Monday, June 1, 2020

5 Do’s for Using YouTube for Your Small Business

If you’re looking for a new way to reach your clients or customers or to increase your exposure to a new generation of visual learners, you should consider YouTube. It’s easy and engaging and helps your audience get to know you more effectively.

Your small business social media strategy most likely includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe even LinkedIn. Pundits will tell you that you need to be where your audience is. You might be surprised to know, but it’s likely your audience is also on YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine after Google, and can be a strong addition to your social media plan.

If you’re interested in reaching Gens Y and Z, YouTube is a must. Many people think of it as a music video or TV clips platform but it’s so much more than that. It can be a critical component of growing your business.

Here are  5 Do’s (and a few don’t’s) of making the most of YouTube to market and promote what you do:

#1 Do Create a Variety of Videos

Gen Y and Gen Z love to utilize YouTube to learn, and there’s no better way to capture their attention than with videos. They would much prefer to see how to do something, rather than reading about it. But videos are not just for Gen Y and Z; YouTube is one of the easiest platforms for all ages to use.

Consider creating how-to videos about using your products, employee features, product features, telling your business story, offering advice, or creating a “behind the scenes” tour of your business.

But don’t make the videos too long. Videos need to be short, to the point, and well edited. If you can’t cover a topic in three minutes or less, you may need to break it up into several videos. Having a series of videos is actually a perfect way to keep your viewers engaged and get your view numbers up, after all, people love binging once they find a video producer they like.

YouTube does have some video limits you will want to keep in mind. The maximum file size you can upload is 128GB, and the accepted file formats are .MOV, .MPEG4, .AVI, .WMV, .MPEG-PS, .FLV, .3GPP, or .WebM, plus a few others.If your video was created in a different file type, you will need to use a video editing software to change it, and YouTube Help has tons of information on how to convert files. But these are pretty standard when using any type of recording device, from your phone to your PC or Mac.

#2 Do Create a Channel and Embed Your YouTube Videos on Your Website 

This tutorial shows you how to create your channel. Creating a channel allows you to customize the YouTube experience for your customers and visitors. It is also a great way to keep all your videos in one place.

#3 Do Utilize Livestream 

YouTube will give you a unique livestream link that will allow you to interact in real time with your customers. This is ideal for contests, unveilings, game play, grand openings, and other moments you want to share the live excitement.

But don’t pick a time to livestream that will limit your audience. If it’s too early, too late, on a Tuesday at 2p.m. when everyone is in school or at work, you won’t reach as many people.

#4 Do Interact

Ask your viewers to leave you comments and create a dialogue. You can also include your link in the comments for people to shop. They can even leave you reviews right on your video page. Answer their questions right there on the video, too! It shows viewers that you take the time to read the comments and respond. Don’t forget to ask for likes and follows. That’s pretty standard of any YouTuber and your audience expects it and will likely oblige you.

#5 Do Show Your Sense of Humor

Use some humor and don’t forget to try something new each time. People go to YouTube to learn and to be entertained. But there’s a lot of competition there. According to YouTube, 300 hours of video are uploaded every second. That means you need to do something that will stand out. Try to shoot for being inspiring, education, or entertaining if you want to get noticed. 

YouTube is a great social media tool that tends to be forgotten when it comes to small business’ marketing strategies. When you utilize YouTube, you’re going to get noticed by people who are visual learners and it’s a measurable way to make an impression. So don’t be afraid to try out YouTube and make videos that will capture and engage your customers.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine,, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at and the Event Manager Blog.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Phase 3 Guidelines Released

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) released a set of guidelines for businesses able to reopen in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan.  The entire set of guidelines can be found here.  The website includes a toolkit for all businesses that includes letters, posters, signage and social media materials.
The website also includes individual guidelines and tool kits for specific industries that are allowed to reopen or further reopen in Phase 3, which began on Friday, May 29.  Please click on the links below for particular industries.

Industry/Business Type
Health & Fitness Centers
Personal Care (i.e. salons, tattoos, nails, massage)
Outdoor Recreation
Service Counters (i.e. dry cleaners, car washes, repair shops)
Day Camps
Youth Sports
Restaurants & Bars
DCEO has also released updated guidance on tennisfishing and boating, and golf.

Ameren Illinois Offers Hardship Grants to Small Businesses and Non-profit Organizations

Ameren Illinois announced that funding is available for small businesses and non-profits that have fallen behind on their electric bills. Under the company's COVID-19 Economic Hardship Recovery Program, one-time grants of up to $500 will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until June 30, or until the funds are exhausted.  

"This has been a challenging time for many small businesses and non-profits that have experienced economic hardship due to COVID-19," said Richard J. Mark, chairman and president of Ameren Illinois. "As these organizations begin to re-establish their operations, it's my hope that this funding will help them along the road to recovery." 

To be considered, businesses must have an active, non-residential account, 50 or fewer full-time employees, and a principal office in Illinois. Eligibile businesses may include, but are not limited to: small commercial enterprises, restaurants, clothing stores, hair salons, flower shops, and fitness facilities. Eligible non-profits may include, but are not limited to: schools, day cares, senior centers, religious organizations, community organizations, and charitable organizations.

Grant recipients will have the funds applied to their Ameren Illinois electric account. To apply, visit or call the Ameren Illinois Business Center at 800.232.2477.

Ameren Illinois also announced several new energy efficiency offerings to help small businesses and non-profits to reduce their energy usage and save money. Eligible customers can receive a free lighting assessment, free smart thermostat, and a free energy analysis tool.  Call 866.800.0747 or visit

About Ameren Illinois  
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in Illinois. Our mission is to power the quality of life. Our service territory covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit, find us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois or

UnityPoint Health Pekin to host Community Blood Drive Friday, June 5

Pekin, IL - UnityPoint Health Pekin will host a community blood drive from 7:00 am to 11:00 am on Friday, June 5 at 600 S 13th St., inside Conference Room

What: UnityPoint Health Pekin Community Blood Drive
When: Friday, June 5, 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Where: Conference Room, 600 S 13th St., Pekin, IL
Appointments: To donate, please contact the Blood Center at (800)747-5401 or visit and use code
61092 to locate the drive.

Donor Eligibility Criteria: Potential donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental permission form available through and weigh more than 110 pounds. A photo I.D. is required to donate. For questions about eligibility, please call the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center at (800)747-5401.

Donors who last gave blood on or before 4/10/20 are eligible to give at this drive.

About Blood Donation: Blood donation is a safe, simple procedure that takes about 45 minutes to one hour. Individuals with diabetes or controlled high blood pressure may be accepted as eligible donors.

ABOUT MVRBC: Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center is the provider of blood and blood components to more than 100 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. In your area, MVRBC is the exclusive provider to Hopedale Medical Complex.

To ensure safety and adhere to social distancing, ALL DONORS must schedule appointments.
Per CDC guidelines, all donors will be required to wear a face covering or mask when donating. If you have questions, please contact the blood center.

High School Senior Graduates with Associate Degree from Illinois Central College

Senior Tori Larrabee celebrated two milestones this May as she graduated with both her associate degree from Illinois Central College and her high school diploma from Morton Community High School. Although gaining some college credits is common for many high school students, the class load and course work Tori undertook to earn both degrees simultaneously is far from common.    

Larrabee’s double achievement was made possible by taking advantage of the Strong Start program. This Early College program is an opportunity in which students combine courses at their high school with college courses on the ICC campus for part of the school day. Students are typically also enrolled in dual-credit classes at the same time at their respective high schools. The Strong Start program is offered by several area high schools including Morton, Dunlap, East Peoria, Quest Charter Academy, Peoria High, Richwoods, Manual, and Washington. 

Tori began taking dual-credit classes her junior year of high school, while also enrolling in summer classes at ICC. By the time summer ended and her senior year was about to begin, she had earned 23 college credit hours. “At that point, I realized it would be ridiculous for me to stop there,” said Tori. “I might as well continue through my senior year earning credits, complete my degree, and finish strong.” 

The spring and final semester for Tori at ICC consisted of taking 17 credit hours on top of her high school class load, but she was determined to make it to the finish line. Tori’s sister also attends ICC and has some of the same classes. “Having my sister by my side has been a huge help for me,” she said. “We’re both going into the same field, which is amazing. She really motivates me, and it’s nice having that extra push.” 

Tori is thankful for her instructors and the opportunities ICC has provided. “It’s cool to see how much instructors care about their students and how far out of their way they go to help. I didn’t expect the level at which ICC truly cares for students and their success,” said Tori. “I’ve come to love ICC, and I can’t believe I won’t be back next year. I’m thankful for this amazing opportunity every day.” 

Next year, she plans to attend Illinois State University to continue working toward her dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Tori certainly received a strong start in achieving her goals at ICC. 

For more stories like Larrabee’s, please visit 

For more about the Strong Start program, visit 

Allegra Ready, Get Set...GO

Mobile Food Pantry

The Food Pantry Network-HOI and Tazewell County Health Department are excited to announce a mobile food pantry in Pekin on June 5, 2020. The mobile food pantry is provided by the Peoria Area Food Bank. 

Food pantries in the tri-county area have become very important since the pandemic began.  According to Feeding America, more people than ever before are visiting food banks for the first time because of lost jobs or fewer hours working. Food banks are stepping up to help put food on the table for those who need it during this uncertain time. 

The Food Pantry Network-HOI identified a gap in food pantry services in Pekin. To fill the gap in food pantries in Pekin, the Peoria Area Food Bank will provide mobile food pantry of 250 prepared boxes. Prairie Farms will also supply 500 gallons of 2% milk for distribution. The food boxes will be available:
June 5, 2020 
9:00 am – 12:00pm (or when boxes run out) 
Wilson School
900 Koch Street 
Pekin, Illinois 61554

This will be first come, first serve until the 250 boxes are gone. Each family is allowed one curbside pick-up box and there are no income guidelines or eligibility requirements.

For more information on the mobile food pantry, please contact Shanita at 309-929-0308.


The next Puttin’ on Pekin breakfast planned by the Members First Committee of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, June 12th. Breakfast will be available by Drive-Thru Pick up from West Dublin Pub, 507 Court Street, Pekin between 6:45-7:15 am, with the Zoom meeting beginning at 7:30 am.

The bimonthly breakfasts provide an opportunity for business people to network while learning about positive events in the Pekin area.  Besides great food, other features of the breakfast include awards such as a Spotlight on Business, Blue Ribbon and Sunshine Award presentations, door prize drawings with prizes provided by local businesses, one-minute reminders, and “Meet the New Chamber Member.”

The cost of the breakfast is $25 per person with a $5 discount for reservations made before noon on Wednesday, June 10th and an additional $5 discount for Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce members. Reservations can be made by email at or by calling the Chamber at 346-2106 where you can pay by credit card.  Reservations by individuals/businesses not part of the chamber must be paid in advance. 

Water Quality Reports Show Illinois American Water Continues to Deliver Water that Meets or Surpasses Drinking Water Standards Inbox x

Illinois American Water announced today that results published in the company’s 2019 water quality report indicate excellent water quality throughout its Illinois service area. The report, which is issued for each service area, highlights the company’s commitment to providing drinking water that meets or is better than standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also known as the Consumer Confidence Report, the water quality report describes local drinking water source information and test results, including all substances detected in the water and their levels.

Commonly asked questions and the associated answers concerning drinking water are also included. Illinois American Water customers can search for their local water quality report by zip code at under Water Quality.

Rachel Bretz, Director of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance, said, “Our customers are relying on us to deliver safe, clean, reliable water to their taps. It’s important for them to be able to trust in this critical service. This is why we work so hard to provide a quality product at a good value. 

The water quality reports are a testament to our team’s expertise and dedication.” Illinois American Water’s water quality experts monitor drinking water quality around the clock. Water is tested at every stage of the treatment process as well as throughout the distribution system which delivers
drinking water to homes and businesses.

Bretz said, “The journey of water from its source to the tap is much more complex than many people
realize, and nothing is more important than the exhaustive testing taking place at every stage of its voyage. We’re proud of our track record of not only meeting water quality standards, but also going above and beyond what is required.”

Illinois American Water customers are invited and encouraged to review water quality results for their system in the Consumer Confidence Reports on the company’s website. If a customer desires a printed copy of the annual report, they can call 800-422-2782 and have it mailed to them.

About Illinois American Water - Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 1.3 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Media Contact: Karen Cotton, External Affairs Manager, 309.566.4126 or

Executive Order of the Mayor

Suspension of Permit Requirement for Sidewalk Cafes

WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, the Governor of Illinois declared all counties in the State of Illinois as a disaster area in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease; and 
WHEREAS, on March 18, 2020, the Mayor declared a Local State of Emergency, pursuant to Section 11-1-6 of the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/11-1-6), Section 11 of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act (20 ILCS 3305/11), and Section 1-5A-3 of the City Code, which declaration was subsequently renewed and extended by the City Council; and 
WHEREAS, on March 20, 2020, the Governor of Illinois issued Executive Order 2020-8, which, among other things, orders all individuals to stay at home except to conduct certain essential activities, closes all non-essential businesses, and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people, which stay-home order has been extended and modified by subsequent Executive Orders; and 
WHEREAS, on May 20, 2020, the Governor of Illinois announced the limited reopening of restaurants for outdoor dining only, effective May 29, 2020, as part of a phased Re-opening Plan for Illinois businesses, and 
WHEREAS, the Mayor finds it is in the best interest of the City to facilitate and encourage the reopening of restaurants and taverns for outdoor service, to the extent permitted by Order of the Governor, while at the same time establishing restrictions and guidance on such reopening in order to best protect the public health and welfare. 


1. Commencing May 29, 2020, restaurants and taverns holding a Class A liquor license may operate an outdoor sales area or beer garden, as those terms are defined in Section 3-3-1 of the City Code, subject to the following restrictions:

           a. The outdoor sales area must include an outside perimeter marked by a barrier that prevents passage into and out of the service area, except for specifically designated places of ingress and egress. Such barriers may be temporary and movable. All means of ingress and egress for the outdoor service area must comply with the directives of the City's Fire Department. 
           b. The Local Liquor Commissioner shall have authority to implement hours and days of operation for an outdoor sales area or beer garden that are different from the closing hours established in Section 3-3-5-1 of the City Code. 
           c. The requirement that a beer garden be accessible only through the licensed premises is waived for the duration of this Order. d. All restrictions, requirements, and limitations of Title 3, Chapter 3 of the City Code remain in full force and effect unless otherwise modified by this order.

2. Commencing May 29, 2020, any restaurant, tavern, or other establishment that serves food or beverages for consumption on the premises may establish and maintain an outdoor sales area for service of food and beverage, subject to the following terms and conditions:

          a. All social distancing, sanitation and safety precautions, and other limitations imposed by order of the Governor or guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health or the Tazewell County Health Department must be adhered to. This includes, but is not limited to, spacing of tables, use of masks or face coverings by staff and patrons, access to restrooms inside the premises, sanitation of tables, restrooms and other common areas between guests, and limits on the number of people per table or per establishment.

         b. The outdoor sales area must be constructed on the property owned by the business providing the outdoor service of food or beverage, or the business must be able to provide documentary evidence that it has a legal right to use the property for providing the outdoor service of food or beverage served by its business. 

         c. No tables, benches, or other seating areas may be located in such a manner as to block sidewalks or interfere with pedestrian traffic thereon. Tables, chairs, benches, umbrellas and other equipment shall be located so that there remains open, at all times, a longitudinal walking space of a minimum of four (4) feet in width. 

         d. No tables, benches, or other seating areas may be located in any public street or road, including in any parking lane or space thereon or immediately adjacent thereto, unless the owner of the restaurant or tavern has first obtained a Special Event Permit from the Mayor pursuant to Title 6, Chapter 5 of the City Code. Any and all terms and conditions of such Special Event Permit imposed by the Mayor must be complied with, including, but not limited to, area designated for the special event, erection of barriers to separate patrons from road traffic, and hours of operation of the special event.

         e. The permit requirement for sidewalk use pursuant to Section 4-2C-1 of the City Code is suspended. Sidewalk use for purposes of establishing an outdoor sales area shall not be limited to the B-2, Central Business District, but shall be permitted in any zoning district within the City for the duration of this Order, subject to the restrictions herein.

         f. Outdoor sales areas must be immediately adjacent to the restaurant or tavern establishment operating such outdoor use. For purposes of this Order, an area separated from the establishment providing the outdoor service by any street or public way is not "immediately adjacent to the establishment.

        g. All outdoor sales areas must comply with all directives of the City's Fire Department, which shall include any directives addressing fire lanes, property and outdoor service area ingress and egress points, fire extinguishers, and use of external heating sources. 

        h. Tents may not be used in very inclement weather, which shall specifically include thunderstorms, hail storms, excessive wind, and other severe weather events, or when such an event is reasonably  forecast to occur, including, but not limited to, when a severe weather warning has been issued by the National Weather Service.

       i. No live music or other live entertainment shall be permitted within an outdoor sales area.

       j. The City's Zoning Administrator may provide a written waiver of off-street parking requirements of the City's Zoning Code in order to facilitate the establishment of outdoor sales areas pursuant to this Order. 

3. The provisions of this Order shall remain valid throughout Phase 3 and any subsequent phases of the Re-Opening Plan up to and until restaurants and bars are allowed to be at greater than 50% capacity for dine-in services, unless sooner modified or repealed by act of the Mayor or the City Council.

4. This Order is issued pursuant to the powers granted to the Mayor pursuant to Title 1, Chapter 5A, Section 3 of the Pekin City Code.

Long-Range Transportation Plan 2045 – Draft

The Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is a federally required document that is updated every five years, and establishes a vision for pedestrian, bicycle, transit, automobile, rail, and air travel over the next 25 years. The draft LRTP is available for public review and comment from Tuesday, May 5 through Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Visit to view the plan online and email any questions/comments/feedback to Ryan Harms Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order, hard copies of the plan are not available at public review sites. If you need assistance, please contact TCRPC staff. All feedback will be reviewed and considered. Staff will present the final document for approval at the PPUATS Policy Committee meeting on June 3, 2020 at 9:00am.
TCRPC will host four online public meetings:
The online meetings will feature a presentation from staff on the LRTP and opportunity for comment. Attendees of the meetings will be invited to follow up on MindMixer, available at

Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce to Cancel July 4th Fireworks Display, but will continue the Honor America Celebration

The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce will cancel the July 4th Fireworks display traditionally held annually at the Pekin Memorial Stadium.  The July 4, 2020 event will be cancelled due to ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chamber will continue the Honor America Celebration.  

“In the interest of safety and the health of our Pekin community, the Pekin Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors have decided to cancel the 2020 Fourth of July Fireworks show. We thank you for your support, stated Dennis Short, Chamber President”

Chamber Executive Director Amy McCoy states “While it’s heartbreaking to make such a decision, we know that it is thebest course of action for the safety of our Pekin residents and our guests. We are disappointed for our community and for those families that make this an annual tradition.”

Like so many events going virtual this year, the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce does plan to Honor America Virtually by honoring those individuals that serve, or have served, our great country. To honor a service member, simply email the name of the service member and a photo to You may also include military branch and years of service.  Community members are encouraged to follow our social media pages by visiting or following @PekinChamber on Instagram and Twitter, between July 1st – July 4th.  We will celebrate the service members during that time.

The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce has hosted the annual Fireworks Display and Honor America celebration since 1947 and plans to host it again next year on July 4, 2021. 

Hopedale Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Student-Athlete of the Year Award 2019-2020

Hopedale Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine honors a student-athlete each year with a $1,000 scholarship. This award goes to a person that has exemplified the meaning of student-athlete and has acted on balancing academics, sports and community throughout the school year.  
Hopedale Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine has recognized a student-athlete of the year for the past thirteen years. 
Our fourteenth recipient is Colby Burt from Olympia High School. Colby is being recognized for her accomplishments for maintaining a 4.11/4.0 GPA, being a three-sport athlete and volunteering over 30 hours in her community. 
When asked about Colby, her basketball and softball coach, Courtney Hoffman states, “Colby is a great student-athlete and community member.  She works extremely hard in everything that she does.  She has proven to be a leader on and off the court.  She not only manages her time in school by having good grades but is also dedicated to 3 sports and is involved in the community.”  
Congratulations to Colby on her accomplishments. She plans to attend Lincoln Land College in the fall where she will start her college career playing basketball and majoring in business management. 

“Recognizing excellence in scholarship, community service and athletic performance”

The Hopedale Wellness Center offers programing for youth and adults throughout the year in a state-of-the art, 34,000-foot wellness facility. For more information on the Wellness Center visit or find them on Facebook at

Event Cancellation: 5th Annual Major Reid Nannen Annual 5K/1 Mile Walk

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and maintaining the health and safety of the Hopedale Community and all visitors for the Major Reid Nannen Annual 5K/1 Mile Walk, our HMC Race Committee has decided to cancel the Fourth of July race event for 2020. 
HMC will not be hosting a virtual race for this event but encourage all those who want to run a 5K in memory of Major Reid Nannen or any other veteran to do so. We would also ask that everyone remember and/or thank our military veterans that are deceased, retired or active this Fourth of July.  
You can pay your respects by visiting the Hopedale Veterans Memorial in front of the Hopedale Medical Complex where a statue of Reid stands, and the names of our local veterans are inscribed on the pillars. 
Proceeds from the Nannen Race Event go to maintaining and upgrading the Hopedale Veterans Memorial to honor our veterans. Any donations to the memorial in honor of the 2020 Major Reid Nannen event are appreciated and can be made: by check – send it to Hopedale Medical Foundation, Attn: HAVM Committee, PO Box 267 Hopedale, IL 61747.  Please just place HAVM in the memo line of the check or call Mindy Peterson-Lindsey directly at 309.449.4290 and she can run your credit card or meet to pick up payment.
The HMC Nannen Race Committee will be working diligently to make the July 4, 2021 race a bigger than ever event and we hope that you will be a part of it.

The Hopedale Wellness Center offers programing for youth and adults throughout the year in a state-of-the art, 34,000-foot wellness facility. For more information on the Wellness Center visit or find them on Facebook at