Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oh, Ryan Lochte, what were you thinking?

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

That is what I would ask the Olympic swimming star if I met him. I have no idea who thought that giving Lochte his own reality show (What Would Ryan Lochte Do? which airs on E!) was a good idea, but it has to be one of the worst decisions…ever.

The show got plenty of attention ahead of its debut. Lochte made several public appearances and did a lot of interviews, but on premier night, the show tanked in the ratings. This makes me think that no one was ever really interested in the show. They were more interested in watching the train wreck that happened each time Lochte did an interview to promote the show. Here is one that went viral to give you some perspective:

So what does this mean from a public relations perspective? Some experts have said that Lochte’s exposure to the public – positive or negative – has been good for the sport of swimming. Others have said that it just makes him look like an idiot and that more people now associate Lochte with his foolish and awkward interviews rather than being a gold medal Olympic swimmer. From my perspective one thing is true: he is just a mess.

But, the truth is that he is getting buzz. Good or bad, it's buzz. The Lochte name is alive and well, and the next Olymics is still three years away. But the question remains if we will see any back peddling or a more interview savvy Lochte in the future. If his show had been an immediate success, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. But now that the show doesn’t seem to be as successful as originally hoped, I’m wondering if the not-so-favorable media attention will have Lochte wishing he would have approached things differently.

Let me ask you this: Is there still hope for Lochte after all of this? Do you think he can reinvent himself to save face? Should he?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ten Lessons of Leadership

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

I’m fortunate to be asked to do a fair amount of public speaking. It’s something that’s really enjoyable and rewarding; especially when you can get a group of people engaged and talking about the topic at hand. Recently, I was asked to speak about the lessons of leadership. As you know, the topic can fill a book; more like thousands of books because everyone views leadership a little differently. So what lessons did I share? 

Have a vision. The old saying, “if you don’t’ know where you’re going, you’ll never get there” is true. But your vision shouldn’t be so narrow that you miss what’s going on around you.  

Be excited. Be passionate. Have you ever seen an unexciting leader? The answer is most likely ‘no.’ People will follow those who believe in what they’re doing and have a positive, upbeat attitude. Attitudes are contagious.

Share what you know & share the spotlight. It’s not just about you. Help others learn and achieve and share the spotlight. All of us know people in leadership roles who never give credit to those who did the work or came up with the idea.  Those leaders generally don’t last long or, when they have a problem or challenge, no one steps up to help.

Deal with problems and challenges head on.  This one can be tough. You will have challenges, problems and things that don’t go right. As much as you may hope the problem will go away or fix itself; it rarely does.  It only gets worse if you ignore it.

Understand the realities of a situation. This is the companion statement for the previous item. I’m not saying let the naysayers get to you, or let others rain on your leadership parade, but you do need a firm grasp of reality and how it might impact your business or your life. 

Constantly learn.  If you’re not learning, you’re being left behind.  Change is constant and you need to embrace it.  Don’t chase every bright shiny object or trend du jour; but be aware of what’s new and what you need to learn.  Then do it!

Know who you are. As a leader, self-awareness is key. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses and your core values. Listen to your gut instinct about things. Get help or assistance in areas where you don’t feel you have the right skills or abilities.

Understand that not everyone is just like you.  There can be a tendency for leaders to think everyone thinks like them. To be an effective leader, you need to understand and embrace the differences among your team members. 

There is such a thing as Karma.  Just because you’re leading a project, a company or even your own household, don’t be too full of yourself or run over others to achieve your goals. Karma has a way of coming around and biting you.    

Work-life balance is a myth – and that’s OK

Sometimes your personal life demands most of your time and sometimes it’s work that takes up your time. Just don’t do one or the other exclusively or excessively for too long.

So there are my 10 lessons of leadership.  Do you agree or disagree? What would you add to the list?

Friday, April 12, 2013

REALLY, there is an app that insults you? What’s next?

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

I hate you more than words can explain!

Download a new app called, Carrot - available for iPad and iPhone users, and that’s what you might get as a message from the app. Carrot puts a news twist on creating an electronic to do list. The twist is it insults you, sometimes rather harshly, when you don’t get things completed in a timely manner.

The USA Today reports:

Like other apps of this kind, or the integrated Reminders tool for iOS users, you can create a list of things to do -- such as "Buy air pump for bicycle" or "Pay phone bill by Friday" – but Carrot will insult you for failing to perform your tasks. For example, if you don't open the app for a while, Carrot might display this message to you upon your return: "Public Shaming 001: Would you like to confess your laziness to all your social media friends?" You can tap "No Way" or "Um, I Guess?" Choosing the latter will open up Twitter or Facebook (your choice) and suggest you publish this: "Guys! My to-do list is making me tell you all I'm nothing but a no-good lazy human!"

Harsh? Yes. Funny? You bet.

Tap on Carrot's "ocular sensor" -- think HAL's eye from 2001: A Space Odyssey -- and you might see "You're beginning to annoy me" or "I'll make you regret that. I promise" or "How would you like it if I tapped on your eyeball"? Tap a few more times and Carrot might have a "mood swing" and change from a white background to a black one. Carrot might forgive you over time, however, and return back to normal; when I launched the app a few minutes later, Carrot wrote "My hatred for you already burns with the passion of 10,000 suns. I literally cannot hate you any more. So I guess we'll call it a draw."

And, if that wasn’t harsh enough, the app also allows you to choose if you want to share the insult with your friends on your social media sites.

The app does offer kudos and compliments when tasks are completed on time.

It seems quite unsettling to me that anyone would want to have their electronics, designed to make their lives easier, insult you when you’ve decided to do something at another time instead of when you originally planned on completing it. Imagine if your parent or employer treated you this way. If they called you stupid, incompetent or said they hated you with a burning desire greater than the sun. I don’t think most people would appreciate it. So why then would you willingly invite a thoughtless, unfeeling computer app to do it?

A greater concern I have is that over the past few years, bullying has become a significant concern among many Americans, particular in our school systems. Some bullying has tragically resulted in the recipient of the bullying becoming severely depressed and, sometimes, taking their own lives to escape the pain bullying inflicts. In a few cases, the person bullied harbored their ill feelings until the rage boiled over and they took out their anger on others.

Will this type of behavior be compounded because of an app?  Only time will tell.

At a minimum, my concern is will this new form of negativism give users the sense that it’s ok to say mean and hurtful things? Are we going to take three step backwards in the fight against bullying after we’ve worked so hard to take a half step forward in preventing this type of behavior?

What are your thoughts on this? Would you let others speak to you this way? Then why let a computer program do it?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Social Media – You Can’t Afford to Ignore It.

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

Social media platforms serve as the newsstands, the video monitors and the storefronts of your brand. So cutting through the noise is an important step in making connections that count.

You can use social media to demonstrate your expertise and develop connections to help generate leads and referrals, increase your brand awareness and create new opportunities. As we all know, social media is where we choose to go to meet new people, to engage in conversation, learn new things, build relationships and to network. But many companies face social media challenges including:

  • Demands for quick, unplanned updates.
  • Investing time to keep social media accounts up-to-date on a daily basis.
  • Sharing too much or not sharing enough
  • Not knowing what to say.
  • Knowing which social media platform is the best for your business.

 But don’t let the challenges of social media keep you from engaging in the social environment. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Get organized:  Follow experts, reporters and news sources in your industry. Organize them into lists to make things more manageable.
  • Give it time:  Review your social networks on a daily basis. This will help you stay up-to-date on industry news and what is being said about your brand.   
  • Do your research:  Monitor brand mentions, competitors and key industry organizations to see how individuals across social platforms are engaging in the conversation.
  • Protect your brand:  Develop and share a social media policy internally that keeps social activity compliant with regulations and professional.

How do you cut through the noise to make connections that count?