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Healthcare Marketing & Social Media


Nick_jacobs_1 Nick Jacobs, President and CEO of Windber Medical Center & Winder Research Institute is not a guy who runs from a challenge. In fact, he's the sort of divo who lives by the passion of his beliefs. Even when those beliefs run counter to the status quo. Like the first hospital admistrator to launch a blog. Not surprisingly his work in healthcare is perceived as innovative.

Last week Nick graciously "talked" to me about healthcare marketing and the inclusion of social media in the marketing mix.

Diva: There is a debate in the healthcare industry on the "word" to use for people who are in need of medical attention. Patient or Customer. At Windber Medical Center what do you call the people who come to you for care? How is that reflected in the way WMC's cares for and services those "people"?

Nick: We really don't get hung up on the semantics . . . I call them our family of patients because they are like our family, in the very best sense of the term. Our philosophy is to "follow the golden rule" of care . . . do unto others as you would have others do unto you," and that is the type of care that we insist upon. The employees who have been asked to leave during the past ten years have been dismissed due to their inability to grasp this concept.

Diva: You are an innovator when it comes to incorporating social media/blogs in your communications strategy at WMC. How does that support your marketing strategies? Any plans for additional blogs at WMC or other social media initiatives?

Nick: Our marketing strategy has been to be the innovator. We have worked very hard to stay ahead medically, technologically, and philosophically. We have entertained the concept of introducing a minimally invasive surgery blog, and, as far as other social media initiatives are concerned, we are always looking for opportunities, i.e., our streaming videos within the blog were, I am told, a first as well.

C.D's, DVD's, thumb drives have all been used as media distribution pieces as they became available at reasonable costs. Back in the 80's we mailed out inflatable globes, maps, rolled parchment, whatever it took to get people's attention. We are about to claim a position as the first hospital to take a definitive stand against transfatty acids, and may do so by mailing chunks of plastic fat to the media outlets. This action could save 30,000 lives a year.

Diva: At this moment in time, social media/blogs are perceived as a risky proposition with healthcare providers. How did Nick Jacobs get to be so daring?

Nick: "Live on the edge, the view is better from there." That has always been my business sense. When it comes to people's lives, we don't take any chances. We are very very conservative, but when it comes to things like complementary medicine, the newest technologies, the best approaches that embrace mind, body and spirit, my personal life's path has proven to me that we are all different.

We have different phenotypes, different mixes of cells, proteins, and genes. We all react differently to different situations, different stimuli, different words. Consequently, I have always embraced a "drive a little ahead of your headlights" life style when it comes to deciding what is the best thing for people. We are all individuals, and, if a dog licking your hand makes you feel better, bring in the therapy dogs.

Diva: A concern that frequently is expressed is the issue of comments. What is your opinion .. comments on or off? Do you think that comments off is really a conversation?

Nick: After a few months of comments "off," we came under attack from a former disgruntled, impared employee who prided himself on destroying every effort that we made to communicate. He was so destructive that we had to go to a "comments screened" philosophy to keep the truly unstable people off the page.

I have only screened two people, both of whom were destructive toward me personally and were attempting to "take down" the blog by trying to discredit everything that was written. As someone once told me, "Your friends my come and your friends my go, but your enemies accumulate."

Diva: Look into your crystal ball and tell us how you see social/media developing in the healthcare industry.

Nick: Unfortunately, my peers are not generally risk takers. In fact, they love to be onboard after the first two or three thousand of their friends have made the leap.

The docs are more fun because many of them were attracted to healthcare because they are independent souls. Hence, the cat and dog relationship that usually exists between administrators and physicians. So, I think the physicians will have a lot more fun with this social media than hosptial administrators. (If you judge a person's reactions to risk by spaghetti sizes, my peers are mostly angel hair pasta, a.k.a., uptight, as opposed to a trauma surgeon who may be comparable to manicotti, living on the edge.)

So, do I have great confidence that hospital's will embrace this form of communications, not after they read my work. It's too personal, too candid, and too risky for most. BUT it surely has worked for me.

Diva: Works for me too! Nick Jacobs is traveling far ahead of the crowd, making a difference and having a great time.

Note: Cross posted at the Medical Blog Network

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Vacation With Your iPod


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

Pink_ipod_1 School's out for the summer and it's time to pack it up and head out for that well deserved holiday. Hope that it includes a drink or two with a little umbrella!

Girlfriend, don't forget to bring your cute pink iPod. MP3s are not only for tunes and interviews to help with airport down-time. Pod City Guides offers free tours you can customize.

At MOMA/NYC and MOMASF you can download information about the exhibits. Savvy MOMASF turned this into a creative marketing and $ saving business strategy. Great idea for museums and other cultural venues. Non profit marketers dropping by Diva take note! Very cool.

Save $2 on Museum admission
Present your MP3 player loaded with the current SFMOMA Artcast at the Museum box office. One discounted ticket per MP3 player.

Following are a few tours complements of The Christian Science Monitor - one of the best newspapers ever. Some are free others are $. To hear samples visit The Christian Science Monitor.

Audissey Guides $ - targets Generation X travelers with an irreverent blend of dramatization and local celebrities.  Samples of Boston's North End and Paul Revere's midnight ride.
Sidebar: Diva Marketing's post on the North End.

Soundwalk $ - lets listeners walk in the shoes of locals for an uninterrupted hour. Sample of Soundwalk's Chinatown tour.

Slate Audio Tours
Free -delivers an articulate history and analysis of the major Washington monuments from architecture critic Witold Rybczynski.

Art Mobs  Free - Marymount Manhattan College students take you for a tour of New York's Museum of Modern Art in critical, cynical, and comical lights.  (go to "browse audio guides.")

iJourneys $ - Narrator Elyse Weiner leads travelers through a selection of European cities. Sample of iJourney's Rome tour.

Astrology_9 Biz Astro Tips
business astrology for fun
By Diva Astrology Bloggers Paula Dare & Donna Page

Are your deadlines not going as expected? People changing their minds over what they want? Is someone you know trying to control everything? 

Pluto, the planet of power and control, and Uranus; the planet of unexpected changes are showering down their vibrations.  Where do you need to let go and trust that you have done all you can? Is there something in your business plan that would benefit from change? Stay open to exciting and new creative ideas that are ready to jump into your consciousness.

With Uranus turning retrograde you may find it hard to sleep or your dream state may be activated. Keep a recorder or journal with you to record your genius. The energy will shift into a more relaxed flow with the summer solstice on Wednesday.

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Marketing Higher Ed With Social Media


Higher_ed Alex Brown, the innovative prof from University of Delaware, wears a few other hats. Among them a love for the ponies, and senior admissions counselor at Clear Admit. He recently wrote a white paper that discusses how higher education marketers can and should take advantage of customer-to-customer commication; or as Alex terms it free marketing.

Engagement Marketing, TIps for Communicating with Applicants on their "Turf" Via Blogs, Discussion Boards, Podcasts and Wikis.

Using the MBA applicant process as a case study example, the paper discusses how higher education can leverage "Content (that) is real and a reflection of the thought process and user experience of the applicant."

Prof Alex's concepts supports, what the business community is beginning to understand, that social media communications provide "authenticity (that) could not be acheived in house."

Continuing the higher ed theme, the University of PA College of Arts and Science is requiring the incoming class of 2010 to blog. Students will receive personalized “academic blog” pages, where they are asked to fill out what amounts to an online questionnaire. The students’ first online journal entries will focus on their intellectual interests, academic concerns and educational experiences.

The "blogs" will be available only to the student and advisors. There is an intereting debate on Inside Higher Ed's comments as to if this constitutes a blog or a journal.

It would be interesting if part of the blog could be made public - at the discretion of the student of course. Your thoughts?

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CGM Research - Is it Worth Fishing For?


Savvy divas (and divos) know that it is critical to listen and learn from our customers. Social media (blogs, boards, chats, podcasts, vlogs) provides a wealth of raw conversations. For the first time we can "listen in" on unfiltered customer talk. But is that CGM data credible in terms of using it to base marketing and business decisions?

Last weekend I chatted with Divo Bill Neal about CGM (consumer generated media) and marketing research. Since his boat was in dry dock for repairs and he couldn't go fishing, he kindly gave me his take on the situation.

About Bill Neal
Bill has been called  the "Godfather of Marketing Research."  He is co-founder and co-owner of SDR Consulting and also leads the firm's legal consulting practice.

He is on the Editorial Review Boards of Marketing Management and Marketing Research magazines and is an ad hoc reviewer for several other marketing management and marketing research publications. Over the last 33 years he’s dedicated significant time teaching – speaking at conferences, conducting workshops and tutorials, and writing articles.

He was instrumental in launching all four of the master’s programs in marketing research. With Mal McNivan he conceptualized and designed the popular online certificate program in marketing research originally sponsored by the Marketing Research Association. Bill has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Marketing Association. He is a 2002 recipient of the Charles Coolidge Parlin Award for distinguished achievement in the marketing research field.

Bill’s latest project is writing a book on brand equity metrics and how to leverage those as a key focus for overall corporate leadership. Soon to be published by Thompson Southwestern.

Wdn_2_stripers_small_2 Oh yeah..and he's a advid fisherman! I understand Bill not only knows how to catch those fish but how to cook them as well.

Diva: Bill, Marketing researchers are (or should be) the organization’s gateway to the thoughts, needs, desires, concerns and challenges of the customer. You and I have seen research methodologies go from door-to-door interviewing to pop-up surveys on website. The latest concept is to use consumer generated media to gain insights into consumer behavior. Do you think that "listening in on the raw voice of the customer" has merit?

Bill: It’s always a good thing to listen to the voice of the customer, in every form. That’s one of the main mandates of marketing research. And it’s our job to take those many voices and make some sense out of it all – call it insights.

But I have some real problems with consumer generated media as a source of credible and reliable information. In many ways it combines the worst elements of non-scientific research – self selection and advocacy – both positive and negative.

That is, those out there in the Internet world who are generating their own media are self-motivated to do so and are not representative of any defined population of buyers. And, given the fact that they have taken a public position on a particular product or service, it means that they more often than not have exceptional or non-typical attitudes about those products and services. The information they generate may be true, or not true – there is no way to discern which. Therefore, the information generated by those folks is neither credible nor reliable. So, as researchers, yes, we should be listening, but we must be very cautious and skeptical about its veracity and its usefulness.

Diva: Should marketers be tracking the data that occurs in blogs, boards and other social media formats? If so what should they be concentrating their efforts on?

Bill: Oh yes, I think we should be tracking it. The shear volume of product mentions and whether they are positive or negative is useful information and may (and I emphasize “may”) provide a signal that something is going wrong, or right, about the product and how it is being marketed.

Trending that information would be one of many ways companies should be tracking their marketing performance. I’d consider it one of many, albeit smaller, gages on the marketer’s product dashboard.

But marketers must keep in mind that a few influencers can generate a great number of product mentions if they decide to feature a particular product or service in their blogs. And these things can get out of hand very quickly, signaling a problem that’s really not a problem to the vast majority of customers.

Let me give you an example. I own two Ford trucks – a 1997 Expedition with close to 200,000 miles on it and a 2004 F-150 with 25,000 miles. In the blogosphere I’ve seen a bunch of postings on Ford trucks depreciating their quality and reliability. Yet, both of the vehicles I own have been exceptional in quality and reliability. I don’t take the time to post those positive experiences, but some who have had problems are very vocal about their supposedly negative experiences.

So what is the truth of the matter? Did these negative experiences really occur? Was it the fault of the manufacturer? Or the Dealer? Or the buyer? Are these generators of consumer media about Ford trucks really being the dispassionate arbiters of truth, or do they have an agenda? That’s the key issue – that information gleaned from the blogosphere is simply not reliable, and in many cases it is not valid.

There is also the issue of influencers in the blogosphere. Some of them seem to be very credible and it’s important to them that they maintain their honor and integrity – Your Diva blog is a great example. But there are others who have no honor, and it’s hard to tell who’s who. And there is no way we can weight the product mentions in terms of the credibility of the generator.

Diva: If companies are going to monitor the buzz in the blogosphere, where do you think that should reside? With brand managers or with the research department?

Bill: I think it definitely needs to be in the research department. Good marketing researchers are skeptics, and numbers generated from the blogosphere need to be viewed with a high degree of skepticism.

I’ve seen too many brand managers observe a focus group or two and then make major changes in their marketing programs based on what they heard in the focus group. Many of those changes are utter failures simply because the focus group was not a reflection of the real world.

You have exactly the same problem with monitoring consumer generated media, except that now you have the equivalent of thousands of focus groups. Does that make the information more valid or reliable? Definitely not!

Diva:  How about your thoughts on the companies that are jumping on the research social media band wagon i.e., Nielson BuzzMetrics, Fortune Interactive?

Bill: Honestly, I don’t know a lot about them and have not used them in my consulting practice, nor do I address them in our forthcoming book.

But to the best of my understanding, they are primarily counting product/service mentions and, in some cases identifying the major sources of those mentions. The basis for their business model is the belief that consumers have a higher trust of consumer generated media then they have for company generated media.

I think that might be more of a reflection on the stupidity of much of the advertising and promotion that permeates today’s traditional media. I’ve already talked about the problems with simply counting the number of brand “hits” and how that can be so misleading.

And, as consumers mature in their understanding of how consumer generated media can be manipulated by those with less than honorable intentions, I think their trust in those sources of information may wane considerably.

Diva: I’m looking forward to reading your book. Will the book include mention of social media and/or consumer generated media?

Bill: Thanks – I look forward to getting it done since we are scheduled to publish this coming spring. My co-author, Ron Strauss, and I have not settled on a title yet, but our working title is Marketing Metrics for Marketing Leadership.

We don’t address any particular media in detail. Our focus is to further develop valid and reliable measures of brand equity as a tool for corporate leadership. In that context, social media and CGM could play an important role for some products and services, especially in the non-profit arena. But, as I’ve said throughout this interview, measures of those phenomena must be both valid and reliable, and most importantly, they must accurately reflect the thoughts and behaviors of well-defined populations.

Diva: Hope your boat gets out of dry dock soon!

Sidebar: Cross posted on MarketingProfs Daily Fix.

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WSJ Late To The Scoble Party


This was too fun not to put up! Coverage by the WSJ.




"Mr. Scoble will also head up several new media initiatives, including video-blogging efforts, Mr. Furrier said. PodTech, which is focused on distributing and producing content for the corporate and professional market -- it currently has 15 big corporate clients, including Intel Corp. and Yahoo Inc."

So now we have it from main stream media .. must be true <lol>. Robert added a detailed explanation of the back-story on the Scobelizer.

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Blogger Stories New Chapters


Blogger StoriesStories is a blog that I recently launched to tell the stories of how people have been touched by blogs. It's an opportunity for bloggers to tell their personal stories of how their lives have been influenced by social media.

The new chapters of Blogger Stories include the story of the woman who invented blogging .. really! How a person new to the blogosphere pulled in 20,000 hits from one post and a guy who has created a blog that is a parody about blogging.

Ann Handley - MarketingProfs, MarketingProfs Daily Fix, Blogger Story
Kalyn Denny - Kalyn's Kitchen, Blogger Story
Pamela Slim - Escape from Cubicle Nation, Blogger Story
Michele Lessirard, The New Moon Journal, Blogger Story
David Armano, Logic+Emotion, Bloggers Anonymous, Blogger Story
Nedra Weinreich, Spare Change, Blogger Story         

 Take a break from your day, relax and read a blogger story!

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Robert Scoble..Movin On Up?


Scoble_1 What do you do when you are an uber-blogger and the blogosphere scoops your big news? That's the challenge that seemed to face Robert Scoble late Saturday night - 11:15p west coast according to a post on Scobalizer.

This is a rapidly-evolving part of my life. I just made this decision and it got out before I was completely ready to talk about it. - Robert

But You Don't Tell..You Tease.

What do you do when you are an uber-blogger and your reputation has been built on transparency? Sidebar: Never once in his post did Robert come out and say he was leaving Microsoft and movin' on up.

I invite you to meet with me at the VLoggerCon tomorrow evening at 3 to 6 p.m. in SanFrancisco where we'll talk about it further (and I'll post again tomorrow about what's going on in my life and why I made this decision) - Robert

But You Don't Tell..You Let The Bloggers Tell.

What do you do when the world thinks that you've hire an uber-blogger whoses reputation has been built on transparency and the blogosphere scoops your big news? You add a blub front and center (well above the "fold") on the home page of your website.
Sidebar: Girlfriend, wouldn't you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when that conversation took place? The bloggers bloged. Word is out. Post. Update.

The word is out that PodTech is hiring Robert Scoble.  Some interesting speculation around.

Robert will post his comments on the news.  We will be at vloggercon tomorrow to answer questions on the news to the future news organization (videobloggers).  Robert will have a full story to tell there.  Alot to talk about tomorrow.  PodTech will be putting out a formal press release on Monday morning.  In the meantime if your in SF Sunday stop by vloggercon for the in person update with Robert Scoble and John Furrier.

PodTech has always been about great people and as we evolve and expand we’ll be accelerating the team. More news tomorrow at 3pm in SF at vloggercon. - PodTech

Seems Millie's, My Mom's Blog, son uber-vlogger Steve Garfield may have company in the space.

But You Don't Tell..You Let the Buzz Build.

Once again the rules of old media public relations are changing. No, that's not true. Stories get scooped. Happens all the time. The players are not ready to provide the details. Happens all the time. They tease that an annoucement will be made at a trade show. Happens all the time.

What doesn't happen or didn't happen until the proliferation of social media/blogs, is the speed of light of the word-of-net buzz. One more element to add to your PR plan: Leverage word-of-net buzz.

What doesn't usually happen is the extent of the passion behind the bloggers who are buzzing the story. Here we must bring it back to The Man. Robert Scoble has impacted so many people's lives, on and off the Scobalizer, that it's not a scoop about a guy from Microsoft who may have an opportunity for a new gig, but a friend who is changing jobs. Read the comments on Robert's post.

Robert thanks yet one more case study in the impact of social media. If you are movin' on up .. all the very best to you .. and hope that this gig gives you a bigger piece of the pie .. to buy Maryam more presents!

Mo-vin on up
(Mo-vin on up.)
To the east side.
(Mo-vin on up.)
We finally got a piece of the pie-. The Jeffersons

Updated: For the foks dropping by from The Scobalizer .. see The WSJ's take on the deal.

Thanks Marianne for the early am email.

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Friday Fun: What's A Diva?


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

On Diva Marketing I toss the word Diva about like confetti at a party. After reading about Holly Morris and her Adventure Divas,Adventure_divas_1 on Jennifer Rice's What's Your Brand Mantra, I began to ponder. (Yes, ponder. Just because it sounds like it belongs in a Victorian novel instead of a cyberspace blog .. well, it's a cool word.)

What makes a Diva?

For Holly Morris it is the amazing things women are doing that you never hear about.

Holly is on mission to find and document the unsung divas. In ink. In film. In cyberspace. In partnership with her mom Jeannine, Holly produced a PBS series that sought out divas who were creating positive change in their worlds through their passions and frequently convention-defying actions. She traveled to Cuba, India, Iran and New Zealand. What an amazing diva adventure!

Jennifer's post points out that the Adventure Diva site is currently lacking in social networking communications .. blogs, podcasts, RSS, consumer generated content; however, in a comment from Jennifer we learn the Adventures Divas have plans to incorporate that in the near future. The site is rich in content including interviews, articles, video clips and some back-stories about the women in the series. A Resource Page provides travel information including links to 4208 cybercafes in 140 countries.

What makes a Diva?
The answer is as diverse as the women of the world!

Giving back is one way. For Diva niece Jessica Robyn and her Phi Sigma Sigma sisters at Quinnipiac University's (CT) Zeta Zeta chapter it's a Rock-a-Thon (rocking in rocking chairs) for 24-hours to raise money for the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation.

This year the foundation is supporting National Kidney Foundation, as well as, the Katie Vashon scholarship fund, set up in memory of their sister, Katie Vashon, who passed away in October 2005 from leukemia. The goal is to beat '05's donations of $6000. All donations to the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation are considered a 501© 3 organization which is tax deductible according to IRS guidelines. 

On behalf of the Divas at Phi Sigma Sigma, if you'd like to show your support, please send your check payable to Phi Sigma Sigma to:
Diva Jessica Robyn
P.O. Box 154
Canton MA, 02021

I thank you. Jessica Robyn thanks you. Phi Sigma Sigma thanks you.

Of course, I do not want to neglect the wonderful divos, like Stephan Spencer, who are giving back too. Stephan recently launch a new type of blog Changes For Good. A repository of ideas for making the world a better place. Keep a watch on this one.

Astrology_8 Biz Astro Tips
business astrology for fun
By Diva Astrology Bloggers Paula Dare & Donna Page

The Full Moon in Sagittarius falls on Sun. 6/11/06. Is your business in alignment with your beliefs or is it operating the way you want it to? If not perhaps you’re not looking through clear lenses. Maybe you are focusing in the wrong area.

The Moon is applying to conjunct Pluto, which should help bring issues that you haven’t wanted to deal with rise to the surface. Take the week to mull over anything problematic.

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What Do Corsets & Ducks Have In Common?


Sunday mornings reading the NYT on my little patio with a great cup of java. It's feels like stolen down-time moments. I even like the news-print on my fingers .. so Diva Retro!

Last week's NYT Business Section included 2 articles, that at first glance, seemed very different. Brendan I. Korner wrote about an entrepreneur who is turning vintage lingerie into lampshades. On page BU9 the chairman and CEO of the duck (quack!) was profiled. That is of course, Daniel P. Amos of Aflac.

Question: What do corsets & ducks have in common?
Answer: Innovation

Nashville artist, Kelly Butler took a risk when she left a secure job to open her Tramp_lamp bordello of unmentionables. She had some success selling her Tramp Lamps but as any small business owner knows yesterday's taste of success does not a business make. Most new entrepreneurs experience second and third and fourth thoughts along the way. Kelly did as well.

The support of friends and relatives play an important emotional role in the success of a start-up. The NYT article describes the time Kelly's burlesque friend (that's what the article said .. burlesque .. do you think that is the NYT PC for exotic dancer or stripper?) gave her bags of corsets and bustiers to turn into trash lamps. Girlfriend, even the name Trash Lamps, underwear that turns itself on, is Diva fun!

Where does the Aflac duck fit in? Aflac begin as a family business called American Life Assurance Company. Seems the public associated the name with Ed McMahon and the American Family Publishers sweepstakes. Why? I have not a clue.

But Daniel Amos wanted to change the name and rebrand it and was given the go ahead. As Mr. Amos said he was "..allowed the opportunity to fail." Being "allowed to fail" is the biggest vote of confidence one can give a person. It says green light ahead go for it all.

Mr. Amos sure did when he 1) changed the name to Aflac and 2) introduced the duck (quack!) as the new mascot. The result of his daring to be different ... name recognitionAflac_duck_1 at 92%.

Question: What do corsets and ducks have in common?
Answer: "It just shows what's possible when you take a bigger risk." D. P. Amos

Sidebar: Should the duck (quack!) blog?  Blog buddy Shel Israel would probably say no .. but then again after the ball of tin ... However, a Trash Lamp blog .. the stories Kelly could tell. I'm thinking .. pre lamp and post lamp  .. even the Divas at MySpace would find that cool!

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Diva Marketing Joins TypePad's Hall of Blogs


Typepad_blog_feature_0606Dahling, pop the champagne and bring out the good cavier..the kind you eat with those cute little spoons. Diva Marketing is TypePad's Spotlighted Blog. My thanks to Robin Tilotta and the folks at TypePad for their very kind words. Diva joins 16 other biz blogs in the Featured Hall of Blogs.

In Diva style, welcome TypePad visitors. Feel free to browse around a bit .. I promise Max won't bite. If you don't want bubbles tickling your nose there's always Appletinis or Gentleman Jack or how about a diet Coke? As we say in Hot'Lanta .. y'all come back now.

Sidebar: If I were a geek I'd add an RSS feed button right here. Alas! I am not..there on the nav bar.

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