Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Great marketing strategy or just plain wrong? - You be the judge


By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

With the myriad of news stories and Facebook posts that have gone overboard on both sides of the political aisle in the past year, few things in the news or on social media surprise me anymore. That is, until yesterday when the USA Today ran a story that, for Valentine’s Day, Burger King locations in Israel are offering an adult meal, complete with a sex toy.

No, this is not fake news: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2017/02/14/burger-king-giving-away-sex-toys-adult-meals-valentines-day/97885854/. The adult meal comes with one of three items, a feather duster, head massager or blindfold.

Now I don’t speak for everyone, but I have to believe that most people are thinking, “Really, who would come up such an idea? And, more importantly, why?”

If the idea was to get an attention-grabbing headline, well I would say mission accomplished. If it was for any other reason, then my response is eww! Imagine coming home to your significant other and saying, “Hi love, you’ll never guess what I got at Burger King.” Nothing in my mind could be less romantic. Not to mention your new blindfold smells like a Whopper or French fry grease. Add in that Burger King caters to all age groups and now parents will have to explain why there is a special meal package on the menu for adults only.

What are your thoughts? Is utilizing the “shock effect” the only way to get people’s attention in today’s extremely cluttered information world? Has Burger King entered an area of inappropriate marketing?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Communication lessons learned from a bold Super Bowl ad


By: Noelle Cutler, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
 
Every year, over a hundred million viewers tune in to the Super Bowl. And every year, advertisers pay millions to grab the attention of those viewers; inevitably some commercials try bolder techniques than others in order to accomplish that. This year, one advertisement that garnered a lion’s share of attention was 84 Lumber and their story of a Mexican mother and daughter on a journey to emigrate to America. The storyline was a bold choice given the current political and national debate over immigration. This bold communication choice certainly attracted attention and got people talking. If you’re considering going bold in your own communication efforts, consider these three major caveats we learned from the results of 84 Lumber’s commercial. 

  1. Be bold…but only if you’re ready for backlash. A spokesperson for the ad agency that created the commercial said that about half of the feedback was positive and the other half was critical. The company was actually expecting that level of criticism, but were willing to accept that because they thought the issue was important enough. It’s also important to note that the company sells building supplies to mom-and-pop and midsize local contractors, and many of them are first generation immigrants to the United States. So, perhaps they were willing to deal with criticism from half of the viewers if the other half who reacted positively were actual potential customers. In your communications, always understand that the bolder and riskier you are, while you may gain very loyal customers, you’re also likely to alienate the people on the other side of the spectrum. 
  2. Be bold…but only if you’re prepared for the volume of feedback. Within minutes of the commercial airing, there were 600,000 hits to 84 Lumber’s website. A total of six million people tried to watch the full length commercial available exclusively on their website in the first hour after it aired. Their overwhelmed website crashed, leaving visitors (and potential customers) in the dust. They weren’t ready to handle the volume of people who were interested in their commercial. With bold communication choices, not only do you have to be ready to handle the nature of the feedback, you also have to be ready to handle the amount of feedback. 
  3. Be bold…but only if it doesn’t take away from your business. While the commercial itself was a memorable one, how many of the viewers remembered the company’s name? How many of those viewers remembered them in a positive light? And then how many of those viewers would actually buy their product or use their service? People were talking about the commercial, but the political message overshadowed their actual “product.” It’s worth noting that being bold can simultaneously draw attention towards your brand but away from your actual product.

Whether you watch the Super Bowl for the winning team or the winning commercials, there’s a lot to be gleaned from this year’s slew of advertisements. Consider these lessons from 84 Lumber before you risk being bold in your communication efforts.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How tiny things can create a BIG problems

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

In the PR business, we’re always talking about the need to get things done fast and right. And we talk a lot about proofreading and how it shouldn’t go out the window just because you’re in a hurry. But, when you proofread, it really has to be for more than just spelling and grammar. Oh sure, those are very important things, but there are two other items you should remember when proofreading:
  1. What’s the content like? Does what you’ve written make sense? If it doesn’t make sense to you or to the person you have reviewing the piece, then it’s not going to make sense to your target audience. Generally, confusion reigns when someone is intent on using too much corporate speak or technical jargon. Plain talk. Plain English. Works every time.
  2. Are dates, addresses, phone and emails correct? Those tiny things can cause BIG problems.  Do you really want someone who won a contest to be calling Joe’s Bar and Grill instead of your business? It creates a problem for your customer and for Joe’s! And you certainly don’t want someone showing up at an open house two weeks before it is being held.
Let’s face it; we’re all in a rush these days. But don’t let the rush to get something out the door turn into a problem that’s going to take up even more of your time.

Are there any other proofreading tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Writing is like exercising...getting started is often the hardest part!


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

Whether you write for a living, or do it for fun, the act of writing can be challenging sometimes, or even occasionally maddening. We've all written something. A letter, a blog, a thesis perhaps? A collective grouping of words on paper or a computer screen. But often, the words don't flow out of your mind so easily, and the impetus to start can literally stop you dead in your creative tracks.  Where to begin?

To build off the exercise analogy, getting started can be the hardest part. Most people stare at the paper or screen for a while, looking for an idea or nugget of creativity to launch them into their project. Cleverness can work, but only if you're clever. Humor is also a good thing, but not everybody's funny. If you don't write often, just like anything else, the process will be tougher. You don't run a marathon without preparation, good shoes and nutrition, and most importantly, putting in the miles. The same thing goes for writing. To borrow a concept from writer Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Outliers, the more you do something the better you'll be at it. He gave it a name, the 10,000 hour rule, referring to the amount of practice time it takes to be really great at something. Writing follows that same logic.

The more you write, the easier the concepts, structure and the rules of writing will be. So yes, we've all stared at the blank page, but writing involves moving past that, and that often begins with a good idea. What are you trying to say? Is it relevant, newsworthy, interesting? Interest is often generated by a commonly shared belief, or story, that speaks to the reader. If you're writing about an event, was it something you experienced directly, and how did it affect you? Were other people impacted the same way? If the answer is yes, then that story would make for an interesting read. By sharing the experience, with real life feelings and emotions, you've conveyed something that goes beyond the words. So if you're stuck on a writing project, start by writing down something you saw and how it affected you.

Once you've started, you need to build a structure to support the paragraphs you write. Make it simple. Think about a beginning, middle, and end. Introduce the subject with a great beginning paragraph telling the reader why they're here. The middle is the story. Tell it in the best way you can, in the most interesting way. Finally, the end is just that. Wrap it up, but reinforce the value of the words you've written, and sum it all up using one of those concepts I introduced earlier. A funny line, clever play on words, or an emotional tug on the heartstrings of the reader. Make it worth their while.

Nothing about writing well is easy. But the effort is worth it when you've created something that another human being reads, and upon reading the last word, slowly nods their head in agreement. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare or Hemmingway, it just has to be worth reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Don’t make PR an afterthought!


By: Cole Buergi, Leoanrd & Finco Public Relations
 
When developing your plan of action for growing your business, be sure PR is a key part of the planning process and not just an afterthought tied to marketing.

Far too often, PR is directly associated with marketing and doesn’t get the full consideration it should for the benefits it can provide. Yes, marketing and PR are often complementary, but the two are very different, yet important components, and should be treated as such.

Similar to marketing, PR can be used to help influence your audience. The difference being marketing uses paid advertising in the form of print; television; radio; direct mail or social media, which can be very effective.

PR often uses many of the same media, but in a much different fashion. Our goal is to generate interest by reporters to cover the information as a news story. In doing so, reporters provide third party validation to the topic being covered. It’s similar with social media but the third party validators are a much broader group, not only including reporters, but also customers who use your product.

As for measuring success, it’s often easier to see a direct link between a marketing campaign and sales increases. However, a good PR campaign generates strength to a brand, creates connections between the company and its stakeholders. And yes, good PR helps generate sales.

And, if you ever have “It hit the fan”, you’ll definitely want to make sure your PR team is at the decision making table, and not a group that is provided with the details after all the decisions have been made. The reason is PR professionals are in tune with not only the company but also its audiences and can provide the valuable insight needed to best approach a situation.

Does your company include a PR team member during its planning process? If it doesn’t, why not?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Are you ready for another election?

By: Scott Stein, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

With Donald Trump set to be sworn in as the 45th President in just a few days, the November election is still top-of-mind for electors across the United States. I won’t weigh in one way or the other on the results of the Presidential election, I only want to remind people that another election is just ahead.

Granted, the entire country won’t be focused on one race, but the state and local offices that will be filled with the vote outcome on April 4, 2017 are important.

Throughout Wisconsin various municipal and school board positions will be decided by voters in the non-partisan election. Those elected will make the decisions on the local level that impact city, village and town residents in many ways. It’s the local elected officials who decide how your property tax dollars are spent and what improvements are made in your community.

In addition, Wisconsinites will vote for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, where a primary race will take place in February as Tony Evers seeks re-election. 

As a member of Project VOTE of Brown County, WI, I encourage you to take some time to learn about the candidates who will be on the ballot for the February 21 primary and the April 4 election. Project VOTE is a grassroots, non-partisan, volunteer-based organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout in Brown County.

Our local elections, obviously, don’t get the same attention as the national races. But the decisions made on the local level can affect us all in many different ways. I encourage you to learn about the candidates and get to the polls this spring. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Reporting live from…everywhere. Can your business incorporate live video to reach your audience?



By: Allison Barnes, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Social media is constantly updating to incorporate new features and compete with other social media platforms. The latest trend seems to be offering live video to show your followers what you’re doing in real time. Facebook now lets users share live video when they launched Facebook Live in 2016 and Twitter lets users rewatch live videos that were made with their live video app Periscope at any time. Instagram is the latest to join in on the craze, offering a live video stream after their November 2016 update. Instagram alerts followers that you are posting live on Instagram story, similar to a Snapchat story, but the live video can only be seen when the video is live and is immediately deleted.

Celebrities and social media users have been using live videos to show followers what they are doing and to talk about their lives. But how can you incorporate Facebook Live or live video into your businesses social media? Here are a few ideas:

  • Set up a demonstration of a new product. Let viewers watch how the product works and learn how to use it from the people who created it. Viewers can comment with questions about the product that could also be answered during the live video. Why not show off a cool feature of the product that viewers may not have known about?
  • Go live at an event that few people can attend, but might be interested in seeing. Sharing a live feed at an athletic event, groundbreaking or a special guest speaker lets the audience feel like they are there even if the event is states away. Offering a sneak peek of a display or new project would be fun to show to followers too.  
  • Post a live interview, question and answer session or news conference. Let followers get to know your company from the CEO and employees. Followers with questions can have them answered immediately and they can learn what is new to your organization.  

Have you or your business tried live video on social media? We would love to hear what you thought!