Global Learning Solutions Fair – Florida International University

Are you interested in developing solutions to address social and environmental challenges? Are you eager to learn how you can contribute to the social progress of our communities near and far? Then, attending The Solutions Fair is the right choice for you! Join us on March 27 from 11am-1pm at FIU (MARC 3rd Floor) to network with organizations that are driving social change locally and globally. This is your chance to learn about their amazing work and how you can get involved through internships, volunteer opportunities, and more! For questions about The Solutions Fair, please contact Yeni Simon Confirmed community partners in attendance include: RESULTS UNICEF Immigrant Resource Center ISHR ESToPP Peace Corps Engage Miami Breakthrough Miami

Source: Global Learning Solutions Fair – Florida International University

How Instagram offers unique marketing opportunities

How Instagram offers unique marketing opportunities

As leaders seek to move beyond awareness and visibility on social media, shoppable posts are going to be essential for any digital campaign. Here’s how Instagram is leading the way.


Every organization wants proof that investing in social media marketing programs goes beyond awareness metrics.

Social media strategies are becoming more integrated with business objectives, serving as a formidable revenue driver. What’s particularly intriguing is observing the opportunities offered in social channels that allow users to click buy-direct content. In line with that trend, Hootsuite estimates 28 percent of organizations plan to implement a social commerce plan this year.

This particularly impacts B2C marketers who turn to Instagram as the social platform to engage younger potential customers. Approximately, 76 percent of U.S. users are under the age of 44 with 59 percent of those users 30 or younger. Particularly noteworthy is that 72 percent of teens use the social network daily.

Retailers are taking advantage of Instagram’s shoppable tags feature and creating shoppable posts to further tap these demographics.

What are shoppable posts?

Before October 2017, adding a link to your Instagram bio was the only organic way (without sponsorship) for stores to drive traffic from Instagram to their landing pages.

However, with the emergence of shoppable tags, brands can now turn their Instagram accounts into visual storefronts by adding product tags to their images and linking to product web pages. Once a business has set up Instagram shoppable tags, a shopping bag icon displays in the corner of each shoppable image post.

You can check out an example by viewing this link from your smartphone.

So far, Instagram allows organic posts to include shopping links, so it’s important to build your following and add hashtags relevant to your audience and products in your posts. To stretch your post further and reach more potential buyers, you can add as many as 30 hashtags.

Setting up the ability to implement the shopping feature requires several steps. To know if you’re eligible, you need to take those steps and go through Instagram’s business approval process.

After you’ve tagged products in nine posts (Instagram’s self-imposed rule), a shop tab will show up on your profile that lets users browse your shoppable posts—all in one place.

Do shoppable posts move the meter?

Instagram shoppable posts turn your fun Instagram account into a real sales tool. More than 90 million Instagram users click on shoppable posts every month, allowing them to find, research and purchase products in-app, rather than being navigated to a separate domain or checkout page.

For brands fully invested and taking advantage of the feature, the results speak for themselves. Tyme is an e-commerce store that specializes in hair-styling tools and observed a 44 percent increase in traffic to their website since implementation. Other brands like womenswear brand Lulus had more than 1,200 product orders and 100,000 visits to their site since the feature’s testing stages.

Stay true to your Instagram strategy

Like any new social feature, it takes time for widespread adoption. However, marketers are now experimenting to take advantage of this Instagram feature to generate website traffic and direct sales.

Because social media users are trending toward expecting an in-app purchasing experience, and because company executives want to see a direct line from social media to sales, there are obvious benefits for giving shoppable posts a try. Retailers should also keep an eye on this feature moving forward to see if or when Instagram will layer on advertising.

While shoppable posts have been exciting for the Instagram marketing mix, it’s crucial to preserve best practices for any Instagram marketing program. Make sure to upload hi-resolution images to create the optimal visual experience for users. If you fall short of the fundamentals of the platform, your storefront will cause potential customers to bounce elsewhere.

Jeremy Juhasz is the director of social media for Cookerly PR.   

(Image via)

Buy the First-Ever Ford Mustang Hardtop at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale

Source: Buy the First-Ever Ford Mustang Hardtop at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale


One of only three Ford Pilot Plant Mustangs remaining

At first glance, the Mustang shown here looks like every other nicely restored 1965 model that you see. It’s in great condition, and the blue interior paired with the blue paint might stand out somewhat, but that’s about it. Once you hear its story, though, it becomes a lot more interesting. That’s because it’s actually the first Mustang hardtop ever built, and you can buy it later this month at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction.


Wearing VIN #00002, this pre-production Mustang is also one of only three Ford Pilot Plant Mustangs known to still exist. VIN #00001 was a convertible. Power comes from a 170-cubic-inch U-code inline-six, while the transmission is a three-speed manual. The seller claims it has been restored to factory condition and that all major components are numbers-matching.


In addition to the car, the winning bidder will get two binders that document the car’s ownership history and restoration. There’s a letter from Ford that confirms this car is the first Mustang hardtop ever built, too, as well as a collection of signatures from Lee Iacocca, Hal Sperlich, Don Frey, Gale Halderman, and other important figures from the Mustang’s past.


This summer, the car will appear in Ford v. Ferrari with Matt Damon and Christian Bale. So in theory, the winning bidder could drive this car to the theater to watch their new car on the big screen. That’s got to be pretty cool.


Barrett-Jackson ushers in a new year of high-octane auction action during its 48th Annual Scottsdale Auction, featuring some of the world’s most coveted collector vehicles and authentic automobilia collectiblesJanuary 12-20, 2019, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. As in decades past, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions will be the epicenter of Collector Car Auction Week and entertain thousands of automotive enthusiasts with interactive exhibits, entertainment, and activities. Check your local TV listings to see it live on MotorTrend Network and download the app for exclusive, live coverage.

Hurricane Florence recovery continues in Onslow

Source: Hurricane Florence recovery continues in Onslow

Three months after Hurricane Florence stormed Onslow County, local businesses and organizations are still finding ways to help those in need.

Three months have passed since Hurricane Florence wrecked Onslow County, and while some have repaired roofs and replaced damaged items, others are still going through the recovery process.

And those in need have not been missed by the eyes of a caring local community.

Eastern North Carolina began feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 13 before she made landfall at Wrightsville Beach the next day. Once the storm hit land, ENC was pounded with 13-foot storm surges and nearly 30 inches of rain, which brought extreme flooding and damages. Wind gusts of up to 106 mph were reported at Cape Lookout, which downed trees and caused other damages in the area.

Some organizations, recognizing the breadth of Florence’s damages, took steps to take care of their customers, employees and longevity.

Marine Federal Credit Union, with the help of credit union Pen Air FCU, distributed $25,635 to its members. Pen Air raised the money and Jeff Clark, president of Marine Federal, said it only made sense to give that money back to its clients.

“Giving back to our community is the very fiber on which we are founded,” Clark said in a press release. “We’re not a stock based organization. We’re a cooperative which simply means we give back.”

Members were able to receive a portion of this donation by applying for aid through the credit union, and were given $250 if they qualified and had no obligation to pay it back, according to Trisha Scott, marketing manager for Marine Federal.

A total of 103 members participated in the program. One of the recipients, retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. James Heath from New Bern, said the money from the credit union was a true blessing to he and his wife, Sarah.

“It was a bright spot in all of the negative we experienced,” Heath said.

Heath, who now serves as the pastor for Church of God and Christ, said Sarah was still recovering from surgery after suffering an aneurysm in August when news of the hurricane came his way. The couple had planned to wait the storm out, but was forced to evacuate when storm surge began to flood their property on the Neuse River.

Heath said he and Sarah spent over 20 days displaced from their home as Florence passed through and recovery began afterward. They evacuated to Little Washington for the weekend of Sept. 15 and were able to return Sunday — but soon discovered mold forming in the house.

Sarah, who is a survivor of kidney and breast cancer, requires dialysis treatments. Heath said he did not want to risk his wife’s health by staying there, so they sought refuge on Cherry Point in another hotel room.

For her first set of treatments after the storm, Heath said he had to make several phone calls to ensure she would be able to receive them. And once she had her appointment, he felt the full weight of their situation.

“I got us some food, set hers in the microwave … and I realized I was so stressed I couldn’t even put my fork in my mouth,” Heath said.

Later, as they filled out forms with their insurance and were denied by FEMA during their first application, he said it was difficult to find the funding they needed to repair flooding damage to their garage and patio.

“Seeing them offer this and not making it (the application) like Fort Knox, makes me really proud to be part of this credit union,” Heath said. “It encourages my wife… and let her see that there are concerned citizens in our community.”

State and federal agencies, including FEMA and the Small Business Administration, set up camp in Onslow County and the surrounding areas to help people apply for disaster assistance. While FEMA extended its original deadline, the disaster recovery center will now be officially closing Thursday. The only center that will remain open in North Carolina is in Wilmington, according to FEMA media relations specialist Angela Bryd.

“Circumstances for each survivor are different, some have received assistance, some are still going through the process so it really does vary,” Bryd said.

If residents have not yet applied for FEMA or need to appeal, Bryd said it is imperative to meet the deadline by 5 p.m. Thursday. If that is not possible or residents can’t file in person, she said they can call the FEMA line at 1-800-621-3662 or apply online at

SBA workshops have also been set up in Onslow County, where the deadline to apply for physical disaster assistance is the same as FEMA. For capital loan assistance, which is geared toward businesses, the deadline is not until June 14, 2019.

Jacqueline Wu, public affairs specialist for the SBA, said citizens can apply for both FEMA assistance and SBA assistance, but it’s important to meet the deadline. Especially, she added, if additional damages were found following the initial hurricane recovery period and assistance or an appeal is needed. As long as applications are submitted by the Thursday deadline, Wu said applicants can appeal to FEMA or the SBA loan if they are denied.

Raquel Painter, executive director of the United Way of Onslow County, said while much of the physical haul is complete, like volunteer clean-up efforts, grant money is starting to come in for the services United Way supports, such as the Salvation Army. A total of $20,000 in grants will be distributed to 11 organizations, she added.

“We sat down with the agencies to discuss what the gaps are … and found a lot of residents are still displaced,” Painter said.

And ultimately, the problem with being displaced is that it quickly becomes very costly. Staying in a hotel without a full kitchen, Painter said, might mean more meals eaten out, and perhaps a longer commute to work. United Way is trying to make displacement less costly for residents with the distribution of hygiene supplies and other necessities.

Nearly three rooms at the United Way of Onslow County were full on Tuesday of donations of items including diapers, laundry soap, hygiene supplies and brand-new college apparel from the University of North Carolina.

Agencies supported by United Way, like Onslow Community Outreach, were also able to continue providing services after Florence thanks to the help of the public.

“The good thing about that is Florence didn’t affect those programs and all the citizens have been amazing in ensuring those programs go on,” Painter said.

For other organizations, hurricane recovery was more prevalent in the beginning, such as ONWASA. CEO Jeff Hudson said the utility service initially provided a lot of support in the form of water containers and then waiving late fees for those affected by the storm. More recently, however, he said employees came together to help each other for Christmas, starting a private collection.

Of the 125 people employed by ONWASA, he said seven total suffered severe or total losses to their homes.

“They (employees) decided to collect money for families suffering house damages so their kids could have something nice for Christmas,” Hudson said. “There was no public money involved.”

For some businesses, physical damages became a huge obstacle in the aftermath of Florence. In downtown Jacksonville, the Kettle Diner closed its doors the day before the hurricane — and has not been open since. General Manager Dawn Mitchell, who said the restaurant has been in its Marine Boulevard location for nearly 20 years, said it’s been an emotional process.

A Swansboro resident, Mitchell said she had to cut down on her trips to Jacksonville before repairs began at the restaurant because it was so hard to see her “home” at a near complete loss.

“It was really, really emotional to walk in here and see things the way they were,” Mitchell said. “The front was all caved in, and we had to gut a lot of stuff.”

But, once progress was made, which is a continuing process for the downtown restaurant, she said the focus became more about getting the diner reopened. While she could not offer a specific date for reopening due to the inspection process, she said the hope is to open before Christmas.

“I get messages every single day from the employees asking when it’s going to happen and the customers have been a blessing,” Mitchell said.

In fact, it was regular customers who performed some of the initial “damage assessments” by taking photos of the diner after the hurricane. To help with some of the costs and the cost of employees being out of work, T-shirt sales were organized by the diner as well. Mitchell said a second order is going out soon for those who missed the first round of shirts. She said many of the employees and servers are collecting unemployment until they can return to work.

Mitchell could not provide an estimate on costs to the diner, but said insurance did help curb some of the repair work. A good amount of the work, she said, involved bringing the eatery up to current code, which will be required for it to open again.

“It’s almost like we’re getting a new diner opened,” Mitchell said. “Between waiting for all our different inspections, we were able to do a lot of other work.”

Employees of the restaurant, including Mitchell, have been hard at this work every day, she said.

As far as the physical repairs go, Mitchell said things are moving along pretty well. The best way to help, she said, is to be ready to support the restaurant once it re-opens.

“Be ready, because it ain’t gonna be long from now,” Mitchell joked.

For residents in need, Painter said support in the form of donations of goods, funds and time are still needed. Tell-tale signs of repair are still prevalent throughout the county, from blue tarps to piles of storm debris.

“A lot of times you can’t see it … but we still have needs that need to be met,” Painter said. “A lot of funds through government programs have run out, and finding the funds to move out (if you’re displaced) is tough.”

Reporter Kelsey Stiglitz can be reached at 910-219-8453 or

Man confined to wheelchair after diving accident injures his spine walks at college graduation


Man confined to wheelchair after diving accident injures his spine walks at college graduation

Venezuela native Aldo Amenta broke his neck when he dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool in 2015, he said in a video released by Florida International University. Doctors declared him a quadriplegic after the accident, he added.

Amenta’s life “changed completely” after he was paralyzed, he said.

“Now, I depend on a lot of people to help me do my daily activities,” he said. “So, that’s become a huge challenge in just my everyday life.”

PHOTO: Aldo Amenta used an exoskeleton to walk across the stage to get his diploma at Florida International University. FIU

The challenges were so difficult that Amenta considered dropping out of school, he said. But, with the help of his loved ones and a scholarship from the Miami-based university, Amenta was able to focus on his studies and eventually graduate, he said.

On Sunday, Amenta, who has since regained some movement in his limbs, needed only a hoist out of his chair before he was able to take the steps on his own — with the help of an exoskeleton on his legs and torso– to retrieve his diploma.

Amenta had to practice with the exoskeleton for several hours before he was able to perform the walk, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG reported. He graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, according to WPLG.

PHOTO: Aldo Amenta used an exoskeleton to walk across the stage to get his diploma at Florida International University. FIU

Applause from the audience rang out as Amenta took each determined step across the stage, shaking hands with school administrators along the path, video shows.

Amenta described the moment as “amazing,” saying that the walk symbolized his ability to continue fulfilling his dreams despite the accident that changed the course of his life.

PHOTO: Aldo Amenta used an exoskeleton to walk across the stage to get his diploma at Florida International University. FIU

The college graduate emphasized how perseverance allowed him to stay on track in achieving his goals.

“It doesn’t matter how hard you think things are going to be,” he said. “Maybe you feel that it is impossible for you to make it, but you’ll find people that are willing to help you…that motivated me. That gave me the strength to be able to continue to push myself through and stay positive.”

Next on Amenta’s to-do list is to pursue a master’s degree and to “keep on working on my rehabilitation, working for my dream to get back on my feet,” he said.

ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

5 enduring functions of public relations

5 enduring functions of public relations via @PRDaily 11/08/18 #AudienceIdentification #ClearPositioning #Messaging #MessageDistribution #Feedback #Measurement Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media.

5 enduring functions of public relations

By Frank Strong | Posted: November 8, 2018

Two is the new five.

When people ask what will happen in the next five years, chances are that whatever it is will happen in just two.

A colleague said that at a recent seminar, and it really captures the chaotic pace of change we all must now endure. Our day-to-day work is fast and intense, and we must account for a dizzying array of new strategies, platforms and technological wonders.

It often makes me wonder: When we went to the office 20 years ago, what did we do all day? I think we spent a little more time on the fundamentals of PR, which, if we can pause long enough to take a breath, look like this:

1. Audience identification

Any effective communication program must begin by identifying the target audience. This is all-inclusive research that factors in the wants, needs and behavioral triggers of a population segment. The imperative here is to focus on what the audience needs—not what a business or brand wants to say.

2. Clearly defined positioning

Whether a business has defined its positioning or not, every brand has one. Three department stores provide a clear way to view positioning—think about the differences between Walmart, Target and Nordstrom. Each occupies a unique position in the market, and, more importantly, our expectation of the experience we will have in those stores.

It is more challenging in B2B marketing, but characteristics like speed, scale, reliability and customer experience all contribute.  Positioning is what you are and what people believe you are. In technology, the classic comparison of Salesforce to Oracle is an iconic example. Salesforce positioned itself as the antidote to software as it brought predictable pricing and short-circuited premise software implementations.

[RELATED: Learn how benchmarking can guide your PR efforts to resounding success.]

3. Messaging

Messaging is the intersection of audience identification and positioning. PR needs messages to do one important thing: Resonate. The path to finding messages that resonate begins with answering these questions:

  • What do people think about your business or brand today?
  • What do you want people to think?
  • What messages can you send that facilitate how you want to be perceived?

4. Message distribution

Message distribution is medium of conveyance—it’s how you get a message to an identified audience. It used to be we had three choices:

  • Rent a medium with advertising
  • Earn coverage in a medium by being useful
  • Earn word-of-mouth with guerrilla marketing

Today, we have both more options within those traditional choices and more options in general. The lower costs of publishing means that we can build our own medium. That is the essence of content marketing, and why PR and content marketing work best when working together.

5. Feedback and measurement

After the first four steps of these PR fundamentals, evaluation is required.

Traditionally, it was challenging to link a message to an outcome, but that has changed considerably as information became digitalized. Now we can measure such factors as web traffic acquisition and behavior with accuracy.

That feedback loop happens at far greater speeds today—you can put a message in the market and understand pretty quickly if it’s resonating. Indeed, for many in PR, that’s a big part of the reason why two feels like the new five.

Frank Strong is founder of Sword and the Script Media. A version of this post first appeared on Sword and the Script.



What we think, we become. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. – The Buddha

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