Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"One small step for man, one giant step for mankind”....Never have words truly meant so much

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

We lost a true American hero with the death of NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong on Saturday. I wasn’t born yet when he took the very first steps on the moon but his accomplishments and those at NASA have made a lasting impact on every American and on the entire world.

Those first steps catapulted America past Russia in the leadership role for space exploration and gave Americans a renewed since of pride in our ability to accomplish the impossible. It helped spark a revolution in America in which we, and our partner countries, seek to learn more about space, look for other planets that may sustain life and fulfill our curiosities about what’s in the universe. Is there life out there?

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up and see the space shuttle missions and was always amazed each and every time the space shuttle took off and returned from a mission. I had the privilege of watching a night launch of the space shuttle in the early 1990s and it’s still one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever witnessed.

I also vividly remember the tragedies of the Challenger and Columbia missions and wondered how America would react to the loss.

Even in its darkest moments, NASA continued to dream and we are moving forward. The recent landing of a new rover on Mars is a testament to the early pioneers of space exploration and our drive to never give up. And although Armstrong would have preferred it be a person and not a machine exploring Mars, it still is another step forward for all Americans.

We owe Armstrong, and all of NASA from his era, a great debt of gratitude for helping to spark so much interest in the stars and beyond.

Thank you for daring to dream and I hope you rest in peace among the stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The lawyers vs. PR: Has Progressive Insurance learned anything?

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
There’s been a firestorm over how Progressive Insurance handled a claim filed by the estate of one of its customers who was killed in an accident with an underinsured driver. It all started with a blog post by comedian Matt Fischer which was titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to defend her killer in court.”  It was a brutal portrayal of Progressive as a cold, indifferent and strictly bottom-line oriented firm willing to do just about anything to avoid paying out a claim. The company made matters worse with its denials, half-explanations about the situation and its robotic approach to responding to social media. (Posting the same corportate-ese statements time after time.) 

Based on our extensive experience in crisis PR, my guess is part of the problem was two-fold.  First, it’s not unusual in crisis situations to have the lawyers at odds with the PR people. The lawyers, rightfully so, want to protect the company by saying as little as possible.  The PR professionals, rightfully so, want to communicate in order to protect the company.  In a crisis situation, communication is king.  Skilled PR professionals know emotions generally trump facts, so you have to respond in a caring and authentic manner.  Often what’s legally right isn’t always right from a communication standpoint.  It’s a balancing act.

The other part of the challenge is social media.  You can’t wait hours to respond and you cannot seem mechanical and cold.  If your company has a high profile through advertising, marketing or simply company size, you have to live your brand or people will take you to task.  Progressive’s approach made matters worse.

Progressive has now reached a settlement with the Fischer family.  While they may have things worked out on that end, people don’t quickly forget.  It’s going to take Progressive a lot longer to re-establish its relationship with the public at large, some of its client base and with the social media world.

What do you think Progressive could have or should have done differently?  Any thoughts on handling a social media firestorm?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Google Alerts, do you use them?

By: Angela Raleigh, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

We’ve all heard of them. Google Alerts give us a heads up whenever Google creates new web content that includes select keywords or phrases…such as your company name. But dig a little deeper and you’ll notice that you can do a lot more with Google Alerts to help monitor what is being said about your company or one of your clients.

The basic principle of a Google Alert allows you to monitor your company name, product or brand. Just fill out a form to create an alert and indicate how often you want to be alerted about new content; you can get an email every time Google finds a page that contains your company name or as little as once a week. All in all, it’s a quick and easy way to see who’s mentioning your company on the web.

But many people may not realize you can do much more with Google Alerts to get different and more specific results for your company or your client. Why not use Google Alerts to:
  • Track your brand, name and online reputation
  • Track your competition
  • Stay on top of news in your business field
  • Learn about new content and topics
  • Discover relevant social media pages, websites and blogs
  • Build your network
Google Alerts can be extremely helpful in monitoring new content that builds your online reputation. And it’s a free tool. The options available help reduce the volume of alerts you receive. Plus you can always adjust the settings, add new alerts and or delete old alerts that are no longer relevant.

Do you use Google Alerts? Do you find them useful? What do you see as the main benefit of Google Alerts?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Another tragedy – news and information via social media

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

Another tragic mass shooting in the United States and this one a lot closer to home, right here in Wisconsin. Like everyone else, I was in horror and left wondering why.

As a former news reporter I found myself glued to the media – both social and traditional – on Sunday afternoon. I’m guessing that many people felt as I did that information was coming slowly, but given the circumstances that was completely understandable. Police agencies can’t provide a lot of answers when they don’t have those answers themselves.

What was troubling, beyond the senseless attack itself, were some of the tweets that were posted as the situation developed. I won’t even go into those who were trying to cash in on the hashtag (#templeshooting) with business and other objectionable tweets. There was a lot of misinformation in the Twitter world that only added confusion, including a lot speculation about whether there was more than one shooter and how many victims had been shot.

There’s no doubt that the social media played a significant role in spreading the news of what was happening in Oak Creek. My hope is that people take their social media roles seriously so that Twitter and other sites don’t become avenues for spreading misinformation that seems to grow with every retweet.

As we continue to offer our thoughts and prayers to those in Oak Creek and the entire Sihk community, let’s remember that we all have a responsibility to carefully consider our roles in spreading “news” in the social media world.

Were you tuned to the social media for updates? What did you think? 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is Social Media Ruining or Improving Your Olympic Experience?

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

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about several new apps I found to help elevate my Olympic watching experience as I geared up for the games. Well, here we are, almost a full week into the games and at first, I really liked using the apps – but now I’m not so sure. The same goes with other forms of social media like Twitter and Facebook. Because the U.S. is seeing everything in delay due to the overseas time difference, I find myself dodging tweets and blogs on a daily basis so it won’t spoil any of the Olympic highlights by the time I get to see them.

Case in point: I really wanted to watch the U.S. vs. Korea DPR women’s soccer game yesterday so I set my DVR to record the game so I could watch it when I got home from work. All I needed to do was make it though the rest of day without finding out what the score was before I got the chance to watch the game. Just a few years ago all you had to do was avoid the newspaper or an online story about the outcome of an Olympic event. Today, you have to cover your ears, look at a computer monitor with one eye closed and dodge just about every social media platform out there just to keep some element of surprise going. It’s gotten to the point where not finding out the outcome of a game before I’m ready is my own Olympic sport.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been enjoying using the apps I first wrote about, especially Team USA which has posts from the athletes, a full event schedule and sport highlights. But, I use this app very carefully so I don’t mistakenly tap on an icon that will ruin my day.  

The good news is that I made it through the day without having the soccer game spoiled for me, although there were a few close calls (by the way, USA won). Now I’ll just have to plot my strategy for when they play again on Friday.

So what about you? Do you think social media is improving or ruining your Olympic watching experience? Let me know!