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United Way Brings Together Greater Philadelphia Business Leaders for Celebration of Women and Leadership

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative hosted its annual gala last evening to celebrate women leaders in philanthropy and volunteerism. Presented by Independence Blue Cross, proceeds from the gala support the work of United Way’s Women’s Initiative, which focuses on programs for at-risk women and girls, including Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), a program that helps at-risk adolescent girls develop self-esteem and leadership skills.

The gala, attended by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and members of the business community, was co-hosted by Sherryann Plesse, principal and chief learning officer at Vanguard and Renee Rhem, vice president, customer service at Independence Blue Cross.  Sixth and seventh grade girls, who are part of the 2012 Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow class, were featured in the program which also recognized Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as the 2012 Women’s Initiative award winner.

“The mission of United Way’s Women’s Initiative and that of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is the same,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “We’re both committed to ensuring the success of women and girls in our region- I know we all left the event feeling inspired by her leadership and passion.”

“The Councilwoman leads by example and her life commitment to women’s issues is evident,” added Amy Frazier, Marketing & Sales Leader at Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Chair of United Way’s Women’s Initiative. “As women, she challenged us to continue to do more for our girls, and our community.”

The Women’s Initiative is comprised of many of the region’s top professional women who give, advocate and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls. Through United Way’s Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program, girls participate in community- and school-based activities that help them build self-esteem, honor their bodies and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

The United Way Women’s Initiative is a leadership network committed to philanthropy and volunteerism in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Women’s Initiative is bringing positive change to our community by increasing the impact of women donors, increasing the number of women volunteers, and strengthening programs serving at-risk women and girls.  The Women’s Initiative’s signature program – Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow – is changing the lives of at-risk adolescent girls and supporting area agencies with proven success in serving this vulnerable population.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measure the results. United Way is advancing the common good in southeastern Pennsylvania by focusing on education for children, income for families and health for seniors.

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Bully MPAA Protest Becomes a Movement

ascentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

“BULLY,” the highly anticipated anti-bullying documentary (in theaters March 30th), has sparked a protest and now a movement, as a number of major movie stars, theater owners, and Members of Congress have joined forces to protest the film’s R rating. In a clear triumph for the film, Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, one of the most prominent theater chains in the world, spoke out against the R-Rating, saying, “To ‘automatically default’ BULLY is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating, a category, a genre… doesn’t matter, is a mistake.  The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke.”

Mr. Lopez is one of almost 300,000 people to get behind a petition started by a junior in high school named Katy Butler. Ms. Butler, who has experienced severe bullying herself, started the petition on Change.org after the MPAA ruled by one vote that  “Bully” should receive an R rating due to six swear words. When Mr. Lopez asked one of his sons about the film, curious as to whether the debate had reached the demographic the film is geared toward, his son had already signed onto Ms. Butler’s petition.

The support from Hollywood has been on a steady increase since Katy Butler launched her petition. On March 20, Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film with David Boies, one of the two attorneys responsible for overturning Proposition 8 in California, and his daughter, Mary Boies.  The screening will be held in New York City.

Johnny Depp has also signed on to lend his support; Ellen DeGeneres has devoted time to the film on her television show; and in the sports arena, Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has also added his voice to the movement.  Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper came on board as news anchor partners, hosting a screening in New York City last week, that was presented by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. In addition to the screening in NYC, Bing will also be supporting the film in a number of ways, including hosting an additional screening in LA.

Iconic American designer Tommy Hilfiger will design an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the Bully movie poster which will be sold in Tommy Hilfiger stores with a portion of proceeds benefiting Facing History and Ourselves (http://www.facing.org/). Mr. Hilfiger is the first of ten designers that The Weinstein Company will ask to donate their services on behalf of the fundraising effort.  IMG, renowned global sports, fashion and media agency continues to support the film in a number of ways, and famed photographer David LaChapelle has offered to donate his talents towards an advertising campaign.

In Congress, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) issued a bipartisan letter to the MPAA, supporting Katy Butler’s petition, to urge former Senator Dodd, now Chairman of the MPAA, to overturn the ruling. Over 20 Members of Congress have signed on to the letter. The political engagement continues to grow this week while Congress is in District Work Session, with additional support coming from the Senate. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for a PG-13 rating on Twitter today, and has told The Weinstein Company she intends to play a more active role in this protest.

Last Friday, Justin Bieber joined the cause, telling his fans on Twitter about the movie and encouraging them to stand up for each other. He is currently working with The Weinstein Company on how he can do more for the film.

“We’ve got the MPAA’s attention, and with nearly 300,000 signatures and support from celebrities and politicians, there’s now a national movement of people calling on the MPAA to drop the ‘R’ rating for ‘Bully,'” Katy Butler said. “As someone who lived through bullying day in and day out in school, including having my finger broken by bullies, this film is too important to silence with an ‘R’ rating. Everyone should have a chance to see ‘Bully.'”

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California Youth Leaders visit Harvard for Lady Gaga’s Anti-Cyberbullying Event

AscentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

On Wedensday, 18 youth leaders selected from communities across the state by The California Endowment take part in the official launch of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, an ambitious new effort focused on empowering youth to be leaders and advocates in their communities.

Led by Lady Gaga’s mother, Cynthia Germanotta, the Born This Way Foundation has partnered with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard to explore the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment.  BTWF, a non-profit charitable organization, will address issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy.

Youth were selected to attend today’s Harvard conference in recognition of their leadership in The California Endowment’s 10-year $1 billion effort to improve community health in 14 underserved communities across the state.  These communities are working to improve their neighborhoods and schools and the BTWF mission to empower youth advocates to help change the places where they live, work, learn and play is perfectly aligned with the communities’ Health Happens Here initiative to create environments where all can live long, safe and healthy lives.

During the Born This Way launch event, California youth will take part in training to learn how to advance social change through digital and social media advocacy, and will be posting multimedia content live throughout the day of the event.  The youth also join in a Harvard-sponsored youth summit titled “Prevent Bullying, Create Caring Communities” involving more than a hundred young people from Boston and other communities.  California youth also will tour the Harvard University campus.

“We are thrilled to welcome this courageous group of California youth to the official launch of the Born This Way Foundation,” said Cynthia Germanotta. She added, “The bravery and leadership they’ve demonstrated in helping prioritize community health issues in their neighborhoods and schools is exactly what we hope to inspire across the country.”
 
The California youth delegation will be accompanied by California Endowment CEO Robert K. Ross, who believes strongly in the importance of youth leadership in advocating for improved community health.

“Opportunities like this don’t come often and we jumped at the chance to involve some of our Health Happens Here community youth leaders in this unique event that will empower, educate, and inspire them with ideas about how to make they can take back to their communities,” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment.  “We’re thrilled to have a strong and vocal new ally for our youth in the Born This Way Foundation and Lady Gaga.”

At the conference, The California Endowment and Blue State Digital (a leading digital strategy agency) will cohost a Youth Advocacy Bootcamp at which youth leaders from around the country can be trained in online advocacy and the themes shared by Born This Way Foundation and The California Endowment.

The foundation’s launch day at Harvard will culminate in a keynote address by Lady Gaga, who will be joined by Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Deepak Chopra, U.S Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other luminaries committed to the ideals of the Born This Way Foundation to “lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be.”

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Social Media Redefining Americans’ Relationship With Food

AscentiveSocial Media News From the Ascentive Team

How Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan their meals, purchase their food and share their culinary secrets with others has dramatically changed, according to a new study released last week. Called Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture, the study finds social/digital media is replacing mom as the go-to culinary source of knowledge for many people. The study was jointly developed and conducted by consumer research firm The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA, a food & nutrition marketing agency, part of MSLGROUP Americas.

Study results show almost half of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40 percent learn about food via websites, apps or blogs. “Consumers used to rely on mom and family traditions for meal planning, but now search online for what to cook, without ever tasting or smelling,” said Laurie Demeritt, president and COO at The Hartman Group. “Digital food selection is less of a sensory experience and more of a visual and rational process: What’s on the label? What’s in the recipe? Show me the picture!”

 

In the past, whereas consumers listened to the opinions of a few trusted resources — mom and other family members – in deciding what to buy, cook or eat, modern consumers “crowdsource” the opinions of many before deciding what to buy.

What’s more, the infiltration of social media into the food experience goes far beyond purchasing and preparing food; it now includes the meal experience as well. While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans use social networking sites. Among Millennials (18-32 years old), this figure jumps to 47 percent. “The ‘table for one’ rarely exists anymore, even among single people eating alone at home,” added Demeriit. “If you are eating alone, chances are you are also texting friends who live miles away or posting food photos to a review site.”

Brand ROI Is an Enriching Relationship
The Clicks & Cravings study offers learning for food and grocery brands developing digital campaigns in the category. The study reveals it’s not enough for food and grocery brands simply to be present in the virtual space or build up legions of followers. The payoff is a long-term and personal relationship that creates brand advocates and an emotional connection that drives influence. To achieve such an enriching relationship, communication must be relevant and have a distinct and authentic personality.

“The best social and digital campaigns reflect the audience’s values, interests, concerns and aspirations,” explained Steve Bryant, president of Publicis Consultants USA, part of MSLGROUP Americas.

According to Bryant, this approach is effective for both large and small brands. He points to the success of Roman Meal, a small whole grain bread company on the agency’s roster. With a minimal budget, the brand built a valuable social network using one clear brand voice, expert nutrition information, and real stories of personal struggles that a healthy lifestyle could help solve.

“We approached the brand’s social media as two good friends having an intimate conversation over a meal, and consumers responded positively,” added Bryant.

Three Tiers of Consumer Engagement
Clicks & Cravings found that in the food and grocery category, consumers’ social media behavior falls along a continuum of engagement. The study shows that brands should tailor communication strategies to be relevant to each type of user.

  •  “Spectators” use social media as an extension of their network of friends, family and peers. They use social media for product reviews, recipes and good deals.
  • “Dreamers” curate and push food related content through social networks. They aspire to have larger followings and more influence than they currently do.
  •  “Doers” are the most engaged. They are the core of food and social media, creating content that inspires followers.

“There are many brand opportunities for each specific consumer,” states Bryant. “For example, a brand may entice Dreamers by incorporating their recipes on its site, or appeal to a Spectator by offering incentives in exchange for a video review,” states Bryant.

“In tandem with smart communications counsel, the report is a powerful tool to help brands strategize their approach to social and digital media,” added Demeritt.

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Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Sprint team up to fight cyberbullying

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

Young people grow up hearing all kinds of safety warnings like “Look both ways before crossing the street,” or “Don’t talk to strangers.” But traditional safety tips are changing as today’s youth spend more time navigating an expansive online world.  Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Sprint today announced a strengthening of their work to educate young people and the adults who care for them about Internet and media safety.

BGCA and Sprint enter into their third year of working together with a $409,772 commitment aimed to highlight important online safety practices to nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. BGCA and Sprint will provide tools and resources to educate Club youth, parents and staff throughout the year with strong support around June’s Internet Safety Month.

This year’s funding will provide Clubs with a comprehensive media-safety strategy through the utilization of the NetSmartz and NSTeens programs, developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, along with resources that include media-safety discussion cards, social-networking and mobile-phone usage guidelines, and resources for Clubs to host their own Internet Safety days. Additionally, Clubs will be provided with teen-friendly video packages and media-safety articles, polls and contests for their members.

“Understanding media safety issues and knowing how to be safer online is critical for Club youth and parents,” said Judith J. Pickens, senior vice president for BGCA’s Program & Youth Development Services. “With Sprint’s ongoing support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America will continue to find creative ways to educate our young people on how to safely navigate the online world and be proactive with protective issues surrounding online safety.”

The goal is not only to educate, but allow for interactive engagement among youth. Creative avenues to communicate critical information are provided, such as the recent “Caption This!” contest, which was hosted on myclubmylife.com, BGCA’s website for teens.

The contest provided five sample posters representing critical media-safety topics: cyberbullying, password protection and online information sharing, sexting, Web chat safety, and mobile-phone recycling. Participants were challenged to produce an original slogan for one of the posters, and the winning slogans will be used in an educational poster series to promote the importance of media safety to some four million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Sprint is pleased to continue its work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America,” said Ralph Reid, vice president of Corporate Responsibility for Sprint. “With so many young people accessing the Internet, it’s critical that they have ready access to information on how to stay safer; BGCA has been invaluable in seeing that this content gets into Clubs across the country.”

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