Honoring the Fallen

In the United States, a traditional honor available to veterans, police officers and firefighters who have passed, is to have the flag draped over the casket at their memorial or funeral services ceremoniously folded and presented to their next of kin.

When the US Military honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, the US flag draped over the casket is folded twelve times by six honor guards, three on each side of the casket.

As the flag is folded, the red and white stripes are wrapped into the blue, symbolizing how day folds into night. The blue portion of the flag symbolizes honor, and leaving the stars visible on the folded flag represents the 50 states our veterans served. This particular Funeral Held For Vietnam War Veteran Killed In Hurricane Sandycustom of special folding is reserved for the United States Flag.

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it is reminiscent of a tri-cornered hat, which serves to remind Americans of the colonial soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones.

An honor guard from one of the United States Armed Forces presents the flag to the fallen service member’s next of kin or designated family member. The person presenting the flag kneels in front of his or her chair to present the folded flag, with the straight edge facing the recipient. The presenter then recites:

On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.

12906261454531448249615The family receiving the flag will often display it in a place of honor in their home, representing the service of their family member who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

We at Gemini honor those that have fallen in service to our country. We thank them and their families for their sacrifice.

The spin doctor will see you now

Miriam Webster defines a spin doctor as a person (such as a political aide) whose job involves trying to control the way something (such as an important event) is described to the public in order to influence what people think about it. Considering the number of spin doctors that currently preside on both sides of the political isle – who knows what to believe?

kscn3545_hiI recently read an article about the one year anniversary of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and I then checked a few other sources to compare statistics, claims and facts. According to one source, the taxes on marijuana that Colorado made in one year was 76 million, another source had it at 40 million and still another, a meager 30 million. Any way you grow it, that’s a lot of weed … but how can these writers obtain such divergent statistics? Is anyone fact checking anymore? Or is this an example of selective spin in spite of the facts.

After Rolling Stone published an article on a campus fraternity gang rape that literally tore up families at the University of Virginia and enraged a lot of women, it was discovered that this event never even happened. The publisher was forced to officially retract the piece and apologize to its readers. My question – how do we as readers differentiate between spin doctors and journalists? What is the truth and how do we recognize it? It used to be that news stations and newspapers investigated, fact checked, then reported and/or published the news. Now it seems that stations or publishers have their own political and economic agendas and they report (and I use the term loosely) whatever they like – spinning information to heights that support those agendas. So now what?

After the events in Ferguson, Missouri last summer there were apparently questionable reports that the media ran which resulted not only in race riots, heavy damage to small businesses and angry residents, but a countrywide racism debate that grew pretty heated. Then, when the trial of Michael Brown actually happened and the truth was reported, it was nothing like the media reports. I imagine we can thank those in the Al Sharpton camp for inflammatory speech that swept up angry young people and their families along the way. So what is the answer?

For me – I shall pay attention to the spin surrounding all sides of an issue, especially during the season of political campaigning. Then, in gathering as much information as I can across the full spectrum of perspectives, I’ll decide the truth for myself. *rolls eyes*

Logos for President!

hillary logo - CopyHere it is – the new symbol of brand Hillary. The colors are certainly predictable, even presidential and it is a good strategy that the name Clinton is played down and the name Hillary played up. What does the arrow mean?   Let’s see, moving ahead, this way, points to America, Hillary is pointing to America – ok – that works. In substance and strategy, it’s not bad, but is it presidential? Probably not, and for a brand logo there are way too many words. I would think Hillary.com would be enough – oh wait, that’s actually a software company … a word to Hillary’s campaign manager “Time to make a deal”.

rand logo

Ok, here is another candidate who has tossed his hat into the ring – Rand Paul. It’s certainly short and sweet and the colors are certainly bold – but are they presidential? Hmmm What is the flame all about? Are we talking about the Olympics? The flame of Liberty … the Statue of Liberty … ok – I’ll bite. It certainly is more powerful than the Hillary logo when appearing at the same size.

ted cruiz logoAnd here is another candidate logo, colors are presidential, name is large and easy to read … is that a flag in the shape of a flame? What are we saying here? Eternal America, burn the flag … no, I’m sure that’s not right. Is the 2016 necessary? Too small? For me the flag in the shape of a flame doesn’t work – just my personal opinion … and therein lies the rub. All these logos will be seen and interpreted through different eyes and political orientations.marco rubio logo

And here is yet another campaign logo with a graphic of the United States dotting the i? Um, no. That will just become a blob (or a fish) when the logo is reduced and no one will even get it. Otherwise I love the font and all those round vowel shapes are very nice graphically. I also love the way the name is separated by color so the last name is emphasized – perfect! A New American Century – now there’s an idea.

logo_jill_2016_revI’m not exactly sure who Jill Stein is – but apparently she’s running for president in 2016. This logo looks more like margarine than a political candidate … but it has a very sunny feel. *winks* I would have separated the color between the two words and used a much more serious color – but hey … it sure is different!

Are Your Employees Your Biggest Fans?


According to Forbes, in 2012 forty of the Top Companies to Work For were also the top companies in social media. Many companies are turning to their employees to help them achieve social media success via Employee Advocacy Programs. Tapping into employees’ vast array of social connections offers a company a far more diverse and broad reach than they could achieve on their own.

Employees are instrumental to social media success because:

  1. They care about the company brand and want to see the company succeed
    2. They are trusted by the public far more than the company itself
    3. Corporate messages are filtered by social media; individuals are not

Starbucks refers to its employees as ‘partners’ and they have Starbucks Partners accounts where they are encouraged to interact. The Twitter profile reads tweets for partners, about what it means to be a partner (employee). Recent tweets and retweets highlight employee and customer interaction. The company launched a campaign called Race Together, which encouraged opening a dialogue about racial diversity between Starbucks employees and its customers. The 28,000+ followers of the account were encouraged to spread the word of the new campaign across social media channels. That’s what Employee Advocacy is all about.

Are there possibly negative points to consider? Sure. The Starbucks campaign, a week after its launch, was calleda marketing fiasco that could rank right up there with ‘New Coke’, by FOX Media.

The campaign was criticized as ‘opportunistic and inappropriate’, especially after recent racially charged events and national protests about police killings of black men. Some critics disparaged the idea of opening up the topic in the few minutes a Barista should be selling drinks.

Corey duBrowa, senior V.P. of global communications, received so many inflammatory and negative tweets when the plan was announced, he deleted his Twitter account. Ouch! (It was reactivated 24 hours later). Having all employees stop referencing the failed campaign on social media is one possible problem.

Employers may be concerned about reining in negative posts and tweets. (What if your disgruntled former employee starts spewing #hate?) There’s only so much control over what’s put out there. So, how to avoid potential negativity? While you can’t empower an employee and excite him to share ideas and then censure his input, and there is a certain amount of trust that goes hand in hand with this type of outreach, employees are given guidelines, instruction and often post via portals to prevent issues from arising. Employee Captains and Social Media Leaders are also designated to coordinate and manage posts. There are steps to creating and maintaining an effective Employee Advocacy Program including: strategy, research, metrics and software. This helps ensure positive results for the employer and employees.

If a company’s employees are its “fans”, no one will be better at spreading the word, sharing “sneak peeks” and “insider info” and getting new customers. Employee Advocacy Programs utilizing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of contacts who already know and trust its employees may the best inroad to social media success that a company can take. What’s not to “like” about that?

Follow the leader: the strategy behind Influence Marketing

Tyson Christmas NuggetsTyson Foods had unprecedented sales of chicken nuggets by Christmas, selling out their stock completely in just a few weeks. This was not the result of a new print, online, or commercial campaign. Rather, it was because they decorated nuggets like Christmas cookies and shared the idea with key Mommy bloggers who then shared the images on their social networks. The decorated nuggets resulted in over eight million impressions on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube – and surpassed the company’s goal by 70%!

It’s a whole new world, with brand new targets to identify — a world where encouraging key social influencers to share experiences across social media channels is an emerging path to marketing success.

Why did marketing to the Mommy bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers lead to such a successful campaign? Because these people directly influence the buying decisions of their followers. They are the influencers. Once key influencers are identified for a specific market, they are who brands should be marketed to. Having key influencers tout a product or service is the best way to have a brand stand out in the vast sea of digital noise.

Statistics show that when email content is distributed to an audience of millions of people, the click-through rate is half of one percent. But content sent to the top 50 influencers in a market results in a click-through rate closer to 9.5 to 10 percent.

How is this possible? Because the influencers are passionate about sharing information within their social media circles. The influencers’ goals are to be relevant in their communities, not just one of the crowd. Once a marketer can identify the influencers and provide them with desired content, the influencer will respect and build a relationship with the provider. The result: he or she will share the content with the targeted community.

Building a relationship with key influencers in old fashioned terms can be key. Instead of e-blasts and direct mail campaigns, key influencers are being courted via event invitations, phone contact and personal emails. It’s a combination of new ideas meeting traditional relationship building. According to a recent report in Forbes magazine, “targeted influencer marketing in targeted niches drives 16 times more engagement than paid or owned media”.

No wonder top marketers and brands are utilizing this powerful new marketing method. Chicken nuggets, anyone?

Keeping up with the Websters

New words are being created every day, many due to the influence of technology and social networking. Here are some fun new words that you have likely heard and used already … now sanctioned by Merriam and company.

  1. big data: data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools … as Ed Sullivan would say … it’s really, really, big
  2. catfish: someone who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes … gives a bad name to a pretty good fish (Have you ever seen the reality show on MTV? Oy.)
  3. crowdfunding: soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people especially from an online community … political contributions come to mind … hmmmm
  4. fracking: injecting fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources like oil or natural gas … not exactly a new practice … but a seriously new name that sorta sounds like what it does
  5. freegan: an activist who scavenges for free food in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants as a means of reducing consumption of resources … ok, this is a little crazy and dangerous, not to mention potentially stinky
  6. gamification: the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something to encourage participation … I confess that we have been guilty here … but who knew there was a word for it. *laughs*
  7. hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet). Ahem … seems a little on the late side, Merriam, since we have been using this word for years.
  8. pho: a Vietnamese soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles, herbs and a protein (Yum. I think I’d like some mo pho please.)
  9. poutine: a dish of French fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds … this one is a heart attack waiting to happen
  10. selfie: an image of oneself taken by oneself using a cell phone especially for posting on social networks … guilty again
  11. social networking: the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships especially online … and again
  12. steampunk: subgenre of science fiction and fantasy steampunkliterature featuring 19th century society dominated by steam-powered technology. Steampunk has developed in recent years to become a craft and lifestyle movement.
  13. turducken: a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey … for those who cannot terducken 2decide and want it all (but the bones), I guess
  14. tweep: a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets … what?
  15. Yooper: a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan —used as a nickname (um, why?)

Words in general fascinate me … and new word development is even more fun … and it’s easy to see how they evolve. As Cameo would say … Word up!