Friday, March 30, 2012

9 Die in a House Fire in Charleston West Virginia

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Only one operable smoke detector was found. As we all know, tenants take down smoke detectors and or let the batteries go bad. The landlord has verified that there were 8 smoke detectors in his house. In Virginia it is the law that the tenant maintains the smoke detectors and the landlord is required to provide them.

Make sure that in your lease you list the number of smoke detectors that are on the property and that you keep valid rental inspections on your properties to avoid potential questions of liability. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Facebook's New Business Pages Means Marketers Must Evolve

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The new Facebook Business Page is not only a visual transformation of the site, it is a game changer for the marketing function. The fact that Facebook will automatically transition existing business pages to the new format over the next thirty days means that marketers will have no choice but to evolve from the static "tabs" mindset to a "Timeline" mindset based on continually fresh, engaging, and authentic content.


As part of the redesign, the company has effectively shelved Facebook tabs as default landing pages, a strategy which many large corporations, small businesses, and social marketers had spent time, energy, and significant budget building out. These default tabs, while effective in certain cases for driving "likes" and other calls to action, were essentially landing pages like what you see on traditional websites.


Never content to settle for the status quo, Facebook is shaking things up by moving to a timeline design. While specific posts can be "pinned" to the top of the page, these get automatically unpinned after seven days. The idea is that continually fresh content will engage fans -- that the best way to drive fan engagement is to make marketers more engaged and having to post, monitor, and respond more often on their Business Pages.


This is good news for both fans and marketers. Facebook tabs provided a false sense of progress that marketers were "going social." In fact, tabs are basically just old website marketing elements grafted onto the social web. Most tab interactions do not get broadcast to news feed. The tab might look different depending on whether you have "liked" the Page (fan-gating) but that is not a very customized and personalized experience that establishes emotional connection with the brand.


Indeed, the vision of Facebook has never been to serve as yet another medium for brand advertisements. Facebook is the place where friends have conversations with friends, and conversations are ever-changing. Sometimes, those conversations are with brands. Other times, the conversations are about brands. Businesses which are best at telling stories and creating emotional connection with fans get talked with and talked about the most. It's that simple.


By eliminating fan-gating and no longer making it possible to apply old marketing tricks to the new medium, Facebook is issuing a challenge to all marketers: be yourself, stay in touch, tell your stories in authentic and engaging ways.


This begs the question: how do businesses come across as authentic and engaging? The key is to appeal to the issues, passions, and pain points that matter most to fans by getting highly targeted and local. Local mom and pop stores have a leg up here, but even large national and multinational brands can achieve this if they can "think global and act local." Each country, each region, even at the store level, there is a unique history and rich set of stories which can be told to reinforce the brand and even drive calls to action while maintaining a unique and authentic local voice.


Take Farmers Insurance, for example. There are plenty of wonderful stories, contests, and educational resources (such as for fire safety and saving for retirement) which can be shared on the corporate Business Page, but they have actually quantified a 6X increase in engagement level as measured by likes, comments, and shares, when these stories are shared on at the local level -- even more so when you get into posting events, celebrating specific team members, and sharing any news that is "hyper-local."

These are the kinds of brand interactions that will thrive in the new Facebook environment and the kind of content Facebook users will find interesting and thereby remember as the old guard of tabs are finally put to rest.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Virginia Woman No Lucky Duck with Insurance Fraud Scheme

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RICHMOND, VA. -- A Skippers woman, who allegedly scammed more than $120,000 
from Aflac, was not a lucky duck when she was arrested for insurance fraud. Christina 
Dickens was arrested on September 28th, 2011, by Virginia State Police Insurance 
Fraud special agents for committing multiple counts of fraud and forgery. 


Dickens was charged with 41 counts of Obtaining Money by False Pretense and 21 
counts of forging the signatures of two different physicians. In her insurance claims, the 
woman falsely represented that both she and her husband received cancer treatments.
Dickens received more $120,000 over a period spanning a year-and-a-half.
“While many of the recent insurance commercials being run on television are humorous,
insurance fraud is no laughing matter,” commented Special Agent J.S. Pruitt. “We all 
pay for insurance fraud with higher premiums and increased costs of goods and 
services.”


If you have knowledge of a fraudulent insurance scheme or suspect you may have been 
the victim of insurance fraud, report the activity to the Virginia State Police Insurance 
Fraud Program on the insurance fraud hotline at 1-877-62FRAUD (1-877-623-7283)

Virginia Woman’s Padded Insurance Claim Loses Its Fluff

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RICHMOND, VA. -- A Virginia woman’s decision to inflate, or pad, as it’s known in the 
insurance industry, a burglary claim resulted in her receiving a felony conviction for
insurance fraud. 

Kedra Lynette Speller, of Portsmouth, Va., made a claim to Traveler’s Insurance in 
which she alleged a flat screen television and a laptop computer were stolen from her 
residence. The Virginia State Police investigation revealed she never owned these 
items.  Speller had instead borrowed receipts from her sister and included them in her 
itemized listing of her burglary claim. Insurance Fraud Special Agent Russell L. Eley III
executed a search warrant in Chesapeake that revealed the items were still in her 
sister’s house. 

“While hard economic conditions may tempt individuals to pad their claims for short term 
gain,” Eley warned, “felony convictions carry long term consequences.” On Oct. 18, 
Speller was sentenced in Portsmouth Circuit Court to two years in the state penitentiary, 
all suspended upon her successful completion of one year of supervised probation.


If you have knowledge of a fraudulent insurance scheme or suspect you may have been 
the victim of insurance fraud, report the activity to the Virginia State Police Insurance 
Fraud Program on the insurance fraud hotline at 1-877-62FRAUD (1-877-623-7283)
 

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