Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Building a Brand on Turkey Day

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Another Thanksgiving is here, which means it’s time for turkey and pumpkin pie. But, even better yet, it’s time to watch another Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Each year I, along with some 44 million other people, park myself in front of the TV all morning to watch performers, groups and floats march down 34th street in New York.

Did you know that this parade has been a Thanksgiving tradition in the United States since 1924? It was first started because some of Macys’ employees (who were first-generation immigrants) wanted to celebrate their new American heritage. There were floats, live animals, people dressed in costumes and yep, you guessed it, Santa Clause riding in his sleigh at the end of the parade.

There’s no doubt that this is a very impressive parade but what’s even more impressive is that Macy’s has been able to keep the parade associated with its name for eighty-five years. This is brand building at its finest!

Establishing your brand and reputation takes a lot of time. It involves getting and keeping your name in the limelight as well as being consistent with your messaging and practices. Although Macy’s has been working at its brand for decades, I think we all can agree that their hard work has really paid off.

What are some things that your company is doing to help create a solid brand and reputation?

Need some ideas? I encourage you to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I mean, they have to be doing something right after all these years and, if nothing else, it gives you a chance to see one of your favorite performers trying to unsuccessfully lip-sync. What’s not to love about that?!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


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

In our business, words are the foundation of our existence, so we often discuss which are the best terms or words to use in our PR efforts. It’s incredibly important that you keep up to date on the changing nature and meaning of words. Recently, we were discussing the Wisconsin Tourism Foundation’s decision to change its name. The decision came because the group often used its initials, WTF, instead of its full name. When the group was founded a number of years ago, those initials were just that – initials for a trade group. But now of course they mean something very different; hence the need to change the name.

We had the same thing happen with our company name. When Charlie Leonard and I started the business in 1992, we were called Leonard & Finco Communications. What started to happen in the mid-90s was that people would mistake our company for a telecommunications firm. Even the listings in the phone book were changing. Under the communications heading, it was almost all telecommunications firms. So, even though we consider ourselves communicators, we decided it was time to change our name to better reflect our core business: public relations.

There are lots of examples of word meanings that have changed over the years: Tweets (social media posting vs. the sound a bird makes), bad (it could mean bad or it could mean good), artificial (in years gone by it meant being full of artistic skill and now it means “not real”), hot (temperature, energized, radioactive or someone who’s very attractive) and bomb (which has so many different meanings you have to hear it in context to figure it out).

As with everything in life, things change and evolve. Words are no different. In our business, we have to keep up with those changes. Love to read your examples of words that have changed meaning throughout the years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take Time to Thank Our Veterans Every Day

By: Cole Buergi, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

In honor of Veterans Day, it’s only fitting to thank the men and women who serve our country. These individuals are among the most selfless individuals. They volunteer to put themselves into harm’s way to protect an ideal of democracy and freedom.

Not only do they risk harm to themselves but, in times of war such as now, they leave their loved ones behind, not knowing if they will return. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the men and women serving in our armed forces, as well as to their families.

In my job, I have an opportunity to travel a fair amount and, when you are in the many airport hubs in the larger cities, you will see a number of people in uniform – either heading overseas or heading home.

On one such trip, I was waiting in line to grab a bite to eat before my next flight. Behind me entered a First Lieutenant from the Army. I struck up a conversation by thanking her for her service and asked if she was heading overseas or just returning. I was being polite because I could tell by the look in her eye and, in the way that she was carrying herself, she was just returning home. She responded that she had just returned from Iraq. In a very small gesture of appreciation, I paid for her lunch and then went about finding a place to eat as the restaurant was packed. When she received her meal, to my surprise, she walked over and asked if she could join my table.

As we talked, she informed me that the reason why she was returning home was that her father was very ill with cancer and there wasn’t much time left. Her mom had passed some time ago and she was an only child.

I realized how much she missed spending valuable time with the remaining member of her immediate family. We talked about that, and she admitted it was difficult to be away, but her father was a Vietnam veteran and understood. After our short conversation, I excused myself to catch my flight. She thanked me again for the lunch without even realizing that it was the least I could do for the sacrifices she has given to our country.

I personally make it a point to thank the Veterans and current service men and women whenever I have the opportunity and encourage others to do the same. If you know someone serving, or are friends with their family, give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate the protection they provide.

How have you shown your appreciation to our veterans? Are there any tips you can share? Your ideas might help others feel more comfortable thanking our service men and women.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What to do to manage multiple social network accounts

By: Angela Walschinski, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Do you ever feel like you have too many online accounts and passwords to keep straight? Well, be assured that you’re not alone. If you have the right attitude and a simple system for managing all your personal social media accounts, you will be able to easily navigate the growing number of online social networks:

  • First, you will want to have one e-mail address that you use for all of your social media accounts. This way all site registration and notifications can be kept separate from your personal messages.

  • Next, as soon as you hear any buzz about a new site, register your name right away. Even if you do not have time to explore the network, you will be assured that your name is saved for you when and if you decide to actively use the account.

  • Third, use the same username and picture on your social network accounts. With the increased popularity in social networks, you can make it easy for people to remember you by using the same name and the same picture on each site. It’s an easy way for you to build a consistent personal brand for yourself.

  • Contrary to the above, as a safety feature, I recommend not using the same password on each of your social network accounts. This will save you a lot of hassle if one password is compromised.

  • Lastly, to keep track of all of your social networking accounts, make a list with all of your social media logins and passwords and store this list in a secure location. You may even want to keep multiple copies of this list, one on your computer and also a printed hard copy.

Social networking sites are great ways for individuals to connect with others and to share information. With the above tips and the right attitude, you will be able to navigate numerous social networks without getting tangled in it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

David Letterman: Good PR?

By: Scott Stein, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

If you haven’t seen or heard much lately about David Letterman and the alleged plot by a TV producer to extort money from the late night talk show host you’re not alone. It’s been rather quiet on that front since the story broke, due in large part to the way the situation was handled.

While it’s not often that you’ll hear the name David Letterman mentioned during a discussion of crisis management, the Letterman situation is actually a pretty good example of how to deal with a crisis situation.

It started when Letterman went public in early October, telling his audience that he has had sexual relationships with female staff members and that he was being targeted by a related extortion plot. The situation is very interesting from a crisis management standpoint.

Letterman followed one of the basic tenets of crisis management – if you’ve got bad news, tell your story before someone else goes public and tells the story for you. Letterman also chose to publicly apologize to his wife and his Late Show staff a few nights later, showing a very human side. While the story continues to receive some attention, particularly as the court case unfolds, Letterman’s proactive approach has gone a long way to minimizing the impact.

There are lessons in the Letterman case that can be applied in many crisis situations. It’s a demonstration of the importance of telling the truth. In most crisis situations, getting out front, accepting responsibility and being honest with your audience will minimize the negative attention. The key is you have to mean it and be sincere. If you don’t follow through by being a “changed person” your credibility will be gone.

Celebrity scandals certainly aren’t anything new, particularly in today’s technology savvy world. But the way Letterman handled the situation is rare and a solid example of proper crisis management.