Friday, May 20, 2016

Lessons Learned my first five months in PR

By: Ashley Vickney, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

It’s graduation season, and as an early-graduate I’ve been able to watch my friends graduate from college and enter the “real world.” A term that generally strikes fear into a college senior’s heart, I thought I would offer some words of advice to my new work peers on the “real world.”
  1. Early is On Time
    Try to arrive anywhere at least five minutes early. This includes meetings, work, workout classes and drinks with your friends. It shows that you value their time, your time and think what you’re doing is important.
  2. Pick Up the Phone
    Talking on the phone seems to be the bane of our generation’s existence. With about six other ways to contact people, we would much rather use those. However sometimes calling an editor, reporter or a client is the easiest, or best, way to get the information you need. I’ve also found that a five-minute conversation on the phone with a client will give you a lot more information than a long chain of emails.
  3. Take Notes
    As an entry-level employee, taking notes is one of the best ways to set yourself apart. In meetings, take note of important details, and comments the client or boss makes about upcoming events. Another trick with this is to make a list of what you or your agency needs to do, and what your boss or client says they’ll do. At the end of the meeting you can easily list off who is going to do what or send a follow-up email.
  4. Create a Task System
    As a full-time employee, you’re going to have a couple of projects and regular tasks to complete. Create your own task system using whatever you want. It’s going to take some experimentation with different systems but you’ll figure it out. Being able to prioritize is an essential skill, so don’t be afraid to ask someone how important the task they gave you is, or ask your supervisor for help.
  5. Network and Create Connections
    PR is about connections, and it’s never too early to start. Make a goal of attending at least one networking event a month, joining your local PRSA and young professionals group at your local chamber. Also make a point of getting to know your co-workers. Ask about their hobbies, families and their careers. I’ve gained so much by knowing my co-workers well, and have created what I hope are long-lasting relationships and mentor/mentee relationships.
  6. The Learning Doesn’t Stop with Your Degree
    Never stop reading articles, magazines or looking for ways to improve your skills. Learn HTML, how to use Adobe Creative Suite, or even look at business classes. If there is a topic that intrigues you, read about it and see what you can do to dive deeper into it. Your degree is the foundation and starting point, not the end of your learning.
  7. Don’t Work All the Time
    Working all the time doesn’t actually do anything for you other than wear you down. Take time to exercise, get out of your cube for lunch and call your parents. Will you have to work a lot? Yes. But don’t just work to work. Be productive, do your job well, and take some time for yourself.
The “real world” isn’t nearly as bad as it seems. It won’t be an easy transition, but if you put in effort, give yourself a little grace and don’t give up you’ll be a full-fledged working adult in no time.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

How Much is Too Much?

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
It seems just about every day someone I know will ask me, “How much is too much to post on social media?”  That always leads me to ask, “What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to reach? Do you have the staff to effectively research, write, post and monitor social media?”  It’s always best if social media is part of your overall communication plan but, let’s face it, not everyone takes a text book approach to communications.

First and foremost for me, is that you have to have something worthwhile and interesting to share. If all you’re doing is a sales pitch day after day, you’re not going to be very effective. People want knowledge. They want insights. They want to know about trends, issues and challenges along with those all-important sales or promotions. The bottom line:  What is this post going to do for them, your audience? Answer that question, and you’re on your way.

But there’s still the question of how much is too much? Think of it like this:  How often do you want to hear from your best friend? Your mother? Your cousin? It varies, doesn’t it? And then we all have that one friend who would talk with us ten times a day if we let them; but we don’t, because they just go on and on. Social media is a lot like that. There is no one size fits all answer, but the key is to do it well and find the balance that gets the results you’re looking for.

Do you have any guidelines you use for posting on social media? Love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why tone matters- and I'm not talking about singing!

By: Steve Scaffidi, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
There's an old saying, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Although that's probably much easier in theory than in practice, the sentiment is still a good one. We've all said things that we wish we could take back, or at least word-smith the language we used a bit. Even presidential candidates in this current election cycle have fallen into this trap, attacking their opponent's wives or making fun of certain mannerisms or personal habits, seemingly forgetting that they are running for the most powerful position in the world.

Choosing one's words carefully, with some thought to how we say or even write something, can be easier said than done. But is it? Self-editing by selecting the right word or phrase to convey a message or even a feeling is a deliberate process. Just like great speakers have the ability to process what they say, right before they say it, taking a moment to assess a response before responding can give you a chance to measure and set the right tone in the words you use. 

Not sure you can do this? Try this method. If it's an email you're responding to, write it in a voice that's conversational, as if you were speaking face-to-face with the person you replying to. This will help you put the right tone on the conversation, and probably limit any risk of misinterpretation or worse, irritation, by the recipient. Most conversations are civil, so there isn't a logical reason why emails shouldn't also be.

If you're involved in an actual conversation, which sadly is becoming more rare these days thanks to technology, use the pause method to think about the words you are going to say, instead of just blurting out a rapid reply to the person you're talking to. It doesn't have to be a painful or awkward pause (or so long that the other person begins to look for signs you are still breathing), just a few seconds to gather your thoughts, choosing words that indicate you've listened to what the other person said, and aren't being dismissive. Whether you agree or disagree, opinions are opinions, and everybody has them. Don't let an argument ensue, when a good, friendly give and take of ideas can bring out the best in both participants. 

Just like a badly played instrument, poorly handled communications can ruin anyone's message. Why not treat every conversation, written or spoken, like it's an opportunity to advance a discussion, or find a solution to a problem? Despite our world of instantaneous and constant communication, it's not a race. Take the time to think before you respond. What's the worst that could happen? People call you a deep thinker?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Is Snapchat the next step in social media marketing?

By: Scott Stein, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

If you’re like me and have children, you’ve probably seen them migrate away from Facebook and Twitter to other social media apps. Let’s face it, teens and young adults have led the way with social media for those of us who are more “chronologically experienced.”

For many in the business world, it took some time, but most have come to understand the social media is here to stay and it’s playing a significant role. So with teens and younger adults now focused on Snapchat, is that where your business needs to be?

For some, the first question is…“What is Snapchat?”

The definition of Snapchat is: “A messaging app allowing users to send pictures and videos that will self-destruct after viewing. Users can also add photos and videos to their My Story section, which can be view for up to 24 hours. Text and graphics can be added to a photo before it is sent, as well as interactive filters and doodles.”

Again, if you’re like me, you probably know all about the discussion of whether Snapchat videos actually self-destruct or disappear after viewing. We’ll leave that discussion for others.

Instead, let’s focus on that business use of Snapchat. As Stephanie McCratic noted in a recent Public Relations Tactics article, “the audience for Snapchat trends young and the platform is an effective tool for reaching today’s much-sought-after consumer: millennials.” Snapchat reports that 60 percent of 13 to 24 year olds in the U.S. are using the app, with 71 percent of the users 34 and younger.

Many major companies are already reaching that younger audience through Snapchat. McCratic cites Gatorade’s Super Bowl filter and a Taco Bell campaign last Valentine’s Day as success stories.

So, should your business jump into Snapchat? Just as you should for any other social media, marketing or PR effort, you’ll need to do your homework. Is this a way to reach your already identified target audience? Does it fit your brand? What are your goals? What resources will it take to reach those goals?

Look for answers to those questions first, then decide if Snapchat works for your company.

The PR Experts

Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
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