Connecticut’s new nonprofit health insurance company, HealthyCT

healthyct networkI started a new job in October, working in marketing for a new nonprofit health insurance company in Connecticut.

HealthyCT offers health plans for individuals and businesses. We’re a CO-OP and we don’t have shareholders. Our Board of Directors will include members.

HealthyCT is sometimes confused with Access Health CT, the state’s new insurance marketplace, often referred to as “the exchange.” But we’re a different company, as the graphic included here explains. Our plans are available both on and off the exchange, and we have the same network of physicians and medial professionals, regardless of where you enroll with us.

Check out our website at the link above or by clicking on the graphic.


Every city or town needs a simple Twitter hashtag (i.e. #MadisonCT, #BaltimoreMD)

A quick thought…

Some cities and towns have active visitor-focused and tourism-related organizations that market their hometown well and respond quickly to requests for information about what’s happening locally. There are also cities and towns that have a hashtag they’ve created and promoted, while some have one that has grown more organically.

Other locations have almost no coordinated Twitter presence at all, which leaves users with an interest in that place to search for various combinations of the city and state name to see what’s being tweeted from/about it. Opportunities to promote a place, its attractions and its businesses are being missed.

But there’s a simple solution for this: We can all agree on a uniform way to catalog city/town related tweets that will make it easy for anyone (residents, visitors, local businesses, government leaders, the media) to find them via a Twitter search.

I suggest we all use #CityStateAbbreviation. For example, my new hometown would be #MadisonCT and my birthplace would be #BaltimoreMD. This hashtag could be added to any tweet related to local news/events that people want easily found.

In some cases the state may seem unnecessary, but it can help avoid confusion. For example, if I just used #Madison, it might take some work for searchers to determine if those tweets are related to the one in Connecticut vs. the one in Wisconsin vs. the one in New Jersey vs. the one from wherever else there might be a Madison.

This may all sound simple, but finding tweets on local events and news often requires multiple searches or following several different hashtags. Hopefully an approach like this would make local tweeting more searchable and encourage even more people to tweet local information more frequently. And this can all be done while still including whatever local hashtags are already being used in tweets but that some people may be unaware of.

Bánh mì and Vietnamese iced coffee in NYC

vietnamesse iced coffee

Vietnamese iced coffee from the Paris Sandwich Cafe in New York City

I’m doing some freelance work to spread the word about the Paris Sandwich Cafe in New York City. I stopped in there for lunch today and that’s their Vietnamese Iced Coffee pictured here.

They’re working to grow their Facebook following, so check them out if you’re in NYC (they have a location in Jersey City too), give their Facebook page a Like and maybe get a few dozen of your NYC friends to do the same!

The tweet that Deadspin left out

Deadspin posted a story Thursday stating, “ESPN has suspended [Bill] Simmons from Twitter for a few days after he called the Skip Bayless-Richard Sherman First Take meltdown last week awful and embarrassing.” In the piece, Deadspin’s John Koblin points out two tweets Simmons sent:


My first thought after reading the Deadspin post and the tweets was that ESPN may have overreacted:

But then I looked through Simmons’ Twitter timeline and saw this tweet he sent immediately before the two linked to in that Deadspin post:

That changed my perspective a bit:

I don’t know exactly which tweet got Simmons suspended. Perhaps it was all of them put together or maybe it was just the two cited in the Deadspin post, which didn’t seem all that bad to me; they were just Simmons’ honest thoughts on the “First Take” Sherman-Bayless segment, which then got retweeted and created even more buzz about it.

But, it would seem to me that the earlier tweet—where Simmons suggested people change the station away from ESPN—is the type that could bother an employer. I imagine that if I essentially tweeted for customers to go find a different product for a while, some of my former bosses might have wanted a word with me. Would it be worthy of a suspension? Maybe. It certainly strikes me as more damaging than the two tweets Simmons sent with his thoughts on the interview.

What I don’t understand is why that tweet wouldn’t be one of the focal points for Deadspin in their article on the suspension. I looked back and found Koblin linked to it in an earlier post on Simmons’ critical tweets, where he says Simmons “started off lightly.” And Koblin does link to that older post in his one about the suspension. But unless a source at ESPN told Deadspin it was the two tweets on the segment specifically that got him suspended, I’d be looking at the one he sent right before those, where he told people to turn off the network he works for.

ESPN should want debate and chatter about their products, even if it means letting their employees be critical of them sometimes. But what they probably shouldn’t want is a guy who works for them telling his 2 million Twitter followers, “don’t watch it.”

Sidenote: Nearly every single bit of this saga seems great for ESPN and their ratings: the segment, the Simmons tweets and the suspension. They might want to look into a pro wrestling approach where they just script all this stuff.

#hiremikeholden on

The #hiremikeholden hashtag made it onto, thanks to my fantastic wife! The Post wished good luck on Twitter too, after I tweeted the image below.  Thanks to them and everyone else who has been spreading the word about my job search and solo PR and marketing work. I appreciate it!


#hiremikeholden: Taking my job search viral and starting a PR/marketing firm


—Original Post—
As I take the next step forward in my career, I’m looking to do two things and I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to check this out and share it with people.

My goals with this blog post:

  1. Leverage my network to take my PR/Marketing job search viral
  2. Take on PR/Marketing clients and start my own firm

Leveraging my network for a viral job search
On the first item, whenever it has come time for me to take the next step in my career, I’ve almost always found that new opportunity through my network of business contacts, former colleagues, classmates, family and friends. My hope is that I can leverage my network to take my job search viral this time, putting my talents and resume in front of more people quicker. If you think others might benefit from working with me, either on a full-time or contract basis, please use the sharing options at the bottom of this post to pass it along to others.

For a look at some of my skills and accomplishments, please read on…

Taking on clients for PR/Marketing work
For over a dozen years I’ve worked in marketing and PR, compiling experience across a number of industries such as retail, education, the performing arts, non-profits, membership organizations, and more.

If you want to develop email campaigns that generate clicks to your website, I can take your objectives and turn them into marketing copy that excites people. If you want blog content that will enhance your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts and that your customers will want to share via their social networks, contact me so that we can discuss it. If creative, out-of-the-box PR ideas are what you’re looking for, I can develop campaigns that will get you press and word-of-mouth buzz. I’ve successfully pitched stories at the local and national level to outlets such as the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, Politico, Yahoo Sports, The Washington Post and hundreds of others.

Examples of my work…

  • As the media relations manager for Wolf Trap, I helped to launch the performing arts organization’s internet radio station and successfully pitched a story to The Washington Post about the way Wolf Trap and other venues were using this and other technologies such as podcasts: “Arts Groups Put on Their Own Shows.”
  • With D.C. area restaurant company Austin Grill, I launched a promotion with the NHL’s Washington Capitals that gave fans free wings anytime the team scored six goals or more at home. It received press from, was mentioned by Alex Ovechkin in a post-game interview, made it onto team owner Ted Leonsis’ blog and was featured in this Washington Post article: “Caps Fans Devour Wings.” A similar version of the wings promotion lives on today with Glory Days Grill.
  • While with education non-profit ABCTE, the CEO and I brainstormed an idea to promote a free trial of our program through a call to action on the main page of our website, which ended up driving in 75-100 sales leads per week for the company.
  • In 2009, using this blog at, I helped bring attention to how some D.C. area sports fans were frustrated about a ComcastSportsnet channel not being carried by Verizon FiOS. Verizon eventually added the channel (check out the comments here).
  • At the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA), I used a combination of paid ads along with online content and contests to grow the organization’s Facebook fans from 9,000 to over 17,000 in less than six months. I worked with the IT team to launch the Kickball Today blog, using it as landing page for emails and social media campaigns. I also oversaw development of a franchise section of WAKA website and a sports franchise microsite.

Those are a few examples of my work. Please check out my LinkedIn profile for more on my experience.

But what I really want to talk about is how I can help you
I thought it was important that I list some of what I’ve done in PR and marketing, but I’m really more interested in discussing how I can leverage this experience to help you and others.

If you know someone who might be interested in working with me, please take a minute to share this via email, Facebook , Twitter, etc. using the links below. I can also be reached via email at blog AT, on Twitter at @mikeholden (I’m also going to use the hashtag #hiremikeholden there to help spread the word about this blog post), or just call me at 703-606-8398.

Thanks in advance to all of you who help spread the word!

On BLY: 90.7% increase in price of these Caps season tickets over five years

With the new season ticket prices the Caps have announced for next season, two 400 level Caps season tickets that went for $1713 total in 2008-09 will now go for $3266 next season. That’s a 90.7% increase in 5 years.

It’s a business and the team needs to capitalize while they are hot, but raising the prices every year for five years and to this extent feels like a little much. Meanwhile, the Ravens announced their ticket prices will remain the same for the third straight year, with their president saying, “We know that our fans are continuing to be stretched financially to pay for season tickets. While the economy is improving, it’s still not strong.”

Why aren’t the Caps rewarding their plan holders a bit for their loyalty? Maybe take a year off with the price hikes? The Ravens have taken three.

Read more about it here: “Looking at the bigger picture and the dollars of the Caps continued season ticket price increases