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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New York Times highlights Ice Energy's storage contracts with SCE

New York Times logoAn article in today’s New York Times titled “Energy-Storage Plans Gain Ground in California” highlights thermal energy storage company Ice Energy’s 16 contracts with Southern California Edison totaling 25.6 megawatts — enough to power 11,000 homes — using the simplest of solutions, ice.

Water is frozen into ice to replace the cooling power of AC units during peaks times. The ice freezes at night when demand is low. During the day, the units use the ice, rather than the AC unit’s compressor, to cool the hot refrigerant, cutting cooling costs substantially.

“We’re very excited you’re seeing storage as a real part of a solution,” said Ice Energy CEO Michael Hopkins in the article. He added that business owners save by buying their electricity at off-peak prices, and SCE avoids the need for seven or eight kilowatts of electricity per unit during peak periods.

Read the full article:

Energy-Storage Plans Gain Ground in California

The Great Courses makes stars out of university professors

New York Times logoThe Great Courses is the nation’s leading developer and marketer of premium-quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment, but its television-quality studios in Chantilly, Va., also are a learning ground for the university professors that get behind the camera, reports the New York Times.

The professors, who deliver lectures on a wide range of subjects from game theory to ancient civilizations, receive coaching on how to adapt their classroom performance style to resonate with the company’s customers who will view or listen to the lectures in audio and visual formats.

“It had a transformative effect on me as a teacher,” said Jennifer Paxton, who teaches at the Catholic University of America and has recorded two history courses for the company and is working on a third. “One of the things they told me is that I should not hold back from really demonstrating the enthusiasm that I felt for the material. I think that, in a sense, I had drunk the academic Kool-Aid: You present something in a serious, sober manner.”

Read the full article:

For This Class, Professors Pass Screen Tests

July 7th, 2014|Categories: Client News|Tags: , |

Social Media and Modern Rights

At work the last couple of days here at Olmstead Williams Communications, we’ve been having some engaging conversations about social media and how it can affect a business’ bottom line. There have been fascinating conversations, and we’ve been posing several open-ended and critical questions in regards to our philosophy and practice.  Here are some of the questions we’ve been asking: “How can we measure success with social media?” “How can we approach it as a craft, a medium, a genre?” “How do we want to be received as a company, a brand, a voice through our various accounts?”


But the one questions we didn’t ask was how our rights were protected through social media?  How far does our freedom of speech extend in the realms of Facebook, Twitter, and others?  And can a workplace censor those ideas and opinions or hold you responsible for deprecating comments?

Well, it sure came to our attention with a great article in the New York Times by Steven Greenhouse: “Even if it Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speech is Protected.”  According to Greenhouse, “National Labor Relations Board says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook.”

This is quite a victory for free-speech advocates who believe that social media isn’t just an extension of the workplace, but a space where opinions, thoughts, and ideas are protected from censorship and fear. Of course, this is going to bring about compelling issues over branding and marketing a business’ image. Now that employees are protected under the law and can say what they want without fear of termination, does that mean employees always should speak their mind?

For example, a bartender was fired from his job, because he posted on his Facebook that he was frustrated that his bosses hadn’t given him a raise in five years.  He went on a rant and called the patrons rednecks.  Then there was a reporter in Tuscon, Arizona, who was fired for speaking her mind. She wrote on her Facebook that there should be more murders in the city, because she needed to have something to write about.  I don’t know, but maybe they should have chosen not to say these things.

The debate has only begun. And while this recent ruling defines freedom for social-media expression, does it extend to blogs, too? Okay, companies can’t fire their employees for their posts and tweets anymore, but could they one day sue them for liable? What’s next?

January 23rd, 2013|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , , , , |