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Compare Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna Ne
Admission Prices Over the Years
By Susan Stern – Omaha
Article written September 2010
(Stern PR–Gretna, NE) – Vala’s Pumpkin Patch near Omaha offers fun, not only for kids, but for moms, dads and grandparents, too. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings after dark is when to go. Not only do you pay a reduced entrance fee per person (kids 2 and under FREE), but the night sights are more appealing than during daylight. Weekends tend to be crowded and admission costs more.
The fun is on stage. Take comedian www.amazingarthur.com who holds shows throughout the day near the entrance/exit. Oh my gosh. As a mother, I giggled every time – he walked and talked. He’s a hilarious jokester who peppers his jokes with a little bit of salt from the 80’s, great for our generation, and he is especially proficient at magic for kids.
Beyond the satire, kids age 6 and up will enjoy the free open air bouncy blob – it’s gigantic and trampoline-like. Plus, it’s the perfect way for children to release their energy. There’s a blob for tweens/teens, as well. Mom’s and dad’s may partake. Of course, you gotta take off your shoes. Everyone.
The simple things keep the young ones happy, like climbing on John Deere tractors, and the hay rack ride. These offerings, plus the gorgeous colors of fall, teaming with happy children’s faces, create picture perfect moments for camera enthusiasts. Time to take a selfie!
If you’re looking for a discounted pumpkin purchase – to be candid, you may consider buying elsewhere – pumpkins are pricey here. Still, as a novelty, it’s a gob of fun to take a hay rack ride (nominal cost) stop and shop for a pumpkin in the field. A word to parents. Take the hay rack ride at the end of your visit. Otherwise, you’ll end up lugging the heavy fruit around. That’s a schlep.
For action enthusiasts, check out the pumpkin cannon and giant sling shots. These activities cost a nominal fee. Looking for a party place? Plan ahead, Vala’s is a great place to host a campfire site get together: Birthday, corporate event, field trip and a wedding. That said, take note. No alcohol is allowed.
Moms and dads. FYI. Don’t expect a Disney World Adventure at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch with lights, camera and action. Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is low-key country, complete with down home fun. Sure, there’s roughly 2 hours of stuff to see and do. What’s especially a delight is that each fall season Vala’s adds a new attraction.
Be aware. Some of the sights might bore adults such as the non-spooky haunted house and storybook lane – yawn. There’s farm animals (plug my nose) to feed and pet. Still, without a doubt, young children seem to enjoy it all.
But hay….Everyone likes the train. The pig race kills time. If all else fails, you can munch on food like turkey legs, fried Succotash, or Barbecue. A word concerning the pocketbook. Expect to blow some cash, especially if you shop for Halloween supplies, costumes and other goods – gourds, jellies, cider and such. Kudos to Vala’s though. A lot of the food items and scented candles are made in Nebraska – nice.
As for admission at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, it ain’t cheap (ain’t used for emphasis), but not too costly either. In a nut shell, Vala’s Pumkin Patch in Gretna Ne is a must-see attraction for families every Fall season!
Authored by Susan Stern, owner/operator of Stern PR Marketing firm in Omaha, Nebraska. This creative agency helps put business on the map since 2004. Specializing in website design services of Omaha, copy writing, SEO, social media, graphics and video. Learn more now.
By Susan Stern — Online Reviews, the good and bad, can make or break a business. So, positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Manta and Merchant Circle can be key to business success.
That said, before a business asks a client to consider penning a review, companies must clearly understand what they can, and can not do.
I draw from two real life stories that recently happened. In a nut shell. I noticed two Omaha retailers violated social media sites’ terms and conditions, and one business did worse. So herein, I shall discuss how not to ask customers to write online reviews.
Recently, I purchased a service at one Omaha retailer (I was very satisfied). While standing in line, I spotted electronic signage that stated:
Write a Google review, get $10 OFF your purchase and $5 OFF for a Facebook like.
Hmn… The business, albeit innocently, is in violation of Google’s terms and conditions.
Google’s business review policy hints at using “incentives”:
Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews. As a reviewer, you should not accept money or product from a business to write a review about them.
So, here’s what I did to help the business. With professionalism and a smile, while handing over money for services rendered, I gave the friendly sales manager a candid heads up: “Thanks so much for great service. Just an FYI. You might want to consider taking down that signage offering a discount for reviews and likes.” I explained why.
Later, the owner called, thanked me for the advice, and the retailer removed the signage. A great end to story #1.
The business owner, with quivering lip and red face, had the nerve to state something like, “I will NOT sell the product to you unless you promise that you are satisfied, that you’ll only write a positive review.” To reiterate, the pressuring business owner demanded assurance that I would only write a positive review OR no sale.
What?! Oh my goodness. The demand was nauseating.
I responded with professionalism and candor:
“Number 1, as an Omaha Marketing consultant, who represents business, I don’t recommend you say that to customers. I’m well-versed on online review ethics. It is improper to base a sale on if I pledge to only write a positive review.”
“Number 2, due to the nature of my business, I tend to steer clear from writing negative reviews: I understand that a bad online review can damage a company’s reputation. I empathize and rather not be involved. So no worries there.”
“Number 3, I haven’t owned the item to know if I works right.”
(Note: What I didn’t say, but I had thought: the salesman left a really poor impression. Sometimes things are better left unsaid. 🙂
I also told the retailer:
“Number 4: If I choose to write a Google review, I can, like anyone. It’s called free speech. It’s my 1st amendment right.”
With my stress level exceedingly high from the conversation’s nature, the business owner left the room, discussed the matter with a level-headed staffer, before the pair returned with a new attitude.
I closed the sale because I really, really wanted the product. I shook hands with the business owner, thanked him and left. No, I was NOT happy with the owner’s “customer service in total,” but the product that I bought is spectacular.
Hopefully, this local retailer learns a lesson from our exchange. I assume some customers might not be so nice.
Will I write a negative review of either business? No, like I said before…
Instead, this Omaha marketing consultant seeks to share these real stories to educate business owners – how NOT to ask for a Google review. Many do not know the rules of the road. Customers should be aware, too.
While obvious, no business should demand to know if you’re satisfied and that you would only write a positive review or no sale.
It is also a no, no to buy Facebook likes or offer product discounts for reviews. Doing so violates social media terms and conditions, and is just bad business.
Instead, do this. After a transaction is complete, if you sense a happy client, thank them, shake hands and politely say: “if you’re pleased with the product/service, please consider writing an online review. We appreciate feedback. Thanks for your business.”
That’s it. That’s all you should do – to ethically seek an online business review!
To inquire about Omaha Marketing consultant services, contact Stern PR Marketing™ today at 402-212-7489. We help business grow. Please visit official website now>>
For years, Craigslist advertising has served as a fantastically free site for Internet Marketers who post advertisements on behalf of small business clients that we represent. Too good to be true, right? Good things rarely last.
Recently, Craigslist implemented universal changes which completely remove the ability to post professional-looking html-generated image ads that live link to a website. So, gone is a way to post beautifully designed flyer templates, rich in graphic content with hyperlinks. They no longer work on Craigslist!
Those of us who frequently post on Craigslist were NEVER notified of the policy change via an email or mass media campaign. Nope. Nada. Not.
Instead, we found out by surprise. The roll out appeared gradual nationwide. But here in Omaha, Marketers logging into their accounts to renew previously posted image ads uploaded last year were met with empty content in 2014, or an error “0” when trying to re-publish the HTML-coded ad. Yes, the headers were there, but the image content was gone. What the heck!?
“I was confused at first. Some of my client’s professionally designed graphic ads were empty. I thought it was an error. Was it frustrating? Yes! A lot of work down the drain. It was not until I Googled “Craigslist HTML Changes” that I became aware of Craigslist’s new policy which bars HTML code ads.
Interestingly, the only articles about Craigslist’s new policy focused on the impact to realtors. The bigger news story uncovered by us is how the Craigslist’s changes hurt small business on limited budgets, including the advertisers and internet marketers who represent them:
“Cheap ads HAD generated great leads and the hyperlinks WERE great for SEO. Now, the newly mandated plain text ads look boring and amateurish and there’s zero SEO advantage to small business who must compete with the big budget corporations for a piece of the pie,” notes Susan Stern, an internet marketing Omaha consultant.
It can be assumed that Craigslist wants to even the playing field. Many people don’t have the economic resources or knowledge to create custom HTML code to post professionally looking Craigslist ads. Internet marketers who write custom code have an advantage over small sellers. So what, we say!
By removing the image tags from posts, Craigslist appears to be standardizing ads so no company has an upper hand over another. “This is a ridiculous policy change especially for small business on a limited budget. Plus, all the ads now look the same. There is little way to stand out from the rest. In actuality, Craigslist is hurting small business from Maine to California,” notes Stern. Do you like the change? Take Poll NOW!
Instead of being able to create eye-popping HTML-generated ads, internet marketers are now FORCED to write plain text advertising just like the layman would. Sure, you can still upload photos and images, but you can NOT link them to any live website. You have to type in plain text, period. If you want to display a URL, it does NOT work. Craig’s list removed outbound links, completely.
Officially, Craigslist’s new policy:
Please note IMG, FONT, TABLE, DIV, and SPAN tags are no longer supported… Please use CL image upload for images.
The no-custom-HTML-code-policy means you may no longer use clickable Image Ads to drive traffic to your website, reducing the options for external link building and SEO (Search Engine Optimization: the process of building and maintaining a website’s Google rank).
“Change is never easy. But after the initial shock, internet marketers must accept the Craigslist changes. Sure there is a mourning period for those who have successfully used Craigslist to generate new business for years. Someone could start a change.org petition, but let’s be real. Generally, internet signature gathering does NOT trigger change. Still, if enough people complain by blogging online, there is a slight chance Craigslist may listen.”
The best advice now is for internet marketers to stop focusing on what’s lost, and start thinking positive. Chin up. Search for new opportunities to generate new business. We should let the Craigslist policy change serve as a warning. Look at the big picture. Google could change its algorithms at any time. Where would your business be then?
“Marketers should encourage their small and medium-size businesses to think outside the box and use a marketing mix. It’s smart to diversify resources to find different ways to generate new business leads online as well as the old-fashioned way, like fostering relationships in person,” emphasizes Susan Stern, an Internet Marketing Omaha company owner.
Still, we here at Stern PR Marketing™ are not happy with Craigslist killing off the ability to post enhanced ads. It’s bad for small business on a budget. We hope they re-think their policy.
Inquiries? Call 402-212-7489
Article originally published February 21, 2014.
Breaking News: 3pm Central, Jan. 8, 2014 – OPUA Adds Blur Effect to Child’s Face Today
By Susan Stern – Public Relations Reax Omaha
(Omaha, NE) — The Omaha Police Union catapulted its association to national news this week, it certainly did. Mainstream media far & wide have picked up the explosive local story of the Omaha Police Officers Association yesterday posting an uncensored video of a swearing black toddler in a diaper and titled it ‘The Thug Cycle.’ Let’s objectively discuss a different angle on this hot button issue – the view of a former-journalist-turned-PR-practitioner, with ethics at the forefront.
There’s no doubt that the seemingly well-intentioned Omaha Police Union achieved its goal of triggering public debate & education. An apparent win? Not exactly. There’s a question, if the PR storm was worth the negative publicity? While this author admires the OPUA’s chutzpah & the goal to educate seems altruistic, as a Public Relations Practitioner Omaha, I would have strongly advised against this organization presenting said video with the ‘thug style’ depiction, a video reportedly plucked from someone’s publicly-set Facebook page and posted on the official Police Union website ‘news’ section. Why? It’s never a wise move for a police union to risk offending a racial minority, gender or religion, at any time, especially in light of a freshly sensitive topic: the alleged March 2013 Omaha police melee with a cuffed black man caught on video.
Another mistake about releasing the toddler cursing video was the wording. The OPUA, on its website blog, should not have used the word ‘thug cycle’ lifestyle to describe what they thought the video depicts: Thug, nowadays, is jargon, an offensive newer N-word, some say. On a similar note, the Omaha’s top cop distanced himself from the hoopla:
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer statement: “I strongly disagree with any postings that may cause a divide in our community or an obstacle to police community relations.”
This author, Omaha Marketing Consultant Susan Stern offers this opinion:
I do think the OPUA should toe the so-called party line per se, and had opted not to release video in the way it did, which created waves of contention involving a sensitive ethnic populous like Police Chief Schmaderer hinted. That said, as it stands, I would have told the OPUA not to run the video. If the organization’s leaders were hell-bent on doing so despite my recommendation, which does happen in PR from time to time, then I would suggest they ask someone else to post the blurred child video in the website comment section, then the Union could react via news release, albeit – more sensitively.
If a third party user had first posted the video on the OPUA website or social media to share the alarm, the onus would rest on the third party. It does NOT appear that the individual nor OPUA would get in legal hot water. Free speech protects the user. For OUSA there’s the Communications Decency Act (CDA), interpreted to say that operators of websites are not construed as publishers, and thus not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services.
A OPUA website user posting the video would have worked better and kept the attention focused on the content of the deplorable video itself rather than the union drawing fire. Different approach. Similar effect – to trigger public education & awareness. Of course, that third party should have digitally altered the video to blur the minor child’s face – another key problem with the way the Omaha Police Union *initially presented the toddler video release. By identifying the kid’s face, the union miscalculated: a child’s identity should be protected. Update January 8, 2014: OPUA has re-posted video with child’s face blurred.
Stern PR™ thinks the Omaha Police Union should take a lesson from CNN and other ethics-driven news outlets. It should be noted that many news stations & networks did the right thing by altering said video to blur toddler’s face. The need to bleep out cuss words like the B word is debatable, but responsible journalism since children may be in ear shot of the nightly news. Leave it up to non-mainstream alternative sites like Gawker to post the video in its entirety. Update: The OPUA, probably advised of both moral & perhaps legal ramifications, has today re-posted said video with a blur effect censoring the child’s face.
So under the scenario of a website commenter posting the video to the Union Website or social media, the Omaha Police Union could have given a reaction via a news release involving a ‘sensitive’ statement:
The Omaha Police Union is very concerned about the video contents. It appears to show local adults teaching a toddler to curse while glamorizing the scourge of society, street gangs, which is appalling. While controversial, we do understand the point the person publicizing the video in our website comment section appears to be making, to educate. We believe raising law-abiding children with good values starts with the parent. In this video, it appears individuals have failed this child in this regard.
As a former journalist-turned-Public Relations practitioner in Omaha, with general knowledge about copyright, a legal question arises. Did the Omaha Police Union copy the video without permission, illegally? Or, did the original video uploader set his/her youtube channel to allow embedding, which implies consent. If no embedding was permitted, there may be a copyright ownership claim.
The Omaha Police Department has tried to distance itself from the Union’s ‘thug’ video release. But as expected, some news outlets have failed to differentiate between the true source with headlines like ‘Omaha Police Cursing Toddler Video’ and the like – pointing the finger at the Omaha Police Department. A PR practitioner would have advised the Union of the potential for confusion in news headlines. Plus, the likelihood of further disharmony with the OPD.
All in all, the Omaha Police Union triggered a lot of unnecessary publicity and a shift in their desired focus by miscalculating the way it publicized the ‘thuggery’ video: (1) failure to blur minor child’s face initially – OPUA added blur effect after-the-fact, (2) posted as an official Union article in the news section, and (3) used racially derogatory language to depict it.
This author Susan Stern summarizes:
*When the Omaha Police Union first publicly embedded the toddler cursing video was on or about January 5, 2014: the minor child’s face was identifiable. Today, at some point, the OPUA re-posted the video with the child’s face censored with a blur effect. Inquiries? For Public Relations Firm Omaha consulting, contact Susan Stern.
The Omaha Police Department Association should have hired an ‘independent’ Public Relations Omaha practitioner like Stern PR Marketing, and, if questions remain unanswered about posting or not to post, the Omaha PR firm would recommend OPUA run the content to an attorney for prior approval. This do-it-yourself-public relations by Union officials is risky and not recommended in the future.
Fact is, the Omaha Police Union’s apparent well-intentioned message may have been lost in their approach. Now the union is drawing outrage because some view the ‘thug cycle’ depiction as patently offensive to the local African American community, shedding a potential bad light on Omaha police and the union, plus the community as a whole. So, the lesson for the future? The OPUA certainly knew their actions would trigger controversy. So, when in doubt, leave it out.
Or ask a PR practitioner who knows.
(Omaha, NE) — Shock and dismay. Outrage and suspicion. My reaction as a former Radio/TV journalist working in Washington, D.C., Iowa and in Omaha, when I read that the Department of Justice secretly spied on AP reporter & editor personal/professional phone call records.
CNN reports the “DOJ disclosed on Monday afternoon that it tapped two months’ worth of phone records of AP reporters and editors” as part of probe into national security leaks to the press. This intrusion was announced after-the-fact coming on the heals of a heavy-handed IRS targeting Conservative groups that oppose Obama and other Democrats.
No matter the reason for reporter spying, the Obama Administration clearly abused its power and violated the long-standing practice of Freedom of the Press and the right to protect sources in legal proceedings. Specifically, the Justice Department did not follow the usual policy, which is to give news organizations a chance to negotiate or contest such a subpoena ahead of time.
At present, there is no federal law that prohibits the feds from accessing reporter phone records. That said, the feds violated one of the pillars of Democracy, a free press, albeit it did not break any laws. There is no doubt that reporters nationwide feel fear and intimidation.
The time is right now for U.S. lawmakers to draft strong federal shield laws to protect reporters and their news-gathering sources and materials.
While Federal laws do not protect reporters’ privacy, the majority of states do have shield laws. Nebraska is one of 40 states according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Here in the Cornhusker state, The Free Flow of Information Act, NE Statue Sec 20-144 to 147, grants reporters the right to gather, edit or write news within a free and unfettered atmosphere. The law protects journalists from government interference, including protection from forcing reporters to disclose sources.
The seizure of the AP’s phone records is troubling. The intrusion certainly will chill journalists relationship with the Obama Administration and creates an environment of distrust and intimidation. Further, sources who seek reporter confidentiality will think twice before offering information – fearing that the Federal government may compromise “private correspondence”. If I were working a highly contentious government-related news story, I’d be fearful enough to buy a throw away phone, so I can privately talk with my source. How highly undemocratic! What do we live in North Korea?
In an apparent act of damage control, The Washington Post reports today that at the request of the White House, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) intends to re-introduce a national Shield Law. “The Free Flow of Information Act would protect journalists from being compelled to testify about their confidential sources, unless all other avenues are exhausted and exposure is in the public interest” reports WP.
If a national Shield law is passed, there remains a concern of law language ambiguity that would still permit the feds to obtain reporter phone records using the public interest as an excuse in any circumstance. So-called feel good legislation. For U.S. reporters and the public alike, it would be in everyone’s best interest for lawmakers to consult directly with national media/print organizations while drafting new legislation.
In the meantime, the Justice Department deserves condemnation for tapping Associated Press reporters phone records. If they needed info, they should simply ask. It is up to the 4th Estate’s reporters to decide what information, if any, to release to Big Brother. Certainly, most respected US media outlets already possess the dogma to contact the Justice Department if it would prevent wars, attacks and other calamities. But revelations that the Justice Department decided on ITS OWN to secretly spy on reporters scrambling to identify an AP Government leaker, creates an environment of reporter fear and intimidation, which goes against our Democracy’s basic principles of Freedom of the Press.
Similarly to what Obama said today about the IRS, we should not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially the Justice Department, given the power that it has, and the reach that it has in all of our lives.
Historically,American Journalists are the eyes and ears of government – watchdogs of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches on behalf of you – citizens. For reporters to continue working in an environment with free, unfettered access, journalists must be protected with a national Shield Law with some teeth. Drafted tomorrow.
Many of my clients ask me why Stern PR Marketing™ does not use Facebook for business. So, here’s my answer. As a strong proponent of internet privacy, Facebook fails to hit the mark. I’ve installed a software which allegedly shows, that every time I log in, despite what Facebook claims, my internet activities on this social media giant are indeed shared with 3rd party advertisers, rather extensively. So, lack of trust with where my personal information ends up – is one reason.
Facebook Used to Slander & Bully
While I have a personal Facebook account, for several years I have been contemplating deleting it. I’ve witnessed how Facebook use can harm other’s reputations. Some users post comments that are defamatory, crude and replete with curse words and other nonsense. I’ve heard story-after-story of teenagers using it to bully others. I’ve spotted teens posting personal thoughts that should be kept to themselves. They’re children. They don’t know better. Unless a parent is censoring activity daily which is unlikely, Facebook is problematic.
Facebook Not Private Despite Claims
Further, Facebook posts are not confidential. Even if Facebook is set to Private, unsuspecting “friends” can take screen shots, copy photos and other personal information and share with others without permission. Posts can be used as evidence in a Court of Law. In the Media. There is zero control to maintain privacy. Another ire, is that Facebook is constantly-changing Terms and Conditions, which clearly show an erosion of privacy for this money-making venture.
Disadvantages Outweigh Benefits
Sure, time to time, Facebook is indeed a great place to chat with long-time friends and family. Share photos, and the like. But in my opinion, Google Chat, email or the old-fashioned telephone do better.
Better Social Media Options
Yes, some of my clients use Facebook for business for Search Engine Optimization purposes. Some companies buy advertisements there. I’m not sold on Facebook ads or their effectiveness.
That said, there are other social media sites I think are more worthwhile: Google+, Linked In and Twitter.
In a nutshell, I do not recommend Facebook for business because of all the privacy erosions I allege that are taking place by – this behemoth Giant. There are better options.
Susan Stern is a long-time Omaha Copywriter, and an Omaha Marketing Consultant for business. To learn more about Stern PR Marketing™, visit the official website here.