Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tips for Getting Your Story Noticed By A Reporter

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

As a PR professional, I’m frequently asked how to get a story “noticed” (code word for “get my story used by the media”).  There’s never a one size fits all answer, but it helps to understand what news is.  Here are seven tips that might help:
  • Is it something new or different? Something brand new or different, whether it’s an opening, new information, a new product line, etc. will raise the interest level. Just avoid saying it’s unique unless you can prove it!
  • Will the story appeal to the reporter or outlet’s target audience? Pitching a story about a new lawnmower to a swimmer’s magazine isn’t going to get results. Know who you’re pitching to. Make sure your pitch or release fits.
  • Is it something people need to know about? Taxes aren’t the most popular topic but, if there’s a tax code change with widespread impact and you’re an accountant, you have a shot at getting a business reporter interested in your take on the new code.
  • Why will people care about it? A new president at a big retail company or high-profile local firm is likely to get coverage. But the new president of a small, B2B firm probably won’t generate that kind of interest.
  • Is it visual? Even print media and radio look for photos and/or video these days. (Think about their websites and social media accounts.) What do you have to offer from a graphics, photo or video perspective?
  • Are you offering expertise or advice? Providing non-commercial expertise or advice about your industry and your works can be a great way to tell your story and showcase what you do.
  • Is it something quirky or entertaining? Sometimes the strangest things make the media. That’s because they’re quirky enough, or entertaining enough, to perk the interest of a reporter. There may not be any true news value, but if it’s fun, it could make the news.
Before you start pitching a story or sending out releases, do a quick review of this list. As we often say during media training, “It doesn’t matter what you think; the bottom line is, news is whatever the editor or reporter thinks it is.”  So pitch wisely my friends!

Friday, June 16, 2017

For some, it’s exciting when the new AP Stylebook arrives

By: Scott Stein, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

For any writer or reporter, the arrival of the AP Stylebook each year brings a certain amount of excitement. Seriously!

Many in the communication business have come to rely on the AP Stylebook and the folks over at Associated Press keep things interesting by making some changes each year. Many of those changes are a reflection of changes in communication and changes in society.

Some examples in the latest edition of the AP Stylebook include: 

  • Gender denotes a person’s social identity, while sex is defined as a person’s biological characteristics.
  • The term fake news may be used in quotes or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon of deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.
  • The AP Stylebook now says it’s acceptable to use they as a singular pronoun when crafting the sentence as plural would be too clumsy or awkward.
  • Don’t use the term driverless vehicle unless there is no person in the vehicle who can take control in an emergency. The preferred term is now autonomous vehicles.
Of course, there are a number of other changes in the newest AP Stylebook, which will keep me going back to it as my most used reference book. And I have no doubt that there will be many additional changes in the 2018 edition as language and communication styles continue to change.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Location isn’t just important in real estate

By: Allison Barnes, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Social media is often measured in the success of a topic by what’s trending, how many views a video may get, or how many likes, retweets or shares a post gets. But what’s next for determining successful social media? The activity in each location. 

In a recent Forbes article, the author shared that “Geosocial Index” is becoming a prevalent way of measuring social media presence, such as people’s posts, likes and shares, at popular locations across the globe. 

The idea behind it is to track the social media presence of a location to determine which locations are more popular than others. Locations like sports venues, hotels and tourist destinations are currently being tested in this method. 

With this new way of thinking, it’s important to make social media content specific to locations and for public locations to be more active on social media. For example, airports could benefit from this method of measurement because travelers passing through often kill time between flights on social media. By encouraging these visitors to share their location on social media and to post about the airport will boost the social activity. 

Social media platforms often give users a way to share their location. For example, “check in” on a Facebook status or give your location on an Instagram photo. Tag your location on a tweet or add one of the popular location filters to your next Snapchat photo. An interesting display, artwork, large logo or window overlooking a view are just a few options to give visitors at any destination something they will want to share. 

This location data from social media could be influential for those looking for the latest trendy travel destination or up-and-coming city activity. The data will also increase the profile of hotels, landmarks, concert venues and tourist destinations.

What do you think of Geosocial Index? Are you influenced by location?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Practice makes perfect, especially in front of an audience

By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I was listening to a presentation recently about a topic that wasn’t that overly interesting, yet I found myself compelled to listen to what was being said. On my way back to the office following the presentation, I thought about why I was so intent on listening to the speaker.

Upon reflection, it truly boiled down to the presenter’s style, the appropriate use of inflection in his voice and how he had a strong sense of conviction in his message. I thought others could use some tips on how to be a better presenter.

It’s always good to have an interesting topic to share but, if you don’t, you still can capture your audience with some simple techniques:

Practice, practice, practice…
Practicing a speech in advance not only builds confidence but allows you to memorize more of what you’re going to say, preventing the need to rely heavily on note cards, if at all. It also allows you to fine tune your messaging and identify natural transitions on topics.

Speak clearly…
Pronounce your words clearly and speak at a level so that everyone listening can hear. Practice using inflection in your voice so that you don’t come off as monotone and boring.

Avoid filling silence with the speech killing ums and ahhs…
We’ve all this done and, yes, I’m guilty of it even today, albeit I actively try not to. Don’t believe me, truly listen to how a good speaker is speaking and you’ll notice that he or she seldom, if ever, says, “um” or “ah” as a pause in their speech in preparation for what they are about to say next. Television and radio news anchors are especially good at it.

Use hands and body gestures…
Don’t just stand with your hands in your pockets or by your side. Just like when you use photos and video in PowerPoint to capture the audience, use your hands, arms and body to help maintain their attention.

Finally, look at your audience…
They are not there to look at the top of your head while you look down at a podium and read off a script. Making eye contact with your listeners builds rapport and shows that you’re confident in what you’re saying.

Following these simple tips will make you a much better speaker and one who people will want to hear.

Do you give speeches regularly? Feel free to share tips you use to be successful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

4 tips to making an effective online video

By: Noelle Cutler, Social Media Manager, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

In 2015, users spent 100 million hours viewing videos on Facebook. If you think that’s a lot, you might be in store for more shock in the near future; some predict that video will account for over 80% of all internet traffic by 2019.

So video is and will continue be, a big deal. Whether it’s on Facebook or other platforms, the audience is there, and so is the potential to tell your brand’s story in a powerful way. Here are four tips to tell your story effectively through video:

  1. Keep it short. You’ve heard it said that the attention span of humans is about seven seconds long, which is shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. Whether that exact statistic is accurate, the truth is we’re busy people and even the best-intentioned of us don’t always have the time or brain-space to devote to a long video. Best rule of thumb: keep your video between 1-3 minutes.
  2. Don’t make sound a necessity. Not everyone enjoys that catchy music or detailed narration in the background of your video. Plus not everyone wants to subject the people around them to that audio. Don’t penalize the hearing-impaired or the viewers who don’t use audio; create the video in a way that makes it just as fun and informative with or without sound.
  3. Be visual. This may seem like a no-brainer if you’re making a video, but it’s not as easy as you think. You may be tempted to just use a talking head for the entire length of your video, but you’ll end up with a video that isn’t visually compelling.
  4. End it on the right note. What’s the point of your video? Ask yourself this question and make sure you drive home the answer at the end of the video. The purpose of your video is oftentimes to get viewers to take action, like visiting your website store or donating to your cause. Motivate the viewer to take these actions with strong messaging and easy to follow instructions.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Media Interview Tips

By: Jim McShea, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

You’ve done it. A story you’ve pitched has generated interest from a media outlet, and the reporter is on their way over for an interview. Now you must make sure you can express your message clearly, and succinctly.

Here are some tips that can help: 
  • Articulate your message. You’re not there to just answer questions, you’re there to get your message across. Once you determine your message, stick with it, and work it into your responses to the reporter’s questions.
  • Keep your answers short and concise. Your interview may take a while, but for a typical story, reporters are looking for soundbites that run between 10 and 20 seconds.
  • Try not to talk too fast or ramble.  Keep your audience in mind by speaking in familiar terms. Avoid technical jargon. 
  • Never assume that the reporter knows what you’re talking about. Though they are trained professionals, they are not necessarily experts on all that they cover. Many times, they rely on the interview that you are giving for facts and commentary. Depending on the medium, reporters can have anywhere from several weeks to only a few hours to research stories. Take the time to make sure a reporter understands what you’re saying.
  • Don’t speculate. Your credibility depends on accuracy. If you don’t know an answer, say so. Offer to research the answer and make sure to follow up.

Before your interview, there are a few things to keep in mind: make sure to practice your responses ahead of time. Practicing will allow you to fine tune your message and become comfortable with your answers. If you’re taking part in an interview for television, make sure to concentrate on the interviewer, not the camera. Also, maintain eye contact with the interviewer and smile, if appropriate. Look your best and choose your outfit wisely. Avoid multiple patterns (such as stripes or checkers), or colors since cameras can render them oddly.

Most importantly, believe in yourself! If you need to ask someone for advice beforehand, great, but when the interview begins, you’re on your own.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The wrong word and quickly you’re the next social media topic

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

This past Monday was Patriots’ Day. Typically, not a big holiday for most of us, unless you happen to be in Massachusetts or you’re fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Many of the more than 26,000 runners who finished the race this year received an email from race sponsor Adidas on Tuesday. Its goal was to celebrate the runners, recognize their accomplishment and maybe sell some additional sports apparel. But the email went out with the subject line…“Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

Given what happened four years ago when bombs went off at the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260, the email quickly became the subject of criticism on social media. Some of the responses on Twitter…

  • “I don’t know how an advertising team doesn’t catch this.”
  • “Seems a little inappropriate.”
  •  “Are your copyrighters living in a black hole?”
  •  “Did you hire the @united pr team?”
  •  “Adidas – are you tone deaf?”

Adidas, a long-time sponsor of the Boston Marathon, responded quickly…
“We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”

The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.”

The Adidas’ Twitter account also has many tweets of support, including those who say many people are too easily offended these days.

Still, given what happened in Boston on Patriots’ Day in 2013, one has to wonder how a subject line like that made it through the review process and into people’s inboxes. It’s a great reminder to those of us who send things out via email, social media, snail mail or any other form of communication, have a second or third set of eyes take a look at it. They may catch something that you just didn’t consider.