Vala’s – Hay Okay

photography by susan stern in omaha ne

Credit: Susan Stern Sternprmarketing.com

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch Coupons and Prices

2014 Vala’s Pumpkin Patch Gretna Ne
Opens Friday, September 19th to October 31st


2014 General Admission Prices
$12.49 + sales tax per person  РMondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
$14.99 + sales tax per person – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Note: ages 2 under FREE
2014 Vala’s Admission Price Online
$13.99 per person + sales tax – Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
$10.42 per person + sales tax – Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

Vala’s COUPON 2014
KETV is touting a Family 4 pack of tickets for –¬† $29.98 – before tax. Valued at $59.96
Expires: 10/31/2015 | Buy online here. SOLD OUT
2014 No Frills & Bag & Save Tickets
$14.99 each + sales tax. $2.50 off coupon for a pumpkin + a “Vala Buck” for $1.00 off paid activity, food +

DAILY HOURS
Open 9am to 9pm – Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
Open 9am to 10pm – Fridays and Saturdays
Phone: 402-332-4200
12102 South 180th Street
Gretna, NE 68028
Get directions 
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Helping Put Business on the Map since 2004!

Compare Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna Ne
Admission Prices Over the Years

2013 Admission Price
$12.49 + sales tax per person  РMondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
$14.99 + sales tax per person  РFridays, Saturdays, Sundays
Kids 2 and under FREE.

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2013 Admission Price

$10.54 + sales tax per person – Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
$14.99 + sales tax per person – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
September Weekend Discount: $12.88 / person
2013 Vala’s “Online” Admission Price
$13.21 + sales tax – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
$9.99 + sales tax – Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
Season Passes are also available for $31.64 per person.

2012 Admission Price
$13.29 + sales tax per person – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
$9.99 + sales tax per person – Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

VALA’S PUMPKIN PATCH – HAY OKAY! – REVIEW

By Susan Stern – Omaha
Article written September 2010

Valas Pumpkin patch gretna(Stern PRGretna, 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. Valas Pumpkin Patch Gretna Ne

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!

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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.

REAL STORIES: Business Tip | How NOT to Ask for a GOOGLE Review

image-clock-how-not-to-ask-for-online-reviewStern PR Tip: Right Way to Ask for Review

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.

Asking for an Online Review

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.

Offering Discounts for Review – Major NO NO

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.

Don’t Pressure Customers
DO NOT Make Sale Contingent Upon A Positive Review

My 2nd¬†example shocks and awes. One metro-area commission-based retailer recently crossed the line before a transaction closed – making me feel very uncomfortable. Here’s what went down:image-ethics-business-tip-how-not-to-ask-for-online-review

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. ūüôā

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.

This Author Shares Story to Educate Business Owners

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 Рhow NOT to ask for a Google review. Many do not know the rules of the road. Customers should be aware, too.

Right Way for Business to Ask for Reviews

stern pr omaha website design companyWhile 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!

Comment below. Share Your Stories.

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To inquire about Omaha Marketing consultant services, contact Stern PR Marketing‚ĄĘ today at 402-212-7489. We help business grow. Please¬†visit official website now>>

Craigslist Removes HTML Links – Bad 4 Small Business

image-craigslist-changes-hurt-small-businessCraigslist Change Hurts Small Business & Marketers

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!

image-error-craigslist-removes-htmlSurprise. Gotcha! Empty Craigslist Ad

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.

Why Did Craigslist Change Ad Policy?

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!

What Can You Post On Craigslist 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.

Craigslist HTML Policy Bad for SEO

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).

Recover From Craigslist Ad Removals

“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‚ĄĘ 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.

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For internet marketing Omaha services, visit the official Stern PR website here>>

Inquiries? Call 402-212-7489

Article originally published February 21, 2014.

OPINION: Brazen Omaha Police Union Baby Curse Video: Bad PR

Omaha Police Union Video Release Miscalculated
PR Professional Weighs In

Breaking News:¬†3pm Central, Jan. 8, 2014¬†– OPUA Adds Blur Effect to Child’s Face Today
By Susan Stern – Public Relations Reax Omaha

image-ethics-defined-omaha-police-union-swearing-toddler-video(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.

Police Union Erred: Racial Overtones?

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.

Union Not PC? | Poor Choice of Semantics

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:image-power-of-words-offensive-omaha-police-union-video

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer statement: ‚ÄúI strongly disagree with any postings that may cause a divide in our community or an obstacle to police community relations.‚ÄĚ

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.

Better Way of Spotlighting Supposed Violence Cycle

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.

Responsible News Outlets Blur Toddler Face
OPUA Should Have

image-swearing-toddler-omaha-police-union-videoStern PR‚ĄĘ 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.

Website Commenter Scenario Better
Better OPUA Statement Should Have Been…

image-comment-box-omaha-police-union-baby-swear-videoSo 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.

copyright 2Copyright Issue for Video Copying?

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.

National News Confuses Union with OPD

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.

Omaha PR Police Union Lessons

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:

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.

*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.
image comment below omaha police union toddler cuss video

AP Reporter Phone Taps | Former Reporter Condemns

image-spu-sternprmarketingomaha(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‚Äô 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.

phone-tapping-omaha-copywriterThe 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 Р watchdogs of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches on behalf of you Рcitizens. 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.

Editor’s Note: Susan Stern, of Stern PR Marketing, is owner of a two-person, full-service Omaha Marketing Firm located in Nebraska’s largest city. Based on over a decade+ in TV, Radio and Print Journalism, Ms. Stern is no stranger to offering opinions on a a variety of topics including Freedom of the Press. Inquiries? Visit Official Website. Here Now.

OPINION – Not a Facebook Fan

Facebook Shares With 3rd Party Advertisers

Many of my clients ask me why Stern PR Marketing‚ĄĘ 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 OmahaSusan Stern is a long-time Omaha Copywriter, and an Omaha Marketing Consultant for business.¬†To learn more about Stern PR Marketing‚ĄĘ, visit the official website here.

OP: Conflict Interest

By Sam Schwartz – Contributer

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(Omaha, NE)¬† —¬† It’s an ethical dilemma. One obstacle an Omaha marketing firm faces is considering to take on clients that directly compete with another. “Recently, I have made the tough decision to turn down a potential business client because the company directly competed with an ongoing customer of mine,” states Susan Stern of Stern PR‚ĄĘ Omaha. While Stern PR‚ĄĘ, a marketing firm in Omaha, NE,¬†does not sign non-compete agreements, in terms of ethics, Omaha Marketing Consultant Susan Stern feels a sense of loyalty to the clients she serves and prefers to keep them happy and not create waves.

“I have never faced this ethical issue before. Two clients who compete – simultaneously seek my Omaha marketing expertise. So, I gave the conundrum some thought. I weighed the pros and cons. Technically, if I were to take on both clients in the same business for website design & SEO work, the one who pays more for my search engine optimization services, for instance,¬†would end up in a better spot on Google, Bing & Yahoo. In other words, the more financial investment a client commits increases the time I spend on¬†the company’s SEO,¬†the better their results. That doesn’t seem right,” notes Susan Stern,¬† an up-and-coming marketing consultant in Omaha, Nebraska.

Omaha marketing consultant Susan Stern¬†espouses strong business ethics.¬†“I am a straight shooter. I am not going to sell you something your company does not need. As marketing consultant to your business, I will not pressure you either. I will always look out for your best interest,” says Susan.

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Stern PR‚ĄĘ Ethics Tips

Sam Schwartz – New Contributor

(Omaha, NE)¬† —¬† In the voluminous business world,¬†Omaha Consultant Susan Stern, owner of an up-and-coming full-service Omaha website design & marketing company known as Stern PR‚ĄĘ, a.k.a. sternwebdesign.com and sternprmarketing.com¬†– offers sound advice for marketing firms when considering¬†taking a new customer. In actuality,¬†these wise suggestions –¬†apply to all businesses.

“Be careful of the clients you represent,”emphasizes Susan. “If they have a poor BBB rating or questionable online reviews – as Marketer, you gotta first¬†find out¬†WHY and HOW – from that would-be client and elsewhere. Was it legitimate, OR was it someone who had an Ax to Grind? Did¬†they resolve the issue? What prompted the complaint? Was it¬†their¬†product/service? Customer Service? Something fixable in their company? OR, was it simply slander from a competitor or a disgruntled¬†individual – for other reasons.”

Stern PR‚ĄĘ understands¬†the importance of ONLY taking on companies with strong ethics¬†& professionalism – for these are the values Susan Stern, Stern PR‚ĄĘ espouses.¬†“I was raised by fabulous parents, one in the legal profession, the other in real estate,¬†both involved in philanthropy – mom and dad¬†taught me that honesty, standards and ethics are essential both¬†personally and professionally. Work hard. Help others, i.e. altruism, etc. Ditto in journalism school, I was taught that a reporter must check and double-check the facts, research, always seek the truth and be objective (no matter personal bias, if any). Of course, don’t let the media outlet sales department or big Ad buyer influence a news story angle.”

Ethics matter. “In my growing marketing business, I have also learned from – experience – to only take above-board companies, who¬†embrace strong professional ethics. If they¬†do¬†not¬†have upstanding business practices, that I can prove in my research, it is the position of Stern PR‚ĄĘ, that I would decline assisting them.”

That said, Stern PR‚ĄĘ¬† will take-on clients who have been slandered, defamed, libeled or had a crisis – to¬†repair their honorable reputations – using a variety of ethical principles to manage the backlash. Or, if a company has problems internally, Susan Stern will help resolve the issue. Crisis Management is one service Stern PR‚ĄĘ provides business. “Be¬†aware,¬†if your company is in a¬†public crisis, don’t do-it-yourself. Emotion gets the best of all of us! You need a third-party to handle it.” Stern PR‚ĄĘ may also offer a name or two¬†of top-notch Omaha¬†Corporate attorneys who may further assist you, if need be.¬†

“Admittedly & unfortunately, there has been –¬†one instance – where I, myself¬†took a client –¬†unbeknownst to me at the time – with less-than-stellar practices. I had naively believed that I would be compensated for my labor-intensive on & offline marketing work. In the end, the questionable client was an individual who took my work – and ran, without payment – breach of contract. An estimated loss of $4,000. Then there was¬†online libel/defamation by same, when I tried to collect payment. The lesson? You live, and you learn – they say. Plus, don’t just take any client.”

So, in this vast business world with companies of all kinds of morals & principles, Omaha Marketing Consultant Susan Stern recommends that her industry colleagues do their best – to do their homework – before accepting just any client. More clients will come knocking on the door that are a right fit.

courtesy of vergemagazine.com

“It’s ok to tell a company that – you can not take them on – as a client. This is where you gotta soften the blow a bit, to be candid, but kind. I think it’s fine to be diplomatic and tell them either “I am too busy to take on new clients right now. OR, I just don’t think I am the marketer that best suits your needs,” emphasizes Susan Stern, Stern PR‚ĄĘ.

It’s never easy building¬†a vibrant business like Susan Stern, owner of Stern PR‚ĄĘ in Omaha Nebraska. You go through ups-and-downs. Challenges galore. Sometimes you face Type A personalities who can be tough, etc. You constantly have to revise your contract to cover all instances. You need to protect your copyright work, too. Don’t let anyone push you around. As a woman marketing firm owner like Susan Stern, expect to sometimes go out of your comfort zone – generally, women are givers and nurturers –¬†but you¬†gotta¬†be firm and fair, and not be bullied – to survive with the sharks. “Trust me, you’ll gain respect,” says Susan.

The lesson here. Don’t take just any client. Only take the clients with strong ethics. Do your research. If you make an oops, and take-on a client who turns out to not pay the bill, etc. Learn from it. ¬†If your work is excellent, that you constantly strive to do ‘what’s in the client’s best interest’ like¬†Susan Stern¬†of Stern PR‚ĄĘ does, then – no worries – your marketing firm will thrive!

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Ban Court Cameras

By Susan L. Stern Omaha NE — Lights, camera, action! The gavel to gavel live TV/Internet coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial and the circus surrounding it exemplifies the need to ban live courtroom cameras. While elements of the case warranted extensive print/media news coverage on its own, live coverage triggered an international media¬†frenzy with news content TV shows¬†like CNN’s Nancy Grace &¬†the like publicly convicting Anthony – potentially jeopardizing the Defendant’s right to a fair trial, while degrading the justice system and the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

As a former journalist, I strongly favor an open justice system for citizen access. Yes, the public has a fundamental right to view a trial, have access and attend trials held in a public place, a right backed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Advocates claim courtroom cameras function as a checks and balances system, ensuring professionalism by attorneys and the judge. The same principle of keeping a critical eye on attorneys and the Court remains available to the public and reporters, by simply physically attending the proceedings and reporting on them. Live TV cameras are not necessary.

Additionally, the televised Anthony trail, clearly took¬†away the judicial system’s dignity and decorum, evidenced in part by a courtroom gallery observer giving the bird to¬†a Prosecutor, a mentally unstable observer shouting¬†crazy talk,¬†and fist fights from citizens fighting to get a courtroom seat. Fortunately, the jury only witnessed some of the inappropriate goings-on, was sequestered and was able to not be swayed by the media circus and¬†their pundits’ across-the-board¬†public conviction of Casey Anthony.

On a side note, I do believe the Anthony verdict was rendered fairly based on circumstantial “evidence,” the lack of “scientific evidence” and reasonable doubt that the Defense attorneys were able to show. The prosecution’s use of unaccepted “evidence,” such as the unproven validity of vehicle air samples showing human decomposition is one factor for their case’s demise – as was the state’s inability to determine Caylee’s cause of death –¬† not enough to convict. The only thing the prosecution did effectively prove is that Casey Anthony¬†was a pathological liar.

Still, outside the courthouse, there’s another bad after effect¬†of¬†the televised trial and media circus reaction to the verdict. Combined, it has triggered a potentially dangerous situation for all parties. It’s being reported that after Casey Anthony’s murder acquittal, their family, the jurors, attorneys¬†and perhaps the judge are suffering¬†a backlash in the form of death threats. The grandparents, George, Cindy and Lee have reportedly gone in hiding.¬†When the dust settles, will they be able to return to work and lead normal lives? Despite her acquittal, Casey, soon to be free,¬†may never¬†escape being recognized, likely preventing her too¬†from finding gainful employment, and moving on with her life in a healthy way – safe from mentally unstable vigilantes who¬†vehemently oppose¬†the verdict thanks in part to the media ‘s sensational and biased opinions – triggered by¬†live trial coverage.

Additionally, on Orlando Florida streets, there is a boiling pot of public emotions in the form of protests from citizens¬†who don’t feel justice was served – ignited by a biased media and extensive live Trial coverage.¬†Would some crazy person take it upon him or herself¬†to murder Casey or her family? Certaintly, media bias triggered by Live TV cameras, are primarily to blame for the troubles all parties involved now face.

There is also the issue of catapulting attorneys and the Judge to celebrity status, a self-interested motive to increase their political and financial gain Рan after effect of live courtroom cameras and combined media circus. Did each party play to the camera and forget their duty?

So many questions. But one answer is clear. Cameras in the courtroom, especially in sensational trials like this one, have a potential to create public chaos, ignite a life-threatening backlash to all parties, and could fail to give a defendant a fair trial. Live TV courtroom cameras must go for the good of all citizens.

Nebraska Law Lax for Cyber Stalking

Nebraska Cyber Stalking Law Behind the Times

June 12, 2009 —¬† It’s truly amazing at the¬†number of computer-related gadgets that¬†people use to¬†stalk, intimidate and steal personal communications such as emails – with vengeance in mind.¬†¬†¬†A dear friend, in a terrible divorce in Nebraska, experienced a non-traditional way of being stalked – via computer – keylogging.¬†She discovered the snooping device on her laptop after her computer experienced an unusual slow down. Suspicious, she got to work!¬† Based on her ex’s lack of ethics, combined with a narcissistic/resentful personality, intuitively she knew who was responsible. So, her assumptions triggered research. She¬†went¬†to the computer industry’s top source,¬† PCMagazine.com. An article about keyloggers & anti-spyware¬†encouraged her to obtain a¬†free¬†spydoctor.com¬†scan. That’s when she discovered the evil culprit. And no, her Norton Anti-Virus did not catch the keylogger.

Turns out, her ex wanted a leg-up during divorce litigation. Further,¬†he sought to¬†“get even,” i.e. to punish¬†my friend¬†for some wrong he perceived¬†she caused him. So, this sneaky and conniving “man” began cyberstalking her, using¬†PC Acme Keylogger at pcacme.com.¬† How? He sent¬†my pal¬†an email with a seemingly legitimate attachment. Boom. It infected her computer. For three months, she estimates, that every password she typed, every email communication¬†with her lawyer, etc., went straight to her disgruntled ex for his malicious eyes to read. All her letters, emails, passwords, everything…got sent to a cyberspace server, where her ex logged in – to retrieve her private data. So, his personal/office IP address could not be traced as the keylogger instigator.

Sure, she had the police issue him a ticket for unauthorized use of a computer based on the evidence. But,¬†the stalker got off without a conviction. Why? Prosecutors most likely dropped charges¬†because the crime, which is not specifically addressed in Nebraska law, occured during a divorce case. And,¬†the “crime”¬†did not involve theft of finances. Turns out, that unless prosecutors subpoena credit card records¬†(proof he paid for the software) or to seize his computers, it would¬†difficult for my pal to pinpoint the¬†perpetrator herself, even though she knew – with 100% certainty – who was reasonsible.¬†However, my pal hired a computer expert, who was able to determine the culprit, based on¬†the other security breaches.

The attempts to read my friend’s personal communications – did not stop with keylogging. Her ex also tried to obtain her email passwords, by requesting that her passwords be reset. Fortunately, her email account sent her notice of the attempted security breach, and the email & IP address where it originated. Sure enough, in black and white,¬†the requests for¬†her email passwords – ¬†came directly – from her ex. Additionally, on a day when her ex entered their marital residence post-divorce filing, as his Outlook Express email account showed, he had emailed himself several of her pal’s lawyer letters from her computer to his work email account.

A computer expert who examined her computer was able to determine that her ex did all of the following: installed a keylogger on her computer, attempted to reset her email account password and emailed himself her lawyer letters.

The psychological torment to my pal¬†was very real and traumatic. “It was a difficult time for me. The anguish he caused was frightening.¬†His actions¬†disrupted my life. I had nightmares, felt unsafe and scared,” notes my friend.¬†Cyberstalking is just as frightening and potentially dangerous as a stalker at the victim‚Äôs front door. Unfortunately, her ex did not stop his antics.

Post-divorce, she reports new violation of privacy issues – via computer too. This time he sent her a series of self-destructing emails. He set a specific date/time to disentegrate the inappropriate communications using a third party service. It didn’t take long for my intelligent friend to figure out what happened to dozens of¬†emails in her yahoo account. The headers remained, but there was empty content inside. Obviously, her ex-husband obsessively worried¬†about the content of emails – he had sent her. So, he¬†intentionally erased¬†emails that¬†would have haunted¬†the con man if¬†exposed.¬†Here too, unless you have Outlook Express or another POP account, you won’t recover your missing emails. Fortunately, my pal¬†printed most of them. She did a screenshot of the emails when they came in*. Whew!

Hard to believe that anyone can buy¬†these programs. But in this internet driven-age, computer-related spy gizmos – are all the rage – especially since¬†it’s nearly impossible to trace the culprit. So, be aware if you are a heavy¬†computer user, and have a computer-saavy enemy with an agenda.¬†¬†Best advice? Print out copies of emails that matter. When your computer freezes up unexpectedly, do some checking. Read. Run free scans for keyloggers and other malware on a periodic basis.

Says my friend, “on all levels, the public needs to be more aware.” Omaha Police and Douglas County prosecutors should enforce the existing law, ‘unauthorized access of a computer’¬†by subpoening the credit card records and seize computers of suspected stealth stalkers. Nebraska Legislators should jump on board, and pass a¬†specific law that¬†addresses these crimes. Nebraska State Senators should make¬†it a felony to spy¬†on someone or¬†destroy their property via computer.¬†Finally,¬† Omaha media & print reporters should cover¬†this sign-of-the-times issue – which¬†contains all the elements of – a great news story.

For my pal,¬†it’s no surprise that her ex¬†resorted to these malicious antics to cause¬†distress to my friend. She left him, and he wanted to punish her for the rejection. Further, research shows that this is typical behavior from someone with deviant social behavior. Yes,¬†that man¬†my friend¬†divorced¬†should have been arrested, charged and forced to go to Trial. If Douglas County prosecutors got wise, they’d pursue these computer stalking cases,¬†which not only violate a right to privacy, but cause emotional distress, causing fear & anxiety to the victim. Stalking is stalking. It’s a crime and the victim should be able to pursue criminally, as well as seek civil damages. By doing so, prosecutors would get a lot of mileage for themselves, educate the public, while putting these criminal stalkers behind bars.

Editor’s Note: To capture a screen shot of your emails, press the “print screen button” on your keyboard. Then, open up a “new” Microsoft word document. Right click on mouse. Then paste the file. Save/label document in appropriate file.

Editor’s Note No. 2: Keylogger programs like PC Acme Keylogger do have legitimate purposes, such as to keep track of your minor child’s web activities or to monitor employees and the like. But as the article above demonstrates, there are privacy concerns when someone uses it with malicious intent.

Types of Technology-driven stalking:

 Report the cyberstalking crime here

Shock PR 4 Octo Mom

Editor, Susan Stern,¬†Update: April 2, 2009 PR Practitioner Victor Munoz¬†conducts¬†crisis management – for himself. Tonight he went on HLN (CNN’s formerly named – Headline News) to repair the poor public image he created after publicly blasting Octo mom Nadya Suleman¬†last month.¬†He spoke as if he cared about the client he once represented. When asked if Munoz hopes Nadya’s a good mom he replied yes, provided “she settles down, and stops doing all these blogs, and interviews.” P.R. Practitioners, like myself, refer to this as Crisis Management. ¬†Ironically, Munoz, who’s hired to maintain, repair images, is forced to repair his own. You know what? It may have worked. Convincing. Although, he does seem¬†like a sleazeball “PR Practitioner” – my 1st and last impression.

(Sun., March 8, 2009)¬† —¬† If¬†Saturday’s USmagazine.com exclusive rings true. Shame, shame shame on you Mr. so-called Public Relation’s Practitioner, Victor Munoz. As the story goes. Munoz quit ’cause he couldn’t take Nadya Suleman anymore. Munoz is quoted as describing his former client as “nuts.”

Talk about unethical. Munoz crossed the line.

Excerpt – March 7th – USmagazine.com – EXCLUSIVE: Octo Mom’s New Publicist Quits: “This Woman Is Nuts”

Victor Munoz tells Usmagazine.com that he quit as Suleman’s rep Friday night. “It just got to be too much,” he says. “It’s pretty much a free-for- all over there right now. They are freaking out right now. “Not to sound arrogant, but those people depended on me for everything,” he continues. “You have no idea what I‚Äôve had to do for these people.

“Nadya got real greedy. This woman is nuts,” he adds. “This I can say: what ultimately destroyed the business arrangement was personal reasons.” Munoz — who plans to meet with his lawyers Monday to go over the terms of his contract and confidentiality clause — did not go into further detail. –end–

No detail? Munoz spilled the beans – all over the place – and he went overboard, regarding his “feelings” toward Nadya, when in fact, he should be protecting her image, not bashing it further, even – after – he walked out the door.

Not the kind of PR Practitioner I would refer clients to…

Editor’s Note: My neighbor. Sheila¬†E. quipped, “she must be nuts,” referring to the publicist’s comments about¬†the Octo mom.¬†That made me laugh. While perhaps true, so-called P.R. Practitioner Victor Munoz behaved unethically.¬†Is it possible¬†that maybe the “crazed” Octo mom suffers from Post Pardum Depression to the 8th degree?

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Bribe Kids to Read

The itch of learning and loving to read is not an easy task for any parent to teach their kindergarter. But the solution¬†may be¬†simply¬†– bribery. Webster’s defined: (2) something to induce or influence.

Talk about results.

It’s easy to implement. Say your child sees a¬†gigantic stuffed tiger¬†while shopping at the supermarket. She pleads for you to buy it. You turn to her and say, ‘if you read 5 stories, then I will get it for you.’¬†

Guess what? She’ll do it! She’ll actually¬†read 5 stories and do so enthusiastically. ¬†My daughter did. Wow, was she proud.¬†

I use this trick for a lot of the extras my sweet pea asks for. Result? Not only does she play along with my bribery game, but she is improving her reading skills, gaining confidence, and learning the value of hard work.  

My kindergartener’s favorite toy now is – the tiger. She took it proudly to school for show-and-tell, and retold the story to her peers and adults, about how she read 5 books and earned the tiger.

Bribery works. Maybe she’ll also learn that money does not grow on trees, a figure of speech, as well.

Nancy Disgrace?

(November 5, 2008)¬† —¬† Ever since CNN’s Nancy Grace hit the airwaves about¬†a missing Florida toddler, Caylee Anthony, my eyes remain glued to the show – nightly. I enjoy when Grace “unleashes the lawyers.” I appreciate the delivery of her prosecutorial mantras including the rants of psychological experts, bounty hunters, blah blah.

Sometimes Grace, a former prosecutor, who always leans toward the State, pisses me off & perplexes me. Recently, she linked a size 5 or size 6 dress found by searchers to the missing Anthony toddler.

Hello! Any mother, except her, knows that a child Caylee’s age (then 18 months reportedly) does not wear Size 5 or Size 6 clothes.

Grace is so out of touch as a mom. Her comments regarding the dress seem surprising.¬†Her lack of education on mommyhood comes from a TV personality who repeatedly exploit’s her twins via her program. Maybe a nanny works for her full-time, thus the reason she didn’t have an “element of doubt” about the dress size fiasco.

During the Nov. 5, 2008 show, the grandparents’ lawyer, whose name doesn’t matter to me,¬†rightfully spoke out against Grace’s pro-State bias and unfairness.

Grace, usually effectively, rips the theories of Defense lawyers whom she invites on her show. Despite his guest status, the defense lawyer for Anthony grandparents, let Grace have it Рdeservedly! Verbal assault Рshe deserved. I want 2 throw up sometimes when Grace forgets about the civil rights of defendants. Grace seems like a poster child, per se  Р4 the prosecutorial movement.

If I were a lawyer, I’d work in the private sector, not for the state.

How to Stop 5 year old Tantrums

By Susan L. Stern РPopular Online Article

(Omaha, NE)¬† —¬†¬†On occasion lately, my 5-year-old “angel” drags her feet when asked to dress and come downstairs – for school. She may whine & throw an “age appropriate” tantrum. Everything I say to her – falls on deaf ears, per se. Still, I try hard. But she ignores my plea that¬†“the Governor of the state of Nebraska requires children to be¬†on time for school, so get moving now!” During these dark moods, unless I help dress her, hold her hand, and take her to the breakfast table, my little sweetie’s tushy won’t budge.¬†Gurr. Frustrating.

Oh, the stress she may cause me¬†– in the a.m. No, no, no. It’s not fun checking the clock – while getting her ready – as time passes fast. Tick tock. Tick tock. Oh, my blood pressure rises. Backpack, snack, folder, hat. I do not enjoy the rush, rush, rush¬†of all that!

So I tried every approach imaginable to get my daughter – to listen and not throw a tantrum. I discovered that old-fashioned bribery¬†(Webster’s Definition # 2 :¬†something that serves to induce or influence) and what I call “*semi-stern follow-up,” works well with my kindergartner. She listens a whole lot better.

I learned.  That first, try to determine the cause of the tantrum. Tantrums can be triggered by a number of things. The cause of the tantrum should help determine your response to it. If a tantrum is caused by hungriness or sleepiness, feed the child or allow her to take a nap. If frustration or fear triggers a tantrum, you need to comfort your child. If the child feels ignored, spend some quality time with her, playing or reading, etc. If, however, your child is acting up because she can’t get her way…

Here’s what you can do. If you’re under a time constraint and your¬†child won’t come¬†to you¬†as directed, go get her, dress her yourself, then tell her that since she’s acting like a baby you’ll treat her like an infant. She won’t like this! Hold her hand while directing her to the breakfast table, sit her down in the chair while reminding her that failing to listen earned her a 5-minute, time-out, which serves as the tool¬†to bribe.¬†She will wine & wince¬†and beg¬†for a pass. Remember college psychology? I tinkered with and applied Ivan Pavlov’s Theory of Association (Classical Conditioning) to mommy-hood. Failure to listen = a time-out. Yes,¬†when the bell rings my daughter salivates, so to speak.

If she wines and demands you get her something, say¬†an outfit from her closet, tell her¬†that you’ll help after she does something first, like putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. Watch and observe. She’ll listen.

If she has a tantrum and time is of no consequence, remind her that you expect more from a ____(insert age) year-old, and you¬†won’t stand for¬†tantrums. Unacceptable – tell her.¬†Leave the room and¬†return only after the crying stops. Then¬†remind her to use her “big girl voice.”¬† That wining and crying aren’t effective ways to communicate with mom or anyone else. Then, in a calm and patient way, provide her with an actual¬†sentence¬†examples of how to vocalize her thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

Discuss the behavior with your child once the tantrum ends. While there‚Äôs no use trying to reason with a child in the midst of a tantrum, you both can learn a lot by discussing the incident afterwards. Explain that¬†trantrums¬†– are unacceptable. But also make sure your child understands that you love her regardless. Give ‘er a hug. Ask her why she had a tantrum. Was she tired, frustrated, scared or what? Ask . Take time¬†to discover the cause of the tantrum. Take the opportunity to discuss better alternatives with your child.

Don’t forget. Tell Ur child u expect an apology for her behavior.¬† Post-Tantrum, when she says “I’m sorry.” Ask her what she is sorry about. This question will help her understand that tantrums are not acceptable. Discuss. She will learn.

If you have to dash out the door with a tantrum-screaming child that hides under the table when called, assertively pick her up and carry her to the vehicle, while reminding her¬†that you are disappointed.¬† Kiss her goodbye before school and tell her you love her. Then, at the end of the day,¬†even if she is in a good mood, remind her that her a.m. attitude is inappropriate. Tell her that for the rest of the day, she can make the personal choice¬†to have¬†a positive attitude.¬†Ask her what her choice is. Kids like options. She’ll learn to listen.

Is your child not listening to you, time and time again? Remember that the tantrum phase will pass, and your job is to guide and love your child through these. Try to follow my examples as listed above. They work.

Writer’s note: While there are many schools of thought on the spanking subject, I am a firm believer that whacking a child as punishment for not listening¬†or having a tantrum – is unhealthy for the parent and child. It teaches:

  1. that as a parent – you are out of control
  2. that as a parent – you condone hitting as an acceptable behavior
  3. that as a parent you are teaching your child that feelings should be suppressed, not vented (a toddler expresses feelings in the only way they are able)

Children learn by parents’ examples. If they do not get spanked by them, the child will be less likely to hit when upset with their peers.

*RE: “semi-stern follow-up,” it refers to this article’s author whose name is Susan Stern.

Note: Susan Stern is an Omaha-based copywriter and single mother. Ezine Articles rates Ms. Stern as an “Expert Author.” View here

Not Ok – Britney’s Sister Prego

By Susan L. Stern 

(United States) —¬† Oh my goodness. Yet another celebrity in the Spears family makes sensational headlines. Morality – at issue. Britney’s 16-year-old sis, Jamie Lynn Spears, who stars as a schoolgirl in Nickelodeon’s popular TV show “Zoey 101” is pregnant by her boyfriend.¬†What a disaster.

Talk about bad P.R. for Nickelodeon.¬†The cable network¬†can not escape the negative publicity and the impact its young starlet’s behavior has on our nation’s children. The message sent to kids is that¬†their TV role model, Jamie Lynn¬†thinks it’s okay for teens to ignore the necessity of contraception to prevent pregnancy.¬†¬†

In terms of advertising dollars and sense, Jamie Lynn’s newfound notoriety may result in a windfall for Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101”¬†TV show.¬†I’m certainly not alone. I watched the show for the first time the other day due to the Spears’ publicity.

Better late than never? Sure, the high schooler is now taking responsibility for her irresponsibility, by announcing that she chose conception versus abortion. However, my sincere apologies to the religious moralists, but adoption or aborting the fetus might have been wiser options.

Who’s the papa?¬†The Associated Press reports that Casey Aldridge, the son of a Tennessee paper-mill worker, who met Jamie Lynn at¬†church in their hometown of Louisiana. Holy crap.

Should the long-time teen couple marry? In terms of providing a proper home with both mom and dad intact are positive for the newborn. Realistically though, they may be too inmature to handle the daily responsibilities of raising a child.  Their relationship shall surely fail.

On the public upside, unlike most teen moms, Jamie Lynn,¬†will not be a tax burden since her celebrity-hood enables her to be self-sufficient financially. Certainly, she’ll have family support, especially from her mother, Lynne, who reacted with disappointment.

On news of¬†her daughter’s¬†pregnancy, Lynne Spears told AP, that “I didn’t believe it because Jamie Lynn’s always been so conscientious. She’s never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby.”

Us Weekly reports Jamie Lynn’s father – Lynne’s ex-husband Jamie – is “furious” that mother and daughter sold their story to OK! Magazine and “devastated” at the news that his youngest child is pregnant. Jamie Lynn supposedly got a $1 million back-end deal for the interview and a planned photo shoot after the baby is born.

One million dollars sounds enticing, no doubt. Earning cash for a story may be a smart investment. Perhaps Jamie Lynn’s mom needs fast cash to recoup projected earnings¬†she expected to make after publishing a book on “parenthood.” That book is on hold. No wonder.

Sure, mother and father may not be solely responsible for their teens pregnancy blooper nor for the well-publicized downfall of eldest daughter Britney Spears, but certainly mother and father played a role. Did they push their girls to stardom without teaching them right from wrong and good vs. bad?

The Spears’ parents¬†should have better controlled the reins.

Susan L. Stern, of Omaha, Nebraska, is an independent journalist and public relations practitioner.

Xmas Sucks – If UR Jewish in Omaha

By Susan L. Stern

(Omaha)¬†— Twas the night before Christmas, when¬†this Jewish gal in Nebraska¬†sighs and asks,¬†‘”what the heck am I going to do?”‘ Restaurants are closed, supermarkets, shopping malls too, except for Walgreen’s at 90th and Blondo – nearly every storefront shuts down for Christmas.¬†Boo hoo. It’s an annual event – I don’t look forward to. Only the movie theaters remain open as do a few gas stations with¬†limited hours. So,¬†with so many options before me,¬†I opt for a movie.¬† Wouldn’t you know it, like clockwork on Christmas Day, the theater¬†looks like a page out of the society column¬†of the Jewish Press.¬†¬†Not fun. After all, I’m in such a bah hum bug mood that I’m not interested in socializing.

While big city’s with large Jewish populations like N.Y., Chicago and LA offer numerous choices for food and fun, here in Omaha the options are basically none, or nun if you speak Hebrew.¬†Omaha is predominantly Christian, mainly Catholic, with a mere¬†smear of Jews, an estimated 6,000 metrowide. That means we are a major minority. No wonder there’s nada to do. Not even the Jewish-owned Bag & Save is open for business. I need an emergency order of lox for my bagel, darn it! Christmas Day sucks.

Detect a little jealously? Surely, you’re right.¬†Every year for a couple of days, I’m reminded of my minority status.¬†No, it ain’t fun. Yes, I feel left out and envious. Jingle bells.¬†Batman smells. Ho hum. Chanukah is week’s over. Christmas¬†is a snorer.

Susan L. Stern is a writer in Omaha, Nebraska.

Christmas Day is similar for a Jewish writer in Massachusetts.

Disclaimer: The Sara Silverman videos are for entertainment purposes, not to offend any group or religion. It’s Jewish secular comedy at its finest! This editor truly believes we are all Gd’s children and are equal, or at least everyone should be.

Z92 Calendar Girls

By Susan L. Stern                                        **Hot Article Online**

(Omaha, NE)¬† — Start the fire. Gals ablaze. Competition – fierce & fiesty, not to mention hot¬†& sweaty. Soon Omaha radio station Z92 www.z92.com will pick its 2008 Calendar Girls. Twenty local bikini-clad vixens made the semi-finalist round. Of them, Sara, Ashley, Missy and KC appear to be on top. Tee hee.

See these beauties in person. Beer goggles on or off. Mark your calendar¬†for Thursday, November 15th,¬†the Chrome Lounge, 85th & Park Drive in Omaha. The 2008 Todd-n-Tyler Girls of Z92 RAW Calendar Release Party…

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Britney Spears – Too Big for Her Britches

For her part in losing custody of her children, Britney Spears is an idiot. How dumb of her to not listen to the Judge’s orders. What stupidity for partying at all in plain view of paparazzi and most importantly in front of her children.¬†It’s common sense that it’s unlawful to be driving a vehicle without a license as is failing to buckle an infant in a car seat. Sooner or later Britney will¬†learn that not¬†even she¬†is above the law. ¬†

CNN’s Dan Simon

(Omaha, NE) — Congratulations to Omaha native Dan Simon for catapulting his news career to a reporter and fill-in anchor at CNN. When he started reporting at Omaha’s 4th-rated station, KPTM in the mid-1990’s, I knew he would make it big one day after he aged a bit and put in his time at stations nationwide. In the late 1990’s, I spotted him reporting at a New Orleans station. Then, I watched him on the tabloid news show Celebrity Justice. Wow! Great Job.

Learn more about Susan Stern