The News Chair
  1. Assistive Technology Gets an Upgrade

    March 5, 2015 by Tiffany Whisner

    March is Disability Awareness Month — increasing awareness and promoting independence, integration and inclusion of all people with disabilities.


    According to the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, adults and children with disabilities represent slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population. This is the 25th year for Disability Awareness Month, and Hoosiers who want to make a difference can get involved in activities and events throughout the month.


    I have the privilege of working with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads as one of our clients. And they just recently opened a new technology lab for people with disabilities. From home automation devices and wearable gadgets to robotics, the INDATA Project is making assistive technology accessible and user-friendly for everyone, particularly to those people with disabilities.



    “The big challenge is getting people to realize every device someone without a disability can use for convenience can also be used by someone with a disability to enhance that person’s quality of life and independence,” said Brian Norton, the manager of clinical assistive technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. “Assistive technology can have a profound impact on how a person with a disability interacts with people and their environment, excels in school, and performs in the workplace.”


    INDATA1It was amazing to watch the robots and high-tech devices capture the attention of people who came to the open house as well as the media, who highlighted the new lab on air and through social media. And this technology is available to all — the INDATA Project offers loan-interest loans, funding options and an equipment lending library to Hoosiers with disabilities.


    “We want people to understand assistive technology doesn’t have to be super expensive,” said INDATA Director Wade Wingler. “This technology lab is a great way to show off the best AT in the most approachable and user-friendly way possible.”


    For more information about INDATA, visit



  2. Thirty Years of Bringing the Relationship Home

    February 25, 2015 by Christopher Lloyd


    Earlier this month, Coles Marketing wrapped up work on the 2015 Indianapolis Home Show. It was another year of runaway success, marked by massive attendance and remarkable media coverage. And believe it or not, it was the 31st year Coles has been the public relations agency for the Home Show. It was one of the first clients landed by President Barbara Coles after she started the business.

    Christopher Lloyd

    Christopher Lloyd


    So how does Coles maintain such an impressively long relationship with the Home Show? And how do we keep getting the media to show up in impressive numbers and give the same annual event big play, year in and year out?


    The answer is simple: relationships, prodigious planning and pure hustle.


    Start early

    “The work begins many months before the actual 10-day show,” says Coles Account Manager/Social Media Strategist Tiffany Whisner, one of the firm’s primary point persons on the Indy Home

    Tiffany Whisner

    Tiffany Whisner

    Show. “We keep track of the trending celebrities, both nationally and locally, and begin to brainstorm ideas for certain features and celebrities. We are always trying to think outside the box.”


    Stay in touch

    Coles touches base with local media throughout the calendar year with important news, such as high-profile celebrities who have been booked to appear at the show or the revelation of the builder and plans for next year’s Centerpiece Home.


    Do your homework

    As the event date approaches, the Coles team starts pitching a variety of interviewees, features and highlights to the media outlets to provide them the opportunity to cover many different aspects of the show. That way, each newspaper, TV station or other media feels like they can get their own distinct bite on coverage without treading the same ground.


    Chris Mercier

    Chris Mercier

    “Many members of our staff have worked in the media themselves, so we all have extensive contacts. But most of all, we do our homework, and we treat our media relations colleagues with respect,” said Chris Mercier, Vice President, Public Relations.


    Be prepared

    Right before the show opens, Coles sends out an exhaustive media briefing kit filled with information and interviews on dozens of notable vendors and individuals. This is always accompanied by complimentary tickets for key journalists – plus creative gifts that keep the Home Show top of mind for on-air coverage. (You can never go wrong with flowers or food!)


    Create attention

    “We attempt to grab the media’s attention from the start of the show with the opening day ribbon cutting ceremony and then continue that momentum throughout the 10-day event, with live and taped TV and radio coverage and stories in the local newspapers,” Whisner said. “We tie that into a strong social media presence on several different platforms — making sure media, show vendors and attendees all know the daily happenings at the Home Show.”


    Capture and capitalize the buzz

    In dealing with big celebrities, such as Kathy Ireland or Ty Pennington, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and protected, make sure their transportation arrangements are seamless and they have enough downtime to enjoy the city while they’re here.


    And then, once the Home Show has closed in early February – do it all over again!


    “With a long-term client partnership, a success for them is a success for us,” Whisner said. “We want our clients to be successful as a result of all our efforts, and this is especially true for the Home Show.”


    “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a company grow as a result of our collaboration and efforts,” Mercier said. “These clients trust us to make the best decisions to help them stand out and succeed.”

  3. Social media 101

    January 28, 2015 by Christopher Lloyd

    Most people these days at least know what Facebook and Twitter are. But for the more esoteric aspects of social media, a surprisingly large percentage of professional people — even those in creative and/or marketing fields — don’t know their Vines from their Reddits.

    For them, Laura Hale Brockway has a terrific new primer over at PR Daily to help get anyone up to speed on the 2015 social media/digital scene. A few highlights are below, but make sure to click on the article for the whole thing.

    Creative Commons — a nonprofit corporation that makes it easier to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. It provides free licenses and other legal tools so others can share, remix, or use works (such as photos and videos) commercially.

    Digg — a social news website that enables members to submit and vote on articles. Articles with the most votes appear on the homepage.

    Flickr a social network that enables users to store and share photos online.

    Hangout a service on Google+ with which users can video chat with up to 10 Google+ users.

    Klout a service that measures a user’s social influence by examining that user’s various social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and providing a score on a scale from one to 100.

    Meme content such as a video, link, or email message that is widely spread. The term can also apply to a concept such as a way of telling a joke or a type of video.

    Reddit a social news site that enables users to share, vote and comment on stories.

    Snapchat a photo-sharing service for smartphones. Users send images to a select group of recipients, and after a set amount of time, those photos (“snaps”) stop being viewable.

    Slideshare a social network for sharing presentations and documents that enables users to embed, comment on, and share presentations.

    StumbleUpon a search engine and toolbar that finds and recommends content to users. It gives users the opportunity to discover and rate websites, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests.

    Tumblr a social media website through which users can post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users’ blogs, “reblog” content and “like” posts.

    Vimeo a video sharing service, similar to YouTube. Vimeo user videos are often more artistic, and the service does not allow commercial video content.

    Vine a video sharing service through which users can upload videos no longer than six seconds each. Owned by Twitter.

    Yelp a social network and local search website that provides users with a platform to review, rate, and discuss local businesses and services.


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