ProfNet Experts Available on Credit Card Surcharges, USPS Saturday Service, and More; Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers and

 ProfNet Experts Available on Credit Card Surcharges, USPS Saturday Service,
and More; Also in This Edition: Jobs for Writers and Media Industry Blog Posts

PR Newswire

Feb. 11

Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss
timely issues in your coverage area. If you are interested in interviewing any
of the experts, please contact them via the contact information at the end of
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· Credit Card Surcharges


· U.S. Postal Service's Decision to End Saturday Mail Service

· Axed Worker Takes Keys to Twitter Account

· The Mobile Shopping Ecosystem

· Technology and the Mortgage Servicing Industry

· Red Flags That Say a Job is Not for You

· Automatic Tips Are Unpopular Dining Companions

· Design Considerations for Eldercare Housing


· Corporate Journalist – News Link (Lincoln, Neb.)

· Economics Writer – Federal Reserve Bank or Richmond (Richmond, Va.)

· Assistant Business Editor – OC Register (Orange County, Calif.)


· Tips for Beating Blog Burnout

· Grammar Hammer: The Premier Premiere?

· Everything I Know About Pitching VCs I Learned From Monty Python


EXPERT ROUNDUP: Credit Card Surcharges

Following are experts who can discuss credit card "swipe fees" and their
impact on consumers and retailers:

Greg McBride, CFA
Vice President and Senior Financial Analyst
"There are a lot of consumers that will walk in the door, see the notice that
there's a surcharge posted, and they're not going to resort to another method
of payment. No, they're going to turn around and they're going to walk right
back out the door and they'll go down the street to one of their competitors
that does not assess a surcharge."
McBride is available to provide analysis and advice on personal finance. With
almost 20 years of experience, he has the unique ability to provide both
in-depth commentary and practical advice to consumers. He has appeared on
hundreds of national cable and network broadcasts, and is a frequent guest on
CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. He is routinely quoted
by major print outlets such as The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and
USA Today, and is a regular radio guest on financial talk shows throughout the
United States. He is also an accomplished public speaker, having appeared
before audiences at the Federal Reserve Board, Mortgage Bankers Association,
Federal Trade Commission and at the China Times Golden Cicada Awards in
Beijing, China. He is on the board of directors of CredAbility, an
Atlanta-based nonprofit credit counseling agency accredited by the National
Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Media Contact: Ted Rossman,

Charles Tran
"Consumers are king. Thanks to the Internet, social media and mobile phones,
consumers can easily compare and share with the world their shopping
experience. According to a January 2013 survey of over 700
active credit card holders, nearly 21 percent said they would not buy anything
at merchants that impose a credit card checkout fee. Small-business owners
should evaluate if it makes sense to potentially lose one in five of their
best customers by charging a checkout fee of up to 4 percent on transactions."
Tran is founder of, a credit card comparison and financial
education website. He is available to discuss credit card surcharges.
Expert Contact:

Kathy Doyle Thomas
Executive Vice President
Half Price Books
"As a retailer, just because we can now charge a fee doesn't mean we will.
Retailers are already worried about alienating our customers, and in this
tough economy, when we're fighting for every sale, we do not need any
additional reasons to deter the customer from spending money in our stores. It
is also important to note that a credit card transaction is larger, in most
cases, than a cash one, so retailers don't want to discourage people from
using their credit cards. If retailers do decide to charge a fee, educating
the customer is a concern. To be able to charge customers, the law states
retailers need to let the customer know a fee will be charged with signage on
the door, so a prospective customer walks in knowing they will pay two to
three percent more with their credit card."
Working in the retail industry for more than 20 years, Thomas currently serves
on the Global Retail Marketing Association board and is a member of NRF's
Integrated Mobile Initiative Task Force. She is also a former board chair of
the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA).
ProfNet Profile:
Half Price Books Bios:
Media Contact: Emily Bruce,

Patricia Seaman
Director of Marketing and Communications
National Endowment for Financial Education
Seaman joined the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in April
2007, as director of marketing and communications. She is responsible for
communications, media and public relations outreach, and marketing NEFE
programs. She also supports the chief executive officer in his service on the
President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Her recent media
interviews include Forbes, Parents, Washington Times, Woman's Day magazine,
and local radio and television. A lifelong student of personal finance, Seaman
is conversant with a wide variety of financial education topics and research,
and is available to discuss credit card surcharges and how they will impact
both consumers and businesses.
Media Contact: Daniel Malkin,

Paul Golden
Media Relations Project Manager
National Endowment for Financial Education
Golden serves as project manager for the National Endowment for Financial
Education (NEFE), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping all Americans
acquire the information and gain the skills necessary to take control of their
personal finances. Golden is the media relations manager for the foundation,
and is responsible for communications and public relations efforts. He also
serves as NEFE spokesperson and has been quoted by the Associated Press,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Detroit Free Press and Baltimore Sun.
Prior to joining NEFE in 2005, he worked as a managing editor for an online
news service and has spent time working in the financial services industry.
Golden graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with an
emphasis in broadcast media, from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a
member of the Public Relations Society of America, the Society of Professional
Journalists and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He is
available to discuss the credit card surcharges and how they will impact both
consumers and businesses.
Media Contact: Daniel Malkin,

Taki Skouras
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Skouras is the co-founder, CEO and CFO of Cellairis, a specialty retailer of
wireless accessories with more than 700 locations (many of which are
franchised) nationwide. He is available to discuss not only the impact of
credit card surcharges at the corporate level, but also how the individual
franchisees (independent small-business owners) will be affected. He can also
detail the strategies he has explored with his team in response to this
Considered by many to be a thought-leader in the industry, Skouras
revolutionized the retail arena by taking an emerging trend (wireless
accessories) and commercializing that popularity in a store model separate
from wireless retailers like Verizon, T-Mobile and Apple. In an increasingly
demanding marketplace, Skouras has overseen the company's growth from a
single, standalone kiosk 13 years ago to the world's largest wireless
accessory retailer. With more than 15 years of retail and operational
experience, as well as more than 12 years in franchising, Skouras is
instrumental in the operation of all of Cellairis' 700 locations and recently
led the implementation of a cloud-based POS companywide in order to improve
measurement and consistency in the customer experience.
Media Contact: Jessica Hatcher,

Greg Hammermaster
Sage Payment Solutions, a division of Sage North America
Hammermaster has 25 years of experience in banking, payment solutions and
business software applications. He is currently president of Sage Payment
Solutions, a division of Sage North America that has been providing businesses
and organizations with electronic payment systems for more than 20 years. He
was previously with SunTrust Banks, where he served as senior vice president
and managing director of the commercial card and payment solutions division.
He has also had experience with a number of online businesses, as well as with
Visa International, the world's largest card network, where he worked with
banks in the areas of online merchant services, debit, credit, and commercial
payment solutions. Prior to working for Visa, he was instrumental in
delivering Visa's first corporate and purchasing card program. Hammermaster
has presented at various industry conferences and events, including the annual
Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) Meeting & Expo and Commercial
Payments International (CPI) events, and contributed payments-related
information to numerous trade and business publications, including Business
Finance, Chain Store Age, Credit Union Journal, eWeek, The Green Sheet, ISO &
Agent, Journal of Accountancy, Small Business Computing and several regional
business journals.
Media Contact: Cynthia Sutton,


U.S. Postal Service's Decision to End Saturday Mail Service
Robert Atkinson
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
"While this decision is a step in the right direction, what we really need is
a fundamentally new postal model. The USPS should concentrate on its true
competitive advantage -- last mile mail delivery -- and open up all other
parts of the system to true and fair competition."
Based in Washington, D.C., Atkinson is the author of numerous reports and
articles on innovation, including, "Stick to the Mail: Postal Reform Means
Radical Cost Cutting, Not 'Product Innovation.'"
ProfNet Profile:
Media Contact: William Dube,

Axed Worker Takes Keys to Twitter Account
Michael McCabe
Employment Attorney
Munck Wilson Mandala in Dallas
"A United Kingdom-based entertainment retailer suffered international public
relations embarrassment when it laid off dozens of employees, including the
sole worker with access to the company's Twitter account. The fired employee
proceeded to post a string of messages detailing how the company was
discharging its workers. Terminating employees is never an easy task. It can
be stressful for everyone involved, and companies need to think through all of
the possible outcomes. Companies should make sure they're communicating a
consistent message during downsizing, and today that includes making sure
social media channels are not neglected in the communication plan."
News Contact: Robert Tharp,

The Mobile Shopping Ecosystem
Jeremie Leroyer
CEO and Co-Founder of AIRTAG
"This past year, 43 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile device
while in a store for a shopping purpose -- not simply a payment method.
Whereas mobile commerce is a means to an end, mobile shopping embraces
reshaping the entire shopping experience in-store and everywhere else to meet
the demands of the new mobile-empowered consumer. Mobile shopping is more than
making purchases or searching for products on a device; it is the
incorporation of new mobile-accessible, value-added services that benefit
shoppers and transform the smartphone into a new service. It is no longer
enough to offer a mobile application that looks nice, but does nothing for the
entire retail experience. In order to retain valuable customers and increase
sales, mobile applications must offer a real value-added service to the end
Leroyer can discuss all aspects of mobile shopping ecosystems, including
mobile payments, mobile shopping, loyalty systems and NFC technology. He is
CEO and co-founder of AIRTAG, which provides mobile shopping solutions and
in-store systems that deliver an interactive and engaging user experience.
AIRTAG recently announced a partnership with MasterCard and their development
of MasterCard's SDK.
Media Contact: Allison Keller,

Technology and the Mortgage Servicing Industry
Michelle Rowley
Mortgage Servicing Advisor
CT Lien Solutions
Rowley can discuss the challenges mortgage lenders must deal with today as
they try to handle the significant backlog of seriously delinquent inventory.
While the foreclosure backup may take years to clear up in judicial states, it
is also important to realize that the non-judicial states could expedite the
entire foreclosure process by leveraging automation technology -- and, in
fact, several major lenders have recently licensed technology to cut down the
title and mortgage document assignment process from years to months. Says
Rowley: "Servicers can look to technology solutions to assess workflow and
identify areas to reduce risk, streamline processes and save significant
amounts of time on each mortgage document -- which is especially critical
today as servicers contend with the far-reaching impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall
Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on the mortgage servicing industry."
CT Lien Solutions is a lien search, recording services and life-of-loan
service provider under Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services.
News Contact: Danielle Lundquist,

Red Flags That Say a Job is Not for You
Darnell Clarke
Clarke, author of "Employmentology: A Practical Systematic Methodology of
Finding Employment by a Hiring Manger," offers the following telltale signs
that a job offer is shady: "If the job requires the employee to fork over
their own money, it is not legitimate. Also, be wary of jobs that require you
to fill out I-9 forms, which require two forms of identification and a Social
Security number, before a job is actually presented. How can you do your own
digging? Contact your network, or jump on LinkedIn and post a question about
your offer if you feel it might be a little shady. However, the best way to
know if an offer is great is to only submit your resume to open positions you
have a true passion for. Most people submit their resumes to every job opening
they see, without giving any forethought to whether or not they qualify.
Submit your resume only to the opportunities that fit your passion, calling,
strengths, skill set and/or qualifications."
Media Contact: Merilee Kern,

Automatic Tips Are Unpopular Dining Companions
Celeste Yeager
Labor and Employment Attorney; Hospitality Industry Team Vice Chair
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Dallas
"The dust-up over a pastor's rejection of the automatic tip added to her
dinner tab was not just an embarrassment for everyone involved, but also may
help ignite the debate over the practice, used by many restaurants when
serving large groups. As an industry, it is time for restaurants and bars to
consider stopping the practice of imposing automatic tips. It is a touchy
issue not just with customers, who do not appreciate having a significant sum
added to their check, but with servers as well. Automatic tips are viewed by
the IRS not as traditional tips, but as a service charge, with that money
going to the employer, not the individual wait staff member. That is where the
water muddies significantly, as it can negatively affect pay classification,
causing tremendous income tax headaches."
News Contact: Rhonda Reddick,

Design Considerations for Eldercare Housing
James T. Moyer, AIA, LEED AP
SAS Architects & Planners
"Depending on a building's age and configuration, we frequently encounter
design challenges such as: creating public spaces in the right configuration;
maximizing space; overcoming a long, double-loaded corridor; and creating a
functional, safe and secure progression of space." Moyer is principal of SAS
Architects & Planners, a full-service firm that has designed more than 120
eldercare projects nationwide. He is available to talk about design
considerations involved with the current trend of converting existing
eldercare housing into spaces that provide specialized support and care -- for
example, transforming independent or assisted living into memory support or
dementia care. He is based in the Chicago suburbs.
Media Contact: Cindy Martin,



Following are links to job listings for staff and freelance writers, editors
and producers. You can view these and more job listings on our Job Board:

· Corporate Journalist – News Link (Lincoln, Neb.)

· Economics Writer – Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Richmond, Va.)

· Assistant Business Editor – OC Register (Orange County, Calif.)

See more listings here.



Following are links to other news and resources we think you might find
useful. If you have an item you think other reporters would be interested in
and would like us to include in a future alert, please drop us a line at

· TIPS FOR BEATING BLOG BURNOUT. Producing an engaging and successful
blog means coming up with new ideas while staying energized, but how do you
find inspiration, and generate fresh and creative ideas, time and time again?
BlogHer's Susan Getgood shares her strategies and tips for generating ideas
and avoiding blog burnout: 

· GRAMMAR HAMMER: THE PREMIER PREMIERE? It's awards season, so for
this week's Grammar Hammer, Cathy Spicer tackles the trickiness of "premier"
vs. "premiere":

Most VCs number the annual business plans they see in a year in the thousands,
but the implication is the same: There has to be more to distinguish your
fundraising pitch than 10 or 15 in 30-point font. Matt Fates, partner in
Ascent Venture Partners, discusses:


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