Lines blur between ads and news

“Native ads” – the paid online ads that look like articles and are sometimes hard to distinguish from a publication’s editorial copy – have been popping up with increasing frequency on news outlets across the web, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. But the Federal Trade Commission is now cracking down on advertisers whose native ads don’t feature the proper disclosures, David Lazarus writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Consumers have the right to know when they’re looking at paid advertising,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They do. And with print publications, that was seldom an issue. On the Internet, it’s a whole new ball game.

Read more in Click here for actual journalism. (The Los Angeles Times)

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USC's Andrea Belz: 'There's no substitute for knowing your stuff'

LA Times_logoAndrea Belz is an author, nuclear physicist, business owner and an assistant professor at USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies who was just was named academic director of a master’s program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation that begins this fall at USC.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times she talks about getting noticed, refining a vision, her heroes and this advice:

“There’s no substitute for knowing your stuff,” Belz said. “Pretending does not work in the long run. Whatever it is you are focused on. If it’s law, really know the law. Be diligent. You need to be driven to excel in that space.”

Read the full article:

For her, rocket science is just the start

May 12th, 2014|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , |

Veggie Grill raises $20M in private equity funding


Veggie Grill, a Santa-Monica based chain of vegan restaurants, has raised $20 million in common-stock funding from both current shareholders and new investors, the Los Angeles Times reported. A large portion of this investment was contributed by Brentwood Associates, making the private equity firm the biggest single shareholder. According to Dow Jones, Bill Barnum and Rahul Aggarwal of Brentwood Associates will join Veggie Grill’s board of directors. “The concept is very well positioned in the industry and has a lot of runway ahead of it,” Aggarwal said.

The media attention surrounding the investment in Veggie Grill illustrates that the American diet is changing, and consumers are demanding tasty vegan options. “[Veggie Grill] is one of the most popular new arrivals on the Northwest food scene,” said the Portland Business Journal.

According to PR Newswire, Chief Energizing Officer Greg Dollarhyde said, “The interest we received from our investors was quite substantial and exciting. This additional capital base will support our aggressive growth plans to meet the increasing consumer demand for delicious, vegetarian food.”

The franchise is growing quickly. And as reported by, Veggie Grill has doubled its locations in the past year and increased its revenue  by over 100 percent.  Yahoo! News reported “[This] is the fourth round of equity funding for the vegetarian restaurant chain, whose menu includes dishes such as the ‘All Hail Kale’ salad.”  The news even circulated to Fortune, proving the mass appeal of Veggie Grill and the excitement surrounding their expanding brand and franchise.

New locations are expected to open in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Seattle, during the first half of this year, as reported by Restaurant News.

OWC's Tracy Williams moderates panel with AP, Reuters, CNN and LA Times on social media in newsrooms

Tracy Williams (far right), president of Olmstead Williams Communications, moderated the discussion.

In a world of ever-emerging social media sites and tools, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs are still the go-to social media sources for newsrooms across the country, according to the top-tier journalists who spoke on July 19 at the panel “The ‘New’ Newsroom:  How Social Media Has Impacted the Way Newsrooms Operate.”

According to the panelists, today’s journalists monitor social media sites and blogs daily. Though they still prefer to be reached via email or phone (they’re faster), here are the main ways they’re using social media:

  • Twitter – To check headlines and stories coming in – often a company will alert the media via Twitter of an upcoming company announcement. Reporters receive Tweets from sources as well, though they said they always make sure to vet any quotes or information sent via Twitter.
  • Facebook – Reporters like it because it’s the only way to find certain people, and they can message them privately without being “friends.” They also like receiving pitches with photos through Facebook.
  • Blogs – Reporters follow blogs, a lot, mainly very specialized ones by people who are true “experts” and spend 24/7 on a subject – journalists keep a list at-the-ready of these narrowly focused blogs by key players and influencers. (How do they find these blogs? Lots of Googling topics and researching. They said if you have a great blog, let them know about it and they’ll check it out. However, if you claim to be an expert, you better be an actual expert, locally based and well-versed on the issue.)
  • LinkedIn – Not used as often for networking but good for researching biographical background on sources.

Tracy Williams, president of Olmstead Williams Communications, moderated the discussion between: Ron Grover, L.A. bureau chief for Reuters; Rachel Brown, deputy L.A. bureau chief for CNN; Anthony McCartney, entertainment writer for the L.A. bureau of the Associated Press; and Peter Pae, technology editor at the Los Angeles Times.

The panel was hosted by the Legal Marketing Association and the Business Marketing Association at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles.