Category: guidelines

Carriage Trade Public Relations Announces August Open for Business®: Does Your Pitch Pass the Test?

Carriage Trade Public Relations Announces August Open for Business®: Does Your Pitch Pass the Test?

(SAVANNAH, GA) Join Carriage Trade Public Relations®, Inc. for the August session of their monthly Open for Business® series. This month’s topic is focused on pitching and how to improve yours. Cynthia Cradduck, Junior Partner, will host the conversation on Wednesday, August 28, at noon.

Open for Business® is a monthly online social media article review series, where current marketing articles are discussed that will help your business become more competitive. It is held on the last Wednesday of every month at noon via Facebook Live on Carriage Trade Public Relations’ account.

The article this month can be found here:

For more information, visit

Carriage Trade Public Relations, Inc. is Savannah’s premier reputation management company. Founded in 1995 by Marjorie Young to help businesses increase their visibility in their community and globally online through its trademarked strategy, the REPUTATION MATRIX™ method.

Cynthia Cradduck
Junior Partner

March Open for Business®: The Four Stages of Social Media Issue and Crisis Management

March Open for Business®: The Four Stages of Social Media Issue and Crisis Management

(SAVANNAH, GA) Join Carriage Trade Public Relations®, Inc. for the March session of their monthly Open for Business® series. This month’s topic is the importance of issue and crisis management on social media, and Cynthia Cradduck, Junior Partner, will host the conversation.

Open for Business

The interview takes place via Facebook Liveon Wednesday, March 27, at 10:30 A.M. Interested parties can find more information here:

Open for Business® is a monthly online social media article review series, where current marketing articles are discussed that will help your business become more competitive. It is held on the last Wednesday of every month at noon via Facebook Live.

Carriage Trade Public Relations, Inc. is Savannah’s premiere reputation management company. Founded in 1995 by Marjorie Young to help businesses increase their visibility in their community and globally online through its trademarked strategy, the REPUTATION MATRIX™ method.

Elizabeth Poole

Five Common Social Media Mistakes in Business

Five Common Social Media Mistakes in Business
By Cynthia Wright

Social media is the 21st-century version of the backyard fence, allowing people to connect with each other, nurture personal relationships and express their opinions. It also has become a powerful tool for business owners to gain customers and foster visibility.

While people might not mind when friends or family members rave about their perfect kids or rant about the political climate, they are less tolerant of companies that are overly self-promotional or express controversial opinions. When businesses make such social media blunders, the results can be impactful, ranging from lost followers to serious brand damage.

Here are the five most common social media mistakes that companies make and should avoid:

1) Ignoring followers

Your customers want to be heard, and they often turn to social media to engage with you. Don’t you get annoyed when you’re trying to talk to someone and they are clearly not listening? The same is true for your followers if you provide no response or a blanket response.

2) Being too self-promotional, political or polarizing

By focusing social media content on hard-sell promotions or product discounts, you’ll likely forfeit the opportunity to build relationships and you may even train your customers to shop with you only when they get a discount.

Instead, consider adding content that provides value. Always balance your site with content your followers are likely to find engaging and encourage their interaction by providing links to helpful information or appealing offers.

You should also avoid posting information that is too political or polarizing. That doesn’t mean ignoring your core values and beliefs, but you risk losing followers and upsetting audiences if your corporate social media posts take political stances for or against issues or political leaders.

3) Forgetting or misusing calls to action

Every post should have a call-to-action, but if you’re simply offering a link to your homepage URL, you’re missing the opportunity to collect leads, increase sales and measure results. Instead, put a link to your purchase offer, downloadable resource or coupon. Send them directly to what they are looking for and you’ll see a significant increase in conversion rates.

4) Being too trendy

One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is not staying true to its core message. Although a little controversy or edginess might be okay to keep your stream from becoming boring, be careful not to go too far. Don’t attempt to capitalize on trending topics by creating “viral” content that does not relate to the company brand or mission.

Additionally, only use hashtags that are relevant and appropriate to your content, products/services and brand.

5) Having no social media strategy

Be realistic. Get started by focusing on the social media outlets that are a good fit for your business and invest in the long term with strategies to grow your impact.

Set goals and objectives that you can use to measure impact. By identifying your goals, you can monitor and evaluate how well you use your social media channels to distribute content that fosters engagement. Your objectives should also include how the company will respond to comments, questions and backlash.

Regularly monitor any negative feedback and respond authentically on a timely basis. Avoid creating costs or responses that might cause followers to “hide” your posts. Once they are gone, you will probably never see those followers again.

Most of all, remember social media was created to nurture relationships. So use it for that purpose. Develop and build a loyal community that will be connected to and energized by your brand.

Cynthia Wright, Junior Partner of Carriage Trade Public Relations and Cecilia Russo Marketing_5920

Cynthia Wright

Cynthia Wrightis the Junior Partner of Carriage Trade Public Relations®, Inc. and Cecilia Russo Marketing, creating word-of-mouth in the community and online through reputation management strategies. For more information, contact Wright at

Navigating Georgia’s New Hands-Free Law

Navigating Georgia’s New Hands-Free Law
By Joanie Iaco

Joanie Iaco, Peacock Automotive

Joanie Iaco

It’s the law. Georgia motorists will have to put down their phones while driving to comply with the new Hands-Free Georgia Act that becomes effective July 1.

The goals of the new law, signed earlier this year by Gov. Nathan Deal, are to lower incidents of distracted driving and rising insurance premiums by prying our eyes and our attention away from cell phones while we’re behind the wheel.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionhas reported that highway fatalities rose by one-third in Georgia from 2014-16. While cell-phone use cannot be pinpointed as a cause for this increase, the state Department of Driver Servicesprocessed 3,866 citations for using phones while driving in 2016, up more than 30 percent from 2014.

The costs associated with car crashes differ depending on the injuries sustained, but the average cost for the physical damage to one car is $7,500. If there is a fatality, the financial impact can reach into the millions. Even for non-fatal crashes, total costs can soar into the hundreds of thousands.

The hands-free law doesn’t allow drivers to support any wireless device with any part of their body when they’re behind the wheel unless they’re legally parked. This means that you cannot hold it in your hand, lay it in your lap or hold it against your ear with your shoulder.

While the new law prohibits you from holding your phone while driving, you can still talk and even text as long as you’re using hands-free technology.

You may also use your phone as a GPS, but you must set it up before you begin driving. If you need to change your route, you must be legally parked before you pick up or touch your phone. This does not include being stopped at a light or stop sign. You are only considered legally parked if your vehicle is parked in a parking space, parking lot or driveway.

The new law also prohibits drivers from watching or recording a video and from typing, sending or reading any text-based communication unless legally parked.

The only exceptions to the hands-free law would be if the driver is reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, delinquent act or hazardous road condition. Law enforcement officers are exempt from the law as long as they are performing their official duties.

The prohibition is considered a primary enforcement law, which means an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safetysays the Georgia Department of Public Safetyand local law enforcement may issue warnings as part of the effort to educate and to help motorists adapt to the new law. However, citations can and will be issued starting July 1. Penalties will begin at $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and $150 for three or more violations.

With the passage of the new law, Georgia becomes one of 16 other states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

In South Carolina, it is illegal for motorists to text and drive, but hand-held cell phone use is still permitted and drivers are allowed to use the GPS feature on their handheld device for navigation purposes.

Joanie Iaco is Manager of Peacock Collision Center, part of Peacock Automotive, which owns and operates 24 automotive dealerships representing 31 brands in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. The company’s headquarters are located at Peacock Auto Mall on U.S. 278, 5 miles east of I-95 at Exit 8 near Bluffton, S.C. For more information about Peacock Collision Center, call 843-645-5500or

Everything You Need to Know about the GDPR

Everything You Need to Know about the GDPR
by Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen of The Bowen Law Group

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently went into effect across the European Union (EU). The GDPR is a data privacy law that gives citizens of the EU far more control over their personal data and requires businesses to keep all such data private, safe and protected.

This law was passed in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the private personal data of millions of people was sold to England’s “Leave the EU” campaign and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Any company that collects data on people who live in the EU must follow the new regulations, no matter where the company is based. That means that if you own a company in Savannah but sell to a European customer, you are subject to the new GDPR privacy rules.

To better ensure privacy and protection, companies must now procure their customer’s actual consent in order to store their personal information. This request for consent must be clear and written in plain language (rather than buried in 50 pages of terms and conditions).

Any company that does not obtain this explicit consent may only store a customer’s personal data if they can prove they have a “lawful basis” for doing so such as a contract or other legal obligation.

What this means in practical terms is businesses will have to pay a lot more attention to the security of their customers’ personal data and they will not be allowed to hold onto it for any longer than necessary. Also, anyone can ask for their personal information to be deleted from a company’s servers at any time.

Any company found to be in violation of these new rules will face huge financial penalties. Large companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their annual global sales, which can run into billions of dollars. Even small companies can be fined up to $23.5 million.

The GDPR was designed to protect consumers due to the large number of cyber attacks and data leaks over the past few years. And despite the fact it is a European law, given the global reach of the internet, it has been estimated that 92 percent of American businesses will be affected.

There currently are no plans to expand the provisions of GDPR to the United States, but many experts believe that given the almost daily occurrence of large scale data hacks, it’s only a matter of time until such protections are extended worldwide. It will be interesting to see how effective the EU’s monitoring of the GDPR is over the next several months and how aggressively violators are prosecuted.

It seems clear, however, that data breaches and mishandling of personal customer information will be a lot costlier.

Despite the effort it will take to understand, implement and enforce the GDPR, it is hard to deny some type of action must be taken. Anyone who has ever shopped for a product on Amazon and then immediately seen an ad for the same product on Facebook knows how creepy and invasive the internet’s targeted advertising technology can be.

The National Security Agency can use that same system to seamlessly track almost anyone in the United States, and political firms such as Cambridge Analytica can use it to secretly single out political subgroups and sell that data.

Hopefully, the GDPR is a good start in restoring a bit of privacy to the worldwide web, but it’s just the first step of a long process.

Charles Bowenis a business attorney who focuses on commercial, banking and manufacturing law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. He may be contacted at 912.544.2050 or

Malware Protection

WannaCry Malware Protection
by Jason Ryals, Chief Technology Officer at Speros

Recently making global headlines, a new variant of ransomware referred to as WannaCry has been put part of a large-scale cyber attack that has infected over 200,000 computer systems and over a 150 countries. Ransomware acts by infecting a computer through opening a malicious email or website which then encrypts your data to the user, in exchange for a payment to unlock (Decrypt) these files usually in the form of digital currency called Bitcoins. Infection can also spread to other network connected resources and perform the same operation locking an entire business from accessing their own data.

At Speros we have multiple layers of defense from NOT being apart of this exploit.

1. SonicWALL firewalls are installed and up to date with latest Security definitions and at the Speros Data Center , scans all traffic incoming and outgoing blocking anything suspicious. This also performs website filtering that will help restrict access to sites known to host malware.

2. Barracuda Networks, our anti-spam email filtering solution, inspects all email messages, unusual content,infected attachments, malicious links etc. and quarantines those messages.

3. Speros Managed Services applies Windows Updates which are tested, approved and applied to each managed workstation and Managed servers.

4. Trend Micro Antivirus is installed on each workstation and server. In the event that a rogue piece of software does happen to come through the above layers of security, the antivirus software will quarantine the suspected files and alert Speros HelpDesk.

In addition to the above security measures , Speros recommends backing up your data, your servers end or workstations , to ensure critical files are safe. While backups are not a level of prevention they are a layer of protection against loss whether from accidental or malicious intent.

Jason Ryals, CTO of Speros, Inc.

Jason Ryals, CTO of Speros

Jason Ryals is the Chief Technology Officer at Speros. Ryals’ certifications include VMware Data Center, ADTRAN Technical Support Professional, SonicWALL CSSA&CSSP, Microsoft Certified Enterprise Administrator, Linux & A-plus, Cisco, and IBM AIX Unix based server systems. He has in-depth knowledge on troubleshooting Local Area Networks and Wide Area Networks, routing, VMware and complex software designed data centers, and SD-WAN solutions. For more information, visit, call 912-354-8900 or email

The American Health Lawyers Association Releases Handbook for Parents on the Disabilities Education Act

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS), which celebrates the idea that all children have different abilities, is pleased to announce a new handbook is now available to help parents learn about education assistance resources for their children through the Disabilities Education Act.

About 15 percent of U.S. children aged 3-17 have one or more developmental disabilities and about 13 percent of public school students receive special education services. Some 35 percent of those students have specific learning disabilities. To help their parents navigate through what may be an overwhelming process in determining if their child may qualify for educational assistance and the programs available to them, the American Health Lawyers Association in Washington, DC has recently released “A Handbook for Parents: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA), offering practical information and advice.

The Handbook explains that IDEA provides federal funding to states and local school districts for special education of infants, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children. It also covers the “six pillars” of IDEA. They are:

• IEP: The “individualized education program” (IEP) is a personalized plan for a child’s educational needs that describes the special education and services the child will receive from the school. The IEP must be developed within 30 days after a child has been determined eligible for Part B services and is written by a team that includes parents, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, someone who can interpret evaluation results and the child (if appropriate).

• FAPE: Every disabled child is entitled to a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE), meaning that education is paid for by the government and meets standards set by the state’s educational agency.

• LRE: The education must be provided in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE), which means a child with a disability should be educated with children who do not have disabilities when possible.

• Appropriate Evaluation: Parents should talk to their pediatrician or contact a local early intervention office and request an evaluation if they feel their child might benefit from diagnostic testing to measure physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional or adaptive development.

• Parent and Teacher Participation: Parents have the right to be informed of and to participate in all special education decisions about their child. All evaluations require parental or family member consent and are generally free of charge.

• Procedural Safeguards: The school must provide a notice explaining the procedural safeguards, including the complaint and appeals process, at least once per year.

The Handbook also reviews eligibility requirements for transitioning children from pre-school to school-age services, and early intervention services (EIS) available such as speech and language, hearing, occupational/physical therapy, medical services, counseling and transportation. The Handbook additionally provides information for post-secondary education and college age students no longer covered by IDEA but who are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The LDSS hopes that parents of children who may qualify for services provided under IDEA will take the time to review the Handbook to learn about all of the resources available to them. Most of all, the LDSS wants parents to know they should never feel intimidated or hesitate to ask questions as they are their child’s best advocate. The Handbook is free and may be downloaded at

The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) is a family support group to benefit people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, outreach, education, and advocacy to champion and celebrate acceptance and inclusion. Meetings are held every 4th Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact with one another. LDSS encourages people to bring their children. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit

Candy Bogardus

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR