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.

How Automotive Technology Can Help Parents and Pet Owners Get More Sleep

Automotive Know-How to Help Solve Problems for Pet Owners and Parents

Chiled_Pup_sofa_StockSnap_6D8141O2SPSome families make plans to get away at holiday time to escape the noise. For instance, New Year’s and Fourth of July festivities with loud fireworks can be frightening for many children and pets.

It is much more difficult to plan ahead to escape nature’s fireworks with thunder and the clash of lighting. That could be changing for pet owners thanks to the technology found in headphones and some cars.

Kennel-heroAutomaker Ford is using the noise-cancelling technology used in its Edge SUV for use in a dog kennel.

Just a prototype for now, the noise-cancelling kennel is part of a series of initiatives – called Interventions – that applies automotive know-how to help solve everyday problems.

Making sure dogs and their owners could enjoy a stress-free New Year’s Eve seemed like the perfect application for our Active Noise Control system, and we have a few more ideas in progress as to how our everyday lives might benefit from a little Ford know-how,” Lyn West, brand content manager of Ford of Europe explained.

KP8IYCGI0I_baby feetFord also applied automotive technology to work to help babies and their parents in 2017 in a prototype crib simulating the conditions of driving to put an infant to sleep.

The “Motor Dreams” crib, prototype used sounds of an engine, gentle movement imitating traffic, and LED lights that mimicked street lights. This video shows how the crib works with a smartphone app.

Locally Owned and Locally Loved – My Small Business Fan Letter to a Store Making a Difference for People, Pets and a Top Zoo

Businesses spend a lot of money and effort on branding and marketing to capture the consumer’s attention. The best marketing campaigns are a reflection of what a business does for customers and how it helps them succeed. That is why I found a Good Neighbor Pharmacy network slogan “Locally Owned. Locally Loved” a perfect fit for Lindenwood Drugs.

It was a disastrous customer experience at another small business that first led me to the pharmacy on the corner of Lansdowne and Jamieson in the Saint Louis neighborhood of Lindenwood Park.

design desk display eyewear

My UPS package was shipped to a UPS store owned by a franchisee in Richmond Heights, Missouri for pick up. The UPS store staff received the insured package and then rejected it, sending it on a week-long odyssey where it was lost. I spent many hours on phone calls and sleuth work trying to find the package I needed desperately. Despite several visits to the UPS store on Clayton Road where the package was shipped for pick-up, the staff was rude and offered no help. The shipper was assured at another UPS store I could pick-it up at the Richmond Heights location to avoid porch thefts. Instead the staff at the UPS store accepted it initially only to propel it into the lost package abyss because I wasn’t a box holder. They didn’t seem interested in helping me get my package.

So what does a UPS package rejected by a UPS store have to do with a pharmacy in another neighborhood? Tom Hunt, owner of Lindenwood Drug offers a free service for people to have UPS packages delivered to his business for pick-up.

“It helps us create traffic plus it is a service to the community,” explains Hunt.

four brown gift boxes near a glass paneled door with wreath

His pharmacy serving as a UPS Access Point also helps fight crime allowing people a convenient way to avoid becoming victims of “porch pirates.” One in four Americans say they’ve experienced package theft according to a survey by Comcast.

After days of searching and tracking down an insured package UPS had classified as lost; I picked it up at Lindenwood Drug avoiding losing it again to porch theft.

While Hunt is keeping neighborhoods safer, his primary focus at Lindenwood Drug is keeping people healthy. The pharmacy is well known for personalized options including compounding service and delivery at competitive prices.

Lindenwood_pet_1452505_563791443702493_382433641_nLindenwood Drug’s healthy living services extend to animals as well. The Lindenwood Park business is one of a few pharmacies in St. Louis that will make human medications in dose strengths for animals. They make medications in flavors for dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles, and pocket pets where none is available in a veterinary form or human form that is palatable for pets. The pharmacy’s Facebook page is filled with gratitude from pet owners who found a specialized solution for their animals at Lindenwood Drug.

Hunt and the other pharmacists at Lindenwood Drug fill prescriptions for animals at the Saint Louis Zoo. During his decades of veterinary pharmacy experience, Hunt has learned a lot about animals like puffins are susceptible to lung infections and Asian elephants are prone to the herpes virus.

Whether person or pet, the staff at Lindenwood Drug offer personalized and professional service that extends well beyond the charming pharmacy’s walls. Tom Hunt and his staff seem to have your best interest in mind, like a good neighbor should. No wonder they are a part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Network and why many customers travel past other drug stores to shop at Lindenwood Drug.Lindenwood_1965648_682687301812906_5338784854066700399_o (1)

Change Your View and Other Lives Too With Volunteer Vacations

482902_10200536274353607_1093409579_nYour next getaway could change more than your view. More travelers are finding a way to help others while exploring experiences and cultures through volunteer vacations. Social impact travel is growing in popularity for individuals seeking unique experiences and real connections with locals as they explore new communities. This type of vacation may be described as a cultural exchange, service adventure or educational tourism.

Volunteer vacations can also strengthen family bonds while working together to help others. Volunteer get away programs may offer opportunities to spend meaningful time as a team while learning new skills.

Travel adventures for a cause can involve some tropical paradises or exotic scenery, but require more planning than your typical vacation advises travel expert and author of Voluntourist, Ken Budd: “Taking a volunteer trip isn’t like spontaneously going to the beach. It requires a lot of homework and research. You want to find organizations that are meeting a legitimate need, and projects that need volunteer labor; not projects created to give volunteers something to do.”

Fall_Park_sheltephoto-1465940617394-6c04e5525665Finding a great volunteer vacation opportunity starts with being realistic about your desire and abilities for the adventure. Taking a good look at what you’d like to get out of the trip will decrease your chances of disappointment.

Think about what areas and subjects are important to you: Do you want to study climate change in Alaska, volcanic activity on a tropical island or preserve the campground where you vacationed as a child? Budd suggests you ask questions about a volunteer vacation adventure before packing your bags.

  • What is the volunteer work?

 

  • Who will benefit?

 

  • Who runs the volunteer programs?

 

  • Where does the money from program fees go?

 

  • May I contact previous volunteers about their experiences?

 

hotel.jpgMany volunteer vacation organizations will ask you to submit to a background check, particularly if you’re working with children. Others will want you to provide references or to write an essay on why you want to volunteer. When organizations don’t require some kind of registration that should be a warning sign.

There are many volunteer vacation opportunities close to home.  For example, public conservation trips combine service and vacation locations. These popular options combine living in national or state parks with service projects.Fall_lake_photo-1444492827838-96343b09c9af

The National Park Service offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups to work behind the scenes or in front line positions at park locations throughout the United States, including the territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. There are artist-in-residence programs at some parks for visual artists, writers, musicians, and other creative media.

Some volunteer adventures travel on the rails as Amtrak and the National Park Service are partners in an initiative to educate travelers on the heritage and natural resources of a specific region while traveling by rail. In 2017, there were 600 Trails & Rails volunteer guides who gave 43,000 hours of time to the program.

banner on VC2-croppedWildlife refuges are another popular option to volunteer and get away within the United States. Volunteer opportunities may be found at more than 500 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges and hatcheries. Volunteer conservation opportunities may include activities like wildlife photography, trail work, counting butterflies, banding birds, maintaining gardens and sprucing up buildings.

Volunteer vacationers often get access to parts of wildlife preserves and parks not open to the public. There is always have free time to enjoy the beautiful public lands they’re helping.

Whether your volunteer tourism takes you across your nation or around the world, it can change more than your view and teach you a lot about people and the places they call home.

Pelicans at lower Swan (2)

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.

IMG_20180214_123057

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.”

DmVvyC0UwAAcKDI_brew

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.”

DmVflayXcAUTi36_Beer

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.

DmXpG7bU0AEC3Qh

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

microphones_concert

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.

1535549445507_drones

 

Power Skills in Business

Featured

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 president and chief executive officer 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

7NCTIGCCMZ_three_laptop