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As apps, social media and sharing photos leave a virtual trail, one local organization keeps families protected through cutting edge news and information.


Stephen J. Smith, Founder of A Wired Family

A Wired Family is a website made to help parents and families stay up to date with technology. Filled with collections of articles and short videos, A Wired Family helps parents keep up with the ever changing world of apps and how teens are using them. Often, the website provides a view of these apps and technology well before they are adopted by teens.

A Wired Family was created and is run by Stephen J Smith, who is currently working at Cincinnati Bell, but is a man of many talents. With over 30 years of experience in different industries, Smith has done a lot in 30 years, some of his favorite past professions include his work as a writer and director of film and video projects while working at NCR Corporation.

“It was an exceptional opportunity where technology and creativity would intersect. That experience working across the country with so many different people and technologies has helped me in my position today at Cincinnati Bell,” Smith explains.

That combination of technology and creativity has allowed Smith to also build off A Wired Family, with the SOCIAL MEDIA: YOUR DIGITAL TATTOO program. Connected through his website, this program is about teaching families about how to responsibly use social media and technology.

“Children today are the first generation that will grow up with much of their every move having been recorded either through their own will- by others or simply through the infrastructure they use. Therefore, their actions at age 15 can come back to haunt them later in life,” says Smith.

But where did this strong inspiration for family-based technology education come from? Smith explains.

Both the program and website were inspired by the suicide of a local high school student a few years ago. The young woman had sent an inappropriate photo to her boyfriend and after they broke up, he sent the photo out to many other people, which caused emotional distress for the young woman.

“After discussing the issue with our management, we felt it was incumbent on our company to help educate our community on the potential consequences regarding the misuse of social media. Following a lot of our program presentations, many parents would come up and ask me “Where can I find more information on these issues?” We thought a website was a perfect tool to continually update parents on the apps teens are using,” says Smith.

When it comes to the website itself, Smith writes all the articles and videos, with the help of Geoff Torbeck photography who records and edits the videos.

The content Smith uses comes mostly from what is seen and heard in his community. Smith himself studies technology and teen mental health issues constantly, and has spoken to over 270,000 people on those issues. He admits that his most compelling stories come directly from young people that have had bad, or sometimes great experiences with social media.

In today’s world though, there is so much content about social media, one might wonder how Smith is able to pick and choose which stories to cover.

“We have learned through the years that what is going on in other parts of our country is often different than what is actually going on in Cincinnati. To help, we surveyed over 10,000 local students on their use of apps and we use their feedback and discussions to aid in the direction of our material,” says Smith.

Most of the followers of Smith’s blog happen organically through other social media mentions, or through the result of their physical audience mentioning their program and website to friends and associates. That physical audience has also stemmed and grown from word of mouth.

The growth of this blog has happened because the audience understands what it is. Smith notes that he wants people to understand this blog isn’t about selling Cincinnati Bell products or services, but is instead his community outreach to help protect families in his hometown.

“We hope families understand that social media and technology are great tools for this generation. However, when unfettered access to such technology is given to children, the results can be tragic. We are here to help guide you along the way,” Smith explains.

For more information on the program or website itself, click here.


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A local marketing agency is hosting a new event series that showcases local brands and the thought leaders behind their social media strategies.

Last year’s Social Media Show & Tell event at Union Hall in OTR

In the ever-changing, nomadically-navigated field of social media, it’s important to learn from those using it to successfully build their brand. That’s the idea behind Dooley Media and their recently launched “Social Media Show & Tell” event series.

Dooley Media is a brand-building agency that helps clients tell great stories well. “We dive deep into the customer experience to uncover opportunities for producing original, share-worthy content. Our work results in a brand that people want to connect with, be a part of, and tell their friends about,” their website boasts, with clients ranging from Ester Price to Taste of Belgium.

“The goal is to look at the companies, understand their customer experience and learn about the different ways to produce that share-worthy content,” says creative director Autumn Heisler. “This could include anything from animated gifs to videos, all of which are ways of complex storytelling.” Since Dooley Media is all about connecting with viewers, careful consideration is taken into each client’s target audience.

(l-r) Last year’s Social Media Show & Tell speakers included Brennan Hill (Crossroads Church), Shay Nartker (Frameri), Tracey Ireland (Rhinegeist), Dooley Media founder Matthew Dooley, Jeremy K Smith (P&G), and Deidre Hazelbaker (Brandominium).

“The content we make can be seen on multiple platforms depending on a brand’s target audience. Some content is pushed out through platforms that Dooley Media clients are on, such as Facebook or Instagram, so getting the word out can be as simple as sending a video out on these platforms,” continues Heisler.

To develop the correct strategy for each client, Dooley Media sifts through all the content a client gives them to find that real, share-worthy story using a simple, but effective, process. It involves talking to a brand’s current customer base, full of people who are already devoted and love that brand. Dooley Media then brings both the client and customer in one room to find out what makes the brand great in the customer’s opinion.

“We go through a process of what we refer to as ‘design thinking,’ which is problem solving based on empathy. It’s important to make sure the people we’re trying to reach through social media actually care what the brand is saying,” says Heisler. “Viewers have to enjoy the content and find value in it, because if they don’t, then the likelihood that they will share that information is slim.”

Heisler explained that her favorite part of building and sharing a brand’s story is helping that brand understand themselves in a new way. “Creating the content is fun, I like the challenge of helping our clients see their brands in a different light. A lot of times, brands have an idea of what to communicate, but it isn’t executed in the right way. I enjoy the process of digging through that good content which might not necessarily be presented in a good way, and tweaking it so that it IS presented in a good, memorable way.”

To showcase local brands successfully sharing their stories on social media, Dooley Media recently held its first-ever “Social Media Show & Tell” event. The concept is simple: three timed topics, five thought leaders, free drinks and food. The first event was such a success, they’re doing it again on Feb. 27, 6pm at Union Hall in OTR. Speakers at this event include: Levi Bethune of Cladwell, Cloverleaf, & Discover&Build; Nate Engels of Northlich,, &; Lucrecer Braxton of Hello Friend Podcast &; Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators; and Christina Duccilli of Rookwood Pottery.

To learn more about the event and RSVP, click here To learn more about Dooley Media, click here.

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We chat with the dynamic duo behind an event helping to improve and build your personal brand image, from your wardrobe choices to your online presence.

Laura Wize and
Laura Wize and Kim Bolden, Founders of BOLD Creative Solutions, LLC.

Are you a creative professional looking to revamp your image? “Drawing interest to your creative endeavors or your business attraction starts with the eye. Once you’ve caught someone’s eye, you can then begin to communicate your message,” says Laura Wize, co-owner and consultant at BOLD Creative solutions, LLC.

BOLD Creative Solutions, LLC hosted an event called, “Image is Everything: The Basics of Building Your Brand” on November 12 at the Cincinnati Fire Museum, which was the first lecture in a series surrounding the topic of brand image. “We want to continue the conversation on branding and how to effectively use social media,” says Wize.

BOLD Creative Solutions is a consulting and development firm and is the company hosting the event. The company works to enhance the careers of creative professionals and small businesses by administering information needed to expand their brands and enhance their influence.


Wize and Kim Bolden, fellow co-owner of BOLD Creative Solutions, LLC, perform as spoken word artists, so they are creatives themselves and have planned and produced events around the Cincinnati area for seven years. “We started this talk series to create a sense of community with local creatives,“ she says. This was the first talk of the series and speakers covered various aspects of image including: personal image, graphic design, and image on social media. The talk provided a chance to start a dialogue about taking the first steps to becoming a creative professional by carefully thinking about their personal image and branding.

The target audience of the events include creative professionals, performance artists, poets, visual artists, singers, make-up artists, and anyone who plans to use social media as a marketing tool. “This is also perfect for small business owners because establishing a brand image is essential when you are just getting started,” says Wize. “It attracts potential clients and creates rapport with your existing customers.”

Laura Wize, Co-Founder of BOLD Creative
Laura Wize, Co-Founder of BOLD Creative Solutions, LLC

The event also included a panel that gave Wize and Bolden a chance to talk about building an affective image, which is important because it’s sometimes the only thing holding your business back. “When you are starting a business or trying to take your creativity to the next level, you need to be able to communicate without words in a market that is highly influenced by social media and visual marketing,” she says.

Wize’s favorite things about the event is that it creates a new community of people who want to talk about branding. “Cincinnati is starting to buzz with very cool artists and small businesses,” says Wize. “We feel that making connections and networking with each other is the best way to create a market for everyone to be successful.”

The event included a variety of speakers, like Wize, Bolden, Saadia Solomon-Mingo, a makeup artist with a YouTube channel, Annie Winegardner, a marketing manager at Top Golf and writes a blog called “Success on Stilettos,” and Tiffany Stewart, who runs The Virtual Resource Center, which helps businesses to reach social media goals.

To learn more about BOLD Creative Solutions, visit their website.

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The S.M.A.R.T. program hopes to help teens use social media to further their futures, not hinder them. Read more to learn how S.M.A.R.T. can help your teen.

The S.M.A.R.T. program aims to help teens be safe and smart about their social media use.
The S.M.A.R.T. program aims to help teens be safe and smart about their social media use.

While social media is great for sharing experiences with friends and family, there’s a dark underbelly of the platform that often jeopardizes opportunities for our youth when not used properly. That’s where the S.M.A.R.T. program aims to help, as they teach teenagers how to cautiously and responsibly navigate social media and avoid common pitfalls.

“S.M.A.R.T.” stands for Social Media Awareness and Responsibility Training. The program was founded by former high school and college athletes Brandon Elliott and Nick Williams, who saw far too many promising, hardworking students squander their potential because of poor choices made on social media. They grew tired of seeing irresponsible Instagram and Facebook posts and Tweets cost students opportunities and decided to act. They wanted to prevent further mistakes through educating teenagers on smart social media use.

“The reason for this is simple,” Elliott and Williams write on their blog. “They’ve never been taught how to use social media responsibly.” Social media is a relatively new world that can change in an instant, which means that parents and teachers often don’t have experience in training in dealing with it. Without guidance, teenagers often make the mistakes that come with navigating a new situation, except there is a record of their mistakes and with a simple Google search they can be found by parents, potential employers, and colleges. But social media can not only be used responsibly but can help further a student’s “brand,” through promoting their work and presenting an image.

Elliott and Williams take their S.M.A.R.T. program to different schools and tailor their presentation to the needs of each school, but focus on the fact that, as they say on their blog, “Pressing “send on social media is one of the few things that we do without rehearsing. The SMART Program likes to say it’s similar to receiving the keys to a Ferrari without a driver’s license. Reckless operation can cause accidents, have everlasting effects, and even cause death.”

They focus on some of the questions teens should ask themselves before posting: Will their family name – the reputations and even jobs of their family members – be at risk because of what they post, and could the posts jeopardize the reputations, businesses, and sponsorships for their place of employment, school, or any other organization to which they may belong?

The goal of the S.M.A.R.T. program is to teach students to be aware and responsible when posting for social media. Williams and Elliott hope to help teenagers think of themselves and their social media accounts as “brands,” to understand the risks and rewards of social media, and to use social media to make a positive impact.

The S.M.A.R.T Program is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to the S.M.A.R.T Program are tax-deductible to the extent provided by federal law.

“Your generosity keeps us going. We take great care to make sure we get the most out of our funding,” according to Elliott and Williams. “Every gift helps educate more and more people.”

Learn more at

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See how one local woman started a business to give clients a game plan for building strong digital brands and online communities.

Ray Ball, Founder of BallR Media
Ray Ball, Founder of BallR Media

Describing herself as a “local girl with a global mindset,” Walnut Hills native Ray Ball serves the city she loves with BallR Media, a full-service social and digital media agency. BallR Media specializes in creating social media campaigns, content creation, search engine optimization, blog posting, digital branding, and public relations and consulting. “We essentially find your community then grow it digitally and in person,” Ball says.

Ball started working part time on BallR Media in June of 2015 and switched to full time in October of 2015. She named her company not only as a play on her name but to reflect her time as a college athlete, which she says gave her “the drive, motivation, and determination to succeed against all odds” that she uses when she takes on new clients and difficult projects. Ball works alone, part of what she says makes BallR Media unique. Getting to know the client, combined with thinking outside the box, is how Ball does her job.

“I’m not a big box agency that hires hundreds of people to run a campaign,” she explains. “I want to meet all my clients. I want to know about your family, your history, what makes you, you. Because at the end of the day that’s what drives your company!”

Ball started her career in orthopedics but realized after four years that it wasn’t for her. “I’m a very creative person and I felt so stifled in a career I didn’t love,” Ball says. She started her blog, A Few Hungry Girls, a blog about healthy eating and cooking options. Having a creative outlet was a catalyst for Ball to change her life.

On the blog, she creates easy-to-replicate, inexpensive, and healthy recipes and posts that break down health benefits of everyday foods. She used her blog and her Instagram page to highlight locally-owned restaurants and bars, helping create a buzz for the businesses. The blog has also functioned as a “working résumé,” showing her abilities in blogging, social media, and content creation.

Another turning point was a trip to Haiti, where her mother’s family is from. “It was so inspiring to see a country that has gone through so much turmoil and still be incredibly proud, faithful, and resilient,” Ball says.

“Haitian culture taught me that through any adversity with a little bit of faith I can still succeed and be happy.” The experience inspired Ball to make a positive change in her life. “Upon return from Haiti I realized where I was in life, emotionally, mentally, and physically just wasn’t right,” Ball says, and she began eating better, working out, boosting her self-confidence, and working to find her place in life.

Since starting BallR Media, Ball has worked with a number of companies to build their brands, such as locally owned and operated Power Blendz Nutrition, which just launched a new smoothie truck. She also has begun teaching monthly classes to small business owner to teach them how to grow their brands. Ball loves working side by side with local clients and “bringing a brand to life.”

To learn more, visit

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Learn about a local social media content curator who helps businesses stay buzzing online.

Jus B Media helps clients with social media so they can focus on other aspects of their business.
Jus B Media helps clients with social media so they can focus on other aspects of their business.

In 2016, all walks of businesses need to be present online in order to stay relevant and fresh. With a new social media platform popping up what seems like everyday, it’s hard to keep up among other administrative demands. That’s where Jus B Media saves the day. Owner and “Queen Bee” Jessica Wagner explains.

“I specialize in Social Media & Reputation Management. I keep my clients active and engaged on outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, as well as responding to both positive and negative comments on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google+.” She adds, “Along with social media I also offer photography, videography, and website development. My goal is to make sure my clients are well rounded so they have a lot of valuable content and a clear voice and vision that cuts through all of the noise on the web.”

Wagner saw the need for a business like Jus B Media while working on her thesis project to finish her Communication degree. She says, “I had been doing social media for three clients while in school and decided it was what I wanted to do forever. I created Jus B Media’s branding, mission, website, social pages, business cards, and promo video by June 30th and opened my doors July 1, 2015.”

While Jus B Media will celebrate their first anniversary this summer, it wasn’t Wagner’s first business venture. She explains, “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business, Exhibit A Models, in my early 20’s and ran that for 7 years. After that, I bounced around a little in offices [and was] not really feeling fulfilled. That’s when I knew it was time to finish my degree and get back to what I love: internet marketing.”

Jus B Media’s goal is to help simplify business-owners’ lives by taking over their digital footprint. “Being a social media manager is not just posting on Facebook. It’s keeping small businesses relevant where people see them most.” She continues, “My sole existence is to help my clients by taking social media off their plate so they can focus on things like inventory, staffing, and day-to-day operations.”

Wagner has become literate in all the true and new social media platforms, from favorites like Facebook and Instagram, to more un-charted sites like Snapchat and Periscope. But no matter what platform she’s using, Wagner always strives for authenticity. “Be yourself. In the voice of my clients, I respond how they would respond to their friends and family. Knowing your audience is key, too. The way one would respond on Twitter or Instagram might not be the same way one would respond on Facebook or LinkedIn.”

Her advice to those who are just dipping their toes into the social media landscape? “It’s not about how many platforms you are on. Pick one that you like, learn it, and do it well.” To learn more about Jus B Media and their services, visit

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Need some fresh inspiration and motivation? Learn how this Digital Diva and Business Coach teaches businesswomen to better their businesses and their lives.

Ali Rittenhouse
Ali Rittenhouse is a business coach who helps people define their career paths following a turbulent start to her own professional life.

Business coach Ali Rittenhouse doesn’t just help people build amazing websites; she helps them define their career paths. Rittenhouse had a rocky start in her own life, but she transformed herself into a high-earning businesswoman and has since helped countless others to do the same.

Becoming a business coach wasn’t a decision Rittenhouse made overnight, but her path was gradually revealed to her.

“It naturally happened when I knew I wanted to better my business and grow it,” she said. “I’ve always been helping businesses be better, even when I was still in corporate America. Everything I had done in the past was leading me to switching my title, as I was already doing everything a business coach did.”

Throughout the last nine years, Rittenhouse’s business has boomed. She has become an admired and award-winning entrepreneur with a plethora of adoring clients and is a regular contributor for lifestyle television show Living Dayton.

Two of her proudest moments, she says, were shooting videos exclusively for and becoming a Social Media Reporter at NASA Headquarters. But her favorite part of what she does is the day-to-day impact she has “working with women one-on-one to help them build their dream businesses. There is a magic glow that a woman has when she creates a life she loves, and I have a hand in helping them create it.”

Rittenhouse says she will continue the high-end one-on-one coaching that has made her so successful. Her coaching style is custom, varying with each client and their needs.

“We work together to create a plan that fits their needs and desires,” she says. “I’ve found if you try to force people into something they aren’t into, they won’t give it their best, or worse, won’t do anything at all. I want my clients to take lots of action in their business to make it successful. After all, my success depends on the success my clients receive!”

For potential clients who aren’t quite ready for one-on-one coaching, Rittenhouse recently launched a new Online Success Academy for Women Entrepreneurs that aims to bring together community, learning and coaching. She says she’s also working on a major goal of hers: to launch a new web show on YouTube that follows successful businesswomen and tells their stories.

Rittenhouse advises businesspeople looking to better themselves and their businesses to keep their eyes on three things: focus, systems and consistency.

“In order to be better or grow bigger, you need to be able to keep it all together,” she says. “Having focus on what the goal is will be key in being better. Distractions, hard-times and other bumps in the road will happen. Focus will help you get through them. Systems keep business rolling when you’re expanding and your attention needs to focus on other tasks to make the business better. Creating consistency before you take the leap allows you to keep the relationship flowing with your past, current and future customers.”

To learn more, visit