Tag Archive | "facebook"

Hope Barbie Plays a New Role

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web Wendy Tarlow 1-16-12_9394

By Emily J Weitz

Last week, 40,000 people liked “Bald and Beautiful Barbie” on Facebook. This week, it was up to 120,000. The social network giant has become a mechanism for grassroots change of all sorts, and this time it’s a movement to help children fighting cancer maintain a sense of pride.

Barbie’s flowing golden tresses may be one of her most obvious characteristics, but without them, she’s still Barbie. That’s what Wendy Tarlow, Sag Harbor resident, cancer fighter and administrator of the Facebook-page-gone-viral hopes.

The story of the bald Barbie began when the CEO of Mattel, Inc., the manufacturer of the 53-year-old iconic doll, had one bald Barbie made for a friend’s little girl, Genesis Reyes, a 4-year-old cancer patient on Long Island. Word of the story sparked Jane Bingham, a cancer patient from New Jersey, and Beckie Sypin, the California mother of a cancer patient, to create a Facebook page to try to get the doll made.

“I heard about it on Cancer Chicks, one of my Facebook groups,” says Tarlow. “I liked it and shared it and I saw they just weren’t getting very far. They had, maybe 40 ‘likes,’ so I asked if they wanted help.”

Tarlow, who has a background in fundraising and recently helped raise over $10,000 for Swim Across America for cancer research, has started tapping into other Facebook groups, particularly cancer pages for kids. News organizations across the country are reporting on Bald and Beautiful Barbie, and Mattel, said Tarlow, is under a lot of pressure to make this doll.

“You look at Mattel’s Facebook page now,” said Tarlow, “and it’s pages and pages of requests for this.” Posts like “Dear Mattel, Please consider making three bald Barbies named Hope, Faith and Charity…” to “Dear Mattel, If you don’t make a doll with no hair I’m sure some other company will. It would be dumb not to…” fill the responses on the company’s wall.

Facebook has been helpful for Tarlow since her own battle with cancer began.

“I used to think Facebook was ridiculous,” she says. “But when I was in and out of treatment, I was sick so much of the time and felt so alone, Facebook made me feel connected. There was only so much my family could hear. Most people dealing with cancer feel that family and friends don’t understand. They want to hear you’re doing well, not the bad news… Facebook connected me to other sources of support.”

In fact it was where she met and became friends with Bingham on the Cancer Chicks page. So it made sense that she went down that same avenue to reach out and raise awareness for this cause.

The first bald Barbie was made when little Genesis confessed that she “didn’t feel like a princess anymore,” according to Tarlow.

“What better way to make a child feel like a princess than to make a Barbie doll that looks like her,” she asked.

According to reports in media such as the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC, Mattel, Inc. is non-committal about actually producing a bald Barbie.

“Mattel appreciates and respects the passion that has been built up for the request for a bald Barbie doll,” Mattel told the Times. “As you might imagine, we receive hundreds of passionate requests for various dolls to be added to our collection. We take all of them seriously and are constantly exploring new and different dolls to be added to our line.”

Since the Bald and Beautiful Barbie campaign launched, a movement for a Bald GI Joe began as well, also organized by the women. Its manufacturer, Hasbro, has responded positively, claimed Tarlow, who said most of her time is now spent boosting that page’s viewership, although no promises have been made.

“I think just the fact that people have jumped on this bandwagon creates solidarity,” she said.

That solidarity, and that gathering behind a cause, has given Tarlow strength in the years since she was first diagnosed.

“It’s a f—— hard road,” she says. “But raising money gives me a sense of hope.”

She recalled when she was honored last year for her extraordinary contributions to Swim Across America.

“When I was brought up onstage and given a plaque along with another guy going through this, we hugged and cried,” she said.

The hope is that, if and when the Bald Barbie is made, proceeds will go to research children’s cancers.

“Mattel did a breast cancer Barbie two years ago,” Tarlow said. “That pink ribbon has raised enough money that they have found cures and treatments. But kids’ cancer is underfunded.”

According to the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in this country. Cancer is still the number one disease killer of children.

“It’s time to get this doll made,” says Tarlow.

As she rallies behind the cause, Tarlow can’t help but think of Katy Stewart, the young Sag Harbor resident who lost her battle with cancer last year.

“I think of Katy, and all the supporters in this community,” she said. “If this doll was made when she was alive to see it, I would have been the first to go and give it to her.”

Facebook: It’s Not Just for the Kids

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web Biz Word Hampton

By the time subscribers to The New York Times settled into their Wednesday morning paper with steaming cups of coffee in hand, the fact that Scott Brown had just won a monumental victory in Massachusetts for Edward “Ted” Kennedy’s senate seat was already old news.

In addition to the breaking news being posted on news websites worldwide shortly after Brown’s 9:25 p.m. victory, social media users were posting their own reactions on sites such as Twitter and Facebook almost immediately following the announcement that the Republican had taken a long-held Democratic seat in the Senate, a move that single-handedly will likely change the direction of national health care reform.

“The reality is, besides traditional media, we now recognize that each of us — all of us — are members of the media,” said WordHampton Public Relations President Steve Haweeli.

Haweeli added that he believed trusted news sources, like newspapers, are critical to ensure non-biased information is making it through the spin machine, but that ultimately the impact of social networks on news, public relations and marketing is staggering.

“The growth of the social network is beyond a phenomenon,” he said. “The numbers are simply staggering.”

There are currently 350 million users, worldwide, on Facebook, said Haweeli, making Facebook the fourth largest country in the world.

“It’s a comfortable place to be, it’s a fun place to be,” said Haweeli. “You can control your content or what you want to see when you want to see it, and you can un-friend people. From a marketing standpoint, it can widen your audience and it allows for updates in real time.”

For example, said Haweeli, Town Line BBQ in East Hampton has engaged friends on Facebook by leaking a Monday night pub quiz question on their Facebook page and using the site to announce their winners the next day.

At WordHampton, Haweeli has found embracing social networks to be critical to the business’s growth and development, and something he urges his clients to take part in.

WordHampton jumped on the social network bandwagon early in its heyday, starting on MySpace and, like the rest of the market, shifting their focus to Facebook and Twitter.

“We had been tracking the trend of social media since May of 2006,” he said. “And we were able to quietly build a base of knowledge and were ready before our clients were.”

Last year, said Haweeli, the social network phenomenon truly took hold and WordHampton was there to help clients set up and run their Twitter and Facebook pages, but more importantly understand what they needed to do to successfully use the sites as marketing tools.

“I would never have considered myself a techie, but I would say I might be one now because I think understanding our world as it relates to communications and marketing means I need to understand where this kind of mobile marketing is moving,” he said.

On Twitter, for example, Haweeli said it is critical to understand what your voice is, who you are marketing to and what your ultimate message will be in the series of 150-word updates you leave on the site. Best practices are also key, he said, ensuring you are not bombarding your friends on Facebook with news about your business, but sending out updates in digestible chunks.

“You also have to be careful,” said Haweeli, about who in your company you are willing to entrust with passwords and posts, which is why he recommends each company develop a social media policy of their own.

For many clients, simply having the time to keep people engaged through social media can be a hurdle in itself; but, according to Haweeli, embracing this new kind of outreach is an absolute necessity for any business in this day and age.

“People understand now this is real – it’s not just for kids or college kids,” said Haweeli. “In fact, women over 50 are the largest growing demographic on Facebook.”

Haweeli added that the social network phenomenon is only growing as we become a more mobile society, many relying on smart phones like the iPhone as their main link to the Internet. Mobile websites and media like iPhone applications are the wave of the future, he said, as are text message campaigns.

“Just look at how that has impacted Haitian relief,” he said.

As of Tuesday, over $22 million had been donated by U.S. residents via text message to support Haitian earthquake relief through the American Red Cross. That organization said in previous years it had yet to break $500,000 using similar text message campaigns.

WordHampton Public Relations is located at 512 Three Mile Harbor Rd. in East Hampton. For more information, call 329-0050.

Pictured above: Nicole Starr Castillo, the executive vice president of WordHampton Public Relations, checks on the company’s Facebook page, one of several social networks that increasingly have played a larger role in the marketing of local businesses on the East End.

School Community Connects on Facebook

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Facebook, the online networking site, has become a popular pastime among members of the community and now parents, teachers, administrators and others can join a group to learn about Sag Harbor School and community events.
Benefits of the Facebook group, according to school board member and founder of the group, Mary Anne Miller, are that people can regularly stay informed of happenings in the area.
For example, this weekend, the Sag Harbor Elementary School is having its annual Multi-Cultural Feast, where students can bring a food of their choice that is representative of their family heritage. For those who belong to the Facebook group, Sag Harbor UFSD Parents Connect, their attendance can be confirmed online.
So far, according to Miller’s Facebook group, there are 10 confirmed guests attending Friday night.
For many in the district, events like the multi-cultural dinner have come and gone without parents even having knowledge of it until after it was finished, according to Miller.
“A lot of parents say they don’t know about a certain event until afterwards,” she said.
For that reason Miller thought of forming this group earlier in the school year to help keep the notification of events at the forefront of people’s attention.
“I started this group for anyone in the district to join, and it has an open enrollment so anyone can post any event they are aware of occurring in the district,” Miller said.
“In the last couple of years, there has always been a feeling of disconnect, especially as the children get older, and the parents have tried various ways to get involved,” she continued.
Ellen Heller, mother of two in the Sag Harbor School District, began a Yahoo group from a suggestion put forth by Pierson’s assistant principal, Gary Kalish. She said that group has 30 members, but just two days ago she recommended the members of the Yahoo group join the Facebook group instead.
Now, the Facebook group has 65 members and is still growing.
“Facebook was very easy,” said Miller because members of the online community can join a group, even if they are not “friends” with anyone else in that community.
The first event Miller posted was for Little League sign ups, now, she said the PTA and the PTSA use the group to post their events and regular school events are posted there by parents and teachers as well.
Miller said the Facebook idea is not the only technology-linking group designed to connect parents within the Sag Harbor School’s community.
The school district’s website has recently been going through some upgrades and changes, which technology coordinator Vincent Raicovi helped to implement. The new system, called Unity Messaging, is credited with allowing visitors to utilize various mediums. With the system, the school district can send a message to computers and telephones and they also support email and text messaging.
On the district’s website, it also states that Unity Messaging allows the school to “store multiple sets of contact information so we can be sure your message is delivered.”
Miller said that although this is a great tool, the Facebook group has been very successful because there’s no need to speak to anyone, people can just learn about events online. But she added, the Unity Messaging service is a good tool for keeping the school community informed in many other ways, for example snow days.
Any event that occurs in the Sag Harbor community can be added to the group by any member of the group, said Miller. She noted for example, Bay Street Theatre could use the tool to announce their family film series and said that any family oriented events can be listed here as well.
“We encourage people with young children who are not yet in the school system to join, and it really helps just to get everybody talking.”
Miller said that one of the first thoughts for the group was to create an equipment swap. This, she said, parents can use for trading things like ice skates, rackets or anything else children use for one season, but quickly out-grow. But she said that plan hasn’t really taken off, yet.
“One of my biggest mantras as a board member is trying to get people together,” said Miller. She also added that there has always been a “bit of a disconnect” among parents in the community. She also noted it would be a great tool for parents considering what nursery or kindergarten school to send their children to. This way, she notes, parents can get advice or recommendations from others.
“Facebook is a much larger animal and can include the outer groups like Little League events and happenings at SYS in Southampton,” said Miller.
Anyone can join Facebook at www.facebook.com and search for the “Sag Harbor UFSD Parents Connect” group to join.