Disrupting life….with technology

I have rarely visited McDonald’s in the last two years since changing my eating preferences. So when I pulled up to one on an early afternoon for a very quick lunch break, I took one look at the double drive through and dreaded the line inside. I figured paarking would have to be quicker than sitting in 100 degree weather outside, so I ran in. To my surprise, there was no line. Only a few people waiting on the other side for their orders. Instead, I was met with two very large, very modern, two-sided touch screens asking me for my order! The simplicity of the design allowed me to order and pay for my meal with just a touch of a few buttons.

McDonald’s Self Ordering Kiosk (Wall Street Journal,  Kevin Hagen)

I remember growing up, we used to watch The Jetsons while fantasizing about cars flying in the air, and technology that took the place of people. With every advancement of techonology and science, it seems that robots truly are making their way into the workforce. But at what cost? After leaving with my order, to which I only had to speak to the associate to say, “thank you,” I had questions. How has the world been disrupted by……technology?

Airbnbs………alternatives to hotels
Rideshares (uber, lyft)………alternatives to traditional taxis
Food delivery services (uber eats, grub hub, etc.)………..alternatives to traditional pizza/chinese delivery
Grammarly…….alternative to any grammar book/manual
Social media…….alternative to letters, phone calls, house visits
Cloud photo storage…….alternative to physical photo albums

The advancement of science and integration of communication and technology surely have its benefits. Yet, there needs to be balance. We cannot expect children, or people with disabilities to improve communication skills if they rarely have the opportunity to verbally interact with others. In the highschool setting, teachers take students with autism to their local McDonalds to practice speaking to people in a social setting, and ordering food. Yes, there are assistive technology devices that can speak for them, but to help strengthen their independence, they are taught how to use their own words. What happens when a student goes there and there is not a physical body to speak to? What will happen with the next generations’ ability to cope, or engage socially with others? Their abilities to have a formal or informal conversation?

While I appreciate the added benefits of technology, and its convenience, I also urge myself and others to never forget the basics.

Disruptive technology can also be seen in more complex forms, such as the cars we drive, advanced prosthetics, and 3d printing.

For further reading, please click the links below:

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Newspapers’ Deadly Path to Oblivion

How many of you still subscribe to a local or national newspaper? Sadly, I no longer get a newspaper delivered to my door. I miss the whole experience of seeing it there on the porch every morning, I miss the feel and aroma of the newsprint. I especially miss the moment I open the first page with my cup of coffee by my side. Wait, no! that was never me. I think I would like to savor an experience like that, but even though one of my past favorite Professors told me many times, if you read anything throughout your life please read the New York Times or Wall Street Journal daily!

Well, I’d buy a NY Times once a week or so and when I got organized, I subscribed off and on. But now, it is so easy to catch up on the news via social media that I fear the deadly decline of this print phenomenon called the local newspaper is on its way. This Summer, I had an eye opening experience. Unfortunately, my Father passed away. He was the “Big guy” in our family. He was everyone’s rock. A few of us took some time to write a few things about my dad for the local newspaper. What surprised me, was how expensive it is to place an obituary in the local newspaper. We were happy with what we wrote and we slimmed it down as much as we thought appropriate.

While the submission process was really easy and fret free, the cost was a huge shocker. Our slimmed down version came to over 1K. Thankfully, the family said it was a go so we sent it in. My fear here, is that this age old tradition of memorializing a loved one in the form of a newspaper obituary is slowly dying, or at least becoming unaffordable. Let’s hope that with all the new ways of doing things in this communication driven era, we will find a way for this age old tradition to live on. In memory of my Dad, Phil “The Greek” I love you!


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Marketing Practices to Build a Culture of Belonging

Some of you might have only viewed the blogposts we had to do as required assignments. I regarded them as opportunities. I was permitted to provide two informational posts and I was allowed to be creative. How awesome is that? I enjoyed the blogpost portion of this course so much that I am submitting a third one that is short, but informative.

Did you know that marketing practices can be used to build a culture of belonging in police organizations? It’s true! Jonah Berger’s book Contagious, illustrates that some products are frequently mentioned because of triggers that are based off other products. “By acting as reminders, triggers not only get people talking, they keep them talking. Top of the mid means tip of the tongue” (Berger, 2016). Environmental input, also known as triggers, drives emotion and creates beliefs, and associates feelings with specific circumstances. That is how triggers work, but the trick is using the constructs of marketing to associate new beliefs systems that surrounding a diverse workforce.

Police officers receive extensive training on implicit bias and racial profiling. Law enforcement agencies that have explicitly used poor judgment regarding acts of racism have been publicly shamed and punished. Police departments are providing diversity, equity, and inclusion training to officers, but there are still repeated instances of racially motivated acts of inequality. I personally have received an enormous amount of training and have noticed one commonality. The training is often reactive to current events and comes across as a punitive lecture. Additionally, the training is often related to public interactions and not internal systems and structures. The training materials and resources are limited when it comes to creating and sustaining a diverse workforce. There are several police agencies that have conducted exhaustive recruiting and onboarding efforts to hire female and minority police officers, but little is done to change organizational values to create a culture of belonging. Why hire a diverse workforce if the organizational culture does not want them? It is no shock that retention remains an issue.

When minorities are hired, they are sometimes viewed as “tokens” and their leadership development ladder is short and does not reach the top. The only way to stop tokenism beliefs is to broaden the diversity in the organization. I have attached a YouTube link to a relevant video and I hope you have the opportunity to watch it (The video has some minor profanity to drive a point in it).

Very respectfully,


Berger, J. (2016). Contagious: Why things catch on. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

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Consumer Confidence in a World of Data Breaches

Technology has played a role in every aspect of life, since the dawn of man. We’ve come pretty far from cavemen learning how to create a wheel out of stone, but almost daily, there’s some new form of technology that we adapt to. Despite heightened knowledge of how we use technology as the human race, there are still things that we don’t understand about it and quite frankly, it can be terribly flawed. In fact, the slightest loophole can put millions of people at risk from their identity and finances, to their entire livelihood.

Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated in executing massive data breaches. Most recently, Capital One, a major financial institution was hacked on July 29. Surprisingly enough, the hacker was actually an unsophisticated amateur, yet suspect Paige Thompson stole over 100 million financial records, exposing a major flaw in cyber-security.

Well, I’ll take that back, Thompson had some experience with cloud computing (which happened to be the method she took to hack Capital one). She was a former Amazon employee in their cloud-computing unit. But, she was working alone. In photos, Thompson appears to be rather… normal… late 20s, a haircut that screams “I’m a bad ass, here me roar,” and probably a huge fan of caramel macchiatos. She wasn’t a Russian spy, she didn’t fit the mold of the “Most Infamous Hacker in Modern History.” Yet, she’s going down in the books for just that.

What Thompson did was expose just how vulnerable consumers are. In fact, the public is so vulnerable that simple “misconfiguration” mishaps are leading to these types of breaches in which extremely sensitive data is compromised. Not only does that have a huge effect on the consumers, but the institutions and organizations at risk will have an extremely hard time winning back the trust of their stakeholders.

Consumer confidence in brands targeted by data breaches becomes a major crisis communication issue that can take years to repair. There’s no easy or quick strategy to rebuild trust after a situation like what Capital One faced. In fact, there’ll always be a string of losses long before there are any wins in this scenario.

It doesn’t help that the financial industry is one of the leading institutions that gets the short end of the stick when it comes to consumer confidence to begin with. After a major incident with a big name financial leader, consumer opinions and negative sentiments tend to circulate to other organizations within the same industry. Not only that, but distrust in a major institution tends to lead to greater mistrust in institutions like the government and the media.

The banking industry is in such a fragile state, especially as more and more Millennials and Gen Zers enter the workplace. These two generations have the most debt than previous generations and are less likely to invest their earnings, open savings accounts, and 401K? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole.

In any regard, banks must rebuild trust, especially if they want to tap into this growing population segment.

So what needs to happen?

Millennials and Gen Zers are all about ethics and doing the right thing. Financial institutions need to ensure that their communication strategies are all about accountability, action, and fair treatment. Additionally, institutions need to stay ahead of the game by addressing and fixing loopholes and weaknesses in their cyber-security.

The most important thing to remember when rebuilding consumer confidence is to understand that reputation management is an essential and ongoing factor of every institution. Leveraging continuous brand reputation strategies, not only when crises occur, is what these companies can do to maintain some degree of consumer confidence.




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Three Reasons Gwyneth Paltrow Isn’t Full of Sh*t

In 2008, Gwyneth Paltrow developed a newsletter of self-curated lifestyle recommendations. Today, GP has grown that newsletter to a lifestyle empire, backed by venture capital and valued at well over $250 million: Goop. Despite garnering flack and snark for allegedly deceptive advertising practices around labeling and questionable vaginal jade egg advice, you can’t argue that Gwyneth doesn’t know what she’s doing with regard to marketing. Here are three lessons I’ve learned about marketing from GP herself. 

GP talks to customers like she would her friends.

Goop has developed a degree of intimacy with their readers. They understand how their target demographic talks and exists, and they understand what this woman wants and needs. That combination yields a sense of belonging for Goop readers and buyers. Goop treats customers like they belong – using familiar language and slang. By understanding their customer and immersing themselves in ‘her’ world, they have developed a sense of empathy and familiarity. 

Goop’s Chief Content Officer has been known to say that she focuses on talking to Goop readers in the same way that she would talk to her smartest friends. The company wants to give readers information and trusted recommendations that they would follow just as if their best friend recommended a product or service. The result? A friendly online environment that women not only trust, but also recommend to their peers. 

GP invests in high quality content. 

GP has hired a team of state-of-the-art writers. She doesn’t rely on SEO algorithms to get the job done. Instead, she understands that there is power in creating quality content that women want to consume and engage with. 

Making quality content doesn’t always mean developing an over-the-top photoshoot or producing an elaborate video. In fact, simple content can also be effective, as long as writers understand their audience’s wants and needs.  

GP engages with people IRL. 

GP made a bold business decision when she moved Goop from the Internet to the real world. In 2017, the successful media company created “In Goop Health,” a wellness summit that boasted partnerships with brands like Lululemon, served buzzy drinks, sold novelties like crystals and gems, and offered one-on-one tarot card readings. The event, which now spans the US and UK, has provided an offline channel for the company to meet customers and listen in real time to what customers like and want. 

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Alexa, What is a Voice Marketing Strategy?

“Always think about how to get your audience’s attention” was the first marketing tip that Gary Vaynerchuk, the chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, shared during the Adobe Imagine 2019 Conference. However, getting your audience attention is becoming more and more difficult as competition increases and people’s attention span decreases.

In Forbes article about the future of marketing, Bill Boulding, Dean of the J.B. Fuqua Professor of Business Administration, revealed that understanding your consumers is key to getting their attention.
He shared that understanding your consumers today means knowing everything about them from their specific patterns, decisions, and experiences. This understanding helps brands go beyond even grabbing their audience attention to building trust and encouraging their transition from consumers to brand advocates. One thing that has gotten a lot of attention and trust lately is voice technology because it is simple to use, efficient, and familiar.

The technology has become more common on mobile devices, for example using Siri and google. Also, through the presence of voice assistants like Alexa/Echo, Google, and Apple’s voice-enabled Internet of Things in houses. According to data collected by Search Engine People, 60.5 million people in the U.S. are already using voice assistants when making decisions about products and placing orders. ComScore says that by 2020, 50 % of all searches will be voice searches.

In addition, this technology is becoming smarter every time it is used. The artificial intelligence behind it is evolving to not only service consumers but to predict their intent and behaviors.

Voice technology is changing how consumers search and make decisions about products, services, and sometimes experiences. In a recent Bright Local Survey, 58% of consumers surveyed answered that they have used voice technology to search a local business in the past year.

Based on all that, voice marketing has become one of the strategies that marketers are considering in their strategic marketing plans. In addition, audio marketing is making its reappearance slowly but surely. Now how fast will brands take advantage of this technology is what will make a difference. This is all a new era and it will take some trial and error.

One brand that already took advantage of the opportunity is Domino’s Pizza. The brand introduced an easy order option and made it available on Alexa in the U.K. Also, it launched a pizza brand’s personality, called Dom. Dom responds to the consumers’ questions in the brand’s tone of voice. According to Nick Dutch, head of digital for Domino’s UK, 20% of customers had used Alexa to order pizza just two months after launching.

If voice technology is becoming one of the fastest technology in understanding audiences and getting their attention, what should we expect next from Alexa and Siri? Will companies be paying top dollar to have an ad randomly spoken to you from your Google Home? Or will the devices become our future influencers suggesting sponsored brands?
Imagine what would marketing and communications campaigns look like ten years from now?




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My mom just started using cannabis.

Don’t tell my mom I told you, but she’s 74. She has lived a great life where she has gotten the chance to do a ton of thing, but recently she has been complaining more and more about aches and pains. She has been taking more and more medications to deal with her various aliments which has caused a bit of concern for both of us. Recently I brought up the possibility of getting her some CBD cream to see if it might help limit the medications she is taking and her answer shocked me.

See in high school I told my mom I had smoked pot and she freaked out. It was illegal where I lived and she was staunchly against anything illegal, especially something as illegal as marijuana. So when my dad’s health deteriorated I had made the suggestion of using CBD to help with his pain. Both of my parents objected because they thought of it in the same way that the think of marijuana and where they live marijuana was still illegal. There was no distinction between the two. So when I brought up the subject again with my mom recently, it shocked me when she actually agreed to try it.

You may have noticed that CBD is showing up in a bunch of different places. From coffee shops to golf shops; from national chain stores to pet stores; CBD is everywhere. In 2018, the Farm Bill made cultivating and selling CBD products legal as long as there is less than .3 percent THC.

With this new classification my mom was now willing to listen to what I had to say. I told her about the science that was out and gave her several links to interviews with people who have found relief from their ailments because of CBD. She mentioned that she had a couple friends who had tried it with some success and soon agreed to try it. We went out and found some in a local pharmacy and were soon headed home. She tried it that night and while she didn’t feel completely “healed” she did mention that she did feel better. So I took that as a win.

With the legalization of marijuana in more and more states and a wider acceptance of CBD, the sky seems to be the limit. By 2024, Forbes thinks the industry could exceed $20 billion in sales and the people buying the CBD aren’t what you might expect. The typical CBD customer is in their 40’s and educated which is a far cry from Otto and Spicoli. So is CBD be the magic elixir?


  • https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cbd-product-boom-science-research-hemp-marijuana
  • https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/is-cbd-legal-heres-what-you-need-to-know-according-to-science
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisdorbian/2019/05/20/cbd-market-could-reach-20-billion-by-2024-says-new-study/#5826a7e849d0

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How Social Media Influences SEO

Despite what many marketers express, social media can play a significant role in search engine optimization. Social Platforms send ranking signals to Google and also greatly improve the potential to gain influential backlinks from other websites to your site’s pages. Social media channels are essentially search engines themselves, with more and more people using social networks to find what they are looking for, especially product information. Social media profiles themselves have the potential to rank on search engines, so well-optimized pages are important.

How Social Media Impacts SEO 

  1. Social sharing can drive traffic to websites – They key here is quality not quantity. Links to quality content can potentially result in engagement such as shares, likes, and comments. It also encourages social media users to visit your website. If users stay on your site and explore, click through to other pages, etc., search engines consider this a sign of relevancy.
  2. Social media profiles can rank in search engines – Have you ever typed in the name of a brand and their Twitter, YouTube or Facebook was among the search engine results? Along with the brand website, it is likely that social media pages were also present. If the company can rank both their website and social pages, it takes up more space on the results page, which is known to increase click-through to brand websites and help businesses beat out potential competitors in terms of visibility.
  3. Capturing external links is easier with social media- One of the biggest factors in SEO are backlinks because search engines consider this a sign of usefulness and relevancy. Backlinks are when other sites link back to your site. Consider this part of SEO as a popularity contest. The more quality backlinks your site generates, the higher its potential spot on the results page. Sharing your content on social media increases the chances of developing backlinks.
  4. Social Media can boosts brand awareness- Facebook currently has nearly 2 billion active users and Twitter currently has over 325 million active users. These numbers illustrate just how important social media platforms can be for generating brand awareness.  




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Does Advertising Always Win?

I believe what we are seeing, over the course of the last 50 years or so, is a slow but steady progression to a point where advertising is unrecognizable from every other part of our lives. Television and radio may have been the first time advertisements started making their way uninvited into people’s lives. If you’ve ever seen those early TV ads it’s a little shocking how unsophisticated they were. As people pushed back against annoying TV ads, companies switched to things like product placement in the actual shows. But that was really only the beginning.

From there, strategies like native advertising, social media influencers, and more showed up. I think many people used to believe that social media would finally be a place where people could connect with each other or consume media uninterrupted. But we probably underestimated the ability of advertisers to find new and creative ways to insert themselves into new technology.

When my generation, the Millennials, came of age one of the supposed biggest insights into our group was we value experiences over things. Here was a generation of people that was not concerned with consumerism – they just wanted to live in the world and grow as people. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for advertising to figure out a way to take advantage of this as well. Enter experiential marketing. If you haven’t heard of it, it basically boils down to this: If people aren’t open to television ads, or targeted spots on social media, or influencers hocking their “favorite” product on YouTube, we will create an “experience” for them. This experience will be an in-person, live, real-time event that gives them a fun time with friends while also selling them a product or service.

It seems to me that whatever people are looking for, or whatever new technology emerges that offers to change society, it eventually (usually sooner rather than later) turns into a marketing tool. If we have gone from seeing advertising on billboards, to have them snuck into commercial breaks on TV, to being inserted directly into big-budget movies as part of the script, to posing as articles on respected websites, to now being the experience itself – what’s next? I mean we are literally at the point with experiential marketing where we are choosing to pay for an experience – paying to give up our time – to an event that was built first and foremost as a marketing tool. Not the other way around.

I’m curious to know what everyone thinks about a few things since this is a marketing class. First, how do we all feel about how much advertising has infiltrated our everyday lives to the degree that it has? I personally don’t have a problem with it, but I DO think that we as a society need much more media literacy. Second, what is going to be the next area that advertising makes inroads into? Some of the newest technologies are things like AI, augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. There is no doubt that advertising will be a feature in all these technologies and, if history is any lesson, likely become the main driving force behind them. What will advertising in these new arenas look like?? 

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Amazon Enters Influencer Marketing with the Celebrity Store

Have you ever purchased something based upon the fact that your favorite celebrity enduring it? Better yet, have you purchased a product produced and sold under a celebrity brand? Amazon is banking that you have, with the launch of their ‘The Celebrity Store’ which features self-branded produced sold by the retail giant by a selected group of top actors, athletes and influencers.

Celebrities cashing in on their personal brand isn’t anything new. In fact celebrities sometimes leverage their personal brands to keep themselves relevant. And often these celebrities turn to management companies to help them realize their full potential in sales (Olenski, 2018).

The Celebrity Store, which pushes celebrity endorsed products, most of which were co-created by the celebrities themselves.  With current counts tracking at 18 celebrities across 10 brands, The Celebrity Store provides consumers celebrity endorsed merchandise, each curated with their virtual store (Smith, 2018).  

Given Amazon’s position as one of the biggest four technology companies, do they really feel that there is much to gain with this new influencer tactic?

The answer is yes, celebrity sells. With today’s ever expanding market of choice, consumers can feel overwhelmed when determining what product to choose. Often decisions are left to emotion and a celebrity connection may make the difference on making that decision (Creswell, 2008).

So does Amazon really need to improve their marketing?

Amazon sure thinks so. Amazon has saturated the market with their Prime membership offering.  The company understands that they can’t keep adding millions of new memberships every year, so they are re-evaluating their current marketing approach, expanding far beyond the traditional tactics focused on sales promotions like ‘Prime Day’ to influencer tactics that are celebrity driven (Soper, 2019).  

To further expand Amazon’s reach, the company collaborated with Snapchat as part of their affiliate program, allowing influencers the ability to collect commissions based upon amazon promoted and linked products.

Since Amazon developed their Marketplace, which allows for others to sell their wares, sales resulted in huge profits for the business, tapping into revenues once generated by eBay. This really illustrated the future earing potential of Amazon by leveraging new sales channels, and expanding their marketing integration approach, supporting the notion of trying something new.

The result?  It’s working. 

Amazon’s revenue remains on the rise with steady increases since 2015.  Leveraging influencer-marketing tactics through The Celebrity Store and expanding their online integration with social media platforms, are just another way for Amazon to dominate online sales, keeping them in prime position against the competition.  


Creswell, J. (2008, June 22). Nothing Sells Like Celebrity. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/business/media/22celeb.html

Olenski, S. (2018), April 2). Brands, Branding and Celebrities. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2018/04/02/brands-branding-and-celebrities/#2fad53854db9

Smith, J. (2018, October 8). Amazon Launches “The Celebrity Store” to Spur Influencer Marketing.  TJI Research.  Retrieved from:  https://this.just.in/amazon-launches-the-celebrity-store-to-spur-influencer-marketing/

Soper, S. (2019, July, 15). Amazon Taps Kobe Bryant and Other Celebs to Generate Prime Day Buzz. Bloomberg. Retrieved from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-15/amazon-taps-kobe-bryant-and-other-celebs-to-generate-prime-day-buzz

Zetlin, M (2017, June 29). Here’s How Amazon Gets You to Buy More Stuff. Inc. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/heres-how-amazon-gets-you-to-buy-more-stuff.html

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