<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 01 Aug 2014 05:35:28 -0500 Fri, 01 Aug 2014 05:35:28 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Nordstrom Acquires Chicago's Trunk Club]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:26:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trunk_club_blurb.jpg Chicago startup company Trunk Club is now in the hands of national retailer Nordstrom.

It's not clear how much Nordstrom paid for the company, which is located in River North.

Trunk Club is an e-commerce business that offers personal stylists who hand select clothing for men.

The company has raised several millions of dollars in venture capital funds and is expected to continue operating independently while receiving support from Nordstrom.

According to the New York Times, the company may start carrying lines from Nordstrom and customers may have access to tailors at the departments stores. ]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Details Plans for New Stores]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 14:22:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

Whole Foods has reportedly announced plans to open the first of seven renovated Dominick’s stores next year.

The store, located at 255 E. Grand Ave. in Streeterville, will open Jan. 28, 2015, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The company is set to open six other locations-- including storefronts in the West Loop, Edgewater, Lincoln Park, Evanston, Elmhurst—will open after the Streeterville location, but specific dates have not yet been announced.

Dominick's parent company, Safeway, announced last year its decision to pull its 72 stores out of the Chicago market because of poor sales.

Mariano's purchased 11 of the stores, and four Dominick’s stores have since re-opened as Jewel-Osco supermarkets.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a high-level task force in Chicago to market the many still-vacant spaces.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Program Uses Selfies to Determine Life Expectancy]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:08:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/face+my+age+2.jpg

Your next selfie could be saying a little more about you than you think.

New facial recognition technology called Face My Age uses a selfie, along with a few personal details, to determine how long a person is expected to live and how old they look.

The program was developed by S. Jay Olshansky, a biodemographer from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Dr. Karl Ricanek Jr. from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

“Scientists know that 'looking old for your age' is associated with a higher risk of death, but research in this area involved only a handful of people looking at pictures of identical twins and deciding which looked older and younger,” according to the program’s website. “A subdomain of facial recognition coined facial analytics eliminates the judgment, automates the process of facial comparison for age, and establishes scientifically verified ‘ages’ of your face.”

The Face My Age site asks users to upload a photo, including the person’s age, birthday, gender and race, then asks questions about drug use, smoking, education, relationships, sun exposure and plastic surgery.

The program then uses that information to calculate your “face age,” expected lifespan and your probability of living over the ages of 65 and 85.

According to the site, Face My Age determines your “face age” by evaluating everything from face shape to facial muscle.

The results can be affected by poor photo quality and whether or not a person is smiling.

Olshansky said the next steps for Face My Age include age progression photos, which will allow users to see how they will look as they get older.

"You can actually see how you will look if you're a smoker, without smoking, excessive exposure to sun," he said.

The new features are expected to be implented on the site later this year.



Photo Credit: Face My Age]]>
<![CDATA[Shake Shack To Open Second Chicago Location in 2015]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:02:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/shake+shack+getty.jpg

New York-based Shake Shack, as famous for its lines and web cam as its burgers and shakes, is adding a second Chicago location before opening the first.

The fast-casual chain makes its Second City debut late this year at the corner of Ohio and Rush streets. On Tuesday it announced another location to open next year on the ground floor of the new Chicago Athletic Association Hotel at Michigan and Madison.

Both locations will serve the modern-day, “roadside” burger-stand staples Shake Shack is known for: burgers, flat-top dogs made with Chicago’s Vienna Beef, frozen custard, craft beer and wine.

Until then, Shake Shack unveiled six life-size, interactive sliding puzzles on the first location's work site wall on Ohio Street. The puzzles feature artwork by artist Noah MacMillan, known in the city for the Chicago Loop District’s iconic “Float” mural.

"In the spirit of Chicago’s vibrant public art collection and in homage to Shake Shack’s roots as a hot dog cart art installation in New York City," organizers said, "the puzzles invite the neighboring community to engage with them."

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uniqlo To Open First Store in Chicago Next Fall]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:55:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/uniqlo+getty.jpg

Clothing store Uniqlo plans to open its first store in Chicago -- and the Midwest -- next fall.

The flagship location of the hip Japanese casual wear brand, to be located at 830 N. Michigan Ave., will be the chain's second largest store in the United States, after its New York flagship on Fifth Avenue

“Chicago is a global city that’s home to some of the finest cultural and sports institutions in the world, and we are thrilled to join the city’s rich landscape,” UNIQLO USA CEO Larry Meyer said. “We look forward to bringing our innovative, high-quality apparel, world class customer service and modern, bright store aesthetic to the people of Chicago.”

Meyer said the store will begin recruiting at all levels with open positions posted here.

Uniqlo has 21 stores in the Northeast and San Francisco Bay area. It plans to continue its expansion this fall with openings in the Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia areas.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Uniqlo]]>
<![CDATA[Workers Demonstrate Against Timed Bathroom Breaks]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:53:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Protest_toilet_breaks.jpg

Union workers at a Chicago faucet manufacturer demonstrated Monday against their employers enforcement of timed bathroom breaks.

Teamsters Local 743 claims WaterSaver Faucet Co. recently implemented a policy that tracks and records employees' bathroom usage as well as interrogates employees when they have to go.

The workers say they are limited to six minutes of bathroom time a day or risk facing discipline. But company officials say the union agreed to the bathroom policy and is using it as a publicity stunt.

Union representatives claim the new policy was put into place four days after Local 743 asked the company for $15 an hour, as well as paid sick days per Chicago's ordinance, insurance co-pay deductions and a progressive disciplinary policy.

The union filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the State of Illinois Labor Relations Board after it said a spokesman told the union the bathroom policy was not up for bargaining. The union claims some of the workers are being disciplined for what the company calls excessive bathroom usage.

"The company has recently implemented a ridiculous bathroom policy that's solely intended for Union workers and infringes on workers privacy rights," the union said in a statement.

 

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<![CDATA[Unlock Your Phone with Motorola's "Digital Tattoo"]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:34:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/moto+x+tattoo.jpg

Say goodbye to unlocking your phone with a fingerprint, and hello to a digital tattoo.

That’s right—Motorola has unveiled new technology that allows Moto X phone users to unlock their phone using a digital tattoo.

Made of "super thin" and flexible materials, based on eSkinTM technology by VivaLnk, each digital tattoo is designed to unlock a phone by touching it to the device. The nickel-sized, shiny tattoo is designed to last for about five days and can withstand showering, swimming and vigorous activities like jogging, the company said in a release.

The new technology is designed to unlock devices faster than the average 2.3 seconds and eliminates the possibility of forgetting your password.

“Digital tattoos make it faster to safely unlock your phone anywhere without having to enter a password,” the company said in the release.

The tattoos are available in packs of 10 on VivaLnk.com.
 



Photo Credit: Motorola]]>
<![CDATA[Emotion Trumps Data for Business Decision Makers: Study]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:17:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/gmail+unsend.jpg

Big jobs often call for big decisions and decision makers may rely on different elements when it comes to making their choices.

Some require cold, hard facts and others go with their gut.

But according to a new study, business decisions aren’t always “strictly business.”

Fortune Knowledge Group and gyro surveyed 720 senior executives about the role of emotion in business decision-making and many said emotional elements play a large role in their choices.

Of those surveyed, 62 percent said they tend to trust their gut more than big data and 61 percent said they rely on experience over hard analytics.

“With more information comes more complexity,” Jed Hartman, Group Publisher Worldwide of TIME, FORTUNE and MONEY, who oversees the FORTUNE Knowledge Group, said in a statement. “Business decision makers are, of course, using data to their benefit. However when looking to select a business partner, it is clear that emotion plays a vital role. Decision makers do not just want a partner who looks good on paper. They want to create a relationship that can lead to a successful, long-term partnership. As with any relationship, aspects like values, reputation, trust and emotion come to the forefront.”

While data consistently plays a role in decisions, it is more often used as a tool, the survey found.

Nearly two-thirds of executives said subjective factors like a company’s culture or corporate values makes a difference when they’re evaluating competing proposals.

“Business decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally,” Christoph Becker, CEO of gyro said in statement. “A side effect of the tsunami of digital content is, too often, there is an utter lack of human relevance. That is why if you truly want to connect with business decision makers, you must make them feel. That is why you must focus on the ‘why’ of your business, the pure idea. The overwhelming desire to connect to this essence has been, and always will be, incredibly powerful.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images/MedioImages]]>
<![CDATA[Postal Workers Protest Staples in Chicago]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:55:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/staples+protest+7-20.jpg

Hundreds of members of the American Postal Workers Union protested outside a Staples in Chicago Tuesday in hopes to keep mini-post offices from opening up inside the business.

The group, which included leaders from the Chicago Teachers Union, gathered outside a Staples at Wabash and Washington in Chicago to “turn up the heat” on their “Don’t Buy Staples” campaign.

The protest comes as postal workers claim the stores finished a pilot program allowing for postal counters to open in more than 80 Staples stores nationwide.

“About a week ago, the USPS and Staples attempted to derail the boycott,” Union President Mark Dimondstein said. “They announced the pilot was over, but admitted that Staples clerks would continue to do the work of uniformed postal workers under a program with a different name. We’ve got news for them: our campaign to stand up for living-wage jobs and quality service for our customers isn’t over until we say it’s over.”

It's not the first time workers have protested the center. Nationwide protests were also held earlier this year after news of the pilot program was first announced.

The workers say the pilot program jeopardizes their jobs and the security of the mail, because the retail counters are staffed by Staples employees, not postal workers.

“We’re not falling for that ruse, and neither are the labor and community allies who have joined with us in this fight,” said Dimondstein. “This campaign will continue so long as the USPS tries to replace experienced, uniformed U.S. postal workers who are accountable to the American people with low-wage, high-turnover employees who have little training and who are not qualified to handle the U.S. Mail.”
 

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<![CDATA[Alpana Singh Reveals Details About New Chicago Restaurant]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:39:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Blogapalooza_14_alpana.jpg

With plans for her upcoming eatery ripening quickly, Alpana Singh has announced some details about her highly anticipated Chicago venue.

Construction is underway at the Michigan Avenue location, located across the street from the Art Institute, Singh told Eater Chicago.

The name of the restaurant is Seven Lions and Singh says it will be an "American clubhouse," featuring "comfortable and approachable" updated American cuisine and a largely American wine list.

She told the foodie site she hopes to open the location later this year or by early next year.

The restaurant will hold a large center bar with a separate dining room, a sidewalk patio and private event space.

Rumors of the restaurant sprouted more than two years ago after the master sommelier announced she was parting ways with Lettuce Entertain You and resigned her post as host of WTTW's popular "Check, Please" program.

The project is in conjunction with Bistronomic owners Matt Fisher and John Ward.



Photo Credit: Leon Serdin]]>
<![CDATA[Four Tips For Landing Your First Job Right Out of College]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 12:49:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlmd_120104_resumeexitoso.jpg

Based on a job market that, of late, seems to be trending up, recent graduates have more of an opportunity to get the job that they want, rather than settling for the job that they need.

But the job market hasn’t fully bounced back and it’s still tough out there, so here are four tips to consider before hitting the job trail:

Start your search early. Students should get a head start on understanding what they want in a career – based on both professional interests and what they expect from an employer – to ensure they are prepared to move forward when presented with the right opportunity. Beyond reflecting on what they want, students need to spend time actually researching prospective opportunities.

There are so many tools available for students to use to learn more about a company or an industry – such as a company’s website or social platforms – that students should take the time to research an organization’s mission and values. That kind of due diligence always comes in handy during the interview phase. For additional insight on an industry or a specific organization and help further refine the job search, students also can speak with a professional recruiter.

Work your network and follow up. Top companies make hiring decisions well in advance of graduation, so that means the job search needs to begin well in advance of your last college exam. Connect with friends, family and teachers to advertise your job hunt. You never know what kind of opportunities you can uncover unless you ask.

Students also should take advantage of professional organizations on campus both for networking opportunities and for the chance to learn more about what they do or don’t like. As a result, hopefully you won’t waste time on that six month unpaid internship in an industry that doesn’t suit you, but instead, you’ll channel your efforts into what you know you want. And as with any meeting, don’t forget to follow up with new connections and send a thank you note, even after informational interviews. Take advantage of LinkedIn, connect with everyone you know including recruiters, follow companies that you are interested in working for and join groups that you are interested in.

Get comfortable with major trends in your field. Read industry publications to understand the major trends and how they fit into the bigger picture of the business. Graduates with a fresh perspective and solid understanding of an industry are more valuable to hiring managers than folks that don’t have a similar level of industry awareness.

For example, in the IT world, every organization across every industry is investing in how data is captured, stored, analyzed and kept secure. Yet, there is a shortage of qualified candidates.

If you’re coming out of school with a strong understanding of not only how data works, but what core functions are trending in the industry, AND you can prove you’re a quick learner, you’ll be in great shape as an attractive candidate to employers.

Get the right work experience. Understanding the type of work experience required for a new job is central to landing it. Experience is one of the first things hiring managers look at when evaluating a candidate. Whether it’s a paid position or an unpaid internship, think ahead to the roles you’ll fill in the future. Are you adequately preparing for them? Research the certifications or degrees you’ll need down the road, and start mapping out how you’ll earn them en route to your dream job.

Katie Kocmond is an Information Technology Recruiting Manager at Addison Group, a nationwide provider of professional staffing and search services. Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch. Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Administration & Human Resources, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, and Information Technology. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for both Client and Candidate service for the past four years. Learn more at www.addisongroup.com.



Photo Credit: iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[5 Tips to Stay Productive at Work]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:25:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/text_suit_generic.jpg

It’s already 1 p.m., and despite spending half your day in the office, you have yet to cross off any of the items on your to-do list.

Sound familiar?

Whether you work in a home office, shared office or more traditional space, chances are your work environment is filled with distractions that threaten to torpedo your productivity. While five minutes here and 15 minutes there may not seem like a lot, this time quickly adds up and, in some cases, takes a financial toll on your business.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, one in four people admit to spending at least one hour per workday on personal calls, emails or texts. And more than 20 percent said they spend an hour or more on the Internet searching for non-work-related information. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to list their primary workplace distractions.

Among the culprits were cell phones and texting, gossip, the Internet and social media.

  • You can find the list of the top 10 productivity killers here.

With so much going on around you, it’s no wonder you have a hard time getting things accomplished.

Here are five tips to help you stay focused and on-task in the office:

Unplug – Working on a tight deadline? Turn off your phone, set up an out-of-office reply, and turn your web browser to offline mode. (It’s under the “File” menu.) If you absolutely have to look something up, go directly to a search engine or site you’ve already bookmarked, locate the information you need, and log back off.

Prioritize – Not every call or email requires an immediate response. If you’re in the middle of something that’s more important, finish what you’re working on and then return the message.

Break it up – Designate certain times of the day to take a mental break and check personal emails, texts and social media accounts.

Block it out – Look for a quiet workspace where you can escape from noisy neighbors and other distractions like TVs and radios. If you don’t have a private office of your own, try an empty conference room or lounge.

Learn how to say “I’m busy” – Be prepared to tell co-workers (or anyone else who drops by unexpectedly) that you simply don’t have time to talk. To avoid coming off as rude or dismissive, explain what you’re working on and suggest another time to catch up. Most of the people who interrupt you have experienced interruptions of their own and will appreciate your candor. It will also make for a better conversation later when your mind isn’t preoccupied with something else.

Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Centers, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata offers an array of full- and part-time office solutions to businesses of all sizes. With six locations to choose from in downtown Chicago, including the company’s newest center at 150 S. Wacker Drive, Amata offers flexible terms that allow businesses to change and grow as needed. Learn more at amataoffices.com.



Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[3 Easy Ways to Reward Your Employees This Summer]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:23:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sunbathing-beach-generic-14.jpg

Summer is finally here and taking advantage of the season is top of mind for employees. After a harsh winter, how can businesses allow their employees to enjoy the warm weather while still encouraging hard work?

Here are three easy ways to reward your employees this summer.

Offer summer vacation days.

Many employees today don’t take the vacation time allotted to them for various reasons including workload pressures, job obligations or performance anxiety. Depriving themselves of a vacation may seem advantageous to their work life, but in fact, bypassing vacation will not benefit an employee’s health or the company’s bottom line. Half-days provide a nice option to ensure your employees get a much-needed break, without spurring the aforementioned vacation-related concerns.

While offering half-day “Summer Fridays” – a common practice for many companies in the summer season – may not work for your business plan, consider offering two additional vacation days between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Employees can choose how and when to leverage their additional days off, whether it’s in one fell swoop or taking a couple half-days throughout the season.

Encourage employees to use them.

Taking time off from work is crucial to avoiding burnout. Additionally, many employees get their most innovative ideas when they aren’t worrying about addressing every crisis that pops up or managing tedious work assignments. The short-term disregard of vacation days can lead to mental “check-out” during the work day and long-term health problems, such as depression, increased stress and heart disease, none of which will benefit the company.

As a result, communicate the importance of taking vacation time with company supervisors early and often. Ensure that managers are promoting this value in your organization because in the end, prioritizing vacation will boost productivity and employee wellness across the board.

Treat your team to a cookout or happy hour.

This reward definitely is the easiest to execute, and only requires a small budget and planning, but it makes a big impact on team morale. Invite families to the team cookout and just relax, avoid “talking shop” and focus on team-building outside of office hours.

Alternatively, you can take your next planning meeting outside. Encourage your employees to get out of the office and unplug for a few hours while you brainstorm. Even moving a single meeting outdoors can boost morale. A change of scenery can also improve creativity and lead to new, fresh ideas.

It’s important to take steps to promote wellness and work-life balance in your organization. Providing employees with simple additional incentives like the ones listed above will help your team avoid burnout and improve productivity.

Jane Garner is an Administrative & HR Recruiting Manager at Addison Group, a nationwide provider of professional staffing and search services. Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch. Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Administration & Human Resources, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, and Information Technology. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for both Client and Candidate service for the past four years. Learn more at www.addisongroup.com.

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<![CDATA[Second City Expands Comedy Training Center]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:59:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Old-Town_second-city.jpg

The training center for Chicago's famous Second City comedy group is expanding.

The Second City Training Center announced Tuesday that it will lease a 25,000 square foot former AMC movie theater next to its Piper's Alley location on the city's North Side.
 
The expansion would double the comedy school's space to include new classrooms, student theaters, voice-over studios and on-camera training areas.
 
"We are very excited to enhance our students' experience with the development of this new space,” said Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc in a statement on the web site. “This will give the opportunity for more student performances in front of audiences, resources to enhance their education, places to work and collaborate, and program-specific materials and technology in classrooms. For our team, it's taking what's already a fantastic training institution and heightening it to the best experience possible for our students."
 
Second City says the space should be finished and students can start using it by spring of 2015.
 
The Second City improv comedy group has been in Chicago for more than 50 years. Its alumni include actors like John Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis.
    

 



Photo Credit: flickr.com/acordova]]>
<![CDATA[New App Aims to Give Picture Perfect Baby Pics]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:38:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000008062620_1200x675_308575299857.jpg Charlie Wojciechowski and Art Norman introduce us to Babysnapps , a new APP that helps you take a perfect picture of your baby with your smartphone. Invented by Kathleen Rickerson, a photographer and IT consultant from Saint Charles, Illinois.]]> <![CDATA[Water Tower Place Offers Same-Day Delivery Service]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 04:59:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/water+tower+place+cms.jpg

Water Tower Place is now offering a same-day delivery service for online and in-store purchases.

Shoppers at the Michigan Avenue mall “will enjoy same-day delivery service from a variety of participating jewelry, fashion, footwear and luxury retailers,” the Chicago Tribune reports, citing a joint release from Water Tower Place and mall operators Simon and Macerich.

The service is currently free for Water Tower shoppers, but after July 31, same-day delivery will cost $5, officials said. Only packages up to 50 pounds are eligible.

“The goal is to make it easy and convenient for the shopper to have their bags delivered to their home the same day,” Marketing Manager for Water Tower Place Katie Lindsay said.

Several other area malls are expected to roll out the new service by the holiday season, Lindsay said.

The shops at North Bridge and Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont will begin offering same-day delivery in August, and Woodfield Mall is expected to follow, the Tribune reports.

Lindsay said about 10 malls are expected to introduce the service in the coming months.

The introduction of the service at General Growth-owned Water Tower Place comes after a similar launch at Oakbrook Center began last November.

The service, which is offered via a partnership with California startup Deliv, is a way for stores to combat online retail giants like Amazon and eBay.

“What they’re doing now is trying to match is the terms of delivery from the online retails,” said Larry Kilduff with commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle. “Anything that a brick and mortar retailer can do to come up with equalization for some of that customer value that the customer perceives, they’re doing.”

Each mall will reportedly have their own runners, item storage, shipping locations and parking for crowd-sourced delivery vehicles.

“It’s all about creating an experience for our shoppers when they come to the mall,” Lindsay said.

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<![CDATA[Boeing Releases Statement on Malaysia Airlines Crash]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:29:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/480432713.jpg

Chicago-based Boeing, which provided the Malaysia Airlines jet that reportedly crashed Thursday in Ukraine near the Russian border, said it stands ready to provide assistance as details stream in about the crash.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board MH17, as well as their families and loved ones," the company said in a statement. "We stand ready to provide assistance."

The Boeing 777-200 plane was carrying 295 people when it crashed. An adviser to Ukraine's Interior Minister said the jet had been shot down, The Associated Press reported.

Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter account that it lost contact with flight MH17 while the plane was traveling over Ukrainian airspace.

"We are aware of reports on MH17," Boeing tweeted after the crash. "We're gathering more information."



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Native Debuts "Peeing Accessory" For Women]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:20:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Stand+Up+Pee+Festival.jpg

Hey ladies—are you looking to stand up to dirty toilet seats and bathrooms? Well, urine luck.

A young entrepreneur who has dubbed herself “Queen Pee” is rolling out a new bathroom accessory to help women pee standing up.

With summer festival season underway and Lollapalooza on the horizon, Chicago-native Sara Grossman hopes her newly launched “peeing accessory” dubbed Stand Up can ease the sanitary concerns for women using public bathrooms.

“When encountering a less-than desirable peeing locale, many women opt to squat, which isn’t easy! We can feel off-balance, like we’re about to fall through the stall door, or maybe like we’re modern-arting a one of a kind pee-splatter-painting for the next unlucky hopeful sitter,” Grossman said. “There’s just no winning when it comes to squat-peeing, which is why I invented the Stand Up; I believe women can have a hygienic and dignified peeing experience if they so choose.”

Launched this year, Stand Up is a triangular-shaped disposable and biodegradable peeing accessory, Grossman said. It is made of neon pink, gloss-finished cardstock that allows liquids to easily slide off.

Grossman said the accessory can help women keep their distance from messy toilet seats and hopes her handy creation can assist Lolla ladies, because “nothing compares to the nastiness of a public toilet at a summer outdoor music festival.”

Grossman's disposable design isn't the only bathroom accessory that helps women pee standing up. Similar concepts have been released, such as the female urination device known as Go Girl, which acts as a reusable funnel to direct urine away from your feet.

Stand Ups are available in three “packs” ranging from $6 to $30 and can be purchased online at www.the-stand-up.com.

NOTE: Lolla fans hoping to get their packs in time for the fest will need to order by July 28.



Photo Credit: Andrew Meade Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Chick-fil-A Could Outpace McDonald's Growth: Analyst]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:40:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chik-fil-a-sign.jpg

Fast food consumers may be compelled to "Eat Mor Chik'n" as opposed to digging into a Big Mac over the next decade.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a restaurant industry analyst projects Chick-fil-A will increase U.S. sales between $6.3 billion to $9 billion by 2023, whereas McDonald's growth is projected at anywhere from $1 billion to $10.5 billion.

Atlanta-based Chik-fil-A has surpassed KFC in the fast-food chicken category nationwide, and is poised for greater growth as it expands into more northern states.

While McDonald's total U.S. sales dwarf those of Chik-fil-A's, the industry analyst shows that the fast food giant can no longer ignore its plucky competitor.



Photo Credit: The Richards Group]]>
<![CDATA[Theater Owner Hopes Crowd-Funding Can Save Venue]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:22:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antioch+theatre.jpg

The owner of a shuttered suburban movie theater is hoping he can crowd fund enough money to save the historic site.

The Antioch Theatre closed its doors in May following financial fallout due to maintenance and technology issues, but owner Tim Downey is hoping he can drum up community support to restore and reopen the building, returning it to its position as a staple in the suburban city.

Downey created a Kickstarter fundraising page titled "Save the Antioch Theatre," asking for residents to raise $65,000 in 45 days to help pay for new digital equipment-- and he's offering up incentives to his supporters.

The theater first opened in 1919 as a live performance venue called the Majestic Theatre. It was converted to a single-screen movie theater and renamed the Antioch Theatre in 1924. But manitenance problems, ownership struggles and a mandatory conversion to digital projection forced the building to close its doors in May.

New owner Downey hopes to renovate and expand the theatre by adding a 29-seat boutique theater, new screens, drapery and seating, a new marquee, a renovated lobby, sprinkler fire protection and, with the help of the Kickstarter page, new digital projection and sound.

With a little more than two weeks left on the Kickstarter event, residents have already pledged to donate more than $36,000 to the cause.

But there's an added incentive for those donate.

Supporters who pledge $10 or more will receive rewards like free movie passes, concessions, engraved glass stars, a personalized seat plaque, or even an engraved granite sidewalk star outside the theater. The higher the donation, the bigger the reward.

"Movie theaters are like heartbeats for small downtowns," the theater's website reads. "When a downtown theater closes, fewer people visit, and other businesses suffer too. We want to make sure that doesn't happen."

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<![CDATA[Modern PR vs. Traditional PR: What You Need to Know]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:00:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/computer2.jpg

Thanks to the Internet, the world of PR is continuosly evolving. But with this evolution, there seems to be even more questions as to exactly what public relations is and what it can do for a company.

Many publicists may run social media accounts, manage SEO, send out newsletters or write blog content, but PR isn't just one thing.

The bottom line is if your publicist is not generating media stories and creating proactive tactics to engage your audience and drive them to your website it’s not PR.

When the PR industry was first pioneered, it was created as a way to communicate proactively with media rather than always being in crisis mode when the media got hold of a story. Over time it has become a powerful marketing tool, creating awareness and connecting audiences with brands through credible third-party endorsements (i.e. the media).

Thanks to social media and other tools, today PR is truly about relating to your audiences and engaging with them indirectly and directly. While traditional, proactive media pitching is still considered by a majority of professionals to be the foundation of a campaign, companies now implement other strategies using social media to further a campaign reach.

Separately, SEO, social media and blogging work to accomplish different goals. Together, they can have a powerful return for your business. The real key to success is knowing how all of these elements work separately, knowing and understanding your audience and how to find them, and creating a strategy to develop compelling stories that will invoke an emotional response from customers to click the “buy” button or pick up the phone.

Where the traditional PR approach has more power is that an abundance of positive media stories on your company create links back to your site that can increase your SEO automatically, and when customers see links to these stories on your website or social networks, it instantly builds credibility. Because, at the end of the day anyone can pay to be on Page 1 of a search engine, but nothing is as powerful as a referral from a trusted source.

Jennifer Fortney is President of Cascade Communications, a boutique virtual PR and marketing communications company in Chicago for small business and startups. In her 17- year career she has worked with some of the top Fortune 500 companies and a wide variety of small businesses and startups across the country. A Journalism major from The University of Kansas, she has written broadcast news, worked in sports and broadcast marketing, is the PR Instructor at SCORE Chicago and Founder of @MyStorySource live media pitch feed on Twitter and Facebook. @SmallBizPRXpert

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<![CDATA[Nordstrom Reportedly Eyeing Chicago Startup]]> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:21:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trunk_club_blurb.jpg Nordstrom may be looking to snatch up a Chicago company.

According to Recode.net, the retail giant has held acquisition talks with Trunk Club, an e-commerce business that offers personal stylists who hand select clothing for men.

Representatives for both companies declined to comment on the report.

Trunk Club, located in River North, has raised several millions of dollars in venture capital funds. ]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend Web: July 13]]> Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:09:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007978813_1200x675_303468099906.jpg Charlie Wojociechowski shows us a new cell phone app called Scoopshot, which allkow users to easily post and sell pictures that they take with their cell phones.]]> <![CDATA[Lake Forest Businessman Steps in to Save Crumbs]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:56:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Marcus-Lemonis.jpg A Lake Forest businessman and TV host is giving the Crumbs cupcake chain new life.

CNBC star Marcus Lemonis told the New York Daily News that he plans to finance the company that ceased operations this week, shuttering all 65 locations in 12 states.

Lemonis told the newspaper he is lending the company money on Thursday to "get their doors back open,” but did not say how much cash is involved.

Lemonis is the CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises and also hosts "The Profit," a show that turns around ailing companies.

According to the newspaper, Lemonis envisions Crumbs as more of a "sweets and snacks shop" in the future.

The New York City-based company was founded in 2003 and had two Chicago locations, one on West Madison and the other in Water Tower Place.

Earlier this year, Lemonis also expressed interest in purchasing Portillos. ]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Comes to Chicago for Small Business Boot Camp]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:12:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/199*120/Facebook+Fit+p1.jpg

Executifes from Facebook visited Chicago Thursday to host Facebook Fit, one of the first in a series of events designed to show entrepreneurs how to improve their Facebook marketing, finance management and legal services.

"[Small businesses] tell us that Facebook is increasingly the place for them to grow their businesses," said Dan Levy, Facebook's director of Small Business, in a release. "They also want to hear from [small business] experts and leading companies on best practices in other key areas such as payments, legal services, and financial management."

Levy is speaking at the keynote address today at Moonlight Studios, 1446 W. Kinzie St. 

Rhonda Abrams, author and entrepreneur,  and Mario Armstrong, television and radio personality, will join Levy in the small business panel discussion.

Last month, Facebook Fit hosted seminars in Miami and New York. Following its visit in Chicago, Facebook Fit heads to Austin, Texas and Menlo Park, Calif. in later this month and early August.

Facebook partnered with Legal Zoom, Inuit Quick Books and Square to host the workshops on topics such as using Facebook for sales and marketing, legal services, and sales.

"That's why we're creating Facebook Fit, so [small businesses] can achieve success in every aspect of their business," Levy said.

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<![CDATA[United to Outsource Jobs at 12 Airports to Cut Costs]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 08:58:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/464651551.jpg

United Airlines is outsourcing more than 600 jobs at 12 airports around the country to cut costs while adding jobs at other airports.

The airline said Monday that it notified employees of the decision, which had been expected since May. They include ticket and gate agents and baggage handlers at airports served mostly by smaller United Express flights.

"This is a difficult decision, but we need to ensure that our costs are competitive," said United spokeswoman Christen David.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said that it negotiated seniority protection for many of the workers if they relocate, and that job losses will be limited.

Still, union spokesman James Carlson called the outsourcing a "race to the bottom. How can you compete with vendors paying $12 an hour?" He said United's top pay for the work is about $24 an hour.

United will hire other companies to handle the work at airports in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; Pensacola, Florida; and Salt Lake City.

Under the union contract, the airline will take back about 400 jobs that had been outsourced at Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix, and Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. lost $609 million in the first quarter while rivals Delta and American made money. It employs about 87,000 workers overall, according to FactSet.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Crumbs Cupcake Shop Shutters All Stores]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 18:18:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/178*120/m-d-gift-guide_crumbs2.jpg

Crumbs says it is shuttering all its stores, a week after the struggling cupcake shop operator was delisted from the Nasdaq.

The New York City-based company said all employees were notified of the closures Monday. A representative for Crumbs could not immediately say how many workers were affected or how many stores it had remaining on its last day.

Crumbs had two Chicago locations, one on West Madison and the other in Water Tower Place.

A press release from its website in March listed 65 locations in 12 states and the Washington, D.C. The website had not been updated with notification of the closures late Monday.

Crumbs was founded in 2003 and went public in 2011, selling giant cupcakes in flavors including Cookie Dough and Girl Scouts Thin Mints. More recently, however, it had been suffering from a steep decline in sales.

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<![CDATA[Jet Magazine Goes Digital]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:02:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007889431_1200x675_297707075791.jpg Art Norman shows us the new digital version of Jet Magazine that customers can read on the cell phone or tablet.]]> <![CDATA[A Look at World's Smallest Picos Projector]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 05:51:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007885864_1200x675_297082947690.jpg Art Norman introduces us to the world's smallest picos projector made by Duo. Learn more at DuoPlay.net.]]> <![CDATA[Revolution Brewing Makes List of Top Beer Can Designs]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:42:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antihero+IPA.jpg

Like books, you can't judge a beer by its cover. Unless your design is as cool as Chicago-based Revolution Brewing's Anti-Hero IPA. 

The brewery's aluminum can design was among the Top 10 picked by Russ Phillips, author of a new design book called "Canned! Artwork of the Modern American Beer Can."

The book explores original artwork of more than 600 craft beer cans, but Thrillist recently asked Phillips to pick his top favorite designs. Revolution's Anti-Hero IPA, featuring a "hop general" wearing Chicago stars and parachuting hop bombs, made the cut.

"I absolutely love this design," Phillips said. "What better way to provide imagery for an IPA than with actual hop bombs floating down behind a rather sinister-looking military general. Look closely and you'll see the stars on his uniform are those from the flag of Chicago. Revolution nailed it with this design."

The design is credited to Ian Law and Oliver Barrett.

Two other Midwest beers made Phillips' design cut, as well: Minneapolis-based Indeed Brewing Company's Midnight Ryder American Black Ale and Grand Rapids-based Brewery Vivant Kludde's Strong Ale.

Other beers on the list include Tallgrass Brewing Company's 8-Bit Pale Ale, Westbrook Brewing Co.'s White Thai Witbier, Santa Fe Brewing Company's Oktoberfest, Midnight Sun Brewing's Snowshoe White Wit Bier, Maui Brewing Co.'s Mana Wheat, Good People Brewing's Snake Handler Double IPA and New England Brewing Company's Gandhi-Bot Double IPA.



Photo Credit: Revolution Brewing]]>
<![CDATA[New Survey Ranks Best, Worst Fast Food in America]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:21:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/485070831.jpg

Want fries with that? Apparently Americans prefer quality, value and variety with their fast food, and according to a new survey, they aren't getting it from major chains.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's ranked last in a new Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers when it comes to burger taste. Jack in the Box finished second to last, and Burger King just above that.

"We asked subscribers this direct question," Consumer Reports writes. "On a scale of  1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste?"

McDonald's burgers finished with a score of 5.8. The tastiest burger, with a score of 8.1, went to The Habit Burger Grill, a chain based in California. In-N-Out Burger ranked second, followed by Five Guys and Smashburger.

When it came to the taste of fast-food chicken and burritos, mega-chains KFC and Taco Bell finished last, with respective scores of 7.1 and 6.3. Tops in those categories are Chick-fil-A and Chipotle.

"Many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s," Consumer Reports notes. "McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low."

Chicago-based Portillo's, which recently struck a deal with a buyout firm, won top honors for tastiest sandwich followed by Firehouse Subs and Schlotzsky’s. Au Bon Pain came in last in the category.

The publications also inquired about fast-casual restaurants.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm.

High-quality ingredients were most important when it came to consumers' favorites. While traditional chains have lagged in this area, Tristano says places like Chipotle have ended up on top.

Top fast-casual restaurants:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries
  • Jason’s Deli
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
  • McAlister’s Deli
  • Panera Bread
  • Schlotzsky’s
     

Top 10 burgers, by taste:

  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • In-N-Out Burger
  • Five Guys Burger and Fries
  • Smashburger
  • Fuddruckers
  • Culver's
  • Whataburger
  • Burgerville
  • Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Steak 'n Shake


Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Portillo's Makes Deal With Buyout Firm: Report]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 08:58:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/portillos-itailan-beef.jpg

Popular Chicago-area chain Portillo's reportedly has agreed to an investment from a buyout firm.

Dick Portillo, founder and owner of the Oak Brook-based company, confirmed the investment with Berkshire Partners LLC to the Chicago Tribune, noting the company wanted "an experienced partner that shared our vision for the company and an appreciation for our culture."

Though it's not clear whether the partnership includes the entire company, Reuters reports Berkshire could acquire Portillo's Restaurant Group for close to $1 billion.

The company is the largest privately owned restaurant chain in the Midwest and boasts more than three dozen restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and California. It's known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.

The owners announced in May their decision to consider selling the brand. They said at the time the company is poised to be taken to the next level.

Shortly after the announcement, Camping World CEO and reality show star Marcus Lemonis said he was interested in purchasing Portillo's 38 restaurants.

The Lake Forest resident even tweeted his interest at the time, saying Portillo's has "the best beef sandwich."

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<![CDATA[What Food Trucks Are Chicagoans Raving About?]]> Sun, 29 Jun 2014 10:08:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007797552_1200x675_292394051745.jpg Food trucks aren't just popular in Chicago. Now, they're making their way out to the suburbs. Yelp Community Director Danny Wurst tells us which top 4 food trucks you should visit.]]> <![CDATA[Libraries Go Digital With New App]]> Sun, 29 Jun 2014 10:09:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007797314_1200x675_292379203896.jpg Charlie Wojciechowski introduces us to a new app that allows you to download and "digitally borrow" music, movies and more from your library]]> <![CDATA[Chicago Women Launch Faux Topless Bikini]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:54:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*128/chicago-beach1.jpg

Editor's note: NBCChicago.com is sensitive to the nature of this content. We're featuring this fashion as part of our Inc.Well business coverage. Though the photos below do not show actual nudity, please keep in mind the photos may not be suitable for everyone.

Say ta-ta to regular bikinis and hello to the TaTa Top.

Two Chicago-area entrepreneurs created a skin-colored bikini top with real-looking nipples to make the wearer appear topless. Product creators Robyn and Michelle Lytle launched the top amid the "Free The Nipple" movement, a campaign aiming to protest censorship laws against female nipples.

The top, dubbed the "breast bikini top ever," was developed as a legal and less-revealing way to protest sensitivity to female toplessness and is quickly gaining supporters.

“Remove the cultural normalcies that have been ingrained in you and look at this situation as if you were explaining it to an alien who newly arrived on Earth," the Ta Ta Top blog reads. "Explain why women have to cover up their chests, but not men. What reason would you give?”

“Far too many of our opinions," the blog continues, "our reasonings, our habits are due to ‘just because’ or ‘that’s how it’s always been’ or the ‘it’s the law’ line of explanation which really, is no explanation at all. That’s when it hit me. That’s when I decided it may be fun to push the envelope a little, and the TaTa Top was born.”

The top is available online at thetatatop.com in various hues and sizes and costs $28, $5 of which is donated to breast cancer research.

Robyn and Michelle Lytle hope the launch of their bikini top will help to “de-sexualize” the nipple.

“The only excitement that comes from seeing breasts is that you are conditioned to think they are something special,” the blog reads. “In reality they are excess breast tissue growing into varying sized balls that you have to buy expensive support for and that throw you off balance when you run.”

The top, while not directly affiliated, was inspired in part by the "Free The Nipple" movement, which has encouraged a national dialogue and garnered support from celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Liv Tyler and Lena Dunham.

The movement has been especially prominent in cities like New York, where female toplessness is legal. Bruce Willis' daughter Scout even took to the streets of New York topless to show her support.

But the TaTa Top is a way for those in states where toplessness isn't allowed, or for those not brave enough to bare it all, to show their support.

“It's great to create a product that makes people laugh but it's even better to be able to do something very serious with that success,” the pair wrote on their website. “Never in the history of the world have nipples on a bikini top had the potential to make such an impact."

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<![CDATA[McDonald's Secretly Serves Up Mobile Pay App]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:15:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

Fast food just got a little faster for McDonald’s fans.

The Oak Brook-based fast-food chain is secretly serving up a new app that will allow customers to order and pay for their meals on their phones.

The McD Ordering app is currently only available in the Columbus, Georgia, area and has not yet been publicly announced.

According to the app’s description, users select the restaurant they want to purchase from, pick the food items they want, note how they want them prepared and then scan the QR code inside the location they chose or at the drive-through.

“It’s as easy as pick it, scan it, go,” the description reads.

The Georgia pilot is the first McDonald’s-branded mobile payment app to debut in the U.S., though the company has previously used similar apps in foreign markets, according to Business Insider.

A separate app, called the “McD App,” is also available in certain markets in the U.S. and provides customers with access to special deals and coupons.

The news comes days after McDonald’s was ranked as America’s least favorite fast-food chain in terms of customer satisfaction.

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<![CDATA[Ten T's of a Targeted Social Media Campaign]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 12:47:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/google+plus.jpg

For social media to be effective, it needs to be done right. It should be targeted to the audience you're trying to reach and in a way that represents your company.

Balancing the logistics of a social media campaign can be challenging, but with proper planning and manangement, the task may not seem quite as daunting.

So, here are the 10 T's of a targeted social media campaign to help you get started.

Tools - Choose social tools and platforms only after you have set marketing goals, keeping audience lifestyles in mind. For third-party social media management tools, ask for a demo or sign up for a free trial to make sure it meets your needs and your team is motivated to use it before allocating budget.

Tech - Make sure your team downloads social tool apps and has access from smartphones, tablets, and laptops to respond to community messages during off hours, travel, or away-from-desk times.

Timing - Responding in a timely manner to social messages is important for community engagement and loyalty as well as customer service. While some resources suggest there are "best times to post on social platforms," test your audience and pay attention to their buying or lifestyle patterns. If you’re sharing information for teachers, early morning, lunch time, and evenings might be the best time to grab their attention. Test results by posting at different times or survey your audience about their social and email communications preferences.

Trends - Get to know new social media platforms before jumping on the trend bandwagon. Make sure it works for your audience, and you’re not allocating time and resources to a tool that is popular but doesn’t fit your industry. Notice what’s trending on Twitter or in the news, and develop content that leverages the buzz and “ride the wave” for heightened exposure.

Tact - We’ve all heard stories about tactless social media blunders. Develop messaging guidelines for employees who post to company accounts and provide standard, yet personal response examples for customer service inquiries, complaints, or controversial inbound messages.

Titles - Just as content titles (blogs, email subject lines, page titles) are important to grab attention, they have the similar effect on social media. Think about how you’re sharing your content when you develop your titles - keep them brief, punchy, and spark curiosity, emotion, awe, or conversation.

Tagging - Use Google URL builder to add custom tags to content before sharing on social media to view detailed results and measure social ROI in Google Analytics.

Team - Welcome team participation in company social media communications, especially on tools they are excited about. Make sure everyone follows similar procedures for consistency in voice, post structure, link sharing, and tagging.

Tracking - Track social media campaign results in native tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and review where website traffic is coming from in tools like Google Analytics to understand your audience engagement and adjust your strategy.

Tone - Your social post tone can be just as important as the words you type. Your tone should reflect your company culture and serve as an extension to your brand to keep loyal followers loyal and conversing with your brand.

Rebecca Otis is the Content/Social Media Manager at Digital Third Coast, a Chicago digital marketing agency. You can find Rebecca on Twitter and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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<![CDATA[Walgreens Opening Flagship Store in Wrigley Building]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:10:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Walgreens+4.jpg

Walgreens is opening a new flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and they're not traveling far.

The drugstore chain’s new location will debut Wednesday in the Wrigley Building, at 410 N. Michigan Ave., and the company will close their current store just a short distance away at 430 N. Michigan Ave. company officials said.

The two-story, 27,800-square-foot drugstore will feature hand-rolled sushi, a walk-in beer cooler, a LOOK Boutique beauty department, a pharmacy and a Healthcare Clinic.

“The store is uniquely designed to fit the character of the iconic Wrigley Building,” a Walgreen Co. spokesman said in a release Tuesday.

The news comes just months after the Deerfield-based company announced plans to close 76 stores in the second half of its fiscal year to "optimize the company's asset base."

The location is the company's 14th flagship store, and the third in Chicago.

"We are very excited to open a Walgreens flagship store in the Wrigley Building, bringing together two iconic names in Chicago business," said Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management. "The store will serve as a destination for health and daily living that offers our customers an exceptional experience."

The iconic Wrigley Building, designed by Charles Beersman, opened in 1922 and the North Tower, where Walgreens is located, was built in 1924.

"By marrying two of Chicago's iconic brands -- Walgreens and Wrigley -- under one landmark roof, I know this store will enjoy great success," Ald. Brendan Reilly said in a statement.

The store’s grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 8 a.m. Wednesday and the venue will open to the public at 9 a.m.

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<![CDATA[Mariano's New Location Could be Former U.S. Steel Site]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 10:16:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/us+steele+site.jpg

Mariano’s may be joining the frontlines of a $4 billion development plan on the city’s South Side.

The grocery store chain, which has significantly expanded its presence in the city this year, is reportedly in advanced talks to lease 70,000 square feet at U.S. Steel Works’ former lakefront vista from McCaffery Interests Inc., Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

The 589-acre lakeside location, which chairman and CEO Dan McCaffery intends to turn into a residential and retail complex, sits between 79th and 91st streets and is planned to have 13,575 residential units and roughly 17.5 million square feet of retail space with parks and a marina, according to Crain’s.

Mariano’s would reportedly stake out a spot at 87th Street and South Shore Drive, should the project move forward.

When the grocery chain might open in the area and how the new location would be financed is not clear.

The area is also a proposed site for President Barack Obama's library and museum, should it come to Chicago.



Photo Credit: Alex MacLean, UIC Imagebase]]>
<![CDATA[High School Grad Debuts New Stock App]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:31:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007707304_1200x675_286444099562.jpg Charlie Wojciechowski introduces us to a new app that tracks your chosen stocks and issues alerts on when to buy, sell or hold them. It's called I Stock Alerts-Dot-Com.]]> <![CDATA[10 Unusual Boss Requests]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:13:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/101408-generic+office+desk.jpg Ten tasks bosses have assigned to employees that had them saying "that's not what I signed up for."

Photo Credit: AP/KEVIN RIVOLI]]>
<![CDATA[Employees Rate Their Bosses in New Survey]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:14:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/generic+grade+generic+grades+shutterstock_120814561.jpg

It looks like employees are giving their bosses a little more than an “A” for effort.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more than 60 percent of U.S. workers would grade their bosses with an “A” or a “B.”

The nationwide study says higher grades tend to be aligned with a boss’ communication and management style, noting that workers who interact with their bosses more frequently tend to rate their performance better.

And results showed open communication doesn't have to be in person, with 25 percent of workers reporting their bosses text or instant message them.

“Managers who interact frequently and communicate directly are more likely to have the support of their employees. The ideal form of that communication will vary from individual to individual, but everyone’s jobs get done better when expectations and roles are clearly defined,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at Chicago-based CareerBuilder, said in a statement. “The best managers understand the triggers for their workers’ success and are able to course correct when productivity drops or conflict arises.”

Only 14 percent of employees said they would give their boss a “D” or “F,” according to the survey.

Asking workers to do tasks outside their job description was one of the most common reasons cited for the downgrade.

Twenty-two percent of employees said their current boss asks them do things unrelated to their jobs and more than half of those employees gave their bosses grades of a “C” or worse.



Photo Credit: Roger Ashford, Shutterstock.com]]>
<![CDATA[Entrepreneur Barbie Makes Her Debut]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/BarbieEntreBillboard_v3_%282%29.jpg

From nurse to pilot to NASCAR driver to computer engineer, Barbie has had a lot of different careers. Now she’s adding entrepreneur to the list of titles under her exceptionally small plastic belt.

Equipped with a smartphone, briefcase, tablet and even LinkedIn, Entrepreneur Barbie is now being sold.

The doll’s description explains that she has partnered with “a diverse group of female entrepreneurs,” including the founders of the Girls Who Code, Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, Plum Alley, Genuine Insights, Sugarfina and TheTomKat Studio.

Adding to the innovation element of the plastic doll, who dons a hot pink dress, “elegant hair” and a glam necklace, Entrepreneur Barbie even hosts Twitter chats alongside her established entrepreneur partners and has her own hashtags like #BarbieChat and #unapologetic.

The entrepreneurs offered tips and advice to young girls with a Twitter discussion Wednesday to help reinforce the doll’s slogan, “If you can dream it, you can be it.”

“This year alone, female entrepreneurs have graced the cover of TIME's Most Influential People issue and lead 1-in-5 start-ups,” toy maker Mattel said in a statement. “Alongside Barbie, female entrepreneurs are changing the world, surpassing their goal and showing girls they can be both capable and captivating.”

More companies are starting to take note of female entrepreneurs. In Chicago, 1871 is set to launch a new facility designed to foster growth and opportunity for women-owned tech startups in the city.

But Entrepreneur Barbie isn’t without criticism. Some have questioned why she has no real career focus, and others claim she is categorized an “entrepreneur” thanks to her handy electronic devices and “dressed for success” attire.

Others have also rasied questions about her hashtag, #unapologetic, wondering what a female entrepreneur would need to be sorry for.

It wouldn’t be the first time the doll has been at the center of a controversy over her 55 years in the mannequin “business.”

Most recently, Mattel received criticism after the doll appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue.

In the issue Barbie wears an updated version of her black-and-white bathing suit she sported when first introduced in 1959.



Photo Credit: Business Wire]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's is America's Least Favorite Fast Food Chain]]> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:46:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

Apparently not everyone is lovin’ McDonald’s.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index released Tuesday, Oakbrook-based McDonald’s ranks the lowest of all big-name fast-food chains in terms of customer satisfaction.

The company dropped 3 percent compared to last year, giving the chain an ACSI rating of 71 out a possible 100.

Barely inching out McDonald’s was Taco Bell, which also dropped 3 percent for a rating of 72.

KFC, which had an all-time high of 81 last year, dipped 9 percent to 74, the biggest decline among all restaurants—fast food or full service.

Subway, which held the top spot in the fast-food category for several years, and Starbucks also saw major declines, with the coffee giant dropping 5 percent to 76 and the sandwich hub dipping 6 percent to 78.

Papa John’s and Pizza Hut were the only fast food chains that didn’t see a decline. Papa John’s remained steady and Pizza Hut increased by 3 percent, with both coming in at 82.

Americans ate out an average of four meals per week in 2013, according to data from the ACSI, marking a 60 percent increase since the end of the Great Recession.

“In a weaker economy, price plays a more important role in determining dining preferences and smaller restaurants that compete on quality rather than price may be more challenged to thrive,” the report states. “But in a strong or improving economy—as is the case now—the opposite is true.”

Full service restaurants are reportedly keeping customers happier, with a rating of 82, an increase of more than 1 percent. Fast food followed with an ACSI score of 80 and large.

But perhaps the biggest contenders in keeping customers pleased are smaller chain restaurants like Panera and Chipotle, which were up 2 percent for an overall score of 83.

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