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Archive for July, 2013

10 Ways to Make Your Small Business Social Media Activities Rock

July 22, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator

Social media may have the lowest cost of entry of any marketing tool, but is not actually that easy to do well. In fact, a report by eMarketer found that small businesses are struggling to adopt social media, with only 24 percent of small firms having integrated social media in a structured way into their operations.
Knowing where to start is perhaps the number one obstacle holding many small business owners back. Knowing what to do when you get there is next.
So, whether you are new to social media or looking to go beyond using it in an ad hoc or informal way, here are 10 ways to make your small business social media activities rock.

1. Pick the Site(s) that Works for You
Social media sites are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and it’s easy to become distracted or lost in the speed of change. So where should you focus your efforts?
Speaking at last year’s National Small Business Week social media panel, Erica Ayotte, social media manager with Constant Contact, recommends businesses start with one channel to test and nurture it. Then try to diversify: “Spend a little time each week exploring new platforms and figure out if they might be for you.” Speaking at the same event, GrowBizMedia’s Rieva Lesonsky recommends that you “find out where your customers can be found, go there first, and then spread out from there… if you run a restaurant, yes, you probably should be on Twitter, but you should really be on Yelp first.”

2. Share Interesting and Visual Content
This is one area that really does take time. What’s interesting anyway?
Well, let’s start with the basics. If you have any news to share, and by news I mean “newsworthy” (i.e. something that impacts your customers directly) then go ahead and share it – things like holiday opening times, new offices, menu updates, charity events, etc.
Then add another tier – share quality content. Something you do well that will help you stand out in a crowd – blogs, white papers, tips, or quick “how to” videos (host them on YouTube or Hulu). Then use social media to amplify it. Feel free to share content from others (without breaking copyright) if it is relevant to your fans. Don’t be afraid to ask people what content they want you to share!
Another tier of content should focus on telling the big picture story of your business – showcase employees, community activities, or how customers are using your product or service. This is a great opportunity to be visual and stand-out in busy newsfeeds.
Remember, give it time. It takes time to figure out what works. For example, you might think about using polls and surveys to engage with followers, but if you are still growing your network, you might not get the right results – yet. So, keep trying new things until you find a sweet spot. And don’t forget, just because people may not be interacting with you yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening, so keep the faith!

3. Listen
Great content drives engagement and grows social communities, but equally important is the art of listening. Think of social media as a form of conversation – it’s a two-way dialog. If you’re not prepared to listen to what is being said to you, about you, or with you, then you simply aren’t “being social.” In addition to listening to your consumers, carve out time to listen to influencers in your business, to your competitors, and to those who can help you perfect your social media strategy

4. Have an Authentic Voice
Again, “be social!” Drop the corporate marketing speak; people like dealing with people. So don’t be afraid to loosen up a little and when responding to problems or complaints; sign off with your first name.

5. Foster Fan-to-Fan Engagement
Some of the strongest social networking communities are based on supportive relationships and information sharing between fans. If you are posting interesting content, this will follow naturally as fans start to engage with others based on common interests. There are a few things you can do to encourage these relationships, many of them mentioned in this blog - listen to fans, chime in when you think you can add something, respond to comments, open the doors to shared experiences/needs, encourage fans to share photos and experiences and always communicate authentically (drop the corporate hat)

6. Don’t Overly Automate
While there are some great free tools that can help you automate your posts, don’t overly rely on these to get you through the day – it will show. Instead, set aside some time, 2-3 slots a day to post (note that the evening is a high volume time to post and get noticed), monitor and respond to fans.

7. Commit to Social Media
If you are truly going to succeed at social media, then you need to take it seriously and commit to it. For many small businesses, this means adopting a new paradigm. Don’t treat social media as an aside to be taken advantage of when you want to get the word out about your latest offer. Commit to a content strategy. Ensure all levels of the organization are on-board and are involved in your social media strategy. Don’t just assign daily responsibility for it to an office junior – this is the face of your business, after all, and it involves dialog with your customers (is a junior up to that?)

8. Treat Social Media as an Arm of Your Customer Service Operations
Social media is also an essential part of your customer service strategy. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, then you need to be prepared to monitor and respond to questions and complaints. These blogs offer more advice on this topic:

9. Don’t Forget Your Other Marketing Channels
Social media may be free, but it only works as part of a wider, integrated marketing strategy. It should never replace your website (which is the hub of all your marketing activity and the home of your online content). Email is also still important. You have a captive audience there; your message is delivered to their inboxes and allows for a deeper conversation.

10. Measure
Don’t forget to measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare these across posts to see if there’s a trend as to the type of content that’s popular. Measure engagement by tracking how many likes and shares your posts get (measured by Facebook as “reach”). Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.
Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


July 22, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Joyce Faulkner
Contact me at:
At first it was just a vibration ― like a distant heartbeat, then the faint smell of smoke. Hedy opened her eyes. Someone stood at the foot of her bed.
“I didn’t mean to scare you.” Alicia Jennings’ cigarette glowed in the darkness.
“Why are you here? Is something wrong?” Hedy could just make out her mother’s features in the gloom.
“You know why I came back.”
“Tell him to leave me alone.” Hedy pulled the quilt up under her chin.
“Comes a time when you have to let go of the past, Hedy. Forgive and forget ― that’s what I say.”
“I don’t know how to do that.” Hedy avoided Alicia’s eyes. “I don’t think I can.”
“He’s your father. You owe him.”
“I do?”
“Don’t take that tone with me, young lady.”
Hedy sat up in bed. “How can you defend him after what he did to you? To us?”
“That was years ago ― he’s paid for that.”
“Maybe that’s not up to you to say, Mama. You don’t have to live with it every day.”
Alicia stubbed out her cigarette in a china dish on Hedy’s dresser. “He’s changed.”
“I hope so, for his sake.”
“You are hard hearted, Hedy ― just like he used to be.” Alicia lit another cigarette and exhaled.
“Don’t do this to me, Mama.” Hedy flinched. Smoke wasn’t her favorite thing. “Mama?”
Alicia was gone.
“For God’s sake, will this nightmare never end?” Every time her father’s case came up for review, Alicia came to plead for him.
Something sparkled in the mirror. Hedy threw on her robe and got up. It was the reflection of her mother’s lighter setting in the dresser. It was still warm.
Holding it against her cheek, she examined her own reflection. The shiny scar started below her right eye, snaked down her jaw, crossed her upper chest and sliced her forearm from elbow to wrist. Time and several surgeries had minimized the grotesquerie, but it was an ugly reminder of the things she learned at her father’s knee.
Sleep was no longer an option even though it was only six-thirty in the morning. She sighed and dropped the lighter into her robe pocket. In the living room, she curled up in front of the television under a blanket. Clay Jennings’s face flashed on the screen. The documentary on his case was on Court TV again. She clicked it off before they showed the famous photograph of Ronnie Kowalski carrying her out of the flames. Thirty-eight years since that night and it was still in her face.

She was kissing Ronnie Kowalski on the front porch swing when her father yelled from the back of the house, “YOU STUPID BITCH!”
Ronnie startled. “What the hell?”
She flushed. Couldn’t she have one nice evening without them embarrassing her?
“STAY BACK!” A loud crash drowned out Alicia’s voice.
“Should we do something?” Ronnie peered into the living room window. “Maybe they need help?”
“They’re fine ― just drunk.”

The doorbell woke her.
“Miz Jennings?” The white-suited man towered over her.
“What do you want?”
“I’m Gabriel Angelino?” His embossed business card included ‘Esquire’ after his name. “I represent Clay Jennings in his appeal?”
“There’s nothing I can do, Mr. Angelino.” She tried to close the door, but he blocked it with his briefcase.
“I need to talk with you, ma’am.”
Irritated, she sighed and let him in. Usually she wore thick make-up, but she was in her nightclothes and her cheeks were clean. His eyes lingered on her scar. She resisted covering her face with her hand. Like he didn’t know what happened. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Yes, ma’am. If you don’t mind.” He followed her into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
“Tell them that they can do anything they want. I don’t care,” she said as she put on the kettle.
“I’m afraid that’s not good enough.” He set his briefcase on the table. “He’s not getting out until you forgive him. That’s policy.”
“I don’t hate my father, Mr. Angelino. I’m not even mad at him. I moved on years ago. Okay?”
The lawyer took a file out of his briefcase. “It doesn’t work that way. He’s done his mandatory stretch, but now he has to get pardons from all the parties. Your mother indicated her willingness to forgive him years ago. You are the only one standing in his way.”
Alicia’s scream raised goose bumps on Hedy’s neck.
“We need to help her,” Ronnie stood up.
Hedy gripped his arm. “I’ll go see what’s going on.”
“But what if she’s hurt?”
“Go home, Ronnie.” She gave him a push. “She won’t want you in there.”
He backed away. “What if you need me?” He called from the sidewalk.
“I won’t.” She turned and went inside.
Hedy poured hot water onto the tea bags inside each mug. “The state took care of all that right after it happened. It wasn’t up to me then, I don’t see why I have anything to say now.”
Angelino held up a death warrant. “Your father paid his debt to the state twenty-nine years ago when he was executed.”
“Closure.” Hedy served his tea and sat down across from him. “That’s what they said anyway ― but of course, whether he’s alive or whether he’s dead doesn’t change anything for me.”
“It was only the beginning for Mr. Jennings.” Angelino handed her the record of her father’s progress through the celestial courts. “As you can see, the clerk assigned him to me that same night. I presented his case a few days later and he moved to his current accommodations immediately after adjudication.”
She rubbed her eyes. “So, is it like a prison for ghosts?”
“You are dealing with a whole other organization now, Miz Jennings. Different rules, different punishments, different opportunities.”

The struggle in the kitchen escalated. Another crash. Scuffling. Screams, grunts ― and a strange gurgling sound. Heart pounding, Hedy burst through the door. Her mother writhed on the table trying to ward off the long butcher knife clutched in her father’s hand.
“NO!” Hedy froze in the doorway. “Stop it, Daddy!”
The knife sliced through Alicia’s fingers and hit the table beside her head. Something wet splattered Hedy’s cheeks. Stunned, she wiped her face with the back of her hand. Blood!
Without thinking, Hedy tackled him screaming. “You’re killing her, Daddy!”
“It’s her own damned fault.” Clay swung the knife in a wide arc, slashing Hedy’s cheek. “She made me do it.”
“Hedy,” Alicia moaned, pink bubbles frothing from her nostrils. “Go get help.”
“YOU STUPID BITCH.” Clay Jennings lifted the knife over his head, aiming at Alicia’s heart.
Hedy tried to push him away. “Don’t you hurt my Mama!”
Clay flung her against the wall and she fell hard against an overturned chair. Her feet slipping on the bloody linoleum, she struggled to get up.
Alicia’s scream was more of a wheeze. “Hedy, stay back!”
Clay Jennings plunged the knife into Alicia’s chest just as Hedy jumped between them.

“What happens next?”
“He’ll be reassigned to a new body if everyone agrees that he’s ready.”
“Ready?” Hedy frowned.
“He’s been through a lot.”
“Has he?”
Angelino tapped the paper. “He’s learned to accept responsibility for his choices. He understands that there are consequences even when a course of action is justified.”
“Oh yes, it was our fault. We got in his way. We made him angry.”
Gabriel Angelino raised an eyebrow.
She folded her arms across her chest. “You think I’m bitter, don’t you?”
He shrugged.
“I’m not.”
“Then why can’t you forgive him?”
“I don’t know how, Mr. Angelino. I don’t even know what forgiveness is.” She leaned her head on her hands.
“What do you think it is?” His voice was kind.
“At first, I thought it was letting go of the emotion. Moving on with my life. Not being angry ― but then that is about me. What good does that do him? He doesn’t get a pass just because I’m doing okay.”
Angelino’s nod was noncommittal.
“Then I thought that it was about putting things right — but there is no do-over here. My mother has been dead my whole adult life. I spent my twenties in hospitals ― first to fix my body, then to fix my mind. Then there were the trials, the appeals ― waiting for his execution. Getting over his execution.” She sniffed. “He can’t give me back my youth, Mr. Angelino ― or my mother.”
“No, he can’t.” Angelino sighed.
“Someone once told me there was peace to be found in amnesia. I tried everything from meditation to hypnosis — but how do I forget my mother’s face that night? How do I forget that blade slicing into me? Or the smell of the blood? Do you know what it’s like when someone you love wants you dead, Mr. Angelino?”
The tall man’s eyes were damp.
She blew her nose on a paper napkin. “Actually, I don’t want to forget. Those memories make me cautious ― wise.”
“Wisdom comes at a price,” Angelino agreed.
“And even if I DO forget, how does that help my father?”
“Has nothing to do with him, that’s for sure.”
The pain didn’t start right away. She lay on the kitchen floor ― numb, bleeding. She thought she heard Alicia’s last breath. Clay staggered around the room, sobbing. “Look what you made me do, you bitch.” He slapped Alicia’s cheeks, trying to revive her. “Don’t you dare die on me.”
Hedy gritted her teeth, hoping he would pass out before she did.
Dropping the knife, he dragged Alicia’s body off the table and fell to the floor with it, cradling her in his arms. “Don’t leave me, baby.”
In the distance, a siren distracted him. Through half closed eyes, Hedy watched him. Drunk, distraught and frightened, he arranged Alicia on the floor beside him ― straightening her legs, smoothing back her hair. On all fours, he crouched over her ― wailing. “ALICIA!”
The siren grew louder. Clay Jennings quieted, listening. Wiping his nose on the back of his hand, he lumbered to his feet and looked around. The evening newspaper was on the table, Alicia’s last cigarette smoldering in the ashtray beside it. He wadded up the top sheet ― then the second one.
Using the cigarette butt, he lit sheet after sheet and tossed them around the room until the thin curtains over the sink ignited. Still sobbing, he lay down beside Alicia.
Smoke filled the room quickly. Hedy closed her eyes, knowing that she was going to die soon. She felt the heat on her face and heard the flames crackling. Her father coughed. She opened her eyes. He got to his feet and stumbled out the back door, gasping for breath.
“Bastard,” she thought.
Angelino laid a thin white envelope on the table in front of her.
Hedy wiped her eyes. “What happens if he gets a new body? Will I have to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder?”
“He wouldn’t do that.”
She bit her lip. “What’s to stop him?”
“Well, he’ll be a baby for one thing. Not much chance he’ll come track you down for many years to come.”
“Is that supposed to comfort me?”
“He won’t remember the incident after he moves on to his new family. Only the psychic growth from his years in purgatory will remain.”
“So he gets to forget?”
“He’s been punished ― twice.”
“When do I get paroled, Mr. Angelino? When do I get to sleep through the night without thinking about what he did to my mother? When do my scars go away?”
“I have no answers for you, Miz Jennings.” He pointed to the envelope in front of her. “You’ll do what you do. It’s no skin off my nose either way.”
She ran her finger across the surface of the letter. “What do I have to do? Sign a paper?”
Angelino grunted. “I hardly think that your signature means much one way or another. It’s what’s in your heart that matters.”
“Should I open it?”
He shrugged.
Trembling, she picked up the letter. She never spoke to her father after that horrible night. He never tried to contact her either — not while he was on death row and, unlike Alicia, no ghostly visits since. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what he had to say for himself. She wasn’t sure she could bear it.
A single piece of paper was inside the envelope.
“HEDY.” Clay Jennings never wrote in cursive ― only thick, primitive printing. She didn’t doubt the note was from him.
She looked up at Gabriel Angelino. “It’s not much, is it?”
“It took him a lifetime to write that.”
“Yes, he’s very proud.”
“Sometimes you have to consider what a person has to give.” Angelino’s voice was soft. “A half-empty container is empty long before a full one.”
A sob caught in her throat like a hiccup. “And you expect more of me, Mr. Angelino?”
“I think you expect more of yourself.”
“Ronnie Kowalski broke into that burning house to save me. He beat the flames out of my clothes with his bare hands. He was with me every day during my recovery. His scars are as deep as mine ― and try as I might, I can’t squeeze out one ounce of affection for him.” She held up the letter. “But this crazy son of a bitch who thinks he can reach into my heart and crush it whenever he wants, I adore. It doesn’t seem fair.”
“Sometimes there are no good choices, Hedy ― only a bunch of bad ones.”
She stiffened. It was the first time Angelino had used her given name. “And no matter what I choose, there will be a penalty.”
“Yes ― and a reward.”
She dug Alicia’s lighter out of the pocket of her robe. “Some rewards aren’t worth the pain, Mr. Angelino.” She held her father’s letter over the flame.
“What shall I tell him?” The tall man closed his briefcase and stood up.
“Tell him that I understand ― and that I’m sorry.”


July 22, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Patricia Thibault
Social Security District Manager in Pittsburgh, PA

For some, recent years have been made difficult by natural disasters. Fatal tornadoes in Oklahoma. Massive wildfires and strong earthquakes in Colorado and California. Landslides in Washington. Flooding in Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Hail storms in Tennessee. Hurricane Sandy along the Eastern seaboard. And now, we brace ourselves for yet another hurricane season.

In addition to the catastrophes caused by Mother Nature, there are man-made tragedies, such as the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado that killed 12 and injured 58; the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut , which left 26 children and staff members dead; and the Boston Marathon explosions, killing three and injuring more than 260.

When disasters strike, despite the immediate response by so many well-intentioned people and organizations, it’s often hard to know where to turn. But when it comes to the need for disability and survivors benefits, Social Security is always here to serve those who require our services.

Dependent survivors of wage earners, such as spouses, minor children, and in some cases parents or grandchildren, may be eligible for survivor benefits when the family’s provider dies. The sad fact is that about one in eight of today’s 20 year-old workers will die before reaching age 67. The good news is about 96 percent of people age 20 to 49 who work have survivors insurance protection if they die and leave behind young children and surviving spouses.

Social Security is here to help people inflicted with disabling conditions as well. In fact, disabled workers account for about 19 percent of all Social Security benefits paid. One in four of today’s 20 year-old workers will become disabled before reaching age 67.

Our emergency services reach more than the limited numbers of people who die or become disabled as a result of a tragedy. For example, if you are still receiving a paper check and the delivery of mail is interrupted due to severe weather, in many cases any Social Security office can issue an immediate replacement payment. To avoid this situation, however, switch to electronic payments as required by law. Even if your mailbox — or home — is destroyed due to an emergency, or you are evacuated or displaced, your payment will always arrive on time every time if you receive it electronically.

Sometimes, emergencies cause Social Security offices to close. If you want to check whether your local office is open, the best place to go is to Social Security’s Office Closings And Emergency Information page at www.socialsecurity.gov/emergency. This site is a great place to visit before you try to go to an office, especially when severe weather is affecting your area.

The emergency page also offers valuable FEMA advice that can help you prepare for or cope with emergency situations.

While we all hope and pray to avoid disasters, unfortunately, they are bound to occur. The best we can do is to be as prepared as possible to deal with them if they happen. And know that Social Security will be here for you when you need it.

Be prepared. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/emergency

Human Trafficing

July 02, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

In this country, people are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves.

According to the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking. The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age
An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries)
Project to End Human Trafficking
Pittsburgh, PA

Recognizing the Signs

• Are you or someone you know being trafficked? Is human trafficking happening in your community? Is the situation you may have encountered actually human trafficking?
The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking to help you recognize the signs.
If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text to BeFree (233733) for specialized victim services referrals or to report the situation. Click here to learn more about reporting potential human trafficking situations. This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, the red flags in this list may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative.
Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
• Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
• Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
• Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
• Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
• Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
• Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
• Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
• Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
• High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
• Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
• Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior1 after bringing up law enforcement
• Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
• Lacks health care
• Appears malnourished
• Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
• Has few or no personal possessions
• Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
• Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
• Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
• Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
• Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
• Loss of sense of time
• Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

Is it Time to Update Your Car Insurance Policy?

July 02, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Anne Fleming

Recently, CNBC reviewed a report by The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) which studied the factors that car insurers take into account in determining how much to charge an individual for insurance coverage. You will likely be surprised by the factors that are taken into consideration. The factors are so diverse, and often so seemingly unrelated to safe driving, that CNBC had this to say, “A new study shows auto insurers frequently charge good drivers higher premiums than those who recently caused an accident. And it appears from this research that the safe drivers who pay more are often lower income.”

Since we at Women Drivers.com advocate that you take time each year and with each change of circumstances to review your car insurance policy and update it if appropriate, you will want to take these new findings into consideration when doing your research.
Let’s start with the basics:

Change Your Policy When Your Circumstances Change – You May Need Less or More Coverage
• Are you now driving a shorter or longer distance to work than you did when your current policy was written? Or, do you drive your car strictly for personal use now when you were working in the past?
• Are there fewer people in your household now so fewer drivers? For example, has a teenager gone away to college?
• Have you gotten a divorce? You might lose the benefit of having multiple car insurance policies with one company but pick up benefits because your driving record is clean while your spouse’s is not.
• Another factor is the age of your car so if you now have the older car and he has the newer one, your rate could go down accordingly.
• Do you have passengers in your car who you want to protect or do you generally drive alone?
• Do you still live in the same place or have you moved to an area with heavier and more difficult driving conditions, heavier traffic or increase crime rates?
• Have you upgraded your car’s safety by adding equipment such as LED lights?
Compare Different Insurers and Take the Time to Find the Company That is Best for You
• While it would seem to go without saying, not all insurers charge the same amount for the same coverage. Moreover, not all insurers are created equal. Some may cost a little more but provide better, more efficient service with less hassle. It’s worth it to do your research.
• Also, what is “best” for one person, may not be “best” for another. Consider affordability, value of services and responsiveness and well as price. Prioritize according to your needs.
• We suggest you do a search of “sites to compare automobile insurers” to come up with many different online websites that will compare insurers for you.
• Your state’s insurance department website probably has a comparison chart that lists rates for your area for hypothetical customers. We strongly urge that you take advantage of this service. Find a link to your state’s insurance department at: National Association of Insurance Commissioners. For example, using that link for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania we were led to several possible topics with links, including Why You Need Insurance, Types of Policies, How to Choose a Company and others. Clicking on Types of Policies we were able to discover what an insurance company in Pennsylvania will consider in quoting a premium amount. While it may not discriminate based on race, religion, nationality or ethnic group, age, sex, family size, occupation, place of residence or marital status, it may take into account the type and age of the vehicle, safety features, where the vehicle is garaged, the average number of miles driven in a year, the coverages and limits chosen for the policy and the driving history of the drivers, to name a few.
Consider the Safety Features of Your Vehicle and Make Sure They are Taken Into Account by Your Insurer
Insurance companies will give consideration to safety features in your car when quoting a rate to you. Some of the features that they consider are these:
• Anti-lock brakes
• Whether your car is garaged
• Back-up rear view monitors, sensors and cameras
• Front and side, passenger and backseat airbags, particularly when they are designed to sense the size, weight, and seating position of each occupant.
• Day time lights – these help not only your vision but your visibility to other vehicles
• Keyless starters
• Window Sketching – this means that the VIN number is literally etched into the glass so it cannot be altered by thieves
• Stolen vehicle recovery systems that help police locate stolen vehicles
• Tire pressure monitoring systems which keep your car running more safely and for a longer time
• Anti-theft devices and built in alarms
• Wireless tracking devices that monitor driving behaviour – these are installed by the insurance company at your request and gauge mileage and speed
• Alcohol sensors – these will prevent the car from being driven by someone under the influence of alcohol
• LED lights
• Blind spot detection and lane departure warning systems, both relatively new developments, let you know when an object is in your blind spot and sense the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles.

Driver Discounts are Available
• your gender - although varying by state, the average car insurance rate for women is around 9% lower than for men
• a safe driving record, for every year that you’ve had no accidents or tickets;
• low mileage
• the higher your credit score the lower your premium
• retiree, generally for drivers aged 55 or older
• women as head of the household
• college student who lives 100 miles away from home that does not have a car on campus
• taking adult and student driver education courses
• holding more than one car insurance policy with the same insurance company or bundling your auto, life and home insurance with the same insurer.
• having a larger up-front deductible
• According to the CNBC report insurers also consider, whether they should or not, age, education, occupation or in some cases, your credit score. Believe it or not, accountants and teachers are considered to be in “low risk occupations” and pay less than other professionals. So whether those criteria are obvious in the calculation or not, be aware that they may be unspoken factors taken into consideration by the insurance company.
Take a look at your car insurance policy at least annually and take nothing for granted. You may find that an hour of work can save you hundreds of dollars. It’s worth your time.

About www.Women-Drivers.com™
Now women are more empowered thanks to the #1 resource that connects them to Certified Women-Drivers Friendly™ car dealerships in the United States. Check this site out and learn about dealer reviews and all the educational tips and tools you need for an informed purchase to get the best deal. Visit www.Women-Drivers.com and download your free copy of Women’s No Stress Guide to Buying a Car.

Eat, Love, Twitter: The Social Connections of Food

July 02, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Nancy Mramor, Ph.D.

Dine with others and you are guaranteed better health! The social aspect of being with others is high on the list of things that make you healthier and happier. But is there a high tech hierarchy that matches our social and emotional needs? And is it determined by what you eat, with whom and for how often. Psychologist Abraham Maslow found that when you hunger to meet your needs, you seek them as you would food. What does that look like in the world of friends and Facebook? Your most basic need is hunger. There need be no social contact or networking here, no tweeting about your bowl of raisin bran or texting a friend to come over to enjoy watching the milk saturate the wheat flakes.

Consistency and stability come next on the social needs ladder. Use Google Calendar so you don’t miss your happy hour with the same group of casual work friends. You can acknowledge the sushi, sangria and social networks on Linkedin or Google +. You can pitch benefits of healthy eating by posting “Taking care of my health at Nekama, with the gang from the office. Find out more about fish oil @http://tinyurl.com/cbm5ddb.” Posts at this level tend to be safe not provocative. The urge to post about fish overrides the need to take up the cause of farm raised vs. wild caught.

Belonging comes next on the ladder of social needs; with belonging you begin to tweet about girlfriends’ night out for drinks and hor’dourves or your regular coffee with a colleague. #CoffeeGeek caught a blond roast @ Starbucks while launching a new branding campaign today with my networking group. Your tweet is more about your dish and your desires than your date. #CoffeeGeek gets to brand his expertise on Twitter.

Pinterest taps into your next level of needs for esteem and leadership among your friends. It’s the place where you post your favorite food photos and recipes to make mouths water and become the queen of cuisine. You can post photos of your lunch or birthday cake but there is definitely a shared element of friendship seeking and acknowledgement when you pin. PInterest offers a high level of branding; you can become a food guru with a brand such as Food Mantra.

When you begin Facebook posting, you’re ready to meet your needs for fulfillment. These are needs for enrichment and peak experience that definitely involve posts and photos of close friends, partners, duck dinners, a casual dinner at home and vacations near and far. This is the top of the emotional food chain and the relationship world. Your significant other, family and close friends are seen with you at picnics graduations and planting basil and mint in your garden. You review dinners out with friends @urbanspoon.com. Finally, “Find something you are passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it,” as Julia Child once said. The message holds in world a full of food, friends and social networking choices.Facebook and Website photo posts in combination reveal signs of true passion and commitment. Your life is expressed by what you post and with whom you dine, live and have your raisin bran. The full circle of your cyber world is then genuinely, technically and gastronomically complete.

Eat, Love and Twitter can also be found on the website for Table Magazine

Nancy Mramor, M.S., C.A.G.S., Ph.D.
CEO, Transformedia, LLC

Transformational Media for Real Conscious Living
Licensed Psychologist, Award-winning Author
Media Expert, International Speaker

JULY 2013 Events

July 02, 2013 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Business Exchange Networking Lunch

* Give a 1-2 minute commercial for your business.
* Bring business cards, brochures, and samples.
* Make new business contacts.

Four Dates and Locations:

July 3- Wexford, Atria’s, 12980 Perry Highway, Wexford
RSVP: email Michelle Zmijanac at

July 10- Mount Lebanon, Atria’s, 110 Beverly Rd, Mt. Lebanon
RSVP: email Tina Noblers at

July 17- Murrysville, Bella Luna Trattoria, 5060 William Penn
Hwy, Monroeville, Pa 15146
RSVP Carol@CarolBrineyWorkFromHome.com

July 24- Fox Chapel, Comfort Inn (Old Holiday Inn) in RIDC
Park, Ohara Twp
RSVP: 412-781-8773 or PlanBConsultant@comcast.net

Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $18 (Bring cash; No-shows will be billed for the lunch)
RSVP: By Monday prior to the event

For more info, go to: www.blxnetworking.com

The WSBA Network Lunch

A Networking Luncheon for Women Business Owners & Professionals

“Get Heard, Get Noticed, Get Leads”

A networking event open to any business woman who would like
to increase her business contacts/clientele. Our networking
format will be structured to provide participants with high
profile and networking. Bring 20-30 business cards/brochures,
cash for your lunch check, and be prepared to give a 60-second commercial about yourself.

July 8 - 1:00 p.m. - Beaver County
July 10 - 11:30 a.m. - Shaler/Gibsonia
July 12 - 1:00 p.m. - Robinson/Airport
July 16 - 1:00 p.m. - East End
July 17 - 1:00 p.m. - South Hills

July 18 - 1:00 p.m. - Washington
July 19 - 1:00 p.m. - Monroeville
July 23 - 1:00 p.m. - North Hills
July 24 - 5:15 p.m. - After Work (Mansions on Fifth Hotel)
July 26 - 12:00 p.m. - Westmoreland

Host: Women’s Small Business Association
Fee: $5 meeting fee (plus the cost of lunch)
RSVP: Required (Note: Any “Yes” RSVPs who do not show
will be charged a $20 no-show fee.)

For more info and to register online,
go to: www.wsba.ws
If you have further questions, contact Eileen Conniff Marzullo
at 412-429-9919 or marzullope@verizon.net

Brown Bag Lunch
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
12:00 – 1:30pm (note longer time)
Speaker: Scot Teachout, Sandler Training
Topic: Break the Rules and Close More Sales

Develop your selling skills to move up to the next level or continue to perform at status quo. Come join award winning Business Development Specialist, Scot Teachout, for insight into selling in the new economy.

Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
1650 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
RSVP: 412.782.5344 or volunteersofamerica@voapa.org

Ignite Pittsburgh

Ignite Pittsburgh is ready to set the City of Bridges on fire with
our first event of 2013 - Wednesday, July 10th at Brillobox in
Bloomfield! We’ve got a hot lineup of speakers planned, fun
activities, networking and, of course, beer! Space is limited,
so buy your tickets early to reserve your spot!

About Ignite Ignite Pittsburgh is part of a worldwide network that entertains and educates people by highlighting great ideas coming to life here in the City of Bridges. At each event, presenters will be on stage for 5 minutes (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide). These talks are a “spark”–they are lightning fast and leave people with a new idea to mull over and talk about.

Date: July 10, 2013
Time: 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Place: Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Host: Ignite Pittsburgh
Cost: Pre-pay: Required, fee @ the door $5.00
Pay Options: Cash, Credit Card, Online

RSVP/Info: Joe. 412-243-4202, joe@ignitepittsburgh.com

For more information and registration go to:

Right Place, Right Time - Networking Event

The Pittsburgh Global Connection is excited to present a
one-of-a-kind evening. Singer-songwriter John McDonald will perform a Private Preview of the songs from his upcoming CD Right Place, Right Time.

Known for his high-energy performances, John McDonald blends reggae, rock, world beat and calypso. The result is a feel-good, up-tempo musical fusion that combines tropical instrumentation, world beat rhythms and evocative lyrics. “Satellite communications send sweet songs through the air…they’re all part of the good vibrations everywhere” From John McDonald’s song Azaa Loo (Celebration!), in keeping with the mission of the PGC, is a truly global collaboration since he never actually met the African singers and drummers who recorded parts on this song!

Pittsburgh Global Connection was formed so that people in the
Pittsburgh business community could connect with not only the
local Pittsburgh businesses but those wishing to do business in
Pittsburgh who are located around the globe. PGC is the only
networking organization that solicits and promotes businesses
from outside the local Pittsburgh community as well as our
thriving local members. We are all connected electronically,
so why not take advantage of that and use it to help your
business grow.

Date: July 11, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Place: BZ Bar & Grill, 140 Federal St., Pittsburgh, located
next to PNC Park
Host: Pittsburgh Global Connection
Questions: Call 412-720-4645.
Register online at:


July 12, 2013
South Hills Country Club
The monthly luncheon meeting of the Women’s Networking of the Brentwood Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce will meet on Friday, July 12, noon, at South Hills Country Club . Please plan on attending and bring a friend. We welcome members and non-members. Tables are available for ladies who would like to display products or merchandise. Everyone will pass out cards and brochures and present a one-minute “commercial.”
Guest Speaker
Ann Rankin
Program Director of the Lifesharing Program at Step By Step
Lifesharing is a service available to people diagnosed with an Intellectual/Developmental Disability. Through this service, a person would move into the Lifesharing Provider’s home who would provide care and support to the person on a long term basis.

Lunch for Chamber Members - $20 - Bring a friend!
Lunch for Non-Members - $25
Display Table $10

Please make a reservation by contacting:
Mary Dilla at: 412-884-1233

Disability Resource Breakfast
Thursday, July 18, 2013
8:30 – 9:30 AM
Speaker: Francine Reyher, Adult Services Coordinator, Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania
Topic: Living and working well with Epilepsy
Be proactive in managing all aspects of your life so you can make smart choices that give you the most control about what’s possible for you with epilepsy.

Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
1650 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
RSVP: 412.782.5344 x 209 or volunteersofamerica@voapa.org

Entrepreneurial Thursday Networking Event

A casual weekly networking event for those interested in what’s
innovative and positive in Pittsburgh. A jazz, soul & blues happy
hour show plus open-mike interviews with local executives.

Date: July 18, 2013
Time: 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Place: Little E’s, 949 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh
Host: Jessica Lee
Cost: $5 (hors d’ouevres included)

For further info, email smarshall@pghgateways.org.

The Entrepreneurial Thursday networking event is held each Thursday evening. For information on upcoming events and featured themes, visit www.entrepreneurialthursdays.com

Women’s Power Lunch

Come be a part of the longest running networking luncheon in the Pittsburgh area. Bring 50 business cards or brochures to hand out and be prepared to give a short presentation on your business to introduce yourself to other business women and professionals.

Date: July 19, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Place: Greentree Inn, 1006 Greentree Road, Pgh, Pa. 15220
Cost: $22.00 (Prepayment required)
RSVP by July 18th

Questions: Contact Suzanne at Suzanne@womenspowerlunch.com
or 412-389-3420.

Register online at: www.womenspowerlunch.com

Business for Breakfast Networking Event

Topic: Credibility, Influence & Leadership:
Building Communication Success

Featuring: Bonnie Budzowski, Principal of inCredible Messages

Individuals who can communicate well, expressing themselves and selling their ideas, have a decided edge in leadership, sales and life. This session will provide a pathway to greater credibility
and influence, whether you are leading an organization, conversing one-on-one, or presenting to a room full of prospective clients.

Attend this event to learn how to:

* Capture attention with memorable illustrations and points
* Make complex information quickly accessible and persuasive
* Apply tried and true laws of persuasion every professional
needs to know

Date: July 23, 2013
Time: 8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
Place: Restaurant ECHO, 1740 Route 228, Cranberry Twp, PA
Host: Pittsburgh Business Times
Cost: $25
RSVP: Suggested by July 19th

For questions or additional information, contact Kelli Komondor
at 412-208-3845 or kkomondor@bizjournals.com.

Register online at:

Close to Home

An Event to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking & Inspire Hope


* Barbara Amaya, Human Trafficking survivor and victim
* Dr. Mary C. Burke of Carlow University and founder of Project
to End Human Trafficking
* Judy Hale Reed, Anti-Trafficking and Gender Equality
* Joyce Gallagher Ramirez, Immigration Attorney

Wine and appetizers will be served and guests will have the
opportunity to enjoy raffle baskets and the silent auction.
All the money raised from this event will go toward rescue
missions and help for survivors. Proceeds will help fund the
Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT), a non-profit
organization that was founded in 2004 in Pittsburgh as part
of the anti-slavery movement.

Sponsorships are still available

Date: July 23, 2013
Time: 5:45-8:30 p.m.
Place: Carlow University, AJ Palumbo Hall
Host: Diana Fletcher
Cost: $25 Donation
RSVP: Required

Event Contact: Diana Fletcher, www.thoughtsbydiana.com
412 612-5977

All donations and registrations are accepted at

Every Woman Deserves a Coach

Panel Discussion and Interactive Coaching Demonstrations
Featured coaching professionals include:

* Mary Lee Gannon, CAE Life & Reinvention Coach
* Tom Volkar, Big Decision Coach, CoreU
* Bonnie Budzowski, Book & Presentation Coach
* Judy Vernick, PhD, PMP, CPCC, Quantum Leap Coaching
* Diane Dean, RN-BC, LPC, Life and Business Coach

All of our success and failures in life are a result of our daily
decisions and actions. Doing the right things and focusing on
what matters most can be a challenge in today’s hectic world.
Too often we find ourselves reacting to daily events and it’s
difficult to continually focus on results and consistency.
Coaching is one of to most valuable tools available to you today.
The right coach can help you to be your best, to achieve the
highest level of success, to exceed your past results and
achievements year after year.

To learn more about coaching, and to meet some of Pittsburgh’s
most influential coaches, join us for Every Woman Deserves a Coach.

Date: July 25, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Place: Rivers Casino, 777 Casino Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Host: Pittsburgh Professional Women
Cost: By JUly 17: $35 for PPW Members; $45 for Non Members
Add $10 after July 17; Program includes lunch
RSVP: Suggested by July 17

Register online at www.PittsburghProfessionalWomen.org