Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writing for your social audience – it’s different than traditional media

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

When you were in high school or college, you were forced to write in a way that just about killed any ounce of creativity. But you’re not in college anymore and your writing shouldn’t be stuck there either! This is especially true when writing for your social media audiences. It’s just not the same as writing for traditional media outlets. Your social audience is interested in responding and sharing instantly; and they play a larger role in the conversation by commenting and sharing their view points, both good and bad. This means you’ve got to get it right the first time.

When writing for your social audience, keep the following in mind:
  • Do your research. Who you are writing for? By understanding your audience you can determine the type of content that is popular with your social media users. 
  • Write headlines that grab your reader’s attention. Your headline plays a key role in grabbing the reader’s attention. Create headlines that will make social media users want to read more. And when possible keep your headline brief so that it can be retweeted with room for readers to comment. 
  • Get to the point quickly. In most cases you only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention. So if you’ve enticed readers enough with a great headline that they click on it for more information, make sure your opening paragraph is interesting and that it says what the social media post is about. When appropriate use bullet points and include photos. 
  • Be conversational. An important part of writing for social media is being social. Write to your readers as if you’re sitting with your audience having a conversation with them. And include a call to action to engage your readers in the conversation. 
  • Be a resource for your audience. Write social media posts that provide resources for your audience. This might include providing web links to additional information so that readers can learn what they want to know. Also, include sharing buttons so that your readers can share the information you’re providing to them.
What do you do to keep your social media writing interesting?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Are you concerned about “cybercriminals”?

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

It was easy to laugh earlier this week when word spread through social media that the Burger King Twitter account had been hacked and the account was sporting a McDonald’s logo instead of the BK icon. While hacking into a Twitter account is probably more amusing than concerning, other recent revelations about accounts being hacked are more troubling.

The New York Times ran a story this week (Some Victims of Online Hacking Edge Into the Light) that made me pause and think about all that I do online. The gist of the story was that thousands of American companies have had accounts hacked in the last few years, but the public has only heard about a small percentage of them. Usually, companies only admit they’ve been targeted if someone else leaks the information.

But the story by Nicole Perlroth also notes that more companies – biggies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter among them – have gone public that they were “attacked by sophisticated cybercriminals.” The thought is that admitting you’ve been hacked now doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did because so many companies have been hacked. 

The approach seems to be that by disclosing the attacks, companies in similar industries can share information and use that information in the hopes of staying ahead of the cybercriminals to fend off future hacking activity.

Of course, most of us today spend considerable time online and engaged with social media whether for work or for fun. As we become more and more comfortable with what we do online, reports like this should serve as a reminder that we need to be vigilant in protecting our information.

Does hacking concern you? Are your accounts protected?    

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why B2B Companies Need to Be on Social Media

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

I’ve heard this statement more than once: “Social media doesn’t work for B2B so I don’t need to worry about it.” I have to say that those who make that comment come by it somewhat honestly. I’ve been to seminars, webinars and have read countless articles where examples of successful social media cases seem to stem from the business to consumer relationship; making those that run a B2B feel underwhelmed at what social media has to offer them.

But that doesn’t mean a B2B company should feel like it can’t be a part of the social media “cool group.” You just have to look at it differently.

Why should you be on social media as a B2B?

Because your audience is. Just about every demographic is represented in some way on social media. Facebook alone has over a billion users; half of which check in and post updates on mobile devices. Social media has become another resource for people to get their news, look up information, get advice and find inspiration. The key is to know where your audience is. If you are a B2B perhaps a platform like Twitter or LinkedIn are better tools for you whereas a site like Pinterest, where 97 percent of the users are women looking to buy, may not be your best choice.

Because you can build partnerships. You may not be selling a product or service directly to the average consumer, but you do have a voice as an expert in your field. Share it by offering advice, posting related articles and information and building partnerships and connections with others in your industry. Having an online presence outside of your website will help elevate your company brand, gain trust with the public and your colleagues and can help solidify your reputation as a reliable resource. 

Because it can do more than just market. Social media has gone way beyond being a tool that only the marketing department uses. It is quickly becoming an office productivity tool for other areas of a business; the fastest growing area being customer service. Social media is another avenue for people you do business with to either praise you or complain. Many B2Bs have seen this and are taking steps to get their customer service team connected, listening and responding. Another area of where social media is proving to be helpful is with sales leads. Sales teams have the opportunity to keep networking via social media channels keeping them top of mind with potential new clients.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. In fact, new ways to utilize its potential are being tapped into by businesses (B2C and B2B) everyday. Why not harness the possibilities for your own company?

Does anyone have an example how social media has worked for their B2B company? Please share your story!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why You Weren’t Hired

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

As the owner of a company, I regularly receive cover letters and resumes from people looking for work. Looking for a new job isn’t easy and, unfortunately these days, it usually isn’t quick. That’s why I’m always surprised when I receive letters and resumes that pretty much eliminate someone from consideration before I even finish reading. That might sound harsh, but it’s a reality. Here are a few things to make note of: 
  • For Heaven’s sake, get the name of the company right. This happens more often that you might think. 
  • I’m not one of those people who will toss a letter because of a single typo. But when you tell me you’re an expert proofreader, and your letter is filled with errors, it makes me doubt what else you have to say.
  • Don’t say you’re a strong candidate for our opening for an inside sales position (or any other job title) when my company isn’t advertising for any open position. Did you forget to take this line out from your previous letter? 
  • Know what our company does. It’s easy to find out online.We often receive letters stating the person wants to work at our ad agency. If you look at our website, it’s clear we are a PR firm and not an ad agency.There is a difference.
  • Address your letter to a specific person; not “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir or madam.” It’s easy to find out the name of an owner, company president or VP of a department on a company website. 
  • If you’re a recent college grad; don’t try to make it seem like you have more experience than you actually do. It’s OK that you don’t. I know you’re just starting out. Tell me about relevant course work or volunteer work where you used your PR skills. Don’t say you have experience when you don’t. One person said they were experienced in crisis management, but the only example was a paper they wrote about crisis management. Again, it makes me doubt what else you have to say.

Before you think I’m totally heartless about the plight of job seekers, let me point out we acknowledge every email or letter we receive; even when we don’t have an opening. I also keep the “good” resumes on file because you never know when an opening may occur or when a client may ask if we know of someone to fill a position at their firm.

The purpose of my blog is simple: I know it’s a tough job market out there and I know it can be discouraging; so don’t eliminate yourself from consideration before a potential employer finishes reading your letter or resume.

Since turnaround is fair play; what bugs you about the job hunting process? Is there something employers do that turns you off? Love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Be careful what you say and how you say it!

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development

Like years past, as we approach the Super Bowl weekend, the buzz is growing on what will be better, the game or the commercials during the game.

Although there has been plenty of headline stories this past week about the “Big” game including it being the first time two brother’s will coach against each other, there has also been headlines about a the new Volkswagen Beetle commercial.

Yes, you read it correctly, the Beetle. That sweet, adorable speed bump looking car, is making headlines. Not really the car itself, but the context of the commercial promoting the car.

The commercial’s theme is that owning a Beetle is a relaxing experience and that life is good if you drive one. Throughout the one minute spot, a guy that owns a new Beetle walks throughout his office building, offering relaxing or encouraging messages, in a Jamaican accent, to his stressed out co-workers. Phrases like, “No worries mon, everything will be awlright” and “Don’t fret me brotha,” roll off the actor’s tongue in the accent synonymous with the island of relaxation.

The commercial has raised a concern by some that it is racist by poking fun at a specific race of people. Fortunately for Volkswagen, officials from Jamaica have weighed, expressing their appreciation for the commercial and how it perpetuates the island of Jamaica’s brand as a place of total relaxation.

Although it appears there will be no adverse impact to Volkswagen, largely because the Jamaican government has come out in support of the commercial, the recent incident is a good reminder to all PR and marketing professionals. What may be funny to some is not always funny to everyone. And, in some cases, may seem insensitive or racist even if there if there was no malicious intent.

As practitioners of language and the way we use it to persuade our audiences, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are not offending others. Words and how we use them can be very hurtful and we have to be mindful that our message should not alienate or disrespect others. That being said, I do think that everyone needs to ease back on the sensitivity level.

What are your thoughts on the commercial? Does if offend you? Have you ever written something that turned out to be offensive to some when you had no idea it would be?

In closing, I hope you enjoy the game (and commercials) and feel free to weigh in on your favorite commercial after the game.