handle on social media behavior during trials, you better believe that attorneys will be watching social networks like hawks, looking for even the slightest juror indiscretion that could open the floodgates to a mistrial, throwing out a conviction or an acquittal.
Before you think me hyperbolic, consider this: In 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a death sentence in a murder trial because a juror was tweeting about the case during deliberations. In fact, the juror leaked the trial’s verdict before it was officially announced. Someone with the defense spotted the objectionable tweets.
At some point in the future, jurors may even be required to disclose their Twitter handle, Facebook page and other social media accounts as part of a “social dossier.” Until courts come up with a way to effectively manage the outbound (and inbound) streams of communication, lawyers are doing themselves a great disservice if they’re not deeply immersed in social media monitoring and staying on top of social media trends and developments.
Here at Greenough we recognize that lawyers want to be lawyers, not experts in social media monitoring, and that’s where we can help. Working together, we can ensure that no social media funny business will jeopardize the fate of a defendant…or the future of our legal system.
Anne Norris is a senior consultant, social media, at Greenough. Twitter: @anne_norris.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment
Gone are the days of going to the movie theater or renting a DVD especially now that Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy. With the rise of Netflix and other companies that stream movies and television shows online, it makes it easier to watch new releases at home – and has subsequently started an online streaming war.
The New York Times recently reported that Netflix is the front runner in the online streaming world with its subscription service, Watch Instantly. With the ability to watch movies on a computer, television, iPad or iPhone, a whopping 61% of Netflix’s 15 million subscribers streamed movies in the second quarter.
The only downfall is that Netflix’s catalog of 20,000 steaming movies doesn’t include many recent hits because the company hasn’t been able to negotiate rights from all the Hollywood studios. Most of Netflix’s deals require the movie to be on store shelves for 28 days before it can be available on DVD or online.
Not having the most anticipated movies and television shows available to stream when they are released makes other options very tempting. For example, “Robin Hood,” is available to stream on Amazon, but will not be available on Netflix until mid October. The online video hub, Hulu, which recently launched the subscription service, Hulu Plus has the current season of “The Office,” while the most recent episodes on Netflix are from last season.
What side will you take in the streaming war? Will you stick with the leader, Netflix, or the up-and-comers who offer the most recent releases? I’m voting for the underdogs!
-Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti.