from pickett&associates … exploring PR, social media and entrepreneurship

Out of the Way-Back Machine and Into the Future August 19, 2010

Filed under: Social Media,Trend Watch — pickettwrites @ 9:34 am

Not a day passes that I’m not reading about some new nuance to social networking. New sites and mobile apps that will increase our connectivity to community abound. At the same time, I often reflect on those early days of my career as a morning news anchor at a radio station in Evansville – madly typing out the morning’s broadcast on a manual typewriter that sat next to the “AP Wire” machine that spit out reams of paper with the latest news (complete with the loud clacking of actual typing and bells if it was “breaking news”). Yes, it’s a trip in the “way-back machine,” Sherman. (Don’t remember Mr. Peabody and his “Improbable History”? Really? Sigh. Follow the link …)

But I digress. Yesterday, three things made me go, “WOW.”

First, close to home, Center Grove Middle School Central in Johnson County received a $10,000 state grant that funded 20 iPads loaded with 30 applications that will help those English-as-a-second-language students translate classroom work. As one student simply put it, “It helps you with speaking and learning the language.” Aside from the translation apps, students are engaged by the tactile nature of the programs like the “encyclopedia” that allows them a closer look at works of art. Trust me, this is absolutely a glimpse into the future of education.

The iPad translation applications are of particular interest as Pickett&Associates’ client DuoChart will be launching a mobile translation app next month geared toward healthcare professionals and first responders. It’s been extremely exciting to see this awesome concept developed by an Indianapolis entrepreneur that was previously a static hard-copy with an accompanying CD “come to life” with the slide of a finger.

And then there’s Swipely, a site where users can share their purchases. After three-months of beta testing through invitation only, the site shows what you purchased and where you bought it. Along the lines of “Yelp,” it’s a chance for consumers to share their shopping experience. “Prize badges” awarded for using the site are tied back to the retailers as “reward points” for consumers. TMI? Maybe … but also a way for retailers to connect to consumers.

Yes, I know Facebook announced its own Foursquare-style location features yesterday, dubbed Places. In addition there’s Shopkick that launched yesterday as an iPhone app. This is a little creepy … reminiscent of “1984” (the book, not the year) and big brother (from the Orwell classic, not the TV show). When users have the app open in a store, Shopkick’s technology will check in customers, uploading a menu of discounts and offers. So much for window shopping and browsing. Nonetheless, both Best Buy and Macy’s will be rolling it out in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

And that’s the Thursday tech round-up. Hey, I’d love to hear about YOUR new favorite “app,” tech gadget or social site! Please SHARE!

Already enjoyed early morning yoga and ready for another full day. OOOOhhhhhmmmm.


Embracing “A & E” July 22, 2010

Filed under: Trend Watch — pickettwrites @ 12:46 pm

I received a note from a former vendor yesterday, excited to hear of my recent undertaking and wishing me well.

She, too, has had her share of challenges, but has a magnificent attitude. Her words of wisdom: “ … a lot of this+that / overall hanging in there / + acquired a couple of new accounts! … however, nothing is as it use to be and nor will it ever be … need to embrace: A & E (adapt or else )   :)”

It’s a reality with which thousands of American struggle … finding themselves unceremoniously downsized, possibly at an age when being rehired is virtually impossible, a little “re-invention” of oneself is inevitable.

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity report indicates that more entrepreneurs launched new businesses in 2009 than at any other time in the past 14 years; the Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ job market index revealed that 8.7 percent of job seekers gained employment by starting their own businesses in second quarter 2009.

What areas of industry are ripe for success and prime for the “re-inventors?” Entrepreneur magazine’s annual “trend list” provide some interesting insight into areas that may prove fertile ground for newly launched businesses. They include:

The green industry: The sector swiped 27 percent of all investment dollars in the third quarter–that’s $1.6 billion.

The senior market: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the aging-services industry, composed of home healthcare, elderly and disabled services and community care facilities for the elderly, make up three of the top 10 industries with the fastest employment growth.

Resale: The National Association of Resale Professionals reports that secondhand stores had an average 31 percent increase in business.

Locally grown: Nearly 60 percent of consumers say they try to shop at a farmers market … answering that trend, almost 5,000 farmers markets have sprung up across the country during the last five years.

Parental outsourcing: Revenue for tutoring, test prep and driving schools is expected to increase $100 million, to more than $7 billion in 2010; sports coaching expects a 4 percent increase.

Health and wellness: Healthcare and social assistance topped the industry growth charts this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with second quarter revenue of $452.5 billion, up 3 percent from the previous quarter. Home care was the No. 1 growing industry from 2004 to 2009, averaging yearly increases of more than 7 percent, according to IbisWorld.

Pets: The American Pet Products Association revealed total pet spending in 2008 topped a whopping $43 billion. The forecast for 2009 was $45.4 billion.

Something for you to contemplate on this Thursday as I prepare for two meetings, finalize my logo (I’m SO excited for “the reveal”) and pose for my new “head shot” with my favorite photographer. With a nod to the ‘80s … “The future’s so bright, I gotta’ wear shades!”