Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh $%!* - cursing in the workplace

I'll be the first to admit that I have a pretty terrible potty mouth, and I know plenty others like me who do as well.  I've never really thought twice about it, but I did come across a couple of articles that made me question my own behavior, and that of others as well.  Is cursing in the workplace an acceptable, and even productive, way to blow off steam?  Or is it viewed as unprofessional, and can it get you into hot water?

What I found struck me as interesting - there seems to be a disconnect on a couple of levels, but primarily between the perception of cursing vs. its positive effects.

First question: Who thinks cursing in the office is a problem?  If the research is to be believed, managers do, big time. According to a survey conducted by TheLadders.Com of 2,520 executives, 38% of the managers surveyed actually fired employees for cursing - higher than the amount of managers who fired employees for drinking on the job (35%) or making too many personal calls (28%).  81% of coworkers said they disliked cursing.

Okay, so people don't like cursing.  But, believe it or not, it has its positive virtues.  According to one study, cursing in the workplace can help relieve frustration and tension by providing a "mechanism for relieving stress."  According to another, cursing in the workplace can increase morale and help build a sense of teamwork.

So, cursing in the office has it's positive effects. Holy $!#@.

Daily Briefing, 8/31/10

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

George Doughty, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley International Airport, was forced to resign yesterday.  Both County Executives had wanted Doughty out, saying that the airport needed to head in a new direction.  The Great Allentown Fair opens today - complete with free admission.  In Bethlehem, the city police will be getting a new design on their police cruisers.  Here is good news for all of us who use PPL - the company announced yesterday that their electricity rate hike for distribution will be smaller than initially announced.

In political news, after weeks of enduring attack ads unanswered, Congressman Joe Sestak purchased TV ad time in his race against former Congressman Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate.

In national news, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office today.  He is set to speak about the recent troop withdrawal from Iraq.  A new report shows that banks are beginning to loosen credit restrictions - just as the demand for more credit and loans is declining.

That's it for now!  We'll have more later today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tips for better sleep

As the sun broke the horizon line this morning and another glorious late summer day bloomed, I could think of only one thing this morning: I was really tired.  I mean, really tired.  I needed more sleep and hadn't gotten nearly enough of it.

Every business person wishes they had more time to rest and relax.  That being said, how can we get more sleep, or at the very least, feel more rested?  Here are some websites that have great advice:

  • 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep:  Some of the tips on this website are relatively obvious - things like avoid late-night snacks, have melatonin (think warm milk and turkey) before bed, get to bed as early as possible, etc.  Some tips, however, are lesser known - did you know, for example, that you should wear socks when in bed, as this reduces night awakenings?
  • How to Get a Good Night's Sleep:  This one has five basic strategies: Never oversleep, set your body clock with natural light, exercise, don't nap (oh no!) and set a bedtime schedule for yourself.
  • Tips for Getting Better Sleep: How to Sleep Well Every Night: Check out your bed and your room and make sure they are optimal for sleeping.  Develop a relaxing bedtime routine - one that doesn't involve bright lights from a TV or computer.  Control your stress/anxiety and learn how to get back to sleep for if/when you wake up in the middle of the night.  All that and much more on this site.
As for the inevitable question - how much sleep do we really need - the research seems to indicate that there is no magic, set number for each person.  That need also differs by the age of a person - teenagers, for example, do worse in the morning but better at night.

I hope this entry was helpful!  Now, if you'll excuse me - I'm off for a nap.

Daily Briefing, 8/30/2010

Good morning everyone!!  I hope you had a great weekend - and now that it is over, here is today's Daily Briefing - though we don't have much!

Former Governor Sarah Palin was in Pennsylvania over the weekend, speaking at the annual banquet of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.  A report that ran in  the Express Times and on CNBC notes that mortgage rates aren't the only rates that are falling - auto loans have also reached new lows.  A look at the week ahead in the stock market promises only one thing this week - more volatility.  Look at the graph of the stock market since June - it looks like a roller coaster gone horrifically wrong. 

Slow news day, I guess!  Anyway, we'll be back later today.  Have a good one!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daily Briefing, 8/27/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Easton, Mayor Panto has vowed to make budget cuts to pay for the Jesse Sollman legal settlement.  The case stemmed from the accidental death of Sollman, a police officer in the city.  The Sands Casino posted the 4th best revenues of any casino in the state, and the best numbers outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Congressional candidate John Callahan unveiled his educational plan yesterday, revealing another policy difference between himself and Congressman Charlie Dent in terms of the recently passed bill that would save thousands of teachers' jobs.

A new Franklin & Marshall poll shows good news for Republicans; Pat Toomey has a 40-31% lead on Joe Sestak, and Tom Corbett has a 38-27% lead on Dan Onorato.

New GDP numbers will come out today for the 2nd quarter, with estimates showing that the GDP growth will be revised downwards to 1.3% or lower.

That's it for today!  The Chamber offices will be closed, as we will be on a staff retreat all day. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you Monday!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do you check/respond to E-mails on vacation?

As I said in yesterday's Daily Briefing, I was on vacation for two days.  During those two days, I had a chance to actually catch up on work around the house and try something I'm terrible at - relaxing.

It didn't go as well as I would have liked, and my iPhone and type-A personality was largely to blame - I found myself constantly checking and responding to E-mails.  I don't think my coworkers expected me to actually be available like that, but nonetheless, I found myself unable to put down my iPhone.  This got me thinking - am I alone in that regard?

No.  Definitely not.  According to a survey conducted by AOL, 62% of people check work E-mail on weekends and 59% check E-mail in the bathroom - gross.  A study in Britain found that 1/3 managers still worked while on vacation - and 80% of those people checked their E-mails while on vacation.

Yipes.  Well, at least I'm in good company.  Incidentally, the British study mentioned that one of the primary reason people checked their E-mails over vacations was to keep ahead of their "heavy workloads" - 90% of respondents said they were worried about coming back to massively heavy E-mail loads.  And who can't sympathize with that?

How about you?  Do you worry about excessive E-mail while on vacation, and does that make you respond to E-mails while on your break?  Let us know in the comments!

Job Openings - Civic Theater and Northampton Community College

If you are a Chamber Member, we are happy to help you advertise any job opening. Please E-mail a description and contact information to Mike Schlossberg at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

Civic Theater - Community Relations Manager
The Community Relations Manager is primarily responsible for fund raising and community partnerships including, but are not limited to, corporate sponsorships, membership, grant research/writing/administration, direct mail appeals, donor acknowledgments and matching gifts. This position is writing and networking intensive and candidates must have availability to work evenings and weekends. Bachelors Degree and 1-3 years of experience preferred. This position is full-time and reports directly to the Managing Director. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. For inquiries, please send a cover letter, resume, and references to mailto:info@CivicTheatre.com

Northampton Community College

Lab Technician
PT (29.5hrs./wk) at our Monroe Campus (Tannersville, PA). To work with Biology and Chemistry faculty to set up and tear down experiments, order proper equipment and supplies and coordinate with other lab assistants on proper lab procedures and etiquette. Minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry required, Bachelor's Degree preferred. Send letter, resume, and names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 references to Hazel Fisher, Northampton Community College, 3 Old Mill Road, Tannersville, PA 18372, or email to hfisher@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.

Library Technical Assistant
PT - Northampton Community College, Monroe Campus. Seeking a service-oriented person to work some afternoons & evenings, and Saturdays, at the Monroe campus library in Tannersville, PA. The salary for this position will be $11.30/hr to start, with a possible increase to $11.75/hr after 3 months of satisfactory service. This is an academic-year position. The candidate must possess a high school diploma with an LTA certificate or library related experience. Computer and strong interpersonal skills required. Interested persons should send a resume and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references to Sandra Sander, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to ssander@northampton.edu by 8/18/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

Science Lab Technician
FT, 37.5 hrs/wk at our Monroe Campus in Tannersville, PA. Perform varied duties to ensure smooth operation of the science laboratory. Maintain lab materials, work with staff for scheduling. Associate degree required, Bachelors preferred, experience in science lab setting, excellent organizational and multitasking skills, knowledge of MSOffice suite. Send letter, resume and names, addresses and phone numbers of three professional references to Human Resources, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to hr@northampton.edu by 8/23/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

Tennis Instructor
Tennis instructor needed to teach Tennis to students grades 3-9 and parents & kids together, Saturdays from 9 am- 2 pm, beginning 9/25/10. Please send cover letter, resume, and 3 references by 9/7/10. Email jmccarthy@northampton.edu, fax to 610-861-4575, or mail to NCC-Horizons for Youth, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020. NCC is EEO/AA.

Daily Briefing, 8/26/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Allentown, City Council reviewed the city's annual audit yesterday.  The city finished last year with a nearly $4 million deficit.  First Niagara Bank held a press conference to review its commitment to lower-income areas and customers.  The bank pledged to review loan decisions locally and have a Spanish-speaking mortgage originator. In Easton, the city has agreed to purchase the former Marquis Theatre as part of its effort to build an intermodal facility on South Third Street.  WFMZ reports on what is apparently a growing problem in the Valley: bed bugs.

The AAA is predicting that there will be a 10% increase in the amount of people who travel at least 50 miles for Labor Day.  The former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager for President Bush, Ken Mehlman, has said he is gay.  A new report shows that the average new home in American is shrinking - possibly bringing an end to the "McMansion Era."  Google has unveiled a new phone service that will allow users to make calls over the internet.

That's it for now!  We'll have another entry for you at noon - have a great day, and see you then.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daily Briefing, 8/25/2010

Good morning everyone!  I had a nice two days off, and now I'm back and ready to blog.  So, here is what we have on this Wednesday morning.

In Easton, a panel has recommended that the Mayor's pay be raised and that City Council pensions be cutMack Trucks has announced that they are hiring, adding 125 jobs to their assembly line in Lower Macungie.  Lehigh Valley businesses still remain optimistic about the economy and expect it to grow, albeit at a slower rate than earlier.

The federal government announced the winners of the next round of Race to the Top educational funding - and Pennsylvania did not win.

Nationwide, home sales dropped a dramatic 27% last month, the lowest sales rate in 15 years.  Consumer credit debt has dipped to its lowest levels in eight years.  A new report shows that the stimulus succeeded in adding jobs to the economy during the 2nd quarter of 2010.  During the same time, it also boosted the 2nd quarter GDP by between 1.7 - 4.5%.

We have one Chamber event today: a grand opening at Branded Consignments in Catasauqua.

That's it for now!  This might be it for today, sadly, but we'll be back tomorrow.  See you then!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Daily Briefing 8/23/10

Happy Monday everyone!!! Here is today's Daily Briefing:

Phillipsburg Area School District will require families to re-register to prove residency.

Latin Kings' bust is one part of a much bigger anti-gang challenge.

In national new this Monday morning:
US troops unlikely to resume combat duties in Iraq
Rallies over mosque near ground zero get heated

We have a Chamber event tomorrow morning Tuesday, August 24th - The Chamber's First World Class Networking-Lollapalooza

Please contact Colleen at colleend@lehighvalleychamber.org to register, the cost is $20.00 per member.

Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Chamber testifies in favor of local government reform

The Chamber's own Michelle Griffin-Young, Executive Vice President of Public Policy, just testified at a committee hearing in front of the Pennsylvania House Local Government Committee.  Michelle testified in favor of Senate Bill 1429.  The bill would amend the already existing Merger and Consolidation Act - in doing so, it grants municipalities greater choice and better options to merge or consolidate with other local government entities.  The bill is meant to remove duplication, increase government efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. 

Said Michelle, “The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce is committed to every main street and local community in this Valley.  We support those municipalities who have already decided to change their governments and build a different future together and SB1429 will provide the road to that future more quickly and effectively. We support local control – and because this legislation is voluntary we believe it is critical as our communities are facing decreasing revenues and increasing service demands."

The point of this:  Governments are still governing out of structures that are more appropriate for the 18th century than the 21st century.  This legislation is completely voluntary - no township or suburb would be forced to become part of another against their will.  What this bill would do is make governments more flexible and ultimately save money. 

If that isn't a goal we can all agree on, what is?

Daily Briefing, 8/20/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

A new upscale restaurant, Sangria, officially opened yesterday on 9th and Hamilton in Allentown.  In a 6-2 vote, Northampton County voted to seek proposals for the sale or lease of Gracedale.  Attendance was down at Musikfest by about 200,000 this year, but there was good news as revenue from concerts, sponsorships and food grew 6.5% from last year.  In Easton, local officials urged Easton and Bethlehem School Directors to use federal money to rehire as many teachers as possible.

In national news, first-time unemployment claims jumped back up about 500,000 - the highest the number has been since November.  It is also appearing more and more likely that Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania Senator, will be running for President in 2012.

We have one Chamber event today: a Member Benefit Webinar that explains the various Member Benefits of Chamber Membership.  This event is free and open to members or non-members.  To register, just E-mail Marta at martaa@lehighvalleychamber.org

That's all for now!  Have a great day, and we'll be back later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Game changer: Facebook and the main-streaming of Location Based Services

Facebook yesterday made a big announcement - it is launching location services.  The rapidly growing platform, which already has more than 500,000,000 members, has launched a brand new feature that will likely dramatically change its usage and make the platform much more current and relatable to the real world. 

The service works via smart phones - right now, it is only available on the iPhone, but is coming to the Droid and Blackberry.  Based on the phone's GPS system, you can check in at a location.  That information will then appear on your profile and in your friend's newsfeeds.  You can also tag other friends that you are at a location with, just like you can tag someone in a photo.  You can leave information about the place that you are at - reviews, feedback, suggestions, etc.  Businesses can also claim their specific location.  There is no plan for monetizing this yet - but there will be.  And yes, there are privacy settings for this new feature.

Location Based check-ins have been around for a couple of years now - Foursquare and Gowilla have been the two most popular thus far, though neither are close to hitting the main stream of Social Media yet.  Many have touted location based games as the "next big thing" in Social Media.  Personally, I've always felt that it was premature - they aren't used by enough people (yet), most businesses can't monetize the services (yet) and they just hadn't reached that critical momentum.

Facebook's addition of Facebook Places changes the game.  With the advent of check-ins, location based services will now become a major part of the Social Media world.  Facebook has always been about relationship building and information sharing.  Now, in addition to learning the thoughts, likes and friends of those in our social network, we can learn where they are and what they like about where they go.  This will add another layer to Facebook's voyeurism-heavy features.  It will provide us with a fascinating look into the lives of others.  From a business perspective, customers can now say when they are at your location - and can say all the things they like or dislike about you.

From a Social Media perspective, Facebook Places is a big deal.  Like it or not, it changes the game.

Daily Briefing, 8/19/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Lehigh Valley home sales took a sharp dive in July, dropping 41.7% compared with the same time last year and 47% compared with the last month. In Bethlehem, an audit shows that the city had $4.9 million in unpaid bills during 2009.  In Northampton County, County Council President Ron Angle has said that Gracedale may remain in Northampton County's hands and not be sold, but only if unions agree to $6 million in concessions

A Morning Call story notes that, across the state, there is a shortage of dealers for table games. Governor Rendell has said that 100 state employees will be laid off this year.  A new poll shows Attorney General Tom Corbett up 48-35 against Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

An incredible story out of Iraq:  the last combat troops have left the country.  Facebook has announced that it is unveiling new location features that will allow users to check-in at physical locations and share that information with others.

We have one Chamber event today: a mixer at Fairfield Inn by Marriot, in conjunction with the American Red Cross.

That's it!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Local campaigns in the Lehigh Valley

Most of you are likely aware that we are currently undergoing heated races for Governor, Senate and Congress.  There are plenty of other races in our area too, however - ones that are just as important to local issues but getting less publicity.

As we are approaching an even-numbered election year, the entire Pennsylvania House of Representatives is up for reelection, as is half of the Senate.  Accordingly, here is a list of the State House and Senate races, the major party candidates, and their websites.

(and, side note - if anyone is wondering, the reason that the Democrats are listed first, even if they aren't incumbents, is because in terms of "ballot order," Democrats are listed first because their party is Governor).

131st Legislative District

132nd Legislative District
  • Jennifer Mann (D-Incumbent)

133rd Legislative District
  • Joe Brennan (D-Incumbent)
  • David Molony (R)
134th Legislative District
135th Legislative District
  • Steve Samuelson (D-Incumbent)
136th Legislative District
137th Legislative District
138th Legislative District
183rd Legislative District
  • Julie Harhart (R-Incumbent)
187th Legislative District
16th Senate District
18th Senate District
24th Senate District

Daily Briefing, 8/20/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

At a press conference yesterday, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham announced that 50 jobs will be cut from the 2011 budget and hinted at a possible tax increase.  The Borough of Hellertown is looking for a new Borough Manager.  In Bethlehem, City Council's finance committee approved a $5.8 billion borrowing plan for capital expenses.

A new poll shows Pat Toomey with a 46-37 lead on Joe Sestak in the race for the U.S. Senate.  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) came to Pennsylvania and endorsed Sestak yesterday.

In national news, a report out yesterday shows that retailers are posting higher earnings, but much of the increased profit comes as a result of slashed profits, not increased sales.  A jury convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich of only one crime - lying to the FBI - and was hung on the remaining 23 charges.

That's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll be back later.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Looking for a few good Ambassadors

Hi everyone,

Our Ambassadors are recruiting, and they may need you!

The Ambassadors are a group of Chamber volunteers that are dedicated exclusively to enhancing the experience of Chamber members.  They serve the members by:

Helping members understand and take advantage of Chamber benefits.
Encouraging you to actively participate in Chamber activities.
Assisting Chamber staff in retaining members.

The time has come to recruit new Ambassadors once again!  If you are interested, E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

On a personal note, having worked with the Ambassadors since January, I have to say that this is a great group of volunteers that is dedicated towards helping Chamber members and meeting as many new people as possible.  Becoming an Ambassador really helps to open new doors for members and gets them out there in the Lehigh Valley business community.

If you want to be more involved in Chamber activities, this is a great place to start!

Daily Briefing, 8/17/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

In Allentown, the School District announced mixed results with its latest round of testing, achieving improvement with elementary schools but a lack of progress with its middle and high schools.  The District also announced that it had be chosen as a model school district in the federal "Race to the Top" program.  In Lehigh County, County Executive Don Cunningham is expected to announce job cuts as part of his 2011 budget.  Here's something you don't see very often: if you go looking your home delivery edition of the Express-Times, you may have a problem, as electrical problems forced the paper to be printed late

A federal appeals court has ruled that gay marriage cannot proceed in California while an appeal of Proposition 8 is ongoing.

We have one Chamber event today, and it will be a very interesting one: a joint event with Congressman Charlie Dent (R-15) of Pennsylvania and Scott Garrett (D-5) of New Jersey.

That's it for now!  Have a great day - we'll see you later!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Guest Blog Post: Student networking

Hello everyone!  We have an interesting guest blog post today on the importance of networking for students and for employers.  The entry comes to us courtesy of Lindsay Capobianco from CAP of PA College Aid.  For more information on the program, you can E-mail Lindsay at lindsay@mycollegeaid.org.

Enjoy the entry!

There are many college bound students looking for possible job shadow opportunities. Essentially, these situations help students narrow down their prospective choices of a major to study in college. Often, students lack the networking resources to obtain a significant job shadow. Moreover, the student agrees to shadow a professional for just a few hours for one day, which limits the student's capability to truly consider that professional's career. As it may be beneficial to have a student shadow a few hours over a consistent period of time, it may also be necessary to have that student assist with appropriate administrative work, decided by the participating company, related to the profession.

The premise for my proposal to have our CAP of PA College Aid students job shadow professionals within the Chamber is simple. I would like to utilize this resource as a direct portal to help my students further discover their career interests. Having an academic focus may help a student embrace the college enrollment process with less apprehension and more motivation. Many of my students complete career assessments and have their results reviewed and analyzed. The next step in this process is for them to interview and shadow professionals related to their possible career interests. This is an advantageous learning experience for them.

From a networking perspective, my students are made aware of the businesses and the professionals they contact through their job shadows. This only adds to the possibility of more word of mouth referrals and awareness. Overall, having this interconnection within the Chamber will only serve to benefit all of its members.

Thank you for considering my students for any of your possible job shadow opportunities.

Daily Briefing, 8/13/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

In the ongoing negotiations to regarding Gracedale in Northampton County, it now appears that union workers are willing to make concessions and forgo raises.  The Bethlehem Area School District rejected a proposal with the city of Bethlehem to use funding from a Tax Increment Financing District to pay for improvements to SteelStacks, saying they do not believe that the improvements qualify as infrastructure improvements.  Lehigh County will be using county land to negotiate a lease with the Cetronia Ambulance Company and the Lehigh County Coroner's office in South Whitehall. 

CNNMoney runs a very interesting article on the battle between Google and Facebook for "internet control" - and what could be an omen of fights in the future.  President Obama has said he will sign legislation passed by Congress that will put more agents and equipment on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

That's it for now!  Have a great day!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Job Openings - Northampton Community College

If you are a Chamber Member, we are happy to help you advertise any job opening. Please E-mail a description and contact information to Mike Schlossberg at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

Head Bowling Coach
PT - Coordinate all aspects of collegiate bowling program, which will be competing in its first season as a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Must have an Associate’s degree (Bachelors preferred); Bowling coaching experience at the collegiate level preferred; Demonstrated ability to recruit student-athletes and develop successful programs. Candidate must have a schedule that allows flexibility for travel to away matches throughout the season. Interested individuals should send a letter of application, resume and names of three references with contact information to Troy Tucker, Director of Athletics, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to tltucker@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.

Head Women’s Soccer Coach
PT - Coordinate all aspects of a new women’s soccer program which will start play in the Fall of 2011. Northampton is a member of Region XIX of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), one of the most competitive junior college conferences in the country. Must have an Associate’s degree (Bachelors preferred); Women’s soccer coaching experience at the collegiate level preferred; Demonstrated ability to recruit student-athletes and develop successful programs. Candidate must have a schedule that allows flexibility for travel to away games throughout the season. Interested individuals should send a letter of application, resume and names of three references with contact information to Troy Tucker, Director of Athletics, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to tltucker@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.

Grants Compliance Officer
PT (maximum 29.5 hrs/wk) in the Grants Office. Provide institutional oversight/monitoring and regulatory compliance guidance for grant funded programs. Act as primary programmatic liaison to multiple governmental funding agencies for contract negotiations and amendments. Also includes compliance training for deans, directors and faculty designing and implementing grant-funded programs. Must be proficient in MS Office skills. Strong leadership and interpersonal skills. Flexibility to fit into existing team and processes will be essential. Bachelor’s Degree preferred. Send resume to Anne Taylor, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to ataylor@northampton.edu by 8/15/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

Lab Technician
PT (29.5hrs./wk) at our Monroe Campus (Tannersville, PA). To work with Biology and Chemistry faculty to set up and tear down experiments, order proper equipment and supplies and coordinate with other lab assistants on proper lab procedures and etiquette. Minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry required, Bachelor's Degree preferred. Send letter, resume, and names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 references to Hazel Fisher, Northampton Community College, 3 Old Mill Road, Tannersville, PA 18372, or email to hfisher@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.

Library Technical Assistant
PT - Northampton Community College, Monroe Campus. Seeking a service-oriented person to work some afternoons & evenings, and Saturdays, at the Monroe campus library in Tannersville, PA. The salary for this position will be $11.30/hr to start, with a possible increase to $11.75/hr after 3 months of satisfactory service. This is an academic-year position. The candidate must possess a high school diploma with an LTA certificate or library related experience. Computer and strong interpersonal skills required. Interested persons should send a resume and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references to Sandra Sander, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, PA 18020, or email to ssander@northampton.edu by 8/18/10. NCC is EEO/AA.

Adjunct Instructor – Coding for Medical Services
PT - Mondays (beginning 8/23), 3:00-5:45 pm, at the Bethlehem Campus. Master's degree in related field or industry experience required. Teaching experience preferred. Send letter, resume, and names, addresses and phone numbers of 3 references to Barbara Canfield, Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, or email to B&TResumes@northampton.edu. NCC is EEO/AA.

A Chamber success story

I caught this on our LinkedIn Group from Joe Facchiano of FocalPoint Business Coaching. Joe was kind enough to let us share this story with the internet at large:
Hi everyone. Just wanted to share a recent victory with you. I had a prospect call me 2 weeks ago. When I asked how they heard about me, the answer was, "We found you in the Chamber Membership Directory." They are now my newest clients!

A company that I had never heard of needed business coaching, found me in the directory, read my Unique Selling Proposition, linked to my company website ( http://www.jofash.com/ ), and called me! It all happened because I am a Chamber member. So when you ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" The answer is, "New customers!"

To your success,

This is a great example of how your Chamber Membership can be used, passively, to help steer you more customers. More to the point, there are literally dozens of ways that you can use your Chamber Member Benefits to gain new customers, save money on vital business services like insurance and electricity purchasing, and network with our +5,000 members.

If you have any questions about your Chamber Membership, please E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Daily Briefing, 8/12/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

A new survey by Kamran Afshar Associates shows that the economy in the Lehigh Valley is recovering, albeit slowly.  A symbol of Lehigh Valley industry was removed forever yesterday, as the bulldog that stood on the building outside of Mack Truck's headquarters was removed from their building.  A Morning Call story examines the state of public libraries, noting that as their services have increased, their funding has been reduced 30% over two years.  The Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors is set to open a Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy

Foreclosures are on the rise again, with July foreclosures increasing 9% from June 2010 and 6% from July 2010.  A decision is expected later today about whether or not a temporary stay prohibiting gay marriages will be lifted in California.

That's it for now!  We'll be back later today so have a great day and we'll see you then.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Three Social Media Fails and the lessons we can learn

There is no shortage of Social Media "fails," as I like to call them.  By fails, I mean instances of someone using Social Media in a manner that is harmful to their career, business or personal life.  All five of these examples could probably have been avoided relatively easily, if only the actor or business had used some degree of planning, discretion or common sense ahead of time.

1.  Superintendent encourages retirement of a teacher...on his first day...with a smiley face...on Facebook....

On his first day on the job, Connecticut superintendent Davis Telesca wrote on Facebook about how he encouraged an administrator to retire, or get fired, and ended the comment with a :).  He also said he slept until 10am on the first day...so he really seemed to be bragging about his laziness there.  Telesca's stupidity may have cost him a $150,000 job, as he has been put on leave.

Lessons learned:
1)  Use Common Sense:  Facebook does not equal a common sense vacuum.  If you wouldn't be comfortable saying it to the New York Times, don't put it in your Facebook status, because in this day and age, anything you say can get twisted and/or reproduced to the world at large.

2)  If you are going to talk about work - be careful:  In The Chamber's Social Media policy, we encourage our employees to use Social Media to talk about our work experiences - but, we can only talk positively.  Keep in mind that your boss may be able to see everything you talk about on Social Media - and use discretion accordingly.

2Second Marriage discovered on Facebook...by wife #1.

Lynn France of Ohio discovered pictures of her husband's second marriage on Facebook.  That might have not been so bad...if Lynn wasn't still married to her husband at the time.  Oh dear.

Lessons learned:
1)  Don't get married to a second woman while still married to the first:  That's probably the most critical point here.

2)  Use privacy settings:  Facebook has some really robust, granular privacy settings that allow you to control who can and can't see specific types of information.  This enables you to really control access to your profile and the information contained in it.  Who knows?  Perhaps if our cheating husband had properly navigated Facebook, this incident never would have happened. 

3.  Congressman tweets from Iraq; violates House rules.

In 2009, while on a trip to Iraq, Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) tweeted that he was in Iraq, commenting that it was the first time he had blackberry service while there.  The problem:  House rules specifically discouraged "discourage members of Congress visiting dangerous areas from giving interviews or publicly discussing the details of their itinerary while traveling."  That being said, there were no twitter-specific guidelines.

1)  Develop a sound Social Media policy:  Situations like this, though not ones that necessarily threaten physical safety, are relatively common in the workplace and result from a lack of HR rules.  Does your company have a Social Media policy?  If no, you should create one ASAP so you can deal with situations like this.


For more information on how to avoid a Social Media PR disaster, check out Mashable's great blog entry on the subject.

Daily Briefing, 8/11/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Former President Bill Clinton was in the state yesterday, attending a rally for Joe Sestak and a fundraiser for John Callahan.  As the former President visited, Hillary Clinton's campaign paid a $15,000 debt it owed to the Bethlehem Area School District for the former Presidential candidate's visit.  Speaking of Bethlehem, an independent audit shows that the city finished 2009 with a $5 million deficit.  In Catasauqua, Wachovia has left the Borough, leaving a building it has occupied for 100 years and leaving the Borough without a bank.  With the expiration of federal tax credits, July home sales in the Valley dropped 48% compared to June of 2010 and 40% compared to July 2009.

In national news, former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and four others were killed in a plane crash yesterday.  In a statement yesterday, U.S. Federal Reserve warned the that economic recovery is weakening.  The House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation that gives states $26 billion for Medicare and teachers - the President signed the bill later in the day.

That's it for now!  We will be back later today.  Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Chamber & Politics

As many of you are likely aware, former President Bill Clinton will be in the Valley later today, holding a fundraiser for John Callahan's campaign.  The fundraiser is being held at the home of Gregg & Cindy Feinberg.  Gregg is the Acting Chair of The Chamber's Board of Governors.

Normally, this wouldn't be worth mentioning , but we did want to clarify a couple of things.  When the fundraiser has been mentioned in some local news articles, it has been said that Gregg is an "Executive" with The Chamber.  This isn't exactly true (personally, I consider an "executive" to be a staffer, not the Acting Chairman of the Board of Governors), but the mention of Gregg, the fundraiser and The Chamber in the same sentence seems to imply that The Chamber has some sort of official role in today's event.  That is not the case.

The Chamber, as an organization, works with elected officials in a supportive and non-partisan manner.  We fight for pro-business public policy positions.  However, we do not endorse candidates for elected office.

As with any diverse organization, The Chamber’s volunteers, membership and staff are a passionate group that occupy every point along the political spectrum.  A visit to our Board of Governors will reveal no shortage of disagreement on virtually every political issue.  Attendance at a staff meeting will reveal significant and healthy political debate - indeed, three Chamber staffers are elected officials (two Republicans and one Democrat), and many have active roles within the public policy realm.

The point is this: Chamber members, as individuals, are extremely involved in all levels of politics, and we applaud this level of passion and interest.  As an organization, we want our members to be involved in local government and in the community, regardless of whether or not that involvement comes from the left or from the right.  However, within the Chamber's official capacity in as a business group, we do not take sides in elections - only in public policy issues.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to let us know!  As always, we love to hear from our members and the community at large.

Lessons for small business owners from online music sites

Hopefully, you had a chance to catch yesterday's entry about online music sites that you can listen to from your computer.  The entry profiled six sites that you can use to listen to music.

That entry was about more than just the music and background music that those websites featured.  If you check out all six of the sites reviewed, I think there are some very important lessons on all of those sites for small businesses.  Those lessons are also not just exclusive lessons for Social Media strategies or website tactics, but can and should be applied to the real world.

1)  Give 'em a taste:  Pandora and Spotify both have free options.  Those options are great, but they are not ideal.  Both come with annoying ads and both prevent you from taking full advantage of the great features on the sites.  By making the initial experience free, users are given a taste of a great service - and, very often, it leaves them wanting more - to the point that they are willing to pay for a service.

2)  The Social experience:  Pandora has a special arrangement with Facebook, allowing the service to plug into your profile and see what sort of music you and your friends like.  All of the profiled sites also have easy links for you to share a song/music/mix that you are listening to.  These sites understand that Social content is key - and make it as easy as possible for you to share your interests via Social Media - and thus let the world know about their service in the process.

3)  The Customized experience:  The real beauty of all of these services is that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach, but one that is customized to the user's interests.  Pandora has a very intuitive system that allows for users to hear music based on their interests; Spotify and SiriusXM both have ample channels for listeners to choose from; Moodturn allows users to pick from a variety of stations and backgrounds, and NatureSoundsFor.Me takes that concept one step further and allows users to create their own mixes.  By allowing users to create their own experience, these platforms can create better experiences - and thus draw more listeners and enhance customer loyalty. 

4)  Access is critical: These services provide many different ways for you to listen.  Every service mentioned obviously have a website, but some go the extra mile.  Spotify has a desktop application that you can download directly, so you can listen to music even when offline.  Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM and YouTube also have a variety of smart phone applications, so you can take advantage of these services while on the go.

5)  Ease of commerce: Pandora and YouTube both have direct links so you can buy songs you are listening to.  They make it nice and easy for you to spend your money - but, if it is for a song that you really like, this is a benefit for both you and the company selling.

What are we missing here?  Do you have any lessons you'd like to add?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 8/10/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

The average Lehigh Valley household income dropped in 2009 compared to 2008; however, the good news is that the decrease was less significant than in other areas of the country.  At Musikfest, the controversy continues over whether or not bars can allow the sale of alcohol in open containers, with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board saying they are cracking down on the practice this year.  In Easton, the city's intermodal transportation plan for South Third Street has been approved by historic district commissioners - but, the price of the project has risen $5 million to a new total of $20 million.  Former President Bill Clinton will be in the Valley later today, holding a fundraiser for John Callahan's campaign.

Nationwide, today is a busy day, with contested primaries being held in Georgia, Colorado and Connecticut. 

We have one Chamber event today: Speed Networking at Applebees in Bethlehem.  This event is sold out, but there will be another one in October.

And that's it!  Have a great day, and we'll have one or two entries for you later today.  See you then!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Five great sites for music & background music at work

I don't know about you, but listening to music at work just makes the day go by quicker.  As someone who has never had so much as a stereo in his office (okay, I have a cube, but who's keeping track?), I've spent most of my professional career listening to one website or another to help me get through the day.  Anyway, I wanted to share five of those site with you and give you a brief rundown on what they are and what they can do.

1)  Pandora Radio:  I'm listening to Pandora as I type this (at the moment, I must confess, it is playing "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie).  Pandora has a simple but great concept - you tell it what songs and artists you like, and it will then play those songs and similar ones.  I've used it to find a variety of new favorite songs and musicians.  There is a free service (ad supported) and a premium one.  This really is a great service - highly recommended!

2)  Sirius Radio:  If you already have Sirius radio in your car or home, you can listen to it online as well.  With over 120 channels that basically covers every sort of musical and talk genre, there is no shortage of content to listen to.  Don't have a Sirius account?  That's okay, you can get 30 days free, then pay as little as $2.99/month to listen.

3)  Spotify:  Similiar to Pandora, Spotify lets you select music that you like and listen to it.  It also allows you to create (and share) playlists, play music offline and on your mobile device, buy songs directly and create your own music library.  Again, there are free and paid options - you'll notice a pattern here with that.

4)  NatureSoundsFor.Me:  Music at work not your thing?  That's okay; there are actually studies out there that show background music may be better to work to anyway.  NatureSounds allows you to create your own background noise from dozens of different options (my personal favorite is the rain option, though my life likes beach sounds and seagulls - and please, please believe me when I say do NOT listen to the bees and expect to relax).  You can then adjust the volumes and stereo controls to create your own customized mix.

5)  Moodturn:  Moodturn is similar to NatureSounds - however, it allows you to select from already set themes, then alter the background image to your liking.  It isn't quite as complex as NatureSounds, but still makes for some very pleasant listening.

BONUS - YouTube:  Have a song stuck in your head that you cannot stop listening to?  Find it on YouTube - just search for the artist and song name (one of my favorite random internet facts:  YouTube is actually the 2nd most popular search engine in the world).  You can also try adding "live" to a search in order to find a live version of your favorite song.

Happy listening!

Daily Briefing, 8/9/10

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Hamilton Street in Allentown is being regularly patrolled by Allentown police officers on bike patrol - officers who hope to make the city safer and change the perception of crime in the downtown.  The article also quotes Leslie Suhr, the Main Street Manager for downtown.  At Victaulic, members of the Steelworkers union rejected the latest contract offer by the management.  Planet Snoopy will be coming to Dorney Park.  The attraction will be an $8 million project. 

WFMZ runs a story on the hopes that states are pinning on casinos, noting that states are relying on them to help fill massive budget holes.  President Obama touted the effect that health care reform has had on medicare, noting that it will extend the program for many years.  A new report shows that 21.5% of the nation's homes are underwater (borrowers owe more on the homes than they are worth) - however, this is an improvement on the 23.3% figure from last quarter.

That's it for now!  We will be back with another entry later today.  See you later and have a great Monday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guest Blog Post: Buy locally, think globally and live responsively…

We have a great guest blog post today, courtesy of Sally Handlon of Handlon Business Resources.  Sally does far too many things in the Valley for me to event attempt to enumerate them, but needless to say, she is a great Chamber member and involved in many worthy causes.  With this blog entry, Sally reminds us of the importance of buying local.  At The Chamber, we couldn't agree more, which is why we are so proud of our Buy Lehigh Valley initiative.

Sally's entry is below.  Enjoy!
As one of the community hosts for WDIY’s Lehigh Valley Discourse (88.1 fm, Thursdays 6-7 PM) I have the privilege of creating talk shows which focus on business in the valley.  Green and sustainable have been a reoccurring theme.  It seems to be an evolving interest – both of the business community and mine.

In February the Sustainable Business Network of the greater Lehigh Valley was featured.
One of their guiding principles is the triple bottom line – People, Profit and Planet. The triple bottom line is “designed to measure a company’s performance in 3 areas:  social impact, environmental impact and profitability.”(www.sbnlv.org)

As I was researching the show, Frank Feather, futurist, came to mind.  He coined the phrase “glocal” to express the emerging need to be rooted in our local community the more our work life took on a global marketplace.  And, in reality, once you have a business website, you are indeed a part of the global marketplace, even though your target market may be within the Lehigh Valley.

So how do we as business owners buy locally, think globally and live responsively?

According to information provided by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Buy Lehigh Valley effort, “if every business in the Lehigh Valley shifted just 5% of their out-of-area spending, the change would result in more than $100 million for our community.” (www.lehighvalley.org)

This means that the cost should not always be the determining factor.  Yes, reasonable cost is needed but paying a slightly higher price to keep the purchase local could equate to future savings in other areas – funding for community improvements could be addressed with the $100 million…our own local stimulus without increasing government debt!

Not only is there the potential for future cost savings, but there is also the carbon footprint impact.  Buying locally could minimize the environmental costs of getting the goods/services especially if manufactured/generated locally.  Were you aware that you can order books on line from the Moravian Book Shop and get a really good turnaround?  I have now replaced my late night book ordering from amazon.com to www.moravianbookshop.com!

This approach is not to be confused with an isolationist approach. There is no way in this 21st century that isolation can survive – not even in the deepest jungle.  We are all subject to the air & water quality as well as the fact that some things may just not be available locally.  Neither do I want to stand solely on the “independent” platform as employment for our community is generated by non-local corporations and franchises as well. 

What I am asking is whether or not you can take a moment before making a purchase to explore if it is available locally at a reasonable price?  If you make that initial step, it is up to the local businesses to keep you coming back through their ongoing efforts.

Are you willing to try to take 5% of your out-of- area spending and keep it in the Lehigh Valley?
In addition to the websites listed in the text, here are a few others that might be of interest: 

Job Openings - Lehigh Valley Coalition on Affordable Housing & Alpha Packaging

If you are a Chamber Member, we are happy to help you advertise any job opening. Please E-mail a description and contact information to Mike Schlossberg at MikeS@lehighvalleychamber.org. We publish job openings every Thursday and are happy to help you find the talent that you are looking for!

The Housing Development Coordinator develops real estate that extends affordable housing opportunities, working closely with local civic, financial, and political leaders and real estate; the position works closely with and receives direction from the Departments of Community and Economic Development of Lehigh and Northampton counties and assists with providing staff support for the permanent bi-county (Lehigh and Northampton counties) advisory committee. The Housing Development Coordinator provides guidance to the Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust for the redevelopment of land trust houses. Prospective candidates should send a resume and cover letter by mail to my attention or by email to caclv-hrjob09@caclv.org The deadline is August 13.


-Develops recommendations for comprehensive strategies for the development of affordable and accessible housing that takes into consideration market conditions, community demographics, occupancy rates, and other significant market data.

-Identifies prospective sites, including publicly owned land, for affordable housing projects.

-Works closely with developers, both for-profit and non-profit, preparing and distributing requests for proposals, structuring deals, identifying funding sources and loan packages, preparing plans and cash flow projections.

-Encourages the formation of private/public partnerships to preserve existing affordable housing and increase new housing development opportunities and, at the same time, maximize reuse of abandoned, vacant, tax-delinquent properties and other existing housing stock.

-Develops a comprehensive financing strategy that coordinates resources, leverages funds, and develops innovative funding including exploring opportunities for bond financing.

-Identifies funding sources, such as public agencies, government programs, or financial institutions for financing the acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction of affordable housing projects.

-Develops and maintains contacts with regional and local developers, financial institutions, real estate brokers, trade associations, and government agencies.

-Provides educational opportunities for owners of tax credit developments and county assessors to learn about new assessment regulations, such as Act 39 of 2003.

-Participates in collaborative efforts to address the variety of issues affecting affordable housing, including those identified in the Bi-County Affordable Housing Policy Recommendations, dated May 2007, the Lehigh Valley Coalition on Affordable Housing, and/or other such initiates.

-Creates and implements opportunities for education about affordable housing for the general public, potential home-owners, elected officials, lenders, developers, builders, and realtors, maintaining a clearinghouse of information about affordable, accessible, and assisted housing.

-Recommends renovations to Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust (LVCLT) properties, prepares bids for contractors, and oversees the contractors’ work.

-Develops and applies “green” and historic preservation standards to be implemented in the renovation of LVCLT homes.

-Serves as spokesperson for the program, as requested, and fulfills regular public speaking engagements.
Housing Development Coordinator – Page 2

This description contains the information and facts considered necessary to accurately reflect the duties of this position. It should not be considered an exhaustive description of all the work requirements to be performed, but indicates the kinds of duties and levels of responsibility required by the position. The Executive Director or his/her designee will have the prerogative of adding or deleting responsibilities as circumstances may require.

WORKING CONDITIONS Site: 1337 East Fifth Street Bethlehem, PA 18015
Some off-site work at other program centers.

Other: Out-of-town and overnight trips possible.


Criminal record check required

At least 5 years’ experience in developing housing or working with developers

Experience with public and private financing of real estate development

Experience with “green” building and renovations

Experience with historic preservation

Public policy experience

Good written and oral communication skills

Detail oriented

Personal vehicle or access to independent transportation required

Valid driver’s license and good driving record required

Proof of motor vehicle insurance (for use of personal vehicle)


Alpha Packaging - Interested candidates, please email your resume to Ginger at gsenechal@alphap.com

Candidate must be able to perform all tasks involved in the production of Alpha Packaging’s products. Follow Alpha’s standard of Safety, Housekeeping, Quality and Production in an efficient and safe manner as possible. You must be willing to work as part of a team. You must be able to work on hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic and mechanical equipment. Read all the same prints. Prefer that candidate has experience on blow molding SBM and EBM machines. Packaging equipment is a plus. Some building maintenance is also needed. Plastics experience is preferred but not needed.

Daily Briefing, 8/6/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

At a 3.5 hour meeting of Northampton County Council last night, Council ultimately decided not to sell or lease Gracedale, at least for now.  Northampton County Executive Stoffa and County Council will be taking a closer look at other options and talking with the local unions first.  PPL posted a second-quarter profit, turning around a 2nd quarter loss from 2009.  All three candidates for the 15th Congressional District have agreed to a debate on WFMZ-TV.

It appears that a federal bill that will provide $26 billion to the states will contain $390 million to retain or rehire Pennsylvania teachers.

In national news, 15-year mortgage rates are now below 4% - the lowest rate in decades.  30-year mortgage rates are at 4.49%. Elena Kagan was confirmed yesterday to serve on the Supreme Court.  The vote was 63-37.  The July unemployment report is expected to be released later today.

That's it for now!  We'll have a guest blog entry for you later today.  Have a great day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Power to the Valley - The Chamber unveils a new electricity purchasing program for residential customers

You may already be familiar with The Chamber & Constellation New Energy's Discounted Electricity Purchasing program that allows for businesses to get great rates when it comes to electricity purchasing.  We are now very pleased to announce our partnership with Public Power LLC/American Approved Energy Services to launch a new fixed-rate energy plan that will save residential and small business customers money!

Check out the video of our press conference below.  More information after the jump, but feel free to E-mail Lanita Lum at Lanital@lehighvalleychamber.org for more information.

Here is some additional information:
  • This program is geared towards residential properties and small businesses that spend under $1,000 per month on electricity.
  • The program will also provide a rewards program worth $2,000 annually to customers.
  • This program has a fixed-rate, not a variable one - making your expenses more stable and budgeting easier.
  • If you are in the PPL territory, you can switch your electricity generating provider now.  If your electricity is supplied by MetEd, you can start switching on January 1, 2011.
  • Again, for more information, E-mail Lanita Lum at lanital@lehighvalleychamber.org

Final Thoughts from the Intern

Hello all! Stephanie here with her last post of the summer. Today is my last day as a GLVCC intern. Before I pack up my things and head back to Muhlenberg College, I would like to share a bit of what I have learned about the power of social media in the course of my internship.

1. Facebook is not just a time vortex. I came into this internship from the college environment, where “Facebook” is synonymous with procrastination and idling essays. My entire perception of the site changed when I saw how it could be used as a business tool – and an effective one, at that. When I began starting up my own small side business this summer, I immediately turned to Facebook to build up my clientele – and I’m already picking up a fair number of “Likes”.

2. 140 characters can make a big difference. I had always been on the fence with Twitter – is it really worth my time? The Chamber introduced me to a bunch of feeds (outside of my friends’ updates on their dining choices – though, really, I’m very glad that Sam ordered a Domino’s pasta bowl) that offer a lot of information about the Lehigh Valley. I also learned how to use Twitter to have more of a conversation with followers and following, instead of just a stream of consciousness. Now, I’m addicted – but it’s a healthy addiction, for sure. Some of my friends still roll their eyes when they notice me tweeting from my cell phone, but they’ll catch on soon.

3. There are a lot of social media applications out there – but you don’t need all of them. I have done a fair amount of research on social media over the summer, and tried out a lot of different social networks and account managers. To name a few: Foursquare, HootSuite, TweetDeck, AlertThingy, socialmention… if it is an online application with a compound name and odd capitalization, chances are I have taken a look at it. Trying to use all of these different programs at once can make your head spin. However, as I found out, you only really need to stick with the one or two that work for you, and leave the rest for the next guy. Now, I use HootSuite a great deal on a day-to-day basis. At the same time, I choose to neglect my Foursquare account, leaving it to maybe be reawakened at some point in the future.

4. Social media is awesome. That is the easiest way to summarize the power of social networking and all of its still unrealized potential as an influential medium.

There you have it! Before I sign off for good, I would just like to thank Mike for letting me work with him this summer on all sorts of crazy social media projects, and for not getting angry when I try to steal his desk!

Daily Briefing, 8/5/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Get ready for a good time; Musikfest opens in Bethlehem tomorrow!  Just in time, Bethlehem's Police Department has been re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

In state-wide news, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will provide financial assistance to states, but will still leave Pennsylvania $250 million short for Medicaid costs.  As a result, the state is looking to make addition spending cuts.  The Borough of Pen Argyl received good news, as a federal grant allowed it to pay for sewer system upgrades and reduce its massively increased sewer rates.

In national news, a Federal Judge yesterday ruled that California's Proposition 8 violated constitutional rights, thus overturning Prop 8. Elena Kagan has 61 votes to end debate in the U.S. Senate on her Supreme Court nomination, making it virtually certain that she will be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

We have one Chamber event today: a free mixer at the Playdrome Rose Bowl.

That's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll be back later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tech Wednesday

Hello all! Stephanie here with another exciting episode of Tech Wednesday.

I know I have done a great deal of blogging already on brand management and tracking online opinions of your company (remember Viralheat and socialmention?), but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to point out yet another great service in this area. After all, consumers tend to trust what other consumers say, regardless of the veracity of their peers’ claims. In researching all sorts of sentiment management and monitoring applications, I came across ThreatTracker, a web and social media monitoring service from Nielsen online. That’s right, THE Nielsen media researchers, of TV rating (and more recently, web analytics) fame. Unlike some of the other applications I have reviewed in the past, ThreatTracker is geared specifically towards the negative and in many cases incorrect information about your brand that may be making its rounds on the Internet. It acts almost like your own personal sentiment SWAT team, alerting you to all sorts of “bad press” and ready to help you devise an appropriate marketing/social media response.

How it works:
In order to have ThreatTracker monitor your brand, you must contact the company directly. Once you have signed up for the service, Nielsen Online will start monitoring consumer-generated media in real time to look for threats. These threats can come from a dissatisfied customer, a disgruntled former (or current) employee, or even just someone who picked up a bad piece of information. The company will notify you through your preferred method of communication, and advise you as to what your next step would be. The key to this service is speed – rapid notification for rapid social media crisis management in an environment where a video can go viral in a matter of hours.

Features and benefits:
- Real time monitoring of not only threat source, but also severity, rate of spread, context, and tone
- Monitors nearly 80 million blogs and influential social media sites
- Traces threat to the original source, not just a secondary mention on another blog/post
- Client threat assessment team aids in response decision making

Nielsen does not post a pricing schedule on their site, so you will have to contact the company directly. I would hazard a guess that the pricing is on a case-by-case basis. More information on the service is available on the Nielsen Online site.

This service may not be ideal for smaller businesses, but larger companies (or small companies with a large number of disgruntled employees) may find it useful in keeping one or two upset individuals from ruining a company’s name. As much as we all love the Internet, we must also remember that it is the ultimate amplification and distortion machine.

Has your business experienced a social media crisis? How did you handle it? Leave us a comment and tell us your story!

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a little online timer gadget I found the other day over at e.ggtimer.com. Just type in the time you want to count down, hit go, and the site will beep and display a pop-up window when time’s up.

Daily Briefing, 8/4/2010

Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Governor Rendell was in Allentown yesterday, speaking about the need to increase transportation funding in Pennsylvania.  On the South Side of Bethlehem, 91 new streetlights have been installed.  In the race for the 134th State Representative District, independent Carl Stevenson has filed to run.  Stevenson faces incumbent Doug Reichley (R) and Patrick Slattery (D).

Slots revenue broke records in the state during the month of July, rising almost 25% compared to July of 2009.  The increase is attributed to the introduction of table games.

A panel of economists spoke in front of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, saying that the recovery will continue - but at a very slow pace.

We have one Chamber event today and it's a fun one - our Amore Wine Tasting Mixer in Nazareth.

That's it for now!  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big Brother Copier is Watching You: How to Avoid the New Security Threat

Hello all! Stephanie here with some important security information for any business that uses a digital copy machine.

Do you remember the last 20,000 documents copied in your office? Probably not. Your copy machine, on the other hand, may be able to recall every detail in every one of those documents - including a lot of sensitive information. According to a CBS News report from April of this year, most digital copiers made after 2002 contain a hard drive that stores an image of every document scanned. While this may seem like an efficient backup system, it is really a major security threat to any company. As CBS journalist Armen Keteyian demonstrated, any individual with a bit of time and some free software from the Internet can pluck the hard drive from a used copier and access all of the stored images – your payroll information, social security numbers, the works. An old copier may be one company’s trash and another identity thief’s treasure.

Don’t go running to shove your copier out the window just yet! Your data will be secure as long as the copier’s hard drive is safely stored within the machine itself, in your office. The trouble arises when it is time to dispose of the machine. Your used copier, teeming with sensitive data waiting to be unlocked, can easily find its way into the hands of another company (domestic or foreign) or an enterprising data thief. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to make sure your classified information stays between your business and your copier:

1. Encryption Services - Some manufacturers, such as Sharp, offer data encryption services for hard drive data. This prevents your everyday hacker from accessing the information, but the service is pricey and may not be able to protect your documents from a particularly skilled and motivated data thief. 

2. Basic Hard Drive Wipe - Most manufacturers provide information on how to wipe the copier hard drive using the machine’s software interface. At the very least, you should follow these instructions before disposing of your machine. However, simply deleting the files in this manner does not fully erase them from the hard drive (learn more here), and there are data recovery programs that can resurrect the files that you thought you “deleted”. Is anyone really going to take the time to pull all of those old files from your copier? For most small businesses, the answer is probably “no,” and a hard drive wipe will be enough to protect their documents once their copier is moved to the dumpster. However, larger companies or companies with a lot of sensitive information, especially financial information, may want to go further than just a basic file deletion. 

3. Advanced Hard Drive Wipe (AKA Total Destruction) – The surefire way to remove your documents from a copier’s hard drive is to destroy the drive altogether, and put a fresh drive in its place. CBS News pointed to Digital Copier Security, Inc., a California-based company that uses its “INFOSweep” process to destroy a copier hard drive, along with any other traces of old data on the machine.

If you don’t have the budget to pay for such a service, there is a much more convenient and low-tech way to destroy the drive – take it out of the machine and hit it with a hammer (or other blunt object of your choice – you can be creative with this one). In addition to being an easy way to permanently erase any data on the hard drive, this method of destruction is also very therapeutic. If you wish to resell the machine, you can purchase a replacement hard drive (check the manufacturer’s website or search for your specific model online).

Note: Older photocopiers, built before the digital era (and even before 1984), contain an electrically charged drum that attracts toner particles to form your copied image. Heat and static electricity transfer the toner from the drum to paper. The drum is cleaned off after every copy, so the image of your document is not stored in the machine. If you are worried about data clinging to the drum, you can perform a sort of “manual wipe” by photocopying several pieces of black paper in succession. Some ink and a few sheets of paper are a small price to pay for a little peace of mind. More information about how older photocopiers work is available here.