Sprint Series of Oklahoma set for Freedom 40 Friday at Red Dirt Raceway

first_imgBy David Smith Jr.OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Sprint Series of Oklahoma is set for a huge night of racing this Friday, June 30 as the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car tour makes its second appearance at Red Dirt Raceway in Meeker, Okla., and their “Freedom Forty.”Highlighting the program will be a 40-lap championship feature for the SSO with an increased purse from top to bottom and the track will have a huge fireworks display as well.The SSO is coming off a successful two nights of racing action where Texas driver Michael Day earned his first career series victory Friday night in Ardmore while defending champion Andy Shouse scored his third feature victory of the season Saturday night in Ardmore.When the series, presented by Smiley’s Racing Products, first visited Red River Speedway back in May it was Shouse getting the best of a 27 car field to take the victory.Among the series regulars expected to compete include Jake Martens, Shouse, Joe Wood Jr., Chris Kelly, Cody Whitworth, Blake Scott, Loyd Clevenger, Jerry Jumper and Shayla Waddell. Rookies Justin Fisk, Steven Shebester, Justin Mowery, Dillon Laden, Tanner Conn and Josh Toho are also slated to compete.Gates open at 6 p.m. with race time slated for 8 p.m. Grandstand tickets are $15 while children 10 and under admitted for free.For more information call the track at 405 318-0198 or visit the official website www.reddirtraceway.com.last_img read more

South Africa’s child rights hero

first_imgProf Ann Skelton’s job as a prosecutor was a turning point in her career. It got her interested in children and she realised that she wanted to change the law. (Image: worldschildrensprize.org) HM Queen Silvia of Sweden with Prof Ann Skelton, the World’s Children’s Prize Honorary Laureate 2012. (Image: Christine Olsson/World’s Children’s Prize) The Centre for Child Law pioneered separate legal representation of children in South Africa. Prof Ann Skelton was a legal representative in the centre’s first judgement on this subject, which became a landmark case. (Image: worldschildrensprize.org) MEDIA CONTACTS • Carmilla Floyd  The World’s Children’s Prize  +46 159 12900 RELATED ARTICLES • “The excitement never left us” • More women engineers for SA • SA’s fashion gold medallist • SA academic gets top science awardWilma den HartighSouth Africa’s children have a powerful ally fighting for their rights. In and out of the court room South African advocate Prof Ann Skelton is doing ground-breaking work to advance the rights of children and bring about changes to the country’s juvenile justice system.In honour of Skelton’s work over the past 25 years to protect the rights of children affected by the South African justice system, she was recently named one of three laureates of the prestigious 2012 World’s Children’s Prize.The award recognises people who have done outstanding work for children whose rights have been violated. It’s also the world’s largest annual programme in the field of educating young people about the rights of children, democracy, the environment, and global friendship.Through her work Skelton, who is the director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, continues to put issues affecting children under the spotlight.When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, Skelton was asked to chair the writing of the new legislation to protect children in trouble with the law. She was involved in drafting the Children’s Act and the Child Justice Act, and she’s still leading the way in setting legal precedents and changing laws affecting children.An early turning pointEarly in her career Skelton reached a turning point. While working as a young prosecutor in the Pietermaritzburg juvenile court, her first job after completing her studies, she realised that she didn’t want to practise law in the conventional way.For her, working in the legal field was about more than taking on a case and representing a client.“I’ve always been interested in law to bring about change,” she says.She grew up under the apartheid regime in South Africa and when she was 15 years old, young black protestors of her own age were being shot and jailed.In the juvenile court she was put in the hot seat and regularly saw children who were beaten by police, bitten by police dogs, and sentenced to whipping.“I was so appalled by this and I thought this must change,” she says.“It was 1986, the middle of apartheid and the children were small – some were as young as seven or eight and could hardly see over the bench. It was pretty harsh.”She worked as a prosecutor for only 18 months, but the experience changed the course of her career.“It forged me into a person who wanted to change the law and it got me interested in children,” she says. “Work experience is important because even if you don’t like what you do, you learn something about yourself.”A challenging jobOne of the difficulties of her job is dealing with an emotional subject, but she says it is important to maintain a professional distance from cases, yet still be compassionate.“I do get angry about children suffering, but through my work I am giving people hope and this is a great reward,” she says.She emphasises that it doesn’t help to become sentimental. “I’m not soppy about children. I see children as people who need extra help,” she says. “I go to court to fight for children and this is why we can’t afford to be too emotional about them.”Landmark rulingsThese days Skelton’s work is not only about helping children in prison, but also taking to court those cases that involve issues such as access to education, socio-economic rights, health and nutrition.She says although South Africa’s laws to protect children are much better now, these laws are not always implemented and children still suffer.Whether she is representing one child or a case that can help many children in the same situation, her work brings about positive change to the lives of South Africa’s younger citizens.  The Centre for Child Law, through its children’s litigation project, has been involved in cases that have been heard in the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, as well as the High, Children’s and Magistrates Courts.Many judgements have set precedents that have brought about changes in the law, government activities and broader society.Skelton recalls the centre’s first case in the Constitutional Court, involving a 35-year-old single mother of three children convicted of fraud and sentenced to a fine and four years in prison.This case was important as it called into question whether the mother’s sentence was in the best interests of the children, who would be left without a primary care giver if she was imprisoned.Now world famous, it has become one of the centre’s most cited cases. It was the first Constitutional Court case to examine the meaning and content of the constitutional right that ‘a child’s best interests are of paramount importance’.The precedent set by this judgement requires that when sentencing primary care givers, a judge should give preference to non-custodial sentences as far as possible.If imprisonment is the only appropriate sentence, the court must ensure the safety of children during the absence of the primary care giver.Another important aspect of Skelton’s job is protecting the autonomy of children.“It is important to cater for children at different levels of development,” she says. “Childhood is a process and children need more autonomy as they get older.”The centre has pioneered separate legal representation of children in South Africa, based on the idea that children of a certain age and maturity have a right to participate in decisions made about them.This issue becomes particularly important when children get caught up in family disputes or legal battles.Skelton was a legal representative in the centre’s first judgement on this subject, which became a landmark case.Leaving it to the kids to decideWhen she found out that the University of Pretoria nominated her for the World’s Children’s Prize, she didn’t pay much attention to it. “I wasn’t expecting to win,” she says.Skelton didn’t think she stood a good chance, considering that prominent South Africans who have received the accolade include former president Nelson Mandela. The prize was also posthumously awarded to 13-year-old Hector Pieterson who died in the 1976 Soweto uprising and Nkosi Johnson, an HIV-positive child who died at the age of 12 but who made a major impact on public perceptions of the pandemic.But Skelton underestimated herself – her work did make a significant impact on the jury.What is interesting about this award is that the winners are selected entirely by children.The candidates for the prize are selected by a child jury, who are all child rights experts through their own life experiences. Some of them have been child soldiers, debt slaves and even homeless. Voting then opens to 2.5-million children worldwide to select a winner.One of the jury children, 17-year-old Gabatshwane Gumede, comes from South Africa.When she heard the news that she was a winner, Skelton was overwhelmed. She emphasises that her work isn’t a solitary pursuit, but a team effort. “You are always working as a team. It is never just one person that writes a law,” she says.What’s next?She believes the protection and care of unaccompanied foreign children that find their way into South Africa needs more attention. “This is a very interesting group of children that don’t receive much attention,” she says.According to a Unicef article, Children on the Move. Unaccompanied migrant children in South Africa, the government has a legislative responsibility to extend the same protective measures to foreign children as it would to any South African child.Such children, of whom there are several thousand in the country, come from as far as Somalia. “They walk here, or hitch a ride on the back of trucks,” she says.She adds that South Africa’s laws on unaccompanied foreign children are not very clear.“I would like to see more attention paid to this.”Changing perceptions about lawWhen Skelton is not in court, she lectures in the university’s Department of Law. “I draw a lot from my own work. I try to make the law come alive,” she says.When she’s lecturing, she most enjoys changing the way students think about law. “I feel I play a role in helping students see there are other ways to do law,” she says.“I always tell my students that it is important to like your job, because I do.”She says the protection of children’s rights isn’t just up to lawyers and the court, but ordinary South Africans also have a role. “The public can do a lot to help children. You might know a child is being abused and you can bring that to the attention of the law. Don’t turn a blind eye.”last_img read more

South African-French collaboration sings of Madiba Skies

first_imgElectrifying performances are what you can expect at Under Madiba Skies. (Image: I Support Do You)Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994; his inaugural speech, in which he spoke of freedom, the future, reconciliation and renewal, still resonates today.“It always seems impossible, until it is done,” he said, prompting musicians from South Africa and France to interpret his words in a special performance in which many influences and cultures come together on stage.This meeting of musical chairs goes by the name of Under Madiba Skies, and they will be performing in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town from 29 October to 1 November.On 29 October, catch them at Alliance Française Pretoria; on 30 October, they are in Johannesburg at Alliance Française Johannesburg; on 31 October they will be at Ikhaya le Langa in Langa in Cape Town; and they finish off their tour in Durban at Rainbow Restaurant. All performances are free, except the final show in Durban, for which tickets are R60.A MEETING OF DIFFERENT CULTURESIn Under Madiba Skies, French band Gran Kino has come together with a number of South African musicians, including Manelis, Ayanda Nhlangothi, Jitsvinger and Burni Aman, to share their vision of South Africa today.This collaboration, which began in 2013, has spawned several songs. Whether from Durban, rapping in isiZulu, from Johannesburg singing with a traditional sweetness, or from Cape Town rapping in Afrikaans, the vision is mutual: coming together on one stage, uniting different languages, visions and ideas. Above all, the venture celebrates an endless artistic richness.The music weaves together traditional songs, rock, hip-hop and acoustic piano and voice. The performers are colourful and embody values of peace and openness to the world.Under Madiba Skies released a four-track EP in 2013; the first single was called Brand New Day, and is available online.The artists see Madiba’s inaugural speech as a prophecy and feel honoured to bring his word to listeners around the world. It is also an opportunity to show the world what South Africa has to offer.Their ideals dovetail with South Africa’s National Development Plan or Vision 2030, which has an aim to seal Africa’s place in the world and bring about nation building through social cohesion.In 2013, the group successfully toured France with performances at some of the biggest world music festivals in that country, such as Festival Generic and The Worlstock Festival. In 2014, they visited South America.The first Under Madiba Skies single, Brand New Day, was playlisted on Radio France International and other French radio stations. Songs from the EP were also playlisted on radio stations in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Poland, Italy, Spain and Hong Kong, among other countries.AUDIENCE APPRECIATIONIt seems the collaboration has touched many, with audiences around the globe appreciating the performances:“I wanted to congratulate you, to thank you, to tell you how much this moment had touched me. My emotions about your performance were so strong, I was not able to do anything the days following your concert.”“It is this simple message I want to convey to you: through your involvement with a bit of soul, Madiba was in Macon, and the permanence of the soul softens the pain caused by the sad news of his passing. For me, as for many, Madiba remains alive.”“It was an evening of great splendour and generosity… Your concert was like a bomb of talent: energy, originality, crossroads of music and styles. A true rainbow of musicians and rhythms.”last_img read more

Proteas emphatic win puts them into World Cup semis

first_img16 March 2015The Castle Lager Proteas achieved their most emphatic victory in ICC World Cup history when they beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets with all of 32 overs to spare in their quarter-final match at The Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.It was the Proteas’ first victory in a knock-out World Cup match and the shortest knock- out match in the history of the World Cup.The Proteas now play the winners of Saturday’s quarter-final between New Zealand and the West Indies in next Tuesday’s semi-final in Auckland.In terms of the impact this result will have the only comparable match played by the Proteas at a World Cup is their first ever World Cup match against Australia at the same venue on February 26, 1992, when they routed their hosts, who included the likes of Dean Jones, Allan Border and Steve Waugh, by an identical 9 wickets.What will have pleased the Proteas the most will have been the return to his sublime best of Quinton de Kock (78 not out off 57 balls, 12 fours) as well as the fact they won after losing the toss and having to chase what was admittedly a small target.There was also the fact that the Proteas were at their very best in all three disciplines of batting, bowling and fielding.Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott (who replaced the injured Vernon Philander) and Morne Morkel made the early breakthrough up front and then the two spinners took over, taking 7 wickets between them for 55 runs in 17.2 overs.Imran Tahir was named Man of the Match (4/26), while JP Duminy’s 3/29 included South Africa’s first-ever World Cup hat trick, the World Cup’s second-ever hat trick, and the second South African hat trick after Charl Langeveldt against the West Indies in 2005.It was also Duminy’s career-best, taking him past the milestone of 50 international wickets.Hashim Amla and De Kock then reduced the target of 134 to a routine affair with an opening stand of 40 before De Kock finished the job by timing the ball peerlessly into the gaps and mixing it with moments of untamed aggression.It was a sad end to the World Cup careers of two Sri Lankan and world legends – Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.The Castle Lager Proteas face Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 5.30am on Wednesday. The build up for the quarterfinal starts at 4.30am on SuperSport 2, SABC3 & Radio 2000.WORLD CUP MATCHESGroup matches15 February, 3am: South Africa beat Zimbabwe.22 February, 5.30am: India beat South Africa.27 February, 5.30am: South beat West Indies.3 March, 5.30am: South Africa beat Ireland.7 March, 3am: Pakistan beat South Africa.12 March, 3am: South Africa beat United Arab Emirates.Quater-finals18 March, 5.30am: South Africa beat Sri Lanka19 March, 5.30am: Bangladesh v India, Melbourne Cricket Ground20 March, 5.30am: Australia v Pakistan, Adelaide Oval21 March, 3am: New Zealand v West Indies, Westpac Stadium, WellingtonSemifinals24 March, 3am: Eden Park, Auckland26 March, 5.30am: Sydney Cricket GroundFinal29 March, 5.30am: Melbourne Cricket GroundSource: Cricket South Africa and ICClast_img read more

South Africa spends billions on mining towns

first_img1 July 2015South Africa has allocated R18-billion for distressed mining communities across the country. Headed by the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) in charge of revitalising mining communities, projects being undertaken include housing and wellness.“Overall R18-billion has been dedicated to ongoing work in distressed mining communities, benefitting the following provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West,” President Jacob Zuma said on 30 June.“The bulk of this funding is from [the] government, with mining companies contributing approximately a third of the funding.”Zuma appointed the IMC shortly after the Marikana tragedy, in which over 44 people lost their lives during labour unrest at the Lonmin mine in North West in 2012. Its mandate is to oversee the implementation of integrated and sustainable human settlements, improve living and working conditions of mine workers and determine the development path of mining towns and the historic labour-sending areas.“The fundamental mandate of the IMC is to change the face of mining in South Africa working with business, labour and other sectors.”South Africa had undertaken a socio-economic diagnostic study of the 15 prioritised mining towns and 12 prioritised labour-sending areas to get a better understanding of the extent of the challenges in each town and to determine the most appropriate actions to address these.“In changing the face of mining, we are also drawing lessons from other countries,” Zuma said. He spoke about the Australia-Africa Partnership Facility, saying the country was benchmarking the policy and regulatory system governing the mining sectors in Australia, Chile, South Africa, and Zambia.HousingRegarding housing, the Department of Human Settlements was implementing about 66 public sector housing projects in the 15 prioritised mining towns. In the 2014/15, financial year more than R419-million was spent from the ring-fenced budget for upgrading informal settlements in prioritised mining towns in Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West.“Overall over 7 000 units have been delivered in the mining towns.” For this financial year about R1-billion had been ring-fenced, which would deliver about 19 000 new houses.Two of the housing projects were in Marikana, where about 500 houses would be built on land donated by Lonmin.In addition to the ring-fenced human settlement grant funding, the department’s housing agencies have contributed over R1-billion to integrated human settlements in mining towns. This includes 17 341 loans of R239-million for incremental housing from the Rural Housing Loan Fund; R673-million delivering 3 405 mortgage and social housing units from the National Housing Finance Corporation; bridging loans of R95.6-million for 1 177 affordable houses and R36-million for 4 546 subsidy units from Nurcha’s Construction Finance and Programme Management.Zuma said the government embraced partnerships.“We understand that when working together, we can achieve much more that leads to a greater impact than when working in isolation,” he said, adding that stakeholders in business, labour and the government had actively supported and participated in formulating the government’s strategic approach for accommodating mineworkers in decent housing and living conditions in mining towns.Creating jobsTurning to socio-economic conditions, Zuma said that, led by the Department of Trade and Industry, the departments of Co-operative Governance, Traditional Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform and Small Business Development were facilitating large and small scale industrial projects in the 15 mining towns.These were critical in creating business and employment opportunities. In addition, Trade and Industry is helping selected municipalities and regions to develop and implement regional industrial development plans.These include interventions in Bojanala and the Greater Tubatse local municipalities for the establishment of a platinum group metals special economic zone (SEZ).Feasibility studies, business plans and the appointment of a project management unit have been completed and the SEZ designation and land acquisition is being finalised.Others include the establishment of an agri-hub in Bojanala, Madibeng and Marikana for agriculture production and a processing facility, as well as the Vulindlela Industrial Park Revitalisation in King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality, in Eastern Cape.These projects, which include a multi-sectoral business park, will promote sustainable manufacturing investments into the region.Health careOn the wellbeing of the miners, the Department of Health, together with the departments of Labour and Mineral Resources, is working towards the alignment of the industry’s occupational health and safety policy.The goal is to build an enhanced social protection system, as well as reorganise the compensation system and access to benefits for former and current mineworkers.“The Department of Mineral Resources is employing mine accident and occupational diseases prevention mechanisms through improved mine inspections, audits, investigations and monitoring of occupational exposure levels,” Zuma said.Enforcement and inspections have been beefed up through 40 regional medical inspectors, analysis of annual medical reports from the mines’ provision of standards on workplace exposures, implementing inspection and audit tools for occupational health services, promotion of occupational health in the mining industry, and reviewing research relevant to occupational medicine in the mining industry.Furthermore, the departments of Mineral Resources and of Health are employing strategic interventions to promote healthy and safe working conditions. These include ensuring the reduction in falls of ground accidents by 20% annually; actively promoting awareness of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB; preventing personal over-exposure to silica dust; and promoting active linkage of dust exposure to medical surveillance.The Department of Health has established one-stop service centres to bring health and compensation services to former and current mine workers in the mining towns and in labour-sending areas.There are centres in Mthatha in Eastern Cape as well as Carletonville in Gauteng. More one-stop service centres will be established in other provinces, beginning in Kuruman in Northern Cape and Burgersfort in Limpopo.The state will also set up mobile units in neighbouring countries such as Lesotho and Swaziland during the 2015/16 fiscal year.Operation PhakisaZuma said he was making good on his promise in his State of the Nation Address to launch a mining version of Operation Phakisa, the integrated delivery system in the health and oceans economy sectors.It would be discussed when the National Consultative Forum on the Mining Sector met later this year.“To date, the Presidency has engaged in more than 15 consultative meetings with the [chief executives] of mining companies, representatives of civil society and national office bearers of labour unions and there is overwhelming support for the Phakisa process.”His government was determined, working together with other stakeholders, to steer the mining industry towards increased investment, growth and transformation while being mindful of the social, environmental and health impacts on people in mining towns and labour-sending areas.“The migrant labour system has been the backbone of the mining industry in South Africa and continues to have an enduring impact on both mining towns and rural labour-sending areas,” he said, urging all stakeholders and communities to work with the government to try to revitalise the mining sector.Source: SAnews.govlast_img read more

Games OC paid for Kalmadi’s wife visit to UK: CAG

first_imgFile photo of CWG OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.The Comptroller and Auditor General has, in his report on Commonwealth Games’ Queen’s Baton Relay, made startling disclosure. The report exclusively accessed by Headlines Today exposes how Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi’s personal expenses were billed on tax-payers’ money.According to the audit watchdog, Kalmadi took his wife Meera to London for the Queen’s Baton Relay on the Organising Committee’s money.And that’s not all, accompanying them were the Officer of Special Duty to the Lt Governor and his wife.The report states, “The sports ministry approved the travel of 36 personnel but OC booked 56 rooms (in the hotel) resulting into excess payment of GBP 22910.00. An excess expenditure of Rs 14.07 lakh was also incurred on the travelling of extra people, including Mrs Meera Kalmadi, Mr & Mrs Ranan Mukherjee (OSD to LG, Delhi), relatives of baton bearers who were in excess of the approved list of 36 persons.”The report goes on to blow the lid on how the Organising Committee flouted virtually every rule showing undue favours to certain firms, releasing payments before awarding of contracts and even fabricating documents.For the consultancy services for QBR, the report says, “CVC guidelines were violated as the OC awarded the contract to the highest bidder (in this case Maxxam International) and not the lowest bidder. Maxxam was paid $12925 each for three months even before awarding the work to the firm. The reasons for making the payment were not available in the OC’s record. The OC agreed to bear the service tax liability of the firm, which resulted into an excess payment of $ 242,407. Despite specific mention of cost being inclusive of all taxes, OC bearing the service tax liability was highly irregular.”advertisementFor the hiring of the AM films UK limited the report says, “The company’s registration and VAT registration numbers mentioned in the advance invoice submitted by AM Films were false. On October 24, 2009, Sanjay Mohindroo obtained approval from OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, sent a fax and an email to Jeychandran and essentially processed the transaction for transferring the amount in one day.Jeychandran was in Delhi and cleared the payment but he signed the minutes of the meeting at London. Clearly this is not possible and hence the documentation is fabricated.”last_img read more

A Stress-Free Approach to Adopting New Marketing Technologies

first_img Originally published Mar 6, 2013 4:30:00 PM, updated October 01 2019 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack The rate of change in marketing technology — continually accelerated by all the new innovations we see every day — has created growing demand for tech-savvy marketing professionals who know how to research, select, manage, and integrate a diverse collection of tools. “Prototype marketers” — what we at PR 20/20 call the hybrid marketers that have a variety of skillsets — are ideal to manage this rapidly evolving industry of ours. Why? Because they are able to recommend and work with technology and software that drives marketing automation, email, social media, project management, customer relationship management, analytics, and more.Consider this. The IDC predicts that in 2013, more than half of all new marketing hires will have a technical background. Additionally, Eloqua notes that 75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting revenue in some way, and 74% say it’s contributing to misalignment between the marketing and sales teams. And it’s even impacting the C-Suite — according to IBM’s CMO Study, 71% of CMOs indicated that they are underprepared to manage the impact of the data explosion.As modern marketing professionals, we are all responsible for the technology that fuels performance. But how do you stay on top of what’s available and possible, and whether platforms will help achieve key performance indicators? Well, you’re about to learn how. This post outlines seven steps you can take to help you more easily weave new technologies into your integrated marketing program.Your Roadmap for Easier Marketing Technology Adoption1) Encourage Agility and ExperimentationBefore you get started, do what you can to encourage an agile marketing culture that embraces experimentation. If you’re in a leadership position, this comes from the top down. In other words, you should actively encourage employees to carve out time in their days to try new things, and never penalize them if the experiment fails. Think about the knowledge you gained by running a quick, agile experiment: You know something worked, and if it didn’t, you’re closer to understanding why. Plus, when those experiments have great results, you just added more value to your business.If you’re not in a leadership position, you can still perform little experiments on your own time and present the results — especially the good ones — to your team to try to show the benefits of trying new things. Hopefully, your entrepreneurial spirit will rub off!2) Always Be ListeningChanges in marketing technologies have a direct effect on your career, and your company. That means it’s up to you to stay on top of new advancements as they come out, and be the one to raise your hand and say there’s something new worth looking into. The best way I’ve found to do this without being totally overwhelmed is setting up an RSS feed that alerts you with relevant technology and industry stories.For instance, our team here at PR 20/20 follows blogs from Zapier, Salesforce, HubSpot, Yammer, Google Analytics, and more. You’ll also want to stay connected with leading technology industry publications — I recommend AllThingsD, TechCrunch, GigaOM, and Chief Marketing Technologist for starters, though there are plenty of other fantastic blogs and publications worth considering.Check your RSS at least once a day; just make it part of your routine, browsing through the stories over your morning coffee. If you don’t have time to read the headlines you deem important that very moment, just pop them open in another tab to read over lunch or when you need a break from what you’re working on.3) Carve Out Time to Learn & ResearchNow that you have a couple new technologies you’ve discovered are worth researching, it’s time to actually start learning about them. This won’t happen by osmosis; you have to carve out time on your calendar to do this research. It might take 20 minutes, it might take a few hours. It just depends how complex the new technology is. Whatever it is you’re researching and learning about, you’ll know you’ve done a good job if you can answer the following baseline questions (these are adapted from The Marketing Agency Blueprint):Snapshot: What does the technology do? Include the simple, 1-2 sentence executive summary, with links to additional information.Market: Is the product tested and true; are there competitors or options you should review for due diligence?Use Cases: How is this technology applicable to your team and processes? Detail use cases and benefits.  Technology: Is it interoperable with existing systems and processes? What will adoption take? Consider license costs, setup and integration, education, required training, etc.Actions: What are the next steps, what’s your timeline, and who is responsible? Be specific for progress.4) Connect to StrategyIt’s easy to get caught up in the latest crazes. Remember your goals, and focus efforts on achieving them. Consider how technologies will fit into new and existing programs, training, and implementation before moving forward with adoption.In the words of HubSpot’s CTO Dharmesh Shah, “New technologies (mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, and location based services) will continue to grow, but the best marketers will realize it’s not about how to jam more ads into new platforms — it’s about how to use the new technologies to enhance your inbound powers of attraction.”Keep the big picture in mind at all times, and don’t work in a silo — if you need to bring in the knowledge and opinions of different stakeholders, now is the time to do so.5) Be an Advocate for the Right TechnologiesSpeaking of timing, now’s the time to start advocating for new technologies — if they are, indeed, the right fit. You’ve done the research and strategizing, and it becomes critical to gain team buy-in. If you have trial access to a new piece of software, for instance, you should demo the possibilities of that software for your team, and select a group of beta testers to try it out too. Ideally, those beta testers are not the technology-averse members of your team, by the way. Ask for positive and negative feedback from the team, and explore additional use cases to improve current processes and efficiencies.6) Enable Others to Easily Adopt New TechnologiesIf you’re committing resources to a new technology, designate a team member to learn it well and help everyone maximize the opportunities it presents. The best purveyors of new software and technologies will provide you with tons of resources to train and onboard efficiently, because it’s in their best interest to do so. After all, customer/user retention rates depend on the value and results you gain from those services. So take advantage of these services and content if you want long-term and widespread adoption.Once you’re committed to a new technology, put in the time to guarantee its full value — take advantage of training resources, and activate a few beta campaigns for hands-on learning. For example, I know HubSpot runs a training academy, and many software companies have free online training. If your new technology is something free, like a new social network, take advantage of forums and educational material that exists on places like blogs, forums, and in LinkedIn Groups.7) Measure ImpactThe job of a modern marketer is to produce results that impact the bottom line. Define goals for new marketing technologies (e.g. efficiency, productivity, profitability, etc.), establish benchmarks for success, and then monitor performance over time to assess the investment. Learn to use data to power smarter decisions within your organization about future technology adoption.Marketers are now becoming key IT decision makers in addition to marketing experts — essentially evolving into tech-savvy hybrid professionals. The prototype marketers of the future are agile with new technologies as they emerge, enabling them to build fully integrated campaigns, envision on a strategic level, and have the capabilities to execute on the tactical level, conducting activities that drive real business results. So ask yourself … how are you and your marketing team, evolving?This is a guest post by Jessica Donlon (@jessicadonlon), client services manager at PR 20/20 — the original HubSpot VAR and inbound marketing agency. Jessica is also a consultant for Marketing Score, a free marketing assessment tool powered by PR 20/20. See the PR 20/20 blog and Marketing Score blog for more content from Jessica and the agency.last_img read more

7 Common (and Dangerous) Misconceptions About SEO

first_imgWith regular algorithm updates and new factors influencing search all the time, search engine optimization is a bit of a moving target these days. Add in the level of nuance that tends to surround search rank and you’ve created a perfect storm for misunderstanding and misattribution.Does factor X directly affect rank or merely influence it? What are the differences among Google+, Google’s +1s, and Google Authorship when it comes to search? How important are keywords and where do I put them now? I’ll stop there before my head starts to hurt. These are some of the biggest areas of confusion I’ve come across (and experienced myself) in learning about SEO.Below, you’ll find some clarification regarding these sometimes confusing aspects of SEO that could help make it easier for you to optimize your marketing efforts for search moving forward.Misconception #1: SEO is all about keywords and links.Keywords and links certainly play a role in SEO, but they aren’t the only factors. Everything from the mobile optimization of your site to the social virality of your content also influences your search rank.With the release of Hummingbird, Google is getting much better at understanding full queries in addition to just single keywords, which means placing your keywords at the very front of your title may not be as important.Reflecting the way that people have begun to search, Google is starting to recognize search queries in the context of the sentences around them —  even factoring location into some search queries. In a video released this summer, Google’s Matt Cutts noted that he thinks marketers spend too much energy on link building. Inbound links certainly help pages rank well, but it is better to focus on creating the sort of content that gets shared than finding places to plant links. More and more people are finding content through social media, so optimizing your content for social shares is also important. Bottom Line: Search is becoming more complex with more factors influencing rankings. The good news is this complexity adds nuance and an understanding of the context of the person searching. Write for people first, search engines second.Misconception #2: Bing doesn’t really matter. According to comScore’s October search engine rankings, Bing received 18.1% of searches in the U.S. in April 2013. It’s a figure that has doubled since 2009. While Bing may not be ready to overtake Google as the most widely used search engine, there’s plenty this data should make you think about.Bing’s Relationship With FacebookIn early 2013, Facebook introduced Graph Search and its partnership with Bing. Graph search enables people to search for places and things within their social reach — for example, “Restaurants in Key West liked by my friends.” But it can’t handle every search. For those it can’t, it defaults to a Bing search. Bing’s Relationship With YahooIn 2012, Bing became the engine which powers all Yahoo searches. Since the same comScore report puts Yahoo search traffic at 11.1% of the market, combining Yahoo and Bing, you’re now talking nearly 30% of searches. New Opportunities With BingBing’s algorithm is a little less complex than Google’s and prioritizes slightly different things, so if you’re in a competitive space and have had trouble with Google, Bing might present some new opportunities to you.Keyword Data From BingAs noted above, this year, Google began encrypting all keyword data from its users’ searches, cutting marketers short when it comes to keyword insights. Bing, on the other hand, still provides marketers with keyword data. While that doesn’t change your prospective customers’ search behavior, there is more opportunity for you to learn from the keywords that have brought in Bing searchers. Bottom Line: Optimizing for Google should probably still be your main approach, but Bing is on the move. Strategic partnerships with Facebook and Yahoo, make the search engine an interesting force for some marketers. Misconception #3: ‘Keyword (not provided)’ means the end of SEO.Google’s move to encrypt all keywords would be the worst thing ever if SEO were entirely about keywords. Thankfully, it’s not.Instead of focusing on the keywords that brought visitors to your site, focus on the content. For instance, it’s best to go to your analytics and see which pages on your site had the highest portion of visitors from organic search (regardless of the keywords). What is the focus of those pages?  You can even go to Google and type in a few of the phrases you want to be found for. How do you currently rank for them? Focus your next quarter on creating useful relevant content fort those phrases, then compare your ranking to the original benchmark. Were you able to move the needle?Also, talk and listen to customers about what they were seeking when they found you, and focus on getting your content spread across social channels.Search Engine Watch has even more options in this informative post: Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data.Bottom Line: It’s an inconvenience that Google encrypted its keyword data, but it’s not the end of days. SEO is about creating relevant and spreadable content, so focus on that. Misconception #4: I can get a good inbound link by linking to my site from the comments.This one has mostly been put to rest, but I thought I’d include it for good measure.Inbound links to your website are like votes of confidence for your content and have a positive impact on your page’s ranking, but inbound links should be earned. Leaving links behind in the comments section of a blog isn’t going to help you in that area. Most blogs have “no follow” instructions built into their comments section to avoid spam. Just as it sounds, “no follow” instructs the search engine crawlers to ignore any links within the comments. It’s certainly not bad to occasionally link to relevant content in the comments you leave. In fact, if it’s an insightful comment, it may get you some good traffic — it’s just not likely to increase your search rank directly. And be careful not to overdo it. “Having a large portion of those backlinks coming from blog comments, it can raise red flags with Google,” explains Search Engine Watch. Bottom Line: Leave links in comments when they make sense or allow readers to learn more about your comment. Don’t expect them to help with SEO.Misconception #5: Subheaders are important for on-page SEO.I found a number of differing opinions on this, so it might be one to keep an eye on, but by and large, SEO consensus seems to be that for ranking on Google, subheaders H2 through H6 don’t actually carry much weight. They do have value in terms of accessibility, user experience, and reinforcing semantics, or meaning, of the content on the page, but they don’t add much for SEO. The main header tag, or H1, does have some SEO value, but even that seems limited, according to the experts. Pitstop Media has a really in-depth post on H1 headings, if you want to dive in. Bottom Line: Use subheaders to improve your site’s accessibility and HTML semantics. Put keywords in your subheaders if they help convey the message of the content underneath, but avoid keyword stuffing.Misconception #6: Google +1s directly affect search.Every two years, the search pros at Moz run a scientific correlation study to examine what webpage qualities are associated with high ranks on Google. In its most recent study, the company highlighted an interesting conclusion. What it found, Moz’s Cyrus Shepard explains, was this: “After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.” Once released, the interpretation of these findings got a little warped into a belief that +1s on Google were directly leading to higher search ranks — a classic correlation-causation debate, but it caused a bit of a kerfuffle.With one-click retweets and the common act of paraphrasing online, some began to interpret this discovery as a sign that that Google was actively giving more search credit to pages that had earned Google +1s. Google’s Matt Cutts even joined in to state clearly that Google +1s do not directly lead to a higher search rankings, saying:”If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.”So why does matter? After working through some of the debate, Shepard added some thoughts to his original posts which focused more on Google+ as a platform rather than the act of voting on a post through +1s. He explained:”It’s clear that Google doesn’t use the raw number of +1s directly in its search algorithm, but Google+ posts have SEO benefits unlike other social platforms.”For example, Shepard noted, content on Google+ gets crawled almost immediately and, unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, Google+ posts are treated as blog posts with unique URLs and title tags. Bottom Line: Posting to Google+ as a platform has search value, while clicking the +1 button on posts just correlates to good content. Misconception #7: Google Authorship drives higher rankings.The answer to this one is no — at least not yet. Establishing Google Authorship involves adding Rel=Author tags to your content and linking your Google+ page back to your blog.Authorship helps Google attribute a collection of content to its author, which doesn’t add to that content’s rank, but DOES make your content stand out on the search engine result page by adding an image to your search result.In the example below, you can see I’m not the first result for the search, but because of authorship, my result includes the picture.In a really well-written post over on our Insiders blog, Gray MacKenzie summarizes the value of this well:”Your goal isn’t high rankings for the purpose of high rankings — you want to rank well so that you drive more quality traffic to your site. One important metric for growing your search traffic is your clickthrough rate (CTR). How many people who see your page in Google results actually click through to your site? Google Authorship puts a face and a name to the search engine results, helping to build trust, communicate relevance, establish credibility, and improve CTR — in some cases by upwards of 150%.”Bottom Line: Authorship doesn’t increase rank (for now), but it does grab searchers’ attention and increase clickthrough rate, so you should absolutely still do it.To attach an image to your search results, use this helpful tutorial from MacKenzie. (Note: If you’re a HubSpot customer using the COS blog, the Rel=Author tag is already built into your author profiles, so you only need to do the first part and add your author profile in HubSpot.)I hope that cleared a few things up. Since SEO is an evolving space, we may very well revisit this topic again (and soon).If you know of any other confusing areas you’d like us to address or can think of a better way to explain what I’ve laid out here, let us know in the comments! SEO Mistakes Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Originally published Dec 11, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

Introducing the Blog Topic Generator, Learning to Not Hate Writing, and More in HubSpot Content This Week

first_img Originally published Jan 19, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Blog Post Topics Topics: Ugh … writing. As a former freelancer writer, and someone who generally enjoys writing, you think I wouldn’t struggle with it so much. But, alas, I do. From coming up with great topic ideas, to formulating compelling arguments, to stringing sentences together in a way that makes the experience enjoyable for readers, there are a lot of pain points. So, why even bother to write? I’d love to convince you that the process of writing is rich and rewarding and that there’s really no better feeling in the world than adding that final punctuation mark to the end of a blog post you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into. But if all that sounds like a bunch of artsy-fartsy mumbo jumbo (understandable), here’s a better reason for you: Writing is good for business. Research tells us that companies that regularly write and publish blog posts get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than companies that don’t. So, fingers at the ready, everyone — it’s time to write. And we’ve got plenty of content that can help.How to Stop Hating Writing (and Actually Get Kinda Good)Remember all of those things that I (and possibly you) struggle with when writing? Good news! We’ve rounded up a ton of tips and best practices from the likes of Dan Lyons, Ann Handley, and more to help you improve your writing prowess. Want to dive deeper? Check out The Marketer’s Pocket Guide to Writing Good (and yes, we know it should be “Well”).Don’t Know What to Write About? Get Ideas From the Blog Topic Generator [Free Tool]So I just got some awesome advice from the guide above, I have some killer classical tunes playing in the background, and I’m ready to get my writing on. There’s only one, big problem: I have no idea what the heck I should be writing about. If only there was magic button I could push to get a bunch of fresh ideas. Wait, there is? And it’s called the Blog Topic Generator? And it’s FREE?! Check it out, fellow bloggers.30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #15: Join the Blogging CommunityWhen a serious case of writer’s block kicks in and you feel like Hulk-smashing your fists through your keyboard, just remember this: You’re not alone! In a recent tip post from our 30-Day Blog Challenge series, David Berkowitz, Chief Marketing Officer at MRY, reminds us that there’s a whole community of bloggers out there — a community that can prove quite helpful to bloggers in need of assistance.15 Smart Marketers Share Insights on the Future of the IndustryWe recently had 15 marketing mavens peer into their crystal balls and tell us what they think the future of the industry will hold. And while we got a diverse array of responses, the word “content” made an appearance in many of them. This group of writers made it clear the future of content is all about context and personalization: delivering the right stuff, to the right people, at the right time.10 Common Mistakes Most Business Bloggers MakeDo you include images and calls-to-action in all of your blog posts? Do you spend a good chunk of time strengthening your headlines after you’ve finished writing? Do you publish posts on a consistent basis? If you answered “no” to any (or all) of these questions, definitely check out this new post from our Insiders section.Sales Flash: Your Inbound Leads Are Useless Without A Valuable FollowupThis scenario is a common one: A company holds a webinar or other event and generates a whole ton of new leads. Those leads go to the sales team, which then calls or emails those leads with a canned sales pitch. Effective tactic? Absolutely not. In this new post from our Sales section, learn how you can use personalized, well-written content to make your followups more effective.15 Blog KPIs You Should Already Be TrackingSo, you’ve overcome your terrible bout of writer’s block, you’ve crafted and published some amazing blog posts with attention-grabbing headlines, and now it’s time to sit back and let the leads roll in. Of course, by “sitting back,” we mean “regularly measuring the performance of your blog and sharing those metrics with your team.” Not sure what key performance indicators (KPIs) you should be tracking? No worries. HubSpot’s lead blog strategist, Pamela Vaughan, has got you covered.’Devil Baby’ Is an Online Marketing Hit, But Can This Demon Child Sell Movie Tix?I’ll now leave you with a new post from HubSpot’s resident writing wiz, Dan Lyons, in which he takes a look at a new (and arguably scary) marketing campaign, which involves a demonic, animatronic baby wreaking havoc on unsuspecting bystanders. Enjoy!What was the most interesting thing you learned this week on Inbound Hub? What do you want to see more of? Leave your feedback in the comments! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

8 Brands That Totally Nailed Their World Cup Ads

first_imgAdvertiser: McDonald’sAgency: DDBMany World Cup ads focus on the greatness of football stars such as Neymar Jr., Messi, and Ronaldo. McDonald’s decided to do the opposite: They found a bunch of ordinary folks around the world whose skills are just as extraordinary as the pros and made one heck of a compilation of really cool tricks that leaves you amazed, amused, and applauding — especially for the quick-footed old man who wins the award for coolest grandpa ever.3) Nothing Is Impossible for a Chilean (Spanish) Originally published Jun 12, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Advertiser: Banco de ChileAgency: Prolam Young & RubicamChile is playing in a “group of death” in the World Cup, meaning that it’s got some of the fiercest competition from previous champs and finalists like the Netherlands and Spain. Featuring the Chilean miners at the site of the infamous Campamento Esperanza mines, the ad is a powerful call for Chileans to rise above struggle: If the miners were able to defy all odds and make it out alive after being trapped for days, the team can harness the same spirit and push through. The phrase “Nothing is Impossible for a Chilean” is repeated several times with fervor. Whether Spanish is your native tongue or you rely on rudimentary Spanish to get by in this world, this ad will leave you with some serious goose bumps.(Tip: If you want to see the translation, turn on captions by clicking the “CC” button.)4) Adriana Lima Transforms a Man Cave Advertiser: HyundaiAgency: INNOCEAN USAI burst out laughing watching this ad. Hyundai piggybacks on a popular copy trend popping up informally on social media and sites like Buzzfeed — the “because something” trend. For example, I say the word “wicked” a lot, because Boston. Hyundai created a series of advertisements that depict events that happen because, you know, fútbol. This particular one is aimed primarily at the Spain camp, and starts with very pregnant couples all piling into the hospital at once. Nurses ask each other, “What happened 9 months ago?” A series of quick flashbacks shows that it was all due to the elation of Spain winning the last world cup, and … BOOM. And kudos for the social media tie-in at the end with #BecauseFutbol.7) Everywhere You Want to Be, Featuring Zidane and Cannavaro It’s FIFA World Cup 2014 time, and boy do we have fútbol fever! We’ve filled out our brackets, ironed out team jerseys, draped flags around our office chairs (I kid you not), and of course, being the marketers we are, have pored over all the ads being released by brands around the event.In case you missed it, the World Cup is pretty much the most epic event ever (sorry, Olympics). No other single sporting event unites as many fans and stops the world quite like it does. During the next several weeks, the best of the best will take the field for their countries and battle it out for the ultimate prize on a world stage… and marketers know that.Have you ever watched a really, really good ad and just said … wow. Maybe it tugged at your heartstrings (I’m looking at you, P&G “Thank You Mom” ad), made you laugh out loud, gave you a new idea, inspired you, or made you stop and think. We definitely felt all sorts of emotions while watching all the World Cup ads that have been playing over the past few months.Below are some of the best World Cup 2014 ads we’ve seen so far. We’ve picked ads for their inspirational messages, skillful cinematography, laugh-out-loud scripts, and inventiveness. The World Cup is as epic as events can get, so it only makes sense brands pull out all the stops when it comes to advertising.Take a look at the ads below, and then tell us: Which one is your favorite?1) Time Zone Advertiser: Nike FootballAgency: W+KNike wins when it comes to creating top-notch commercials. They get the biggest stars (this one has the world’s best footballers and the Hulk to boot), draw fans in as close as they’ll ever get to the action, and use fantastic cinematography to boot. And it works. Every. Single. Time. The concept of this World Cup’s campaign is original as always, and plays on every football fan’s fantasy of not just playing with greats like Ronaldo, Neymar Jr., and Rooney, but also being them. The progression of outdoor soccer game in a park to center stage at the World Cup escalates audience members’ feelings from “this is cool” to “this is epic.” Nike does a nice job of dismantling the barrier between “us” and “them”, showing off players’ personalities up close, and weaving in humor throughout. It’s fun, fast, and all about the football. Really good ads, like good marketing in general, serve the purpose of connecting audiences to a brand. In this case, these brands all capitalized on the biggest single sporting event in the world — they know there is a staggering audience for these matches (in the billions). If they can harness the energy and excitement around it and use it as a conduit between the audience and their brand, they’re in for a huge win. The ads highlighted here successfully connected their brand to their target audience through football, so to that we say, Gol! Advertiser: AdidasAgency: TBWA\Chiat\DayWhat happens when you put a bunch of greats in the same house and give them a football? Destruction of property and fancy footwork, of course. Adidas draws on the star power of its athletes to grab its international audience’s attention with one fell swoop. Bringing together superstars from different countries who play(ed) for different football clubs means more people instantly can relate to it. Chances are most of them are a fan of Beckham, Zidane, Bale, or Lucas Moura, which means it’s much more amusing to watch them goof off and play a pick-up game right in one of their homes. Usually Adidas goes for more gritty, intense ads that glorify the blood-and-sweat aspect of the game, but this was a great successful attempt at something lighter.6) Because Fútbol  Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Advertiser: ESPNAgency: WDCWScenes showing fans from Rio to Kumasi to Valencia to Moscow to Seattle show the differences between cultures but the same excitement everyone is feeling watching the World Cup. It transcends countries and cultures  — it’s universal. ESPN’s ad is aimed at increasing its American audience for the World Cup by connecting them to the rest of the world. The message at the end of the ad says it all: “Every 4 years the world has one time zone.”2) GOL! Advertiser: KiaAgency: David & GoliathKia’s Adriana Lima ads can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes, they come on as too much and too little value. But agency David & Goliath hits the mark with this fun, cheeky ad that lightly scolds the American male (Kia’s target audience) for being in a bubble — it reminds them to look beyond home to what the world has to offer. That world includes things like fútbol and, you know, foreign cars like Kia. Also, Adriana Lima wins because she’s Adriana Lima.5) House Match Advertiser: VisaAgency: Almap BBDOFrenchman Zidane is infamous for his head-butt against an Italian player in the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals. I guess enough time has passed where it’s totally cool to make light of the situation — in fact, Zidane has been popping up all over the place in the World Cup advertising game (such as the Adidas ad in #4).VISA pulls off a brilliant advertising moment by placing Zidane in an Italian restaurant, which, for those who know the context, creates an instant interest: What will happen next? The choice of including former Italian great Cannavaro (great expressions from him), playful accordion music that rises in tempo as the mood escalates, and the revelry that follows when Italy scores (and Zidane bearing the hugs from the Italians with a resigned smile) makes for a good chuckle.That being said, the messaging at the end, “Everywhere you want to be,” is a little convoluted. I don’t know if Zidane necessarily wanted to be in that particular restaurant at that time, but I’m reading it as “Visa is accepted everywhere.” Anyways, on the advertising front, points for originality.8) Winner Stays last_img read more