Public relations should be a central part of your marketing strategy:
anthonyBarnum has the power to shift perceptions.

news coverageA positive media story published on your company and the entire executive leadership team is thrilled. Take the time to congratulate yourselves. However, now the real work begins.

While the media coverage will circulate on its own through the Internet and to your target audience, there are basic proactive steps a business can take to maximize the content to reach your current and prospective customers.


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Ken Jennings, left, with Richard Branson.
Rainbow Visions Photography, BVI

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Apr 4, 2014

By Greg Barr

Managing Editor- Austin Business Journal

Ken Jennings might be the textbook definition of a serial entrepreneur.

The Texas native sold garden seeds door-to-door at 13, skipped university and opened his own service station in Maynard, a small speck of a town north of Houston, at 18.

Now he oversees Mr. Rekey, a franchised locksmith company headquartered , north of Austin in Pflugerville that serves 20 cities in 10 states and will reach $8 million in revenue this year. Jennings founded that company out of the trunk of his car with $500 in 1995.

His newest venture is Mr. Garage Door, which does exactly what the name implies: installs and services automatic garage doors.

Jennings has always liked to share his experience of starting businesses — 40 or so at the latest count — with other entrepreneurs. He is big on culture, even at a small startup, and stands by a culture-building scorecard with bullet points that every one of the Mr. Rekey employees is encouraged to memorize.

Still, Jennings says the onus was on him to learn a thing or two when he had a chance to spend several days with billionaire businessman Richard Branson on his private islands in the Caribbean in March. Jennings and several other entrepreneurs made the trek to take part in discussions with a group of scholars from Oxford University who were there to speak to Branson about solving the world’s biggest problems.

“In my opinion, he’s the ultimate entrepreneur,” said Jennings. “What was the experience like? Life-changing. Freakin’ awesome.”

Jennings said he already followed some of Branson’s well-known mantras, such as doing what you love, making sure everyone in a company is having fun and building a committed team, but noted that “he’s better than me in learning to delegate.”

Between huffing and puffing while trying to keep up with the 63-year-old Branson on long walks or playing him to a draw in chess one evening, Jennings said what impressed him the most was the British business guru’s attention to branding and finances.

“He’s shown us how to use a common brand across all industries. You know the power of the Virgin [Group] brand. Once he slaps that name on something, everybody has certain expectations that it will meet,” Jennings said.

Jennings also came away admiring Branson’s humanitarian and philanthropic missions.

“That’s what really stuck with me — his commitment to make a difference in the world and that as a successful businessman, you owe it to the rest of the world to make it a better place,” Jennings said. “I’m really starting to think about that now for my own community, like maybe we could look at switching our service vehicles over to electric.”

 


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Posted by Jeff Erramouspe

March 28, 2014

It wasn’t long ago that our work and personal technologies were almost completely separate. We were issued a work PC, cell phone and pager. At home, we had a PC, a landline and a personal cell phone. We had separate email addresses and readers. You’d never read a personal email on your work PC and vice versa. And data, be it business or personal, rarely, if ever, crossed this boundary.

But the era of bring your own device (B.Y.O.D.) has changed all that. A recent survey of IT administrators conducted by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps found that 83 percent of surveyed organizations allowed their employees to B.Y.O.D. If you’re B.Y.O.D.-ing, you’re also B.Y.O.A.-ing: Bringing Your Own Apps. Now you have apps on your network that have not been vetted by IT. And of course, if you have apps, you have data.

What was once a virtual firewall has been obliterated by cloud computing, smartphones and social media. Today, we all use our personal devices to access business data, while freely checking Instagram and our bank balance from the office. We access our cloud-based work email from any device, anywhere. We use our personal Twitter accounts to promote the latest company product. Our personal and business lives merge, including the devices, apps and, most importantly, the data.

This “consumerization of IT” is beneficial to all of us. Accessibility makes us more productive, both at work and at home. Employees who bring cool consumer apps into the office provide inspiration for IT to innovate with their business apps. We are witnessing a new generation of apps that started with a consumer base, live in the Web, and utilize push technologies to improve communication and collaboration across the workforce from any device. Companies like Netflix, Whirlpool and BBVA are embracing products like Google Apps to take advantage of its collaboration capabilities.

The consumerization of IT is also driven by the app store. Employees purchase consumer apps that will make them more productive at work, and the enterprise picks it up. This adoption model is a reversal from the way technology was adopted even a decade ago. Services like Dropbox and LinkedIn evolved this way – first used by the individual to improve productivity, then embraced by the enterprise once the benefits were clearly defined.

So, the upsides are clear, but are there any downsides? The issues that tend to get most of the attention are concerns around network access and device security. But the consumerization of IT also changes data access and sharing patterns. Device proliferation means more data, traversing more devices, applications and users. Improved collaboration capabilities mean more people touch more data, ultimately increasing the chance for both corporate and personal data to get corrupted, deleted or stolen.

When you have a consumer app that grows up to be an enterprise app, the rules change. The definition of corporate data expands and increases in importance to the business. Corporate IT needs to think about compliance, data availability and protection of all the data that exists within and across these devices and applications. Unfortunately, not all the consumer-birthed cloud apps being adopted by the enterprise are built to consider the implications of data loss. And it’s these apps that increase corporate data risk.

The fact is that the end users have become so empowered with the cloud, B.Y.O.D. and app stores, they need to be protected from themselves. Losing personal data can be inconvenient and potentially expensive – losing corporate data might cost millions of dollars and perhaps jobs.

There is a general perception that data in commercial cloud applications, such as Google Apps or Salesforce.com, are fully backed up by the vendor and can always be restored should something be lost. But, many cloud app license agreements explicitly state that the vendor is not responsible for data lost to user error or malicious action. As such, businesses need to apply the same due diligence to protecting their cloud app data as they do for their data that resides on premises.

Protecting cloud application data is also becoming a requirement of corporate auditors. IT compliance standards require all corporate data to be both backed up and recoverable. This capability ensures that the business can continue to operate in the event of data loss, protecting investors, customers and employees. IT professionals have heeded this requirement for years with their on-premises systems, but auditors are now telling them that the protections provided by cloud application vendors are not enough.

The best way to protect cloud app data is with a cloud-based backup solution that utilizes the native application APIs to move the data to another cloud infrastructure. These systems are easy to implement, work seamlessly in the background to back up data on a regular basis and make it a snap to recover data in the event it is lost. Of course, because these tools are designed to protect end users from themselves, the new breed of cloud backup solutions are easy to use and completely intuitive, allowing end users to recover their data themselves, without the assistance of corporate IT.

And that’s how it should be. Employees are driving much of the enterprise technology agenda, but the responsibility for corporate data availability, protection and compliance still rests with corporate IT. This genie isn’t going back in the bottle so IT must continue to ensure all data is protected, while allowing the employees the freedom to use the apps they choose.

Jeff Erramouspe is President and CEO of Spanning.

 


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award winner 46052317Why do some companies go after corporate awards as a proactive part of their marketing strategy, while their competition doesn’t? More importantly, should your company embrace this strategy? The simple answer is yes and there are good reason why.

Strategically applying for corporate awards just makes great business sense overall. According to Entrepreneur.com, Industry Awards Create Buzz for Your Business and supports corporate efforts to attract new customers, land additional VC funding, fuel employee retention and draw new hires.


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