Wireless Technology Can Assist When Skies Turn Stormy

By Kevin Schuster

It is 6:30 p.m. on a sunny, late spring evening. Kids are playing baseball, softball and soccer. Families are eating dinner. Suddenly, the wind increases. The skies quickly darken. Severe weather is on the way.

People continue to rely on their wireless devices to learn about pending storms, prepare for severe weather and recover from disasters. Last year, 92 percent of smartphone owners used their device to check the current weather or forecast once a month or more, according to a U.S. Cellular survey.

During severe weather, smartphones and tablets provide quick access to a host of free apps. These devices also easily pull up websites and emergency information that can help keep you and your family safe and connected. It’s a good idea to have a few key apps downloaded on your device to make sure you are prepared when a storm hits.

In recognition of Severe Weather Awareness Week through Friday in Nebraska and Iowa, U.S. Cellular suggests the following tips and free apps to help families prepare for thunderstorms and tornadoes.

• Stay App on Changing Weather Conditions: The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, WeatherBug, MyRadar Weather Radar and Yahoo Weather are among the leading free apps available on iTunes and the Google Play store to help keep people ahead of storms. These apps offer a variety of services that include past, current and future radar conditions, notifications and alerts, as well as interactive weather maps. This information is at your fingertips in a matter of seconds with a 4G LTE network.

• Get Emergency Alerts: U.S. Cellular customers with CMAS capable smartphones, such as the 4G LTE iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5, can receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) – also called the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS). This is a free service created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

• Texting Time: If phone service is impacted by a high volume of calls during a storm, try to send a text message. Because texting takes up less network bandwidth than calls, customers can often text successfully even if they can’t place or receive calls.

• Prepare, Recover: The American Red Cross has a free app to help people prepare for storms, track the weather and request assistance during and after a storm. The Red Cross app also has a section where people can learn how they can help storm victims by donating items and listing volunteer opportunities.

 

— Kevin Schuster, who knows plenty about severe weather from his Grand Island childhood and can tell you what an EF4 tornado sounds like, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Iowa and Nebraska.

 

 

 

April 15 Does Not Have to Be Taxing Day

The winter and early spring can be taxing for many reasons, including Tax Day on April 15.

The federal tax filing deadline still looms for many. On the bright side, the Internal Revenue Service has forecast higher tax refunds for the average American thanks to the recent extension of many tax breaks. According to a Saving to Invest story, the average 2014 tax refund was $3,116. It is expected to reach $3,295 in 2015.

How can you get your billions back (sorry H&R Block, I could not resist)? The IRS reported that 27 million people e-filed their 2014 taxes. The right mobile device and apps can help people become organized, plus file their tax return efficiently and accurately.

To stay on top of your deductions, estimate your payments and monitor your filings, Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners’ client U.S. Cellular recommends the following free tools for your mobile devices:

• H&R Block for iPad: Prepare, print and e-file your federal return with this app specifically designed for the Apple tablet. H&R Block will double check your return for accuracy and provide free audit support should the IRS come calling.

• MyTaxRefund by Turbo Tax: This iOS and Android app allows you to quickly check e-file status of federal and state returns, so you can count the days until your refund arrives. This app requires an electronic tax filing.

• Slice: Are you an online shopper? This iOS and Android receipt and package-tracking app scans your Gmail or Yahoo account for emailed receipts. You can track and sort purchases and stay on top of tax deductions throughout the year.

 

— Kevin Schuster, who needs an accountant app to help him finish the family 2014 tax return, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Iowa and Nebraska.

 

 

 

Wearables Are New Techno Fashion Wave

Who does not want to be trendy?

Wearables are a hot new trend for 2015. They blend fashion, technology and function to help people stay active, healthy and connected.

According to a recent ABI Research report, wearable health and fitness devices are expected to hit 169.5 million in five years, a huge jump from the nearly 21 million devices sold in 2013. Experts attribute this tremendous techno tide to the expansion of companies that have joined the wearables marketplace, such as online service providers, consumer electronics companies and mobile handset vendors.

Industry experts also predict a rise in wearable technologies with additional functions, such as managing chronic health conditions and monitoring your home when you are away.

Lukas Partners client U.S. Cellular recommends the following wearables to help keep you connected and healthy in 2015. Not to mention, these wearables will keep you hip.

 

– iWatch: The new Apple Watch takes the most innovative technologies and moves them from the palm of your hand to your wrist. Apple’s first wearable gadget allows users to access emails, texts, social media updates, apps, navigation and Siri. It also features health sensors and notifications for easy, hands-free fitness tracking.

– Polar Loop Fitness Band for Apple: You can use this custom fit device for 24/7 tracking of daily activities, such as calories burned, steps taken and sleep cycles. The activity benefit associated with this device provides great feedback on daily, weekly and monthly goals.

– Moto 360: Motorola brings functionality to your wrist. You can strap on these high-tech watches available with leather or stainless steel bands and a Corning Gorilla glass face to help prevent scratches. Users can take hands-free calls, listen to music, track mileage, take pictures and videos and check texts, emails and social media.

 

The techno fashion-less Kevin Schuster, who does have the Runtastic app on his Samsung Galaxy S5 to help him stay fit, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Iowa and Nebraska.

 

 

Resolutions Can Become Routines with These Apps

By Kevin Schuster

Eat healthy food, get fit, lose weight, manage stress and save money are popular New Year’s Resolutions.

The opportunity to achieve your goals has been enhanced thanks to today’s technology and smartphones, which offer apps and products to help keep you on track and increase the likelihood of sticking with a resolution throughout the year.

If you need help sticking with some common New Year’s Resolutions, our U.S. Cellular friends recommend the following free apps for your smartphone and tablet:

– Get fit: Do you want to get back in shape, eat better or workout more in 2015? Consider the Runtastic Six Pack app. This app allows users to work out from home by creating custom exercises with a virtual personal trainer. You can pair the Runtastic Six Pack app and its 50 workout videos with the UP by Jawbone fitness wristband to track what you eat, your activities throughout the day and your sleeping habits.

– Get organized: In today’s society, it can be hard to keep things in order. The Any.do app is an award winner that is perfect for enhancing a to-do list. Any.do allows users to create lists of tasks that need to be completed and organize them by category and importance. An alarm can be set for any task.

– Spend more time with family: Many people make a resolution to see more of their family throughout the year. The GroupMe app allows everyone in the family to stay in touch and make plans, no matter where in the United States they are located. GroupMe allows users to create several groups in which each member can share events, photos, videos and texts.

– Manage finances: According to a U.S. Cellular survey, 43 percent of smartphone users made the resolution to save money in 2014. In 2015, smartphone owners can accomplish that with the Check app. The app allows users to link bills, bank accounts and credit cards. The Check app then notifies users of when a payment is coming up and even lets users set up automatic payments.

This week is an ideal time to reflect, set goals and decide what you really want to accomplish in 2015. A great first resolution is to explore how using your smartphone paired with these great apps can help you achieve your goals in the new year.

Kevin Schuster, who can’t remember his broken 2014 resolutions, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Iowa and Nebraska.

 

 

 

It’s All Good

There are numerous acts of good that occur on a daily basis.

Last week, Lukas Partners client U.S. Cellular witnessed the good greater Des Moines has to offer and rewarded various people with its “30 Days of Good” program.

U.S. Cellular, through the acts of giver Colleen Reilly along with a small team, gave away $100,000 across four cities to celebrate and reward people who “do good” throughout the year. The project aims to inspire others into the giving spirit and celebrate the communities U.S. Cellular serves.

U.S. Cellular and the “30 Days of Good” team surprised greater Des Moines community members last Sunday and Monday at various locations. I was with the “30 Days of Good” team last Monday for inspirational stops at Dress for Success and Blank Children’s Hospital.

Dress for Success provides professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help women thrive in work and life. The “30 Days of Good” team provided five women with gift bags that included laptops, tools to organize their desks and office wear.

The “30 Days of Good” team wheeled in a large cart of toys and clothes to the Blank Children’s Hospital lobby later in the day. The team also purchased coffee for patrons at local stores.

“It’s about spreading good will, cheer and thanking the people who do good in our community,” U.S. Cellular Field Marketing Manager Jody Duke said.

If you need a holiday lift, I encourage you to check out stories and photos from U.S. Cellular’s visits to Des Moines, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Knoxville, Tennessee, at www.30daysofgood.com. Milwaukee was the fourth city U.S. Cellular ventured to for this program.

The final “30 Days of Good” story will be posted on Christmas Day. I would like to thank U.S. Cellular for this program, which is beyond good.

  

— Kevin Schuster is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Iowa and Nebraska.

 

 

 

Be Entertained, Fit with Gift of Apps, Accessories

By Kevin Schuster

The best gifts complement what people already like to do.

That is sound holiday shopping advice. Although holiday shoppers get bogged down by the frenzy that accompanies the so-called “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” one way to simplify this crazy month is to give apps and accessories for mobile devices.

After all, 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone and 42 percent own a tablet, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Based on current trends in the cellphone industry, the experts at Lukas Partners client U.S. Cellular suggest the following apps and accessories to help your loved ones get the most out of their devices this holiday.


ENTERTAINMENT

– Moga Pro Power: Gamers attach their Android smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, to this handheld game console and use its precision controls to play games.

Moto TC Rally App & Car: Working with the Griffin TC MOTO Rally Car, this app allows you to race alone or compete against an opponent.

 

MUSIC

– Beats Solo HD 2 Headphones: Lightweight and compact, these colorful headphones are durable and comfortable.

JBL Flip 2: This wireless, rechargeable battery powered speaker brings rich sound to any on-the-go lifestyle.

 

HEALTH AND FITNESS

– Jawbone UP24 Activity Tracker: This innovative wristband tracks your movement and sleep. The companion app adds data, such as meals and mood.

Withings Wireless Scale: You can get accurate and reliable weight and BMI in seconds. You also can sync the data with this app on your smartphone to set weekly goals and receive relevant tips and reminders to stay focused.

 

LIFESTYLE AND HOME

– iGrill: Android and iOS users can modernize the primal experience of grilling with the iGrill family of apps. Bluetooth Smart Technology allows users to monitor their grillables with the compact iGrill Mini, original iGrill or the 4-probe capacity iGrill.

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens System: This much-acclaimed lens system attaches to an iPhone or iPad to provide superior optics and clearer images.


As busy as the holidays can be, they are really an opportunity to give and receive gifts that can empower people to simplify their to-do lists, improve their lives and have a little fun while they are at it.

 

— Kevin Schuster, who is in the process of downloading health and fitness apps on his Samsung Galaxy S5, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including U.S. Cellular in Nebraska and Iowa.

 

 

Revolutionary Way to Learn

By Kevin Schuster

There is a stack of red “The Americans” textbooks on a shelf in Jon Comine’s social studies classroom at Platteview High School near Springfield. The 1,284-page book, which weighs 5 pounds, does not need to be stuffed into a junior’s backpack or locker. History can be accessed on a much lighter device – an iPad.

Instead of turning pages to learn about World War I, students recently showed me a trench warfare video and tank visual that spins from front to back on their iPads. Maps and 3D graphics pop off their screen. A voice can read chapters to students, who also can copy and paste text when they write an essay. 

Talk about revolutionary learning.

“If I had to go back without an electronic device, it would be rough,” said Comine, who has taught for 17 years at Platteview. “The iPad is user friendly and has many easy features.”

Instead of a notebook for each subject, Platteview students can arrange their classes with iPad folders. Remember the time when a sibling or neighbor would deliver your homework if you were sick or absent for an extended period of time? Now, there is an app for that.

“If you miss a day of school, you can go to iTunes U to get your homework,” Platteview junior Mariah Moore said. “I really don’t have to write anything down.”

A vision for Springfield Platteview Community School’s iPad learning initiative, which enters its third year, is interactive, engaging resources and classroom materials aligned with curriculum. There are various ways the iPad initiative is being utilized in district classrooms:

● After Platteview world literature students read “The Canterbury Tales,” teacher Jodie Morgenson had them retell the story in video format by using the Vine app.    

● Platteview Central Junior High School students use iTunes U to receive electronic versions of their math textbook, class notes and review videos. Teacher Jim Lynam also uploads worksheets and links them to the ShowMe app in an effort to increase review opportunities.

● Springfield Elementary School teacher Laura Corbett uses Keynote presentations and the Cranberry app to help third graders review for vocabulary tests.  

● Westmont Elementary School hosted a National Grandparents Day celebration in early September, which gave grandchildren an opportunity to show off their iPad skills.

Technology has become a vital part of life and successful businesses. It’s great to see that Platteview students – and many others – are at forefront of being able to use the skills they need to compete in their future career choice.

 

— Kevin Schuster, who occasionally pulls out an iPad to help his third-grade son with homework, is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Kevin manages public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients, including Springfield Platteview Community Schools.

 

 

 

Wounded Warriors Family Support Announces New “Mobility is Freedom” Program

Wounded Warriors Family Support has announced its “Mobility is Freedom” program — the organization’s commitment to purchase $1 million worth of mobility-equipped Ford Explorers for severely wounded veterans. Wounded Warriors Family Support, a Lukas Partners client, announced the new program on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, on Fox News’ Fox & Friends morning show.

Through “Mobility is Freedom,” Wounded Warriors Family Support will provide Ford Explorers, converted to hand-controlled operation, to combat-wounded veterans who are paralyzed or have lost both of their legs. The program aims to give wounded veterans added freedom and independence to live productive and quality lives with their families.

“Mobility is Freedom” will be the focus of Wounded Warriors Family Support’s High Five Tour 2015. Wounded Warriors Family Support’s 2015 mobility-equipped Ford Explorer will tour 48 states to rally communities to thank our country’s military veterans and support this mission. At each tour stop throughout the country in 2015, the public will be invited to show their support for military families by signing the Ford Explorer with messages of gratitude to our country’s veterans and their families.

To learn more about “Mobility is Freedom” or to donate to this program, visit WWFS.org. Also, stay tuned for the full schedule of the High Five Tour 2015 at HighFiveTour.com.

 

Trenton Albers, Lukas Partners

 — Trenton Albers is an account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Trenton manages and supports public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients Outlook Nebraska, Wounded Warriors Family Support, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, the Papillion Recreation Department and Project Pink’d.

 

 

Online Newsrooms Most Valuable to Reporters

 

Lukas Partners client U.S. Cellular utilizes a media room that provides an array of helpful resources to reporters.

A study of 300 journalists conducted by BusinessWire shows the new, 21st century face of journalism, revealing that PR specialists should keep their organization’s websites and online newsrooms updated if hoping for maximum coverage. With journalism evolving to publish a majority of content online, reporters now expect the same 24-hour web access to company information and news. Even surpassing social media usage, company websites attract 93 percent of reporters looking to do research and access press releases, most commonly for breaking news, supporting facts, story angles and quotable sources.

Despite the ubiquitous use of online newsrooms, social media remains a salient force in this new age of digital journalism. Forty-four percent of reporting is now conducted through blogs, as opposed to 16 percent via newspapers and 1 percent on television, and sharing coverage on social pages has become a primary metric used to evaluate the success of a story.

 

Sean Robinson is an account coordinator for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. To learn more about Lukas Partners’ suggestions regarding best practices for company websites and media rooms or ask about any of our services, contact me at srobinson@lukaspartners.com.
 
 
 
 
 

Halloween Pinspiration

If you’re still searching for the perfect Halloween costume or a creatively spooky dish to bring to the office potluck on Oct. 31, fear not. Pinterest is the social media resource of choice for all things creative and visual. This year, 70 percent of Americans will buy fall and Halloween-themed decorations, spending a total of $6.9 billion.

While more than one-third of Americans will search the internet for costume inspiration, many are increasingly going to Pinterest. This year, 11.4 percent of Americans will search Pinterest for costume ideas, up 2.1 percent from last year, according to Business News Daily.

Pretty pictures aside, why should Pinterest matter to you and your brand? Several studies have shown Pinterest drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+ combined.

Of the 70 million Pinterest users, 80 percent are women, and a recent report from BI Intelligence indicates Pinterest skews toward high-income female consumers. Business Insider also reports that Pinterest’s most popular pin categories of food and drink, DIY and crafts, home decoration, holidays, hair and beauty and women’s fashion,  providing brands in these sectors a great platform to for sharing their products.

As an Omaha PR firm, Lukas Partners likes to share best practices. For example, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center continues to grow its presence on Pinterest by creating boards of seasonal interest to parents like “Halloween Food & Fun,” while the hospital’s Healthy Kohl’s Kids nutrition and fitness education program has Pinterest boards focused on healthy recipes and exercise.

 

— Laura Mitchell is a senior account executive for Omaha PR firm Lukas Partners. Laura manages and supports public relations for Lukas Partners’ clients Black & Veatch, Gordmans, Bank of the West and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. She’s bringing this to the Lukas Partners Halloween potluck.

 

 

 

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