The White House Catches On: White House 2.0

By claire |

On May 1, President Obama made the speech that social media specialists have long been awaiting. He enlisted the Powers the Be to “reach beyond the halls of government” in order to connect citizens to the new Administration.

Social media quickly became the topic of conversation and the White House’s efforts to get with the times were specifically outlined. White House 2.0, as the project has become known, is the effort of the Obama administration to reach out to the people using the online channels that everyday Americans visit most.

You can now find the White House on:

Will other world leaders follow suit? Do you think social media will enter other “halls of government”?

Moving Social Media into the White House

By claire |

obama-biden08smallThe Obama-Biden campaign was a clear confirmation that we as citizens hold a tremendous amount of power and, when we unite, that power creates change. Uniting an entire nation was no easy task, but the use of emerging social media in the campaign was the most effective way to connect a nation. By leveraging the power of the crowd, the Obama-Biden campaign took political awareness and civic engagement to new heights.

The Obama-Biden campaign was able to unite 5 million “friends” across 15 social media platforms, with 3 million “friends” on Facebook alone. When CNN and Facebook teamed together on Inauguration Day, the result was over 136 million page views by 3:30 PM! was an incredible, user-centric tool to put the power into the hands of its 2 million users, while attracting 8.5 million monthly visitors.  The scope and scale of the Obama-Biden campaign is unmatched and it was the power of social media that made these results possible.

Now, the successful (and soon to be historic) campaign has come to a close.  The hard work of the campaign team team has paid off and the first, and most difficult, 100 days of the new administration have come to a close.

So, how can President Obama move social media into the White House?

The first and most logical step has already been taken: YouTube. The Obama Adminstration’s use of YouTube to directly address citizens about new developments of the economic crisis harkens back to Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats during the Great Depression.  The technology may be different, but the idea is still the same.

Upgrading the White House Twitter is a great way to increase civic engagement and interest, especially among voters 18-24 who make up the largest population of uncast votes.

Perhaps the President could open an account on Delicious, a social bookmarking tool? This could be utilized to bookmark any important press about what the Obama Administration is up to, as well as press about important legislation.

WhiteHouse.Gov has done a great job updating their website and blog.  But, the sad reality is, how many people check White on a regular basis? I would say not many.  The White House website could also benefit from using social media to reach out to the largest amount of Americans in the most efficient way.

Why wouldn’t President Obama leverage the power of  his cultural presence through social media to keep American citizens informed about what’s going on the world? His personality is the hook and social media is the platform. Isn’t it time for his message to be heard, loud and clear, through all possible media to all corners of the world?

Twitter’s “Sexiest Man Alive”

By claire |

hugh-jackman-20060825-155170Last Tuesday, Actor Hugh Jackman (of X-Men fame) announced via Twitter that he plans to donate $100,000 to an individual nonprofit organization.  Here’s the catch, he’s going to choose the organization based on how Twitter users leverage their 140-character Tweets to describe their favorite cause.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Twitter is the hottest new social networking tool, condensing everyone’s favorite Facebook feature: the Newsfeed.  Twitter users create a profile and are given only 140-characters to say what they are doing, share a website or give a shout-out to a friend or colleague.  These 140 character “tweets” force Twitter users to be succinct and just give the bare details. URL shortening sites such as have cropped up to accommodate this new shortened form of communication. An instant sensation, Twitter has been used by everyone from celebrities to your next door neighbor; from Presidents of businesses to the President of the United States (yes, Barack Obama did use Twitter during his campaign!) to communicate with friends and family or to network and share ideas. All using these bite sized tweets.

And now, Twitter is being used for philanthropic endeavors.  Twittering for a good cause? Something about it sounds appealing. And who better to kick off the new, charitable side of Twitter than an acclaimed actor with worldwide fame and People Magazine’s 2008 choice for “Sexiest Man Alive”? This just goes to show how far a few tweets can go.

Selling Luxury During a Downturn

By claire |

12051704650knb5tAs discussed in a previous blog, women are willing (and in some cases a little too willing) to break out the wallet for beauty during troubled times. Still having trouble keeping your beauty business afloat? Here are a few quick tips about how to keep women looking gorgeous during a recession.

    1. Give your marketing a makeover.
    Think about the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign. This is a classic example of how marketing can make a huge impact on your business. By taking a simple bar of soap and packaging it in a big idea about how we view beauty, Dove was able to leverage powerful marketing to make a huge splash in the beauty industry.
    So, how can you apply this to your beauty business? Give your brand a boost. By repackaging your services, you can find new ways to add value to existing services.  And, endless technological possibilities provide us with endless cost-effective alternatives to spread the word about your services.
    2. Differentiate your beauty business from your competitors.
    Show your clients that your business is the one to choose.  Making your business stand out from the crowd is essential when times are tight.  Research of your competition and create ways to outshine them. Keep an idea of your target customer in mind and think about what they need but aren’t getting from your competitors.
    3. Create an environment of relaxation.
    With all the stress caused by the recession, what your clients really want is to relax. Make your spa the place women go to get away from it all. Try serving beverages or snacks to your guests. Play relaxing music. Use aromatherapy or candles.  Find ways to relax your clients by appealing to their five senses. This will show that you are attentive to their needs.
    4. Give guests goodies.
    What draws people in more than anything? Free stuff!  By giving your guests trial sizes of their favorite products, you will entice them to return for more. Make personalized recommendations to get clients hooked on your products and services. If you’re tight on products try giving clients a trial service, like a free five-minute massage.
     Create a weekly special, bonus or coupon.  Giving your clients a discount will draw in new customers and providing a “tenth visit free” card will keep them coming back.
    5. Network, network, network!
    Attending networking events is the fastest way to meet new clients and also provides you with an opportunity to talk about your services in-person. Everyone loves looking pretty, so the services you provide could easily be worked into a casual conversation. 
    Reach out to clients you haven’t heard from in a while.  With today’s internet-obsessed culture, very few people are actually picking up the phone to call clients. Giving your past customers a quick call allows you the opportunity to update them on new promotions or services, and it personalizes the customer service interaction.

spa_features_mastheadThe beauty industry is a great place to be during a recession, since people turn to beauty as a form of therapy when times get rough. In fact, careers in the beauty field were listed on HRWorld’s list of Top 25 Careers to Pursue during a Recession.

So, go the extra mile to remind your clients that just because times are tough doesn’t mean they have to look it.

Does the fitness industry need to slim down on services?

By claire |

apple_weightsPeople often say that the “gym membership I never use” is one of the first things to go when they cut back the budget. But, taking a closer look at the fitness industry actually proves otherwise.  According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, many gym members view their membership not as an extravagance, but as a solid investment in their health. In turn, the fitness industry often continues to thrive during economic crises. Rather than cutting back membership, club members are showing up to work out more than ever in an effort to make the most of their membership. Maryalicia Johnson, a spokeswoman of the YMCA, says that the gym is a place that many people flock to seeking solace and a sense of control during difficult times. 

However, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association cites that only 15% of Americans have a gym membership and an approximately 21% of people in the average community have memberships to local clubs. So, how can you survive these troubled times without slimming down on services?  Here are four tips to help your fitness club come out on top.

1. Buff Up your Marketing

Make sure that your marketing efforts are paying off. Amp up your marketing by trying to reach new and existing clients through a variety channels. Attend conferences and networking events, or embark upon an direct-mail marketing effort. Offer special events or promotions to draw in clients. Pick up the phone and reach out to club members you haven’t seen in for a while to give them an update. Do whatever it takes to spread the word about your fitness club and to motivate people to stop by.  

2. Get online

If you don’t have a website, now’s the time to launch one! If you do have a website, maybe it’s time to think about giving it a facelift.  Use social media to build buzz around the launch (or re-launch) of your website. Finding creative ways to utilize online marketing strategies is a key way to reach a large audience on a small budget. 

3. Add New Workouts/Services

Keep things interesting at your club by thinking outside the box.  By offering programs and classes for emerging workouts, you may end up catching the interest of new members, as well as existing clients.  Send the message that your gym is constantly looking for ways to meet its clients’ needs. 

4. Add Value to Old Workouts/Services

Along the same vein, make sure that clients (old and new) don’t forget about the wonderful services you already offer.  Find new and exciting ways to maximize these services. Invite guest instructors. Figure out how to pump up your existing classes and remind your clients why they love your gym.

Now is the time to show your club members and potential clients that, no matter how hard times may get, they always need their health.

Why We Still Shell out for Lipstick During Tough Times

By claire |

superstock_1491r-1038649In 2008, Americans spent $11 billion on self-help and self-improvement materials, including books,CDs and personal coaching.

Newsflash: We’re in a recession! 

So why are people still paying for products that aren’t the bare essentials? Because, in addition to selling self-improvement, these motivational materials are selling something that’s been missing from the global market as of late: HOPE. 

“[The gurus] aren’t selling you the features–they’re selling the image,” says Steve Salerno, author of Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. “Whatever they think you’re deficient in, they’re selling the solution.  (Source: “What People are Still Willing to Pay For”, by Melanie Lindner, Forbes)

During dismal times, consumers are likely to keep buying products that get them through their day, the little luxuries that make us all feel a bit better. We turn to these “touchstones of emotion” that are with us through good times and bad.


Enter lipstick.

In a recent London Survey, four out of every ten respondents said, although they felt the need to cutback in 2009, they would rather scrimp on gas and electricity than their favorite beauty products. (Interestingly enough, Vaseline Lip Balm was the number one product British women can’t live without.) On our side of the pond, lipstick sales have historically shown a marked increase during times of economic unrest, and nearly doubled after the 9/11 attacks.

The bottom line: we really can’t live without lipstick.

What other products or services will you pinch pennies for?







    Economic Recovery: Are Small Businesses Being Left Behind?

    By perksconsulting |

    Although it’s no secret that we are currently in the worst economic situation since the Great Depression,  there has been little talk about where small businesses come into play. With a recovery and stimulus package of epic proportions being distributed, where is the small business piece of the pie?

    On February 17, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a huge piece of legislation that is the boost that growing businesses desperately need.  The Act integrates the Small Business Administration (SBA) and its programs, incorporating the SBA into the solution instead of sweeping the administration under the rug.  More specifically, $730 will be provided to the SBA to and, taken directly from the SBA official press release, it will be distributed as follows:
    • $375 million for temporary fee reductions or eliminations on SBA loans and increased SBA guaranteed shares, up to 90 percent for certain loans
    • $255 million for new loan program to help small businesses meet existing debt payments
    • $30 million for expanding SBA’s Microloan program, enough to finance up to $50 million in new lending and $24 million in technical assistance grants to microlenders
    • $20 million for technology systems to streamline SBA’s lending and oversight processes
    • $15 million for expanding SBA’s Surety Bond Guarantee program
    • $25 million for staffing up to meet demands for new programs
    • $10 million for the Office of Inspector General

    Other initiatives planned to give small businesses a hand include: equipment expensing, hiring incentives, capital gains, and microloans.  The entire package has one simple goal: create jobs to stimulate the economy. In addition, Karen Gordon Mills has been confirmed as the new SBA Business Administrator. (To find out more about what this appointment means for small business, refer “Remaking America: Karen Gordon Mills, New SBA Administrator,” a previous Perks Consulting blog.)

    So, what’s the bottom line for small business? Change is just around the corner and help is, finally, on its way.

    Behind Every Good Man…

    By perksconsulting |



    Everyone has held high expectations for the administration of President Barack Obama and the changes coming in the next four years. We’ve heard about the new appointments he’s made and the roles they will play. We’ve heard about the ways his new administration will affect foreign policy, the economy, and small business. But there’s one key member of every new administration that often is overlooked, a member who is often called “the power behind the throne.” And that is the First Lady.

    Hailing from a hard-working family on Chicago’s South Side, First Lady Michelle Obama attended public schools and went on to graduate from Princeton and, like her husband, Harvard Law. And, also like her husband, Mrs. Obama has some big changes planned for America.

    The woman who calls herself “mom-in-chief” has already taken her first few steps as First Lady with grace and confidence that indicates she was born to play this role. Mrs. Obama has aligned herself with key political players. She has made visits to the Department of Education and the local community of Washington, D.C., making it clear where her priorities lie. While addressing a packed auditorium at the Department of Education, she stated, “The children of this country are counting on all of us.”

    Mrs. Obama also looked on with pride as President Obama signed his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act), a piece of legislation that was a huge step for gender equality in the workplace.

    Being First Lady is so much more than a photo-opportunity–it’s more than being the arm candy of a world leader. Being First Lady is a legacy that each woman who has proudly held the title has leveraged in her own unique way to bring awareness to causes and promote social welfare and well-being.

    While some chose to be more actively involved in the decision-making processes than others, each First Lady has had to juggle being the support system for a powerful man, a crusader for social change, a professional woman, and a mother. And Michelle Obama has proven that she is more than capable of handling the juggling act with ease.

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    Remaking America: The Obama-Biden Plan for Small Businesses

    By perksconsulting |

    Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
    -Barack Obama

    With a new SBA administrator and a stimulated economy on the horizon, the Obama-Biden administration presents a streamlined approach to helping growing businesses grow even more. Specific initiatives have been set into place to aid the 27 million entrepreneurs in America. Results are the name of the game in this new administration, and some of Obama’s bold new strategies for small business include:

    -A refundable Health Tax Credit, covering up to 50% of funds spent on employee health care
    -Health care quality improvement and cost reduction initiatives
    -Expansion of small business loan programs
    -Increased investment in Minority and Women-Owned small businesses, as well as rural-based businesses
    -Support of high-tech job creation
    -Emergency Relief for businesses (including businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina)

    The Obama-Biden administration is equipping small businesses with the tools they need to overcome our greatest challenges. With increased access to funding and quality healthcare for our employees, the sky is the limit for growing business.

    As the new administration takes bold steps toward a brighter future, don’t you think it’s time to be braver as well? The only way to turn your business around is to take risks and plan for a brighter, bolder future. And the only time is now.

    What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
    -Barack Obama

    Remaking America: Karen Gordon Mills, New SBA Administrator

    By perksconsulting |

    “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned… it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.”
    -Barack Obama

    Barack Obama has recently taken another bold step that will affect small business: the selection of Karen Gordon Mills, a fellow Harvard Graduate and venture capitalist from Brunswick, Maine, as the new administrator for the Small Business Association.

    National business groups such as these are the main source of political representation for small businesses, and Karen Gordon Mills (who embodies cutting-edge, growing business) is up at bat. Gordon Mills’ portfolio boasts the co-founding of New York’s Solera LLC, a company that makes late-stage investments in a variety of growing businesses. Ms. Mills has also enjoyed an extensive amount of success in the realms of politics and business:

    •Consulting for McKinsey & Co.
    •Presiding over the MMP Group
    •Advising Maine Governor John Baldacci
    •Chairing the Council on Competitiveness and the Economy

    Like many recently appointed leaders, Ms. Mills faces an uphill struggle due to recent budget cuts and restructuring of the Small Business Association. But, if anyone can turn it all around it’s Karen Gordon Mills.

    Not only does she understand the struggles of small businesses, but she also plans to bring new life to the American labor market by creating jobs and increasing the SBA involvement in the job market and economy at large. With her vast amount of experience, history of bipartisanship, and big plans for the SBA, Karen Gordon Mills brings a fresh perspective that is expected to propel growing business into a bolder, more confident, and much greener future.

    “Small, entrepreneurial businesses based on innovation are gathering up to get a bigger voice, and they are starting to reach out to each other so they can get more access and visibility in Washington,” she says. “When they have a mission in mind…they are highly active.” –Karen Gordon Mills