Archive for October, 2015

“The Optimistic Workplace” Shows Managing Happiness is Part of Your Job

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

optimistic bookAs stated in “The Optimistic Workplace: Creating an Environment That Energizes Everyone” the mission of the book is two-fold. The first “is to show that work can be a source of fulfillment, joy and happiness.”

The second is to show that creating happy human beings leads to a better business.

Sounds like an impossible mission? Not according to Shawn Murphy. Murphy, an organizational development consultant, believes that happiness is within the reach of every single business. The path, his book explains, starts from an unlikely place. It starts, Murphy argues, with management.

What “The Optimistic Workplace” is About

Dealing with staff, time sheets, and keeping the office running smoothly rarely creates a feeling of optimism. Yet that is the mindset that “The Optimistic Workplace” wants to challenge. Murphy writes that, under the right conditions, every work environment has the capacity to encourage and foster happiness.

Work environments, according to Murphy, have suffered from an antiquated and authoritarian management paradigm that only focuses on getting results. In this kind of environment, creating a happy workplace is an afterthought. That approach, however, has come back to haunt a lot of managers. Research has shown that businesses suffer from decreasing productivity, declining morale, and increasing dissatisfaction (a.k.a. the “I’m only here for the paycheck” syndrome) among employees.

Instead, “The Optimistic Workplace” focuses on helping managers actively create a positive, collaborative environment that focuses more on employee happiness than has been traditional in business. The book features a plethora of insights, based on psychological research, which demonstrate that happy employees are also more productive. The research goes on to suggest that fostering happiness in your employees doesn’t always require giving them a raise or a bonus. It could be as simple as giving a compliment, entrusting them with a challenging project or asking for their input.

What Murphy is trying to push managers (and ultimately society) to do is question the core beliefs about work and happiness. It should be common practice, according to Murphy, not an exception, for employees to be made to feel that they matter in the workplace. Work should be a place of innovation, not unnecessary limits.

The shift Murphy is looking for begins when managers step up to the challenge of transforming our words and actions with the employees that work with them. It continues when that shift becomes a way of life for all of us.

What Was Best About This Book

The best part of “The Optimistic Workplace” is the book’s focus on more than the “You need happy employees” message that can be found in other books. It provides more research and a deeper analysis of what goes into creating a happier workplace.

The book also challenges readers to go beyond traditionally accepted beliefs and management practices. For example, research discussed in “The Optimistic Workplace” showed that ostracism was actually more harmful than bullying. How many of us would have thought the opposite? This kind of challenge to a reader’s thinking is exactly what the author needs to inspire change.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The book places a lot more attention on the extremes in the case studies. The book talks about big companies, like Bamboo HR and others, who have larger resources than the typical reader. This can lead to the perception that only companies with big pockets are the only ones that can afford to create change. The book attempts this, but could do it better with case studies and advice geared to the small businesses.

Why Read This Book

“The Optimistic Workplace” provides a more detailed discussion to the “How do we improve employee morale?” question. This book goes further than the typical employee appreciation book, however, and challenges managers to create and actively maintain a positive over the long term rather than short-term moments.

The book provides more of the research behind what it takes to maintain a productive work environment, which sometimes contradicts traditional beliefs about work and happiness. Examining these key beliefs can be crucial to improving employee morale and loyalty over the long term.

About the Author

Shawn Murphy ( an author,speaker, Huffington post blogger, CEO and founder of Switch and Shift, an organizational transformation consulting company.

This article, ““The Optimistic Workplace” Shows Managing Happiness is Part of Your Job” was first published on Small Business Trends


Wreckage of Crashed Russian Airplane Found in Egypt

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

Wreckage of the Russian airplane, which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on Saturday, has reportedly been found near the al-Arish airport.

According to Egyptian officials, most of the 224 people on board are likely to have died, the BBC reports.

The aircraft operated by Kogalymavia aircraft was conducting a scheduled charter flight between the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and Saint Petersburg when it disappeared from the radars shortly after take-off.

According to live flight tracking service Flight Radar 24, the Airbus A-321 was descending with about 1500 metres per minute just before signal was lost.

Among the people on board were 217 passengers including 17 children and 7 crew members.

Most of the 217 passengers were Russian tourists.

Information on the crash was confirmed by the office of Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail.

Ismail has formed a crisis committee to deal with the crash, with at least 40 ambulances reportedly sent to the site of the crash.

The airplane failed to make scheduled contact with Cyprus air traffic control in Larnaca 23 minutes after take-off.

The causes of the incident have not been established yet, but there were reports of bad weather conditions in the region.

Speculations that the airplane was downed by Islamic militants, who are active in the Sinai peninsula, are expected.

However it is unlikely that the airplane was struck from the ground as it was traveling at 9500 metres when it went missing from radar screens.


Russian Airplane Reportedly Crashes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

A Russian airplane carrying more than 200 people on board has reportedly crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday.

The information on the crash has been confirmed by the office of the Egyptian Prime Minister, the BBC reports.

The airplane of Kogalymavia airline was conducting flight 92-68 from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg.

The Airbus A-321 had just taken off from the Red Sea resort when it went missing from the radars.

There were conflicting reports about the fate of the plane, some suggesting it had disappeared above Cyprus as it had failed to contact Larnaca.

According to the latest reports, there were 217 passengers and seven crew members on board.

Most of the passengers are said to be Russian tourists.


Russian Airplane Reportedly Crashes in Central Sinai

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

A Russian airplane carrying more than 200 people on board has reportedly crashed in central Sinai.

The information has been confirmed by the office of the Egyptian Prime Minister, the BBC reports.

The airplane had just taken off from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to Saint Petersburg.

There are conflicting reports about the fate of the plane, some suggesting it had disappeared over Cyprus.

According to the latest reports, there were 217 passengers and seven crew members on board.


Bucharest Blast Leaves Dozens Dead

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

At least 26 people have lost their lives after an fire and an explosion in a disco club in Bucharest, Romania.

Another 145 have been taken to hospital, Agerpres agency quotes the head of the Interior Ministry’s emergency situations department, Raed Arafat, as saying.

The agency attributes the fire to “pyrotechnic effects” during a live performance of the band Goodbye to Gravity.

Between 300 and 400 people were attending the event when a fire broke out before the band’s concert. 11 fire-fighter units, 29 ambulance units, and two from intensive care arrived at the scene of the incident, with emergency medial teams trying to save some of the victims’ lives.

Al Jazeera quotes a Romanian journalist as saying “many of the people involved weere foreigners who did not speak Romanian.”


Small-cap Week, October 31

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Contract delay pulls down Chemring; Nakama, Bango, and Quantum Pharma featured

What Target Can Teach You About Interactive Video

Friday, October 30th, 2015

target interactive video epic 360 halloween

Halloween is almost here and with it is the likely onslaught of marketing aimed at converting customers in a way that stands out but is still in keeping with the season.

This year, Target is celebrating Halloween with a series of YouTube interactive videos and a mobile app that helps trick-or-treaters’ parents find the best houses.

Last year, the retailer ran an Instagram campaign — Halloween Hills — for the holiday. But this year, Target decided to use a channel from which customers receive inspiration for making costumes, decorations and recipes.

The YouTube series of videos called the “The House on Hallow Hill” was created in-house and includes six videos that use 360-degree technology.

The interactive video kicks off with a typical suburban trick-or-treating evening including costume-wearing kids chattering and running around the streets in excitement. The focus quickly shifts to a creepy-looking mansion — The House on Hallow Hill. A raven apparently steals your phone and you have to get into the house to retrieve it.

Once inside the house, YouTube cards pop up allowing you to explore four scenarios :The Candy Carnival, Dinner with Ghosts, The Ghoulish Graveyard, or Day of the Dead. All are in 360-degree video across mobile, desktop and tablet. At any stage you can stop to “shop the room” for decorations or costumes by simply clicking the ‘i’ button in the top right corner.

You will also receive a 10 percent shopping discount at the end of the interactive video.

“We know that Halloween is an important time of year for our guests,” Angie Thompson, social media PR manager at Target said in a PRWEEK article. “We also know based on our research that there’s a lot of social conversation happening around Halloween several weeks leading up to the day.”

Target is promoting the interactive video campaign using social media channels, including Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The retailer’s Instagram photo about the YouTube campaign is its second-most-engaged post in the last six months, said Thompson.

Besides the interactive virtual reality series, Target has also launched Treatster — a social media platform created by agency 360i. The platform aims to crowdsource information from parents, helping them to map out the “must-visit” houses on each block for their trick-or-treaters. This would include ones with funkiest costumes, spookiest decorations and of course, best candy!

A couple of companies such as Old Spice and Wendy’s are already using the interactive “choose your own adventure” experience to advertise and sell their products. As a small business owner, you could use interactive videos to engage more with your audience instead of just exposing them to passive video content, too.

YouTube currently offers the best interactive user experience because it uses clickable video overlays that other sites currently lack.

Image: Target/YouTube

This article, “What Target Can Teach You About Interactive Video” was first published on Small Business Trends


Things can get worse for renewable energy

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Unanticipated government action stalk companies in the sector, says John Dizard

28 Ways To Get Your Business Media Attention

Friday, October 30th, 2015

get your business in the media

An important part of marketing a small business should be gaining press coverage. But attracting media attention can be an art in itself.

Journalists like me get pitched every day, often multiple times a day.  With so much coming at us, we journalists have to make quick decisions upon seeing an email or press release.

Fortunately, there are some battle tested ways to get your brand in front of the media. Here are 28 ways to get media coverage for your business.

How to Get Your Business in the Media

1. Know What The Media Outlet Covers

The biggest problem with most media pitches is that they are mismatched with what the publication, show or individual journalist covers.

Every media outlet has a style all its own based on its audience. Even if they cover the same news, different media outlets will cover it from different angles.  Journalists may have specific “beats.” So not only does your news have to match, but your angle has to match, too. You can only learn these nuances by reading, watching or listening to the media outlet repeatedly.

2.  Choose Email Over Phone

Today, media pitches should go through email.  Avoid the temptation to call, unless you have a very specific question.  Voicemails take more time to listen to, and can be hard to forward to the right person. Busy editors will simply hit the delete key on their phone if faced with a long voicemail with garbled words.

3. Reach the Right Person

Part of a PR pro’s value is in finding the right person. Even here at Small Business Trends we have multiple editors and writers.  An email to one won’t necessarily be seen by anyone else.

Or go through the main contact form. Media outlets may use help desk software that routes communications to the right place based on drop-down menus or certain words in the message.

4. Target Regular Features

Does the media outlet have a regular feature? You can practically schedule your story to run in a print or online publication if you spend a little time to discover regular features where your company’s story would be a perfect fit. Media outlets are always looking for subjects for these regular features. Search for editorial calendars, or follow their Twitter feed to spot recurring features.

And be sure to follow any instructions for that feature. For instance, here at Small Business Trends we do a weekly small business spotlight. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother to look at the Contact page for how to submit a business for consideration.  Instead, they send around general email pitches. In all likelihood their email is never seen by the editor responsible for that feature.

5. Let Them Know You’re an Expert

Every three months send an email indicating you are an expert and available for media interviews. Being quoted gets you and your business recognized in your field. Editors sometimes save these emails if they should need a source. Also, create a page on your website that identifies you as an expert on certain topics, so editors can find you through Google.

6. Be Easy to Reach

Nothing is more frustrating than an expert source who is hard to reach for an interview. Journalists work under tight deadlines. Be easy to reach by phone. Put a phone number on your website for media inquiries. Return calls immediately. Oh, and if you’re working with a PR pro, you need to respond to your PR rep who is trying to set up the interview for you.  I’ve lost track of how many times PR reps say two days later they still can’t reach their client! If you’re not easy to reach, you won’t be contacted a second time by that journalist or media outlet.

7. Create a Resource Center for Media

Make it easy on media to cover your business.  Create a media page where the press can easily grab your logo in color and black-and-white, screenshots, images of your top products, and headshots of key executives. Include high resolution versions. Also, include basic facts and figures about your business. Remember, if your business is not a main part of the story, the editor may decide to cut out your business completely rather than hold up the entire story for one missing piece of information.

get your business in the media

8. Tweet @ Them

Twitter is great for making connections with journalists.  Follow journalists on Twitter.  And tweet at them if you have something relevant to say, by including their @handle in your tightly crafted pitch tweet. If they’re mobile-savvy reporters, they’ll likely get a notification on their phones. Knowing that, you definitely don’t want to overdo this.

9. Newsjack

Inserting your business into a breaking news situation — albeit indirectly — can have great (or disastrous) effects. There are low-key ways of newsjacking, though. Think, if there’s an unbreakable heat wave and you run an HVAC business, it’d be a perfect time to lend an expert voice to any news story.

9. Take Advantage of Freebies

A lot of news and trade news websites offer free events calendars or free listings of resources. Get any special events or information on these listings.

News outlets hosting these listings are usually following them in case they need to fill news and feature holes in their coverage. A well-written and comprehensive listing of yours may grab their attention and lead to a story.

get your business in the media 2

10. Invite the Media to Your Special Events

Never forget to invite the media to any special event you’re hosting. Customer appreciation day, company anniversary — whatever. Give them easy access and always remind the press that you’re available to speak to them on any press release you issue. At an event, hold special times where you can address the press or they can ask you questions and get information.

11. Engage on Facebook

Find media with active Facebook Pages.  Share their stories. Comment on their Facebook posts. At the very least, you’ll get some attention from their audience. It’s also a good way to get the outlet’s attention. Remember, a lot of reporters have their own Pages, too. Be sure to Like and engage there, too. It’s a great way to get attention.

12. Start With Blogs of Media Outlets

Some outlets have outlets of their own. For example, TV stations and newspapers often have blogs on their websites.  While it may be difficult to get your business in the New York Times right out of the gate, perhaps you can get covered in one of their blogs by connecting with the bloggers.  And you can still technically say you were covered on the New York Times website. 

13. Create Your Media Short List

Maintain your own updated roster of media outlets, reporters, and other contacts in the media industry. Break the lists down to include lists of local and regional sources and another that is industry specific.  And write notes so you remember details about how to reach certain people or stories they tend to cover.


get your business in the media 3

14. Offer Exclusives (Sometimes)

If you operate your business in a competitive news market, offering an exclusive to one outlet may be a benefit. Press outlets in competition with each other are always looking for ways to get a leg up.

Be careful, though. This plan could backfire and those you didn’t offer the exclusive to may feel jilted.

15. Don’t Brag About Other News Outlets Covering Your News

Would you invite people to a dinner party and tell them you’re serving leftovers from the dinner party the night before? Don’t send a pitch email that brags about all the important news outlets that have already covered your news. It’s like telling the recipient he or she is second string.

16. Attend Community Events Where the Press May Be Present

Local small businesses do wonders for themselves simply by not being a stranger. Attend local community events. Set up a booth. The press is usually at these events and being there is a good chance to acquaint yourselves with them and vice versa.

get your business in the media 4

17. Offer Review Products But Not Gifts

For companies with products: get to know the journalists who do product reviews. Contact them and offer a demo, trial or temporary review copy of your products. Do not offer free products or send gifts to journalists, however, as that could violate ethics rules of their employers.

18. Create a “Complete” Press Release

A press release today should include everything a reporter would need to write or produce a story about your business. This includes your logo, product images, screenshots, executive headshots, videos, links to online demos or free trials, and social media profile links. Also, provide facts and figures about your company including how many customers you serve, your markets, and where you have offices. The more complete your package, the more likely you are to get coverage.

19. Send Bulky Mail

Sometimes snail mailing a package with an inexpensive swag item and a personal note helps build relationships with journalists. Do not send anything expensive. Many media outlets have ethics rules prohibiting journalists from accepting items of value. But a branded thumb drive that costs $2 or a small branded notepad, along with a personal note, could be memorable without crossing the line.

20. Be Philanthropic

Be a benefit to your community, especially in times of need. Help organize or contribute to charitable drives. Get your name and your business’s name out in the community attached to something other than your business. When the press covers these charities, they’ll often mention who’s involved in helping. Getting your name on that list gets the media’s attention — and the community’s, too.

get your business in the media 6

21. Be a Resource Even After Your Story is Covered

If you’ve gotten coverage from a specific media outlet or reporter, stay connected with them. Reporters love knowing they can rely on someone as a source. Drop an occasional email with updates about your business and let them know you’re always available as a source of information.

22. Avoid Buzzwords and Tech Jargon

Every business has words and terminology specific to them. But most times, no one else really understands these buzzwords or wants to hear them. It’s hard for journalists to write about your new tech product if they don’t even understand what it is or does. Use plain language that clearly explains it.

23. Use Bullet Points in Pitches

The media loves information that’s easy to digest. Pitch your story with some quick-hit data and facts that can be easily consumed by the audience. Use stats — but not too many — and quick tidbits in bullets to get your points across.

24. Don’t Overhype

Creating a false sense of urgency won’t get you much attention. Like the boy who cried wolf, over-hyping a story could cost you credibility in the future.

get your business in the media 5

25. Never Harangue Reporters

There’s a line between being a go-getter and an annoyance. It may be the wrong timing for your story or there may be some other reason for lack of response by the journalist. Don’t cost yourself an opportunity for coverage in the future by being pushy or obnoxious about your current pitch.

26. Do Something Unique

The media is always out looking for something unique. Make a statement via your brand. It could be a one-of-a-kind unique product you’ve created or have in stock, a vibrant new shade of paint on the outside of your store — anything that gets your business to stand out from the crowd.  And here’s the important part: be able to clearly articulate what is different. Don’t assume a journalist will get it, if you don’t point it out and state it clearly.

27. Create Research

The media is always looking for facts and statistics. If you collect any data in your business or have observations about facts and figures in your industry, compile it into a research report or index. Update it monthly or quarterly, and issue a press release around it. One of the ways that Barbara Corcoran, the multimillionaire investor on Shark Tank, got publicity for her business early on was through compiling statistics into the Corcoran Report about New York real estate.

28. Give a Shout-Out

When a media outlet gives your business attention, acknowledge it on your site. Designate a press page to collect these references. Share stories on social media, too. While journalists don’t expect thanks from you, remember that the media outlet’s management may want to know that a story made an impact when they decide what to cover in the future.

Media, Newsjacking, Invitation, Exclusive, Demo, Number, Annoyed Images via Shutterstock

This article, “28 Ways To Get Your Business Media Attention” was first published on Small Business Trends


Bulgarian PM: Energy Is Only Risk for Gov’t

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Energy is “the only risk for the government,” against the backdrop of other sectors where a clear program and strategy are being applied, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said.

In an interview with public broadcaster BNT, Borisov underscored the BGN 3.8 B deficit in the sector, reminding it had been “inherited” from previous governments who had embarked on large-scale projects. 

His comments on energy followed a question about his move to dismiss Deputy Energy Minister Anton Pavlov earlier on Friday. Borisov then explained he was not satisfied with his work.

Commenting on local elections in Bulgaria and the cyber attack that hit the database of election authorities, he said: “As a ruling party we also bear responsibility for holding the elections. It was a heavy blow to us.”

On another development – the post-election chaos with hundreds of people trapped inside a sports hall where ballots were being counted – he said election officials were to blame. Earlier on Friday, he asked Delyana Ivanova, the head of the municipal election commission in Sofia, to step down. He later told BNT the right decision had been that “whomever we appointed there [to the commission], we should remove them. I don’t even know her name.” Ivanova was appointed as part of GERB’s quota to election bodies.

Asked about the latest series of incidents with nationalist Ataka party’s leader, Volen Siderov, he said Siderov had behaved normally the last time they met ten days earlier. “I hope he’ll recover”.

He also embraced the idea put forward by members of his GERB party of partially lifting lawmakers’ immunity in light of Siderov’s actions and the need to act more swiftly against criminal offenses done by MPs.

“The Prime Minister has no immunity, ministers have no immunity. Our job isn’t easy, it’s difficult, but we do it without immunity.” Bulgaria’s society will feel relief if lawmakers acting improperly outside Parliament are subject to legal sanctions.

About the attack against former undercover agent Alexei Petrov, in which two grenade launchers were used against his car in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, Borisov said:

“I’ve known him [Alexei Petrov] for 35 years, I know he is the best expert. If he is watching this now, I call him… to tell if he knows something.”

Petrov, a formerly a secret agent with counter-intelligence and part of the Specialized Squad for Combating Terrorism, was an associate to Borisov in a private security firm back in the 1990s.

Pointing to the importance of Maritsa Mortorway’s completion on Thursday, he voiced his hope to have the respective motorways to Serbia (Sofia-Belgrade) and to Greece ready over the course of a few years, but also to finish work at Hemus, a major thoroughfare in Northern Bulgaria linking Sofia and Varna, by the end of next year.

Borisov also commented on a recent spat with Russia that followed his remarks about Bulgaria having halted a number of Russian projects, apparently to the benefit of the United States. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov then retorted Bulgaria’s head of government should be ashamed before his voters.

“Lavrov is the best diplomat in the world at the moment, in my opinion. But he made several mistakes.”

“Lavrov, tiny as I am in his eyes, I can at least annoy him a little.”

Syria was also broached in the interview, with Borisov reiterating the government’s calls on Europe to back Turkey in its idea to set up a safe zone in Syria.

“This is the viable [solution to the migrant crisis]. Not that I’ve come up with it. I put it forward [at EU summits] every time. What is more plausible: that [migrants] stay near [Syria’s] border and return if the war ends? Why should one bring them to Berlin and then send them back?”

A reference was also made to what the MP apparently believes is the essence of the Syria crisis: “It [Syria] was a thriving state, almost like Bulgaria. We imported democracy for them [Syrians] and razed it to the ground.”



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