The Password is PASSWORD

                     Highlights from the last few months in cyber-chaos

cyber security, password

  • April, 2014 – The “Heartbleed Bug” strikes, affecting as many as 500,000 websites.
  • November, 2014 – Sony Pictures Entertainment hacked by person/persons unknown; leads to a complete and total meltdown in Hollywood,  forcing people in the “biz” to actually pick up a phone and talk to their cubicle mate and for the rest of us to stream a bro-stick comedy over Christmas that we all probably would have been better off waiting for on Netflix.
  • December, 2014 – North Korea’s Internet service undergoes a “DDOS attack” (distributed denial of-service) by person/persons unknown.
  • January, 2015 – US Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked by Islamic State sympathizers
  • Retailers such as Target, Neimann Marcus, Michaels, Aaron Brothers, PF Changs, UPS, Home Depot, Chik-Fil-A – ALL HACKED!!

A recent study found that 13.1 million U.S. adults are victims of fraud, with a total somewhere in the $18 billion range of fraudulent activity accounted for annually.  Earlier this month, President Obama proposed legislation that would encourage companies and government agencies to share information about security threats and vulnerabilities with each other.

Remember when you got that email from your bank, your social media website, your email server to change your password in the wake of Heartbleed. Did you actually do it? A Pew research study last year found that only 61% of those who knew about Heartbleed changed their passwords.

Just how lazy are we?

 A survey from 2012 by Research Now for CSID on password habits among American consumers found:

  • 61% of us reuse passwords across multiple websites.
  • 54% of us have 5 or fewer passwords for all of our internet usage.
  • 44% of us change our passwords once a year or less.
  • 89% of us feel secure with our current passwords and security habits.
  • 21% of us have had at least one online account compromised.

Splashdata’s annual list of most commonly used passwords found that “password” had been supplanted by the surely uncrackable“ 123456” as the most popular password of 2013.

 So what kind of passwords should we be using? 

The latest and greatest recommendations from cyber experts, including Blizzard’s own Hosting Manager, Tish Lockard, agree on the following guidelines for creating strong passwords:

  • A strong password should contain AT THE VERY LEAST 8 characters, combining upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols; there should be no inclusion of words found in the dictionary or the names of your friends and family.
  • Never use easy to discover dates like birthdays or anniversaries; you’d be surprised what is clearly visible on our personal and business social media pages these days.
  • You should have a unique password for all of your important accounts.
  • You should change your passwords every 90 days and not reuse them for different sites.

There are password generating sites that will create strong passwords for you. Tish says, “Can’t think of a good password? There are tools out there, such that will cook up a good one for you.  You can even decide the length of your password and what type of characters to use.  I use this Every. Single. Day.” Hear that? Every single day! I am listening Tish!  Some others generators  are and

  How the B!33P am I supposed to remember that gobbledygook?

cyber security, heartbleed, passwords

Keep your Hello Kitty in a secure location, NOT near your computer!

How are you supposed to remember these nonsensical passwords? I know I have  been  loath to use passwords like those described above because there is no way I  am ever  going to remember them. Most security experts recommend the use of a password manager such as, or which have apps that can go with you from your computer, phone and tablet. YES, you will have to have a password  for these heavily  encrypted secure sites, but if you can’t remember ONE goofy  password, well, maybe this  World Wide Web thing just isn’t your bag.

DO NOT store your passwords in a public cloud, in a Google doc, in emails that  can be  hacked, on your phone’s notepad app or maybe not even in that little spiral  Hello Kitty  notebook that you carry around with you everywhere unless you have really bad  handwriting.

According to Tish, “If everyone could make these criteria a priority and truly commit to changing their passwords regularly, there would be a lot less chaos in  the world. Well, ok, chaos caused by hackers, anyway.” If we listen to Tish, at  least we all can do a little something about this cyber chaos. The hacker free-chaos, Tish and I will endeavor to deal with that another time.

Whatever method you decide upon to have truly secure passwords, remain ever vigilant as you cruise along the world-wide-web. There are hackers around every bend and it’s up to you to keep an eye on your online accounts. And don’t forget that old adage, if you don’t have something nice to say in an email about someone, maybe just jot it down in your Hello Kitty notebook.

Why the Miley Thing Mattered

Miley during the VMA's

Miley Cyrus

I think Miley Cyrus taught us all a valuable lesson on Monday. Your eyes aren’t fooling you. You read that right.

Miley Cyrus lit up the social world with her antics on MTV’s Video Music Awards. When led their news with the Miley story on Tuesday (a day when a new war is on the brink, fires are out of control and more) some questioned CNN’s judgment of newsworthiness. Meredith Artley, Managing Editor of, explained the decision in simplistic fashion and her reasoning aligns perfectly with what we tell our clients about their posts, contents, and traffic drivers.

Simply put, Artley explained that we as media consumers don’t click on stories about fires and wars. We do click on stories about our celebrities though – especially when there is a picture of Hannah Montana in lingerie. In order to get the click on the web, you have to get the reader’s attention. It doesn’t have to be risqué like the Miley thing, but it should be valuable. For instance, if you want to get people to spend more time on your website, you need to provide content for them to navigate through.

In the news world, the main goal is just to get people – and it doesn’t matter who – to spend time on a website and get you to view a bunch of pages so they can sell advertising. To advertisers, each set of eyeballs is another cheeseburger, pair of shoes, car, etc. In general, any traffic is good traffic in the retail world. All this traffic is driven by:

Content, oh content! We’re not saying to post photos of scantily clad women all throughout your website. That’ll get you traffic, but it won’t be the kind you want. Those visitors aren’t interested in booking a room or a tour, they’re interested in skin. You need to have relevant content about things to do during a stay, tour information, neighborhood information, descriptions of the area, places to eat, where to rent a boat or skis, or a service you’re providing your guests that your competitors are not. Spend some time to make your content more interesting than your competitors. That content will get people to spend time on your website.

When people spend time on your site, people spend money on your site. That’s a proven fact and that’s why McDonald’s and Nike are what they are and why they don’t care if the content is about Miley (or Britney or Bieber or Boo Boo…). They care about getting eyes on their advertising – and you should too. Your job is much harder because you need to make sure those eyes are interested in your product, but the right content will get you the eyeballs.

See, now you can’t say Miley hasn’t taught you anything.

Multiplicity: Stop Cloning Your Hard Work with Duplicate Content

There have been a magnitude of SEO / SEM strategies come and go in the last 15 years. Some were so easy to implement that everyone implemented them to the extreme. Then the search engines devalued those strategies and marketing sleuths discovered more.  Having a strong presence in a variety of places on the web was and is one technique. When done well, this can bring you rewards, but we are still seeing abuse. You may be sabotaging
your business without even realizing it by leaving duplicate content across the web.
Deliberations of duplicate content have been coming from the search engines themselves for several years now.  They tell you they don’t want to fill up their indexes with repeated information.  They want you to provide the user with unique information.  So, when they come across duplicate content they may give one domain credit over another.
Why is that important? If you have ever seen the movie Multiplicity need copy write symbol) 1996 by Columbia/Tri-Star  with Michael Keaton as Doug Kinney who cloned himself. Andie MacDowell played his confused wife. You may recall it became more difficult to know which was the original Doug. Which clone gets the credit for the good deeds or the bad ones?  His trust factor went down and his integrity was seriously compromised.
Which page of content will the search engines choose to give credit to?  Your page on your primary domain? (You can only hope!) A page on another of your less effective sites?  Possibly a Directory site? Or worse, a competitor?There have been a magnitude of SEO / SEM strategies come and go in the last 15 years. Some were so easy to implement that everyone implemented them to the extreme.  Then the search engines devalued those strategies and marketing sleuths discovered more.

There have been a magnitude of SEO / SEM strategies come and go in the last 15 years. Some were so easy to implement that everyone implemented them to the extreme. Then the search engines devalued those strategies and marketing sleuths discovered more.  Having a strong presence in a variety of places on the web was and is one technique. When done well, this can bring you rewards, but we are still seeing abuse.

You may be sabotaging your business without even realizing it by leaving duplicate content across the web.

Deliberations of duplicate content have been coming from the search engines themselves for several years now.  They tell you they don’t want to fill up their indexes with repeated information.  They want you to provide the user with unique information.  So, when they come across duplicate content they may give one domain credit over another.

Why is that important?Duplicate content is a no no
If you have ever seen the movie Multiplicity ©  (1996 by Columbia/Tri-Star)  with Michael Keaton as Doug Kinney who cloned himself.

Andie MacDowell played his confused wife. You may recall it became more difficult to know which was the original Doug. Which clone gets the credit for the good deeds or the bad ones?  His trust factor went down and his integrity was seriously compromised.

[Read more…]

Be Your Own Press Release Hero with Vocus

Let’s face it, small businesses rarely get calls from media outlets looking for interesting topics to cover or who want to randomly give you press coverage; so sometimes you just have to put on your big boy pants and do it yourself.

Do you have a sweet lodging special that is worth promoting? Do a press release. Is your company holding a fund raiser? Do a release. Are you opening up after a remodel? Release the hounds!

Let the people know why you are unique and why they should give your business a try!
Super Ronin 02
Writing a press release isn’t easy and it’s not cheap. Even if you find someone to write about your company it takes time and effort to craft the message that you want to get out. And if someone writes for you there is good chance that that you will make more than a few revisions.

To be a press release hero you are going to need a little bit of help to get moving. After all, you spend so much time and money writing that you want to get the most exposure for your buck, right?

You will need:

  • Access to a wide range of media outlets and organization to maximize your efforts
  • A platform that will target and distribute to local resources [Read more…]

The Pros and Cons of Blogging

Why do you blog?

There are hundreds of reasons a person may blog, whether they be personal, business or pleasure, you’ll find a different reason from whoever you ask.  The main question you want to ask yourself is, are you blogging for the right reasons?

People are blogging just because it’s the ‘cool thing to do’ or the latest trend or the next big thing.  According to blogging is simply, to write entries in, add material to, or maintain a weblog.

Knowing this we need to know the definition of the word blog!  Blog- an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page; also called a Weblog.  So according to the dictionary, when your blogging you’re basically just making an online diary.

If you work in a corporation and blog regularly, I’ll bet you never thought of it that way.  But lately the blogging definition seems to have changed and taken on a looser meaning.  If you check out and look up blog, you discover a more detailed or current definition of the term.  When you wrote a diary as a kid did you ever allow anyone to read you personal diary, much less comment in it?  Of course not that’s the whole point of the diary it’s supposed to be personal. So maybe there is more to this whole blogging thing then meets the eye.

Blogging has definitely changed over the past few years, going from what I remember as a personal thing you might do on your free time on your online personal website or MySpace page to now something you feel you must do in order to keep your visitors attention, inform someone about something, keep your popularity up, rant off about something, etc.

Believe it or not though, blogs have been around since the mid 1980’s.  Most early bloggers were journalists who typically wrote about their personal life with text, video and images.  Blog’s typically were just an easier way to have a diary and weren’t intended to make you popular or give you social status through the internet.

The Cons of Blogging
Blogging without the right mindset is perhaps one of the worst things you can do when blogging.  Let’s say you work for a large company and you tend to share a lot of knowledge with your customers through the use of blogs.  This is a good thing, until you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Now I’m a fan of blogs don’t get me wrong, but have you ever read a blog and thought, “What was the point of that?”  When you blog you need to have the right mind set.  If you’re writing for a company and feel your writing will benefit the reader and you can honestly admit to yourself that, then you have nothing to worry about.  When a person blogs a lot and is fairly decent at it, it can lead to fame in the virtual world, with readers from all over the country and world going online and visiting your blog site.  The problem with this is when you start becoming popular you don’t want to lose your status.  So you’re more then likely going to be trying to write either more or better blogs to keep your readers coming back, while staying consistent.Blog OMG!

Now the problem comes when you honestly don’t have anything to write about yet you write anyways.  This is where blogging can turn either pointless or narcissistic and risk turning into an all about you article.  We, the readers, already know you’re an awesome writer; you don’t need to go on an ego trip and brag about yourself, doing so will typically do the opposite of what you want and turn off readers from your site.

Blogs also take away the great feeling of finding things on your own through research and exploration, and blogs aren’t always accurate.  Which leads to the next point, you don’t want to believe everything someone says or blogs about.  Don’t be a sheep, no matter how popular or famous someone is, do some of your own research as well.  Blogs tend to be a one way conversation, you post and receive a comment, typically will not go any further.

When you do actually write a good blog you have to compete with others just to try and get ranked or even have your blog read.  Another downside to blogs is you don’t get paid to write them unless you are extremely good.  It’s also hard to be original these days because so many people have written about the same or similar topics over and over.

The Pros of Blogging
Blogging of course has its benefits as well.  If you are truly a good writer or know how to get your point across better online then you may indeed be a good blogger.  Blogging can give a person fame, e-fame, status and popularity by being good and capturing and maintaining visitors.  Blogging allows the person to become more creative and improves your typing speed, accuracy and internet knowledge.

Blogging can be good for sharing information on specific topics, giving your professional opinion about something.  Blogging can simply be a diary for you or a way to express yourself and how you feel that day or about a particular situation.  It can also be a personal reference to something that maybe you need to save for a future time.  By writing you may improve the view point from an outside person or company on how they see your company.  Blogging can also improve your search engine rankings which is pretty much a free thing except for your time and optional blogging software.

Now a days blogging programs can be used to create websites for your company such as WordPress.  Even though they were created primarily for blogs you would be surprised how well they can pull a website together just as well as any other web site design program, not to mention you have a blog style and website in one program.  Some of the side effects to blogs can be: becoming an author of books or magazines, create new friends all around the country or world, great for your resume or even a replacement of needing one if your good enough, you can create your own brand, influence people or start your own business!

So as you can see blogs have changed a lot in the last 10 years and can serve multiple purposes.  If used correctly and with the right intents blogs can be a very powerful tool for you and your company.

Photo by Mike Licht,

Email Marketing: Why Text is Key to HTML Newsletters


With the creation of HTML newsletters, it is imperative to incorporate text, many of the following factors may interrupt the viewer’s ability to view the visual aspects of images and graphics and therefore the text is imperative: 


  • Code compliance differences with various email programs
  • Viewers differing computer settings
  • Viewers who can’t or choose not to view the images of your newsletter

Because of these factors, it is imperative that text of your newsletter be accessible to the viewer whether the images are visible or not.  Below are a few do’s and don’ts when creating your html newsletters:


  • Make your entire newsletter graphic based
  • Leave your pictures without description
  • Forget to create a text version of your html newsletter


  • Make you newsletter text based and have minimal graphic or picture based text 
  • Add detailed alt description tags to your images and graphics
  • Test your newsletter to make sure text will show correctly in various email programs without the images/graphics appearing
  • Create a text version of your commercial html newsletter

Disability Reasons
Not only is it important to have text based newsletters for viewing purposes, but also for various disabilities and functional limitations, such as the visibly impaired, physical, language, and cognitive disabilities. Some users may not be able to use a mouse, while others may be listening to your newsletter using a screen reader that sends information to a text-to-speech synthesizer or refreshable Braille display. The blind depend on text versions. For text emails, it is important to have alt tags used to describe images. Having image descriptions helps the visibly impaired ‘see’ pictures through screen readers. Give your viewers every opportunity to access your newsletter.

Code Compliance Reasons
There are many different email programs that your newsletter will be sent through – Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL, etc.  It is important to realize each program has code requirements and therefore you want to create an html commercial newsletter compliant in various versions and programs.  Testing and sending your newsletter to different programs will help you see what improvements to make.

  • HTML Inline styles & table tags versus CSS Style sheets & div tags
    The main code compliance that will help improve newsletters to work well in various programs is to use HTML tables and inline styles versus CSS style sheets and div tags. Keeping all styles inline, as well as, replace all CSS div tags with table tags.  This will make a significant difference with email program compliance. For example, the newest version Outlook 2007 no longer recognizes CSS and therefore any style rules or div tags will not be recognized and the newsletter will be distorted aesthetically with the CSS code not being recognized.

Text Version Send-Outs
A text version newsletter does not have html code; it basically is taking all the text from your html version and placing it as a separate newsletter to send out. Newsletter programs will send the text version at the same time the html version is sent out. Any subscriber with a text base email will receive the text version.

Branding Logo Graphics
Many fonts are not accessible through basic inline-style font-families.  For this reason often-times main headers or company names/logos are graphics.  This is when alt tags are crucial with describing the newsletter images and graphics.  Any text that you make an image, it is important to have alt tags describing the text-image, especially your logo and company name. Your logo is crucial for company branding, if the image is not showing, alt tags become a crucial aspect to branding your product, name, and logo.

ALT Tag for Header Image


Header Image

Text is the basis of newsletters and communicating your message whether the commercial aspect can be viewed or not.  Keep text the center focus as you create your newsletter. Always make your information accessible no matter what computer settings or email program a client uses. Clients are less likely to fully open an email if they can’t see what it’s about or the company it is coming from. Text will broaden results and the actions you would like your cliental to take! This is just one more step to success with email newsletters!


Copywriting for the Buying Habits of the Sexes

Write it RightMen and women are different. A profound observation, I know.

While modern culture and changing gender roles have closed the ranks to some degree and have made our differences less pronounced, they do still exist. Stereotyping the sexes proves to be a tricky line to walk, is sometimes offensive, and is never completely accurate for all individuals. There is no denying, however, that the genders are different. We look, think, act, and feel differently and our hearts and minds operate in a completely dissimilar manner much of the time.

Setting aside all other aspects of life, gender differences often make the shopping and purchasing processes of men and woman distinctly unalike. Men shop with a specific purpose, while women shop as an activity or as a social outlet. Men often decide to buy quickly, but women generally need to be exposed to a product or servicsnap6076.jpge numerous times before committing. Men need to digest information in a logical, concise order and will focus on facts and figures in making their selection. Women can receive information in any order and piece it together beautifully, but they focus on social influences more than on the hard data. Men rarely ask for help. Women need to ask questions. Men don’t usually consider price with routine purchases, but women regard it as very important. Most significantly, when men make a purchase it is generally to fill a basic need or as an investment, but women often buy to make themselves feel good emotionally.

Because the purchasing process is so dissimilar between the sexes, a website’s copy should take that into consideration. If your property caters primarily to business travelers, the copy should be aimed at the needs and wants of men (Men are still the majority in the business world, though this is changing.). If your business deals largely with spa weekends and family retreats, web copy catering to females might be more effective in converting lookers into bookers.

snap6076.jpgHowever, more often than not, your copy will need to appeal to both sexes. Here are some suggestions for helping each:

  • Make sure contact information is prominent on each page for women, as they will be more apt to want to speak to a real person. Also make FAQs easily available to answer common questions that are often asked.
  • Focus on the amenities that will fill a male’s vacation needs, while still writing about views, atmosphere, and environment which will help a woman make an emotional connection with the property.
  • Write personal, conversational copy for women, but have bullet points and links to “more information” for men.
  • In general, if you seek to improve a male’s standing or position while improving a woman’s feeling and emotion, your copy will “speak” to both effectively. offers a great example of a company using copy to “speak” to customers on a gender level. The headline shown with the Silverado truck is a mere four words:



It is short and sweet, but says so much. It’s offering men identity as well as status. It says that to own a Silverado is to be an American man. It is tying pride in vehicle ownership to National pride and patriotism. This is a powerful statement to men.

In contrast, the headline offered with the Uplander minivan reads:


Minivans are driven primarily by women and it’s not uncommon to see them marketed with some sort of family focus. Relationships and the feelings that accompany them are powerful motivators for female purchasers.

In the SUV section of, the company continues to speak more to men by offering a rise in status with their headlines:


Gender is central to identity and the way in which each of us thinks and sees the world. Companies and copywriters that understand this and consciously use the differences of the sexes to their advantage will meet with unmatched success.