Among McDonald’s list of epic fails, the #McDStories social media effort is perhaps the funniest, but it also offers important lessons in regard to social media.Source: Google Images

Amidst a sea of pink slime rumors and chicken slaughterhouse horror stories, McDonald’s attempted to quell buyer apprehensions and highlight the “freshness” of its produce through Twitter. According to Rick Wion, McDonald’s director of social media, the campaign goal was to  “to tell people where our food comes from.”  Instead, McDonald’s faced a tweet wave of vomit, drugs and animal cruelty.

Setting the stage

McDonald’s paid for a Promoted Trend for 24 hours on Twitter. The campaign began at midnight with the initial meetthefarmers hashtag and the tweet, “A lot of love and passion goes into producing the beef for our burgers –– proof shown here.” In this tweet, readers were directed to a video that showcased the wholesomeness of McDonald’s growers and farmers. This hashtag proved to be successful, as many farmers tweeted their thoughts and experiences. Then, at 2 p.m., McDonald’s switched gears to promote a new video and the McDStories hashtag.

Users speak their minds

Within one hour of the new hashtag, users began tweeting some hellacious and hilarious stories with the McDStories hashtag. Here’s a few examples below:

  • “My memories of walking into a McDonald’s: the sensory experience of inhaling deeply from a freshly-opened can of dog food.”
  • “Paid for my food but almost left cause I was high and convinced that the workers called the cops and were using my food as bait.”
  • “@McDonald’s scalds baby chicks alive for nuggets #MeetTheReality here & take action.”
  • “One time I walked into McDonald’s, and I could smell type II diabetes floating in the air, and I threw up.”

Damage control

Source: Google ImagesThankfully Wion and his team were monitoring the hashtag closely.  At 4 p.m., Wion’s team pulled the McDStories hashtag and re-introduced the initial meetthefarmers hashtag. At 5 p.m., mentions of #McDStories had practically disappeared with only a few dozen tweeters still chiming in.

On January 18, when the McDStories twitter effort was rolled out, 72,788 tweets mentioned McDonald’s. According to Wion, the company averages 25,000 and 30,000 mentions daily. Further, only 1,600 tweets included the #McDStories hashtag –– that’s just two percent of total mentions.

Social media lessons learned

  • Keep calm. Admittedly, if I were Wion, I would have packed my desk and started looking for a new job. Before you flip out, access the situation and react accordingly. Of course, this can be difficult with people bashing your company in real time and your CEO breathing down your neck, but a cool head and a calm demeanor can make a huge difference.
  • Know you can’t control the message. A television commercial offers no room for audiences to react (for the most part). On the other hand, social media is a entirely different animal. Social media campaigns have the power to grow and evolve based on users’ responses. Ensure your boss understands this before moving forward.
  • Continuously monitor. If Wion and his team weren’t monitoring the hashtag, the problem could have grown into an epidemic, threatening their company’s reputation, image and bottom line.

Sprawling across floors, slinking around corners and slipping beneath doors, hospital infections are scary but near 100 percent preventable. Unfortunately, not all hospitals are taking the proper precautions to protect patients from deadly infections. Source: Google Images

Approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections occur each year in the United States. Among the varying hospital infections, central-line infections are perhaps the most deadly. Central-line infections are responsible for about 30 percent of the 99,000 annual hospital-infection-related deaths. Of those who survive, central-line infections consume a patients’ time with debilitating treatments and side effects. According to Consumer Reports Health, these bloodstream infections are acquired through the large intravenous catheters that deliver medication, nutrition and fluids to patients in intensive care.

How central-line infections happen

When patients enter intensive care, it’s probable they need medications and fluids — and fast! Central lines are long, flexible catheters that usually stay in a patient’s vein for a few days to even a few months. Every time a doctor or nurse touches the line or skin surrounding it, bacteria can spread, causing sepsis an infection of the bloodstream. Of those diagnosed with sepsis, 50 percent will die.

Many believed central-line infections were unpreventable, but a dedicated group of hospital reformers have disproven this and found hospitals can decrease their infection rate to zero or close to it. Skeptical? Click here to view a list of hospitals that report zero central-line infections.

The checklist that saves lives

So, how can hospitals guard against infection? After years of research, Peter Pronovost, M.D.,Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins created a simple five-step checklist to help hospitals protect their patients from deadly central line infections. Through the dissemination of this simple checklist for doctors, hospitals are now equipped with the essential instructions to better protect patients and safeguard against infections.

You may think a list of guidelines cannot save lives, but according to Consumer Reports Health, the checklist can cut infections introduced through central lines by two-thirds and save thousands of lives.

How you can protect loved ones 

First refer to the Hospital Ratings list provided by Consumer Reports Health. Check the infection rates of local hospitals in your area and choose the hospital with the lowest one. Also, ensure that you or another caregiver, adhere to the following list of guidelines to prevent infection: Source: Google Images

  • Caregivers should wash their hands with soap or an alcohol-based solution before touching a patient
  • Caregivers should ware sterile gloves before touching any catheters and check to see that dressings are in place.
  • Follow the Pronovost checklist in cases where a central line is needed
  • Remove devices that enter the body, including central lines and urinary catheters as soon as they’re no longer needed.

 Aligned with wellness

Protecting yourself and your loved ones goes hand-in-hand with physical and emotional wellness; infections weaken the body and mind. To keep yourself fit and well, guard against infection by ensuring your doctor is adhering to the five-step checklist for doctors above. Aside from this, be sure you research hospitals in your area to ensure you are visiting a safe and clean facility.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about until I looked out the window. I just had to write a blog about the sun!

Did you know it is impossible to get significant amounts of vitamin D just from your diet alone? Vitamin D has been called one of the body’s most important “healing chemical,” as it prevents depression, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Your body doesn’t make vitamin D; it is produced by your skin in response to sun exposure.

Sun safety 

As everyone knows, over-exposure to the sun can harm rather than help. I have pale skin, and for me, it’s difficult to spend any amount of time in the sun without getting sunburn or more freckles! So, if you’re like me or looking to get some extra healthy rays, check out the following tips from Reader’s Digest:Source: Google Images

  1. Wear sunblock– Apply sunblock from head to toe. This way, your skin will be protected from UVA and UVB rays. Limit your time in the sun and re-apply sunblock as recommended.
  2. Avoid wearing perfume in the sun– Oils made from musk, sandalwood, bergamot, citrus and vanilla can be chemically changed by the sun, which can trigger an allergic rash. Scents in soaps and shaving cream can also be problematic.
  3. Limit sun exposure– Spend no more than 30 to 60 minutes in the sun per day. In doing so, you can get a healthy dose of Vitamin D without putting yourself at risk for skin damage or cancer.
  4. Nourish your skin after exposure– After you’ve been out in the sun, apply vitamin E oil. Vitamin E prevents age spots by neutralizing skin-damaging free radicals.
  5. Avoid anti-inflammatory drugs– Avoid over-the-counter painkillers; ask your doctor about alternatives. Prescription arthritis drugs and over-the-counter painkillers can make you more vulnerable to sunburn.

What does this have to do with wellness?

Vitamin D is strongly tied with the emotional element of wellness. Catching a few extra rays will enable your body to produce more Vitamin D, which can prevent depression and boost your mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition in which an individual experiences episodes of depression during certain times of the year. Usually, SAD is most prominent during the winter months. The lack of sunlight during the year could be a contributing factor to this.

Think you might suffer from SAD? Read the following symptoms outlined by The U.S. National Library of Medicine to see if you might suffer from SAD, but, as always, consult seek a professional opinion from your primary care physician.

Symptoms include:

  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability.

 Take care of yourself

Although a few extra rays of sun could be good for you, be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat a well balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Source: Google Images

Behavior change is perhaps the most difficult task to accomplish. Regardless if you are working to become healthier or persuading people to become healthier,  “change” is easier said than done.

I have recently earned a position on a team with four other public relations students at Kent State University.
As a team, we are competing in the 2012 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Bateman Competition. We have been charged to “creatively engage children, parents, health professionals and local leaders in their communities to encourage the adoption of healthy nutrition and exercise behaviors among individuals and youth.”

The catch: Our team (PRKent Bateman) has only one month to implement our campaign, which must show measurable results within our community.

Background on childhood obesity

According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), during the past 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled in the United States. Approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents ages two to 19 are obese. Children diagnosed with obesity are more likely to have high blood pressure and type II diabetes. More than one in three children born in 2000 will eventually be diagnosed with diabetes. Children who are obese will likely continue to be obese in adulthood, prompting serious health consequences, such as heart and kidney disease. Obesity in childhood can result in discrimination from peers and poor self-esteem.

Self-esteem is an important aspect of emotional wellness. An overweight child is especially vulnerable to emotional issues and discrimination from peers, which makes PRKent Bateman’s task even more difficult to accomplish. PRKent Bateman must determine how to successfully communicate with parents and children about this sensitive issue in order to stimulate lasting behavioral change.

Pat Jackson’s five-step process to stimulate behavior change

In order for any campaign focused on behavior change to be successful, public relations practitioners must understand the adoption process, which is comprised of five steps:

  1. Building awareness. One can build awareness through communication techniques, such as print promotions, social media and face-to-face communication.
  2. Developing a latent readiness. ­At this stage, your audience will begin to form opinions based on the campaign’s key messages.
  3. Triggering event.  This event can be natural or staged, but, either way, it should make your audience want to change their behavior.
  4. Intermediate behavior. Your audience will explore their options and seek out further information in regard to the campaign’s key messages.
  5. Behavioral change. Your audience will adopt the intended behavior.

From theory to practice

Childhood obesity is a sensitive issue to discuss. Thus, PRKent Bateman has spent weeks researching its target audience before attempting to build awareness about the issue. As with any public relations campaign, it’s important to first research your audience before building strategies and tactics.

Through its research PRKent Bateman has determined that “making the healthy choice the easy choice” and focusing on “healthy living” is the best way to communicate with its target audiences.  Based on its research, PRKent Bateman has developed a measurable, scalable, replicable and sustainable public relations program. When successful, PRKent Bateman’s program may be implemented on a larger scale to have a greater impact on family wellness.

Family wellness

It seems everyone is looking for a way to become faster, stronger or better. In search for the perfect body and/or perfect health, many people may turn to supplements. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone refer to supplements as “just a vitamin.” Supplements may seem like a safer, healthier option to substitute for prescription drugs, but they have deadly side effects. Each year, consumers unknowingly purchase and ingest heavy metals, pesticides and toxins.

Source: Google ImagesAccording to the Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication, consumers spent about $26.7 billion on supplements in 2009. Unfortunately, the quick pop of a pill can often result in kidney failure, liver disease, heart problems and death. Did you know supplement manufactures can legally sell products without proving that they are safe and effective? Consider that fact the next time you pick up a supplement bottle.

The so-called “natural” supplement

You may find yourself standing in an aisle of a grocery store mulling over an “all natural supplement purchase.” When you do, ignore that attractive packaging, put the product down and walk away.  According to Consumer Reports Health, there are more than 54,000 dietary supplements featured in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD). Only about one-third of these supplements have some level of “safety and effectiveness” backed by scientific evidence. Furthermore, about 12 percent have been linked to safety issues.

It is illegal for supplement manufactures to claim that its products can prevent, treat or cure any disease.  Despite the legal concerns, some companies continue to contend that its products can prevent, treat and cure diseases. According to Consumer Reports Health, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed or settled 30 cases against supplement manufactures in regard to exaggerated and/or fictitious claims.

How you can protect yourself

Consumer Reports Health outlines the following steps to help consumers identify safe supplements:

  • Consult with your doctor or pharmacist. As with any medical issue/situation, it is best to consult with your doctor.
  • Beware of weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding supplements. According to the FDA, these supplements often contain steroids and prescription drugs. According to the FDA, manufactures have recalled more than 40 weight-loss, 50 sexual-enhancement and 80 bodybuilding supplements in the past two years.
  • Look for the “USP Verified” mark.  Products with this mark have been tested and verified for quality, purity and potency by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit, standard-setting authority.
  • Don’t assume more is better.  Despite popular belief, it is possible to overdose on vitamins.
  • Report problems. Let your doctor know if you experience any negative side effects. If you experience serious side effects, ask your pharmacist or doctor to make a report to the FDA.
  • Research in the right places. The Internet is filled with rumors, assumptions and opinions. For reliable information, refer to The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, the FDA and Consumer Reports Health’s dietary supplements and health products information.

Recommended supplements

Consumer Reports Health has listed 11 popular supplements that have proven to be safe and effective for certain conditions. Although, as always, consult with your doctor and do your research before taking any supplement.

The Wrap-up

To achieve wellness, is best to avoid taking any dietary supplements. In my opinion, the risks outweigh the benefits. I believe one can become healthier with a balanced diet, regular exercise and a positive attitude.

Have you had any negative experiences with supplements? If so, what happened?

Background taken from Google Images

Take a look at your hand, and make a fist: this is the size of your heart. It may seem small, but don’t underestimate the power of this muscle. At a rate of 100,000 beats per day, your heart works hard to pump blood and nutrients throughout your entire body.

Since 1963, the month of February has been celebrated as American Heart Month. This year, take a moment each day to consider what you’ve been doing to keep your heart healthy. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends the following tips to help you and your loved ones fight heart disease:Source: Google Images

  • Stop smoking. Smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease so kick that bad habit!
  • Lower your blood pressure. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked periodically.
  • Reduce your cholesterol. Keep your cholesterol levels under control by maintaining a healthy weight. Be sure you know your cholesterol levels.
  • Work toward a healthy weight. Eat healthy and exercise!

Contrary to popular belief, most heart attacks begin slowly with only slight pain or discomfort. Often, people affected don’t understand what they’re feeling and wait too long before seeking medical attention. The American Heart Association outlines the following indicators of a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in the upper body. Symptoms include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath may occur with or without chest discomfort.

Heart health is an important aspect of physical wellness. To be active, happy and healthy, you must take care of your heart! Try incorporating yoga into your weekly exercise routine; it’s great way to reduce stress and improve your heart health. Read Yoga Can Keep Your Heart Healthy by ShiningSoulYoga to learn more about the relationship between yoga and heart health.

Source: Google Images

When most people think of heart-healthy food, they may think of cardboard. Luckily, heart-healthy food can be flavorful, tasty and delicious. The NHLBI has provided a list of more than 100 recipes for you to prepare at home. This list includes vegetarian options, deserts and beverages. Check out one of my favorite recipes from the NHLBI:

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Ingredients:

Heart health and wellness

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ½ teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper, crushed, dried
  • 2 teaspoon oregano, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, pureed or finely chopped
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 8 pieces of skinless chicken

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Then, rub seasoning over chicken and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for six hours or longer.

3. Evenly space chicken on a nonstick or lightly greased baking pan.

4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an added 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat can be easily pulled away from the bone with a fork.

Wellness: It’s something everyone wants but not everyone can achieve.

Right?

Wrong.

Anyone can secure a happier, healthier future. Wellness is easy to achieve. Often, people feel overwhelmed just thinking about making lifestyle changes, but these changes don’t have to be boring or difficult. Lifestyle changes, such as choosing to work out, eat healthy and relax with friends can be fun and easy! Build your path toward wellness by taking small steps toward a healthier lifestyle. For example, choose to take the stairs over the elevator, choose a side of broccoli over fries and choose to stop stressing over things you cannot change. In my personal life, I’ve found it’s often the smallest changes that yield the biggest results.

In this first post, I’ve outlined the six elements of wellness that I believe are the most necessary to achieve a healthy body, mind and soul. So, check them out, and start building your path toward wellness today!

Social Wellness

Source: Google ImagesTo achieve social wellness, maintain healthy connections with your networks of friends, family and co-workers. Step back from work, and find time to visit with friends. Take a moment to enjoy life and the relationships you’ve built with others.

 

Spiritual Wellness

Source: Google Images

Spiritual wellness is being at peace with the values and beliefs that guide your life. Build your path to spiritual wellness by listening to your heart and pursuing what feels right. Some find peace, comfort and strength in religion. Some use mediation for mental clarity, increased energy and inner peace.  Your spirit is your guiding force; it is the essence of who you are. How will you achieve spiritual wellness? What does your path look like?

Emotional Wellness

Emotions can be difficult to manage. Emotional wellness, at is core, is the ability to express emotions in a healthy manner. Talking about your feelings is one of the best ways to achieve emotional wellness. Whether your happy, excited, sad or a little blue, just let out. Helpguide.org, a helpful nonprofit health resource,  offers a list of easy tips to help you kick emotional stress.

Environmental Wellness

Source: Google ImagesAre you experiencing extra stress in your life? If clutter is dominating your life it may be best to simplify your space.  As some would say, a clear space makes for a clear mind. To achieve environmental wellness, you must feel comfortable, relaxed and at peace in your own space.

A fun way to achieve environmental wellness is to incorporate some Feng Shui into your life. Check out Katy Allgeyer’s blog Feng Shui by Fishgirl for her top 10 Feng Shui tips. With more than 20 years of Feng Shui experience, you know her tips have got to be good!

Financial Wellness

Money. It’s a crime, as sung by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Money seems to be the root of many problems today. To achieve financial wellness, stop stressing about money and start practicing some healthy financial behaviors. Read Trent Hamm’s The Simple Dollar blog to learn some simple techniques to reduce financial stress and gain financial wellness.

Physical Wellness

Eating healthy and exercising regularly are like two peas in a pod. They go hand-in-hand, and they make up the state of physical well-being. As always, you should consult with your primary care physician before dieting or exercising.  How will you build your path to physical wellness? For healthy, creative recipe ideas visit the  Jen Eats to Get Healthy blog. Warning: These recipes aren’t your typical diet food; they’re better!

Source: Google Images

The Wrap-up

So, what have I missed? What do I need to add to this piece?

How will you build your path to a healthy body, mind and soul?