Red Cross Sets Facebook Photos on Fire to Raise Awareness


One snap of a button can capture a moment for eternity. A memory that you can look back on and smile at because just glancing at the picture brings back the emotions of that moment in time.

Everyone always says that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when you think about it, a photograph is more than that. The average human being meets 67,890 people in their lifetime and in this new world of buzzing technology and constant contact, we sometimes cannot remember the people we met last week. So what does a photograph really do?

Photographs are powerful reminders of the little joys of life. They make you feel alive again. But in 80 seconds, all of your precious memories could be gone because of a house fire.

Today, to honor the people who have lost their favorite memories, the American Red Cross is setting the internet on fire.

By visiting, users will experience a virtual blaze that burns Facebook users’ most cherished photos. We hope that this will be a shocking wake-up call to the public. Home fires are the single largest disaster that the Red Cross responds to across the nation and for the unfortunate victims there is not always a way to recover their memories.

Research shows that the two things fire victims miss the most after a disaster is the people they love if they lost anyone and the pictures they loved that got disintegrated. This experience does not delete your Facebook photographs but it is a powerful vision. A vision that is a harsh reality for many people every day in your community—and the problem is spreading. This year, the Red Cross responds to 10% more home fires than we did six years ago.

You can help us spread hope. You can help save a family from a burning home in less than 80 seconds by sharing this experience with your friends and loved ones. And if you are so inspired, you can donate to the Red Cross and help fund relief for fire victims in your community or across the nation.

Please share this experience with your friends and family. In fact, why don’t you sit down and take a few minutes to share a photo album with someone close to you. It doesn’t matter if it is a Facebook album of your high school graduation or a handcrafted scrapbook of your first family road trip that took far too many wrong turns—just as long as you share your story with someone.

Because for 70,000 people every single year, this is not a virtual experience.

And it could happen to you.

Posted in DePaul PRSSA, Personal, Public Relations, Red Cross, Social Media, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advice for the February Blues

The February Blues are a common problem for people for many reasons. There is Valentine’s Day or as many bitter people like to say, “Single Awareness Day”, that evokes a lot of emotional issues and justified high-calorie consumption. There is this absurd and sarcastic Chicago weather that likes to further toy with our emotions by being 6o degrees and sunny one day and snowing and icy the next. The school quarter has hit the point of no return as finals near and class content becomes stale. Commuting to work has become like receiving a flu shot. It’s election time. Etcetera.

via Chicago Red Cross Flickr

Lately I’ve been in a low point; both in my work and my personal life. We all know that one tends to influence the other or at least one side will keep you sane enough to make it through the problems the other one presents. However when both are in the gutter, life can seem like an eternal spiral to the bottom of the lake. Conveniently jumping into Lake Michigan to solve my problems was not an option because of the ice.

When you have problems, everyone wants to put in their two cents. Well I for one am not a piggy bank. My life happens to be full of great advice that I never take.

I’ve received advice on how to move forward from my boss, my roommate, my friends and my mom. I’ve also received advice from my favorite local iHop waitress, people at the Sheridan red line stop, the Starbucks barista at Barnes & Nobles, and random people that think I look sad and decide that trying to solve my life problems will be their “good deed” for the day.

Whether you are in a rut like myself or you are just sick of the cold weather, I am going to give you three pieces of advice that I have received throughout the past four days. Take it or leave it. Sometimes you just have to learn from your mistakes and move forward without other people telling you how to solve your problems. Advice is subjective.

Johanna—the roommate—Laughter is the best medicine.

This is more of experiential learning advice. When the world comes crashing down and the bad news builds up, sometimes the best release is laughter. You know those circumstances that are so horrible and ridiculous that all you can do is laugh? It’s because you need something to take away the tension. Sometimes the only thing that can fix a situation is a case of the giggles. And hot chips.

Jackie—the boss—Look for the positives in change.

Career wise this advice is something to commit to memory. When our Marketing and Communications team at the Chicago Red Cross lost half of our staff, we had to take a second to consider the consequences. Jackie taught me that if you can analyze the situation and figure out the positive potential outcomes, not only will you more than likely be able to implement those changes but you will also get to be in charge. Our team saw a chance to restructure. How would an ideal work day for Martha and Jackie operate? Once they figured that out, they were able to restructure the two new job descriptions to ensure maximum work efficiency. Look for the positives even in the worst of a situation and then you can forge your own change.

via Saumacus Flickr

Random Man on the Sheridan Red Line StopGive yourself a break.

A guy in a dark navy blue hoodie and grey skinny jeans came up to me this morning and, I kid you not, smacked me on the back of the head with a rolled up Red Eye paper. Rude. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to stop crying and tell him what was wrong because I was “too pretty to have mascara stains at 9:30 in the morning.” He asked for it…and after a long-winded rant and a large range of emotions to the point where I was literally using more curse words than nouns, he stopped me. “Give yourself a break. You are too young to even start thinking about how your ten year career plan is going down the drain. Anyone who doesn’t want to be with you is an idiot or just actually needs time. You need time. For yourself. You’re moving a million miles an hour. Stop. Got it?”

Best advice I have ever received and I didn’t even know the guy.

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Red Cross is #GettngSlizzerd

Reposted from — My favs.

“Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard
Sippin sizzurp in my ride, in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6.”
-Like a G6, Far East Movement

I can only imagine this is the theme song of the week for the National Red Cross.

On February 15th, the @RedCross sent out an unusual tweet at 11:24PM with the hashtag #gettngslizzerd. No—there wasn’t a new emergency at hand although I’m pretty sure there are a few safety tips that the organization could offer to prepare the country for #gettngslizzerd. The only problem at hand was an accidental tweet that was meant to come from a staff member’s personal account.

We’ve all been there. If you have control over more than one Twitter account, you know how difficult it can be to keep your tweets, audiences and mentions separate. Whether you use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or another multi-network platform, keeping more than one account updated and conversational takes skill.

Any company should take note of how the Red Cross handled this small social media fiasco. When Wendy Harman, Director of Social Media, received calls about the tweet in the middle of the night she immediately took it down. However, everyone knows that when you delete a tweet, it still lives on in the Twitterverse and when you have the reach of the Red Cross, word spreads fast. Not only did the Red Cross apologize for the “rogue tweet” but they handled the situation with humor.

The Red Cross took their mistake a step further by writing a quick blog post that acknowledged their mistake. In it they recognized that while they are “a 130 year old humanitarian organization”, they are still “made of up human beings”. This Twitter faux pas is a valuable lesson to all companies who believe that deleting a tweet or Facebook post is enough to hide the damage. The social media world understands that no one is perfect but they will notice if you are not responsible for your mistakes.

Dog Fish Beer has also been a huge help to the Red Cross by actually encouraging donations. The online beer community has been rapid to comment with light-hearted jokes about the situation.

This is a great lesson in crisis communications—Don’t make a problem bigger than it needs to be. Tweeting about drinking beer from the Red Cross account was a simple mistake that could happen to anyone. Granted, it was unfortunate that it happened on an account that has significant reach and is seen as a news source to the public. But we are only human.

I can see how this example could scare some companies away from embracing social media. There is no control on the direction dialogue takes after a tweet is posted. However, this example shows that if handled correctly, a mistake can actually turn into a blessing in disguise. The social media community is forgiving by nature if they believe that the company/organization has good intentions. And now there is further awareness to the fact that the Red Cross needs blood donations. See how a mistake can turn into good?

Now that the largest humanitarian organization in the world has mistweeted, its time to own up.  Have you ever tweeted from a client/organizations account when you meant to keep it personal? Share your story because let’s be honest, it really is funny.

My biggest mistake? As a Red Cross communicator for the Chicago chapter, I checked into Popeyes from the Chicago Red Cross account with the caption: “In a cab. In the drive through. With Rob & Trifon.” And yes, this went to both Twitter and Facebook and unlike the National Red Cross, I did not put out an apology for my mistake. I’m sure there are still some followers who are confused as to why the Chicago Red Cross was being completely lazy by picking up fried chicken in a cab. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Read more: #GettngSlizzerd

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Valentine’s Day & the Last 67

67 days ago I posted my last blog post. Ouch.

In those 67 days, a New Year snuck up and caught me by surprise, the Chicago Blizzard tried to blow me away, I did not receive the job of my dreams, I lost my way, and then the last two weeks I ended up in the ER.

However, in those 67 days, I have also gone home and seen my family after a year of staying away from the farm, found a guy that drives me crazy, realized that everyone needs time to recover, learned to appreciate my skill sets and capabilities, experienced crowdsourcing like never before as I connect families and friends together there were stranded on Lake Shore Drive through the @ChicagoRedCross Twitter account, and found out that my health, regardless of what I say, is extremely important.

But most importantly, I learned that I cannot do it all.

So 67 days and I’m finally healthy. And today is Valentine’s Day or as so many bitter people have texted me, “singles awareness day”. And for once, I have a date than I actually want to go on.

Excuse me while I go get pretty and smile like a silly little girl. I’ll start posting again this week and try to be more consistent.

love & social media, Lauren

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Top Google Chrome Web Store Apps

Experience Waitlessness

Can I have it?

The Chrome OS is looking for users to test pilot their new operating systems. The only problem is that you have to basically “live on the web” to qualify. Thankfully, Google has provided a fun little quiz to test your shelf life on the internet. I received “Totally on the Web” which means that I am online more than your average user and probably that I am a bit aggressive about it.

If you have decided to wait for the Chrome Notebooks to come to the market, then you might be interested in checking out the new Google Chrome Web Store that has hundreds of apps ready to be downloaded to your desktop. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Springpad (+ extension)

Okay, if you are a bookmarking freak like myself, this is the application for gold. Once you download the browser app and the extension, all you have to do is right click and you can save a picture or page to your Springpad home page. From there, you can organize notes into notebooks. For example, I have a notebook called “Inspiration” where I save all of my crazy photos and quotes to reflect on later, and I have one called “DigitatePR” where I have a bunch of check list “To-Do’s” and reminders. The awesome part is that Springpad transfers right to your phone and you can set up reminders to email yourself when a project is due.


For all of the Gilt fans out there, you are now in luck. Basically this app allows you to search for anything you want and it will bring up any relevant daily deals. You can additionally add columns which are essentially lists of what merchandise you are looking for. So download and start bringing in the deals!


Classic. We all know that it is imperative to wake up at least two hours early before work and just read the news (especially in PR and media). The NYTimes app makes this incredibly easy for navigation purposes and just reading in general. The background is solid white and the categories are on a side bar. Simple and smart; the only way the NYT knows how to do it.

Pivotal Tracker

I haven’t actually downloaded this app but it looks brilliant and has gotten great reviews. Pivotal Tracker is a project management app that allows team members to collaborate on the same project and it feeds in real-time comments and updates. It cuts out the back and forth of conversation about managing and monitoring and allows developers to actually work on their project with speed and efficiency. If anyone has actually used the app, let me know what you think!

Route 50

Best. App. Ever. That’s all I’m going to say. Take a look for yourself.


Long story short: Check out the Google Chrome Web Store and spend a few glorious hours surfing around and downloading apps to your desktop. Let’s face it, when it’s below 15 degrees all day, everyday (thank you Chicago…), cozy up on the couch, drink some hot chocolate, and download some apps that will ultimately make your life a little bit easier.

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December 6th – Make #Reverb10

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? – #Reverb10

The last thing I made was a dress out of money.

Yellow Fanta Girl and Greed

$101.00 to be exact and a five dollar check.

This project was obviously for Halloween and it took a good one hour to wrap my roommate in money and tape. She was curling her hair in our extremely small bathroom while I was running around her taping single dollar bills to her dress.

On the other hand, I was duct taped into my dress and painted yellow. All this tireless work just because I could not find yellow tape at the store. Being creative and having zero common sense does not make for a successful night. Both my roommate and I were hardly able to move all night. At least we were cute?

I love to paint and sketch. If I were given 48 hours in a day, I would spend the extra hours to just sketch the world around me. I used to sit by the reservoir near my house in Maryland and just mindlessly draw the ripples in the water and the trees. Now I feel like the lights and sharp lines of the city are just calling to be drawn… I need those extra hours to fulfill my artistic needs.


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December 5th – Let Go #Reverb10

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?#Reverb10

This would be the prompt that I decide to start #Reverb10 on; I never choose anything easy to start with in life.

So…what did I actually let go of this year? The past two months seem like a year in themselves. In reality, this past year has changed me completely; more than any other time period so far in my life.

Explained with pictures and captions:


“Fake” love of a three year relationship.

The break up and three days of grieving for three years.



Trying the actually find happiness. And succeeding.

So what did I let go this year? I let go of this notion that I should have to settle. And now that I know that I deserve to find real happiness, I am ready for the new year.


“If you are trapped between your feelings and what other people think is right, always go for whatever makes you happy.

Unless you want everyone to be happy except for you.”

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