Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Get the picture?

Submitted by: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I like taking pictures. And like most people, I have my trusty digital camera at the ready for birthdays, vacations and all major holidays. But a photo can also be an important element in garnering some great PR for your business or company.

A great picture can do lots of things. A picture can help draw more attention to the story you want to share and lend a new dynamic to your web site, tweets, fan page – you get the picture (sorry, had to do it).

Including a picture with a news release can help enhance the story you are trying to get the media to cover. Just make sure the picture you choose represents what your news release is about. In some cases, a good picture can do a better job of getting your message across!

Now, sending a picture along with a news release or story idea doesn’t guarantee that your photo will be featured in the story. You still need to have something newsworthy to attract the media. But a picture is a great way to let the media know there are photo and video opportunities available at your company or business which is something they are always looking for. And for those times when an event or program doesn’t really warrant a story, I would suggest taking a few key shots of the event anyway. Write a short caption for each photo and submit them to your community section.

If you are connected to the world of social media, including a picture with a tweet or posting it on your company’s Facebook page is a great way to get some attention from your followers or friends. A photo provides interest to your readers and makes them feel more connected with who you are and what you are doing.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a pro photographer – you don’t need to be. Play with angles, frame your photos evenly, take distance shots as well as close-up and be sure to capture action shots of people having a good time or taking an interest in something. Most importantly, always take more pictures than you think you need. A shot might look good on your 2-inch LCD screen, but it can look a lot different once you download it on your computer.

You never know when you might need a photo, so you should start building a library for your company to draw from. And don’t let your pictures pile up on your computer. Keep them organized and back-up often. Pictures can be a powerful resource when looking to take your PR to the next level, so start bringing your camera to company events or when company news is worth sharing.

Say Cheese!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Take it from me, damage control is better when you do it sooner rather than later!

Submitted by: Beth Kneisler, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I recently transitioned from an apartment (which was approximately the size of my foot) to a spacious three-story duplex with a large yard. Having the extra space has been wonderful, but with my new home comes responsibilities I didn’t have when living in my apartment, one in particular being lawn care. The problem with taking care of my lawn isn’t that I don’t have a lawn mower, it’s that I can’t get it started. I’ve actually been told by someone I know, who very well could be a lawn mower expert, that my mower is one of the easiest to start models currently on the market.

Anyway, not being able to start my mower really hasn’t been a problem this summer since it’s been so dry but, with the recent rains we’ve had and given the fact that the last time the lawn was mowed was mid-June, it’s getting to the point where I can’t let my dog out without being on leash as I’m worried he won’t be able to find his way back to the house. So, currently I’m in a bit of a bind. I don’t want you to feel bad for me, I mean it’s my own fault. I’ve known since the first day I got my mower that I couldn’t start it, but rather than be proactive and get an electric starter installed or at minimum lift some weights, praying for a drought seemed like the better option (and boy did that backfire).

Businesses that have this same train of thought of not worrying or preparing for a problem or challenge until it happens are breaking one of the cardinal rules of good PR. Even if your company has been around since the invention of the wheel, has never had to deal with a crisis or has never had to work to repair a damaged reputation, a crisis could still happen to your business. Getting prepared now for when that day does come is crucial to your brand and survival. A good crisis management plan should outline possible threats and how you’re going to address them, as well as internal and external communications strategies for those situations, a strategy for dealing with the media and updated information about your business as well as a list of contacts. By planning for a potential crisis now, your business can not only survive, but may also come out with an even better reputation than before. This is a much better plan than having to do damage control after the fact, which is what I’ll be doing with my yard (a.k.a . “The Jungle”), as soon as I can find someone to bribe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walmart creates “cookie controversy”

Submitted by: Cole Buergi, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

After rebuilding its image of “killing the little guy” and, more recently, acquiescing to the controversy regarding benefits to its workforce, Walmart is facing yet another potential black eye with the public, this time it’s the Girl Scouts taking the swing over a “cookie controversy.”

Walmart is bringing to its shelves cookies that are very similar to Tagalongs and Thin Mints, two staple brands that the Girl Scouts rely on during its annual cookie sales fund raiser. Limited access to these delectable favorites is what helps generate sales for the Girl Scouts by creating a desire to buy far more boxes of cookies than usual, just to have a supply that lasts longer than one day.

The Scouts are afraid that if Americans can purchase similar flavored cookies anytime they desire, sales will diminish during their fund raising season, threatening the Scouts ability to raise money to fund their programs. These programs provide opportunities for all girls to build character and skills for success in today’s world.

If this story gains traction in the national media, Walmart will once again be scrambling to defend itself against a new image threat, ticked off moms and their daughters.

There are several ways for Walmart to handle this potential PR crisis. They could stop selling these imitation cookies, offer a percentage of the profit from each imitation cookie sale to the Girl Scouts or just ignore it and hope it goes away. If history holds true, the latter will likely be Walmart’s stance and, once again, company executives will be wondering why their image is tarnished and there again left picking up the crumbs.

My suggestion for Walmart: address this issue before it becomes much more public than need be.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Social media: the great equalizer….or not?

Submitted by: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

A lot is being made of social media these days and with good reason. There are exciting tools and applications that are changing the way the world communicates and does business. But recently I heard someone remark that social media is becoming the great equalizer in the world; giving everyone a voice in whatever discussion was being held. On the surface, I couldn’t argue with that thought. But as I’ve been compiling research on social media, I’m having a change of heart. I’m not saying social media isn’t revolutionizing the world of communications, but I do have some doubts about it being the great equalizer.

The number of overall users of social media is skyrocketing on a daily basis; it leaves little doubt about the impact. But, it’s important to keep in mind that worldwide there are just 500 million computer owners (with an average of 2 users per computer). The world’s population is 6.77 billion. That means there are a lot of people in this world without access to computers and related technology. As communicators (whether you’re in PR, advertising, marketing or just want to spread your opinion), it’s important to keep that in mind. We’re not communicating with “everyone.” While the conversation may be instantaneously worldwide these days, it doesn’t mean the conversation truly involves the world. Keep that in mind when you’re communicating.