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Holy Un-Cow! Delicious. Healthy. Naturally Dairy Free.

1 Feb

Choosing to be dairy-free no longer means you have to give up luscious yogurt! The Media Owls team discovered Yoconut Yogurt at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show, Savor California Booth. We always head straight for this booth to find the most innovative specialty foods and beverages, and as usual this year included a treasure trove of fresh finds. One of our clear favorites was Yoconut, the creamy coconut yogurt made with delicious, wholesome, plant-based ingredients.

Yoconut is a healthy alternative that’s made with naturally dairy free, lactose free, and casein free coconut milk instead. In addition to being dairy free, Yoconut yogurt also supplies several key vitamins and minerals and has live and active cultures just like milk-based yogurts. In fact, Yoconut Dairy Free tells us they are the only yogurt on the market with naturally occurring electrolytes — great for everyday hydration and pre- or post-workouts. I found it to have a sweet and nutty profile and it’s unbelievably thick and rich. It’s the perfect healthy dollop atop granola, fresh fruit, or as a delectable dessert!

To find out where you can buy Yoconut click here. For more information about Yoconut go here. For more information about Savor California’s Gourmet Specialty Foods, go here.

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Silver Moon, California Country: Here’s to Spirited Partnerships!

12 Aug

Silver Moon Desserts, the San Francisco Bay Area’s hottest new ice cream and sorbet (liqueur-infused, intensely flavored with all natural ingredients and Real California Milk), was featured on California Country! Check it out, click on “Over the Moon” link below:

Over the moon for new ice cream.

High Times & Hijinks on the High Plains circa ‘69

12 May

By Jackie Flaten

Then they Zipped to Zap, visions of brawls & freakouts in their heads…
In the spring of 1969 an estimated 3,000 young people descended on the tiny prairie town of Zap, N.D., for a spring break blow-out. What started as an off-beat idea for a party ended with National Guard troops routing the beer-addled revelers from Zap and nearby towns, creating a national sensation (even international, with a report appearing in the Soviet Union’s Pravda).

Zap Revisited, a film by West Fargo, N.D., native Chris Breitling, recalls the strange-but-true story of the “Zip to Zap“, aka the “Zap-In” through the memories of the people who took part in this uniquely infamous episode of North Dakota history. Breitling produced Zap Revisited as a film student in the early 1990s. In conjunction with this year’s 40th anniversary celebration, Breitling is making his DVD available for $12, free shipping, at www.ZapRevisited.com .

Here’s a short clip from the film:

A Northern alternative to warmer spring break climes
It all started when an editor at Fargo’s North Dakota State University student newspaper thought it would be fun to tout the tiny town of Zap as an ideal spring break alternative to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Zap party, according to the article, would include: “… a full program of orgies, brawls, freakouts and arrests… Do you dare miss it??”

Zap merchants were happy to hear of the picnic plans and town bars stocked up on extra beer and food — town ladies even mixed up a big old batch of baked beans. But the tongue-in-cheek article had unwittingly ignited a series of events that got out of hand when the story was picked up by the national press. Even the Wham-O! company piggybacked on the idea, launching its newest toy, the “Zip-Zap.”

Thousands of young people poured into town from all over the Midwest, out-numbering residents at least 10 to 1. Accounts differ as to what exactly caused everything to go downhill, but it seems a beer price increase led to fights, fires and finally shambling treks to the nearby towns of Hazen and Beulah. Zap’s mayor, fearing his town under threat, was forced to request the state’s National Guard troops.

North Dakota’s well-mannered protesters
Back then, the nightly news beamed Vietnam body counts along with colorful scenes of hairy hippies and impassioned students yelling, marching and clashing violently with police. Generally carrying on in a manner alarming to a more sedate generation. Almost any en masse gathering of young people in the late ’60s triggered concern. But for the most part North Dakota’s college students were relatively clean-cut and responsible folks. In fact, at a rather tense University of North Dakota student sit-in, a hat was quietly passed around to collect change for a window accidentally broken during the gathering.

A far as who did what to who in the what now, Zip to Zap organizers and the townspeople seem to agree that it was only a handful of “bad apples” — bad apples who probably weren’t even genuine North Dakotans — who caused most of the trouble.

The editor whose pen started it all felt awful about the whole debacle and reportedly hid out in his parents’ house ’til things died down. He managed to stay out of Zap for 40 years except on one occasion when he couldn’t avoid passing through (but he slunk down far in his seat so as to not be noticed). The universities’ student governments eventually paid for the damages and everyone was very sorry about the whole thing.

All is forgiven and the town’s welcome mat is back out. On that note, someone’s comment on the YouTube clip was: “Zap 2010. You know you want to.”

Pick up Zap Revisited here: www.ZapRevisited.com, read more about the “Zip to Zap” on Wikipedia, or just Google around and you’ll find anniversary stories on the subject.

-jdf

Paper invoice: Why not just send it over on a dinosaur?

8 May

By Jackie Flaten

On The Office, when Michael Scott’s boss asked him to fax something to NY headquarters, Michael responded: “Why not just send it over on a dinosaur?”

This exchange made me think of our cool client billFLO, whose mission it is to eliminate paper invoices and save business $30 billion a year in processing costs. When we first became acquainted with billFLO CEO Ian Sweeney, he of the charming Irish accent, we were genuinely surprised that the sum total of paper invoices sent on an annual basis between businesses is a forest-gobbling 20 BILLION.

Practically every other business office task is done electronically. But this essential operation is still handled for the most part via a nearly 2,000 year old conveyance, paper being invented in China by Cai Lun in 105 AD.

Ian and company co-founder Alec Kercso founded billFLO because they were surprised no one had tackled this problem in a way that would help any-sized business save money as well as reduce paper waste. The Media Owls can attest from first-hand experience: billFLO is very easy to set up and use.

From billFLO’s April 20 news announcement:

“…billFLO [is] the first low-cost, fully electronic invoicing network that enables small businesses to easily exchange invoices electronically. Each year nearly 20 billion paper invoices are exchanged between businesses at the price of nearly $30 billion in lost productivity. billFLO completely eliminates paper invoices by electronically connecting both the vendor and customer accounting systems.

“Vendors simply email computer-readable billFLO invoices to customers who, in turn, use billFLO to instantly import the electronic invoice into their accounting systems. A small business receiving 100 paper bills each month requires at least six hours or $400 for manual data entry to process the incoming paper invoices. billFLO, which can be downloaded for free from billFLO.com eliminates that expense. The average computer user can set billFLO up in five minutes, making it practical for any-sized business.”

Why send your dinosaur when you can save a tree, save time and save money by using billFLO?-jdf

‘Go CampKit’ just in time for summer fun

4 Apr

By Jackie Flaten

We go camping maybe a couple times each year — if we’re lucky — always saying we should go more often. Especially with so many beautiful options within a short drive. The whole planning thing can be an impediment to a spur-of-the-moment getaway, but Regina Sakols and Dione Chen have come up with the Go CampKit to make it a breeze.

From their site: “The Go CampKit™ is pre-packed with essential camping gear, making it practically hassle free to get away. With the Go CampKit™, you can leave behind worries that you might forget to pack that one oh-so-important item.” Check it out here: http://www.gocampkit.com

gocampkittotethumb.png

‘Never too much category’ – Chocolate Salon in SF

30 Mar

On a beautiful, lightly raining San Francisco spring day last weekend, a Media Owls contingent (Small Fry and I) attended the 3rd Annual International Chocolate Salon. “Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, buyers and journalists can experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of the world’s great culinary metropolitan areas” was the clarion call.

More than 50 talented confectioners hawking the very best they had to offer in chocolates, wines, sauces, even skincare.

Fort Mason was absolutely packed. Maybe a little too packed. I bought my ticket early so it was $20 instead of the $25 charged at the door, but I’d gladly pay double if it would cut down on the masses. The chocolatiers would cut up a truffle, say, into minuscule tidbits and everyone would crowd madly around to get a sliver. It made me think of pigeons jostling each other for breadcrumbs. Small Fry and I certainly had our share — amazing how fast one feels stuffed while partaking in teeny tiny bites.

Some faves standing out in the cocoa blur: Van Gogh Chocolate Vodka (www.vangoghvodkda.com) – yummm. And Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur also a winner. Coco Delice Fine Chocolates were sublime. I had tasted several others by the time I found Coco Delice, and you’d think I was chocolated-out. But Master Chocolatier and Owner Dennis Kearney outdid himself. Sweet Beauty Organic Chocolate Spa, a company out of Seattle (sweetbeautyspa.com) drew a crowd. Owner Lisa Schafer has created a scrumptious, handcrafted line of spa and beauty products based on pure chocolate: Chocolate Milk Bath, body scrubs, lotions, cream, body wash, masques, lip balms, along with an all-natural line for little people.

Here’s my dear one having “just one more” taste of an outlandishly rich chocolate dipping sauce:

Chocolate Heaven

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Gee, Beav, Isn’t PR Just Like Advertising?

23 Feb

A fellow PR professional, Richard Laermer, answered this question we hear almost daily,  BEST …..

___________________________________ 

Although I have toiled in public relations for 95 years (!), it seems as though most of my friends—not to mention my immediate family—have trouble understanding exactly what I do. When I am speaking with them about a media interview, say on television, they assume I’m on camera. When I say I am working with a newspaper reporter on story, they ask me why my clients don’t just advertise in the publication because: ”PR and advertising are the same, right?”

Many share this misconception because advertisements are familiar to them and PR is not. They know that when a company wants people to know about a product or service, they buy an ad in a magazine or put together a commercial.

They know the ads aired during the Super Bowl cost millions and wait in anticipation to see the über-creative spots during the game and then the post-game commentary on which ad made the biggest impression. They understand advertising, but they don’t understand that the hype surrounding those ads is PR at its best.

Shortly after starting in PR someone told me that she could no longer watch the news or read a paper or magazine to relax and unwind. She said that she was constantly scanning for stories that covered topics of interest to her clients; looking at mastheads and bylines for the names of reporters that may be covering a new beat; listening and watching for ways to phrase a message or shoot B-roll footage.

She decided – remember, not me – that advertising folks had it “easy” and that the primary difference between the disciplines is the position of the word placement (ahem). In effect she was saying that advertisers have it easier because they “place ads” (place being the first word of the phrase). PR folks “secured placements,” indicating the upfront work required to secure the placement.

She resented the fact that PR was seen as having little value and that the advertisers were America’s clear favorite.

I explained that while advertising might be more socially accepted among consumers and businesses, PR is ultimately more beneficial for the companies that did it right and the consumers they targeted. This lesson took time to drive home.

Through PR we do paint a bigger picture of the product, service or issue at hand. In advertising, the time and space through which a company can communicate is limited to 30-seconds or a few column inches. Consumers view an ad and might consider it funny or clever, but if asked probably can’t remember the product or service—just the awesome tagline or over-the-top graphics. In contrast, when the same consumers read an article in a newspaper, they remember the problem, the solution, some experts quoted and the publication in which the article appeared.

That’s power.

PR is now more than ever about education. As professionals, our job is to educate the media and the consumer (once we get to them). Yes, our job is to educate our clients and/or bosses. We communicate with editors and reporters and bloggers and podcasters on behalf of them. They should know our process (perhaps our Moms should too): We explain, forecast, and spot trends to see what the next big thing will be in technology, healthcare, fashion, politics or buzzworthy topics. We build relationships with the media, based not on the number of ads we buy, but through what I hope is accurate, honest and timely information (and education) we provide. No strings attached, except maybe a callback!

PR is not about impressing people with witty taglines or state-of-the-art visuals; it is not about entertainment or pizzazz.

PR provides information through which “targets” can make the best decision.

I’m glad it didn’t take me more than 95 years to figure this out

It’s new for me… and I like it.

23 Jan

I have been working in PR for many years and have had many successes. I felt that I was an integral part of the growth and made an impact on the positive transitions that my talents afforded my company’s owners as well as our customers. I honored our clients and valued my colleagues. Still something always kept me from feeling satisfied and settled about working for these companies. Recently I was up late working on a bylined article for one of our clients – College Planning ABC. Manuel Fabriquer, the founder of the company, assists parents and students in securing financial aid and free money for college. It hit me when I was describing how the time has come for parents, like me, to start getting creative about figuring out how we will pay for college. I realized that what I lacked in my past positions was true passion. I may have cared but never had this wonderful feeling of purpose – of responsibility for the lifeblood of my clients. In turn our (both my and my clients’) success had become my passion when I realized I was working late for MY client – who had put his faith in Media Owls.  I know now that not only can I relate to the value of the college planner in my own situation (I have one kid in college and a senior in high school…ugh) but the rewarding feeling I get from securing a placement of that article in the San Jose Business Journal or So Cal Life After 50 is more about my personal accomplishments on behalf of Media Owls. I guess I am proud of Jackie Flaten and myself for taking this leap… and it feels good.
Thanks for your support  — I now share your passion… and I like it.

acj

And here we go…

9 Jan

By Jackie Flaten

Our website went live today, thanks to the fabulous work of Mr. Cardoza at Kazoo Software — thanks, Joe the Genius!

The launch of Media Owls has impelled me to take a crack at this blogging thing. Apparently I’m a bit late in the game — at this point in world history I really ought to be tweeting. An article in the October Wired reports that “blogging is dead.”

Paul Boutin writes: “Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004… Twitter operates even faster than the blogosphere… As a writer, though, I’m onto the system’s real appeal: brevity. Bloggers today are expected to write clever, insightful, witty prose to compete with Huffington and The New York Times. Twitter’s character limit puts everyone back on equal footing. It lets amateurs quit agonizing over their writing and cut to the chase.”

Easier said than done. In my very first carefully crafted Twitter post, I missed the fine print and proceeded to ramble away with great excitement, as is my wont. Brevity is generally not my strong suit. However, I’m quite capable of “murdering my darlings”, as James Patrick Kelly terrifyingly advised in 1995:

“It’s the nature of writers to fall in love with words, particularly their own. Clever turns of phrase excite us; we beam like proud parents when our protagonists take on lives of their own; a shapely plot twist can turn our heads. There is nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional fling-as long as it stops in draft. When time comes to make that final revision, however, you must harden your heart, sharpen the ax and murder your darlings.”

Read his delightful piece in full here: http://www.sfwa.org/writing/murder.htm

-jdf

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