A LinkedIn connection request can be another form of thank-you message.
It’s also an easy way to create a more enduring connection so you can stay in touch and gin up goodwill.
4. Add the writer to your list
Another way to keep track of writers in social media is to add them to your Twitter lists and Facebook groups.
5. Invite the writer to your next event
Do you have an event of your own scheduled? Invite the writer to attend. This will build a better connection and might lead to a bit of press for your event.
Are you going to an upcoming event? Invite the writer to join you. Maybe you can meet up for coffee beforehand or a beer after.
Inviting others to meet you at an event is a great way to create more personal connections and solidify your reputation as a reliable source.
6. Send the article to other journalists, outlets and bloggers
Don’t be afraid to reach beyond the original writer. Seek out other bloggers and members of the press who write about the topics covered in your piece. They may be interested in writing something similar for their audience or consider you as a source for another topic.
Once you have press, getting more of it is easier. The goal is to create a snowball effect. Here are a few places to find more members of the press:
When you share links with reporters, mention how well the story performed—including the number of shares.
7. Send the article to bloggers who write roundups
Bloggers who write roundups are always looking for relevant content. If the article fits their beat, send a quick message suggesting they include it.
8. Email the link to top sales prospects
Here’s how to use media coverage to lift sales:
If you already have leads in your pipeline, you may be looking for reasons to reach out to them. A press mention is a perfect tool for that.
If there are organizations out there you’d like to connect with, a press mention is a good way to reach out. Just find the relevant person on LinkedIn or ask a mutual connection for an introduction.
A short, simple email with a link to the article is a smart way to get on someone’s radar and build your credibility. If you want to know whether an email recipient clicked the link you sent, use a URL shortener like bit.ly. This lets you track the link. If clicks = 0, the recipient didn’t read it. If clicks = 1, he or she did.
Thoughtful, gracious networking that builds personal relationships and establishes genuine connections pays big dividends in the present, and it also lays the groundwork for more coverage down the road.
A while back, I attended a Ragan Communications Social Media Roundtable in Chicago. It was perfect timing, because I’ve felt lately as if my relationships with my steady collection of digital tools and resources has hit a rut. After getting more than a few ideas for spicing things up through picking the brains of some of the best in the business, I’m feeling much more optimistic about the future.
So, for anyone who’s also feeling in a bit of a relationship slump, let the following 10 tools help you break free too.
1. Feedly. I was one of those people who clung to Google Reader, holding out hope until it smacked me with a breakup notification. I was forced to play the field. I reluctantly gave Feedly a chance, and now I realize what I had before: nothing. Feedly enables me to embrace my passion for organization. I can create folders for various topics and then add content to them, so everything is easily accessible. My inner journalism major digs the clean “magazine” view, which displays large images with articles.
2. Offerpop. I’ve planned dozens of social media promotions for clients, so I’ve tried out quite a few different apps. Offerpop offers a wide range of products across social platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, even Tumblr and Vine—and it’s not lacking in options for promotions, from Pinterest contests to Facebook and Twitter sweepstakes. Maybe most important: It’s easy to get along with. We can draft customized content for each promotion, and the text instructions and image dimensions are out there for everyone to see. So, our graphic designer can easily come up with visuals and drop them in, no coding needed.
3. PromoJam. Though it doesn’t have quite the number of promotion options as Offerpop, PromoJam is significantly more affordable (about $30 each month for a basic account), so it works well for one-off Facebook promotions and for clients with limited budgets. The interface is user-friendly and requires no coding, so customizable promotions can be set up quickly. I’ll also give them kudos for customer service. I had an issue a couple of weeks ago setting up a promotion on a client’s Facebook page, and they were enthusiastic about helping to fix it.
4. GroupHigh. I was not a fan of GroupHigh a couple of years ago, but since its makeover it is growing on me again. I work closely with food bloggers on behalf of clients almost every day, so a database of bloggers sounds like it’d be a stellar fit for me. It is, to a point. GroupHigh is a useful tool for identifying topic-specific bloggers in various locations. It is also very helpful for quickly finding bloggers’ social media stats and information, which I often include in proposals and in reports for clients. What it isn’t is a substitute for creating genuine, strong relationships with bloggers and for really getting to know them. A food blogger does not want to know that you found them through a search on GroupHigh. They want you to read their blog, connect on social media, and get to know them before shooting off a blind invitation to get together.
5. Followerwonk. Just who are your Twitter followers? Scrolling through to find information about followers—and search for new users to follow— quickly becomes exhausting. Followerwonk enables you to see where Twitter followers are located, analyze Twitter profiles, and search for keywords in Twitter bios. It also has a simple display that organizes data into basic graphs and charts that are easy to understand and use. One other function I find useful for clients: Comparing the social graph of one Twitter account to as many as two others, such as those of competitors, friends, or industry leaders.
6. Sprout Social. People at the roundtable were raving about Sprout Social. I like that it focuses on a team approach, as there are usually multiple people managing social media within an agency. Also, all the functions to manage and monitor engagement across platforms are quite attractive.
7. Canva. Looks really do matter. Visual social media content has been on the rise since 2012, when Pinterest and Instagram saw a huge surge in popularity. Some predicted 2014 would be the year visual content truly takes over in social media, and that seems accurate. Think of Canva as an affordable personal stylist to help you stand out at the overcrowded social media party. This free app enables users to create basic design pieces in a snap, such as graphics for blogs and social media. It clearly makes the distinction between itself and pro tools such as Photoshop or InDesign. Instead, Canva simply helps with content layout, and it may be helpful to those who don’t always have access to a graphic designer and just need to create simple, attractive graphic content.
8. Pulse. This app aims to simplify our news experience by delivering news direct from influencers (identified through LinkedIn) that interests us most, all in one place. Basically, it’s a personalized newsfeed.
9. Camtasia. Shorter is better when it comes to video these days, and this tool makes it a snap to edit or combine short videos. I’d like to try this out for projects that don’t require—or don’t have the budget for—professional video but still have to look somewhat polished.
10. LinkedIn tags. Did you know you could tag your LinkedIn contacts? Similar to Twitter lists (another one of my go-to tools), you can assign tags to your LinkedIn connections, such as “Clients” or “Social Media Roundtable Participants,” for easy access.
I’d love to know about some of your favorite tools and resources, too, so please share them in the comments section.
Hana Bieliauskas is an account manager in the Columbus, Ohio, office of CMA, a national public relations agency based in Kansas City, Mo. Follow her on Twitter @hanab08. A version of this story originally appeared on the author’s blog, Follow My Footnotes.
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.
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.