July 11 was Net Neutrality Day.
If you didn’t hear about it, you’re not alone. When I asked a dozen friends how they were celebrating Net Neutrality Day, most did not know what I was talking about. Online friends simply messaged back with shrugging or “thinking man” emojis.
I couldn’t blame them. Most news coverage was focused on the White House and Russia.
This is not to suggest diminished importance in the fight for net neutrality, even if it doesn’t get the fanfare the day deserves.
It is to suggest, however, that every day should be Net Neutrality Day.
What Is Net Neutrality?
If you did hear about Net Neutrality Day, you probably heard the typical sound bite. Yes, it’s a battle for a free and open Internet. That really simplifies it until you consider the role a free internet plays in your daily life.
Net neutrality creates an open atmosphere, mostly devoid of government regulation. It creates similar benefits for users regardless of size and scope, profit or nonprofit status, individual consumer or mega business.
Everyone has the potential to flourish in an open online environment. If you’re Facebook, an online start-up at the Youngstown Business Incubator, or an 87-year-old grandma connecting with her grandkids via the free computer at the local library, you should have access to an open internet.
The term net neutrality was coined when the FCC started advocating for an open internet.
The first real fight came when the FCC prohibited companies like Verizon from blocking access to certain sites.
This all changed in 2014 and 2015 as telecomm companies fought the FCC to suspend some access-blocking rules. The FCC fought successfully to reclassify Verizon and others as “common carriers,” making their internet services the same as, say, telephone service.
Ultimately, what Verizon and others want is for you to pay for higher speeds. Want to use Netflix? Want to stream movies, music, games? Then you’ll have to pay more for higher speeds.
Of course, this violates the basic premise of a free and open Internet.
And to be sure, the FCC is changing its stance on net neutrality under the Trump administration.
Lauren Culbertson, public policy manager for Twitter, said, “Without the guiding principles of net neutrality, it is entirely possible Twitter would not have come from a somewhat quirky experimental 140-character SMS service to where we are today.”
Other social media giants echoed these sentiments.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbrg posted, “Net neutrality is the idea that the internet should be free and open for everyone. If a service provider can block you from seeing certain content or can make you pay extra for it, that hurts all of us, and we should have rules against it.”
To learn more about net neutrality, and how you can act, go to iadayofaction.org.
My wife and I went on vacation last week.
If you follow me on social media, you wouldn’t know it.
We didn’t post vacation status updates with pictures or videos. We didn’t provide any indication of our location. We didn’t announce dates and times of our departure or return.
Sounds like a lackluster vacation, right?
Staying true to advice offered in previous columns, we kept frequent updates of our escapades off social media for one reason: safety.
This is not to suggest our travel plans were secret. Other people knew we were gone. Our kids stayed with family. Our neighbors collected the mail and cared for the Earnheardt cats.
It’s simple advice, but difficult for some to follow, especially those who feel the urge to post every moment (e.g., me).
Don’t post those amazing vacation pictures and videos until you’re home. Save them for after the trip.
Consider this: you probably take about a dozen shots of the same selfie or group photo. Take that extra time you’re not using to post updates to delete the bad shots and whittle down your collection to only the best pictures.
If you have videos, use this time to edit them to only include the content you want to keep and share.
Here are some additional tips we’ve picked up over the years to keep our family safe while we’re on vacation.
1. Keep posting to social media. This might sound counterintuitive to everything I’ve just suggested you should not do while on social media. However, if you’re a prolific social media user and you suddenly stop posting updates, your friends and followers (and those who mean to do you harm) may wonder why.
If memes are your thing, have a few ready to post while you’re sitting by the pool. While scrolling through your feed, show some love by liking and sharing posts.
2. Turn off location services. This was my downfall a few years ago on a trip to Chicago. I was making frequent status updates from my phone, but I forgot to turn off location services. Facebook assumed I wanted everyone to know where I was.
Location services are typically only available when you’re posting from a mobile device. To turn on location services for an app like Facebook, you must turn on location services (GPS) for your phone, and then location access for the app.
There’s a different process for turning the services off and on depending on your operating system.
On Android devices, tap settings, location and location services. Older Android devices (5.1.1 and earlier) require turning off location services by scrolling through your apps.
On iOS devices, tap settings, privacy, and location services. For older iOS versions (8.0+), go to settings, privacy, and location services. Scroll through your list until you find the app you need.
One of my favorite story-telling conventions in TV and film is text messaging.
During the most recent season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” on Netflix, Ansari’s character, Dev, frequently interacts with his love interest, Francesca, via text message.
No words are spoken. The only noise is that of Dev’s phone chiming out incoming text message alerts.
I enjoy reading these exchanges. They’re as important to advancing a credible plot-line using technology as the big block cell phone was in “Miami Vice” in the ’80s or the use of email by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” in the late ’90s.
I enjoy these exchanges so much that I’ve recently turned to chat story apps Hooked and Tap. These apps have been around for a while, but have been gaining momentum as readers and writers look for new, inventive options for storytelling.
Here’s a look at both:
Hooked. According to the app description, Hooked wants to “make reading snappy, spooky and fun.” Each story is told through short text messages. Imagine reading a conversation by looking through someone’s chat history.
Rather than long, novel-length tomes, these stories are purposively short.
The free version of Hooked gives you limited “hoots” or taps of the screen to advance the story until you either pay to receive unlimited access, or wait 30-plus minutes until Hooked “recharges” your hoots.
Subscriptions for unlimited hoots range in price from $2.99 a week to $7.99 a month or $39.99 a year for premium access.
Tap. Tap is an offshoot of the social-story-sharing platform Wattpad.
Whether it’s horror, romance, suspense, science fiction or a category referred to simply as “Funny,” you can load new stories to fit your mood.
My recent favorites in the “Funny” section are “Cat Warfare” about fighting cats, and a story about a blind date with Tom Hanks titled “Mr. Hanks” (think “You’ve Got Mail” on text messaging steroids).
Like Hooked, you simply tap the screen on your mobile device to advance through the story.
Tap stories range in length of time to read – from about a few minutes to more than 10. If you’re looking for a quick story, I got through “Mr. Hanks” in about two minutes.
You can write your own chat stories, share them, and build an audience by asking readers to give feedback and share your stories their friends.
Also like Hooked, you’ll have limited free access to Tap stories unless you subscribe. The subscription rates for Tap and Hooked are identical.
If you get “hooked” on the free versions of Tap or Hooked, consider a subscription. If you’re a prolific e-book reader, and you’re looking for stories to fill the in-between-books time, it’s a good investment for endless reading.
Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube announced plans Monday to team up to combat terrorism.
Their plans include the creation of a Global Internet Forum that has one primary mission: make Facebook, Twitter and other web-based services we use every day hostile for terrorists and violent extremists.
Fighting online fire with fire is certainly not an innovative concept. It’s also not the first time one of the leading technology platforms announced plans to fight terrorism. But it’s clear that some companies are stepping up the fight.
On June 18, Google announced four steps. It’s worth noting that Google owns YouTube, a member in the aforementioned Forum. Google’s four steps include:
To that last step, Kent Waller, general counsel at Google, said, “Building on our successful Creators for Change program promoting YouTube voices against hate and radicalization, we are working with Jigsaw to implement the ‘Redirect Method’ more broadly.”
Jigsaw, formerly known as Google Ideas, is Google’s think tank.
What Waller is referring to is targeted online advertising to reach potential terrorist organization recruits. Recruits are redirected to anti-terrorist videos.
“In previous deployments of this system, potential recruits have clicked through on the ads at an unusually high rate,” Waller said. “[They] watched over half a million minutes of video content that debunks terrorist recruiting messages.”
Google’s steps are impressive, but the level of cooperation among Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube in the creation of the Forum is laudable. Think of it as the CIA, FBI and the NSA actually sharing information with each other.
In the joint statement released Monday, Forum members identified their mission, and suggested that their scope will evolve as terrorists evolve.
Similar to Google’s steps, the Forum plans to focus on three primary areas:
My grandmother liked the evening news. She liked Walter Cronkite, anchor of “CBS Evening News,” for nearly two decades.
It was appointment television. Forget trying to call her during the news. You could be in the same room, but you didn’t dare make a peep.
Grandma knew what she liked in terms of getting news, and she stuck with it. But she didn’t always agree with Cronkite and lamented the limited choices for getting news.
I suspect today’s choices would have excited her. There are a lot options for getting news and, well, the evening news is just one of many. We can get news in an instant in many different formats, and we’re getting much better at finding what we like.
We’re living in a world of insatiable information-seekers. We want more news and information. It doesn’t mean we always make optimal choices in terms of “where” or from “whom” we get our news, but it doesn’t stop us from searching.
Evidence for this can be found among the growing audience for podcasts.
According to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of podcast listeners in the U.S. has substantially increased since 2006.
In 2017, 40 percent of Americans listened to a podcast at least once.
This is up from just 9 percent in 2008, according to Pew. You can read the full report at pewresearch.org.
This could be due in part to the successes of popular podcasts such as narrative nonfiction hits “Serial” and “S-Town,” daily news from Marketplace and Bloomberg Day Break, or information with a twist from episodes of “No Such Thing As A Fish” and “Radiolab” (check out their CRISPR episode for some truly disturbing information).
Unlike radio, it’s hard to know exactly which podcast genres people are downloading.
Elisa Shearer, a research analyst with Pew, noted that data on podcasts “applies to all types of listening and does not break out news.” This is due to challenges with compiling information on podcasts, making analysis by genre difficult.
If, as the data suggest, podcast listening is on the rise, then it’s not hard to fathom a day when it surpasses terrestrial radio listening.
I suggest this is because we like news and talk radio.
According to Pew, the news and talk radio format is king in terrestrial radio. The percentage of radio listeners who turned to news and talk formats is at about 10 percent. Pop radio (i.e., Top 40) was second at about 8 percent.
Sure, terrestrial radio stations are making podcasts. But it’s important to note that podcasts can be created by anyone and we can download them for playback on commutes to work or when we’re working out.
Thanks to podcasting, we have choices – thousands of genre-busting, eclectic sources of news from around the world.
Grandma would have been happy.
I started writing this column in June 2014, and I haven’t missed a week.
Yes, I’m patting myself on the back. That’s a small accomplishment for this big guy.
Nearly three years and a few extended deadlines later, I’m in a reflection phase.
Are we getting better at using social media or, as a friend recently lamented, will it be the downfall of society? Ironically, he posted his little missive to Twitter.
Thanks to the amazing and often forgiving editors at The Vindicator, I’ve been able to share some thoughts on life with social media and how it’s changed us, for better or worse.
The best part is that some of those thoughts have come directly from you – friends, followers, readers. Thank you.
In that first column (Adam Earnheardt is a Shameless Self-Promoter, June 29, 2014), I shared strategies for social media self-branding.
We’re constantly showcasing our individual identities online. In many of the same ways corporations are building brands and cultivating new customers online, we’re building an audience and sharing our thoughts on politics, sports, family and friends, dogs and cats.
As I noted in that column, we’re not always aware we are “self-branding” until it is too late. Some times we say or post something deemed inappropriate that causes us to lose friends. (To which one reader responded, “Well, they probably weren’t my friends anyway.”)
Losing friends is bad. But for some, the consequences may be far worse. Just in the last two weeks we’ve seen celebrities and political pundits lose jobs, endorsement deals and fans because of misguided social media posts.
Based on those examples, your answer to the question posed above (“Are we getting better?”) would probably lean toward that of my Twitter friend, prophesying about social media and the end of days.
I’m more optimistic than that. I like to think that we’re getting better at using social media to share with people who we are, who we think we are, or who we want to be.
I spoke to a group of residents at Shepherd of the Valley in Poland last week about creating their own social media identities. Some were already on Facebook, but others were looking to connect with the world in new ways.
One resident said, “I have 14 grandchildren, and all of them are online. I’m going to make one of these Facebook things and watch them freak out. They think I’m inappropriate at Thanksgiving. Wait [until] they see me on [Facebook].”
Another resident said, “I have so many recipes, but no one to share them with, and Facebook doesn’t seem like the right place.” I suggested building her brand on Pinterest.
These two users are evidence to me that social media is still a fun and interesting place to learn about the world and share a little about our place in it.
Bergen Giordani is One Hot Cookie.
Lest you think I’m starting this week’s column by making some wildly inappropriate statement about my friend Bergen, let me explain.
Bergen and her daughter, Morgen, started the specialty cookie business, One Hot Cookie, in downtown Youngstown in 2013. Business is good. They’ve grown to three locations, including shops in Niles and Boardman, and they have plans for more.
Bergen does all this while serving as the development director at YSU’s Rich Center for Autism, where she leads a half-million-dollar-a-year campaign to support children affected by autism.
I sat down with Bergen to talk about the upcoming DOYO Live conference (Aug. 2-3 at YSU), how she uses social media to connect with cookie lovers, and about crazy cookie toppings.
Q. I have to be honest. One Hot Cookie is one of my guilty foodie pleasures. My wife and kids call me a cookie monster. And I love how engaged your business is on social media. So, what’s your recipe for driving social media users to buy cookies?
A. It’s really interesting to see what posts get the most engagement. Facebook and Instagram have algorithms that are constantly changing, so working around those is always challenging.
We try and post a ton of pictures and to be authentic. I think it helps if people can identify a brand as someone they know or want to know, so we try to and have a healthy mix of cookie sales propaganda, hilarious photos of our Cookie Dogs doing their thing, actual photos of customer orders, especially late night downtown. Those are the best customer cookie creations, without a doubt.
We’re starting to focus on Internet sales more and more, and we’re experimenting with “boosted” social media posts to target specific demographics and locations, to broaden our reach outside the Mahoning Valley but still targeting regions that have a connection back to this area.
Q. What’s the weirdest cookie topping you’ve ever tasted?
A. Crickets. Hands down, the crickets.
Q. What? That’s crazy!
A. Remember a few years ago when the cricket farmers were in Youngstown? We did a Cricket Cookie for Halloween.
But, funny story, while we’re really good at making cookies, we’re not so good at roasting crickets. We kept baking these frozen crickets, tossing them in salt, and trying to find out what the “best” tasting roasting time was for these frozen crickets. That was the most disturbing taste-testing we’ve ever had.
We also did pulled pork on a cookie for a fun twist a few summers ago, but that one was actually really good.
Q. What’s the single most important ingredient to creating a successful business in the Valley?
A. The connections that you make are the single most important ingredient. In the Mahoning Valley in particular there’s no such thing as six degrees of separation. It’s more like two degrees, which is both slightly creepy and awesome. You never know what a casual conversation or social media comment can result in.
True story: a passing comment in a restaurant resulted in One Hot Cookie being the first tenant at Erie Terminal. Truer story: it wasn’t a restaurant. It was a bar, and I was a waitress.
So, the moral of the story: don’t underestimate or prejudge people or how you’re connected to them.
Q. You’re pretty active in the Youngstown community. How do you use social media to engage with the community?
A. I feel like in today’s world more people are “talking” on social media than in real life, for a variety of reasons, time being one of them, at least for me. It’s easy to engage on social media at your convenience whether that’s 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. —times when you wouldn’t or shouldn’t call or text people.
In that regard, social media allows you to be social on your time schedule.
Through social media I can stay informed about what’s going on in the community. I think that people can see who you’re connected with, through comments and likes, and networking becomes easier and more organic.
Once you realize you have common friends it’s easier to reach out and start a conversation, whether it’s about a community event or cause or something more business-related. In my opinion, social media sparks conversations and opens doors that would be nearly impossible or at least incredibly awkward to do in real life.
Q. I love your ice cream sandwiches. I saw a brownie-cookie ice cream sandwich on your Instagram feed the other day and my stomach growled. What’s your choice for the best ice cream sandwich cookie combo?
A. Aww, thank you.
I have a couple combos in my rotation: There’s the Cookies and Cream Brownie with Cookies and Cream ice cream and a double chocolate chip cookie on the bottom. That’s pretty intense.
It’s like a meal.
Then there’s the classic, our traditional chocolate chip sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream. You can never go wrong with that combo. It’s like your Grandmother’s pearls, always on point.
One of our newest additions to the menu is the Smash Cup, which is a milkshake, cookie sundae hybrid. It’s incredible.
But, when it comes to Smash Cups I go for the Salted Caramel Pretzel every time, which is funny because as a stand alone cookie, the Pretzel is one of our best sellers, but it’s not one of my personal favorites. However, as a Smash Cup, it’s perfect, all day long.
Q. I saw some recent One Hot Cookie cross-promotion on Facebook with Niles Residence Inn and Martino Motorsports. How useful are social media platforms in helping to promote these relationships?
A. It’s funny, both of those relationships started very organically from—wait for it—actual human interaction. But, through promoting the Residence Inn event we booked two graduation parties and a wedding—just from that post alone. So, that was a great example of showcasing what we can do when we take the show on the road.
It’s one thing to say “yeah, so we do graduation party catering” and it’s another to see the set up with the warm chocolate chip cookies and trays of specialty baby bites.
Martino Motorsports have been huge fans and supporters of One Hot Cookie since practically day one. When I started to tell our team that we were doing this and that it was tied to Ryan Martino, they didn’t know his name. But when I said, “you know him, he’s the Banana Pecan, no Pecan guy,” our employees in both Youngstown and Boardman knew exactly who he was.
(Ryan) will probably kill me for saying that, but it’s true and it’s hilarious.
From promoting The Martino we have been approached by other businesses for some co-branding and promotional opportunities. One in particular will launch in late June or early July. So, it’s been incredible to see how these two very organic relationships have multiplied tenfold simply from social media.
Q. DOYO Live is right around the corner. What will you be sharing in your talk?
A. I’m super excited to be part of DOYO Live this year. Dennis (Schiraldi, creator of DOYO Live) is great, and to go back to what we were talking about earlier about connections—I’ve got several connections to Dennis—and his positivity and perseverance have really driven this conference to a whole different level. It’s incredible.
In my breakout session I am going to focus on grassroots social media marketing. When my daughter and I first launched One Hot Cookie back in 2013, we were broke.
I feel like everyone has heard that part of the story before, but my favorite part of the story is when I called my dad and said, “I’m starting this cookie shop” his first response was not “that’s terrific, I’m so proud of you.” Nope. It was “you aren’t going to quit your job are you?” Which, I feel, was his roundabout way of saying “I’m not giving you any money so don’t even ask”
But, all that aside, starting a new business with a $0 advertising marketing promotional budget meant that we had to hit up social media hard, and in order to get organic, or free, growth on social media meant we had to be witty and clever and authentic.
So, my session will focus on our story of growth that is 100-percent directly tied to social media and the tactics we used that were wins, and of course what we’ve done that ended up being giant fails.
Q. You’re bringing cookies right? Cause that’s a session I’d go to.
A. Of course we’ll eat cookies during the breakout session because, well, why wouldn’t we?
Want to learn more about One Hot Cookie? Check them out online at theonehotcookie.com to view the menu, schedule a party, or place an order. Follow them on Instagram at @onehotcookie.
For more on DOYO Live, including tickets and schedule, go to doyolive.com.
Weddings are big business.
According to a survey by The Knot, the average wedding costs more than $35,000.
For the 13,000 U.S.-based brides and grooms who completed the survey, that cost didn’t include the honeymoon.
When my wife and I were married in 2000, we looked for inexpensive options such as the church, flowers and reception location.
Married friends suggested we look at wedding websites to find deals and make plans for the big day. We turned to TheKnot.com, a wedding planning site launched in 1997 with a mission of reducing the anxiety most couples feel about planning weddings.
Back then, there really weren’t many online planning options for couples.
Twenty years later and The Knot still rules the web-based, wedding-planning world. Its success is due in large part to an easy-to-navigate website and simplifying the process.
Some of The Knot’s best features are found in app form.
So, for my family (we have three weddings this year), friends and loyal readers, here are two of my favorite wedding apps: The Knot (https://www.theknot.com/) and Joy (https://withjoy.com/).
The Knot. With information, ideas and advice on everything from wedding cakes and icing flavors to dresses and tuxedos, The Knot has become a clearinghouse for every tiny detail.
Because weddings can be very detail-heavy, The Knot offers checklists for every step, including a robust guest-list manager for planning meals and seating arrangements.
Budgeting is one feature that has received a considerable update on The Knot since the late-1990’s when my wife and I were planning. At over $35,000 a pop, it’s no wonder why budgeting a wedding is such an important step. In fact, it’s one of the first places The Knot suggests couples focus their attention.
Download the app on your Apple- or Android-enabled device and get personalized budget breakdowns based on average wedding costs for things like rings, entertainment and limousine services. If your budget is way below the national average, then The Knot’s free budget tool is a must-have.
Joy. How I wish this app (and smartphones) were around on our wedding day.
My wife and I thought it would be fun to put disposable cameras at each table. What we developed were mostly blurry pictures of smiling friends clearly having a good time.
Thanks to smartphones, we no longer need disposable cameras. But we still need a way for wedding guests to share with us those amazing pictures.
To solve this problem, Joy, a free wedding-planning app available for Apple and Android devices, allows you to collect images from guests and share them with the rest of your guests. It serves as kind of a private social network for connecting friends and family long after the happy day is over.
Have a favorite wedding app? Share it with me at email@example.com and let me know how you used it to plan the big day.
Puking rainbow selfies. Face-morphing filters. Voice-modulation tools.
Social media can be fun.
While studies continue to detail the negative impact of Facebook and other platforms on our psyche, it’s important to remember that most social media are meant to be just that: forums for sharing and serving as a welcome respite from everyday life.
Social media is supposed to make our lives better, not bring us down.
Some platforms continue to roll out amazing filters and tools for making social media enjoyable. A favorite pastime in the Earnheardt house is to sit and scroll through the new filters on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
It’s a fun way to connect with my kids, even if I never post a single face-swap pic.
Here are some fun new filters and tools we’ve tried recently:
Snapchat Lenses: Snapchat launched Lenses over a year ago as a new way to express how we’re feeling. Since then, as Snapchat announced in their Lenses update, “We’ve become puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends – and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us.”
A few weeks ago, Snapchat added new ways to use Lenses.
“While Snapping with the rear-facing camera, simply tap the camera screen to find new Lenses that can paint the world around you with new 3-D experiences.”
Snapchat continues to dominate the face- and voice-filtering selfie game, while other platforms like Instagram and Facebook are trying to keep pace.
Instagram Stickers: With an update in April, Instagram provided users with new sticker features for stories and direct messaging. Included in the new features are selfie stickers for adding smaller, thumbnail-size pics to be used as reactions in stories and messages.
“Turn your selfie into a sticker so you can quickly share your reaction or trade faces with someone [or something] in your story,” Instagram announced in a blog post.
Take a photo and you’ll see a new sticker with a camera that lets you create the mini-selfie.
“Before or after capturing, tap to apply different frame styles: fade or circle. Put your selfie sticker anywhere.”
Facebook Spaces: Facebook recently introduced Spaces, a new virtual reality app for connecting with friends in an interactive, albeit virtual environment. Spaces launched in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch, their VR companies.
The first step is creating an identity that represents the real you. “This helps people recognize you and makes VR feel more like hanging out in person,” Facebook said.
It’s a fairly simple process: choose one of your Facebook photos and select from an array of options for creating your VR avatar.
“Start with one of these options, then customize until it feels just right,” Facebook added. You can change hairstyle, eye color, facial features and more until you look like, well, you.
Now in year two, DOYO Live is Youngtown’s digital marketing and interactive design conference. This year’s conference will take place Aug. 2-3 at Youngstown State University.
Over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few local entrepreneurs speaking at DOYO. This week, I’m excited to connect with Marisa Sergi, CEO and founder of RedHead Wine.
Q. Your profile notes that your interest in wine started with a sippy cup at age 5. So you kind of grew up with wine and social media? How connected are wine and social media?
A. Although we’re just getting started, I’ve found that social media is a great way to meet my customers. Many of them have reached out to compliment the wine or ask my opinion on wine and food pairings. Social media makes it easy for me to share my passion for wine with lots of people.
Q. Have any tips for getting people excited about wine via social media?
A. My favorite post is a live video of our team bottling our new product line extension, RedHead rose. It was a fun way to share the behind-the-scenes magic of how we make our wines and to share our passion with our fans. My goal as a winemaker is to help people understand more about the world of wine.
The video has already had a few thousand views.
Q. Why locate RedHead Wines in northeast Ohio and not in, say, California?
A. I’m from here and I enjoy the Youngstown area. I felt that starting this company here was a natural tribute to my family who immigrated to northeast Ohio from Italy.
California has a very established wine market and part of my mission as the winemaker and brand ambassador is to unmake tradition a little bit and make unconventional decisions.
It’s really cool to get reactions when I tell people this wine is produced and bottled in Youngstown, but that it’s made from California grapes. We bring refrigerated semi-trucks from California to Ohio to ensure our product is as fresh as possible. We start crushing the grapes as soon as they arrive at L’uva Bella Winery.
Q. You’re speaking at DOYO Live? We’re still a few months out, but have you landed on a topic?
A. I absolutely can’t wait to contribute to DOYO. My topic is, “Guerrilla Marketing 101: How to Create Buzz for your Brand.”
We have an exciting presentation planned with lots of practical tips on how to raise the profile of your brand without breaking your budget. Whether you’re a startup business or an established company, we’ll share ideas guaranteed to help you bring attention to your product.
Q. What excites you about DOYO? What are you looking forward to most?
A. DOYO offers something unique to the Youngstown area. The event will have world-class talent including marketers, business professionals and entrepreneurs who have real world experience to share with those in attendance.
In addition to sharing what I have learned running a B2B and B2C company at such a young age, I am looking forward to learning everything I can from other participants.
Youngstown also houses one of the best business incubators in the world, the Youngstown Business Incubator, and DOYO being here will highlight it to out-of-towners, too.
Q. Care to share any advice or stories about how you cultivate links in the wine industry via social media and digital marketing?
A. The best advice I can give anyone for connecting in the wine industry and across all industries is: “The answer is always no, if you don’t ask.” Remember that quote.
Also keep in mind how accessible information is on the internet as you work to build your brand and go in “for the ask.” For example, if you want to connect with an editor of a website or magazine that you think would be a good fit for a possible story about your business, find their information on LinkedIn, their website or other social media platforms.
Do your homework so you don’t waste their time or yours. If you understand and embrace the power of no longer being limited to the “six degrees of separation,” your chances of being successful are much greater. Using this approach can allow you to make connections that can lead to achieving your professional or personal dreams in ways beyond anything you might have ever imagined.
Learn more about Sergi and RedHead Wine at www.RedHeadWine.us. Have questions or want great wine tips? Check out her Twitter accounts at @RedHeadWine and @MarisaSergi.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.