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Q&A w/ The Charlotte Observer’s Food Editor

Posted by on 7:32 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Our latest Q&A participant should need no introduction as she is a seasoned newspaper veteran who has served as a journalist since 1978, and as a food editor since 1989. As an award winner, cookbook author and James Beard committee member (among many other things), Kathleen Purvis has seen a thing or two in the food world and we were so thankful to be able to sit down with her recently. We talked about food inspiring hard discussions; her latest venture; and her advice for you. Take a look into her world: Q: Of course, we first must ask, why food? A: I started out as a hard-news journalist. I was a police reporter, national wire editor, general assignment reporter, and when I arrived in Charlotte in 1985, a page designer. However, coming from a family that cooked a lot, I always found myself intrigued by the food section and I wanted to learn more. At the time, many women were veering away from writing the food section because they didn’t want to get pigeonholed as just a women’s page writer, but I found that there was some good news to be found there. If you write about anything through the lens of food you can tell some really good stories. I started writing those stories, forced my way into the food section and looked at it with a wider lens of news and culture as well. Q: Your recent article, which used cornbread as a catalyst to talk about race in the south, won an award. What inspires you to dig deep into these stories past just the food? A: People want to emotionally engage with stories. And often, the ones that engage people are also the ones that start arguments and inspire intense feelings about the subject. To get to those takes a lot more analytical thinking and many times you must write about things other people are afraid to write about. I was told, “not to go there,” on the cornbread story because it would cause an argument and tension. Yet, I’ve found that if we can start the discussion with something a little less threatening, like putting sugar in cornbread, then it can ease that tension and then we can talk about something deeper and more important. On the surface, writing about the difference in cornbread recipes seems funny but people really have intense feelings about their food. Sharing your food differences and similarities with someone can lead you to become comfortable talking about more profound issues. Q: What is the latest venture you are working on and what have you learned from it? A: I’ve been working on a travel/food book focused on touring southern craft distilleries. One of the things I found interesting was that this kind of travel hits Millennials and Baby Boomers, but it doesn’t hit the Gen Xers. The Gen Xers have stuff to do on the weekends – they are settling in, buying a home, having kids and don’t have the time to travel to do new experiences. But the other groups do. However, they go out for completely different reasons. The Millennials want to tell a story on their social media feed to all their followers. The Baby Boomers want an excuse for an experience, to see their...

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Q&A w/ CBJ’s Caroline Hudson

Posted by on 3:34 pm in Blog | 0 comments

We recently sat down with Charlotte Business Journal’s (CBJ) newest reporter, Caroline Hudson, who covers banking, finance and technology. We wanted to get to know her a little better and understand how best to work with her. That is our job, right?! Q: Hi, Caroline! Tell us a bit about yourself! How’s the new gig going? What attracted you to the CBJ? A: I’m originally from Greensboro but I was in Greenville, N.C., for the past 2.5 years where I did more general assignment work with a daily publication writing about everything and anything. I’m enjoying my time at CBJ where now I can focus and home in on one particular beat.  My predecessor really set the stage for me, and I’m so glad she did. I’m walking into great relationships and have spent a lot of time my first few weeks cultivating those by networking with people and looking for potential sources.  I generally do a story or two a day, but I’m so grateful that my bosses gave me that time to really get to know and understand the landscape. One thing that attracted me to CBJ was the tenure of its reporters, mostly all being there for several years. Tenure really says a lot about an organization and, in particular, a newsroom. Q: How do you think your time will be spent within your beats? A: Definitely a focus on banking and financial services, but also touching fintech, technology and startups. There’s so much going on here!   Q: Any tips for PR professionals who would like to work with you? A: Yes. Don’t be afraid to talk to me. A lot of people in the industry are trained to be on guard around reporters, which I understand and makes sense, but the vast majority of journalists aren’t out to get you or looking for dirt. So, if I ask you a simple question, I’m truly just looking for the answer to that question. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I receive a lot of quotes that are heavily edited. Readers are smart and know what canned copy looks like. Keep in mind the reader wants to have a conversation (via a quote) without actually having to have a conversation. Q: How is social media impacting your job? A: Social is a very important part of what I do. I’m now focusing on building a base on Twitter — and other channels — but social media is a great source for story ideas. It’s such a relaxed and comfortable form of communication. Story pitches from PR professionals still usually come via email. We also break a lot of news on social since it’s in real time.   Q: What’s your mantra on photos? A: We try to take our own since we have a great photographer on staff, but sometimes the schedule just doesn’t permit so it’s nice when companies do have something on hand, as a backup, to illustrate the story if need be. A huge thanks to Caroline Hudson. She can be found on Twitter @CBJHudson or email at...

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Giving Thanks: Feasting on Public Relations’ Benefits

Posted by on 12:30 pm in Blog | 0 comments

At Pivot PR we geek out over public relations (PR) and during this month of Thanksgiving, I am sharing why we are thankful for this stellar segment of marketing. And just so you don’t think we’re absolutely cuckoo, I’ve included some quotes from all-star business folks. They seem pretty thankful for PR too. Thank-point #1: Lasting Memories Which sticks out most in your mind? The store-bought pumpkin pie or the time spent with grandma every year making the pumpkin pie? Exactly. Along those same lines, how long does the 30- to 60-second paid advertising spot stick in your brain? Memories can’t be fabricated or paid for. They must be organic and that’s exactly what public relations is. Whether it’s media relations, community relations or influencer relations that’s behind the scenes of the article, event or social media post that creates a lasting memory with you, it’s all thanks to public relations. As Barbara Corcoran, sharkette on The Shark Tank, stated at an Inc. conference, “If you’re not being quoted in the press, you’re losing market share by losing limelight.” Thank-point #2: Dinner-Table Conversation Do you sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and discuss the banner ad that was served up to you 5x while you were reading an article, or do you talk about the article you saw maybe even just one time? (You might argue that you will poke fun at an ad but how many of you can remember WHICH product the ad is actually marketing?) Forbes magazine wrote, “Data from influencer marketing platform MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.” An influencer could be a traditional journalist or perhaps a blogger or average person like you or me who has built an impressive following by covering a topic (e.g., food) as a hobby. Thing is, you believe them, don’t you?! Public relations efforts reach these folks and you pay more attention and believe what they say more than you do ads. Do you believe what paid ads (i.e., a brand) tell you? And lastly, think about the buyer process with B2C or B2B customers: consumers are savvy these days and start their buying process by researching way before they contact you or step in your store, restaurant, etc. With public relations, you have blogs, media stories, social media content, reviews and more that consumers can consume – and that can tip the scales for them to decide on YOUR company! Not to mention the benefits in Google by way of constant content. “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson Thank-point #3: Big Things Come in Small Packages With gift-buying holidays around the corner, let’s use that as our analogy here. Sure; you could spend thousands of dollars on a gift but will it have meaning? Will it be memorable? Will it make the recipient happy and feel loved? Or could you make something uber thoughtful from scratch or spend half the cost of the super expensive gift but tailor it to the recipient’s interests and have it be the gift that they never forget? Advertising costs can be through the roof and to point #2, will it even achieve your objectives? Don’t get me wrong;...

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Q&A With Charlotte Post’s Ashley Mahoney

Posted by on 12:17 pm in Blog | 0 comments

We recently caught up with Ashley Mahoney, multimedia journalist for The Charlotte Post. She shared with us her thoughts on what sets the Post apart, how she turned a family tragedy into a way to help others, and the importance of knowing who you are pitching to. What is unique about The Charlotte Post? What sets you apart from other outlets in Charlotte? We are unique because we are covering almost exclusively what is going on in Charlotte. There is a lot going on outside of Charlotte, but we aren’t the Washington Post or the Seattle Post; we are the Charlotte Post. For example, in sports, you are not going to find the scores from every NFL game that happened that weekend, but you will find stories about most of the area teams. We have also started covering futbol (soccer, Queen City Football Chronicle) more extensively, which is unique. We like to provide news from the perspective of those who historically haven’t been acknowledged by many of the major outlets; we have been “The Voice of the Black Community Since 1906.” How do you reach people outside of the weekly paper? We have recently started two podcasts; Sports Charlotte is all about Charlotte sports and the other is more political, called The Stump. It’s been a great way to reach more people who want to be informed about what is going on, but may not pick up a paper or go to an event. For example, with our recent interviews with the mayoral candidates, people didn’t have to buy a ticket or show up at a specific time to hear from them. They could tune in any time, while they were driving, while they were walking their dog and trust us to ask the questions they wanted the answers to. Are there any big projects you are currently working on? Yes! My mom died of cancer in August. We started a cancer awareness series called Racing Against Cancer. We wanted to raise awareness about cancer, while providing support and information. We have discussed what cancer is, what the treatment options are, how it impacts you financially, different ways to deal with the news and more. It is targeted at not just the patient, but also all those people who are fighting alongside them and who need to be educated. We have been able to disseminate the information in a way people can more easily digest on their own time, when they are not terrified sitting in a doctor’s office. I am not a doctor, I am not on the Fortune 500 list, I am just a journalist in Charlotte. However, I can write about these things and help make it easier for people going through it. What is your best advice for PR firms looking to reach you? The relationship is key. As cliché as that sounds, it really is about the individual and their knowledge of who we are at the Post. You can tell when someone sends you the exact same email that’s been sent to hundreds of other people. When the sender knows who we are, what our mission is, what I write about, it makes it a lot easier. After I develop that relationship, I also begin to go back to that person, call them...

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Q&A With Charlotte Center City Partners’ Steven Cole

Posted by on 12:41 pm in Blog | 0 comments

  You may or you may not be familiar with Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP). Because we are a public relations (PR) agency with clients in Uptown, it’s crucial for us to have relationships with people like Steven Cole, Director of Communications. So, we caught up with him recently to hear what he had to say about CCCP and best practices for PR and communications professionals.   For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a little about CCCP. We are a 501(c)(4) that collaborates with and convenes organizations, government and non-profits to make center city and South End a more livable, workable and playable place. Creating one central hub of employment and culture is great for the city because the infrastructure is already in place. We perform functions ranging from economic development, strategic planning and quite a few events like the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Charlotte City festivals. We also manage the 7th Street Market and Charlotte B-cycle.   Is your background in communications? I practiced PR in the army for 8 years. I spent time with the Honor Guard doing media relations in Afghanistan and working jointly with the international agency, Fleishman Hilliard. Some of my most recent work was in Los Angeles in the film and TV industry where I did some fun and interesting things like product placement and brand management with entertainment media.   What skills and experiences have you taken from the army and applied to your role at CCCP? Time management, which I know most PR/marketing pros can appreciate! Also, something that’s more similar than I thought is the importance of organizational thinking — always relying on and reminding yourself of the organization’s mission to help keep you on track.   You have a newsletter, right? What’s its purpose and how can marketing folks work with you? Absolutely; it’s weekly, and you can sign up through charlottecentercity.org or our Facebook page here. The format can differ slightly depending on what’s going on but we typically have a feature article written by someone on staff, then we’ll also repost articles from other sources highlighting different events and economic development interests. I encourage anyone within our constituency to send me relevant story ideas or events for consideration. You can email me at scole@charlottecentercity.org.   What’s your biggest PR pet peeve? I guess I wouldn’t call it a pet peeve, but people often think all you need is a relationship with a journalist to get quality coverage. Relationships are great, but you must have quality content first.   Any advice for PR folks in Charlotte? Build a diverse team of subject matter experts. That way, you’re not relying on one individual for all interviews and/or...

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Q&A With QC Exclusive’s Sunny Hubler

Posted by on 3:32 pm in Blog | 0 comments

    Tell us about your position as digital editor at QC Exclusive and how it is different from being a writer. What is your day to day like? I do a little bit of everything now! QC Exclusive is really small. There are seven of us who are full-time and only part of that is editorial. The rest is sales. Magazines are a little different than any other media form because they take longer to come out. We curate articles for the magazine As an editor, even though the official title is digital editor, I do a lot of the print stuff too: writing, editing, curating, helping with scheduling and then also assisting on photo shoots, as well as the website and all of the social media. I mean we all kind of have our hands in everything to a certain extent. When I was writing I was just writing and now it is a little bit of everything. And I still do the writing process too: setting up interviews, doing the interviews, transcribing the interviews, writing the piece — which is awesome, it’s all really fun. Our owner and editor is like an artist and is very passionate about the magazine. He does the layout. I think you can tell when you look at the magazine that the form and pictures matter to him a lot. How does QC Exclusive balance what goes in print and what goes online? Magazines are a little different than any other media form because they take longer to come out. We curate articles for the magazine that we know will look really good in print visually and that are a good story. But then it also must be something that isn’t super timely, because if it is and we miss it, then it doesn’t make sense to put it in the magazine. So, something that’s very timely we will put online. Sometimes there is a really cool story or something super popular in Charlotte, but there just isn’t a good way to photograph it. So many times, those work better for the website as well. And then everything that is in print, we stagger on the website about a week after the magazine comes out. Looking at what goes in the magazine and online, what does the split look like between earned and paid opportunities?   Well, it depends. We have advertisers who, for example, will get editorial if it makes sense for the magazine. But we also don’t take advertisers who we would never put in the magazine to begin with. We are definitely picky. And that’s one of the challenges with print right now; a lot of people don’t want just an ad anymore, understandably. I always tell people, ads are great for your brand but that’s not what is interesting about your business. We do stories on clients, but we don’t sell those (except for an advertorial section, which we just started doing again in the last couple months). The end of the magazine is a sponsored content section. But other that, story-wise, it is pretty much true editorial. As for you, what do you look for in your stories? What attracts you personally?   I really like people stories. A lot of times, even if that’s not the focus of the piece, say it is a restaurant opening and the focus may be more the actual restaurant itself, I enjoy getting to hear about the person who opened it. I really like that side of it. Sometimes it’s the main angle in an article and sometimes it isn’t, but I like digging that out either way. I’ve been in Charlotte for under 2 ½ years so pretty much everything going on in this city is still interesting to me. A lot of it is stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of or done, which makes it fun for me personally....

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Q&A With Charlotte Observer’s Katie Peralta

Posted by on 1:59 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Big Fish in a Little Pond Katie, formerly a U.S. News & World Report economy reporter, moved to Charlotte, N.C., in 2015 and was hired on as the retail reporter. Her role has since expanded to cover breaking business news (e.g., HB2 issue, shooting protests) and sports business. She feels that she can make a big splash in a mid-sized city like Charlotte whereas her impact might be more like a drop in the ocean in Washington, D.C. She enjoys working alongside the award-winning staff at The Charlotte Observer – many of whom have won Pulitzers for their journalism. What Gets Katie Out of Bed When asked which stories she gets most excited to write, she very quickly stated it is when she can hold public officials or executives accountable – particularly if the story pertains to where the city’s/community’s/company’s money is going.  She noted that it’s also fun to write the short, quick stories, such as a new restaurant with a cult following or a business that conjures up nostalgia for her readers. Pitch Tips I was also able to elicit some information from Katie that can serve as pointers for any of you who do, or will be, pitching her in the future. What falls in the won’t-cover box? Executive role changes and awards. Mainly it’s because we all must ask ourselves the, “Who cares?” question, and when it comes to that type of “news,” the only folks who do care are within the four walls of your company. Katie, as do all journalists, works in a shrinking newsroom and time is money. She must dedicate her time to stories that truly interest readers – the stories that make readers pick up the newspaper or click the digital edition open every day. Also – don’t write her a novella of a pitch. Short, sweet and to the point is best. She’s even drawn in sometimes by one or two lines that offer her a teaser of a story – and especially something exclusive or breaking. Lastly, if she feels like a certain topic has been fully covered by CharlotteFive or other local outlets, she might very well decide to not cover as the story has been told to the local community and she will free up time to tell a different story. Here for You I asked Katie what she wants our readers to know about her and/or The Charlotte Observer. I promise I’m not just saying this because she will read this as well but I thought she gave an impressive answer – simple in words but grand in its meaning. She wants all of you to understand how accessible she and her colleagues are. A quick google search on Katie and you’ll find her email address and Twitter handle. She invites you to send her tips, comments, etc. at any time. I can attest to her accessibility! She is always responsive when my team and I send her pitches (maybe I can also give oursevles a pat on the back for writing good pitches?), and she responded immediately to my invite to participate in our Q&A series. She also expressed that she doesn’t have an agenda. She doesn’t insert her own opinions into her writing. She puts the onus on herself to tell you what...

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Networking Nuggets for Newbies & Naysayers

Posted by on 1:37 pm in Blog | 0 comments

We’ve all been told to network so we understand the benefits but, whether you’re starting out your career or are 5, 10, 15 years in, you may feel out of your comfort zone at networking events. Some of you may even say these types of events aren’t worth your time. We want to open your mind to a slightly different approach this summer while you have “longer days” and maybe a slightly lessened workload. Follow our tips below to make the most of your time and make hay while the sun shines. Then, let us know how it went! Ask the Right Questions Many times we miss out on an opportunity to make a great connection because we are asking the wrong questions. Ditch the same old, “What do you do?” and open with: What are you reading these days? | The book someone has on their nightstand can tell you about them. It could give you a mutual jumping off point to discuss a book you both enjoyed or allow the other person to share some of their interests with you. It can also give you a great follow-up point: “Hey, I read that book you recommended and really learned a lot.” Our top summer suggestions include one oldie but goodie, and two new PR must-reads. Straight Talk About Public Relations: What You Think You Know is Wrong by Robert Wynne Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future by Rohit Bhargava Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger Have you been to [insert Charlotte’s newest hot spot here] yet? | Charlotte is full of new restaurants, bars, activities (Top Golf, anyone?) and venues. As an industry with their finger on the pulse of the QC, there is a good chance whoever you are talking to has been to the new hot spot or is dying to go. Do you have a “wow-project” that you are involved with? | When you do want to delve into work, this question will allow you to dig a little deeper than just getting a generic job title and a company. Think Non-Traditional Sometimes the traditional model where you show up, get a drink ticket, listen to a speaker, pass your business card around to a few people and leave just isn’t what you’re looking for. We’ve pulled together a few other “networking” events to help you shake things up this summer: InstabeerupCLT | A casual monthly event hosted at a variety of locations that serve beer. As CharlotteFive said, “No sponsors. No agenda. No registration. You just show up and drink beer and hang out with people. It’s all very human.” Just follow #instabeerupclt on social media to find out when and where. Hint: It’s usually the last Thursday of the month. Take a class | An event doesn’t have to have networking in the title to be a place to meet new connections. Enhance your public speaking and presentation skills with a Public Speaking Masterclass at SkillPop or by joining the local Toastmasters Chapter. Step outside of your comfort zone cand give yourself you a casual atmosphere to learn about those you are learning with. Volunteer | Put your extra time to do some good! To double up on the benefits, look for opportunities with PRSA...

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Q&A With Charlotte Magazine’s Andy Smith

Posted by on 11:40 am in Blog | 0 comments

  Q: Tell me about your path to digital editor, as well as arts editor, at Charlotte Magazine. It’s interesting. I moved here 4 years ago as a freelancer. Then I became the freelance web editor in the summer of 2013 and then a couple months later (because of my arts writing background), they said, “Hey, our freelance arts editor position is coming open, would you want to take that?” So, for the last 4 years, until a few months ago, I’d made a full-time role out of being a freelance digital editor and being a freelance arts editor. Then, earlier this year, they asked if I wanted to come on staff and do what I’m doing but from the office and put a ring on it—along with some new duties. So pretty much my day to day is to manage all the web editorial projects; assign stories to freelancers on the digital side; manage our digital outlets; to help translate the product from print to web and to try to amplify the things that work in print—while also living this life as an arts writer. I also maintain a career as a freelance arts journalist and critic for a few national publications. One is called Hi-Fructose Magazine, another New Noise Magazine, and a few others. Most people do this in reverse, but I was a national arts critic before I was a local one. I was a local arts journalist in newspapers and online for a number of years, too. Q: The big question is, out of all the hats you wear, which is your favorite? I am very lucky in that I can’t really pick. I really enjoy working with people. I really enjoy getting up every morning and seeing what’s happening in Charlotte and beyond. Charlotte magazine has been around for almost 50 years now. For the magazine, I consider part of my job as looking at things we’ve done in the past and trying to recontextualize or marry what we do to the digital sphere. Sometimes that’s assigning stories and trying to figure out how to tackle something. And there’s sorting through a lot of pitches. I enjoy all of it. Being an arts writer is a lot of fun but I think it’s hard for me to break all of these things apart because they are all tethered in a way. But I am very lucky to be able to do them all together. Q: Why the arts? As a kid, from the moment I gripped a pencil to high school, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Then at one point I gravitated to this magazine called Wizard: The Guide to Comics. It’s no longer in business because comics journalism isn’t easy, but I always enjoyed writing and eventually discovered that I could be immersed in all of these worlds in a different way. I was one of those kids who from an early age was a “generalist.” We would have called it being “annoying” at the time. I was into marching band, theatre, art club, all these different areas of the arts. I wasn’t great at any of it — mediocre, really — but I loved this idea of process. I felt like I had a knack for sharing the arts...

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InFOODence (AKA Influencer Relations, Foodie Style) w/ Finicky Lady

Posted by on 6:32 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Want to be featured in our journalist / influencer Q&A series? Contact us   This blog will apply to all of you because either (1) you eat and want to know the best places around town; (2) you want to influence the Charlotte food community and/or (3) you want to reach a target audience. For #3, this blog is a tease for next month’s blog, which will be a deep dive on influencer relations. Stay tuned! Some of you are already familiar with the term, “influencer,” and are leveraging key influencers in your industry. If not, Dictionary.com defines an influencer as “a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media.” As PR practitioners in 2017, we work with influencers as much as we do with traditional journalists. They are an extremely valuable resource to our/your PR efforts! Within the food world, we call it “infoodence” – get it, get it? Given our work with Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop, Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, Evoke, the Moo & Brew Festival and the N.C. Brewers Celebration, just to name a few, we’ve become friends with the foodies in town. I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our foodie influencer friends, Jessica Moore (@finickylady on IG), so you all could get to know her a bit better. If you want to know ALL the best bites, spots and dives in town, click follow on IG right now. 1. Tell me about yourself.  I’m from North Carolina and was born in Hickory – the foothills. I was raised by my dad and he loved to cook; that’s where my love for food started and I became open to trying new things. I was his little taste-tester in the kitchen as a kid. We lived with my grandparents for a while because he was a single dad going to school, raising me and working all at the same time so I learned a lot of my values from him … by seeing how hard he worked. We moved to Charlotte when I was nine (so I’ve been here for 25 years; my whole life almost). I’ve always had a full-time job and actually worked two jobs for a while. I even had two jobs my senior year of high school; I guess I just like to work! I’ve always enjoyed having my own money and buying what I wanted to. My grandmother was a big influence in my life too – she told me to always be sure I could take care of myself and not depend on anyone else to get what I wanted. My motto is: have a high work ethic, be kind to people and do what you love! I’m very happy in my job now; it gives me the extra free time for opportunities like new menu tastings and fun food events. 2. What’s your full-time gig? I work for Maersk Inc in labor relations. My title is Assistant Manager of Operations. 3. Tell me about your path to being a foodie influencer. I always enjoyed being in the kitchen, chopping veggies and plating things. I was the sous chef (by the time I was able to handle knives of course) to my dad, a self-taught chef. Even...

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