Thursday, August 30, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/30/2012

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

A Morning Call article takes a look at the upcoming waterfront development in Allentown.  Bethlehem City Council reviewed their 2010 budget surplus and upcoming difficult budget year at a meeting yesterday.  A packaging company is moving from New Jersey to the Valley, bringing about 300 jobs.

In national news, Paul Ryan accepted the Republican nomination for Vice President yesterday.  Damages from Hurricane Issac may top $1.5 billion, though the hurricane is expected to bring some drought relief.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Improve your E-mail Marketing

In an era of Social Networking and Mobile, it's important for small businesses to remember that E-mail marketing remains an extremely active and viable way to communicate with customers.  At The Chamber, we send out E-mails multiple times a week (if anything, a bit too much, though our open and click through rates remain very high), and E-mail remains one of our most (if not the most) effective way that we communicate with our members.

So, does your business have an E-mail newsletter?  It should.  Here are some tips to maximize your e-marketing effectiveness.

1.  Use a professional service:  Of this, there is no shortage; Constant Contact and MailChimp are two that jump to the top of the list.  Professional services like this can create good templates, give you analytics and help you design the best E-mail possible.

2.  You can't just sell:  This is one of the areas where E-mail marketing and Social Media overlap completely.  You CANNOT use your E-mail list to just sell.  You have to create value and encourage people to read your information; this way, they will be more likely to use your business in the future.  here's an example: I get a "market update" once a week from a financial planner that I subscribe to.  This is useful and valuable to me.

3.  Track your success:  As mentioned earlier, a professional service can help you track your open and click-through rates, among other stats tracked.  Use that information to alter the timing and content of your E-mail.

4.  Keep it brief:  Do not write the great American novel in your E-mail.  Try to keep it as brief as possible and have lots of click-throughs for people who do want more information.

5.  Mobile friendly:  If your E-mails aren't mobile friendly, they are wasted.  Seriously.  It's that simple.  As more and more internet use shifts away from computers and goes to mobile devices, you are wasting your time if your E-mails cannot be easily read on a laptop or smart phone.

As always, leave your tips and comments below!

Daily Briefing, 8/29/2012

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

An hour after being sworn in, Lehigh County Executive Bill Hansell introduced a budget that had no tax hike and again contained a tax credit.  The NIZ district in Allentown is being expanded to include the Americus Hotel.  28 Northampton County municipalities will receive casino revenue related grants.  Another report shows that the Lehigh Valley (and national) housing market continues to rise, with prices moving upwards.

In national news, Governor Chris Christie delivered the keynote address to the GOP Convention yesterday. Anne Romney also spoke about her husband.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grow Your Business:

Another day, another blog entry from Carol Ritter of CarolTalks.  This one is about branding - a subject I know many small business owners struggle with.  Yes, branding is for your business - no matter how big or small.

Enjoy!
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Branding a small business is not only necessary but vital to your success.  I always think of friends and colleagues who had a wonderful idea, a magnificent product, but they didn’t understand or even give a thought to branding and marketing the business.  I was just working in Pittsburgh and our client graciously took us to dinner at the very top of Mt. Washington.  The view was breathtaking and the Monterey Fish Grotto was magnificent.  As we walked to the restaurant I noticed a billboard that jumped out at me.  It was a picture of a man pointing right at me.  It was large and dynamic to say the least.  The “BRAND” on the billboard was Best Lawyer in Pittsburgh.  My first thought was, “Who says he’s the best lawyer?” and my second thought was if I need a lawyer in Pittsburgh, I’m going to him.  Branding is created to get the word out, to build a word of mouth epidemic around your business and to teach your prospective clients who you are and what you are good at.  Branding is about teaching the world to remember your product.  “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brushed your teeth with _________”.   I know for sure I don’t want to hire the worst lawyer in Pittsburgh and during my visit his was the only billboard I saw advertising that kind of service.

So, what can you do to be the Best Something in the Lehigh Valley, here are some Caroltalks tips.....
1. Identify what you are the best at doing
2. Place your brand everywhere, place your business  ‘dots’ throughout the community
3. Commit an outrageous amount of time to networking and marketing your product
4. Ask others for written testimonials, it’s always better if someone else says you are the best
5. Use the internet, use social media,use the press, sponsor events where your clients hang out
6. Joining the Chamber isn’t enough, you need to leverage their $5,000 in benefits
7. Barter with other businesses
8. And, eat, sleep and drink your brand, when I see you in the community I want to know what you do immediately
9. Buy stuff with your brand on it, t-shirts, hat, pens, mugs become a logo nazi

I know for sure that when I need services, I want to hire the BEST in the Lehigh Valley.  Just because you’re great at making cupcakes, doesn’t mean you are great at selling them.

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in remarkable leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s innovative e leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 610-442-4545 tellkids@aol.com

Daily Briefing, 8/28/2012

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

Danny McNeill has been officially confirmed by the Democratic State Committee to replace Joe Brennan in the 133rd District.  Unemployment in the Lehigh Valley rose from 8.5 to 8.8%.  The city of Bethlehem posted it's first surplus in four years.

In state-wide news, former Senator Arlen Specter is in the hospital with what has been described as a serious illness.  Voter IDs are now available through PennDOT.  While answering questions about his stance on abortion yesterday, Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith yesterday compared having a child as a result of rape to having a child out of wedlock.

In national news, Issac is a Tropical Storm again but is expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours.

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

Monday, August 27, 2012

The (revised) schedule for the GOP Convention

As you are probably aware, this is the week for the Republican National Committee to hold their convention in Tampa.  The convention is set to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President & VP, and will feature speakers throughout the week praising Romney/Ryan and bashing President Obama.

Of course, the schedule has now been thrown for a loop.  Hurricane Issac is bearing down on the Gulf Coast and is expected to at least sideswap Tampa.  As a result, Monday's previously scheduled convention activities have been cancelled.  There is now even talk that the entire convention could be cancelled, even if the hurricane doesn't damage Tampa too significantly.

Regardless, for now, the show goes on.  Here is an abbreviated look at what happens on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the GOP convention:

  • Tuesday:  Remarks by RNC Chairman Rance Priebus, Republican Senate  candidates, former Senator Rick Santorum, Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH), Governors Kasich (OH), Fallin (OK), McDonnell (VA), Walker (WI), Sandoval (NV), Haley (SC), Ann Romney, keynote by Governor Chris Christie (NJ) and formal nominations of Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan.  
  • Wednesday:  Ron Paul video, remarks by Senators Paul (KY), McCain (AZ), Thune (SD), Portman (OH), Governors Pawlenty (MN), Jindal (LA, though this has to be tentative given the hurricane), Martinez (NM), Mike Huckabee and acceptance of VP nomination by Rep. Paul Ryan.
  • Thursday:  Remarks by Senator Marco Rubio, introducing Mitt Romney, who will then accept the Presidential nomination.

Daily Briefing, 8/27/2012

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

A Morning Call story takes a look at how the city's proposed leasing of its water & sewer systems would affect its suburban customers.  Local Democrats selected Danny McNeill, former Whitehall Township Commissioner & Executive, to replace Joe Brennan in the 133rd District; the decision still has to be ratified by state Democratic leaders.  Bill Hansell will be sworn in as the new Lehigh County Executive tomorrow.

In national news, Hurricane Issac has forced the Republicans to delay the first day of their convention.

We have one Chamber event today: Iron Pigs Night Out with the Young Professionals.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/24/2012

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

In Allentown, the Neighborhood Improvement Zone Authority voted to take out about $234 in bonds to fund construction of the arena and some related facilities.  Also in the city, nine bidders were prequalified to bid on the cities water & sewer facilities.  The Commonwealth Court has granted Representative Joe Brennan's petition to remove himself from the ballot and allowed local and state Democrats ten days to replace him.  Don Cunningham laid out his vision for LVEDC at a breakfast yesterday.

In state-wide news, a new poll shows President Obama leading PA by a 49-40 margin.

In national news, oil is now near $100 a barrel.

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/23/2012

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

State Representative Joe Brennan (D-133) announced yesterday that he will petition the Commonwealth Court to have his name removed from the ballot after his arrest for DUI and assaulting his wife.  Lehigh County Commissioners approved a five-year, $50.2 million capital plan.

In national news, a new report notes that middle class America is seeing its income decline.  An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office notes that, barring any changes to tax hikes and sequestration that is set to start in 2013, the U.S. could find itself back in a recession.

We have two Chamber event's today: Party on the Deck in downtown Allentown and a ribbon cutting at the Moravian Historical Society.

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The pros & cons of loan consolidation

I don't know about the rest of you, but my wife and I have been deluged, of late, with offers to consolidate our mortgage and other loans.  This typically has me thinking two things:

1)  Wow.  What a waste of paper.  E-mail it to me and save yourself some money!
2)  How much money can I really save with this?

So, what are the pros and cons of loan consolidation and refinancing?  Some thoughts below:

Pros:
1)  Lower payments at lower interest rates that are usually locked in.  Can't beat that with a stick!
2)  Convince.  You can take multiple loans and put them into one monthly payment.
3)  If you can afford to pay more than your minimum payment, you can potentially save more money over the life of a loan.

Cons:
1)  Frequently, though you may make smaller payments, you extend the life of your loan.  Given compounding interest, you will ultimately wind up paying more.
2)  The flip side of locking in an interest rate: if the interest rates drop, you are stuck at a higher rate, and there is usually nothing you can do about it.
3)  With many consolidations, you are locked in, meaning that you cannot change the rate or payment later.  Thus, you only really get one bite at the apple.
4)  Some loans (like college loans) will force you to start paying right away (removing a deferment period) and you'll lose other possible benefits (like future interest rate deductions, other deferment options, etc).
Good morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

The Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, was in Allentown yesterday, where she announced a $500,000 grant to the Bridgeworks Incubator in the city.  Governor Corbett was also in the Valley yesterday, touring Westport Axle in Upper Macungie.  The Easton Peace Candle needs $25,000 in upgrades.

In national news, the U.S. Court of Appeals has struck down an EPA rule that required coal plants to reduce emissions.  Congressman Todd Akin refused to drop out of the Missouri Senate race yesterday, as the first deadline for withdrawal passed.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grow Your Business: You Got MOJO

Another Tuesday, another guest blog entry by Carol Ritter of CarolTalks.  Enjoy!
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Did you ever hear the saying, “Don’t Fix It if It Ain’t Broken”?  I was watching one of my favorite show’s about marketing your Small Business.  The entrepreneur who was making a guest appearance stated that one of the most important things you can do as a small business owner is to PLACE YOUR BRAND EVERYWHERE!  Sounds rather obvious, but not so.  One of my speaker friends says before he speaks, “I’ve got my MOJO on today, translated he’s going to be so spectacular and so full of energy today he will knock ‘um dead.  What’s your MOJO, what is it about your business that is spectacular?  What do you do better than anyone else?  And, what do you do that you will never change?  Hershey has kisses, McDonald’s has burgers, Dairy Queen has the blizzard, Dunkin’ Donut has munchkins, Starbucks has coffee, and Rita’s has ice and that’s their MOJO.  Now you may see a common thread here, they all have a product that makes them who they are even though the product changes from time to time.  Hershey also has almond kisses, McDonalds also has the “Big Mac”, Dairy Queen many different types of blizzards, Dunkin’ has chocolate munchins, Starbucks has a skinny mocha latte with soy, and Rita’s has the misto, the gelato and more.  

Here’s some tips for Selling Your MOJO

1. You have MOJO, it’s time to discover what that is
2. Don’t fix something that is working for you
3. Take a risk once in a while, the most successful business owners take risks
4. Don’t be afraid of failure, we learn the most when things go wrong
5. Teach your staff how to sell your MOJO
6. Change it up once in a while just for the sake of new and exciting

You’ve got MOJO, it’s spectacular, just like Rita’s Chocolate Gelato stuffed with Vanilla Ice Cream.  Next week, let’s place your brand EVERYWHERE!

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in remarkable leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s innovative e leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 610-442-4545 tellkids@aol.com

Daily Briefing, 8/21/2012

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

The Morning Call looks at how federal budget sequestration will possibly impact the Lehigh Valley.  In Lehigh County, 4,000 have appealed their property tax assessment.  Lehigh Valley home sales increased again in July, increasing almost 21% compared to the same time last year.  Contracts talk continue in the Saucon Valley School District between teachers and administrators.  The Express-Times has revamped their website, lehighvalleylive.com.

In national news, Todd Akin of Missouri says he is staying in the U.S. Senate race, despite his extremely controversial comments about "legitimate rape."

We have one Chamber event today: the annual "Build Your Pipeline" event that is being run by our Small Business Council.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Interview: Bernie O'Hare of Lehigh Valley Ramblings

One of the most well-known bloggers in the Lehigh Valley is Bernie O'Hare of Lehigh Valley Ramblings.  I'd make the argument that Bernie was the first real Lehigh Valley blogger.  He's made a pretty serious impact on the local political scene and broken many major news stories before the mainstream media could get them.  He has also generated an incredible amount of controversy.  Anyway, he was nice enough to agree to an interview with us - here it is:
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What made you get into this? 

I always enjoyed writing and have always felt that many local stories go untold as a result of staffing and space constraints in the local newspapers.

You frequently blog about politics and current events.  Do you feel that you are bound by the same ethical obligations as any other journalist?  

Obviously, the most important ethical obligation is to tell the truth. But because they are different forms of media, I believe there should be different ethical standards. A blog, unlike a newspaper, is interactive. People can, and do, tell me when I have something wrong. So I do not feel the same obligation to double source stories. Let me add that bloggers, unlike mainstream journalists, have an impediment. It is more difficult to get people to talk to me, even off the record. In fact, some party wonks have complained about seeing me at news conferences. 

For that matter, do you consider yourself a journalist?

Do you consider Paul Carpenter a "journalist"? Seriously. For years, many so-called journalists have been the gatekeepers who keep people away from information they need to know. Most of the big stories these days are broken by bloggers, while "journalists" are busy writing about American Idol. So I happily consider myself a bottom-feeding blogger, and will be picking through your garbage tomorrow night. Throw me a bone, will 'ya?

 You’ve been very public about some of your fights with elected officials, union leaders and other citizens.  How has this affected your life – positively or negatively?

Let's see. I've received death threats, been sued and have had my car vandalized.  That tells me I'm making a difference.  People who are thin-skinned should probably stay away from blogging. On the bight side, I've been fortunate to break some big stories and make sure that the public knows more than they did before. I've also met some very fascinating people, although most of them run when they see me.

Any advice for a small business owner that is considering making the leap into Social Media?

Yes. If you're in business, try to post regularly. Keep it light. Breezy. Keep the posts short. Be topical if you can. 

From a Social Media perspective, who are some of your role models?  Is there anyone out there that you try to copy?

I think the only way you can be successful is to be yourself. Don't copy. If people don't see it is YOU, they lose interest quickly. 

Daily Briefing, 8/20/2012

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

John Walson, CEO of Service Electric, has died of cancer at 63.  In state-wide news, a new report says that Pennsylvania ranks 48th in the nation in terms of states with toxic air pollution.  In national news, a new report shows that unemployment has increased in 44 states.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a big one: our annual Walla-Gazzo golf tournament.

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Blog Entry - The Olympic Brand: Marketing Change

Hello everyone!  We have a guest blog entry today from Walter Sanders of Sanders Brand Solutions.  Enjoy!
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The Olympic Brand: Marketing Change


Imagine an observer time-transported from the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. to the 2012 Games in London.
Beyond the shock and awe of a modern city, you’d have one very old and confused sports-minded Greek.

All these other things, these crazy other sports, are the key to the relevancy of the Olympic brand.“I remember the big race just before the picnic lunch,” said the old Greek. “That speedy Kostas raced Achilles to the rock and back. Kostas won and Achilles wanted a rematch in four years because he hurt his heel,” smiled the ancient man. “Those were the days! But what are all these other crazy things going on here…what kind of sports are they?”

From Track and Field to Volleyball and Beyond

The ancient games were mostly track and field. The games then faded as the Roman Empire overpowered Greece. But the spirit of the games was kept alive through the history of ancient Greece and the glowing notion of the Olympic ideal in the Western world.
After a hiatus of more than 2,000 years, the “Modern Games” emerged in 1896. They were largely a British re-invention and re-calibration of track and field competition. As theInternational Olympic Committee structure evolved with more nations represented, the Games quickly began to include other events beyond track and field.
That re-invention has only accelerated over the years with events like badminton, basketball, tennis, rowing, and shooting to name just a few. These new sports come and go as market demands change.

Change is the Single Most Important Brand-Building Olympic Strategy

So how have the Olympics built their brand through change?
The IOC is brilliant at framing, leveraging, managing and packaging the primal, human urge to compete into cycles that climax every four years.
The competitions include old standbys like track and field where historic performances are fun and easy to compare.

If the most appealing sports are best played by professionals…then change the rules to allow and welcome professionals to compete.The Modern Games include a constant ebb and flow of new events that reflect changing market interests and growth opportunities.
The IOC is fearless in leveraging changes in technology (especially broadcast technology) which facilitate the delivery of the Games to huge audiences around the world.
The IOC has also created brand extensions like the Winter Olympics, Youth Olympic Games and the Paralympics which serve and attract different markets and cross-season interests.

Goodbye Old Olympic Ideal. Hello New Olympic Marketing Ideal

There aren’t many brands that have their heritage so firmly planted in ancient soil — yet grow in their present and future by pursuing changing markets, attractive performers and new sports.
We all can benefit from the business lesson provided by the International Olympic Committee. The only way to grow your brand is to recognize and embrace change while valuing the core interests of your current and future audiences.

Job Opening - TransBridge

Good morning everyone!  We have one Job Opening to share today - it is listed below.  As always, if you are a Chamber Member and have a job opening to share, please E-mail me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.  Thanks!
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Daily Briefing, 8/17/2012

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

The entire 3rd circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals will hear the appeal of the Easton Area School District's decision to ban "I Love Boobies" bracelets.  In the wake of his arrest for DUI and assaulting his wife, Joe Brennan has been ordered not to contact his wife and kids, while his wife has been granted a protection from abuse order.  Northampton County Council approved a new contract with Gracedale that will save the county $6.6 million.

In national news, the White House is reportedly considering releasing oil from the strategic oil reserve.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blog Interview: Lehigh Valley with Love

There are certainly no shortage of bloggers in the Lehigh Valley, but some certainly stand far above the rest.  One of those blogs is Lehigh Valley With Love, the irreverent blog that makes fun of...umm, everything...run by George Wacker.  George was kind enough to allow us to pick his brain about the success of his blog and his advice to others, and his answers to some questions are below.  Some key takeaways:

  • Have fun with blogging and make it entertaining.
  • Writing style matters.
  • Use Social Media to find content.
  • Don't drive 90mph on the highway, drinking beer and holding a cat out the window.
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How do you find your content?

Usually the same way anyone finds weird stories; I'll check the Internet. However, as the site has gotten larger, I receive tips from friends, readers, and sometimes even newspaper reporters, on some of the crazier stories they read. Twitter is also a great place for someone to shoot you some information on some weird thing they read.
 
Where does your blog traffic come from? 

Originally, I just shared my blog posts with friends who would sometimes share it with their friends, if they thought it was funny enough. After awhile, through people Google searching, and Twitter, and Facebook, the stories just started circulating and people just kept finding them. Right now, most of my traffic comes from online searches, Facebook fans and those who read every day!

How separate do you keep your real world life and your LVwithLove persona? 

Not very well, since I'm answering these questions. I originally started the blog without a byline as a way for people to distance themselves from the author. I wanted readers to just have fun with it and not attribute the content to any one individual, but, instead, the blog itself. After awhile, it just kinda got to be a running joke. I don't try to hide in any way. Well, unless you're trying to find me!
 
And, keep in mind, this is something I do in my spare time that has allowed me to meet a lot of great local people and make some lasting friendships. I have been very lucky in finding a fun niche that people enjoy. It's like having a hobby that people actually want to watch you partake in.
 
Your style is incredibly humorous, irreverent and occasionally vulgar.  Have you ever gotten into any trouble in the real world for how you blog?  Any awkward moments you want to share?

"Trouble" is a relative term. I've had some moments where people have mentioned how I wrote about their cousin or about a friend of theirs and my response is usually, "Well, they shouldn't be doing 90 mph on the highway while drinking a beer and holding a cat out the window." My writing style isn't usually the thing that gets people up in arms. A lot of the time they are just mad that they are in the paper in the first place. And, if they don't want to be there, they should be more prudent. I'm not saying I'm perfect. No way. In fact, I'm very far from it. However, I guess at the end of the day it's all about accountability and the fact that we live in a day and age where people are really interested in the weird news that's around them. It's just human nature in this heavy communication age.
 
Looking at your blog, you’ve got sponsors, so it’s probably safe to assume that you’ve been able to use Social Media to generate some income.  Is this correct, were your sponsors skeptical, and is that something you’ve seen grow over time?

For some advertisers, spending money to be on a website is a no go, unless it's a larger, local website. However, through using Google analytics, I am able to back up the fact that I have around 20,000 unique visitors per month. It doesn't matter if that's coming from the Morning Call or from Judy's Blog on Baking Cookies. If someone is going to come to your site and read it every day, then a business that is on that site is going to get some attention. I definitely had help from some friends early on who advertised with me and gave the site credibility. After that, it was easier for me to go to other businesses and say, "Hey, well Joe Schmoe down the road advertises with me, I must not be THAT bad!" We also incorporate our advertisers in contests, online fun stuff, so, it's a good deal for everyone, I think.
 
Any advice to small businesses that are considering, finally, making the leap into Social Media?

If you haven't already, you're late, but not too late. Just don't think that because you post something online, people are going to notice it. No one, and I mean really no one besides my close friends, read my site for about six or seven months. You have to make a commitment, just like anything you do with a business. Keep it light, keep it fun, keep it conversational and keep it real. People definitely want to hear about your special sale, but they also don't want to feel as though they are talking to a robot.

Daily Briefing, 8/15/2012

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

In Allentown, both the city and its firefighters union are challenging the most recent arbitration ruling on its fire-fighters contract.  Home sales in the Valley jumped a massive 27.1% in July, while average prices also increased 2.6%.

In state-wide news, Penn State has received a warning on its accreditation status as a result of the Sandusky scandal.

In national news, a new report shows that retail sales rose in July, the first such rise in four months.  Immigration policy changes go into effect today; the changes will allow the children of illegal immigrants to apply to legally stay in the U.S.

We have one Chamber event today: the Hispanic Chamber is holding an after-hours fiesta at the Staybridge Suites.

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/14/2012

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

The Bethlehem Area School District has accepted a $1.4 million settlement from JPMorgan over its bond swap deal.  Be careful out there today, as we can expect high humidity and thunderstorms.

In national news, a new report again says that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Republican National Convention.  Marco Rubio will be the one to introduce Mitt Romney before Romney's acceptance speech.

That's it for now - have a good one, and we'll see you later.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to deal with Facebook criticism

If you have a business page on Facebook, you've probably been there: someone says something negative about you or your business on your own business page.  Frustrating, right?  There are absolutely best practices when it comes to handling Facebook criticism, but the pressure is on here, since it's in a public arena - a wrong step can really wind up hurting your brand, your image, and your business.  That being said, handling this right can turn a negative into a positive and help you gain customers.  Here are some thoughts about how to deal with these types of situations.

First, ask yourself an important question: is the customer's complaint legit, and does it seem like they are looking for a resolution?  The answer to these two questions is what should determine the response.

If yes to both
Apologize, publicly, and ask the person to explain what happened (whether or not you do this part publicly is a judgement call about how bad the situation was, but if possible, do so publicly, and you'll see why in a second).  Whatever the situation, offer to remedy it however possible (refund, new product, exchange, etc) and apologize, just as you would in any other situation.  If the person was truly looking for a resolution and not just to whine, they'll likely be very appreciative of your generous offer.  This will be seen publicly and give the impression that you are a company that truly cares about your customers and customer satisfaction; this, of course, can only help your business!

If the complaint is legitimate, but they just wanted to complain and not get their issue resolved
The same as above, but with a slightly different tact.  Instead of trying to resolve the issue publicly, ask the person to send your brand page a message and respond in kind.  Otherwise, handle identically.  This way, when the person keeps complaining (since they aren't looking for a resolution and just want to complain), its being handled privately, not publicly.

If no to both
Delete the post and block the user.  This is particularly true if the user is cursing, making things up, etc.

Anything to add to our recommended approach?  Let us know in the comments!

Daily Briefing, 8/13/2012

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

In local news, Musikfest had its last day yesterday.  In Allentown, some property owners are claiming that they were cut out of the NIZ.  PPL's customers came pretty close to setting an all-time record for electricity demand in July.  In the Slate Belt, Washington Township has voted to oppose police regionalization, but say that they'll continue to be involved in the process.

In national news, the U.S. House of Representatives will be filing a contempt motion in court against Attorney General Eric Holder.  The 2012 Olympic Games concluded yesterday.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest Blog Entry:


Today's Guest Blog Entry comes from the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Cooridor.  The entry largely discusses their upcoming marathon, but makes some very instructive points about how they are making history work for them.  How can you make your business work for you in terms of making your products and services apply to the needs of the general public?

Enjoy!
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There are many ways to experience the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon/Half Marathon—with or without running shoes!

As a non-profit organization, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is always looking to avenues to make history come alive!  With the completion of 10+ miles of trail in 2011, we wanted to build awareness of this beautiful amenity, the D&L Trail.  What did we come up with?  We decided to challenge our residents and visitors to two races; the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon and Half Marathon.  On Sunday November 4th we will once again challenge runners to “Get their Tail on the Trail” for the second annual Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon/Half Marathon

This USATF certified course turns the D&L Towpath Trail and the Rails-to-Trails into fast running tracks.  Run mostly on trails: the D&L, Nor-Bath, Slate Heritage, Bobolink (aka Heritage Heartbreak Hill) and the LNE—this race stands alone its uniqueness.  The course weaves along the cool rushing water of the Lehigh River passing historic remnants and wonderful communities as it makes its way to the finish line in the spectacular Lehigh Gap Nature Preserve.  Marathon runners have one steep hill, Heritage Heartbreak Hill, but once conquered, the view is spectacular!
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The inaugural event sold out weeks before race day with 525 registrations.  Thirteen states were represented and runners had the time of their life.  Many runners sprinted past their personal record! Comments such as  “…a well-run event”, “…great race”, “overall a big thumbs up”, “loved the scenery”, and, “I’ll be back” were running freely.

History doesn’t need to be boring; it can be fun and adventurous.  See for yourselves; you don’t need to be a marathon runner to enjoy the D&L Trail.  Walk, bike, run or jog the beautiful trails which will eventually span from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol.  Along the way, marvel at the historic architecture and sites that have been restored.  Imagine living in a time when the Delaware and Lehigh Canals were the most revolutionary transportation system which fueled the American Industrial Revolution.

We are working hard to make history come alive--join us and start your own memories today!  For additional information how you can register or support the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon/Half Marathon visit our website at www.delawareandlehigh.org/marathon.  



 

Daily Briefing, 8/10/2012

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

Michelle Obama was in Bethlehem yesterday, holding a rally in support of her husband's reelection efforts.  An Express-Times story notes that Bethlehem businesses are again helping to pay to keep Musikfest in downtown.  Nasty weather will be rolling through the area today, so be careful.

In national news, according to a new report, more U.S. flights are arriving on time and the odds of losing your bags are decreasing.

That's it for now!  Have a good one, and we'll see you later.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/9/2012

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

Bill Hansell has been chosen as the new Lehigh County Executive.  The City of Easton voted 6-1 yesterday to enact a commuter tax.  The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners also voted 6-2 to end the bi-county health board.

In national news, new data shows that July was the hottest month ever in the US.

We have one Chamber event today: a joint mixer with the Carbon County Chamber at the Blue Ridge Country Club.

That's it for now!  Have a good one, and we'll see you later.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Job Opening: The Chamber is hiring!!

We are hiring at The Chamber!  Check out the info below for more:
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 MANAGER OF MISSION COUNCILS

General Description
This position is directly accountable to the Vice President of Mission Councils and has specific responsibility for the management of the Young Professionals, LGBT and Hispanic Councils.

Essential duties and responsibilities (other duties may be assigned):
Manages and oversees the three council initiatives and staff assigned thereto.
Manages the activities of the Young Professionals, LGBT and Hispanic Councils of the Chamber toward the attainment of the annual goals.  Supports the Councils in the running of the regular committee meetings, board meetings, maintaining of records and implementation of Council events.
The Manager is responsible for marketing, planning/organizing and successful execution of meetings and events.
Creates and distributes news releases, pertaining to programs and events, and serves as spokesperson when appropriate.
Creates, manages, and reports on budgets of Councils under position responsibility.
Takes a leadership role in representing the Chamber to various community organizations.
Assumes primary staff responsibilities for additional committees assigned to this position and shares staff responsibilities for additional committees as assigned by the Vice President of Mission Councils.
Acts as a staff liaison with other staff members assisting them as needed on programs and projects.
Accepts other duties as assigned by the Vice President of Mission Councils.
Maintains the Hispanic Chamber office location and assists the Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber.
Speaks Spanish.
Physical/work environment:  Employee will be required to sit for extended periods; bend, stand, and sit frequently; and be able to visually review correspondence.  Lifting required is typically less than 25 lbs.

Titles of Positions Directly Supervised by this Position
Vice President of Mission Councils
President

For more information or to submit your resume, contact Danielle Josephs at daniellej@lehighvalleychamber.org.

Grow Your Business: Top ten Olympic Rules

Another day, another Grow Your Business blog entry from Carol at Caroltalks.  This one hits on a timely subject - incorporating the Olympics into your business model.  Enjoy!

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Are you an Olympic business or are you just making ends meet and living week to week hoping and praying for the best?  After watching the Olympics and working with award winning gymnastic hopefuls, I realized there is only one thing they all have in common.  They are all vying for the GOLD.  Not the silver or the bronze; they are training for, focusing on and being driven toward the GOLD. I’ve had the privilege over the last year to work with highly decorated in some cases Olympic bound gymasnists.  I also worked with Miles Avery, award winning coach who lead one of the Hamm twins to victory in 2004 by winning the gold medal in the all-around, by the smallest margin ever.  Their track records are impressive, their love of their sport is unwavering, but at the end of the day every single one of these outstanding competitors have one thing in common.  They are focused on the GOLD, are you?

In business, what is the GOLD medal?  It might be a banner week of sales, it might be celebrating a record breaking idea, or maybe the development of a new product.  Here are my

Top 11 Olympic Rules for your business.

1. Swim like Phelps, defeat is a motivator
2. It’s not all about you, the team will make you successful
3. Ignore the critics
4. Believe in yourself and your product or business
5. Exercise self-control at all times
6. Plan, design a training plan for the future
7. Relax -always take time to chill
8.     Encourage Olympic ideas from your team
9. Appreciate and treasure (customers)  your fans
10. Smile like Missy Franklin
11. Go for the GOLD

Not the silver, not the bronze, GO FOR THE GOLD!

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in remarkable leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s innovative e leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. www.caroltalks.com 610-442-4545

Daily Briefing, 8/8/2012

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

B. Braun has opened an on-site medical clinic at its Hanover Township plant.  Pen Argyl and Wind Gap have voted to move forward with a plan for regional police coverage.  Senator Toomey held a press conference yesterday, attacking proposed regulations that he says would place a significant burden on local cigar suppliers.

In national news, Jared Lee Loughner has plead guilty for killing six and injuring thirteen in Arizona last year, including former Congresswoman Gaby Giffords.  Gas prices are on the rise again, jumping 4% in a week.

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation announces fifth grant round selections

As we've discussed earlier, the Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation seeks to revitalize the main streets and downtowns of the Lehigh Valley.  We do this through a variety of programs and funding opportunities.

We are pleased to announce that a fifth round of grants has been released.  Information on the recipients of the grants is below.  This brings the total of grants funded by the MSLV Foundation to over $190,000 - something that we are very proud to do.
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CHAMBER’S MAIN STREET GRANTS POUR $50,000 TO SUPPORT 
$2 MILLION IN PROJECTS - ON TO EVERY MAIN STREET!

Lehigh Valley, PA – Main Street Lehigh Valley, The Chamber’s Foundation has released its fifth round of grants totaling $50,000 that will impact 29 projects on Main Streets throughout the Lehigh Valley.  From Allentown to Nazareth and from Hellertown to Philipsburg, this unique program funds projects including security cameras, bicycle parking, promotions and streetscape plans. The program will help shore up $2 million for projects across the Valley.

These community revitalization grants are provided in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. This year, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce was able to provide an additional $10,000 to make even more Main Streets projects  a reality.  The grant program is administered through Main Street Lehigh Valley, the Chamber’s charitable arm. Forty-two applications were received this year.

“These grants are the key to revitalizing our Main Streets to make them attractive places to do business, visit, live and play,” said Ann Baum, Chair of the Foundation.

Other projects funded include banners, benches, tables, greening, events and safe, clean and green initiatives. Proposals must address projects that are consistent with the Foundation’s mission: improving every main street in the Lehigh Valley through targeted investments in fa├žade improvements, streetscape designs, sidewalk beautification, and other enhancements to the physical appearance of our downtowns and urban centers.

“When we say we are On Every Main Street - we mean it – not just cheerleaders, but as an organization that delivers much needed dollars to each of our communities,” said Chamber President & CEO Tony Iannelli.

In the first four rounds the grants have helped to fund $2 million in community revitalization projects in 18 municipalities across the Lehigh Valley.  The Main Street Lehigh Valley grant guidelines require that half of the cost of the projects be funded by other community partners to promote public and private investment in Lehigh Valley downtowns and surrounding neighborhoods.
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Copy of Round 5 - Allocations Final

Chamber Intern wanted!

See below for more!
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Government Relations Intern:
The Government Relations Division of the Chamber is the voice of Lehigh Valley businesses in government. We address issues of concern to business on the local, state and federal levels. We take proactive measures to ensure that government considers business objectives and viewpoints. We keep members informed of relevant issues through our newsletters, and committee and council meetings.

The best candidate for this position has a good working knowledge of current Lehigh Valley leaders, legislators and upcoming legislation.  You must display a high level of professionalism, have excellent interpersonal skills and top-notch personal presentation.  Intermediate knowledge of Microsoft Office programs is a must (Word, Excel, etc.) and internet search skills are preferred.

Contact Person:  Melody Gardner, melodyg@lehighvalleychamber.org, Phone: 610-739-3385, Fax: 610-758-9533

Daily Briefing, 8/7/2012

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

In Allentown, with the lawsuits gone, construction on the arena is set to start again shortly.  In Macungie, despite saying he'd resign after an arrest for numerous charges related to public urination, Borough Councilman Lynn Walker did not attend Monday's Borough Council meeting and did not resign.  Michelle Obama will be at Moravian College this Thursday.

In state-wide news, the 2012 elections haven't even been held yet, but Democrats appear to have their first entry into the 2014 gubernatorial race: millionaire Tom Knox yesterday said he was considering another run at the office.

In national news, new fundraising news shows that Mitt Romney and the RNC outraised Barack Obama and the DNC again: $101 million to $75 million.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lightning Safety Tips

I saw this story, front and center in the Morning Call, and it obviously inspired this blog entry.  One person was killed, and nine injured, when lightning hit people in the parking lot at the Pocono Raceway.

Unfortunately, this is something that occurs more often than you might think.  Lightning kills 24,000 across the world every year and injures ten times that many.  In the United States, those numbers are relatively low, with an average of 73 people dying from strikes every year.  Some states have higher rates of lightning strikes than others; Florida leads the pack, far and away, with 1,523 deaths & injuries, though Pennsylvania is third with 644.

Given how close the latest death was, we thought this was timely.  Here are some lightning safety tips - what to do when an electrical storm is coming:

  • Avoid water, high ground, metal objects and open spaces.  Get as low to the ground as possible.
  • If you are outdoors, get in a car if you can.  If you cannot, crouch down with your feet together and stand at least fifteen feet away from other people.
  • If you hear lightning or thunder, stop all outdoor activities for at least thirty minutes.  

Daily Briefing, 8/6/2012

Morning everyone!  Here is today's Daily Briefing.

Michelle Obama will be visiting the Allentown area later this week.  As you undoubtedly noticed yesterday, the Lehigh Valley saw a dose of severe weather last night, with multiple heavy thunderstorms moving through the area.

In national news, a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin yesterday, killing six before being killed himself.  A New York Times notes that the President's spending advantage over Mitt Romney is rapidly shrinking.

We have one Chamber event today: First Monday in downtown Allentown.

And that's it for now - have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

FREE events in August

The Chamber typically has 30-40 events a month, and a good portion of those are completely free.  It's our way of trying to give the Lehigh Valley business community as many events as possible.  As such, here's a list of our free events in August.  For more information on all of our August events, make sure to check out our events calendar.

Daily Briefing, 8/3/2012

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

In Allentown, a bond sale will begin next month to fund the $220 million arena.  A new business survey shows that business confidence is slowly improving in the Valley.  In national news, the July jobs report will be released later today.

That's it for now!  Have a good one, and we'll see you later today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation

One of the best things that we do at this Chamber is run our Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation.  I'd call it our best kept secret, since many are familiar with the programs that it actually operates but not the Foundation itself, and this is absolutely something worth talking about.

The Main Street Lehigh Valley Foundation is a foundation that seeks to raise money to be reinvested in programs and physical improvements in the urban core of the Lehigh Valley.  It raises the money from private and public partners, of which there are several.

The Foundation itself runs a grant program and two Main Street programs:

Community Improvement Grants (CIG):  Operating on a bi-annual basis, the CIG program provides matching grants of up to $2,000 for streetscape improvement, events, urban planning and promotional efforts.  A 50% match is required, ensuring that a grant recipient has multiple partners committed to the success of a project.  To date, 101 grants have been awarded, totaling more than $192,000 in funding that has leveraged an additional $4,300,000 in other funding.  For more information on the grants awarded, see the attached document.  We just made our 5th grant awards and will announce those shortly.

Borough Business Revitalization Program:  The Borough Business Revitalization Program (BBRP) is a regional Main Street program that seeks to revitalize the downtowns of the seven participating Boroughs (Alburtis, Bangor, Bath, Catasauqua Coopersburg, Hellertown and Pen Argyl).   This is a bottom-up program whereby volunteers, elected officials, business and property owners work together to outline the goals of their program and execute projects that fit the need of each participating community.  The coordinator provides technical support, access to resources, and helps to coordinate the volunteer efforts and assist municipal staff.  The program specifically works in five areas:
Improving the physical appearance of each downtown.
Recruiting more businesses while assisting already existing ones.
Promoting each community as a great place to live, work and play.
Ensuring that each community is safe, clean and green.
Creating a sustainable board that can manage the program years into the future.

Hamilton District Main Street Program (HDMSP):  The HDMSP operates in downtown Allentown, from 5th to 12th street, Walnut to Linden Streets.  The HDMSP seeks to revitalize downtown Allentown and concentrates specifically in the areas of Marketing, Asset Development, Design, Safe, Clean & Green and Organizational Development.  Like the BBRP, the HDMSP consists of volunteers, elected officials and local business and property owners that are working towards the revitalization of downtown Allentown.

Check out the video below for more info on the Foundation:

Job Opening

We have one job opening today, this one from our friends at Caregivers of the Lehigh Valley.  As always, if you are a Chamber member and looking to fill a job opening, just shoot an E-mail over to me at mikes@lehighvalleychamber.org.
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Caregivers of the Lehigh Valley is looking for dependable HHA to fill all shifts. Most have dependable transportation.   They will need to have their own transportation and perform the following duites: companionship, light housekeeping, bathing, shopping, errands, meal preperation, etc.  Log on to our website @ http://www.caregiverslv.com/ to print application.  Call (610) 849-2108 to set up interview.

Daily Briefing, 8/2/2012

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

The Lehigh County Commissioners' appointments committee declined to make a recommendation to the full board yesterday on a replacement for Don Cunningham, setting the stage for a Commissioners-wide vote next Wednesday.  John Reynard has been nominated by local Democrats to replace Patrick Slattery on the ballot as the candidate in the 134th Legislative District.

In state-wide news, a Morning Call story notes that Mitt Romney's campaign is not yet advertising on TV in Pennsylvania, though it is in other states, making some question if Romney will compete in Pennsylvania this year.

In national news, more than half of all counties in the United States are officially disaster areas as a result of the worst drought that the country has seen in decades.  According to a Reuters report, President Obama secretly ordered aid to Syrian rebels in the ongoing struggles in that country.  The House of Representatives approved an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts.  The Federal Reserve yesterday acknowledged that the economy had slowed, but took no new action.

We have two Chamber events today: a breakfast seminar with Mayor Pawlowski in Allentown and a Grand Opening at Aamco in Whitehall.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Daily Briefing, 8/1/2012

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

In national news, despite a slowing economy, consumer confidence rose for the first time in five months.  The keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention will be the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro.  The U.S. Postal service is on the verge of defaulting on a $5.5 billion bill on its health care for retirees.

We have one Chamber event today, and its a fun one: our annual Amore Winery Mixer.

And that's it for now!  Have a great day, and we'll see you later.