Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrate Independence Day with Social Media

By: Angela Raleigh, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.:
This coming weekend, individuals and families will celebrate Americas’ independence. It’s a day full of parades, picnics, barbeques and watching fireworks. But it’s also a day of reflection on why we celebrate this holiday and it’s a great opportunity to remember our troops that fight for our country.

Fortunately, social media networks provide individuals and families the opportunity to communicate with loved ones who are not able to make it home for the holiday. But as you may know social media networks also act as a gathering place for information and sharing about common topics or subjects. Three social media outlets in particular are most commonly used by individuals wanting to share messages, photos, in-depth information and videos with those who are close and far from home during this time of year.

• Twitter, love it or hate it, is a powerful tool when it comes to holiday news. A number of Twitter hash tags are already in use to celebrate the 4th of July and to remember our troops including #July4th, #IndependenceDay and #WhyWeCelebrate.

• Facebook allows for more in-depth sharing of information. Groups of people come together and follow something they believe, or want information about, by “liking” a page. There are many pages that have been created dedicated to the Fourth of July.

• And of course there is YouTube, which provides the power of visuals. Expect to see video sharing of parades and firework shows throughout the weekend.

We have the freedom to network via digital technology and we are free to choose how we integrate our digital world with our daily lives. If you choose to tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook or YouTube, consider using one of the above hash tags to let those in your social network know how and why you are celebrating this Fourth of July.

Why is it that you celebrate Independence Day? Is it a family tradition or maybe you have a family member or friend that is serving our country? Also, how do you celebrate Independence Day? Do you participate in a local parade, have a barbeque or watch the sky light up with fireworks?

I wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Have Time for Local News?

By: Scott Stein, Senior Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
I came across an interesting article just the other day on the website Mediaite, which describes itself as the site for news, information and smart opinions about print, online and broadcast media. Columnist Philip Bump posed the question…“Where does local news fit if national and social media take up all your time?” As a recovering local news junkie (20+ years as a radio and newspaper reporter in La Crosse and Green Bay) I was intrigued.

Bump quickly points that “once upon a time there were two main ways that people learned about what was happening in the world; newspapers and the six o’clock news.” (I’ll forgive Mr. Bump for ignoring the important role the radio news used to play. Of course, while I was working in radio news I was far less forgiving of those who didn’t realize how much information came via radio.)

His point, however, is that we now have so many other sources for learning what is happing around us and around the world. Bump writes…“people can get any information they want on anything at any time. They can follow a thousand different Twitter accounts and have five hundred Facebook friends and Flipbook their way to the things that interest them. The odds that the City Council’s negotiations on a sewer contract makes the cut are small.”

Yes, I am among the legions of fans of Twitter and Facebook and do get a lot of information that way, including local news from the myriad of reporters tweeting and posting on social media (although it can be frustrating wading through all the drivel that is posted as I search for some real news.) While I do find some news via social media, it’s just not right if I don’t start my morning with a newspaper in my hand and close my day flipping among the local TV newscasts.

The bottom line is that I want to know what the city council and county board and other local governments are up to. These are the folks that are making the decisions that most directly impact my life. I, personally, don’t want to reach that day when I don’t have time for local news.

How about you? Is local news important to you? Has the shift in how we get news had an impact on what news you pay attention to?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Social Media Trends in Northeast Wisconsin

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s a safe assumption that you use social media and are at least somewhat familiar with how it works. It’s also safe to assume that at one point, you questioned what impact social media was actually having in Northeast Wisconsin and how many people where actually jumping on the social media bandwagon.

To help answer some of those questions, Leonard & Finco Public Relations surveyed media and business professionals in Northeast Wisconsin in each of the last three years regarding their use of social media.

The most recent survey found that Facebook, at 80.7% of respondents, was the most popular social network used by the media, followed by Twitter (73%), YouTube (61.5%) and LinkedIn (46.1%).

As far as the reason media uses social media, two reponses tied for the top spot at 62.9%. They were to share news stores with others and to find contacts for interviews. Other popular responses included identifying story ideas and socializing/personal friendships.

The survey also identified that business professionals are using social media a little differently than the media when it comes to work. For business professionals in Northeast Wisconsin, LinkedIn was first at 63.9%. Not far behind was Facebook with 58.8%, Twitter at 41.1 % and YouTube at 27.9%.

While at work, business professionals indicated that they use social media the most for connecting/communicating with others in the community or their industry (56.8%). Other reasons that ranked high included promoting company news and information (48.2%), connecting/communicating with clients (47.4%) and directing others to a website (44.6%).

Of those who felt that social media has had a positive impact for their companies, the top reasons included networking (64.1%), improved client/customer relations (59.7%) and increased marketing opportunities (49.2%).

Overall the use of social media networks in Northeast Wisconsin has increased since Leonard & Finco’s first survey three years ago. Are you at all surprised about these results? If so, what did you think would be different?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Big Oops

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

Here we go again. Yet another high profile case of a big Twitter oops. By now you have heard of Congressman Anthony Weiner and the compromising photos he sent of himself to several women via Twitter. Oops. Apparently, Weiner thought he was sending direct messages to these women when he was really sending the photos to his entire feed. Oops again.

When the story first broke, Weiner gave more than nine hours worth of interviews denying the photos were sent by him, at times getting upset with members of the media and accusing his Twitter account of being hacked. One more oops.

Then on Monday of this week, Weiner finally came out and admitted what many already suspected. That he had in fact been the one to send the photos of himself to those women.

Why is it that these seemingly smart and intelligent people make such basic and stupid mistakes? Hello? Rule #1 of the Internet: once you put something out in cyberspace it is impossible to completely remove it. Knowing this, why would you risk your career, reputation and your personal relationships over something so stupid? There is even a national public service campaign directed to teens on the staying power of the Internet. Perhaps we need to direct the same campaign to members of congress.

Maybe Weiner really did think he was sending direct messages to those women and not his Twitter feed. But there is yet another issue. Sending an inappropriate photo of yourself electronically is no different because now someone has that image of you to do with what they want. And with networks like Twitter, Facebook and blogs, once it is out, it will only take a matter of moments to go viral.

This is a great reminder of the fact that social media levels the playing field for everyone. It’s kind of like the DMV. No matter who you are – Oprah, Lady Gaga, or Kristen Paquet – everyone has to wait in the long line and deal with grumpy staff at the DMV to renew our driver’s license. To me, social media is the same deal. We all have the same access, the same tools and the same power. A high profile congressman is no different from me when it comes to communicating on social media. It’s all about how smart you are when using it.

What do you think? Can Weiner’s very public oops serve as a lesson to other high profile people – and even those who aren’t – on thinking before we act? Will it make a difference?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Make Your Social Media Communications Effective

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive – Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Every business or organization has its own reasons for joining in the social media movement, but there is one common reason to use social media: to effectively communicate with your key audiences. June is Effective Communications Month, the perfect time to assess how effective you are at communicating with your key audiences through social media.

Whatever your main purpose or goal is with social media, the real trick is to communicate in a way that is timely, appropriate and concise; all while not taking up your entire work day. Ask yourself, “Is this something my followers or Facebook ‘likers’ would be interested in, or need to know?” (…and no, your followers will not care what you just had for lunch). Does it get them engaged with our brand? Will this be something they’ll share with others? Once your information passes this test, there are a few rules of thumb to follow to effectively communicate with your social media followers:

• Monitor pages frequently – Log in to your pages a couple times each day to see your activity. There are several services that help people monitor pages and post information efficiently and simultaneously. One service I’ve found helpful is HootSuite.

• Post often but don’t get too carried away – A good rule of thumb is to post three or four times a week. Generally, site activity is slower in the afternoon for sites like Twitter or blogs, so this may be a good time to post. Don’t forget to post on other “off” times such as in the evening and on the weekends.

• Provide a wide variety of content - Make your page content unique. In addition to posting information your audience needs to know such a special sale, post non-commercial advice related to your industry, links to interesting articles, take polls, run contests and share relevant photos. Don’t forget to direct them to unique content on your website or other pages.

• Designate a couple of different page administrators – Elect a couple people that will have access to the page log in information. If you have a Facebook page, consider making them “admins” for your page. But, if you do this, remember, their personal profiles will be representing your business page. An alternative solution is to create a “ghost” profile, which is an empty page giving a staff member the ability to post on your page without having their personal page linked to your business’s page.

• Finally, measure your results. This should go beyond the number of followers or fans (although that’s a good basic measurement). How often are people sharing posts or “re-tweeting?” Is there a dialogue taking place on your page? What are sales like for the product you’ve been promoting? Also, check out how your company website traffic has been. It can be a bit overwhelming, but there are reliable, free online measurement tools that can track stats about your social media accounts.

Social media is an important tool for your on-going PR and communications strategies. If used in a strategic way, these tools can help you grow your brand and business while also generating some great PR!

How effectively have you been communicating with your followers and "likers?" Do you have other ideas about ways to communicate effectively on social media sites? I'd love to hear your thoughts!