About Danita Blackwood

Danita Blackwood is a writer and media professional with skills in a variety of formats including video production, media training, new media and social media promotion. A former television reporter and producer, Danita produced the nation’s top rated local morning newscast. She draws on this experience to contribute and place segments on national television programs and online outlets including more than sixty local television stations, radio programs, and local websites. Her public relations and strategic communications experience includes case studies, blogs, and partnership initiatives with corporations and federal agencies.

Tips to Keep Pets Healthy and Happy in Winter

Chiled_Pup_sofa_StockSnap_6D8141O2SPCold weather is the perfect time for cuddling indoors with your pet. Many people believe cold weather doesn’t bother dogs and cats because they have fur. This is untrue. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like people. Veterinarians advise no pet should be left outdoors for long periods of time in frigid weather. Cats and dogs should be kept inside when it is below-freezing.

It is a good idea to check micro-chip information and check pets’ collars at the beginning of winter because snow and ice mask scent cues that help pets find their way home if they should get separated from their owner.10363504_10204074765253668_1129290927636256801_n

Be aware a warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their resting space under the hood.

There are other pet hazards in your driveway or garage for pets. Keep ice melts, antifreeze and coolant locked away. These chemicals are lethal to dogs and cats. Clean up any spills from vehicles promptly.

Pet paws are sensitive to sand, ice, snow and chemical ice melts. Massage petroleum jelly or another protectant onto paw pads or consider the use of pet booties when your pet goes outdoors in winter.B-Zi-3eCcAA3jJq

When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly

Some pets are more tolerant to the cold than others. However, some dogs and cats may benefit from a vest or coat designed for pets to offer a little more insulation. Don’t forget your pet’s skin. The combination of cold air and dry indoor heat can impact their skin. Itching and flaking may result, causing pets to scratch. Maintain humidity in the home and reduce bathing to help preserve essential oils on your pet’s skin.

Cold weather can aggravate some health issues such as arthritis. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests scheduling a wellness visit with a veterinarian to check for any medical issues to be prepared for winter.

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Business Takes Center Stage as LouFest Cancels and Community Support is in the Spotlight

Financial issues and a wet weekend weather forecast are two of the reasons the producers of LouFest gave for leaving music fans and local businesses high and dry with just three days notice.

Just hours after the cancellation announcement, the Saint Louis community began organizing to minimize the impact on music lovers, entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by the LouFest cancellation.les_paul_guitar

Front Gate Tickets, the festival’s ticketing agent is set to refund music fans for their tickets. A two day pass for the event started at $105.00 and went up to $360.00 plus fees.

The artists and businesses taking part as vendors are not as lucky. Most have paid thousands of dollars in vending fees to be part of the festival and invested even more money in extra inventory to be ready for the fans in what was touted as the biggest festival ever with more than 40 acts.

A lot of extra food was ready to feed hungry fans. Local restaurants are working together with cross promotions and special events this week to minimize the impact.

Saint Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is urging people to get out and support area restaurants and music venues. She posted lists of the local artists, restaurants, brewers and craftspeople who are a part of the LouFest vending list on social media.

The St. Louis Brewers Guild also went to social media to appeal for support for the local hospitality community: “We are devastated to learn news that LouFest Music Festival has been cancelled just days before the event. We loved supporting this event and were thrilled to be working with their team to help create a local beer-focused footprint for the event this year with “BrewFest”. Our local breweries and restaurants have invested so much in terms of time, planning, sponsorship fees, brewing and packaging tons of beer, food ordering, promotion, and staffing and this is a huge blow. Please take a look at the lineups for both BrewFest and the Nosh Pit and go out of your way to show these folks some extra love if you can. Thank you for supporting our local beer and food scene.”

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Schlafly Beer designed a special commemorative can exclusively for the festival along with a special run of that beer. It is a big investment for the brewery.

Schlafly is also reaching out to LouFest attendees with a special offer; “We’re inviting all Loufest ticket-holders to join us Saturday, September 15 at the Schlafly Tap Room. Doors open at 11 a.m. with the tasting from noon to 4 pm. We will be offering 10% off tasting tickets starting today at 10 a.m. through this weekend for Loufest ticket holders here with the code ‘LOUFEST18’. Loufest ticketholders can also pick up a free commemorative can by showing their ticket stub, wristband, or receipt at either one of our brewpub location starting on Friday at 5 p.m. While supplies last and limit of one per ticket-holding customer.”

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Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters who were supposed to headline at LouFest will perform at The Pageant Sunday night. rock-concert-crowd_925x

Other alternative LouFest performances include two stages at the Grandel Theater in Grand Center from 2-10pm Sunday with more than a dozen bands scheduled to play. The event will be free and local vendors are invited to take part.

Retailers who invested money in LouFest are also a part of a pop up experience all weekend on Cherokee Street.

Arch Apparel, a Saint Louis based clothing manufacturer that created special LouFest branded merchandise is offering an alternative weekend event for fun and to support businesses. The ArchFest is an indoor event scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Arch Apparel’s showroom and warehouse at Watson Industrial Park in Crestwood. The warehouse block party will feature music and many of the vendors who were planning to be a LouFest. Want more information on #ArchFest? Check out Arch Apparel’s Event Page.

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To read the entire LouFest cancellation statement and view more of the participating vendors visit http://loufest.com/

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How Drones Are Helping Keep Ford Workers Safe

A Ford manufacturing plant is using drones to inspect the facility’s machinery, roofing and other equipment to improve safety while saving money and time. 518536_v2_Ford_Drone

Before putting the drones to work, Ford’s maintenance team put up scaffolding and platforms for the inspections that took 12 hours to complete. It wasn’t just the time and work to put up the scaffolding that was costly. The platform and scaffolding construction made it necessary to close the facility during inspections.

Now, with feet firmly on the ground and controlling drones equipped with GoPro cameras, maintenance workers can thoroughly inspect each area in under 15 minutes. The entire manufacturing facility can be covered in a day, zoning in on hard-to-reach areas to ensure they are well-maintained and comply with rigorous safety standards.CWVAoXKWIAA3h33

“We’d joked about having a robot do the work when there was a lightbulb moment – use drones instead,” said Pat Manning, machining manager, Ford Dagenham Engine Plant. “We used to have to scale heights of up to 50 metres to do the necessary checks on the roof and machining areas. Now we can cover the entire plant in one day and without the risk of team members having to work at dangerous heights.”

Ford’s drones are also being utilized for inspecting pipework, locating air leaks and checking machinery. Ford is now evaluating the possibility of using this high-flying technology at other facilities.

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Power Skills in Business

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Business Experts Say “Soft Skills” Are “Power Skills”

Technology is impacting all kinds of business and changing the way we work. As more business operations and jobs are changing due to automation, there is a new emphasis on capabilities for business. Creativity and communication abilities are two of the skills differentiating humans from machines. For example, automation can input data for analysis, while collaboration and communication is needed to discover how the data can best be applied to the business.KOHGRXNXL0_meeting_sticky

For these reasons the “soft skills” including negotiation, interviewing and business writing are taking on a new importance. Working with executives from large and middle-market businesses, Kathy Osborn, the Executive Director of the St. Louis Regional Business Council, suggested changing the term “soft skills” to “power skills.”

A majority of business decision makers agree with Osborn’s assessment of soft skills as the real power skills. Researchers discovered 77% of employers surveyed believe that soft skills are more important than hard skills. It is one of the findings in “The Rise of Soft Skills and Why They Matter Now.”

These power skills are on the rise in many industries and for many different reasons. Diverse and positive workplaces demand good communication skills, collaboration and respect.LUBQRTO8JB_handshake

Mobile technology and social media increases an organization’s exposure every day. Employees who deal with the public need power skills of listening, empathy and negotiation to be the best business ambassadors or risk a customer’s frustration becoming a viral assault on your brand.

What power skills matter most? Online learning platform, Udemy looked at what more than 20 million individuals are studying to come up with a top ten list.

Manager Training

Emotional Intelligence

Business Writing

Focus Strategies

Personal Development

Presentation and Public Speaking

Negotiation

Stress Management

Customer Service

Interviewing Skills

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How to Unleash the Positive Power of Pets on the Job with Tips to Prepare for Taking Fido to Work

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Ways to Make Take Your Dog To Work Day® a Success

Businesses across the United States are planning to make a ‘pawsitive’ change with canine co-workers. Friday, June 22, 2018 is Take Your Dog To Work Day (TYDTWDay®), the 20th annual observation of a fun opportunity for dog owners created by Pet Sitters International (PSI).

IMG_hr82mvMore American firms are opening their doors to pets at work. The number of companies allowing pets in the workplace is on the rise according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Researchers found support among the American workforce for pets on the job:

55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment

50 million believe having pets in workplace helps co-workers get along better

38 million believe having pets in workplace creates a more productive work environment

37 million believe having pets in workplace helps improve relationships between managers and staff

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Pets in the workplace can improve productivity

Are you planning on taking your dog to work for the first time? Make sure your office environment is safe. Remove poisonous plants and pesticides, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as permanent markers. Any office items in question should be placed out of reach.

Make sure your dog is fit for work. Even dogs don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Be sure your dog’s shots are current. Make plans to have your dog bathed and groomed before accompanying you to work. Be mindful of your dog’s “work readiness.” You know your dog’s demeanor, so if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider how your dog has behaved in the past around strangers before making the decision to bring him. If your dog has shown fear, irritability or aggression, or if your dog has never met strangers, the workplace is not the best place for him.

Petatwork_Participant_at_Pet Sitters International NCHave a doggie bag. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant. If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind.

Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully. During an important sales call is probably not the best time for a bathroom break. Plan your dog’s feeding time around your work schedule and be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog. Dog lovers will make themselves known. Sally from accounting and Joe in human resources may not want to play fetch or offer belly rubs, so be mindful of fellow employees’ time and space. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given from your co-workers. Remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs and that not all non-dog owners will be aware that these items can be very toxic to your pooch.

Have an exit strategy. Although most dogs enjoy being with owners at work, your pet may not. Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your professional pet sitter to offer a midday check-in visit. Never, under any circumstance, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work!09_tydtwday_hitachi_data_systems___staff

Publicizing your company’s participation in Take Your Dog to Work Day with local media and on social media platforms can generate some positive buzz for your business. Consider making the day a fund-raising opportunity for an area non-profit benefiting pet ownership.

“While TYDTWDay offers a fun opportunity to have dogs at work, its purpose since the inaugural celebration has always been to encourage pet adoptions,” explained Beth Stultz, PSI vice-president and TYDTWDay spokesperson.  “We hear from participating companies that partner with local shelters or rescue groups to allow them to bring in adoptable pets, host benefit luncheons or charity auctions, or plan contests such as dog-owner lookalike competitions to raise money for local pet-related organizations.”

Businesses interested in participating in TYDTWDay® can download PSI’s free 2018 Take Your Dog To Work Day® Toolkit at petsit.com/toolkit.

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Battle the Growing Tick Health Threat with Free TickTracker App

tick-482613_960_720_tick_handHealth officials are warning ticks and the diseases they carry are spreading across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, report the number of tick-borne disease cases has more than doubled in the last 13 years.

The CDC describes tick-borne illnesses as a public health threat proving difficult to control. While these diseases occur across the United States, the Northeast, Midwest and southern areas of the nation seem to be most at risk.

detail-3370931_960_720+tick2Olivia Goodreau knows a lot about the health threat ticks pose. The teenager was bitten by a tick in Missouri in the summer between first and second grade and it took 51 doctors and 18 months to figure out she had Lyme disease.

Health professionals are seeing more cases of Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that roughly 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme each year, which is eight to 10 times higher than the number of cases actually reported. Lyme disease has 6 times more new cases each year than HIV/AIDS, yet it receives less than 1% of the funding.

tick-1271763__340_ticerOWhile living with Lyme disease, Goodreau is working to raise money for kids that cannot afford their Lyme medication and for research to find a cure. As a twelve-year old, she started the LivLyme Foundation in 2017 after she was told that she would live with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease for the rest of her life, or until a cure is found. Her efforts to help others include developing an app to help track, report, and educate about ticks. TickTracker is free to the public to download via the Apple and Android App Stores.

Learn more about helping Olivia Goodreau’s battle on ticks, the LivLyme Foundation and TickTracker at http://livlymefoundation.org

Easy Tips for Pet Preparedness

IMG_20180205_011823 (1)An emergency can happen anywhere changing our lives in an instant. Thousands of pet owners have lost their faithful friends due to storms, fires, and floods or man-made disasters. A majority of pet owners are unprepared for a possible emergency according to a recent survey. More than 90 percent of the pet owners in a Banfield Pet Hospital survey say they are not ready for a disaster.

Simple steps can be taken to reduce the number of pets that die or get lost or separated from their owners during times of emergency.

10522448_10204326587589069_1679476337642888810_nSome of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.

If you must evacuate your home, is important NOT TO LEAVE PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

74XTZRXTELIf you are heading to a public shelter in an emergency, animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.

A good preparedness kit includes enough of your companion animal’s regular food, medications, first aid supplies, and an appropriately sized carrier. It is also recommended to have updated pet photos, immunizations records, and multiple contact numbers in the kit. You can buy a prepared kit or assemble one in a designated bag.

Items for a pet preparedness kit:

Food (your pet’s regular food) 236506
Water
Leash and collar
Bowl(s)
Photo of your pet/ID and a photo of you with your pet
Medications your pet needs
Immunization/vet records (keep both updated)
Pet carrier
First-Aid Kit
Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, out-of-town friends/family

Current ID tags and updated microchip for your pet are very important.

Knowing CPR for pets is also a good way to be prepared. The Red Cross offers classes in pet CPR. The Red Cross also offers a first-aid app for everyday emergencies. The app has videos and simple step-by-step advice on pet first-aid. To find it text “GETPET” to 90999 or search “Red Cross Pets” in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace.

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