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Monday, September 30, 2013

How Safe is the Medicine in Your House?

Dr. Dan O'Rourke
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies 

            Americans are fortunate to have access to some the finest medical professionals and facilities in the world. Combined with government oversight agencies and independent researchers to test medical products for safety, we are afforded a great deal of confidence when we go to the medical cabinets in our homes. A recent story by Pro Publica, a non-profit investigative journalism agency, in cooperation with the National Public Radio program, This American Life, however, warns us that we must be ever vigilant as consumers of over the counter medicines.
            Three years ago in 2010, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that more than 300 people (321) died from acetaminophen toxicity. Acetaminophen is the active drug found in Tylenol, which is one of the reasons this finding was so startling. In 1982, someone tampered with and poisoned bottles of Tylenol in the Chicago area. (,8599,1878063.html) The makers of the product acted decisively and withdrew millions of bottles of the medicine from the shelves at great cost to the product company. Since that time, Tylenol has benefited from the public perception that it is one of the safest products on the market. Advertising campaigns for the medicine echoed this perception and declared that Tylenol was the pain reliever that “hospitals used most.” It was “recommended by pediatricians” and provided “safe, fast, pain relief.” Ironically, this belief may have contributed to the problem.
            The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been aware of the potential problem of acetaminophen toxicity for some time. In 1977, an expert panel strongly recommended that a warning be placed on the painkiller that excess use could cause “severe liver damage.” Great Britain, Switzerland, and New Zealand have required that it be sold only by pharmacies or regulated the amount that can be purchased. In America, however, public perception of safety has negated these findings. The FDA asserts that this has created a “special risk” for the product as twenty-five percent of Americans routinely take more pills than prescribed. The FDA sets the maximum recommended daily dose at 4 grams, or eight pills; as few as two extra pills has been reported to cause liver failure. From 2001 to 2010, acetaminophen-related deaths amounted to twice the number of all other over-the counter-pain relievers. This is information that must be communicated to the general public. A careful examination of the potentially fatal consequences of what may be considered simple miscommunication between drug manufacturers, health practioners, and innocent patients is at the heart of this issue. Once again, we see a need for greater consumer awareness and the development of health and risk communication in the medical profession.  


                 With thanks to Dr. Pravin Rodrigues for his ideas and input

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What is the Future of Voicemail?

Dr. Dariela Rodriguez questions the future of voicemail, a once innovative feature, but now "with newer, and faster, options available such as text messaging, instant message (IM), or even email, why would an individual, much less a business, sill opt to use voicemail (Bradley, 2012)?"

Dr. Rodriguez's blog "Can Voicemail Still Answer the Call?" was featured in the Daily Headlines & Features of, Sept. 9, 2013 edition. Click on title below for full bog.

 Monday, September 09, 2013


Fenwick Technology and Life Sciences IPO Survey Highlights Strongest IPO Market in Years
Gene Marbach At Large
The law firm Fenwick & West recently released its IPO Survey covering the first half of 2013, "Key Metrics for Recent Technology and Life Sciences Initial Public Offering." The IPO survey provides half-yearly reviews of IPOs in the technology and life sciences sectors nationwide and offers a graphical overview of key ...
Can Voicemail Still Answer the Call?
By Dariela Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Voicemail, the personal assistant that everyone could afford, seemed innovative when it first became an option, however it is now on the brink of distinction. In a society that is so uber-connected, with even children carrying around iPhones, this seems like a contradiction, however, it still remains to be seen what the future of voicemail will be in the very near future. As the uses of ...
Communications Professionals Talk Funny
By David P. Kowal, President, Kowal Communications Inc.
Sometimes it's difficult to figure out what communications professionals mean when they talk. Communicating is not as challenging as, say, being an engineer or a file clerk, so some in the business try to make it sound challenging by using the words they think their clients or employers want to hear. Like lawyers, if people understood what we were talking about, they wouldn't pay us as much ...
September Brings New Beginnings: Time to Take Your Personal Inventory
By Adam Barrett, LCSW
Autumn is a few weeks off officially, but September's advent bangs the symbolic gong reminding us that the lazy, hazy days of summer are ending. As resort houses at the beach or mountain lake are closed down, a new season of hard work or study opens up. One need not observe the Jewish new year and ...


Leadership 3.0: How Diana Nyad Defied Life's Challenges: How You Can, Too.
By Leslie Grossman, Vice Chair of the IMPACT Leadership 21 Global Advisory Council, Author of the book "LINK OUT": For the Global Women's Leadership & Collaboration Channel
Her mantra was "find a way". At the age of 64, on September 1, 2013, Diana Nyad became the first person to successfully swim the treacherous Florida Straits ...
IR Apps By The Numbers
For the Mobile IR Channel
For the first time this year, time spent on mobile devices will surpass time spent on desktop and laptop computers, according to an eMarketer estimate. And that doesn't include phone calls. eMarketer's first-of-its kind study says "US adults will spend 43.6% of their overall media time with digital this year, including 19.4% on mobile-compared to 19.2% on laptops and PCs. Time spent with mobile ...
Owned vs Earned Links in Press Releases
For the Digital PR Channel
Google publishes their lists of 'do's and don'ts' in their Webmaster Guidelines. These guidelines get updated as Google fine-tunes their search algorithm. In a recent update of the link scheme rules they included links in press releases. Google now categorizes a press release as an advertisement. This seems to have put PR people into a tizz as to what can and can't be done with press ...
Content We Love: Bullets for Breakfast
For the Agile Engagement Channel
Looking back, mornings at the beginning of the school year always felt hectic and frenetic to me. Always in a rush to get out the door, the priority was to have something in our stomachs by the time that first bell rang to be in class. It's known breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With that in mind, the California Milk Processor Board set out to make sure kids are fed a ...
Fill in the blank: Content is ____ .
For the Agile Engagement Channel
You're creating it. You're curating it. You're publishing, tracking and sharing it. It's playing a central role in your communications strategy. How do you define content? We'd like to hear your take. Fill in the blank "Content is ___" either by leaving a comment on this post, or tweeting with hashtag #ContentIs. [Tweet this!]
NGO Newsjacking is All About Monitoring
For the Critical Now Channel
For many not-for-profits, the public relations strategy is all about looking good on TV.


Content to Conversion: Setting the Stage for Success
Content is your catalyst, creating audience engagement. When content is king, earned media plays a stronger role in driving your organization's success. But don't lose sight of what your content is supposed to achieve! At the start of every campaign you must ask, "What is the action that you want your audience to take next?" Be it views, shares or sales, actions are one of the keys to every ...
LIVE EVENT - Kick Off The Season With Live Video
NIRI San Francisco Event
The first meeting of the 2013-14 season will be held on Thursday, September 12th at 5:30 pm PT, and will focus on Social Media and IR. We're going to demonstrate-- in real-time--a live production of a video earnings call. Video Earnings Calls: a trend or just more work? Find out with your "backstage pass" at a live video earnings production NIRI members will experience first-hand ...
IN-PERSON EVENT - Employing Visual Content for Compelling Storytelling - Chicago
For the Agile Engagement Channel
The presence of content in its various forms across the digital landscape has given rise to an era of instant gratification--a time where anyone can search for a topic of their choosing or send out a message through their social channels to obtain relevant information. As organizations seek to maintain visibility ...
Social Media Visionary Brian Solis to Deliver Keynote Address at PRSA 2013 International Conference
PRSA 2013 International Conference
Altimeter Group Principal Analyst Brian Solis, an author and recognized authority on the impact of social media on business and culture, will deliver the principal keynote address at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)'s 2013 International Conference, which will take place Oct. 26 -- 29, 2013, at the ...
Welcome to Act 4...Don't Let Digital Scare You -- The Power of Print Integrated
LIVE - A Mr. Magazine™ Event
Change was, is and will continue to be the only constant in the magazine and magazine media world. However, change has evolved from the slow-moving, steam-powered train, to a nuclear-impelled, speed-possessed bullet.The Magazine Innovation center at the University of Mississippi, which I founded ...


Exclusive: Amazon Wants To Offer Its Smartphone for Free. Who Will Follow?
Which technology giant will be the first to offer a free smartphone? Inc. is making a play. In a previously unreported move, the online retailer and Kindle maker is considering introducing its long-planned smartphone for free to consumers, according to people familiar with Amazon's effort.
3 Ways The Automotive Industry Will Change By 2020
Fast Company
Electric vehicles, autonomous cars, vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity--anyone who pays even a little bit of attention to the automotive industry has an inkling of what the future of driving will look like. In a new report, McKinsey & Company outlines how the global auto industry will shift by 2020. Hint: It's a whole lot different than what you might expect.
Yahoo's First Transparency Report: More Gov't Requests Than Google or Facebook
Giga Om
Yahoo has become the latest tech company to publish a "transparency report" to show how often governments around the world ask for information about users. The report shows that in the United States, government agencies made 12,444 data requests from Yahoo during the first half of 2013 covering more than 40,000 individual user accounts.
Greeting Card Industry Wants To Save USPS From Itself, More Rate Hikes
The greeting card industry has a vested interest in the survival of the United States Postal Service. We might use a private first-class mail delivery service to send cards if the USPS cut back on service or disappeared, but probably wouldn't. That's why they, along with the magazine and catalog industries, say that another rate hike isn't the solution.
Red Obsession Documents China's Wine Fervor
China Daily
Napoleon Bonaparte once said: "When the dragon awakes, she will shake the world." Filmmaker Warwick Ross drew inspiration from that quote for his documentary about China's recent and sudden wine fever, particularly of a French terroir.The 76-minute Red Obsession first chronicles the history and character of Bordeaux, France, which is widely considered one of the finest wine-producing regions in the world, and then delves into its relationship with China.
Julian Assange and 'The Fifth Estate:' Wiki Wacky Who?
Time Magazine
With Julian Assange a refugee in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012, what's his whistle-blowing website been up to? Well, last year WikiLeaks published the Syria files - more than 2 million emails and papers from Bashar Assad‘s government - and a hundred or so classified files from the U.S. Defense Department revealing its policy on detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
From Myspace's Ashes, Silicon Start-Ups Rise
The New York Times
IT is hardly uncommon for founders and employees of successful companies to cash in their chips and go on to start other successful companies. Perhaps the best-known example is PayPal, the Web payment service whose leaders went on to found and invest in a bunch of other companies - YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp, Tesla - and to earn the nickname the PayPal mafia.


Vodafone--Largest Dividend Ever Paid
Vodafone Group has owned a 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for over a decade and has seen it dramatically appreciate over that stretch. Last Monday night, the British wireless giant agreed to sell its U.S. holdings to partner Verizon Communications ...
World's Largest Bond Fund Suffers $41B in Withdrawals
CBC News
The world's largest bond fund, PIMCO's Total Return Fund., registered its fourth straight month of heavy cash outflows in August, with $7.7 billion US of withdrawals bringing net withdrawals since April to $41 billion. Invesetors are pulling out of the bond market in anticipation of the winding down of the U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying program.
Is This the End of the Era of Mega Marketing Mergers and Acquisitions?
The Drum
Sir Martin Sorrell said something very interesting last week. Actually, he's often saying things, but what he said on 30 August was particularly striking, even for seasoned Sorrell-watchers. Interviewed on business TV channel CNBC, the eminence grise of the ad industry batted away the – rather inevitable, it has to be said – rumours that he was considering making a cheeky (perhaps audacious is a better way of describing it) bid for Dentsu/Aegis (or even Interpublic Group, which is looking ever more vulnerable these days).
Ford CEO May Step Down Earlier Than Expected
Investor Place
Sources tell Reuters that Ford‘s (F) board of directors is growing more comfortable with potential successors to CEO Alan Mulally, who is said to be considering leaving the company to take other high profile positions. A former Boeing (BA) executive, Mulally joined Ford in 2006 when the country's second-ranked automaker was in financial disarray and came close to insolvency. Under his leadership, Ford successfully executed a painful turnaround that restored its finances and sales without the need for a federal bailout.
Owners of Neiman Marcus Said to Be in Talks to Sell Retailer for $6 Billion
The New York Times
Neiman's primary owners, Warburg Pincus and TPG Capital, are said to be in discussions to sell the luxury retailer to a group led by Ares Management and a Canadian pension plan.
Morgan Stanley: Many Of Our Clients Are Preparing For An Imminent Loss Of Central Bank Control
Business Insider
The Federal Reserve is contemplating unwinding its quantitative easing program, which at $85 billion in bond buying per month has constituted the single largest provision of marginal liquidity to global financial markets since this latest iteration of the stimulus program was launched in September 2012. Such a move appears imminent – the consensus in the marketplace is that the first step in tapering back quantitative easing will be announced at the conclusion of the Fed's September 18-19 FOMC policy meeting.


Studios Find Their Best Hope for Offsetting a DVD Decline
When Walt Disney Pictures releases "Iron Man 3" on homevideo Sept. 24, it won't be the first post-theatrical glimpse fans will get of the film after its theatrical run. The movie will be available for high-definition download three weeks earlier on a range of digital platforms from iTunes to Amazon, instead of the typical simultaneous rollout with disc purchase and digital rental/VOD formats. What was once an exception to traditional windowing for movies is steadily becoming the rule.
Why Soup is the New Coffee
Of all the features consumers want in a coffee machine, the ability to make soup probably isn't high on the list. So even though coffee and soup are both hot liquids served in a cup, news this week that soup giant Campbell's was joining up with single-cup brewing king Keurig seemed odd. But given the growing presence of Green Mountain Coffee's GMCR -3.23% Keurig machines in homes, offices, and car dealerships, and rosy forecasts for U.S. soup sales, analysts say this joint effort could be the next hot thing in hot things.
Tourettes Action Email Escapes Firewall with Upside-Down Swear Words
Brand Republic
An expletive-laden email marketing campaign avoids being blocked by firewalls by turning swear words on their head in order to raise awareness of charity Tourettes Action. The ‘F*ck the firewall' campaign seeks to highlight how people with Tourette Syndrome are effectively ‘filtered out' by society.


PR, SEO and Content Marketing – It's All Going in the Same Direction
The Guardian UK
Recent debate surrounding whether Google has killed off the PR agency sparked some very lively debate within the worlds of PR and SEO. As these two disciplines are now more entwined than anyone would care to admit the question really should be 'Has Google killed all PR and SEO agencies?' Recent updates to Google – with some having a significant impact, others less so – seem to be less about link building strategies and more about creating quality content that people want to share.
The Ancient Roots Of Punctuation
The New Yorker
The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation "lb," for the Roman term libra pondo, or "pound weight." Like many standard abbreviations of that period, "lb" was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tittle, or tilde (an example is shown above, right, in Johann Conrad Barchusen's "Pyrosophia," from 1698). And though printers commonly cast this barred abbreviation as a single character, it was the rushed pens of scribes that eventually produced the symbol's modern form: hurriedly dashed off again and again, the barred "lb" mutated into the abstract #.


Ideal Media Takes A More Hands-On Approach To Combining Recommended Content With Ads
Here's another startup trying to turn content recommendation into a business: Ideal Media. Similar in concept to Outbrain and Taboola, Ideal Media works with publishers to add a recommended content unit to their pages. Then it makes money by including sponsored content in the mix. You can see an example in the recommended content under this photo on the OneBigPhoto site (there's a screenshot below). Director of Sales Matthew Mosk told me via email that Ideal Media is building customized, native integrations, so the look will change from site to site.
Bold Play by CBS Fortifies Broadcasters
New York Times
Leslie Moonves, the longtime chief executive of CBS, has heard the jokes about CBS being old and out of step because of the age of its audience and because it does not have enormous assets in the cable network world. But in one area, CBS and Mr. Moonves have led to a shake-up in the broadcast world that could be labeled revolutionary: the issue of compensation for retransmission rights. Before almost anyone else in the business, Mr. Moonves effectively pushed for distributors to pay fees to the broadcast channels just as they do to cable networks.


Apple's Worst-Kept Secret: Bigger iPhones in 2014
As Apple gets ready to roll out its next generation iPhone 5 on Tuesday, speculators have already moved on to what the company will do next with its mobile phones. The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is testing various screen sizes, ranging from 4.8 inches to 6 inches, and KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple will increase the iPhone screen size from 4 inches to 4.5 or 5 inches next year.
Here's Everything We're Expecting at Apple's iPhone Event
ZD Net
In just a few days, we will see for the first time Apple's latest smartphone incarnation. The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant sent invites out to select media outlets announcing a Sept. 10 event that will "brighten everyone's day," according to the invite.There have been numerous leaks and reports - rumors and snapshots of various parts and packaging purporting to be of the company's next-generation smartphone, dubbed the iPhone 5S. Also on deck we expect to see a low-cost, budget smartphone, dubbed the iPhone 5C, for emerging markets.


Being Found vs. Being Sought
Seth Godin
The Optics of Marissa Mayer
The Flack
How to Optimize Your GooglePlus Profile -- And Why You Nust
Whats Next Blog
Reg FD: Does $50,000 Get Your Attention?
IR Cafe
How To Turn Your Blog Into A Networking Powerhouse
Heidi Cohen: Actionable Marketing Expert
10 Branded Twitter Accounts that Raise a Laugh
Econsultancy Digital Marketing

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O'Rourke Invited to Speak at the Ohio High School Speech League

Associate Professor, Dan O'Rourke, and his son, Morgan Bostdorff O'Rourke, have been invited to address the coaches of the Ohio High School Speech League about their book, A Good Town Speaking Well: A History of the Wooster Speech and Debate Team.The book traces the 100 year history of the team and serves as a fundraiser for the organization. Twenty percent of the profits from the book will be donated to the Wooster Speech and Debate Team.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Genetic Testing Right For You?

Kimberly Field-Springer, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication Studies

Recently Angelina Jolie, actress, director, writer, winner of an Academy Award, and 3 Golden Globes, shared her personal medical decisions about genetic testing for a breast cancer gene, BRCA1, mutation in an op-ed piece published by The New York Times. Jolie, known for playing fierce roles, including the vigilante, Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and CIA operative, Evelyn Salt in Salt, opened about her risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Jolie’s mother died of cancer at the age of 56. And when Jolie’s children asked her what happened to “Mommy’s, mommy,” Jolie had difficulty talking about the disease that took her mom’s life.1 These conversations led the nation to discuss decisions we make based from the role of genetic testing in identifying breast and ovarian cancer risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment options.

But is genetic testing right for everyone? First and foremost, genetic testing is a personal choice; therefore, there is no clear answer to this question. Yet, we tend to under- and over-estimate our susceptibility to certain risks. We live in a risk society where we are constantly bombarded with new information suggesting that we can calculate risks about the possibility of developing certain diseases. Some of us who are at high risk may decide not to undergo genetic testing for fear of receiving undesirable results. Others of us may decide to undergo genetic testing precipitated by fear that is unwarranted. When we receive results from genetic testing, we then must make sense of this information. Yet, in reality, the decision to act on this information introduces new risks into our situation that affects us personally as well as our close loved ones. And we tend to take for granted the psychological, physiological, and emotional aspects of the information we receive about risks.

So, what do we know about the BRCA1 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 2) genetic testing for mutations? How is this information linked to our risk of cancer? A woman or man is at high risk for developing cancer if she or he inherits a harmful mutation of either gene. The gene mutation affects women and men differently. According to Kate Shane-Carson, MS, Certified Genetic Counselor, Assistant Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University Division of Human Genetics, “In the general population, women have about a 10-12% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer and a 1.5% lifetime risk to develop ovarian cancer. However, women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have a 50-85% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer. Women with a BRCA1 mutation have a 40-60% lifetime risk to develop ovarian cancer, and women with a BRCA2 mutation have a 10-20% lifetime risk to develop ovarian cancer. In the general population, men have less than a 1% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer. Men with a BRCA1 mutation have about a 1% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer, and men with a BRCA2 mutation have about a 5-10% lifetime risk to develop breast cancer. Men also have an increased risk to develop prostate cancer with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. The BRCA2 gene has also been associated with an increased risk for pancreatic, throat, stomach, and melanoma skin cancer.” Studies conducted to understand the association of these gene mutations linked to cancer has most often only been investigated in families with past histories of cancer.2 We have an abundant amount of information about the association between gene mutation and risk of cancer. However, there is limited research that examines psychological and emotion risks associated with genetic testing.

Genetic testing is a blood sample that investigates any alterations in proteins associated with the mutation. The results of this test can take several weeks to obtain. The cost of the test can range up into the thousands of dollars and may or may not be covered by health insurance. Prior to scheduling a genetic test, it is suggested that one seeks advice from a genetic counselor for a risk assessment and psychological outcomes resulting from positive or negative test results. Results of genetic testing can lead to depression, anxiety, and/or anger. Positive results may cause one to undergo preventive surgeries with the possibility of lifelong complications. Negative results may cause one to feel survivor’s guilt associated with knowing that one is at low risk for developing cancer. According to Kate Shane-Carson, “It is also important to note that if a mutation has not been previously identified in the family, and a person has a negative BRCA1/BRCA2 test result, they and their family members may still be considered at an increased risk for cancer based on their personal and family history, due to other genetic and environmental factors for which we cannot test for or have a good understanding of at this time. In these cases, it is important for patients to talk with their genetic counselors and physicians for a complete evaluation of their personal and family history to see if increased screening and possible consideration of preventive surgery is still indicated.” The social and psychological effects of genetic testing may involve family tensions and an increase in individual surveillance of the self (e.g., issues of confidentiality of genetic testing and individual responsibility for screening).3

Because of the limited amount of information about how we individually cope with the results of genetic testing, there are some issues that we should take into consideration. First, you may want to investigate your own individual risk factors. In Jolie’s case, her family medical history motivated her to schedule a genetic test. Second, you should try to learn as much as you can about genetic testing and how you may respond to positive or negative outcomes. Third, talk to an expert or genetic counselor if you decide to move forward and make sure to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about genetic testing. Finally, you should understand that the decision to act upon results is a personal choice. For Jolie her calculated risk for developing breast cancer was 87 percent based upon a genetic test of the BRCA1 gene. Jolie was a high risk candidate for developing breast cancer and her decision to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy was a personal choice. There are several options for positive test results that range from low risk referred to as surveillance measures (e.g., screenings) to high risk referred to as prophylactic measures (e.g., surgery). Whatever personal decision you make involves physiological, psychological, social, financial, and emotional, sometimes unintended, effects for both an individual and their family that should be considered when acting upon risk information.
For more information about genetic testing, you can visit the OSU Clinical Cancer Genetics website at and/or Family HealthLink at

1 Jolie, A. (2013 May, 14). My medical choice. The New York Times, p. A25.
2 National Cancer Institute. (2009). BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer risk and genetic testing [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from
3 National Cancer Institute. (2009). BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer risk and genetic testing [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from