Friday, January 23, 2015

High tech not always the best approach

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development

I’m dating myself, but when I first entered my career, high tech meant using email, which was relatively new and not everyone had an email account. As for the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook, those words weren’t even invented yet.

Fast forward to 2015 and now we communicate using all of the latest and greatest technologies including texting, social media and a variety of other techno gadgets. Yes, it’s definitely made life a lot easier in many respects. Admittedly, I use one or more of these tech tools daily.

However, one area that I think is sorely lacking is the ability to pick up the phone and actually use it for its original purpose, to talk with someone. The lack of people willing to call one another to discuss business is almost mind boggling to me. Email, texting or Facebook have their appropriate places within overall communications, but don’t overlook the easiest and best way to communicate, verbally.

It’s especially effective when talking with a reporter. It allows you to convey your message succinctly and with emotion which often times is the catalyst that gets a reporter interested in doing a story. Plus, most people are pitching reporters via email or social media. This leaves their phone line open for me to call and share an idea.

Share your thoughts. What’s your preferred method of contacting other businesses or reporters

Reporters: What’s your preferred method of being contacted?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Can Your Audience Hear You?

By: Kristen Paquet, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I read an article the other day written by a 19-year-old college student who provided some perspective on what social media platforms are used most by his generation. Although the column provided some good insight (for the younger generation, Facebook is out and Instagram is in) it also got me wondering if I was reaching the right audience with the social media accounts I manage.

I’ve long said that signing up for a particular social media outlet just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it will produce the results you’re looking for. You need to understand who the platform is reaching and if your audience is in line with that. But as with all things social media, the audience you thought you were reaching can change fast.

The article’s author says that although many people his age have Facebook accounts, they don’t really engage anymore, outside of maybe checking in with a group. This speaks to another important point to remember. Just because you have 1,000 likes on your page doesn’t necessarily mean it’s successful. The question you should be asking is what are those 1,000 people saying? If they are engaged, asking questions and sharing information, great. You have a pretty healthy community. If not, you might want to be sure the platform you’re on and the audience you want to reach match. 

Just as I encourage clients using a social media management tool like Hootsuite to go and look at their actual social media accounts every now and again (just to make sure the layout hasn’t changed or to refresh photos, etc.), I’ll also be suggesting conducting quick online research once or twice a year to make sure that the platforms they are on are still reaching their audience. It’s a good practice to get into!

What do you do to make sure you are connecting with your audience on social media? Have you ever changed or added new accounts because your audience changed?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Are we better informed with the Internet?

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Relations, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 87 percent of online adults believe the Internet and cell phones have improved their ability to learn new things. As someone who spends a fair amount of time online, I don’t think that’s a real surprise. But some of the survey findings stand out.

The survey broke areas of information into several categories. Internet users say digital technology has made them better informed than five years ago, in areas including products/services to buy (81 percent), national and international news (75 percent and 74 percent, respectively) and pop culture (72 percent).

It’s interesting that two-thirds of the respondents say they were better informed about their friends and 60 percent say they’re better informed about family. Given the number of photos of holiday celebrations and other events involving family and friends in recent weeks, I probably should not be surprised by those results.

Like many people, I do occasionally feel the need to dial back on online activities. The Pew survey found that 26 percent of us feel overloaded by having so much information available and pushed to us. Then again, I went right to the Internet during the holidays to check on the times of an event in the community and to make a reservation. And when it comes time to travel, I’m happy to have the latest weather and traffic information right at my fingertips.

One other aspect of the survey caught my attention. Internet users under the age of 30 are less likely to believe the Internet is making average Americans or students better informed and are more likely to say the Internet has had no real impact. Maybe it’s just that they don’t realize that information wasn’t always available right in our pockets.   

What do you think? Are you better informed with the Internet?

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Do you make resolutions every year? Most of us do, they tend to serve as reminders to us that there is always room for improvement. I asked some of the folks in our office what their resolutions are for the coming year. Here are a few of the responses:

Charlie Leonard: I resolve to be a better person in 2015. (Amen to that!)

Steve Scaffidi (who also happens to be the mayor of Oak Creek, WI; a suburb of Milwaukee):
“We're celebrating our 60th year as a city, and to honor that my resolution is to perform 60 acts of kindness throughout the year.”

Cole Buergi: I resolve to exercise more and create more opportunities for quality time with my family.

Kristen Paquet: To live in the moment. Everything seems to happen so quickly these days – and kids grow up so fast - I need to remind myself to enjoy life as it is happening.

Deanna Johnson: To relax and feel the difference by routinely scheduling time for myself. Maybe I can then read the latest book that is collecting dust, get an overdue pedicure or just have a leisurely dinner with a good friend.

As for me, I’m joining Kristen in trying to live more in the moment. I’d also like to increase the number of times a week I exercise from two to four times a week. I actually think the exercise thing will be easier to achieve than the living in the moment concept. (I’m always thinking ten steps ahead). But, that’s what resolutions are for; a jump start on improvement. Personally, I love making resolutions…it’s keeping them that could use some improvement! So what are your resolutions for 2015?

Friday, December 19, 2014

No better time than the holiday season to reconnect with your clients!

By: Steve Scaffidi, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Right around the middle of December conversations at work slowly begin to shift from work to family, as the approaching holidays announce the end of another calendar year. For clients and employees, the holiday season can also mean wrapping up some of the projects you’ve worked on all year. Budgets are reviewed, tasks are completed, and for many of us, the end of the year also means time off. But before you take off to spend time with your family during the holidays, it might be a good opportunity to reach out to your clients and reestablish those important connections, building a solid foundation for next year.

It used to be common practice to send a client a gift basket or a token of appreciation for their business just before the holidays. That's still acceptable, and there are certainly a ton of fun options to pick from now. And of course, who doesn't like to get a present, especially at this time of year? 

But it can be just as important to make a simple phone call to wish your client a happy holiday season, thanking them for their business and doing a quick review of the successes and wins you've had over the past year. Keep it simple and short, because at this point most folks are thinking less about work and more about the time off. Leave them with a quick comment on what's ahead, and offer a nugget of a new idea or suggestion for next year, planting the seed for a great future conversation.

Once you've made that call, take a look at what you've accomplished for your client. Did you meet their expectations? Did you find new opportunities to tell their story? As the year winds down, take the time to review publication editorial calendars for potential pitches, and look for industry topics that match up with your client's business. As the work slows down in December, planning for next year can fill in the gaps when matching workload to client budgets.
The end of the year will always be a time for family, and getting away from the stresses and challenges of work. But take the time just before that break to "recharge the batteries" for your client. Lay out a plan for next year, research what's working in the industry and what's not. As you celebrate with family and friends, toast the New Year and make a resolution that your best work is ahead.

What are your best end of the year strategies? Do you have a tried and true method for transitioning your client through the holidays?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Smile for the Camera means more today than ever, and so does social media!

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

If a photo is truly worth a thousand words, then I can only imagine how many words Instagram is worth. That’s because the photo sharing social media platform, founded in 2010, has reached a new milestone. It now has more than 300 million active monthly users, sharing 70 million photos daily. That’s up from 200 million active users just nine short months ago according to a news story in the USA Today. It also tops Twitter’s (Founded in 2006) 285 million current active users.
To put that in perspective, the population of the United States is roughly 323 million.
Of course Facebook still dominates the social media world with 1.23 billion active monthly users and there are countless numbers of other social media platforms.

Why are these numbers important you may ask? The answer is simple. The earth’s population is about 7.2 billion. Facebook alone reaches 1/7 the population of the planet. Add in all the other social media platforms and the number of people that can be reached using any one or a combination of several of these platforms is mind boggling.

Yet, there are many businesses still not leveraging social media to build their brand or connect with current and potential customers. Worse yet, there are many businesses that have delved into social media but are not approaching it in a meaningful way to build their brand or be relevant in their industry. In many cases, poorly managed social media sites have damaged a company’s reputation.
So where does that leave your business?

Entering the social media world is both easy yet complex. It’s easy from the standpoint of the cost is minimal. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection and voilĂ , you can be off and running as most social media sites are free for users.

The complexity enters the picture as you decide what social media platform would work best for your business, what your strategy will be, and how will it complement/define my brand.

That takes a well thought out plan. It also takes time for someone to set up the social media page, monitor and update it frequently. Equally important is consistently responding to comments and engaging your followers. That person should also be monitoring the industry as a whole to determine when new opportunities arise.

If you are not using social media to build and promote your brand, then you’re truly missing out on a great opportunity. Speak to an expert who can help provide insight and help guide your path to social media success.

Do you have a social media success story you can share? Let’s hear it. Perhaps it will inspire others to enter the world of social media.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cure for a Technology Hangover

By: Kristen Paquet, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I enjoy technology. Things like social media, email and texting makes life convenient, faster and pretty much easier. But even the best of things can get stale after a while. Instead of being an effective communicator, you start feeling like you’re going through the motions instead of being present throughout your day. If this ever happens to you, perhaps a short reprieve from technology is in order.

But, that doesn’t mean you fall off the map. After all, you have work to get done. Try to engage in a little less technology and a bit more of these old standby’s until you recover from your technology hangover:

Hand write a note. Writing notes is a lost art, really. Before texting and cell phones, the way I used to communicate with friends during the school day was to write a note during math class and give it to them as you passed each other in the hall. I’m not saying you need to get that involved, but a quick thank you note to a co-worker or a note of appreciation to a client is certainly within your capabilities.

Pick up the phone. No, that’s not a paper weight on your desk. It’s actually a useful tool. Maybe it’s a quick project update, confirming a meeting or just following up on a request. Picking up the phone can sometimes even be easier and quicker than composing an email and waiting for a response.

Hold a meeting. When I meet face-to-face with people, I find out more relevant information than if I were to ask them the same question via email. With email, you ask a question and you get a response to that question. There really is no back and forth to propel the conversation forward. Having some one-on-one time is also a great way to reconnect with people you may not see that often.

So when you are ready, ease yourself back into sending emails, responding to those text messages and toggling the “like” button on someone’s status. But also try to incorporate these older, but still very useful, ways to communicate in your everyday life. Doing so will most likely keep any future technology hangovers at bay.

What do you think? Are we relying too much on email, direct messaging and texting to communicate? Do you just need a break at times?

The PR Experts

Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
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