Shop Local, Shop Chamber 2018

The holiday season is just around the corner and with that comes the opportunity to support your local businesses as you shop. Here are just a few ways you can shop local and help support Sarasota’s small businesses:

Custom_Social_Post_Image_V2Small Business Saturday

Communities thrive when small businesses succeed. Presented every year by American Express, Small Business Saturday follows Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 24. Support your fellow Chamber members on Saturday, November 24 by shopping local. Whether you’re downtown or searching around the many shopping plazas in Sarasota, there are plenty of small businesses to be found.

Making An Impact

In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spend.

Find Retailers

Find local Chamber member retailers by visiting our online directory. You can view the directory on our website on your mobile device. Search for local retailers using keywords like “Shopping” to find the right destination for your holiday shopping list.

Coupons and Discounts

Before you wait in line on Black Friday or add items to your cart on Cyber Monday, don’t forget to check out the discounts and holiday specials your fellow Chamber members are offering this season. Visit the Coupons and Discounts section of The Chamber website to view the available offers by our members for our members.

Communities United

As shopping small catches on in communities everywhere, Small Business  Saturday goes from a cause to a day of community celebration.
90% of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community.

 

When you shop local, you shop Chamber. When you shop Chamber, you support the flourishing small businesses that keep our community afloat. We hope you’ll join the celebration of small businesses nationwide for Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November 24.

Visit the Sarasota Chamber’s Membership Directory Here


Facts presented on this blogpost, are directly taken from American Express’ Small Business Saturday website. See more here.

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Member Spotlight: Grapevine Communications

Grapevine Logo 2017

In good times business people want to advertise. In bad times they have to.

For 16 years, Grapevine Communications has been the Suncoast’s go-to agency for local businesses of all stripes to attract more customers, get more exposure and build a brand that resonates.

Grapevine -18018-InfoRelease-EblastThere’s a huge misconception about hiring an ad agency: Cost. With Grapevine, you select and control the amount you want to spend for the breadth of services you receive. Every project is touched with the same high-quality, results-oriented white glove service by the creative hands and minds of Grapevine’s longstanding core of 17 on-site professional writers, designers, web developers, digital strategists, account executives, and public relations experts. “Whether someone spends $500 or $5 million, we give them the same top-notch service,” said Grapevine Owner and President Allison Imre. “We hold ourselves accountable for each job we do.”

From doctors, dentists and dermatologists to self-storage facilities, sunshade manufacturers and surrogacy specialists – and everything in between – Grapevine gets to know the ins and outs of their clients’ industries. They then build strategic multi-media plans to not only target their clients’ specific audiences but reach them with a message that makes an impact.

As the region’s only full-service advertising agency, Grapevine is in the business of grabbing attention, creating awareness, and delivering on a promise of outstanding results. If you’re looking for Creativity, Strategy, and Accountability in your advertising, marketing, public relations, and social & digital media, it’s time to Grow with Grapevine.

“We’re not just your neighbors in the community, we’re your partner in ensuring a brighter future for your business.”

5 Tips for Attending Chamber Expo

While we’ve been preparing for and getting the word out for the 2018 Chamber Expo next month, Exhibitors have been busy behind the scenes prepping their booths. But, as an attendee, you can also benefit from having a solid game plan in place before the show. Here are our top tips for attending a trade show:

SET A GOAL AND STRATEGY

Before you attend any event, know why you’re doing it. Why are you attending? What problems are you hoping to solve for your business? Knowing what you need will help you take advantage of Chamber Expo.

Once you have your points of interest in mind, jot down the top 5 or 10 industries that you absolutely must make time for.

BALANCE YOUR TIME

There are two ways to spend time at a tradeshow: seeking out vendors on your list or wandering to see what you discover. It’s a good idea to make time for both, but know which one you’re most interested in.

SAVE ROOM FOR EXISTING CONNECTIONS

Most people attend trade shows in search of something new. But, it’s a good idea to visit some vendors you already know. Reconnect and see what new projects they’re working on. This gives you the opportunity to verify they’re still the best fit for your business and builds a relationship by connecting face to face periodically.

BE SOCIAL

Yes, you’re most likely there for business purposes. But Chamber Expo also acts as the largest Business After Hours in the area and is an excellent place to network. You can meet other people working in your industry and collect recommendations from them of who to seek out during Chamber Expo.

ENJOY YOURSELF

This may seem silly, but don’t forget to have fun. You’re there to expand your experience and contribute to your business but you also get to make some friends while you’re at it!

We hope to see you Chamber Expo on November 7!

Presenting Sponsor:

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The Siesta Key Crystal Classis Returns for its 9th Year

This November 9th-12th, twenty-four of the premier master sand sculptors from all over the world will be competing for 1st place on Siesta Beach. The festival will also have four additional sculptures this year for both the doubles and a new solo competition.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is a visual and cultural arts festival now in its 9th year and has hosted over 260,000 attendees on the best beach in the USA!

Siesta Key CC 1

In only 24 sculpting hours, (spanning the four-day event), the master sculptors create sand masterpieces and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. The Crystal Classic connects the arts and the beach in ways never before seen in Sarasota.

The festival will be open until 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverend Barry & The Funk will be playing Saturday night with 22N taking the stage on Sunday night!

Siesta Key CC 2

The festival also features live music all four days, a large shopping village, and a variety of food and drink vendors. Other activities include the “Quick Sand” speed sculpting competition, sand sculpting lessons & demos, and an amateur competition.

More information, partnership opportunities, pre-sale tickets and reserved parking passes are all available at the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.

Are You and Your Business Ready for Storm Season?

As you know we are already a month and a half into Hurricane Season, as it started June 1st and lasts until November 30, but it is never too late get yourself and your business ready. Last year, some of us on the Suncoast learned lessons the hard way with unpredictable weather patterns from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that threatened our homes and businesses. Thank you to Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) for creating a plan for the community & businesses to prepare.

Sarasota County FPL skinny

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Tropical weather in the state of Florida is a way of life. The Sunshine State leads the nation in landfalling hurricanes with nearly 120 – almost double that of Texas, which ranks second on the infamous list. Properly preparing for hurricane season now can save you and your employees’ unwanted stress when a storm has its eyes set on the state. The key is having a plan in place for when that time comes. Here are some tips to help get you going.

Plan ahead:

  • Ensure your employees’ contact information is up to date.
  • Have a plan in place to communicate after the storm passes, e.g. set up a telephone number with a recorded message that will be regularly updated to inform employees of the status of company operations.
  • Consider developing a system to authorize re-entry to company facilities after a storm, e.g. I.D. cards and vehicle permits.
  • Establish a safe area away from exterior glass windows and doors if you plan to take shelter in your business.
  • Determine if your business is in a flood and/or evacuation zone and review evacuation routes, designating an emergency temporary site.
  • Identify what you need to secure your building, important equipment and who will help; outline specific tasks and conduct a training session.
  • Photograph or record your building or office – inside and out – for insurance purposes.
  • Have all trees and vegetation near power lines trimmed by specially trained line-clearing professionals to minimize their potential impact on your business and neighboring businesses.
  • Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement – trash pickup will be suspended during this time. Tree limbs and branches are the leading cause of outages and can become airborne during a storm.
  • Bookmark FPL.com/outage and save 1-800-4OUTAGE to your cell phone to report and check the status of your restoration.
  • Download the FPL Mobile App in the App Store or Google Play, or text the word “App” MyFPL (69375).
  • Save your FPL account number to the notes section of your cell phone, or keep a copy of your FPL bill – which has your account number on it.
  • Update the phone number and email address on your FPL account.
  • Consider installing a generator in case of power outages.

Generator safety

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid
    dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
  • DO NOT directly connect your generator to your business’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a business’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
  • DO NOT run generators inside your business or garage, as they produce potentially
    deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent the fumes from entering your business.
  • Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  • DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
  • NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.

Before a storm:

  • Pay attention to instructions from public officials and the media.
  • Secure the exterior of your office and protect interior furniture:
  • Identify outdoor equipment, materials, and structures that could become airborne and move them to a safe location.
  • Park vehicles in safe, protected areas such as a covered garage.
  • Secure doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Move items away from the windows.
  • Lock drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Unplug all lamps, radios, computers, and equipment in case of a power surge; cover important equipment with plastic bags.
  • Gather any important supplies and documents.
  • Charge your cell phone and keep it ready by obtaining portable chargers.
  • Make multiple back-ups of computer files and data and store records off premises.
  • Run a special voice message informing employees and customers of the status of company operations.
  • Close your offices with sufficient time to allow employees to secure their own homes, and inform clients that you’re closing early and when you plan to reopen.

After a storm:

  • Make your safety and the safety of your employees a priority.
  • DO NOT travel, or ask employees to travel, until it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for downed power lines. Call 911 or FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE to report fallen power lines that present a clear and imminent danger. DO NOT attempt to touch any power lines. Always assume that every power line is energized.
  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines if you use a portable generator. Remember to NEVER wire your generator to your breaker or fuse box – the power you generate may flow back into power lines causing severe injury or death.
  • Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off all wall switches immediately in case of interior water damage. Remember to never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.
  • Stay away from standing water and debris, which could conceal a live wire.
  • DO NOT venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous.
  • Make emergency repairs only when it is safe to do so. Repairs that prevent looting or further damage should have top priority, but only if the repair can be done safely.
  • Take inventory to determine and record losses – based on the photos and recordings you took for insurance purposes.

Staying in touch with FPL following a storm

When outages occur, we know our customers want and need information on when their power will be restored. FPL will provide updated restoration time estimates and other progress reports via mobile if a storm strikes:

For more storm and safety tips, visit us at FPL.com/storm.

To download a PDF copy of this plan, click here.


FPL has invested more than $3 billion since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons to build a stronger and smarter energy grid you can count on in good weather and bad. The improvements we have made to the grid have improved service reliability for our customers by more than 30 percent over the past seven years. And, we’re not stopping there. Here’s what we’ve done in Sarasota County since 2006 to make the energy grid more resilient in storms and more reliable during day-to-day operations:

  • Strengthened 39 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota Emergency Operations Center, the American Red Cross – Southwest Florida Chapter location, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and 9-1-1 emergency communications centers, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 8,841 miles of power lines, an average of 737 miles every year;
  • Inspected all 85,728 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 2,055 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
  • Inspected 252 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.

How to be a better networker for people who hate networking

With Sarasota Summer Showcase just around the corner (June 27), we thought this article from The Washington Post was very relevant and helpful for our members who are not very keen with the ins-and-outs of networking.


Most species hang out only with family members. Everybody else is a potential enemy. Good ol’ Homo sapiens have been successful because we’ve extended the definition of family by using mutually agreed upon stories — “fictive kinship” as Israeli researcher Yuval Noah Harari points out.

Families are not merely blood relatives. We’re in many families: We’re Americans. We’re IBM employees. We’re on the same softball team. Most simply, we’re friends. This allows us to collaborate on a scale that’s impossible for other animals. This is the secret to our success as a species. It’s also the secret to your success as an individual: friendship.

networking

Even so, you might feel awkward about going up to that person who could be important to your career with what feels like the thin veneer of “friendship.” But that’s a false distinction. One of the primary things every romantic couple has in common is not magic, it’s proximity. It’s really hard to fall in love when you never encounter each other.

Sure, reaching out may feel awkward at first, but there’s no need to be afraid of networking. The truth is, we often underestimate by as much as 50 percent how much others are willing to help us when asked. Remember, the rule of thumb is simple when making friends: Assume other people will like you, and they probably will. Here are some other tips to help you become an effective networker.

Start with the friends you already have

Research shows that one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your network isn’t to pass your business card out on street corners; it’s to reconnect with old friends. And there’s no sleazy element to it at all — they’re already your friends. You just haven’t caught up with them in a year. Go through your Facebook friends list, your LinkedIn connections, or your address book, and send a few emails every week, asking, “What’s up?” Research shows that those dormant friendships can actually be bigger boosters to your career than any new connections you make.

Find your ‘Superconnectors’

Not all people in a network are created equal, contact-wise. Northwestern University professor Brian Uzzi and journalist Sharon Dunlap did research and found that there’s an 80/20 rule of sorts in networking. You probably met the vast majority of your friends through a handful of “superfriends” — your buddies who are the most socially connected. So when it comes to trying to expand your network and make new friends, do what works. Reaching out to these “superfriends” and saying, “Whom do you know that I should meet?” will produce disproportionate results.

Make the time and the budget

People say they want to increase their networks but few really make it a priority, dedicate time for it, or commit something specific to it, such as “I’m going to allocate an extra $50 a week to having coffees and lunches in which I connect with people.” Entrepreneur and best-selling author Ben Casnocha saw that top networkers committed a certain amount of time and money to their networking goal so that when opportunities came up, they didn’t hesitate.

Join groups

No, not some corny “networking group.” Again, that’s awkward and borderline gross. Do you know a bunch of friends who have lunch every week? How about a group that watches football every Sunday? A book club at work? These are fun, passive ways to make sure you stay in the mix and connect with others organically.

Always follow up

We all meet people but we rarely take the time to follow up and actually begin a friendship. Analyzing 8 million phone calls between 2 million people, researchers at Notre Dame found that what makes close friendships endure is simply staying in touch every two weeks. Now, you don’t need to connect with people that often if they’re not close friends, but the principle still stands: Checking in every now and then matters.

Just like your mother taught you, say thank you

Research from the journal Cognition and Emotion shows that gratitude is the quality that makes people want to spend more time with you. Gratitude is the tactical nuke of happiness and the cornerstone of long-lasting relationships.

If it’s that simple — just taking time to say thanks — why don’t we all do it? Researchers call it “hedonic adaptation.” I call it “taking things for granted.” When you first get your new house, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to you. A year later, it’s that money pit that needs a new roof. The joy of the new never lasts. And this happens with everything.

Making time to feel gratitude for what you have undoes the hedonic adaptation. And what’s the best way to do this? Thank the people around you. Relationships are the key to happiness, and taking the time to say “thanks” renews that feeling of being blessed.

So here is my final recommendation: Do a gratitude visit. This isn’t just some cute idea. Research by psychology professor Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania shows that doing a gratitude visit is one of the most powerful ways to feel happier and to make someone else happy in the process.

It’s quite simple. Seligman says to write a letter of gratitude to someone. Make it concrete; say what they did for you and how it affected your life. Then set a time to sit down with them, but don’t say why. When you meet, read them the letter. Both of you will be happier for it.

An email or text is fine, too. Studies show gratitude gives our friendships a “booster shot” and predicts relationship satisfaction. Gratitude doesn’t just help friendships. It also improves work relationships. One study showed that although we say “thanks” regularly to family, only 15 percent show gratitude at work. And 35 percent of those surveyed said their boss never says it.

You’re not too busy — and neither are they — for a brief show of sincere gratitude. You may think they already know how you feel, but showing it is where the real magic is.


This article is By Eric Barker and adapted from “From Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong.” Copyright © 2017 by Eric Barker. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers. Barker’s popular blog can be found here.


View original article in The Washington Post

How to Make Facebook’s 2018 Algorithm Change Work for your Business

As you may already be aware, on January 11, 2018, Facebook announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm that will profoundly impact brands’ ability to reach people on Facebook through organic distribution. The change prioritizes interactions between friends and family over company-generated posts, meaning that content consumed directly from business pages on Facebook will shrink and content that is shared & talked about between friends will grow.

In particular, posts that generate “interactions” such as comments and shares will be weighted more heavily than a post that generates just likes or reactions. In addition, posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones.

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“Interactions” is the new “Engagement”

Many news organizations and blogs are decrying the move, using terms such as “apocalyptic”, “betrayal” and “nail in the coffin”. We here at Reshift Media are not quite as pessimistic as others about the changes. We believe that the reduction (or even the possible elimination) of the “engagement bait” posts that have been dominating Facebook’s News Feed for far too long is a major opportunity for high-quality organizations with strong customer engagement strategies to finally stand out from the crowd.

Declining organic reach is nothing new. Facebook has been decreasing the amount of organic reach brands are able to achieve for some time – from 50% to 20% to 10% to 5% and most recently down to around 2.5%, on average. Smart brands and agencies that have already been pursuing engagement strategies and building solid content to adjust for this declining reach should see less impact than brands whose Facebook content gets little shares or comments.

The changes to the News Feed are happening quickly, so we recommend brands and agencies adjust their Facebook strategies as soon as possible to minimize the impact to their reach. We have several recommendations that brands can pursue to not only survive, but potentially thrive, on Facebook going forward.

How Facebook’s News Feed is Changing

Facebook announced last week that they are updating the News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts that create conversations and interactions between people. In their definition, these are posts that people share and react to, and that “inspire back-and-forth discussion” in the comments.

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Mr. Zuckerberg also stated that people browsing Facebook will see more content from friends and family and less from brands and publishers. In addition, posts that generate comments, shares, and messages will be prioritized more than posts that only generate likes. Not only that, but Facebook has also stated that posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones, as longer comments indicate a greater level of engagement with the content.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Of particular note is that Facebook has explicitly said that pre-recorded videos, no matter how entertaining or informative they are, will be de-prioritized in the feed as watching video tends to be a more “passive” exercise that typically does not inspire much conversation. This is a major reversal for Facebook, as video has gained incredible prominence in the News Feed in recent years and has been an effective way for brands to organically generate reach and engagement.

“There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem. It’s been consistently growing. But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

However, Facebook has specifically called out live video as a continuing opportunity, citing that live videos tend to generate six times as many interactions as regular videos, which is the type of person-to-person interaction they are looking for in the updated News Feed.

A bit of a surprise to some people was that both Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook vice president Adam Mosseri have mentioned Facebook Groups as a growing opportunity for person-to-person interactions. In fact, Mr. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned Groups alongside friends and family as an area of content people can expect to see more of in their News Feed. This is something that has been in the works for some time, as Facebook has been recently increasing their focus on Groups and implementing several improvements. The company held its first ever “Communities Summit” in June 2017 where they announced a number of new features for Group admins to support their communities on Facebook, which looks to have been a precursor to this latest New Feed update. They also announced Groups for Business pages, allowing brands to create their own distinct communities and feeds.

“You can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

The timing of the update has not been specifically outlined, but Facebook has indicated that the philosophy of encouraging “social interactions” more than “popularity” will be rolled out across all of their products over several months. The News Feed is the first area that will see these changes, which are expected to be rolled out very quickly.

Why Facebook is Changing the News Feed

Although many people have speculated that these changes are being made in response to the issues Facebook has faced regarding “fake news,” the company is has indicated that the update is not aimed at their ongoing efforts to address this concern.

“It’s not about addressing false news or other forms of problematic content, though that is a continued area of focus and investment for us.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

Instead, Facebook says that the motivation for the changes is to improve people’s happiness and well-being. Instead of simply spending time on Facebook, the company says that it wants the time to be “well spent”. To support this position, Facebook has cited studies conducted by academics and by the company itself which differentiate “bad” effects of social media when it is being passively consumed versus more “positive” effects when the person is actively engaged.

Here’s a brief summary of the rationale (as provided by Facebook in a December 15, 2017 post):

The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.

The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being. This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.

A study we conducted with Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression, and loneliness. The positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online. Simply broadcasting status updates wasn’t enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.

Others have speculated that the update is designed to force brands to buy more advertising to reach their desired audience – essentially ending the “free ride” brands have enjoyed since Facebook’s inception. While we can’t say if this is indeed one of the motivations driving the update, there is little doubt that the change will result in brands spending more ad dollars on Facebook to reach their current and prospective customers.

Facebook has publicly stated that they believe the update may actually decrease the amount of time people spend on their platform, but that ultimately people will be happier with their overall experience. If the amount of time people spend does in fact decrease, this will likely contribute to the inflation of advertising costs, as there will be more brands attempting to buy ads in an environment of shrinking inventory.

“I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

This blog post is the first of a 4-part series. Read what’s next:


Jen McDonnell

VP of Content and Social Media. Jen has worked in online journalism for a decade, most recently as the Managing Editor and Director of Dose.ca

Post first seen on Reshift Media. Click here for the original post.