Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.
The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.
Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.
Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.
Luxury isn’t logical. Every Toyota Corolla includes LED headlights and active safety tech, yet the cheap, slow compact would never be considered by someone seeking a name-brand compact luxury sedan. But luxury isn’t just about features—sometimes you pay more for a less spacious car with fewer standard features because of how it drives and because you want to be associated with the brand. The refreshed 2018 Acura TLXattempts to strike a balance between luxury and logic, with updates that strengthen the value Acuras have often had while adding an emotional pull some recent models have lacked. We drove the 2018 TLX to determine where the Acura fits in an overwhelming segment with more than 10 choices.
Every 2018 Acura TLX, from the base model four-cylinder to the six-cylinder A-Spec and Advance-package cars, comes with an impressive amount of standard equipment for a luxury sport sedan. The car starts at $33,950 and includes LED headlights, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a proximity key, heated front seats, an electric parking brake with auto brake hold, and adaptive safety tech. If your smartphone will work with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you effectively have an in-car navigation system anywhere your phone has reception, too. Active safety tech isn’t for everyone, but like the HID headlights on my personal first-generation Acura TSX, it’s the kind of thing you might appreciate after driving with it for a while, from the 2018 TLX’s collision mitigation braking system to the lane keeping assist system that can help you stay in your lane on a highway or two-lane road.
Beyond the addition of a few new features, the 2018 TLX’s major changes are bolder styling details, the sportier A-Spec model, and colorful brand-boosting ads that remind viewers the front-drive sedan is made by the same company that brought us the advanced NSX hybrid supercar. The TLX’s interesting diamond pentagon grille is an improvement over the more chrome-filled 2015-2017 model’s look, yet besides the front and rear fascia changes, the car is still on the more conservative side. That’s mostly good—it means that, except for maybe the A-Spec model, you’ll probably feel the same way you do about the 2018 TLX’s styling today as you will 10 years from now.
Although the 2018 TLX has lots of new features and updated styling, the engines and transmissions remain the same. The base car remains front-drive only, with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4 producing 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Like the front-drive V-6 models, all-wheel-drive TLXs are powered by a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 good for 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic. Sixty percent of TLX customers are expected to go with a V-6 model over the I-4, and that makes sense if you’re comparing the TLX to a BMW 330i and Audi A4 2.0T instead of a BMW 320i, Audi A4 Ultra, or even a loaded Honda Accord V-6. The 2018 TLX’s V-6 engine won’t produce its peak power and torque as low in the rev range as turbocharged four-cylinder competitors, but it will sound better as you make your way across that highway on-ramp.
Even with the new 2018 TLX A-Spec model, whose Active Sound Cancellation system is tuned to pump up the engine sound above 4,000 rpm, the V-6 never shouts and always sounds refined. The A-Spec model represents a more involved effort from Acura than the ILX A-Spec, which mostly enhances that car’s already good looks. The TLX A-Spec is offered on front- and all-wheel-drive V-6 models, and rides on slightly fatter 245/40 R19 tires with dark-painted 19-inch wheels (compared to the regular V-6’s 225/50 R18 tires and 18-inch wheels). The steering and suspension systems are also retuned, and exterior and interior badges accompany the more aggressive styling touches and larger exhaust outlets.
On the road, you really can tell a difference between a 2018 TLX A-Spec and a non-A-Spec V-6 car. It’s subtle, but the TLX A-Spec’s suspension is firmer (but still everyday-livable), and the steering feels tighter, with slightly greater effort. No, the A-Spec car doesn’t make any more power than the other V-6 models, but we tested a 2015 TLX with all-wheel drive and the same engine/transmission combination hitting 60 mph in a respectable 5.9 seconds. As for the four-cylinder model, we’ve tested a 2015 TLX 2.4 reaching 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. On a winding road in a 2017 TLX recently, I found the 206-hp engine plenty powerful for driving on winding roads, and I appreciated its surprising snarl in Sport+ mode. We look forward to track testing 2018 TLX variants, including the A-Spec variant, to see how their performance has changed.
Having previously driven a 2017 TLX V-6 with all-wheel drive, I noticed the nine-speed auto in the 2018 TLX V-6 was better behaved during a day I spent with the updated cars. Hopefully this reflects the multiple minor improvements Acura tells us it has made since the V-6/nine-speed combination first appeared on the 2015 TLX, though it will take another few years to see any potential improvements in quality and reliability surveys. What remained consistent on the 2017 and 2018 TLXs I drove was the brake feel—there was a bit too much travel in the pedal before any actual slowing down happens.
With Acura carrying over the TLX’s engines and transmissions, EPA-rated fuel economy is expected to remain about the same. We don’t yet have the 2018 TLX’s official ratings, but the 2017 TLX came in at 24/35 mpg city/highway with the four-cylinder version, 21/34 mpg with the 2017 TLX V-6 FWD, and 21/31 mpg on the 2017 TLX V-6 AWD. Those are average numbers if you’re comparing the TLX to turbo-four-powered compact luxury sport sedans. The 2017 Audi A4 2.0T scoots from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, yet is EPA-rated at 24/31, three mpg better than the equivalent 2017 TLX in the city. The front-drive 2017 A4 2.0T is rated 25/33 and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300, which we tested in rear-drive form reaching 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, is rated 24/34 mpg (or 24/31 with all-wheel drive).
Neither of those German competitors have the Acura’s polarizing infotainment solution of two stacked screens. This is a layout we’ve seen on the prerefresh TLX, but it’s better executed now, with a lower screen that’s 30 percent quicker (and feels that way) as well as an Apple CarPlay integration that includes the ability to use the steering wheel’s voice-command button. On that lower screen, the controls for the HVAC system as well as the heated and available ventilated front seats are always visible, so making a change is easy. If you don’t understand why you’d want two screens, consider that the top screen can display a map, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto info, or fuel economy stats while the bottom one shows audio and HVAC system details. Another screen is sandwiched between the two instrument cluster gauges that are functional but not particularly modern or upscale.
From the front or rear seats, you might appreciate the new contrasting seat piping that’s offered on most six-cylinder TLX sedans and standard on the TLX A-Spec. The detail is included on a new comfortable seat design and, overall, Acura offers the luxury of choice with a six interior colors. The most upscale is a new saddle-brown-like color called Espresso that’s only offered on non-A-Spec V-6 models. The A-Spec gets a choice between black leather with Alcantara inserts and white piping and an option the development team worked hard to get approved: red leather. Like many cars in this class, rear-seat space is adequate for two passengers in the outboard rear seats, which can now be optioned with heating controls.
Value remains the best reason to buy a TLX, but with the 2018 model going on sale in June, it’s far from the only one. The A-Spec variant is more fun to drive and showy than other TLXs have ever been before, yet each model would make a good commuter. Fuel efficiency and brand status aren’t the car’s strong suits, but the 2018 TLX is more worthy of consideration than it’s been before. And with standard active safety tech, you’ll experience features that might have been out of reach on nonloaded first-tier luxury brand alternatives.
Diabetics have been waiting for years for better technology to manage their condition. Some got tired of waiting and hacked together an open source hardware and software solution. This is their story.
By Jo Best May 28, 2017
This is a story about what happens when people decide technology’s potential to help them is too great to leave in the hands of hardware companies. It’s about open source and commercial software, about the little guy and the regulator, about technology and your body.
For years, type 1 diabetics have been told that technology was the answer to their problems, that a solution could be found, that the daily grind of managing their condition could be fixed by the right mix of hardware and software. One day. One day soon. Just not yet.
“Diabetes sucks deeply, the technology we are given to manage it sucks deeply, and we are pretty much tired of waiting. We’ve been told a ‘cure’ (or at least, a mostly foolproof way to manage it) is just 5 years out. I’ve been told this, personally, every year for the last 25,” Scott Hanselman, a type 1 diabetic and technologist, wrote on his blog in June 2016.
But, after years of waiting for technology to do what people promised it would, something is starting to change.
“I’m actually feeling like we are on the edge of something big. I believe that now we are inside a five year window of time where we WILL make Type 1 Diabetes MUCH, MUCH easier to deal with,” Hanselman wrote.
So what’s changed? Diabetic technologists have stopped waiting for other people to make the tech they need, and started making it themselves.
The #WeAreNotWaiting movement
Artificial pancreas devices might hit the market in 2018. Maybe. But what if you’re one of the type 1 diabetics who really needs the technology now? Do you hold on, injecting yourself with insulin up to six times a day, or do you use the IT skills you already have to make a homemade version?
For the diabetics that are part of the “We Are Not Waiting” movement, there was no doubt in their minds that hacking together their own hardware and software to manage the chronic condition was the way forward.
The movement was born from frustration, particularly among the parents of young children with type 1 diabetes, at the pace at which technology that could potentially revolutionise their lives was being developed.
Diabetes may be a relatively common and well-known condition, but managing it on a day-to-day basis is anything but easy.
In type I diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin—the chemical needed to keep blood sugar in the right range for health—or doesn’t respond to the insulin it does make. For diabetics, the condition means regularly monitoring their own blood sugar levels through a fingerstick test and then adjusting their insulin level, using frequent injections of the chemical, themselves.
For adults, it’s a tricky and time-consuming process. For children, it’s a whole other matter: their parents may have to wake them in the night—the time when their glucose level will typically fall—to monitor their glucose level and administer insulin accordingly, for example. It’s a routine that takes a toll on both the children and their parents.
One way type 1 diabetics have to control their blood sugar levels is through an insulin pump. Rather than having diabetics manually inject insulin, an insulin pump can deliver the hormone directly into the wearer’s body. It can also allow a more fine-grained approach to insulin delivery by varying the amount of the hormone and intervals between doses. That helps keep blood sugar more tightly within the desired range, but it can also mean pump users have to test their blood sugar more frequently that before.
A solution to that problem comes in the form of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which takes a reading of the user’s blood sugar levels every five minutes, giving them a near real-time view of how their glucose levels are changing, helping them refine how they use their pump.
However, with both the monitor and pump, users can find themselves adrift in information overload—too much data for them to do anything useful with it.
“The problem with the pump is it gives you so much control, it can become a bit too much. You get a pump and people say ‘Wow, you’re cured’, but my condition has just become ten times more complicated. If I invest time into it and learn how to use it and adapt it to customise it for myself, yes, it can help,” said Tim Omer, a type 1 diabetic, IT consultant, and health hacker. “I still have to manage it and work it.”
“A lot of people with a CGM get overwhelmed, and they end up getting overwhelmed, because they feel like there’s too much pressure on them. As a diabetic, you always feel like you’re being told off all the time—by healthcare, by your medical devices shouting at you. It’s great to have more information, but if you’re just getting yelled at all the time, it’s frustrating,” he added.
Another downside is that the kit is expensive to buy and run—and like many phones, some battery-powered components will come to the end of their life when their battery completes a certain number of charging cycles, despite the rest of the hardware remaining fully-functional. The battery can’t be replaced, so when it goes, the rest of the device goes with it.
One project borne of the We Are Not Waiting movement was Nightscout, an open source system originally built to help the parents of diabetic children get a better handle on their children’s condition by giving them remote access to the readings from the child’s CGM.
Nightscout allows data from the CGM to be published online, by connecting a phone with the Nightscout app installed to the receiver part of the CGM. Data from the CGM can then be viewed through the Nightscout website or any web-enabled device, be it another phone or a smartwatch. While intended to help parents monitor young children’s condition while they’re away from home, it’s also used by adult diabetics to get a more user-friendly display of their blood glucose data.
A similar DIY project, called xDrip, is a device that gathers the data from the sensor part of the Dexcom G4 glucose monitors, and transmits it via Bluetooth Low Energy to an Android app, or feeds through into the Nightscout system. The drip is made of four components that are soldered together at home, and cost around £40 in total. Together, they can fit inside a housing made of a Tic Tac box.
“That does two really important things,” says Omer, who built his own xDrip at home in a couple of hours. “It means I don’t have to buy the manufacturer’s receiver [for the CGM] so my costs are significantly reduced… And it picks up the signal and it relays it to my phone. I now have control of the data.”
Closing the loop
The We Are Not Waiting movement is also turning its attentions to closed-loop systems, where the glucose monitor and pump are able to communicate with each other to keep the wearer’s blood glucose more tightly inside the right range.
One such project is OpenAPS (APS stands for artificial pancreas system), co-founded by Dana Lewis, a type 1 diabetic who found the alarm on her CGM wasn’t loud enough to wake her if her blood glucose went dangerously low while she slept. She wanted the data from her device so she could hack together to something with an alarm loud enough that she wouldn’t sleep through it, but couldn’t extract the data from her device to make it.
After a fellow diabetic shared code with her that allowed her to get the real-time data off the CGM and build a louder alarm system using her phone and computer, she created a tool to alert friends and family if certain blood-glucose parameters were crossed.
From there, Lewis was able to build an algorithm that could make predictive recommendations about what would happen in the future based on the real-time data, and then by finding a tool that would allow that data to be communicated to the pump—creating the closed-loop artificial pancreas system OpenAPS.
OpenAPS uses data on the carbohydrates in the wearer’s food and their blood sugar level, runs it through the personalised algorithm that determines how much insulin they’ll need in the future to keep their blood glucose at the right level.
“The beauty of it is it provides a recommendation in real time with real-time data. While a person with diabetes may make that calculation a dozen times a day, the system is doing it every five minutes. If something starts happening, the system is able to react and give a recommendation a lot sooner than a human, who might not otherwise notice something is happening and take action,” Lewis said.
“It won’t sense something coming that you don’t know about, but it has that attention — it takes a reading every five minutes — unlike the person who might be in a meeting, or playing with their kids, or out running, and not necessarily wanting to think about diabetes all the time.”
OpenAPS systems can send the diabetic’s basal rate to the pump, which means it can only make small adjustments to their insulin dose—small adjustments that the user can undo if they want. The dose will act over half an hour, so if the pump fails for any reason, the pump will revert back to its standard operating procedure.
OpenAPS technologies are not only helping adults to get a better handle on their condition, some children are also using it, too.
“They spend a lot less time in the nurse’s office, and more time in the classroom. It’s helping them learn about how to treat their diabetes, they’re learning self-management skills much more quickly than they would have without the system,” Lewis said.
“The beauty of it is it provides a recommendation in real time with real-time data. While a person with diabetes may make that calculation a dozen times a day, the system is doing it every five minutes.”
DANA LEWIS, CO-FOUNDER OF OPENAPS
As the parents can remotely see the data from their child’s system, they can speak to the teacher or the nurse if anything is going awry to head off problems. Similarly, data from both children and adults can be shared with clinicians to help give them a better idea about how an individual is managing their diabetes, and potentially refine basal rates for new diabetics.
The brave new world of healthcare hacking still has its problems. For one, it’s outside the traditional, regulated world of medicine. Commercial devices and software used to manage or treat medical conditions undergo lengthy clinical trials to assess their safety and benefits, and have to be regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. That means they take far longer to reach the market, and are far more expensive. It also means they come with reasonable expectations of safety among users.
For those developing their own homemade devices, there’s none of that. People writing code and publishing advice on how to build systems are not regulated, but they can’t distribute their hardware or software without running afoul of the regulator. While they can publish their source code, offer tips and advice to others about how to build devices, but that’s about as far as they can take it.
That means anyone who wants such a device has to build it themselves at home—they have to be convinced about how safe it is, and be confident they have the necessary skills to do so.
They also need to be able to get their hands on the right hardware. The OpenAPS system needs certain older models of CGM that the manufacturer has stopped making. And you can see why, from the manufacturer’s point of view. After discovering a vulnerability that could allow the pump to be hijacked, they turned off the ability for the hardware to be commanded remotely for most models. Only some earlier versions still have that capability, and so can be used in OpenAPS systems.
So far, around 110 people have built their own OpenAPS systems, according to Lewis, and that number is growing. It has also inspired others to use it as the basis for new diabetic-aiding technologies. Omer used the algorithm to make an open loop artificial pancreas notification system based on an Android app he created called HAPP.
“I originally started the project as a mess-around, not thinking it would be useful, but once I had something quite crude up and working, it was incredibly useful. The system works every 15 minutes when it will crunch the data, and then my watch will vibrate and it will say ‘make this adjustment’. It was massively useful in the sense I didn’t have to sync and check and monitor stuff. I could let the system do that for me and just tell me when I need to action something,” Omer said. (Disclosure: Omer previously worked for CBS Interactive which owns TechRepublic and ZDNet).
For now, the FDA is taking a wait-and-see approach towards homemade diabetic tech, exercising what it calls “enforcement discretion”—keeping tabs on the healthcare hackers, monitoring the situation, and choosing not to take any action. That’s not to say the regulator doesn’t have its concerns about homemade tech.
What happens if the systems break down and users who haven’t had to inject insulin before aren’t confident enough to do so, for example. But, it hasn’t take any action against those that publish instructions on how to build devices, and has been actively engaging with the DIY community.
“We understand why people are doing it, but we want to make sure they do it safely,” Dr. Courtney Lias, director of the FDA’s Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices, told a conference recently.
The FDA is also working with those medical hardware companies that are seeking to bring artificial pancreas systems to market, going through the regulatory hoops that the DIYers don’t have to. Similarly, the regulator seems to be taking a pragmatic approach to getting commercial hardware out into the wild, tolerating a level of risk to ensure the systems can be launched.
“Artificial pancreas devices do not have to be perfect with zero risk to be beneficial,” Lias said. “The approval decision is a benefit/risk decision. We make this decision in the context of the high risks that people with diabetes face every day.”
Because of the inherent risks to the overall health of people with type 1 diabetes from their condition, and glucose that isn’t well-managed, the FDA is ready to accept systems that come with some degree of risk.
“The FDA is really supportive of that technology reaching people with type 1 diabetes… They’re saying the community is willing to accept things that aren’t bulletproof and we won’t stand in the way. It’s amazing,” Dr. Roman Havorka, who leads research into artificial pancreas systems at Cambridge University research, told ZDNet recently.
“Diabetes sucks deeply, the technology we are given to manage it sucks deeply, and we are pretty much tired of waiting.”
SCOTT HANSELMAN, MICROSOFT SOFTWARE ENGINEER
If all goes well, artificial pancreases built on the work of groups like Havorka’s could be approved by the FDA in 2017, with commercial units reaching the market the year after. That would mean that those who don’t feel they have the technology skills to build their own devices will have another option to get one, and healthcare providers will be able to fund those units getting into the hands of diabetics across the world.
Does that mean that an end to the We Are Not Waiting movement? Perhaps not. After all, diabetics in less developed parts of the world are still waiting for systems that they can afford, which the first versions of the commercial artificial pancreases won’t help. Others may want functionality that commercial systems don’t deliver, or to export the data in a way that manufacturers don’t allow.
Instead, it’s likely that, much like in the software world elsewhere, the majority of people prefer to get black-box systems from a single commercial provider that provides support and updates they need along the way. Others, however, will remain part of the open source community, putting together new systems and sharing them with others on the same path—despite the risks—because they’ve waited too long for the traditional channels to help them.
The United States can expect an Atlantic hurricane season with more than the usual number of storms, government forecasters said Thursday.
The season, which begins June 1 and runs to Nov. 30, is likely to produce 11 to 17 named storms, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. As many as nine of those could become hurricanes, with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, and as many as four could be major hurricanes with winds of 111 m.p.h. or greater, also known as Category 3 or higher.
In an average season, 12 named storms develop, and three of them become major hurricanes. The agency said there was only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season this year.
The Atlantic season is off to an early start with the brief appearance of a rare preseason tropical storm, Arlene, in April.
Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said the agency anticipated warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, which can increase the power of storms. But forecasters expect weak or even nonexistent El Niño conditions; that weather phenomenon, which warms the waters of the Pacific Ocean, tends to suppress Atlantic storms.
In 2016, NOAA forecast 10 to 16 named storms; fifteen storms developed, including four hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
Kerry A. Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that publicizing the annual hurricane forecasts can be “inadvertently misleading.” Whatever the number of named storms, he said, the real concern is the number of damaging storms that actually reach land and affect people and property — and “no one pretends to be able to forecast the incidence of dangerous, landfalling storms.”
An active season might not include any storms that strike the United States, while a quiet season can still produce hurricanes like Andrew in 1992, one of the most destructive to hit the country.
Regardless of the forecast, being ready for storms — knowing one’s personal risk, buying flood insurance, discussing an evacuation plan and storing emergency supplies — is vitally important, said Mary Erickson, the deputy director of the National Weather Service. “Preparedness saves lives,” she said.
David W. Titley, a former chief operating officer at NOAA, said the proposal would be dead on arrival in Congress. Lawmakers recently passed a bill calling for more funding for forecasting, so “there’s no way they’re going to approve this,” he said.
The forecasting bill, he noted, was signed last month by President Trump.
It only takes one storm to change your life and community.Tropical cyclones are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. If you live in an area prone to tropical cyclones, you need to be prepared. Even areas well away from the coastline can be threatened by dangerous flooding, destructive winds and tornadoes from these storms. The National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issue watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather.
Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 7-13, 2017) is your time to prepare for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane. Learn how with the daily tips below and related links. Share these with your friends and family to ensure that they’re prepared.
Hurricane Preparedness Week
Sunday, May 7th Determine your risk
Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing now…
Tours are an opportunity for NOAA and its partner agencies to visit locations along the coasts that could be impacted by hurricanes. At each location, NOAA’s National Weather Service and partner agencies teach visitors about weather safety and preparedness. And at each location along the tour, folks can even take a look at one of the Hurricane Hunter airplanes and meet the pilots who fly into the storms to gather data. This year NOAA is partnering with the USAF Reserve, FEMA and FLASH, as well as many local partners, to bring the 2017 Hurricane Awareness Tours to locations in the Atlantic and Pacific Basins.
Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour – April 24, 25, 26, 27, and 29
Hurricane Awareness Tour, East Coast – May 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12
National Hurricane Center: Live Broadcast for Students on May 10 at 10:30 a.m. EDT
A free webinar on hurricanes will be offered to grades 4, 5, and 6 on May 10 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. This webinar is part of the 2017 Hurricane Preparedness Week and the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour. The webinar will be broadcast live from the Raleigh/Durham stop of the Hurricane Awareness Tour.
During this free 45-minute webinar, students will hear from NHC scientists as well as NOAA AOC personnel who fly into hurricanes. The webinar will cover hurricane hazards, forecasting, observing hurricanes with airplanes, and hurricane preparedness. Classroom questions will be collected in advance of the webinar and questions will also be answered during the webinar.
The webinar will be presented by the Hurricanes: Science and Society team at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in partnership with the NOAA National Hurricane Center and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center. The purpose of the Hurricane Webinars is to raise awareness about hurricanes in advance of the 2017 North Atlantic hurricane season. Click here for registration.
Getting Ready for Hurricanes: A to Z Overview
How Prepared Are You For A Hurricane
Follow the National Weather Service on Facebook and Twitter for more information on hurricane preparedness.
“How fast can you get my business featured in The Huffington Post ?”If I had a dime for every time a client or potential client asked me some variation of that question, I wouldn’t have to do PR anymore.
It’s not a bad question, but clients’ longings for Tier 1 media coverage are often misguided.
Good press coverage should be a helpful tool, not a means to an end. PR is a process, and a valuable one at that. A single placement in a Tier 1 media outlet can open doors, but you must have realistic expectations about getting there, and you should know how to make the most of it after the publicity happens.
Remember these guidelines:
1. Stop insisting on features.
If you’ll accept only features or profile pieces in major media outlets, your chances of ever getting covered are severely diminished.
Every client wants a big profile of the company on the cover of a major magazine or newspaper, but most stories are about a “trend,” several companies, or some recent news with quotes from experts. Profiles are few and far between.
You must think like a reporter or journalist. Your business is never as exciting as you think it is, but if you tie it to a current event or trend and pitch it that way, you’re on the right track.
2. Make yourself available.
Journalists and bloggers do things on their time, not yours.
Shailesh Kumar, founder of Value Stock Guide, got featured in The New York Times—two years after he initially pitched the reporter.
He says: “I responded to a HARO query from the same reporter but on a different story. He did not contact me for the story I had responded to, but cold called me for this [different story] one year later.”
Reporters might not call back when it’s convenient for you. When they do come calling, don’t insist on doing things on your own terms. Journalists have a lengthy list of other credible sources ready to do the interview at a moment’s notice.
If you want the exposure, be available, be timely, be accommodating.
Those behind the “overnight success” stories gracing The New York Times have worked tirelessly and have pitched its editors countless times.
Have realistic expectations going in. If you expect a response from a Tier 1 journalist your first time around, you’ll be let down. Successful companies view PR as a long-term strategy.
Media placements take months of relationship building, pitching and re-pitching, follow-up and then some—and sometimes that still leads to a no. Successful pros keep going (not to be confused with annoying or stalking their coveted reporters and editors).
Even after you get a reporter to commit to running a piece on your company or including you in a trend story, the writing and editing of that piece can take months. Contrary to what you may believe about our digital world, good stories take time to percolate.
Be strategic about pitching and patient in your expectations. Good publicity is worth both the effort and the wait.
4. Make newsjacking your new best friend.
If you’re not keeping up on trends and news in your industry, you should be. Terrific publicity opportunities come from being in the right place at the right time (or offering the right thing at the right time).
Madeline Johnson of The Market Council says: “Don’t think that top-tier media is going to just produce a story about you. Newsjack your story by tying it into the news.”
A great example is when Oreo newsjacked the Super Bowl in 2013, during the on-field power outage. Brand managers tweeted, “You can still dunk in the dark,” resulting in massive news coverage.
Small businesses and startups can take full advantage of newsjacking, too. Sometimes reporters want to write a story about a trending topic right then and there, and if you’re on the ball you can capture some of that coverage.
5. ‘Go big, or go home’ is terrible advice.
Tier 2 and smaller media outlets can also provide your business exposure, third-party credibility and traffic.
While you’re chasing national media mentions, flex your pitching muscles by building relationships with writers at smaller outlets. Not only could they lead to something bigger, but they will also help you establish yourself as a credible source in your industry.
Linda Parry of Product Launchers tells how her relationship with a local radio host led to her product getting covered on the “Today” show:
We contacted Lou Manfredini, a well-known home improvement expert to introduce him to our product, My Paint Saint. He fell in love with the concept and raved about it on his radio show. We further cultivated the relationship and began selling product in his two hardware stores. We were top of mind when he was invited onto the “Today” show to introduce new home improvement products.