Tuesday, March 31, 2009

With April Fools Day, the clock is ticking...........

With April Fools Day just hours away, the clock is ticking.   What kind of humor can I infuse into the course of my day tomorrow?
A couple of years ago, I emailed Alan Weinkrantz to share with a news release that the group "Spinal Tap" was looking at as a replacement for their last drummer.   If you remember this classic flick, you know that the group had a history of losing their drummers to untimely deaths.
Sadly, I didn't get a response.  Alan is pretty serious about his music.
However, years ago, I once contributed an article for the ISU Vidette's April Fool edition on how Illinois State University was ranked number one in bar brawling.  My Vendetta article which showed several burly football players pushing a nerdy looking student into a pinball machine got the attention of  Gerry Hart the head football coach.
Coach Hart called my sports editor to find out if there was any correlation to my article and rumors that several of his football players had been getting into bar brawls at nearby clubs.   I told him that after witnessing several drunken football players beat up a friend of mine.  My buddy's mistake was that he was puny and that he was an excellent pinball player.   He had easily defeated one of the Redbird's star defensive linemen and had won $5.   The losing player broke his nose.
A couple of weeks later, Coach Hart called me to ask if I could come by to see him at the end of practice.  When I arrived, the coach asked me about an article I was working on about spring football, but he quickly pointed out the four players who had taken part in the bar brawl.  
"After these extra practices, they won't have the energy to get into trouble again," he said with a grin.
For me, April Fools is a great day to share a little fun.  In this world of ours, we need a little humor.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

If you put something into the blogosphere or Twitterverse, don't get upset if the media uses it.......

Mark Cuban is upset, and I don't blame him.

And, Air Force Captain Michael Fontana should be ticked off as well.

Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is upset because the media picked up his comments about  an NBA game.

In his blog, Cuban wrote:  "I tweeted to the people who follow me. While I never asked that they not distribute it to other tweeters, i did not give anyone permission to republish my tweets in a commercial newspaper, magazine or website."

Fontana, featured in today's front page story  of the San Antonio Express-News "Nurse's job at Wilford Hall decried" should also be unhappy because reporter Scott Huddleston went to his Facebook page to get some background on him.  Fontana, the Air Force nurse who is awaiting a court martial for murder at Wilford Hall Medical Center, declined Huddleston's request for an interview.  So, Huddleston went to his web site to get some color to his story.

As a longtime communications professional and a social media advocate, I think everyone who has a Facebook page or uses Twitter should know that once they  put something into a public space that it's open to every reporter in the free world.   If you don't want people to use it in a newspaper article or some other blog, you should not put them out into the blogosphere or what some social media types call "Twitterverse."

Getting a shot of career adrenaline..............

My friend "Brother" Matt Genovese is busy this week putting together a Door64 Tech Fair April 30 at the Austin Goodwill Center, 1015 Norwood Park Boulevard.  The event begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

I love Matt's promotional spiel from this event's web site in which he wrote: "Imagine speaking with folks from a slew of Central Texas tech companies to learn what they're up to, catching sessions to learn about becoming a consultant or an entrepreneur, attending a panel discussion about the engineer of the future, taking a tour of computer recycling, surveying graduate student research and seeing demos, and networking with other tech folks while eating delicious free food, downing drinks, and rocking the night away with local live music. Did I mention it's all in one day, and all FREE? This is a shot of career adrenaline."

If every a person understood the concept of career adrenaline, it's Matt Genovese.  As the founder of Door64, he has connected 4000 people with job information, networking events and other information.   His web site is one of the reasons why so many techies in both Austin and San Antonio stay connected.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wondering why a city council candidate would spent money for her own campaign for a job that pays peanuts...

So I am sitting in one of my regional offices at Indigo Joes, drinking Coke and eating chips and salsa, when Weston Martinez, a candidate for my city council district comes by my table.  His opponent, Elisa Chan, had captured my interest with her billboard signs on 1604 and 281.

First, a city council job pays peanuts to those fortunate enough to serve, so I was curious about how she funded those billboards.   Depending on the location, billboards can be costly.
Ms. Chan is the president of Unintech Consulting Engineers, a north San Antonio engineering consulting company.   In the last city bond package, her firm was awarded over $20 million in projects.
While I don't have access to her campaign statement, it seems that Chan funded her campaign with $50,000 of her own money.  Thus, the expensive billboards.
I am looking for a YouTube video of Ms. Chan's comments that if elected that she doesn't see a conflict of interest with her city contracts and her possible position as my city council person.     Louis Rowe, the current city councilman for my district, was upfront about his city connections when he assumed the rest of Kevin Wolff's term for city council.   As his wife's firm  has contracts with the city, he has recused himself from votes that would benefit her company.
Here's hoping the mainstream media will pick up on this.   They should be asking her about how she would vote on things that would impact her company's work on bridges and other city infrastructure.  As one of the active participants in the San Antonio twitterverse and blogosphere, I hope that others in District 9 would want to get an honest answer on this issue.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wishing I had started my "bidness" degree program while still on active duty.....

If you have a family member who still on active duty somewhere, I would ask them about their educational benefits.   I recently attended a briefing by Air Force General Stephen R. Lorenz, commander, Air Education and Training Command, on the changes in education benefit.  In my day, the Air Force paid for a major percentage of classes.  Now, the Air Force is paying the "full freight" for classes.  Students still have to purchase book and supplies, but that's a heck of a deal.

I am blogging about this because I just did an interview with Yahoo on the transformation I made with my education.   Five years after leaving the military, I went back to college to get my second degree in marketing at UTSA.   The difference of having a degree with a background in general business with the focus on marketing has been a major factor in my business success.

Still, I wish I had started on my business degree while on active duty.  I would have been better prepared  for the transition from military to civilian life.  So, if you have a loved one on active duty, please tell them to visit their education office.  Even in the far reaches of Iraq and Afghanistan, there are courses that could help prepare them for civilian life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Former SA Lanier's comments about college should cause SAISD to review the way their teachers inspire their students about college

When Chris Duel, the afternoon host of the 1250 AM Sports show, interviewed Orlando Mendez-Valdez, the former San Antonio Lanier High School star, on his show, I was saddened by his response about college. In an interview with Duel, Mendez-Valdez, now a starting guard for Western Kentucky, said he didn't think he had a shot at college until he was a junior in high school.

The question arises: "What do educators in the San Antonio Independent School District tell their students about career aspirations?"

Having lived in San Antonio for nearly 15 years and having worked as a TABC trainer when I went back to college seven years ago, I met a lot of smart people like Mendez-Valdez who didn't think they were smart enough to go to college. Yet, they were intelligent enough to score a nearly perfect score on their certification exams.

When asked what kind of grade point they had in high school, they typically told me they had a high B or A average. Nobody in their family, their community or their school had told them they had the chops to go to college, nor did they understand how to apply for financial aid.

San Antonio has a well established reputation as a tourism destination. It admittedly needs good workers to work in the industry, but we also have a growing emerging medical technology industry as well. One of my clients, RizerTech is starting training for biomedical careers where the typical salary is about $80,000.

Many low-income students could qualify for financial aid with this program. Or, they could go to college and work at places like Southwest Research, pharmaceutical research or medical device manufacturing.

Yet, the biggest obstacle is converting the thought process of faculties like Lanier that their students can do more than work in tourism. Yes, this school is in what Mendez-Valdez terms the "hood," but the road out of it should not be a job at a hotel, a career in the military or time in prison.

Mendez-Valdez's graduation from Western Kentucky should serve as inspiration to other students at Lanier that they too can advance their lives if they complete the requirements for a college diploma.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is San Antonio on the short list for Medtronics diabetes research?

I ran into Nelson Wolff, the Bexar County judge, at breakfast this morning. In the course of our conversation, he said that San Antonio is on the short list for a possible Medtronics research facility. Hizhonor said that Medtronics is looking to relocate to San Antonio for a diabetes research plant because of the growth of UTSA, my alma matter. When you add the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio is a good choice for this facility.

However, also on the short list is Lawrence, KS., with its growing base of medical research. Frankly, the weather in San Antonio is a lot better than the middle of Kansas.   Yet,

In our short conversation today, Judge Wolff was not aware of the growing base of medical research and emerging medical technology. Few San Antonio residents know the level of sophistication of medical research in our city. A few of the San Antonio Innotech participants got a glimpse of our city's overall medical development capability during the "From Cocktail Napkin to Worldwide Commercialization - How South Texas Companies are Innovating within the Emerging Medical Technology Sector" chaired by Gabi Niederauer.

The sad thing about San Antonio is that if you took a random poll of 1000 people in San Antonio, a mere two or three people might now something about the city's growth of medical research from nanotechnology to surgical devices. Like a lot of city politicians, Judge Wolff doesn't know much about the growing base of medical related businesses.  But, we can't blame him either.  The medical research and technology community is not doing an excellent job of promoting awareness among people like Wolff or the rank and file.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why having a regular guy as our president instills confidence that he's listening to us....

If ever there was a difference between Barack Obama and the guys who preceded him at the White House, it's his humanity.

I was amazed that Obama, a certified hoop junkie from Illinois, took time from his schedule to show his picks to an ESPN sportscaster for his Final Four brackets. Such a simple exercise in prognostication drew ire from some of the NCAA coaching fraternity.

Noted Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: "Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."

Along with his trip to the Jay Leno show, Obama is showing that he is a just another regular Joe. Even with his Special Olympics gaffe about his bowling skills, I still am amazed at how he’s using the media to reach out to people.

Please note that I don’t agree with a lot of his platform, most notably his willingness to tax health benefits. Nor, was I too impressed with his staff’s decision to have wounded warriors have their current medical coverage pay for war-related treatment.

Yet, Obama is willing to show America that he’s a normal guy, and in these troubled economic times, we need that kind of confidence in our president that he’s listening to us.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's bad enough that a thief broke into my car but waiting for USAA claims was truly frustrating

I feel violated.

After a long meeting with some colleagues, I went out to my car to find my right passenger window broken and my laptop stolen.

It's frustrating enough to becoming a victim, but the process to report my claim to USAA was terrible, ridiculous and just plain frustrating.

When it's 80 degrees out and you're looking at your car with a broken window, waiting to get to a competent claims rep should not requires four to five minutes of phone prompts.   I wish that USAA management would adopt a direct claims hotline where people who have had their car broken into or a serious accident could not have to go through the frustration of "Are you calling about a credit card?" or "Can we get your member number?"

And, once they fix the phone system by providing a hotline for people who have claims, I have another suggestion. Please fix the reporting system when you go to an affiliate like your glass partners.   Why is it that when USAA customers complete the verificiation with a claims adjustor that they then have to go through the whole spiel with one of their vendors?

Having worked with some of the computer integration experts at USAA, I know there could be a way where a customer could be transferred to a roadside assistance or a glass adjustor without having to give the rep on the phone a policy number, address and phone number.  

If you are a USAA member who has had a claim experience like this, please send your comments to their management.   I am going to send this blog via email and to a couple of friends in the company.  Perhaps, USAA senior management will change their processes.  Yet, I believe that the management efficiency experts will convince their senior leadership to keep things the way they are because it saves money and manpower. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Awaiting the start of March Madness

If you are a basketball fan, the first week of the NCAA Men's Basketball tourney is like nirvana.  It's the time of year when USA or TBS will show at least five showings of Hoosiers for those of us hoop fans who have worn out our favorite movie.  Yes, I cry when Gene Hackman wins the state tourney, but hey I grew up in Illinois, where the high school basketball tourney was an annual rite of passage for people.  When the state tourney began, people in my hometown of Decatur knew spring was not far away.

So, the NCAA has replaced the Illinois High School Association's annual tourney as a way to celebrate basketball and await spring.   What makes the first round so appealing is that there will be some upsetsthis week.  his is the opportunity for North Dakota State and the University of Northern Iowa to show that they belong with the Kansas and Louisville basketball programs. 

My wife, who spent her formative years in Florida, where basketball is behind football, baseball and golf, doesn't get the tourney.  Nor will she ever get it.  I've tried to show her Hoosiers, but she's not into the movie or the game.

It's her loss.  I love the game, and I adore the fact that there is some small school who will show up one of the power houses in the first round.  So, if you are trying to reach me, please understand if you hear the game on in the background.  I love the NCAA first round, and I will do everything I can to watch as much of it as possible, in between the five minutes of commercials and breakaways to other games.

Engaging the social media voter sector in San Antonio -- Weinkrantz and Kelly show others how it could impact the election

 If you're following the San Antonio mayoral race, it's interesting to see Trish DeBerry and Julian Castro embrace the use of social media.   I think they're following the success of Barack Obama's use of tools like Twitter and blogging to reach voters, especially ynounger voters.

Ryan Kelly , the social media coordinator for DeBerry notes that there are nearly 200,000 Facebook users in San Antonio.  DeBerry is hoping to reach out to those users to engage them in the voting process.  It's interesting to see Kelly work with DeBerry after helping Julian Castro's 2004 election.    Kelly believes that through the use of Facebook and Twitter  that more younger voters could turn out for the May election.

Kelly also believes that for local elections that the use of fund raising through social media is still limited to larger elections.  Obama had three to four million registered voters who donated $5 or $10 to his campaign, but that with a smaller database it would be harder to generate campaign funds.

Alan Weinkrantz , the volunteer social media coordinator for Julian Castro, notes that social media to empower them to share their voice and organize for a candidate.   He said that the use of Twitter shows others, especially those outside of San Antonio, as a showcase of intellectual capital in our community.

Weinkrantz also said he hopes that social media advocates will work together to show their elected official the analytics of an issue to get them to understand the magnitude of an issue.

As of now, I still haven't decided on who to vote for in May, but I believe that the use of social media tools with two leaders like Weinkrantz and Kelly is a positive sign for San Antonio.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will my wife adopt the Wicked Witch as a Twitter icon to reach her students on homework?

My wife doesn't get social media.

At least not yet.

However, that could change with the last six to eight weeks of her current semester. Jackie teaches high school physics at San Antonio James Madison, and she's thinking about using both Twitter and social media marketing to remind her students that they have homework due.

Pete, her step son, suggested that she consider the use of Margaret Hamilton's character as the Wicked Witch of the West as her Twitter icon, along with a snippet of the Witch's theme music.

She loved the concept.

Using Budurl, she could shorten her blog topics on the homework assignment to send out these little reminders such as "Harmonic Motion worksheet due Tuesday" or "Silent Spring Quiz #5 tomorrow" with the details of the assignment posted on her blog.

And, she could also use the app at CrossLink Media to send text messages and Wicked Witch music to her students and her parents, linking a text message to a blog assignment. As we were driving home from church, she questioned the use of sending 100 text messages to students. I assured her that the folks at CrossLink media could set her up with a platform that would allow her to text all of them their assignments with a single message.

As an encouragement for her students, hovering around the just passing rate of 70 or under it at 65 or so, I suggested she give 10 extra credit points to students who give her a phone number or connect with her on Twitter. I also suggested an additional 10 points for students who give their parent's cell phones or Twitter handles.

All we need is a major government grant to study the use of Twitter by educators. As President Obama noted in a recent address to Congress:

"Progress toward this goal requires a race to the top to reform our nation’s schools. It requires holding schools accountable for helping all students meet world-class standards aligned to the demands of the 21st century workforce. It requires solutions for schools to close the achievement gap, and strategies to accelerate the learning of those that are the furthest behind. It requires new reforms to promote effective teaching and attract the best and brightest into the profession. It requires a national strategy to confront America’s persistent dropout crisis, and strengthen transitions to college and care."
Surely, the use of social media tools by educators makes sense. However, technology companies have to take the time to train educators like my wife on the value statement involved with using them to communicate to their students and their parents.   Perhaps, social media mavens could set up a "tweetup" for teachers so they can understand the full capability of tools like Twitter, Budurl and CrossLink as a way to let their students know of impending deadlines for homework.  Nothing like an electronic nag to raise test scores, hey? (says the wife).

(Full disclosure:  Budurl and CrossLink Media are clients of mine.   However, the use of these kinds of tools make a lot of sense to teachers who spend a lot of time tracking down parents of students who are failing a class.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Can church attendance help those looking for a job?

Can church attendance help those looking for a job? If you watch CNN Money or saw its news post on AOL, you may have seen the story of Michael Butler, 42, who found his next job in church.

Ah, the media. They want to help those who have lost a job get their next gig as quickly as possible. What's missing in the headline of the AOL story is the real fact that Butler noted the change in the economy nearly six months ago.

He knew that the real estate industry in Dallas was not doing well, so he looked at his skills set and began to network with his friends. With a well established network, he alerted people to his capabilities and asked for help with getting his next job. He also took part in a free job search program at a local church.

Bryan Massey, the author of the soon to be published eBook "The Market For Me -- Surviving Job Loss and Building a Lifetime Career Network" would encourage everyone today to think of career management as a chess game. For those who fear that their job could be terminated, it's time for them to think like Butler and read Massey's book. As someone who has worked independently for eight years, I know that a good network is the best way to build my business.

I have depended on my LinkedIn profile, this blog and the use of Twitter to show my skill sets. Despite the skepticism of my wife, Jackie, a high school science teacher, social media has helped me demonstrate my communications capability.

But of course, my wife is a tenured school teacher. She has a job, and despite the economy, she is in high demand especially since she's a science teacher. For now, she doesn't need to be networking for her next job.

However, most of us need to begin thinking about our career paths. Our days of working one or maybe two jobs are behind us. We're going to move from job to job or contract to contract. If more Americans understood this and began to understand the value of networking, a loss of a job or a contract will not serve as the end of our careers.

Instead, those career changes can become a springboard for something new and fresh. Steve Butler understood the dynamics of the workplace. It's time for more of us to understand that the rules of work have changed considerably.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

After losing billions, peanut industry should look at better methods of regulating food safety

As I was logging onto my computer, the lead headline on the Google News section was a story about how the peanut industry will lose $1 billion.

In testimony before a Congressional hearing, Don Koehler, the "peanut commissioner" for Georgia, said the salmonella outbreak could cost billions.

In an Reuters news story, Koehler said: "We are dealing with a situation of historic proportions. Rebuilding in the peanut industry cannot fully begin until the outbreak is over and the recall is complete."

Leaders in the peanut industry will try to put the blame on the federal government for not having enough staff to audit the food safety of their industry. Yet, instead of placing blame on the "feds," the industry leadership should look at privatizing their inspection program.

In the medical industry, outside audit and compliance companies perform pre-government audits on processes and rules for the distribution of medical devices. Then, based on the findings of those audits, the government certifies a device for use in a surgical procedure.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tweetup for mayors, part deux

Having witnessed a couple of spirited mayoral campaigns in the past 10 years, I am amazed at the influence of social media in this year's 2009 race.   Right now, I am still on the fence on who should replace Phil Hardberger.
However, I have narrowed my choice to Trish DeBerry and Julian Castro.   After tonight's tweetups with both candidates, it's going to be a difficult choice at the ballot box.
After taking part in both events with my son, Pete, the anthropology major at Lamar, I have to admit that while both candidates embrace Twitter, I have to get kudos to Castro for the way he handled his event.   With the help of Alan Weinkrantz, the public relations and social media expert, Castro had the better interview process.
Weinkrantz set up the interview for bloggers in an informal box, and I could almost reach out and touch Castro.  

 Castro had two journalists from the Express News and the Current as well as bloggers like me asking questions.  My son likened it to a radio call in show, except that the question makers were within five feet.
Here, Castro's charisma came out in the course of the 10 minutes I sat in on the interview.  Of the two mayoral candidates, Castro seems more approachable that DeBerry.

DeBerry's weakness in her event was that she viewed her event as a campaign stump speech.  Ryan Kelly, the chief analyst at Pear Analytics and one of DeBerry's social media strategist, did a good job of providing laptops for people to log onto Twitter and post observations.   However, DeBerry should learn from Castro's approach and allow people to sit at a table to ask her questions.
Yet, I like DeBerry's campaign stance.  She understands the value of small business, and she gives the impression that she will bring the outside approach to her job as mayor.
So while I am giving Castro "extra points" on his approach to his tweetup, I am still undecided on who will get my vote.    To me, the part that matters most is what each candidate thinks about the growth of technology and the processes needed to embrace it.  
With the campaign still having more than two months before balloting, there will be more time to learn about who has the best approach to the job.  Here's hoping that DeBerry and Castro can agree upon a tweetup where both are at the same event to allow people to ask their questions on the issues that concern them about city leadership in San Antonio.

The tour of mayoral tweetups: part 1

Tonight, I am taking my son, Pete, on a tour of Tweetups for both Trish DeBerry and Julian Castro.  I have friends in social media circles who are supporting both campaigns.  

As of now, I am on the fence on who should serve as the next mayor.    I like DeBerry's stand on technology and her approach towards embracing it.     Yet, I still want to hear Castro's message on this aspect.

While driving to this event, my son and I were talking about memories.  I am hoping that someday when his children are considering who to vote for that we can remember this year's electoral process.

Classic children's story serves as the basis for client's article in Express News

The classic children's tome "The Three Bears and Goldilocks" served as the inspiration for my ghost written editorial for Scott Kaeppel at the Operari Group.   Working with Scott and Shaun Williams, my staff developed a 550-word editorial on the best tactics for companies in today's economy.  The article appeared today in the San Antonio Express-News business section.
Kaeppel's article described how some companies use a "too hard" approach to their decision making process, while others use a "too soft" method.   The Operari Group's executive's article concluded with the "just right" methodology needed for businesses to survive in 2009 and thrive in 2010.

Monday, March 9, 2009

As telemarketers have my work number, now is the time to register it on FTC "Do Not Call" list.

If you use a cell phone as much as I do, the idea that telemarketers now have access to my number clearly irks me.  However, a simple call to 888-382-1222, the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call telephone service this morning, will eventually fix that.

Thanks to my sister who sent me an email on this notice, I called them today after my first telemarketing call.  However, as the voice prompt told me, the telemarketers have 31 days until I can officially complain about these "cretins" who like to interrupt my day with their unsolicited pitches.

As a publicist, I have to list my telephone number on news releases.   Whenever I list my number on the release, I get calls from telemarketing firms.   They have computer search firms who harvest my number from news releases on the Business Wire.   As I have a couple of pending releases, I am going to change it up by using two-one-zero as my prefix for the release with the remaining seven numbers for my phone number.

And, now that my number is on the National Do Not Call List, I am going to follow through after the 31 days is over by making an official complaint to the FTC every time a telemarketer calls me to pitch their goods or services.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Terrazas' talk on electronic medical records shows a need for an open standard within the medical industry

One of the best programs that I attended at Thursday's San Antonio Innotech was the one held by Ted Terrazas on electronic medical records.   Sadly, his event was not well attended, but the information given about electronic medical records was succinct and on point.

To wit, Terrazas' 45-minute program detailed the issues of why there's a need for a standard electronic medical record.   As a former Air Force medical administrator, Terrazas, the chief executive officer of THI , has been working in the industry.  His talk reflected his experience and the need for an EMR.

On a personal point, my wife has had issues with one of her prescriptions at the local Walgreen's  pharmacy.  When she needed to renew it, the pharmacy has sent her doctor a fax requesting them to call back to confirm a refill on her meds.

As anyone who has sent hundreds of faxes to news outlets, I learned a long time ago that it's best to call back to confirm that the recipient got the correspondence.    After a week of waiting and my wife threatening to move her prescriptions to HEB  or CVS , the pharmacy team admitted that they didn't follow up with a phone call.  They assumed that the doctor's admin team would call back to confirm a refill.

It took the threat of losing business to cause the local Walgreen's to recheck the fax number.  Ironically, the Walgreen's had the wrong fax number.

If Barack Obama's $19 billion in stimulus to promote the efficiency of medical IT systems is going to work, it's important that the government and its IT folks set up an open standard for software.  Having worked in the security industry as a publicist, I have heard experts in that arena discuss how some companies created a close software architecture that required extra funding to get a work around for some solutions.

Terrazas addressed the need for the open standard in his talk on Thursday, but we need more in the industry to promote it.    As well, there is a tremendous learning curve to help everyone adapt to the upcoming changes in what is termed an "EMR."

As someone who is sometime reluctant to change, I know some people will not readily take to a change in their processes.   It will take a combination of software architects, change management experts and those who understand the dynamics of how people work with software to truly create the change needed to make this program work.

And sadly, that will take time.   Until that happens, people like my wife have to deal with an antiquated system to get their prescriptions refilled.  

Hoping this blog tells American Express to stop their predatory processing fee practices

    If you are a small business professional, I would ask you to consider a seven-day moratorium on using American Express cards.
    Maybe, we can send a signal to Kenneth Chenault, the chief executive officer, that we are ticked off with his predatory credit card policies.
    As a small business owner, I have learned that the best way to do business is to ask for my retainer with a credit card.  Granted, I pay a surcharge for this, but this service allows me to focus on my public relations consulting services instead of chasing after checks.
    Every month, I process about six to 10 transactions from my clients.  Since I first added this service, I have never processed an American Express credit card.
    About three months ago, I noticed a $5.95 withdrawal from American Express.  I called my bank who said the withdrawal was coming from the merchant processing service.
    A call to my merchant service said that Amex had just added this service and that I had to sign a form and fax it back to them for them to stop.
    And, yes, I have been too busy to do this.
    However, I am wondering if there are other small business types who have noticed that Amex is taxing them for their services, even when you are not processing their cards.
    Perhaps, this blog could be a spark of a revolution among small business types who will all blog, tweet and communicate about this predatory business practice.   If all of us unite against this unfair business practice, we could get the American Express folks to stop charging us for fees that take money from us.

Innotech San Antonio grows in its second year

    If you were one of the nearly 1000 people who came to Innotech San Antonio Thursday, did you feel the buzz of people working together to foster future partnerships in the Austantonio (San Antonio-Austin tech corridor)?
    As the publicist for this event, I saw a true upswing of activities in this event. First, thanks to Greg Lawler, the chairman of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Technology Council, and Marcel Johnson, the executive from the chamber who works with this group, Innotech held its first Beta Summit. That event helped six companies get advice on venture capital and business development.
    Second, the event attracted the emerging medical technology sector. Thanks to David Jemeyson, the chief executive officer at xGates, and Diana Faulkner, Innotech held an impressive program on the growing development of medical innovation.
    And, it wasn't me who noted the upswing. On Friday, I took part in the advisory board meeting for the Austin Innotech, set for Oct. 29 at the Austin Convention Center. Several of the board members either had booths or attended the show. They too were impressed with the growth and the opportunity to connect to potential clients and partners.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Castro smart for engaging Alan Weinkrantz on social media strategy

In the course of a couple of weeks, Julian Castro, the San Antonio mayoral candidate, has completed revamped his social media strategy thanks to the help of Alan Weinkrantz.   Weinkrantz is an uberblogger and someone who truly understands the impact of messaging through social media channels.

In the course of one week, Weinkrantz has changed Castro's messaging for social media and email marketing.   I can see Weinkrantz's work in the last news release sent to me via my email today.

Meanwhile, Trish DeBerry, Castro's only real rival in this race, doesn't get Twitter.   By using the usual search tools, I can't find her Twitter handle.   I had to go to her cluttered web site to find it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

KABB 29 showed emerging medical technology as promotion for Innotech

Mention the term "emerging medical technology" and San Antonio, and most of us in the south central part of the SA-Austin tech corridor would draw a blank. Even I, the somewhat knowledgable tech marketing guy, don't know much about this.

However, I had the pleasure of taking Joey Oliver, the chief operations and chief financial officer for ENTrigue, to KABB 29 for a morning segment. Joey showed two innovative new devices that will help ENT surgeons perform surgery and also help alleviate sinus problems.

Oliver's colleague, Gabi Niederauer, will moderate a panel called From Cocktail Napkin to Worldwide Commercialization - How South Texas Companies are Innovating within the Emerging Medical Technology Sector this afternooon at Innotech San Antonio.

As the public relations officer for Innotech, I am looking forward to helping more south Texans learn more about this sector.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How can you get your family and friends to stop spamming you?

Does your email spill over with junk and messages from well meaning friends and family?

Mine does.

My Uncle Bill sends me jokes instead of notes about what he's doing. My friend, Ray, the former ACTS director, sends me daily Scripture readings. And, there's my friend Jack, who also sends me his jokes.

I can't block my uncle's email because he sends that occaisional picture of my cousin and his daughters. Jack is also a client and mixed in with his jokes are real things that concern me. And, Ray? I like working with him on helping troubled kids find a new direction in life.

How can I ask them to stop spamming me with this stuff? Perhaps, this might work.

Dear @@@@,

Please respect my business email address. While I like humor and Scripture, I prefer to read this information in another email. Could you please send those to this email instead?

By the way, my alternative email begins with spamgorilla.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why Julian Castro should refrain from the use of the term "citizen journalists" in their social media messaging

With the upcoming San Antonio mayoral election, I got an invitation from the Julian Castro campaign staff to meet him at a media/blogger summit next week.    

Yet, what made this simple email interesting and irritating was that his staffer, Jacob Middleton called me a "citizen journalist."

Mr. Middleton wrote me this recent email missive:  "This groundbreaking event is the first of its kind in San Antonio, and we would like you there.  As a citizen journalist, you will get a chance to participate in a question and answer session with Julian."

Right now, I am somewhat indifferent about Julian or Trish DeBerry as my next mayor.   DeBerry is a fellow public relations executive, but she has no experience in office.  Castro did a decent job as a city councilman, and I would probably vote for him him except for the fact that he substituted his twin brother, Joaquin, a state representative, for several of his last mayoral campaign events.

However, the use of the term "citizen journalist" by his staff clearly irks me.  Yes, I am a blogger, and I also am following Castro's tweets on Twitter.  However, that doesn't make me a citizen journalist.

In fact, that term really ticks me off because it makes people like Middleton believe that anyone can become a journalist without training.   As one who worked in the industry, a journalist is someone who abides by a set of ethics to remain neutral and try to get their facts straight.   So, calling me a citizen journalist will not make me want to come to this event or even vote for Castro.

So, Mr. Middleton, try this next time.  "Dear social media advocate...... We are going to have a tweetup with our candidate.  If you wish to come, it's at our campaign headquarters on this date."

That's a better way to reach me than terming me as a citizen journalist.  Anyone who has ever had some printed as a professional journalist knows the code of ethics that makes up the standards for the industry.  And, this is something that most citizen journalists don't understand especially when it comes to get their facts straight or using attribution or facts to make a point.