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ProfNet Experts Available on Credit Card Surcharges, USPS Saturday Service, and More; Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers and Media Industry Blog Posts

Monday, February 11, 2013 12:16 PM

Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss timely issues in your coverage area. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please contact them via the contact information at the end of the listing. To receive updates by email, drop us a note at profnet@profnet.com with the industries you cover, and we'll add you to the appropriate edition.

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·         Credit Card Surcharges


·         U.S. Postal Service's Decision to End Saturday Mail Service

·         Axed Worker Takes Keys to Twitter Account

·         The Mobile Shopping Ecosystem

·         Technology and the Mortgage Servicing Industry

·         Red Flags That Say a Job is Not for You

·         Automatic Tips Are Unpopular Dining Companions

·         Design Considerations for Eldercare Housing



·         Corporate Journalist – News Link (Lincoln, Neb.)

·         Economics Writer – Federal Reserve Bank or Richmond (Richmond, Va.)

·         Assistant Business Editor – OC Register (Orange County, Calif.)



·         Tips for Beating Blog Burnout

·         Grammar Hammer: The Premier Premiere?

·         Everything I Know About Pitching VCs I Learned From Monty Python



EXPERT ROUNDUP: Credit Card Surcharges

Following are experts who can discuss credit card "swipe fees" and their impact on consumers and retailers:

Greg McBride, CFA
Vice President and Senior Financial Analyst
"There are a lot of consumers that will walk in the door, see the notice that there's a surcharge posted, and they're not going to resort to another method of payment. No, they're going to turn around and they're going to walk right back out the door and they'll go down the street to one of their competitors that does not assess a surcharge."
McBride is available to provide analysis and advice on personal finance. With almost 20 years of experience, he has the unique ability to provide both in-depth commentary and practical advice to consumers. He has appeared on hundreds of national cable and network broadcasts, and is a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. He is routinely quoted by major print outlets such as The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and is a regular radio guest on financial talk shows throughout the United States. He is also an accomplished public speaker, having appeared before audiences at the Federal Reserve Board, Mortgage Bankers Association, Federal Trade Commission and at the China Times Golden Cicada Awards in Beijing, China. He is on the board of directors of CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit credit counseling agency accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Media Contact: Ted Rossman, ted.rossman@bankrate.com

Charles Tran
"Consumers are king. Thanks to the Internet, social media and mobile phones, consumers can easily compare and share with the world their shopping experience. According to a January 2013 CreditDonkey.com survey of over 700 active credit card holders, nearly 21 percent said they would not buy anything at merchants that impose a credit card checkout fee. Small-business owners should evaluate if it makes sense to potentially lose one in five of their best customers by charging a checkout fee of up to 4 percent on transactions."
Tran is founder of CreditDonkey.com, a credit card comparison and financial education website. He is available to discuss credit card surcharges.
Expert Contact: charles.tran@creditdonkey.com

Kathy Doyle Thomas
Executive Vice President
Half Price Books
"As a retailer, just because we can now charge a fee doesn't mean we will. Retailers are already worried about alienating our customers, and in this tough economy, when we're fighting for every sale, we do not need any additional reasons to deter the customer from spending money in our stores. It is also important to note that a credit card transaction is larger, in most cases, than a cash one, so retailers don't want to discourage people from using their credit cards. If retailers do decide to charge a fee, educating the customer is a concern. To be able to charge customers, the law states retailers need to let the customer know a fee will be charged with signage on the door, so a prospective customer walks in knowing they will pay two to three percent more with their credit card."
Working in the retail industry for more than 20 years, Thomas currently serves on the Global Retail Marketing Association board and is a member of NRF's Integrated Mobile Initiative Task Force. She is also a former board chair of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA).
ProfNet Profile: http://www.profnetconnect.com/kathy-doyle-thomas
Half Price Books Bios: http://www.hpb.com/about/bios/
Website: http://www.hpb.com
Media Contact: Emily Bruce, ebruce@halfpricebooks.com

Patricia Seaman
Director of Marketing and Communications
National Endowment for Financial Education
Seaman joined the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in April 2007, as director of marketing and communications. She is responsible for communications, media and public relations outreach, and marketing NEFE programs. She also supports the chief executive officer in his service on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Her recent media interviews include Forbes, Parents, Washington Times, Woman's Day magazine, and local radio and television. A lifelong student of personal finance, Seaman is conversant with a wide variety of financial education topics and research, and is available to discuss credit card surcharges and how they will impact both consumers and businesses.
Media Contact: Daniel Malkin, dmalkin@rubeinsteinpr.com

Paul Golden
Media Relations Project Manager
National Endowment for Financial Education
Golden serves as project manager for the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping all Americans acquire the information and gain the skills necessary to take control of their personal finances. Golden is the media relations manager for the foundation, and is responsible for communications and public relations efforts. He also serves as NEFE spokesperson and has been quoted by the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Detroit Free Press and Baltimore Sun. Prior to joining NEFE in 2005, he worked as a managing editor for an online news service and has spent time working in the financial services industry. Golden graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with an emphasis in broadcast media, from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He is available to discuss the credit card surcharges and how they will impact both consumers and businesses.
Media Contact: Daniel Malkin, dmalkin@rubeinsteinpr.com

Taki Skouras
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Skouras is the co-founder, CEO and CFO of Cellairis, a specialty retailer of wireless accessories with more than 700 locations (many of which are franchised) nationwide. He is available to discuss not only the impact of credit card surcharges at the corporate level, but also how the individual franchisees (independent small-business owners) will be affected. He can also detail the strategies he has explored with his team in response to this settlement.
Considered by many to be a thought-leader in the industry, Skouras revolutionized the retail arena by taking an emerging trend (wireless accessories) and commercializing that popularity in a store model separate from wireless retailers like Verizon, T-Mobile and Apple. In an increasingly demanding marketplace, Skouras has overseen the company's growth from a single, standalone kiosk 13 years ago to the world's largest wireless accessory retailer. With more than 15 years of retail and operational experience, as well as more than 12 years in franchising, Skouras is instrumental in the operation of all of Cellairis' 700 locations and recently led the implementation of a cloud-based POS companywide in order to improve measurement and consistency in the customer experience.
Website: http://www.cellairis.com
Media Contact: Jessica Hatcher, jhatcher@konnect-pr.com

Greg Hammermaster
Sage Payment Solutions, a division of Sage North America
Hammermaster has 25 years of experience in banking, payment solutions and business software applications. He is currently president of Sage Payment Solutions, a division of Sage North America that has been providing businesses and organizations with electronic payment systems for more than 20 years. He was previously with SunTrust Banks, where he served as senior vice president and managing director of the commercial card and payment solutions division. He has also had experience with a number of online businesses, as well as with Visa International, the world's largest card network, where he worked with banks in the areas of online merchant services, debit, credit, and commercial payment solutions. Prior to working for Visa, he was instrumental in delivering Visa's first corporate and purchasing card program. Hammermaster has presented at various industry conferences and events, including the annual Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) Meeting & Expo and Commercial Payments International (CPI) events, and contributed payments-related information to numerous trade and business publications, including Business Finance, Chain Store Age, Credit Union Journal, eWeek, The Green Sheet, ISO & Agent, Journal of Accountancy, Small Business Computing and several regional business journals.
Website: http://na.sage.com/sage-payment-solutions
Media Contact: Cynthia Sutton, cynthia.sutton@sage.com



U.S. Postal Service's Decision to End Saturday Mail Service
Robert Atkinson
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
"While this decision is a step in the right direction, what we really need is a fundamentally new postal model. The USPS should concentrate on its true competitive advantage -- last mile mail delivery -- and open up all other parts of the system to true and fair competition."
Based in Washington, D.C., Atkinson is the author of numerous reports and articles on innovation, including, "Stick to the Mail: Postal Reform Means Radical Cost Cutting, Not 'Product Innovation.'"
ProfNet Profile: http://www.profnetconnect.com/robatkinson
Website: http://www.itif.org
Media Contact: William Dube, wdube@itif.org

Axed Worker Takes Keys to Twitter Account
Michael McCabe
Employment Attorney
Munck Wilson Mandala in Dallas
"A United Kingdom-based entertainment retailer suffered international public relations embarrassment when it laid off dozens of employees, including the sole worker with access to the company's Twitter account. The fired employee proceeded to post a string of messages detailing how the company was discharging its workers. Terminating employees is never an easy task. It can be stressful for everyone involved, and companies need to think through all of the possible outcomes. Companies should make sure they're communicating a consistent message during downsizing, and today that includes making sure social media channels are not neglected in the communication plan."
News Contact: Robert Tharp, robert@androvett.com

The Mobile Shopping Ecosystem
Jeremie Leroyer
CEO and Co-Founder of AIRTAG
"This past year, 43 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile device while in a store for a shopping purpose -- not simply a payment method. Whereas mobile commerce is a means to an end, mobile shopping embraces reshaping the entire shopping experience in-store and everywhere else to meet the demands of the new mobile-empowered consumer. Mobile shopping is more than making purchases or searching for products on a device; it is the incorporation of new mobile-accessible, value-added services that benefit shoppers and transform the smartphone into a new service. It is no longer enough to offer a mobile application that looks nice, but does nothing for the entire retail experience. In order to retain valuable customers and increase sales, mobile applications must offer a real value-added service to the end user."
Leroyer can discuss all aspects of mobile shopping ecosystems, including mobile payments, mobile shopping, loyalty systems and NFC technology. He is CEO and co-founder of AIRTAG, which provides mobile shopping solutions and in-store systems that deliver an interactive and engaging user experience. AIRTAG recently announced a partnership with MasterCard and their development of MasterCard's SDK.
Website: http://www.airtag.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/airtag
Media Contact: Allison Keller, Allison.Keller@horngroup.com

Technology and the Mortgage Servicing Industry
Michelle Rowley
Mortgage Servicing Advisor
CT Lien Solutions
Rowley can discuss the challenges mortgage lenders must deal with today as they try to handle the significant backlog of seriously delinquent inventory. While the foreclosure backup may take years to clear up in judicial states, it is also important to realize that the non-judicial states could expedite the entire foreclosure process by leveraging automation technology -- and, in fact, several major lenders have recently licensed technology to cut down the title and mortgage document assignment process from years to months. Says Rowley: "Servicers can look to technology solutions to assess workflow and identify areas to reduce risk, streamline processes and save significant amounts of time on each mortgage document -- which is especially critical today as servicers contend with the far-reaching impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on the mortgage servicing industry."
CT Lien Solutions is a lien search, recording services and life-of-loan service provider under Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services.
News Contact: Danielle Lundquist, dlundquist@peppercomm.com

Red Flags That Say a Job is Not for You
Darnell Clarke
Clarke, author of "Employmentology: A Practical Systematic Methodology of Finding Employment by a Hiring Manger," offers the following telltale signs that a job offer is shady: "If the job requires the employee to fork over their own money, it is not legitimate. Also, be wary of jobs that require you to fill out I-9 forms, which require two forms of identification and a Social Security number, before a job is actually presented. How can you do your own digging? Contact your network, or jump on LinkedIn and post a question about your offer if you feel it might be a little shady. However, the best way to know if an offer is great is to only submit your resume to open positions you have a true passion for. Most people submit their resumes to every job opening they see, without giving any forethought to whether or not they qualify. Submit your resume only to the opportunities that fit your passion, calling, strengths, skill set and/or qualifications."
Media Contact: Merilee Kern, merilee@kerncommunications.com

Automatic Tips Are Unpopular Dining Companions
Celeste Yeager
Labor and Employment Attorney; Hospitality Industry Team Vice Chair
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Dallas
"The dust-up over a pastor's rejection of the automatic tip added to her dinner tab was not just an embarrassment for everyone involved, but also may help ignite the debate over the practice, used by many restaurants when serving large groups. As an industry, it is time for restaurants and bars to consider stopping the practice of imposing automatic tips. It is a touchy issue not just with customers, who do not appreciate having a significant sum added to their check, but with servers as well. Automatic tips are viewed by the IRS not as traditional tips, but as a service charge, with that money going to the employer, not the individual wait staff member. That is where the water muddies significantly, as it can negatively affect pay classification, causing tremendous income tax headaches."
News Contact: Rhonda Reddick, rhonda@androvett.com

Design Considerations for Eldercare Housing
James T. Moyer, AIA, LEED AP
SAS Architects & Planners
"Depending on a building's age and configuration, we frequently encounter design challenges such as: creating public spaces in the right configuration; maximizing space; overcoming a long, double-loaded corridor; and creating a functional, safe and secure progression of space." Moyer is principal of SAS Architects & Planners, a full-service firm that has designed more than 120 eldercare projects nationwide. He is available to talk about design considerations involved with the current trend of converting existing eldercare housing into spaces that provide specialized support and care -- for example, transforming independent or assisted living into memory support or dementia care. He is based in the Chicago suburbs.
Website: http://www.sasarch.com
Media Contact: Cindy Martin, cindy@clmcomm.com



Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board: http://bit.ly/pncjobboard


·         Corporate Journalist – News Link (Lincoln, Neb.)

·         Economics Writer – Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Richmond, Va.)

·         Assistant Business Editor – OC Register (Orange County, Calif.)


See more listings here.



Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

·         TIPS FOR BEATING BLOG BURNOUT. Producing an engaging and successful blog means coming up with new ideas while staying energized, but how do you find inspiration, and generate fresh and creative ideas, time and time again? BlogHer's Susan Getgood shares her strategies and tips for generating ideas and avoiding blog burnout: http://bit.ly/WQRdMG  

·         GRAMMAR HAMMER: THE PREMIER PREMIERE? It's awards season, so for this week's Grammar Hammer, Cathy Spicer tackles the trickiness of "premier" vs. "premiere": http://bit.ly/127JOer

·         EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT PITCHING VCs I LEARNED FROM MONTY PYTHON. Most VCs number the annual business plans they see in a year in the thousands, but the implication is the same: There has to be more to distinguish your fundraising pitch than 10 or 15 in 30-point font. Matt Fates, partner in Ascent Venture Partners, discusses: http://bit.ly/Xsp8N1


PROFNET is an exclusive service of PR Newswire. To submit a request for experts: http://bit.ly/findexperts  To search the ProfNet Connect experts database: http://www.profnetconnect.com  To contact ProfNet by phone: +1-800-PROFNET, ext. 1  To share a thought on Expert Alerts: profnetalerts@prnewswire.com

/PRNewswire – Feb. 11, 2013/



(Source: PR Newswire )
(Source: Quotemedia)


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