A Bold Plan to Transform the Nation’s Education System

Houston, TX—Do American education leaders have the drive—the “eye of the tiger” necessary to make difficult transformational changes?

“I think they do, but they don’t have a methodology to make the transformation,” says Dr. Jack Grayson, founder and chairman of American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) based in Houston.

APQC Education, the education arm of the 35-year-old non-profit, has launched a $44 million plan to transform the nation’s education system. The collective plan consists of 10 interrelated projects that must happen in order for the system to truly transform.

Recalling a known tendency, Grayson says, “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you will get what you always got. We need an entire national transformation plan—or we will fail in our role as a world leader.”

And he wants to do this within the next 5 years.

“Ambitious—yes,” he says, “Impossible—absolutely not!”

Opponents to this plan often rely on educational reforms that are heavily based on inputs or outcomes—a thought entirely opposite of what Grayson and his organization advocates.

“While inputs and outcomes are both important, the missing link is an essential focus on the middle—the processes,” says Grayson.

The fundamental methodology guiding Grayson’s bold plan is not a big secret.

The vision to transform the U.S. education system is driven by Process and Performance Management (PPM). Yes, PPM—a leadership approach that promotes effectiveness and efficiency by linking process measures to performance alias outcomes. The key premise is that processes such as teacher hiring, professional development, or curriculum alignment must improve in order to improve outcomes such as graduation rates, test scores, or dropouts.

As Grayson always says, “In order to improve outcomes, you must first focus on improving the key processes that generate outcomes.”

Formerly the U.S. chairman of Price Commission under President Nixon, Grayson speaks with experience when he says, “Our plan is not dreamy, wishful, untested, or a theoretical policy—APQC has 35 years of research and direct field experience to carry out this plan.”

For more information on APQC Education’s Transformation Plan or to interview Dr. Jack Grayson, founder and chairman of APQC, please contact Farah Lalani at flalani@apqc.org or 713-685-4632.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Do You Manage by Process?

By Dr. C Jackson Grayson

1. Do you have maps of all your key processes? Are the maps drawn, updated, and used to guide process improvement?

2. Does your process map include cross-functions that are affected by your processes or which affect you?

3. Do you measure process performance?  What measures do you use? Cycle time?  Cost effectiveness?  Staff productivity? Process efficiency? Do you track these measures over time?

4. Do you compare your processes to other schools or districts?  Do you benchmark yourself against them?

5. Do you have people (process owners) whose processes cross department lines?

6. If you have process owners, do they have enough resources, authority, and responsibility to manage the process effectively?

7. Do you use process improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma or Knowledge Management for analysis and problem solving?

8. Do you have senior leaders in the school or district who manage the process owners and resolve conflicts among departments?

9. Do you have an explicit change strategy to move from a functionally based organization to one managed largely by processes?

10. Are “customers” and/or “suppliers” to the process involved in the process flow?

If you answered “No” to most of these, you are not engaged in process management. If you answered “Yes” to most or all, congratulations and please email flalani@apqc.org. I would love to know who you are.– Dr. C. Jackson Grayson

Over 3 decades ago, Dr. C. Jackson Grayson started American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), one of the world’s leading proponents of business benchmarking, best practices, and knowledge management research.

With the same passion for helping organizations improve, Jack is now taking Process Performance Management (PPM), measurement tools, and best practices to the education sector through APQC Education. His vision is not only to transform the nation’s education system, but also to empower.

Keep up with Jack’s blog and his work in Transforming Education

Follow Jack on Twitter @CJackGrayson

Comments: Leave a Comment

More than Just a Fad

Is Knowledge Management (KM) another fad?

We don’t think so for four reasons:

1.       It is built on the never-obsolete power of learning. As David Garvin of Harvard Business School asks, “How can an organization improve without learning something new?”

2.       While there are plenty of people who treat knowledge management as a religion, real knowledge management is practical and action oriented, not ideological and theoretical. If done right, it produces bottom-line results—always a sure way to guarantee sustainability.

3.       Unlike other process-improvement methods, KM does not rely on technology to make processes more efficient. It relies on recognizing the knowledge resident in people’s minds, using technology to facilitate its sharing, not replace its human origins.

4.       Finally, KM is consistent with emerging models of organizations. Most modern business models involve people in teams coming together on a project basis, then moving on to new relationships. All these models are process oriented, not bound by functions, industries, structures. Knowledge underpins their continuous existence.

From the book “If Only We Knew What We Know” by Carla o’Dell and C. Jackson Grayson, Jr.
Over 3 decades ago, Dr. C. Jackson Grayson started American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), one of the world’s leading proponents of business benchmarking, best practices, and knowledge management research.

With the same passion for helping organizations improve, Jack is now taking Process Performance Management (PPM), measurement tools, and best practices to the education sector through APQC Education. His vision is not only to transform, but also to empower.

Keep up with Jack’s blog and his work in Transforming Education

Follow Jack on Twitter @CJackGrayson

Comments: Leave a Comment

PRSA Demands Respect from Congress

An ongoing U.S. Senate investigation has compelled Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to take a lead in advocating the role of public relations profession and value.

The investigation was launched in February by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Portman and McCaskill raised concerns about Obama administration’s public relations and advertising spending sending information requests to relevant federal agencies.

PRSA believes that Senate should thoroughly consider public relations’ central value to government: its ability to engender a more informed society through ethical, transparent and honest communications between the Government and its citizens, and its role as an economic contributor to the American economy.

PRSA has cited its concerns with the investigation in a variety of forums, including direct correspondence with the Senate Subcommittee leading the investigation.

“Whether communicating where disaster relief can be found, advising constituents about the latest trade policy development, or helping to dispel unfounded rumors, elected officials and governments at all levels rely upon public relations to provide information and build trust,” wrote Gerard F. Corbett, PRSA Chair and Chief Executive Officer, in his letter to Congress.

Specifically, PRSA asks the Senate to avoid actions that might diminish or severely restrict the United States government’s use of approved public relations and public affairs contractors.

Read the full letter here.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Breaking the Fifth Wall

A Seminar for Arts Executives and Box Office Managers

Monday, June 4, 2012
Houston Arts Alliance – Alliance Gallery
3201 Allen Parkway
Houston, TX 77019
10:00am – 12:30pm

Based on Patron Technology’s newest book, Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century, this session covers the essential techniques that arts managers, marketers, fundraisers and box office managers can use to work better together and to reconnect with patrons beyond the venue, using social media, e-mail marketing, websites, and CRM.

Advances in technology and shifts in consumer behavior have changed the way arts organizations need to approach their audience-development efforts. The new tools and technology available today can empower the box office and marketing departments to come together and transform their relationships with audience members.

You’ll learn:

  • Trends in online arts patron behavior from the last five years
  • How to maximize your Twitter and Facebook posts to build “likes” and engagement
  • Why e-mail still reigns supreme for customer service and marketing
  • How to design a website for the best online ticket-buying experience
  • How CRM can help connect the box office to marketing and provide a more seamless customer experience.

For more information or to buy tickets, please visit: http://breaking5wall.eventbrite.com/

Comments: Leave a Comment

How a Social Network Changed the World

What’s the Facebook effect? Has Facebook changed your life? How has Facebook changed the media industry?

In case you have not heard, Facebook (FB) goes public today and its initial public offering makes it the most valuable company at the time of its offering to ever go public. At $38 a share the company is valued at $104 billion.

Read more on Yahoo! Finance.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Airline’s Unusual PR Effort: Effective, Economical, and Innovative

Finnair flight attendants turned into entertainers as they took over the aisles on Wednesday’s overnight Helsinki to Delhi flight to celebrate India’s Republic Day, celebrated annually on January 26.

Passengers on Flight 21 were treated to a surprise Bollywood style dance performed by the Finnair crew uploaded to the airline’s YouTube channel.

Starlight Communication deems this as an extraordinary public relations effort that generated intended publicity and put Finnair under a positive limelight.

“It was effective, economical, and innovative,” says Farah Lalani, PR & Media Editor at Starlight Communication.

While Finnair’s effort is definitely loud, it isn’t the first airline to introduce dancing flight attendants. A series of “dancing flight attendants” videos have hit the web in recent years. Previously, Cebu Pacific received some criticism after they made waves with their dancing safety demonstrations. The opposing groups said that that stereotyping of flight attendants as entertainers has a negative and a sexist impact in the minds of the public. Although Cebu Pacific received some heat for their safety demonstrations, the positive response far exceeded the negativity.

“Over ten million YouTube viewers on dancing flight attendant videos should be reason enough to continue making flights more fun and less uptight,” says Lalani. “While every publicity effort will inevitably attract some opposition, such ground breaking PR efforts should be encouraged.”

Comments: Leave a Comment

SOPA and PIPA would take the risk of copyright violations across the Internet

Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google, Mozilla and thousands of other websites blacked out their pages Wednesday to protest the SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills. These aren’t just any websites, but some of the most visited websites protesting against the bills and have already gained the support of millions of Americans.

The bills are intended to strengthen protection against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, but opponents say they would suppress expression on the World Wide Web and slow down economic growth.

SOPA and PIPA would take the risk of copyright violations across the Internet and hit just about any small or large Internet companies. While established sites like Google or Facebook may be able to afford litigation costs related to possible violations, smaller companies and start-ups would not be able to afford these additional expenses. When the Internet accounts for 21 percent of economic growth among developed nations, this is something to worry about.

“The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet,” urged Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. “I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.”

The Senate will begin voting on January 24. Please let them know how you feel.

Follow this link to sign Google’s petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA.

Comments: Leave a Comment

A Media Review: Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha is the premier website for actionable stock market opinion and analysis, and vibrant, intelligent finance discussion giving access to the nation’s most savvy and inquisitive investors. The website handpicks articles from the world’s top market blogs, money managers, financial experts and investment newsletters – publishing approximately 250 articles daily. Seeking Alpha is the only free, online source for over 1,500 public companies’ quarterly earnings call transcripts, including the S&P 500. Seeking Alpha was named the Most Informative Website by Kiplinger’s Magazine and has received Forbes‘ ‘Best of the Web’ Award.

Seeking Alpha has a strong readership among money managers, research analysts, investment bankers, and serious individual investors. ‘Alpha’ is a finance term referring to a stock’s performance relative to the market; it’s used more loosely by fund managers to describe beating their index – so every stock picker is essentially “seeking alpha.”

Visit seekingalpha.com to learn more.

Read our author’s latest contribution to Seeking Alpha.

Seeking Alpha’s Readers in Comparison to Other Major Financial Websites

Seeking Alpha is widely read by money managers, sell-side analysts, investment bankers, financial advisors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and sophisticated retail investors. After conducting a detailed comparison of Seeking Alpha’s audience to that of the other major finance sites (Bloomberg.com, Barrons, WSJ.com, MarketWatch, TheStreet.com, FT.com, CNN Money, BusinessWeek Online, Yahoo! Finance and Forbes.com), Nielsen found that SA has a remarkable readership. See Seeking Alpha’s readership in details and Nielsen’s report.

Advertising with Seeking Alpha

With over 55 million page views and 3.4 million unique visitors (users) worldwide, Seeking Alpha is one of the most read stock and finance websites. Giving exposure from some of the most educated and affluent audiences, approximately 75 percent of Seeking Alpha’s audience have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 86 percent make at least $50,000 and 31 percent make more than $150,000. Seeking alpha gets 70 percent of its audiences from ages 35 to 64 and 19 percent are 65 or older.

All traffic statistics are estimates. Source: Google Ad Planner as of 11/10/2011

Comments: Leave a Comment

New Report Gives PR its Due Respect

PR is a must-have component of any CEO’s key management team, but often overshadowed by marketing and advertising.

Learn from Rosanna M. Fiske, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chair and chief executive officer, as she talks about a new report that gives PR its due respect.

Read the full article here.

Comments: Leave a Comment

The Netflix Story: How Once an Admirable Company Finds Itself in a PR Chaos

By Farah Lalani

Every day, millions of Americans look forward to the little red envelope in the mail. This envelope soon became branded as the famous Netflix DVD pouch. Early on, Netflix understood that consumers wanted convenience and became the pioneer of mail subscription model for DVD rentals.

Then, when media trends shifted and online streaming became popular, Netflix quickly integrated video streaming into its current model, without causing inconvenience or change to the consumers. A move happily welcomed by the consumers.

Netflix continued to bloom and focus its core strategy on growing a large streaming subscription business within the United States and globally. While staying within its operating margin targets, Netflix was able to improve its customer experience, enhance its user interface, and extend its streaming service to various Internet-connected devices. During its peak, the Netflix (NFLX) stock saw its high at a little over $304.

With the growing popularity of Internet-delivered content, Netflix realized that home entertainment trends suggest that DVD will become obsolete in the near future. Although it makes perfect business sense to focus on the profitable and blooming business of online streaming, Netflix focused solely on its core strategy and lost sight of the reason for its success.

Netflix’s success was highly dependable on customer satisfaction. Since 2005, Netflix has been named the number one retail website for customer satisfaction in 11 out of 12 surveys by ForeSee Results. In December 2010, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) named Netflix the number one ecommerce company for customer satisfaction.

Influenced by its strategy to stay ahead of the game and taking its customer satisfaction results for granted, Netflix made a mistake. Well, not just one mistake, but a series of mistakes complemented with weak public relations.

In July, the company tested the loyalty of its subscribers by raising the price of its streaming and DVD bundle up by 60 percent. Big mistake, as Netflix does not hold substantial pricing power. Netflix’s business model leaves the company open to threats from competitors like Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL) and Redbox, the $1 movie rental service owned by Coinstar (CSTR).

Then, Netflix made another costly mistake by assuming that the price hike will not lead to significant subscription losses. And, wrong it was. Netflix soon learned that it will sustain one million fewer customers than the company had originally estimated when planning for the hike.

Still hurt from the previous mistakes, Netflix acted in haste. Estimating the technology shift away from DVD too early, Netflix announced the separation of its DVD and streaming services into two businesses and two brands. While the streaming service will preserve the Netflix name, Qwikster will be the brand for the DVD service.

What’s wrong with the new brand? Apparently the new brand is named Qwikster because it refers to quick DVD delivery. Since when did snail mail become quicker than instant streaming? Moreover, an apparent marijuana and Elmo loving teenager owns the @qwikster twitter handle. Too late to change the company name now.

Aside from the Qwikster woes, the separation of its business has tarnished the identity that Netflix’s success was once built upon- customer satisfaction. Netflix differentiated itself from the competition by offering integrated DVD and online streaming experience. Now, Netflix has lost its competitive edge. The new Netflix model means separate websites, separate queues, separate credit card charges, and separate ratings systems- all presented at a much higher price to the consumers.

Added to its weak business model, Netflix suffers from bad public relations. Netflix’s decisions may not have been as severe, if it was communicated responsibly and timed strategically. Finally, after the fall of the Netflix stock, Netflix’s CEO was left with the most uncalled for mistake of all- a sorry letter.

“I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation. It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes…” – Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Facebook launches a new “Subscribe” option making status updates available to the public

You’ve always been subscribed to friends. Now you can hear from journalists, celebrities, political figures and other people too.On Wednesday, Facebook announced a new Subscribe feature that allows users to share updates with a wider audience without having to befriend them. Now you can click the Subscribe button on someone’s profile to get their public updates in your News Feed.

This new feature came in right after the recent launch of smart lists, better suggestions, and new categorizing options for friends.

Facebook’s new feature doesn’t only give users control over what they want to see and share, it’s also a straight shot at Google+ and Twitter. Since the Subscribe feature is newer than other social networks, it is a improved version of what other social networks have established since the begining.

Click here to enable the subscribe option.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Wildfire Smoke in Fort Bend County: Smoke from wildfires throughout Texas affecting air quality

Message from:

Fort Bend County
Office of Emergency Management

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The smoke and haze you see in the air over Fort Bend County is from the wildfires elsewhere in the state. There are currently no immediately threatening wildfires in Fort Bend County.

Citizens of Fort Bend County should not be alarmed by the smoke or haze; however, at the same time, citizens should be cognizant of the extreme fire danger that exists in our area at this time.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions

State health officials urge people to reduce their risk from wildfire smoke by taking the following precautions:

  • Stay indoors or limit outdoor activities as much as possible.
  • Avoid physical exertion.
  • Keep windows and doors of your home shut.
  • If you have air conditioning, run it with the fresh-air intake closed. Set wall units to “re-circulate.”
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution, such as cigarette smoking, burning candles, frying food and using aerosol products or fireplaces.
  • Do not use vacuum cleaners which can stir up dust already inside your home.
  • Keep your airways moist by drinking plenty of water.
  • Consider leaving the area or going to a shelter until smoke conditions improve.
  • Common symptoms of smoke exposure include coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes and runny nose.

People should seek medical help if they have symptoms that worsen or become severe. Those without air conditioning should watch for signs of heat exhaustion such as fatigue, nausea, headache and vomiting.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Mobile Apps: Expanding Your Reach and Audience

Mobile apps are becoming an essential tool for reaching people where and how they choose to connect. Media apps are a perfect fit for both smartphones and tablets.

But what is the difference between mobile websites, mobile apps and mobile platforms? When is each most effective?

Should your organization develop an iPhone app, iPad app, or plan for Android and other devices as well?

Starlight Communication suggests that you join this webinar offered by Poynter News University to get the run-down on mobile apps.

Webinar- “Mobile Apps: Expanding Your Reach and Audience”
Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 2:00pm Eastern Time

For more info or to enroll, please visit the seminar page.

Comments: Leave a Comment

The Fort Bend Education Foundation’s International Festival Goes Live

ifest Live 2011 Committee

Mark your calendars for “iFest Live 2011” International Festival & Vendor Fair scheduled for Saturday, November 5 at Sugar Land Town Square. This fantastic event celebrates the tremendous diversity of cultures in our school district and county by highlighting its many unique traditions, arts, and foods as well as increases awareness for the Foundation and its mission.
In addition to the diverse country booths, the “iFest Live” will be going live this year with country tableaus presented on stage throughout the day showcasing various traditions, culture and modern day accomplishments via music, dance and fashion shows. The wonderful talent of Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) students will also be entertaining the audience between tableaus with school group performances.

The international market is a new addition this year too where you will be able to shop for unique cultural items from around the globe.

Any individuals, country groups or vendors interested in representing their country should contact the Fort Bend Education Foundation at 713.634.1110 or kelly.metzger@fortbendisd.com. Booths are limited and will be assigned on a first-come basis.

For more information regarding the foundation, visit www.fortbendisd.com/foundation.

Comments: Leave a Comment

PRSA Offers Free Webinar on Integrated Communications

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is offfering a free one hour webinar,  ”Re-Emerging Trend for Integrated Communications” on Thursday, August 11 at 3 p.m. EDT.

Integrating marketing with communications can be tricky, but it promises huge success for those who can achieve it. In this webinar offered by PRSA, Kye Strance of Vocus explains how the evolving media landscape of news, social media, blogs and search engine optimization (SEO) makes it easier to share information, generate awareness and build a stronger brand.

This webinar covers:

  • PR’s increasingly central role in marketing – and what you need to know to be successful
  • The SEO, multimedia and interactive imperative – it’s no longer a nice-to-have, but imperative.
  • How to reach the people you want to reach across every channel.

PRSA members click here to register

For more information visit www.prsa.org

Comments: Leave a Comment

Starlight Communication Welcomes Twenty Two Fifty Interiors

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: farah@starlightcommunication.com 
or 832.356.8071

 

Starlight Communication welcomes Twenty Two Fifty Interiors to its growing list of creative small businesses. 

Appreciating beauty is a norm in our society. Beautiful people, beautiful arts, beautiful views, and beautiful objects are always desired and praised. However, finding true beauty is an art in itself. Opportunities to discover beauty happens every day at Twenty Two Fifty Interiors. This Sugar Land Town Square based product showroom and design studio features eclectic elements for timeless interiors.

“Customers can expect to find a vast collection of hand-crafted items by skilled artisans,” says Teena Caldwell, Designer and Owner at Twenty Two Fifty. “We carry exclusive pieces that I have carefully selected from all over the world.”

In the designing business for over twenty years, Teena serves her clients with passion and drive for design. Teena is a firm believer in mixing and matching a variety of design themes and ensuring that it all flows together. Very typical of her designs is to highlight traditional spaces with contemporary arts and accessories. A good example of this art is her own home in Sweetwater. Please see the feature story on her house covered by Fort Bend Lifestyles and Home magazine.

For media interviews with Teena Caldwell contact Starlight Communication at 832.356.8071 or email farah@starlightcommunication.com.

To see the design and content writing work done by our team, visit www.twentytwofiftyinteriors.com.

###

Comments: Leave a Comment

Interview with Jaume Plensa, creator of Tolerance statues in Houston

Read the full interview with Jaume Plensa, creator of Tolerance Statues on Montrose and Allen Parkway in Houston.

http://www.theismaili.org/cms/1191/Interview-with-Jaume-Plensa-creator-of-Tolerance-statues-in-Houston

Comments: Leave a Comment

Katy’s Budding Entrepreneur – 20-something sisters passionate about their own businesses

Article by Starlight Communication’s author published in Katy Lifestyles and Home Magazine, April 2011

Being young and lost is a common experience for many in their twenties. However, two young sisters from Katy have not only realized their passion, but have also become entrepreneurs along the way at a very young age.

Sisters Vanessa O’Donnell and Casi Newbill each own their own businesses in the Katy area. Vanessa went to the Art Institute of Houston to pursue her love of baking and came out with a degree in culinary arts. Casi followed Vanessa’s footsteps to the Art Institute and pursued a degree in interior design.

“We always used to joke about having a store together and we were going to call it Two Sisters,” says Casi. Things turned out a bit differently, though. A few years down the line, both sisters run their own stores in their respected fields of passion.

Casi is the owner and interior designer at Cobblestone Cottage, while Vanessa is the owner and pastry chef at Ooh LaLa  — the Dessert Boutique.

Designing spaces was always a passion for Casi, but was running a business also a goal? “Everyone wants to have something of their own, so it was definitely a goal,” says Casi. “The opportunity arose and I decided that it was a good time and offer, so I said, why not?”

Managing a business may seem ideal for those working nine-to-five jobs, but the grass always seems greener from the other side. “It does get tiring and sometimes even frustrating because you are doing it all the time,” says Casi. “But when you own your own business, you are getting to do what you love every day — there is just a little more to it because now you have to manage everything.”

Being a young business owner also comes with a unique set of challenges. “It’s hard to be so young and give directions to people,” says Casi. “Also, I don’t get to do a lot of things that most kids my age are doing, but that’s something you have to sacrifice — your social life and your time.” But not to discourage other budding entrepreneurs, Casi says, “It’s hard, but it’s possible. If you have the opportunity to do it, you should do it.”

Cobblestone Cottage is a small home decor and gift shop that has something for everyone. Casi tries to offer affordable prices while maintaining quality products. Her strategy is to spread out the prices, so everyone can find something in her store.

On the other hand, Vanessa is having equally as much fun baking cupcakes and pastries at her dessert boutique — Ooh LaLa. “I fell in love with baking early on in my childhood,” says Vanessa. “Dolores Balusek, a family friend who took care of my sister and me after school, taught me my love for baking.  The smells and tastes of those long afternoons — I still keep close to my heart.”

Vanessa says that one of her biggest challenges is to step back and look at the big picture. “You can’t always get caught up in the daily grind of business,” she says. A management tip that guides Vanessa is not thinking of herself as the owner all of the time. “You have to put yourself in the shoes of your employees,” she says. “I won’t make my employees do something that I haven’t done or won’t do.”

Vanessa owns two locations of Ooh LaLa and getting involved with the business aspect vs. actually baking seems inevitable. “It’s a balancing act,” she says. “I balance my time between production and business and interact with my kitchen staff on a daily basis.”

Ooh LaLa offers desserts that are classic and comforting. A large family can come in and everyone can find their favorite dessert, from oatmeal raisin cookies to Snickers pie and even cupcake truffles. “Looking back on what have been our best sellers, it is the classic homemade desserts that everyone can relate to from their childhood that are the most successful,” says Vanessa.

Turning passion into a business has its up side and down side, but how can anyone go wrong when doing something they love? As Vanessa says, “My inspiration comes from knowing everyday when I get up that I am going to a job that I absolutely love.”

Cobblestone Cottage is located at 23701 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Suite 150, Katy; 281-693-4080.

Ooh La La — the Dessert Boutique is located at 23920 Westheimer Parkway, Katy; 281-391-2253.

Location 2 is at 20155 Park Row, Katy; 281-492-6166.

Comments: Leave a Comment

A Dream House Becomes Reality

Article by Starlight Communication’s author is the cover story on Fort Bend Lifestyles and Home and Katy Lifestyles Magazine. Published April, 2011.

Once upon a time, there was an interior designer who envied her neighbor’s house. Not that she was unhappy in her own home, but there was just something special about the house across from her street. Every day she would pass the stunning Sweetwater home and wish that her family could live there.

Then one day, the designer, Teena Caldwell, owner of Twenty-Two Fifty Interiors, was overjoyed to see a “For Sale” sign go up at her dream home. “I knew right then that I wanted to buy the house,” Teena recalls. “Its structure and French flair attracted me.”

And so it was that five years ago, Teena and her husband, pediatric dentist Larry Caldwell, became the proud owners of the 6000-plus-square-foot house. “The home was very dark inside, and many prospective buyers probably could not see beyond the paint,” Teena says. “Buyers should always focus on the bones of the house. The floor plan should be the determining factor, because paint and the interiors can easily be changed.”

Taking her own advice, Teena decided to remodel the house into her dream home, which remains an ongoing project. Her goal was to redesign the house while keeping intact its French panache. “The house has 17 French doors,” Teena notes. “We often call it the house of doors.” The home’s front yard was completely redone to achieve the look of a well-trimmed symmetrical French garden. “The outside of a home should flow with the inside,” she adds.

The entrance foyer features several  unique accessories and a grand piano positioned near an elegant staircase. Impressive faux walls throughout the home were finished by Segreto Finishes and Decorative & Faux Finishes. Visitors also are immediately attracted to the large silk draperies that open to a beautiful view of a sprawling pool — or  as the family likes to call it, the “dogs’ playground,” where pooches Dakota and Zoe enjoy hanging out. (Family pets also include Prada, a formerly homeless — and now very fortunate — feline.)

The home beautifully blends traditional, contemporary, Asian and antiques. Teena is a firm believer in mixing a variety of style elements. “Sugar Land has a lot of people who like traditional designs, but I try to get my clients to think a little outside the box and include a few contemporary pieces,” she says. A good example is her own dining and living room, which has traditional furniture highlighted by contemporary art pieces. The result is a stylish blend of eclectic elements.

The kitchen was remodeled to accommodate the family’s lifestyle. “We completely tore down the old kitchen,” Teena says. “We opened it up, added more space, and installed new appliances.” The result was stunning. Features include distressed knotty alder cabinets and Enkeboll trim, honed granite countertops and a walnut-stained island. Custom-made cabinets neatly stow appliances. A large armoire beautifully conceals a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

On the first floor, the couple’s master bedroom, with its combination of wood and travertine floors, offers a serene and relaxing refuge at the end of a long day. Traditional browns are beautifully balanced with a lightened hint of blues. A two-way-mirror truly does double-duty, serving as a decorative mirror and a television in one.

Upstairs, the house has three more bedrooms. Two serve as a home away from home for the family’s guests, and the other is for Lauren Caldwell, Larry and Teena’s only daughter, who manages her mother’s design studio. Teena recalls that Lauren danced from the time she could walk through her days on the high school dance team, so her room reflects her love for dance, fashion, and design. A custom-designed iron bed adds a graceful charm.

Another gem upstairs is the nautical-themed media room, where automatic blackout draperies provide an ideal environment for watching movies. Anchoring the room is the entertainment wall where a pair of antique sirens, once used on an old ship to scare off demons of the water, frame the television. The walls have the appearance of torn paper, and a built-in aquarium completes the nautical theme. “This room is usually where you find the family and dogs watching the latest movies,” says Lauren, as she proudly talks about her mother’s work.

Finally, who wouldn’t love to work out in a well-equipped gym that makes you feel like you’re on a balcony in Italy, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea? “I don’t really like to exercise,” admits Teena. “So when I designed the gym, I wanted it to be a place that would encourage me to work out.” Scenic views of Italy are painted on all the walls, providing a sense of relaxation and of being surrounded by nature.

So once upon a time, a designer had a dream — and it became a reality. Is it even necessary to say that the Caldwell family lived happily ever after?

http://online.fortbendlifestylesandhomes.com/publication/?m=10371&l=1

http://onlinedigitalpublishing.com/publication/?m=10374&l=1

Comments: Leave a Comment

Starlight Communication Engages the Public and Announces the Company’s New Logo

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: farah@starlightcommunication.com 

or 281.515.2213

Starlight Communication recently announced its new logo, which has the full company name fixed with a light tower and a star on top. In February this year, Starlight initiated a campaign to select a new logo for the company based on public votes. As an organization always open to change, this decision was taken to better connect with Starlight’s clients and readers.

To steer away from any internal bias, Starlight gave an outsider who is familiar with the company’s work the critical responsibility to redesign the new logo. Starlight made the selection of its new logo after a public vote process, which engaged the public and turned them into decision makers for the company. The vote process included four logo choices from which to select the best. Spokesperson for Starlight Communication said, ”We want the new logo to be a reflection of what our clients and readers perceive us as, so we can better connect with those outside our little bubble.”

As of today, the new logo has been announced and is an official part of the company’s website. The website has also been subtly redesigned to blend in with the new logo, while keeping intact its main recognizable features. Soon, all communication materials will incorporate the new logo. 

For more information visit www.starlightcommunication.com

###

 

Comments: Leave a Comment

Thank You For Your Participation

Starlight Communication would like to thank our clients, readers, and the general public for participating in the company’s campaign for a new logo.

The voting process has now been closed. Thank you so much for all your votes and feedback. The company’s new logo will be announced soon this month.

Read about the project details at http://starlightcommunication.com/2011/02/logo/

Comments: Comments Off

Starlight’s New Logo Campaign

After difficult consideration, we have decided that Starlight’s current logo does not justify our growing trendy image. As an organization always open to change, we decided to redesign our logo to better connect with our clients and readers.

We want the new logo to be a reflection of what our clients and readers perceive us as, so we can better connect with those outside our little bubble.

To steer away from internal bias, we gave an outsider who is familiar with our work the critical responsibility to redesign our logo (if you like his design work, we will be glad to introduce).

Now, we need your help! Please vote for the best logo, which you feel fits our growing company image. If you are not familiar with our work, please browse through our website.

It only takes 5 seconds to vote!

Last day to vote is March 7, 2011

Comments: Comments Off

Don’t let your brand get lost in translation

Starlight Communication once again had the pleasure of working with a repeat client, Pilar Torres of MAS Branding. In the past, Starlight assisted this  Houston-based consultation firm with their editorial needs. This time, we expanded to assist them with their web requirements. MAS Branding serves new businesses and established organizations reach out to the Hispanic market.

“Hispanic Community is a growing population and by tapping into this market, businesses can gain a lot of exposure,” says Torres. MAS Branding believes that marketing efforts should not “get lost in translation.”

Check out their website at www.masbranding.com.

Comments: Leave a Comment

In the Business of Making Dream Homes a Reality

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Starlight Communication

 

Some people just do business, while others make dreams come true. Such is the case for B & A Flooring and Remodeling, a Houston-based shop that is in the business of making dream homes a reality.

“Our goal is to earn repeat business and win over referrals from happy customers,” according to a staff member at B & A Flooring and Remodeling.

B & A’s showroom located on 6452 Highway 6 has an excellent array of fine tiles, wood, laminate, carpet, granite and other flooring products in a variety of styles and colors.

From a simple bathroom project to granite installations, flooring, painting, roofing, lighting, and drywall– B & A does it all. It is a one stop shop for complete remodeling that begins with a dream and ends with a newly remodeled home. The friendly staff, affordable price, quality work, and easy financing can win over any one in the market to remodel.

“We never thought our home could be as beautiful as it is today,” said a Sugar Land-based client. “We are very pleased with the service and quality work we got from B & A Flooring and would recommend this company to anyone looking to renovate their home.”

Please visit www.baflooring.com for more information and browse through their idea gallery and interactive virtual kitchen for design ideas.

 ###

Comments: Leave a Comment
 

Holistic Approach

Need a website? Want publicity? Have content writing or editing needs? Interested in publishing a book, newsletter, website, or a magazine? How about landing an interview on TV? Starlight Communication offers a complete line of integrated services in web, editorial, public relations and media categories. Clients of Starlight find our company to be a one stop shop for all their media needs.

Portfolio Request

If you would like to receive a portfolio (PDF) of our editorial and communications work, please email info@starlightcommunication.com with "portfolio" on the subject line.

Popular Services

Website Design
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Web Content Writing
Content Managed Websites
Web Hosting and Domain Support
Copywriting & Editing
Feature & News Articles
Press Releases- Drafting and Distribution
Internet Marketing
Internet Branding
Video Scripts - Writing and Editing

Career Opportunities

If you would like to inquire about an opportunity to work with us or to apply for our internship program, please email info@starlightcommunication.com with "jobs" on the subject line.

Site Policy

Certain content found on Starlight Communication’s website may be protected by intellectual property laws and proper permission is required prior to republishing and reprinting. Read full policy...

Follow FarahLalani on Twitter
Identify. Light. Measure.