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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

United Airlines: A crisis that keeps getting worse

By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

There’s an old adage about being in trouble. It reads, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” That’s sound advice that was ignored by United Airlines (UA) immediately following a video on social media showing aviation police manhandling a passenger off a flight. Was this passenger being unruly or disruptive to deserve such treatment? No. He simply was chosen as one of four passengers to be asked to give up their seat as UA overbooked the flight.

With the incident itself creating a deep crater, UA should have realized the seriousness of the matter and stopped digging. Instead, UA grabbed the shovel firmly and started digging even deeper by issuing a statement to address the incident. It read:
"This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened."
— United CEO Oscar Munoz
Not exactly what you would call a sincere apology and so full of fluff, that even the most corporate minded individuals recognized this as pure bologna. Not only did the original incident set social media ablaze, the statement added even more jet fuel to the fire.  

What should have immediately happened instead is textbook PR 101: Crisis Management which includes a full apology from Munez to the victim and to announce that immediate steps are being taken to ensure something like this never happens again. 

Instead, it took days for an apology and only after immense pressure was placed on UA and Munez. Since then, Munez has been making the media rounds clarifying UA’s position. Considering it’s stock price and brand destruction, it may be too little, too late.

What do you think UA should have done differently? If given a choice, would you pay more to fly a different airline just to avoid flying United Airlines?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Saying “Yes” in PR

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

Someone recently told me their new motto in life was to say ‘yes’ to opportunities and experiences because it will either be a great time or they will have a great story on why it didn’t work out. After I heard this, I thought about how we could say ‘yes’ more in public relations. 

Staying on top of trends is easier said than done because there are so many to keep up with. The coolest social media platforms seem to change week by week, while other trends may feel out-of-date by the time you implement them. 

Think of an area in your business you would like to improve and choose one way to try to improve it. This could be anything from refreshing your social media content, trying a new computer program or testing out an organizational system for the office. Invest the time and energy it deserves to give it a fair chance, and see how it goes. If it works out, great, but if it doesn’t then don’t sweat it! What did you learn from trying it? Can an aspect of the implementation be changed for a better result? 

The same can be said for pitching a story to the media. If a reporter is interested and wants to do the story, you’ve reached your goal. On the other hand, if the reporter doesn’t like the pitch, they may tell you why it doesn’t work for them. This is valuable feedback to learn because it may inspire a different story to pitch, a new approach to the pitch or the reporter could reach out to you in the future on the topic.

Saying “yes” can lead to a lot of wonderful opportunities, lessons or success for your company. So, what will you say yes too?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ready, set, run: breaking down the structure of Facebook advertising

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

What two steps come before you run? Get ready and get set. The same steps need to happen before running a Facebook ad. You have to get ready with a campaign plan and get the ad set up. Then, you can start running the ad!

Facebook advertising might seem simple because you can decide to run an ad on Facebook and actually start running it the very same day. But it really does require more planning than that. You have to make strategic decisions about marketing objectives, targeted audiences, budget and ad design. In Facebook Ad Manager, the ad structure is broken down to help you think strategically about each of those areas, from campaign to ad set to ad. Here’s the breakdown on each one:

  1. Campaign. This is the highest level of your advertising plan. All you have to do at this level is name your campaign and choose your Objective. If you’ve never set up a Facebook ad before, I suggest using the Brand Awareness objective if you’re simply trying to spread your message or brand. If you’re trying to get people to go to your website, use the Traffic objective. There are eight other objectives, but those two are the broadest/easiest to set up.
  2. Ad Set. The next step is to set up your ad set. Here you’ll determine the Audience, Placements and Budget & Schedule of your ads. You can have more than one ad set in a campaign. For example, if your campaign objective is to get people to visit the store page of your website (the Traffic objective), one ad set could target an audience ages 25 to 30 and the budget could be $50. Another ad set could target people who are 18 to 24-years-old and the budget could be $30. Those different ad set details can be programmed any way you want, but the campaign objective is the same: get people to your website.
  3. Ads. Finally, you actually set up your ads. The Format is the first thing you have to decide; more or less the format is just a choice between one image, multiple images or video. The final thing to set up is the Page & Text, which is basically the ad itself; it’s the image and the text of your specific ad. It could also include the URL if your objective is to get people to go to a website. Again, you can have more than one ad in an ad set. Going back to the example of targeting 24 to 30-year-olds, you might want to use different texts and images. Same marketing objective, audience, placements, budget & schedule, but different actual ads.

There’s a lot more detail to each step, but hopefully, this helps explain the way Facebook structures their advertising. These are the things you need to decide before jumping in and running a Facebook ad. So get ready, get set and then run your Facebook ad!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PR FAQ: Why won’t the media cover my story?

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

No matter what industry you’re in, you’re bound to get some frequently asked questions about what you do. In our business, it’s inevitable that someone will ask: Why won’t the news media cover my story? Why? Here my top five answers (which often start out as questions):
  1. Does your pitch or release contain the necessary information, including the obvious who, what, where, when and why? If a reporter wants more information but can’t contact you, they’ll move on to something else. (Hint: If it’s a weekend or evening, include your cell phone number.)
  2. Have you personalized the pitch or release for the type of media or reporter you are contacting? Radio doesn’t care if there are great visuals, but if you’re pitching something to TV, you better have a strong visual component. Don’t pitch a feature story about education to a business reporter. Know who you’re pitching before you contact them. A little research goes a long way.
  3. Is there a reason for them to care? Why will their readers, viewers or listeners care about your story or the expertise you’re offering?  Give them a reason to care and you increase your chances of getting coverage.
  4. It sounds like you’re selling something. Trying to get the news media to cover your story when all you’re doing is trying to sell something (and it’s obvious, believe me) is a sure fire way to have them ignore you. Sell your expertise, not a product or promotion.
  5. What else is going on at that time? There may be a major news story they are following/covering that day or week. Sometimes, even the best stories are passed up because there’s something else going on. It happens.

I’m sure there are other answers to the question “Why won’t the media cover my story,” and I would love to hear your thoughts about it. What has your experience been with pitching the media? If you’re a reporter, what is likely to get tossed without you thinking twice?