Category Archives: Technology

How these top tech brands are helping fight terrorism

tech brands fighting terror

When the Obama administration wanted help in countering the success ISIS is having online, they didn’t call the CIA or the Defense Department. They called in the experts – Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Government officials want to be able to monitor and track ISIS communications on the ‘net, and they need answers on the best ways to do that.

While this is not the first time major American brands entered a war, it does signal a sea change in how moderns wars are fought.

In the early days of America’s fight against Fascism in Germany, Italy, and Japan, U.S. companies such as Ford and General Motors turned their factories into productions companies for the war effort. Nowadays, the DOD has its own go-to suppliers, and the war has shifted into new terrain – cyberspace.

ISIS, far from being only a few ignorant Middle Eastern peasants, has done an incredible job using the internet – particularly social media – to connect with sympathizers, recruit fighters, and radicalize others, even in the west. While western coalition forces may be beating ISIS in the field, they are struggling against the radicals’ social media PR efforts.

White House officials expected at the meeting, either in person or by teleconference, include Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The guest list details just how serious the administration is taking this threat.

Officials want to know how they can make it harder for terrorists to use the ‘net to benefit their cause. Tough challenge there.

The second purpose of the meeting and the more important one from a tactical standpoint is how those fighting ISIS can develop and disseminate their own counterprogramming.


Staff Sergeant David Firester

Propaganda has been a part of every war in recorded history. Armies use it to pump up their own troops, discourage the enemy and win the hearts and minds of non-combatants on both sides. There is both an art and a science to propaganda messaging. Sometimes it is as sharp as a scalpel. Other times it is as subtle as tossing a flaming torch into a fireworks factory. Counter terrorism expert David Firester, founder and CEO of TRAC Intelligence, said, “Knowing when, how, and how much to employ each of these tactics is a vital operational necessity. Hopefully, these top tech companies can help the U.S. do a better job”.

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Filed under David Firester, Juda Engelmayer, Media, Technology

Why are iPad Sales Falling

falling ipad sales

Remember when the iPad was the undisputed Future of Computing? Not that long ago, really, but since the summer of 2013, Apple has been on the defensive, trying to explain away plummeting sales and a shifting place in the consumer mind. Even the competition got caught up in mobile madness. Tablets were being advertised toe-to-toe with laptops and notebook computers, daring the larger “bulkier” machines to strike back. Well, apparently the honeymoon is over. At least for the iPad.

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Sony Movie Profit Destroyed by Cyber Attack


Sony was hoping for another comedy hit in their stocking this Christmas. Maybe they will get the box office magic they are expecting from the Seth Rogen – James Franco comedy “The Interview.” But any profit will be mitigated by the fact that they are getting annihilated by a cyber attack that has opened the books of the company in an unprecedented way.

Reporters are saying that “it’s very clear” a nation state has committed this cyber crime. Some tech experts are blaming the Sony hacking scandal on North Korea.

Why would North Korea care about another slapstick yuckfest from these guys? Well, the plot of the movie is simple: Two reporters are hired to interview the head of North Korea. Then the CIA recruits the idiots to kill him. Hijinks, reportedly, ensue.

While most nation states would look at that plot, roll their eyes and get on with life, North Korea is NOT most nation states. First, they are totalitarian in every sense of the word. Next, their leader is not a political official. He is revered as a deity. In fact the current leader, Kim Jong Un, is the third in a theocratic line. Folks over there don’t take too kindly to anyone poking fun at their godlike president.

Of course, all that could be nonsense speculation. Nobody is currently certain who pulled off the worst cyber attack…ever. Well, at least nobody who is talking to the media. Somebody certainly knows. And that somebody could include various nations’ cyber crime organizations.

But that’s neither here nor there, really. The real lesson for everyone here is that you truly don’t know who’s listening in when you do what you do online. Could almost literally be anyone. Including a national government with a chip on its epaulette-bedecked shoulders.

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Bad gets worse for Home Depot Hacking Victims


Unless you and Wilson just got rescued from some South Pacific island, you know about the Home Depot credit card hacking issue. About 56 million credit and debit card numbers were compromised in that incident. The company has nearly weathered that PR storm, coming out, for the most part, unscathed. But now the other shoe has dropped.

Mere weeks from clearing the rubble away from the hacking scandal, Home Depot has announced that more than 53 million customer email addresses were also compromised in that hack. While the company says the emails were in separate files that did not contain passwords or credit card information, the accounts are still in danger of being force-hacked by bots or used in other nefarious ways.

Worse, hackers could use the information to trick unsuspecting email users into revealing personal information because they recognize the sending email. While this might not sound like much of a risk to vigilant email users, the gambit doesn’t involve much risk on the part of the bad guys – and the sheer numbers involved could yield high reward.

But the worst possible news taken from this story is just how mundane and scripted it is becoming. Let’s see if you’ve heard this one before: Large company gets hacked, but “it’s not too bad. Then, “well, it’s worse than we thought.” Weeks pass. “Much worse, really.” More time passes. “And they got all this other stuff too.”

Given the myriad daily attacks on American-based retailers, it should not really be surprising when someone gets compromised. But American consumers should never allow this scenario to become commonplace in their minds. It’s that very nonchalance about mobile and digital security that exacerbates the issue in the first place. You may want to weigh the risk next time someone asks you to sign up for their “rewards” program.

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Facebook Makes an About Face on Profile Privacy

facebookNot long after blocking the profiles of hundreds of users, social media powerhouse Facebook is apologizing – to drag queens. These flamboyant ladies may not be your typical political standard bearers, but they found themselves thrust into the position of being the tip of the sword in the fight for privacy online.

While stage names are considered A-okay for Hollywood A-listers, popular radio personalities, and music superstars, Facebook was accused of targeting transgenders after deleting hundreds of accounts for supposedly violating the real name clause of its user agreement.

The resultant social media uproar was met with sincere apologies from Facebook leadership, who moved quickly to right the acknowledged wrongs. In a released published by the BBC, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said, “I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.”

Subsequently, a planned protest in San Francisco was quickly turned into a celebration. Spokesmen representing transgender groups said it was clear that “Facebook was apologetic and wanted to find solutions so that all of us can be our authentic selves online …”

However, this incident highlights a greater debate concerning both Internet privacy and what people can consider to be their authentic self online. Where is the line exactly, and does that gray area only apply to public figures and professional performers?

Facebook may not have a ready answer, but members of the transgender community whose protest turned into a party certainly do. Mark Snyder, of the Transgender Law Center told the BBC that “judges, social workers, teachers, entertainers, and victims of abuse” were all justified in using aliases.

Apparently, it seems, Facebook is coming around to this point of view. Initially the social media platform required users to keep their given name. Now the company has relaxed its stance, allowing “everyone to use the authentic name they use in real life.”

Next on the agenda: Who decides the meaning of authentic?

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Effective Communication in the Healthcare Industry

healthcare-prOne of the most valued qualities in a job candidate is the ability to speak, listen and write effectively. Organizations that communicate effectively with their internal and external stakeholders benefit in many ways than those that view communication as an internal matter. Effective communication in the healthcare industry encompasses many factors.


This is one of the most important components of good communication. Professionals in the healthcare industry should organize information in a logical, easy-to-understand manner. For example, avoid using technical and medical jargon when relaying information to people who are not in the medical field.


Effective communication in the healthcare industry should be transparent. For example, in a hospital setting, transparency refers to how much information should be revealed about the hospital, its dealings, policies and developments. Honesty and integrity are important elements of effective communication in the healthcare industry because they inspire trust between the industry and its internal and external stakeholders. Transparency in communication also ensures that everyone has the information they require to make the right decisions.


Many factors in the healthcare industry affect people’s lives directly and indirectly. Inaccurate information in research and other factors in the healthcare industry may even lead to loss of lives. Accuracy in communication can be enhanced mainly through research.


The workforce in the healthcare industry is highly diverse. Therefore, the ability to practice sensitivity in communication is highly valued. Sensitivity in communication involves taking account of cultural differences in communication styles and adapting your messages so that they can be well received by your intended audience.

Effective communication in the healthcare industry is a broad field that encompasses many factors. Many companies are now hiring public relations managers to handle their internal and external communication. There are many benefits of hiring Public relations managers to handle communication for businesses in the healthcare industry.

• By hiring public relations managers, you receive experienced professionals who can brainstorm and tell the story of your company in a unique way.

• An external PR firm provides third party objectivity in communication. Effective communication may involve stepping back, assessing the situation and offering fresh ideas and perspectives.

• Public relations managers have the expertise to tailor creative messages that can break through misunderstandings and negative public opinions.

• PR managers have established communication with the media. While internal PR managers may be more passionate about their firms, news coming from them may seem biased and non-credible, which the media may not buy.

• Experienced PR managers work with company spokespeople and teach them how to deliver catchy sound bites, answer tough questions from the media and stick to important messages.

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Filed under Education, Juda Engelmayer, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology

How Oracle founder has enjoyed massive success

It’s official, Larry Ellison is no longer on top at Oracle. There’s no doubt the guy had an impressive – and profitable – run. Now the market, not to mention Oracle’s competitors, are watching developments closely.

The first thing they noticed is that Ellison is definitely not going away. He will remain chairman of Oracle’s board and step into the role of Chief Technology Officer. The CEO title will be shared by Mark Hurd and Sarfra Catz, current presidents at the company.

Ellison has helmed the Oracle on its roller coaster ride since the company was founded in late 1977. Under his leadership, Oracle became one of the world’s largest database software and business software suppliers. In a marketplace that boasts world-renowned brands like Intel, Apple, and Microsoft, Businessweek called Oracle the “backbone of modern commerce.”

At seventy, Ellison was the last of the old guard founding CEOs of these tech giants. Throughout his tenure, Ellison developed a reputation for being media friendly and welcoming PR attention. From his Silicon Valley homestead to all the toys and trappings of wealth to the much-publicized purchase of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, Ellison certainly enjoyed his success. And who can blame him?

He also sponsored a winning America’s Cup team. Not Ellison’s only foray into the world of international sports, he also purchased and successfully rebranded and mass marketed the Indian Wells tennis tournament.

Not that every foray into the spotlight has been so positive. Ellison and Oracle feuded repeatedly with competitor Microsoft. More often than not, Ellison cast himself as the aggressor … and won most of those battles. But rather than being seen as a bully, Ellison was primarily viewed as a flamboyant, but brilliant, businessman. Likeable, despite rarely playing the role of underdog.

The old saw is that people love an underdog. But Ellison’s tale is a clinic in how to play the perennial winner and still come out ahead in business and public relations. Part of his appeal has been his vigorous support for his comrades. He has a history of defending and acclaiming Hurd and Catz, extolling the men and their abilities at every opportunity. The public loves it when the boss stands shoulder to shoulder with his executive staff, and it doesn’t hurt that Ellison knows how to back winners.

Guess it takes one to know one.

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Apple: Where no news is still headline news

apple-product-announcementWell, Apple has done it again. Once more they released a vague statement and received an incredible amount of almost completely free PR. Back in August, Apple began sending out media invitations to a “special event” schedule for September 9. What would it be? They “couldn’t say more.” Of course, “everyone” assumed it would be the release of the new iPhone 6, but the company steadfastly played dumb while everyone lost their minds. Scores of reports across major news networks, segments replaying and dissecting the few actual commercials Apple released, guesses and prognostication and predictions galore. An entire cottage industry of blogs and gurus was created simply to talk about what Apple refused to talk about. How do they do it?

Sure, it’s easy to say they’ve earned it. Apple has been masterful in their PR presentation since Jobs was on the job. Using hype, unique products and a heavy dose of exclusive branding, Apple created a culture of fans by being completely different … but also knowing exactly how to appeal to those they targeted.

The lesson here is in style, not function. It’s about creating anticipation and parlaying that emotion into mad amounts of free publicity.

And anticipation wears many faces. Sure there will be the die-hards who will buy any new toy with an Apple logo on it. But there are many others who are after certain features and benefits that Apple currently doesn’t offer. It’s no secret that Apple is losing market share to Samsung and their deliciously large touchscreens. So, when it came time to start the iPhone rumor mill, one of the first things “leaked” was the projected larger screen. Up to 5.5 inches some said.

That little tidbit ignited a firestorm of conversation. Would it happen? Is it better? Does size really matter? Was it enough? Not enough? Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk…

And then there were the “outsider” predictions. The less obvious bets made by purported technology industry insiders who “knew” months ago that the actual big announcement would be the long anticipated “iWatch.” Apple was more than happy to feed these rumors too.

Then all they had to do was sit back and let the anticipation build.

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Tech Winners Trying to Infiltrate other Industries

technologyWhat do you do when you’re a young adult, and your tech startup has really taken off? Well, some might celebrate having the disposable cash to go party. Others, however, are stepping up to control the party, investing in nightspots across the country. That takes the idiom of “work hard, play harder” to a whole new level.

But what do these, or any other investors need to know about getting into an industry with which they are relatively unfamiliar?

First, you need to lean on people who understand that industry. Sure, having the cash gives you considerable leverage. But if you don’t know when and how to pull that lever, you may end up being one of the innumerable failures in your new industry – whatever that new industry may be.

It also helps if you are monetizing something you already enjoy. Some tech superstars investing in the entertainment and hospitality industries see the practice as little more than an extension of what they are already doing. They like hanging out at a neighborhood bar or doing business across a table at a restaurant, so why not own the place?

And why are tech entrepreneurs getting so good at this? Well, they already have the cash – you can never have enough funding for a startup – and they also have the analytical chops to see both the big picture and the “small stuff” that often dooms solo entrepreneurs.

The lesson here for anyone interested in making it in a new industry? Understanding and adequate capitalization go a long way. It seems like a simple lesson, but it’s one that millions of startups learn the hard way every single year.

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McDonald’s is Having a Tough Summer

mcdonalds-summerFrom Super Size Me to health crusades to flawed product releases and minimum wage battles, McDonald’s has faced its fair share of negative PR in the past. But Ronn Torossian says this summer McDonald’s is facing a very different sort of negative news.

According to Businessweek, McDonald’s has been ordered to pay $27 million in compensation to the families of two dead Texas teens. The judgment comes as a result of guilty verdict that alleged a Houston area McDonald’s of operating with “lax security.”

 The incident in question happened back in February 2012. Denton Ward, an 18-year-old college student, was beaten to death by a mob at that McDonald’s location. His girlfriend, 19-year-old Lauren Crisp, was killed in an accident while trying to get Ward medical attention.

While the single incident may not have prompted such an award, the families’ attorneys argued that the restaurant had a “horrible history,” with over 200 complaints during three previous years. The attorney argued that McDonald’s knew about the issues but failed to act. The jury agreed, though the case will likely go to appeal.

This is a very different sort of negative Food PR that comes on the heels of several recent national issues that have dragged the Golden Arches through the muck. McDonald’s has been on the forefront of the minimum wage and living wage debates for months now, an easy and highly visible target, much like Walmart. In addition, McDonald’s is almost always mentioned when reports are made about the “American diet” or obesity or unhealthy eating practices.

When PR scenarios are coming at you like this, constantly and from different directions, you need a positive PR game plan in place to counter them. But, as this story shows, you also need to be prepared for something horribly different. When the story first ran back in 2012, countless local news stations went looking for the “most dangerous” McDonald’s in their towns. Suddenly, a single tragic series of events took on the feel of a national pandemic.

Now that the verdict is in, expect the cycle to start all over again. McDonald’s may be able to appeal the verdict, but their approach to public opinion is not so easily challenged.

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