Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Make Your PR Resolution for 2011

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

When setting your New Year’s resolutions for 2011, be sure to include developing a PR / Marketing plan for your business. Many businesses owners don’t take the time to establish a formal plan to promote their business which can result in missed opportunities to reach consumers, directly translating into lost revenue.

It can take a little effort but now is a great time of year to determine how you want to accomplish your business goals. Many businesses tend to be slow between Christmas and the New Year so why not take this time to plan for next year.

When developing your plan, consider the following:

• What are the goals you want to accomplish?

• What do you know about my industry and what research can you do to learn more?

• What tools are available to accomplish these goals?

• How do you successfully incorporate social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc…) into your efforts?

• Who will implement the tactics and track their success?

Don’t forget to get your employees involved in the planning process. It helps build support and buy-in and broadens the process for generating new strategies and tactics.

Also, make it fun for everyone. This is a time for creativity and the free exchange of ideas. Some of the most off-the-wall ideas can lead to an idea that works perfectly.

So for the coming year, add creating a PR / Marketing plan to your promises for 2011. And, just like your resolution to exercise more or quit a bad habit, if you stick to it, you will be rewarded.

What are some of your business resolutions? How are you getting your employees involved?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookie Cutter PR…Is There Such a Thing?

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

To make a long answer short, no. There are numerous reasons why the answer to the question in the title is no, but the main reason is that not all companies are the same. In the fast paced PR industry, things are constantly changing and we have to accommodate those changes in our daily work.

In order to develop a successful PR plan, you must tailor it to your client, the client’s target market and the client’s goals. So how do you go about doing so?

First, do your research. This is a vital step in PR planning because it plays a role in the planning process that affects future success. Understand your client’s goals and then research ways to achieve those goals.

Second, develop strategies and tactics to meet your client’s goals and incorporate them into a PR plan. It’s important to be realistic in developing a list of activities that will lead to the desired result so that you are setting out to achieve what can be accomplished. The PR plan will help everyone understand what is to be accomplished and who will be responsible for each activity.

Lastly, keep things fresh and be flexible. As we all know, the PR industry, target markets, and the economy can all change causing a need for adjustments. Therefore, there is no guarantee that strategies and tactics that were successful in the past will be in the present or future. Additionally, plans that work for one client may not work for another. Be sure to create a workable PR plan that can be tailored depending on the current market conditions in order to achieve the desired result.

The important thing to remember is that there is no magic in PR. It’s about being consistent and persistent in following a plan and knowing how to reach the target market so information can be communicated in a timely manner.

What other elements do you believe are important in developing a successful PR plan for your clients? What unique aspects have you built into PR plans?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do you Remember to Say “Please” and “Thank You?”

By: Scott Stein, Senior Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

It’s been a few weeks since Thanksgiving when many of us think about all we have to be thankful for. And during the month of December, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce is meeting with all of its members just to say thank you. Those two items and a personal observation that fewer people today seem to use the words “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” prompted me to think about civility.

What I found is that a lot of other people are thinking about the same thing, some even pondering…“Is civility dead?”

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines civility as civilized conduct; courtesy; politeness. Most probably just think of it as good manners.

Temple University professor Frank Farley says there have been a number of factors – the economy, the Internet among them – that have led to a decline in civility. Farley says the anonymity of the Internet is an important factor; as people let things all hang out (just take a look at some of the reader responses after a news story posted online). The economy also has many people frustrated about their own situation or how others are affected leading to more people willing to speak out forcefully.

Not everybody is just sitting by on this subject and wondering where things will lead. Tom Changnon, superintendent of the Stanislaus County School District in California, just recently launched a “Choose Civility” campaign.

Changnon told the Modesto Bee…“Quality life depends in great part on how community members treat each other. This initiative will promote the importance of civility in a world becoming increasingly less civil and encourage community members to choose positive and respectful behaviors in their personal and work lives.”

The newspaper also cites surveys that indicate that two-thirds of Americans believe that our society has become less civil, and seven out of 10 believe the problem has gotten worse in recent years.

So what can we do to be more civil? P.M. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of “Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct” offers a few suggestions…

• Lower your voice when it may bother others

• Welcome a new neighbor

• Respect those different than us

• Properly dispose of trash left by someone else

• Acknowledge mistakes

• Don’t participate in malicious gossip

• Don’t run red lights

• Disagree with poise

• Say “please” and “thank you”

And the list goes on.

What do you think? Is civility dying? Is the Midwest more civil than elsewhere?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

L&F Receives 16 Awards from PRSA-NEW

L&F are very honored to have recently received sixteen "Premier Awards" from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) - Northeast Wisconsin Chapter.  We recieved the awards for our work in six categories, including: integrated communications, issue communication, media relations, press kits, newsletters and special events.
Our awards included:

• Three “PRemier Entry in Category Awards” for:

- LibertasTreatment Centers (media relations)

- Bellin Health’s Advance Care Planning (integrated communications)

- TransCanada’s Bison Pipeline Project (issue communication)

• Three “PRemier Awards of Excellence” for:

- Burger Fest (media relations)

- Sanimax Community Outreach (issue communication)

- School Name & Logo Issue (issue communication)

• 10 “PRemier Awards of Merit” for:

- Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary (media relations)

- Bellin Health’s Make the Right Call Campaign (integrated communications)

- California Association of Business Brokers (media relations)

- Green Bay Converting’s Ever-Green™ and Spray & Dry™ Product Rollout (media relations)

- Fox River Cleanup Project (issue communications)

- Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field Atrium (media relations)

- Leonard & Finco’s PRactical PR (newsletter)

- LZ Lambeau Media Kit (media relations / press kits)

- Pioneer Credit Union (integrated communications)

- The Salvation Army – Season of Hope (special events)

PRSA-NEW’s “PRemier Awards” recognize the exceptional practice of public relations by professionals throughout Northeast Wisconsin. Award submissions were judged by the Madison, WI chapter of PRSA. Entries were evaluated against an established standard based on the primary tenants of public relations, as well as creativity and efficient use of budget.

We extend our congratulations to other award winners, including the Grand Award entry from Schneider National and winning entries from Integrys Energy Group, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, Write Image, LCC and ThedaCare.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What’s the Fuss All About?

By Cole Buergi, Senior Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Unless you’ve unplugged yourself from the media in the past few weeks, I’m sure you’ve heard about the complaints from airline travelers about the new Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) protocol on scanning and pat downs. Some travelers feel the new full body scanning machine is too intrusive and takes too detailed a scan of the human body. Their fear is that the scans will end up on the Internet. The option of having a body pat down isn’t any better. Some say the pat down search is intrusive and a violation of their personal rights.

To those individuals who oppose these security measures, I say find an alternative way to travel. I travel frequently and, although I’m not a big fan of the pat down or the body scan, the safety of myself, my fellow passengers and the potential targets on the ground, far outweighs the few moments of an uncomfortable search by TSA. In addition, the pat downs I’ve personally experienced, and witnessed other passengers experience, are very respectful and professional.

In chatting with TSA agents, they’ve explained that they are just as uncomfortable as the traveler with having to perform a pat down. I actually feel bad for the harassment the agents have to go through by travelers who freely choose to fly yet are against the pat down and raise a stink when they experience it.

From my perspective, what TSA gets a failing grade on is not informing the public in advance about the new security measures before implementing them. I believe that’s why people were so upset about it; they had no idea it was going to happen until they were standing in the line. Next time, give the traveler forewarning. Then they can make an informed choice. If they don’t want a scan or pat down, then they can choose not to fly and seek some alternative form of transportation.

For me, security isn’t a problem. I’m usually more worried about whether or not my bag will make it to my destination at the same time I do!

What are your feelings towards the body scan or pat down? What alternative solutions do you think would work as well yet be less intrusive?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

5 Things that Make A Great Client

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

We were having a discussion the other day about favorite clients. You know, the ones you’ll jump through hoops for, drop everything for and will generally go to war with? OK, OK, I know that as an agency leader I should say that ALL clients are favorite clients. The reality is…some are better than others and I’m not talking about how much a client is spending with us. So what makes a client, a great client? Here are my top five:

5.) They set realistic deadlines. If you want our best work, we can’t give you a full blown social media proposal overnight. It’s important we understand what you’re hoping to accomplish, who your target markets are, etc. Yes, we can do things quickly and will gladly do so when it’s important but everything shouldn’t be a crisis.

4.) They pay on time. Everyone likes getting a paycheck. It’s tough to meet payroll if your clients aren’t paying in a timely manner.

3.) They’re upbeat. Let’s face it, we all prefer working with people who are genuinely nice. There’s never a need to be nasty, snarky or downright abusive toward the agency people you work with. If you think your agency is that bad, then maybe you need a new agency!

2.) They’re responsive. It’s pretty hard to get anything accomplished if a client isn’t giving you feedback or signing off on work.

1.) They view our relationship as a partnership.  Success doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  If a client is involved from start to finish, without being overbearing, it’s much easier to be successful.  We are respectful of our clients’ expertise, and hope they are respectful of what we do as well.  That’s why a partnership approach works best.

What other things make a client, a GREAT client? And, while you’re thinking, what things make an agency GREAT to work with? Love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Royal Wedding

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

The pending nuptials of the UK’s Prince William to Kate Middleton have caused quite a stir not only in Britain, but across the world thanks to social media. According to the Huffington Post, the engagement everyone had been anticipating was first announced through a Twitter post. How did the British Monarchy respond to the news? They sent a tweet right back.

Obviously, with a royal wedding you would anticipate a huge fan fare – the Prime Minister is even urging a parliamentary committee to declare the date a public holiday. But this is a whole different game when it comes to the technology we have at our fingertips today.

When William’s mother, Diana walked down the aisle, although it was broadcast for the world to see, there wasn’t anyone blogging about it during the ceremony or sending out a tweet about the dress or taking a photo of the crowd outside the church with their camera phone and posting it online in a matter of moments. But they will be now.

The date and location of the wedding, the dress Kate selects, and everything in between will undoubtedly be posted around the world in some way for everyone to re-tweet, ‘like’ (or not) and comment on. And with the date now locked in for late April, there will be plenty of time to pore over every blissful detail using the power of social media. So get ready because I don’t know if anyone is going to be able to escape it.

Will you be watching the royal wedding – and everything that leads up to it - or do you think you will have William and Kate overload by the time the big day arrives?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Food for Thought: Today’s News NEVER Dies

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

While we all know that the media world is changing, you might not realize just how much it has changed. Case in point: the news never dies; it lives on in cyberspace. It used to be that broadcast news was aired and quickly faded away and we’d toss out or recycle our newspapers. Now, thanks to the Internet, news can, and does, resurface years later.

That fact was recently driven home at our office. A man from the New Orleans area contacted one of my co-workers to ask where he could buy “Curly Leaf” spinach. This, of course, struck us as a rather odd question since we don’t have any affiliation with spinach.

The man went on to explain that he had done a web search for Curly Leaf spinach and came across my co-worker’s name on a news release from September 23, 2006. (You may remember a big spinach recall that occurred at that time. L&F worked with “Curly Leaf,” or Savoy spinach, producers and growers, whose spinach was safe to eat, but got lumped in with the type of spinach that was being recalled.) The New Orleans man loves “Curly Leaf” spinach, but hasn’t been able to find it near his home and was making some calls following his Internet search.

While we didn’t know the answer to his question, we did know the right people to call about it and were happy to help him out. The real life lesson here – remember that the news NEVER dies, no matter if it’s good or bad. Obviously if it’s positive news, it’s good that your news resurfaces now and again. But if there is negative news floating around about you or your business, it could come back to haunt you. Be sure you’re continuously monitoring the web to find out what is being said about your business. If there’s a negative post, reach out to the person who posted the information to see if you can resolve the situation or misinformation. Remember, image is everything and it can, and does, make or break companies.

Do you have any examples of how “old” news has resurfaced? Do you have other suggestions on how companies can keep news about themselves positive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Media Won’t Cover My Story – Why?

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

Every now and then, we’re contacted by someone who is frustrated by their inability to generate media coverage. Oftentimes they are at a point where they realize they need professional expertise to get their story told. But sometimes they’re simply looking to us to “fix it.” Their first question usually is: “Why won’t the media cover our stories?” As someone who was a journalist in a former life, and as someone who now makes a living (in part) through media relations, the answer generally falls into one or more of these answers:

It’s not newsworthy. Is it something new or different; something people want to know about or should know about; is it a trend or a human interest story? Make sure your story is truly newsworthy. If you’re not sure, it’s probably not.

It’s not interesting. Slightly different from “it’s not newsworthy.” Why should the journalist (or his/her readers) care? It may be important to your firm or organization, but it might not be interesting to others. Is there a way to make it interesting? Maybe. We’ll need to talk and find out more.

It doesn’t grab their attention in the headline or first few sentences. Let’s face it, everyone is extremely busy these days and getting bombarded from every angle. If you don’t grab a reporter’s attention right away, you’re in trouble.

It doesn’t relate to their area of focus / interests. Know your reporters and media outlets (traditional and social). Don’t waste their time, and yours, by sending a pitch about a company’s environmental efforts to the religious reporter. I’ve seen things like that happen.

Information is missing. Go back to the basics whether you’re pitching a story, writing a release or calling a reporter. Include who, what, where, when, how and why along with a dateline, locator and contact information. Contact info should include after hours numbers, email, social media addresses, etc. Don’t forget to double check dates, times, addresses and phone numbers. Yes, it’s a reporter’s job to find out more about a story, but if you don’t give them the basics, they might not bother to look up the information.

It’s poorly written. Make it a policy to have at least one other person you work with check items going to reporters / media outlets. Go beyond a simple grammar check. Have them check for content, interest level, etc.

Of course, there are other reasons some routinely strike out with their media relations efforts. What would you add to this list?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Election and Facebook

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

I have to admit (like most people are in their mid-20s) I’m probably not as politically savvy as I should be. However, one thing that helped me sort through the mess of political ads that constantly claimed this person was a liar and that person said this was social media.

It’s no surprise that candidates have embraced social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. When you think about it, what better way is there to interact with the masses, hear from everyday people about the types of things they want to see changed and respond to the dirt that is flung in the TV ads?

While reviewing some of the candidates Facebook pages, I found it interesting to see just how many people are actively commenting on posts and engaging in the topics that the candidates are talking about. This is especially true for Tom Barrett’s and Scott Walker’s Facebook pages.

In the last week, most of the posts focused on getting out there and actually voting. Earlier in the campaign season there were discussions about issues such as stem cell research, abortion and education. In many cases, the posts were backed up by actual articles showing each candidate’s beliefs, not just words of he said, she said.

Here are a couple of Facebook pages of Wisconsin candidates from this year’s election. Do you think these pages had an impact on the election’s outcome? What other ways might candidates leverage social media?

Tom Barrett:!/barrettforwisconsin

Scott Walker:!/scottwalkerforgovernor

Reid Ribble:!/reidribble

Steve Kagen:!/pages/Steve-Kagen/8032945425

Ron Johnson:!/ron4senate

Russ Feingold:!/russfeingold


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some People (and Companies) are Finally Getting it – You Have to Pay Attention to Social Media

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

It’s amazing to me when I hear someone say “social media is overrated” or “not everyone uses social media – I don’t.”  There’s a recent case in point that proves the power of social media.  Earlier this month Gap attempted to rebrand itself by replacing its iconic navy blue square and white font logo for a black font with a smaller blue square in the upper right hand corner. 
Gap quickly learned that social media reaction can not only be fast…it can be furious! 
Many consumers of the Gap brand voiced their opinions of the new logo on Gap’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and it wasn’t flattering!  Gap made its decision to revert back to its classic roots in a matter of days after observing complaints. 
Gap isn’t the first company to deal with an online social media backlash against a new brand and it won’t be the last.  What matters in this case is how quickly people created a buzz about the new look and how quickly the company responded.  Brand consumers want to have a say in something they care about and, these days, social media gives them that say.  Companies need to listen carefully when they distribute information and need to be prepared with a back-up plan should reaction be unfavorable.
What do you think about Gap’s rebranding effort and how they handled the situation?  Can you think of any other examples where companies listened to its consumers based on feedback received from social media?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Can’t Ignore What Others are Saying

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

It’s a different communications world that we live in today. Technological advances have given us a myriad of new, faster tools to communicate on levels we never thought possible in the past.

As a result, businesses have to be more cognizant of their image or brand and must certainly be diligent in protecting its name.

As a PR firm, we advise our clients to pay attention to what’s being said about them. That used to mean checking the “Letters to the Editor” section of the local newspaper. There’s so much more to pay attention to today, but failing to do so can have serious consequences.

Consider the recent developments with Chevron Corp. Activists interested in attacking the oil company’s environmental record created an online hoax that actually pre-empted Chevron’s planned advertising campaign.

The U.S.-based oil company on Monday launched its “We Agree” ad campaign that features a down home approach with photos of people and various slogans like “oil companies need to get real” and “oil companies should support the communities they’re a part of.”

What apparently happened is that several activist groups (The Yes Men, the Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch) were tipped off about the ad campaign and created a fake website that suggested that Chevron agrees that oil companies should “fix the problems they create” and “clean up their messes.” The phony website was announced to the media through a fake news release that was designed to look like a news release from Chevron. Some news outlets were even fooled and had to post corrections.

Granted, Chevron is a corporate giant and a big target. But even small businesses need to monitor traditional and social media to see what people are saying about their operations. Harnessing the power of the Internet and social media, a disgruntled individual or organized group can do a lot of damage in a very short time.

What do you think? Does your business monitor traditional and social media to determine what others are saying?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons Learned from Brett Favre

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve certainly heard the accusations recently brought against Brett Favre for the “revealing” text messages and voicemails he left for a female New York Jets reporter. When this story first came out earlier this year I thought, well, his reputation is completely blown so I doubt he’ll come back for another season. But then a strange thing happened and the story fizzled away before it really got any major attention. Well low and behold, he’s back for another season, back into the spotlight and making headlines across America.

Working in PR, this story got me thinking about a number of things that Brett Favre has done wrong since this story broke and how it translates to the business world.
  • Public Perception / Reputation. It can take years for a company to build a positive reputation within a community. It took Brett Favre multiple seasons as the Packers quarterback before the community accepted and believed in what he could do for the team. However, just like in Brett’s case, a company’s reputation can be tarnished in a split second. The worst thing a company can do when negative news or speculation surfaces is to ignore it. As of today, I have not seen one report of Brett Favre publicly apologizing (except to his team which happened behind closed doors) for his actions or even trying to tell his side of the story. This just makes him look guilty and unforgiving. Once seen as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, he now looks like a joke who cares about nothing but himself. Long story short, businesses need to have a plan in place for when a crisis arises and tackle it head on. Ignoring it let’s everyone draw up their own conclusions.
  • Social Media Policies. Technology and social media have given us the ability to send information, pictures, music, databases, thoughts and more to hundreds, thousands or even millions of people worldwide with the click of a mouse. While I’m sure Brett Favre didn’t intend for anyone else to see his text, once it was sent, he no longer had control over what was done with that information. This should serve as a reminder to businesses that social media policies need to be in place for anyone who’s tweeting or posting about your company. Once information is sent there’s no turning back.
Sometimes mistakes and crises are unavoidable. But looking at Brett Favre’s story serves as a reminder of what not to do and procedures companies must have in place in order to combat such situations if they do arise.

What is your take on the way Brett Favre is handling his current situation? Will his reputation ever recover after this latest blunder?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity!

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

Whether you are a fan of Jon Stewart and the Daily Show or not, you have to admit, he did make a great point about media on a recent appearance on Oprah. Aside from making me laugh, Stewart spoke about how the 24/7 news cycle, although a powerful tool, can also create a cycle of overreaction and unnecessary fear.

His point: that the vast majority of people that live in this country are really very smart, sensible, reasonable and altogether “normal” folks that live up to their everyday responsibilities. It’s just the crazy few with not-so-well-thought-out ideas that make it on TV. As he quoted during his Oprah interview (and which has now become my favorite quote ever) “Crazy gets you on TV, normal makes dinner.” I love this quote because it is so true. Because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy at times to get the impression that our country might be losing site of it’s purpose because, as an earlier L&F blog post mentioned, a pastor that says he plans on burning the Quran gets picked up by every major news station. I believe what Stewart is trying to say is that although this one individual does not represent the majority, sometimes that point is hard to remember due to the national and global attention it receives.

So Stewart’s reaction to all of this insanity is to hold a “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington DC at the end of October. In Stewart’s words, the rally is “…a rally for the people who've been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) -- not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority.”

I can’t go to DC – too busy with work and the kids and about a million other things we are all busy with. But, if you have some moments of free time, here is a link to learn more:

So do you think we need to restore sanity in America? Are we giving too much credit to those who are way over the top and make in on major news networks? What should our news be focusing on?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some, Literally, Can’t Live Without Today’s Technologies

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

A couple of days ago while working away here at Leonard & Finco Public Relations, our Internet went down. While we managed to keep busy, we still all felt as if we were lost without the Internet. While we joke that we can’t live without today’s technologies, the fact of the matter is, some people literally can’t live without it. Case in point: Technology is helping keep the 33 miners alive that are still trapped more than 2,000 feet below ground in Chile.

The men, who have been trapped since August, weren’t initially told how long they could be in the mine. Many felt that if they knew it could be three months until they were freed, they would lose hope and give up. This theory was proven true when health officials had their first contact with the trapped men. Understandably, many were already suffering from depression.

Knowing the men could be in the mine for several months, in addition to figuring how to lower medical supplies and food, officials figured out how to lower letters from family and friends. They were sent MP3 players and now the trapped men and their loved ones are sending videos back and forth. Now that the men have had personal interaction with their loved ones, the men are doing much better. They’re healthier and happier.

In the meantime, officials are working on constructing the men’s rescue capsule which will be equipped with a microphone to allow them to communicate with the miners while they’re being pulled out. It’s going to be amazing to hear the men’s stories when they are rescued. I expect that many will talk about how thankful they were for the phones and videos which gave them hope during their ordeal.

Those who develop the latest technologies really strive to “wow” and entertain consumers, but I bet they never thought that their inventions would actually help save lives.

Are you aware of other stories where cell phones, MP3 players, video cameras, etc. have helped save someone’s life or rescue them from depression or other situations? I’d love to hear about them!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

With Respect, I’m Just Plain Fed Up!!!

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

Not sure about the rest of you, but I’m tired of hearing the negative political ads running 24/7 on TV and radio. It’s starting to make me wish there was a box to check, “None of the above.” Yes, I know there’s a place for write-in candidates, but honestly, the way people are treating politicians today, who would really want to be one.

Now I’m one for good debate or enthusiastic discussion on any topic. That’s the spirit of our country and what makes us a democracy, free to express our opinions. However, in recent years, I’ve witnessed people really change from debate or even heated discussion, to something that borders on outright anger and hostility. I agree, people have the right to be angry when they’re upset, but we need to remember that civil discourse is something that has set us apart from other countries.

We could get upset, debate something and then move on. Now, that anger is carried over into ongoing battles thanks to the Internet and social media. In some cases, it’s even elevated to death threats and physical violence.

I can’t help but wonder if these political attack ads are one reason why we’ve seen an escalation in violence. Are they desensitizing our sensibilities? Does social media play a role in how we behave? In today’s world of immediate news, the social media sites or videos with the most outlandish depictions tend to get the most attention and notoriety. Is this leading to us to more outlandish activities just to get noticed?

I will be glad come November. I will be voting and, yes, who I vote for will be weighed partly on how I feel they campaigned as well as partly on the actions of those supporting that candidate.

Do you agree or disagree? Will these negative ads or hostile supporters impact your vote? Write back and let me know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Love Hate Thing for the Media

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

I have a love hate thing going with the media. As a former journalist, as a current PR professional and as a person who’s interested in what’s going on locally, nationally and internationally, the media plays a big role in my life. Generally, I can’t get enough of it. (Once a news junkie, always a news junkie – unless there’s a 12 step group I can join). But that doesn’t mean I always like it.

Case in point: I have been exasperated and, at times, even angered by the boatload of media coverage received by a Florida minister who threatened to burn the Quran. He leads a 50 person church and decides to do something outrageous and receives media coverage far in excess of what was warranted. In fact, I’m not sure any coverage was warranted for this big publicity stunt. Next thing you know, it sparks demonstrations, threatens the safety of our troops overseas, damages our country’s image, and has major world leaders personally phoning this minister and asking him to call it off. Even the Pope weighed in on it. The Pope? Really?!?!

Did it warrant all this attention? Was it necessary to give a worldwide platform to someone obviously filled with hatred and bigotry? And the more media coverage the minister received, the more outrageous his statements and sense of importance became. I’d say he got more than his 15 minutes of fame out of this one. I could have done without it.

For the most part, I love the way news is instantaneous these days, but there also needs to be a sense of responsibility about it and a way to put it into perspective. That didn’t happen this time around.

I’d love to hear what you think about the situation. Too much coverage? Not enough?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Remembering September 11th Through Social Media

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

It’s hard to believe that this Saturday marks the 9th year anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th. No matter who you are, or where you’re from, you’ll likely think back to that day when you first heard about the attacks. I was a high school sophomore in biology class working on a lab. I will never forget the horrified looks on my classmate’s faces when an announcement came over the PA to tell us the news.

Looking back on that day, I remember the media’s impact. Everyone was glued to a TV or listening to the radio, waiting for any kind of update. However you learned about the attacks, it would be very different if the same thing happened today.

At the time of 9/11, the Internet was around but social media networks were a thing of the future. Now people can easily access not just the Internet, but any number of social media outlets to share their memories, grief, anger, frustrations, and pain at the click of a button.

Today, social media networks act as a gathering place for information and sharing. While 9/11 occurred nine years ago, social media sites today are focused on the anniversary, the day and its impact. This is just one example of the power of social media when it comes to current events. Three social media outlets in particular are the ones people turn to when there is breaking news.

  • Twitter, love it or hate it, is a powerful tool when it comes to breaking news. Remember the “miracle landing on the Hudson River?” Pictures and tweets were posted while passengers were still standing on the wing of the plane! A number of Twitter hash tags are already in use to commemorate 9/11.
  • Facebook allows for more in-depth sharing of information. Groups of people can come together and follow something they believe, or want information about, by “liking” a page. Almost as soon as something major happens in the world, you can count on the creation of Facebook pages dedicated to that topic.
  • And of course there is YouTube, which provides the power of the visual. Expect to see video sharing of  memorial services and tributes around the world as 9/11 approaches.
The terrible events of September 11th affected people around the globe and will be remembered for the rest of our lives. While not everyone will make it to a formal memorial service, many will come together with others on social media sites to pay their respects to the victims and share stories of the tragedy.

So as our world changes, so does our communication tools. In this case, social media provides all of us with an opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings and remember a day that changed the world.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Does anyone care about grammar anymore?

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

If you spend enough time on Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites, you might begin to wonder if people are even looking at what there righting before they hit send. And it doesn’t stop their. With fewer resources, it seems that traditional print publications and even the scrolls on the TV stations have more and more mistakes with grammar. (Yes, those italicized/bolded words are deliberate grammatical mistakes.)

Maybe I’m the only one this bothers, but I have to wonder if the emergence of social media is a factor. I recall when e-mail was becoming a standard communication tool there was debate over whether you had to use punctuation and capitalization like you would in other written communication. My thought is that e-mails should be composed like a letter…a short salutation; complete sentences with punctuation; and a closing with my name.

I admit, however, that when I’m in a hurry I don’t always follow those self-imposed guidelines. I, too, am guilty of sacrificing grammar for speed at times. It just seems that more and more people today are opting for speedy communications, not just ignoring format, but also failing to take the time to sort out when to use their, there or they’re; it’s or its, affect v. effect, your or you’re…the list goes on.

Jody Gilbert of TechRepublic wrote, “…we can slip up in a verbal conversation and get away with it. A colleague may be thinking, "Did she just say 'irregardless'?", but the words flow on, and our worst transgressions are carried away and with luck, forgotten. That's not the case with written communications. When we commit a grammatical crime in e-mails, etc…there's no going back. We've just officially gone on record as being careless or clueless. And here's the worst thing. It's not necessary to be an editor or a language whiz or a spelling bee triathlete to spot such mistakes.”

There’s no doubt that shortcuts are needed at times with the limited number of characters with microblogs (Twitter, etc…). I do sometimes resort to using “2” instead of “to” to stay within the 140 character limit for a Tweet, but unlike many people, I’m still checking my grammar and spelling before sending.

What do you think? Are we sacrificing something in the name of speedy communications? Are you annoyed by grammar mistakes in social media?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Social Media and the Generation that Refuses to Grow Up

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

A local Green Bay tweeter recently posted an article the New York Times ran on August 18, 2010 titled “What is it About 20-Somethings?” As a 20-something myself, I was immediately intrigued as to what this article had to say. (An excerpt and link to the article is posted below.) As I began to read about how 20-somethings are “delaying adulthood” by moving back in with their parents after school, staying single longer, not having children and constantly moving from place to place, it got me thinking about public relations and the use of social media.

Since I’m currently in my mid-20s, most of my friends are as well. As I think about my ten closest friends ranging from ages 22 to 29, I realized just how accurate this article is.

  • Only two of my friends are married
  • Only one of my married friends has children
  • Six have moved in the last year – either back in with their parents or to a new living arrangement
  • Three are currently back in school part time or are in the process of enrolling
  • All ten are employed at least part-time

So, here I am with my 20-something friends who for the most part have little financial responsibility yet are all working. Long story short, this means a large amount of disposable income but a hard market to reach as they bounce around and refuse to settle.

Ironically enough, my ten closest friends the one thing in common…..Facebook accounts that follow them from place to place and relationship to relationship. While some companies may not see a need for social media just yet, at least for my friends, its one of the only consistent things in a 20-something’s life.

So what does this mean for businesses that want to target this demographic but don’t use social media as a promotional avenue? As social media grows in popularity, are these businesses losing out or are they finding alternative ways to reach this generation that’s on the move?

What are your thoughts about social media and the 20-something generation?

Excerpt from the New York Times’ “What is it About 20-Somethings?” by Robin Marantz Henzig. Published August 18, 2010

Click Here to View the Entire Article

“It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. It’s a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be — on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un¬tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.

The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.

We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s……..”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Last Words

By: Tina Wagner, Intern, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Social media, media relations, branding, issue communications, special events and crisis management are topics I assisted with during my summer internship at Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc. Although I was just interning, the employees at Leonard & Finco welcomed me as one of the team.

My internship dates back to last summer when I interned part-time. Even though I was only part-time, I got a feeling of how the agency worked. This summer, however, I was completely immersed in the world of PR.

Reflecting back on the last two summers, I realized a lot about the changing world of public relations. Experts do not know where the media, public relations, marketing or advertising businesses are headed. With all this uncertainty, I came to realize one thing, while the PR business is always adapting to ever-changing business practices, these four key elements of PR will forever hold true.

Communicate: One of my first experiences with Leonard & Finco. In PR, people are always communicating messages internally or externally. In order for an agency to be successful, employees need to listen, give their input and feedback, problem-solve, establish clarity and demonstrate leadership. At Leonard & Finco, the employees do this on a daily basis and allowed me to participate as well.

Camaraderie: Leonard & Finco shows what it means to have camaraderie. In an agency, not only do the employees need close working relationships, but they need to have a familiarity with the client. I witnessed balancing and maintaining the two can be difficult at times. To keep communication flowing, Leonard & Finco taught me that you need to stay up-to-date with the clients.

Prepare: The fast pace agency life means issues can spur up at a moment’s notice. In turn, employees must research clients and competitors, gather background material and strive to be the best.

Network: Lastly, Leonard & Finco taught me the importance of networking. Building up a network of diverse contacts is helpful for any business. Networking expands your contact list. This proves to be valuable for a business because word-of-mouth travels quickly between businesses. This summer I was able to attend some social functions where I saw how networking works from a professional and a personal perspective.

I want to give Leonard & Finco a big thank you for taking the time to get to know me and teach me about PR. What I learned here can’t be taught from a textbook. I really appreciate everyone’s time.

Can you think of any other key terms for the workplace? Do you feel these terms will change with the changing world of PR?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have iPads taken over?

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

As I was surfing through USA Today online the other morning, I came across an article that debated the issue that many knew would come up at some point: Can kids learn as well if they use an iPad vs. a textbook? Surprisingly enough, the reviews, many of which came from students, were mixed.

Here are some of the main pros and cons of using an e-reader such as the iPad or Kindle from the article:


  • Saves on textbook costs
  • Provides better information faster
  • Lightens the backpack load


  • e-readers can be a distraction knowing email and Facebook are only a click away
  • The technology is still unfamiliar
  • Easier to read a textbook than a computer screen

This article made me recall a seminar I attended while an intern at a public library during college called Librarians and Change: Are We Dead Yet? This is when many in the “book world” were wondering if the popularity of books available on the internet were going to put local and college libraries and booksellers out of business. The outcome from the seminar: not just yet. It seems that although people love new and fast technology, there is just something about the look and feel of a good book that can be beat. Keep in mind that I went to that seminar in 1994 – but the feeling pretty much remains the same today.

There has been a lot of media buzz around e-readers like the iPad and Kindle, but as far as being able to go the distance of meeting the demands of education – its seems to putter. While some companies have seen success marketing e-readers to the more casual reader, they still have not totally broken into the academic world.

Personally, I like to flip back and forth from pages, underline things, make notes in margins… something I just don’t see happening as freely using an e-reader. But, the mom in me says that the day I will only have to find one e-reader instead of four different school books 10 minutes before school starts for my sometimes absent minded children could be a pretty good thing. I guess even my reviews are mixed.

What do you think? Will there ever be a day when a student only needs to carry an e-reader to class or will we always long to hold an actual book in our hands?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Two simple questions about social media

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

So how exactly do you use social media and how do you measure results? Those were the two most common questions I heard this week after doing a presentation on social media to a joint meeting of TEC 15 & 30 this week. (TEC is a membership organization of CEOs and other company leaders who meet in small groups on a regular basis to share knowledge and learn about a variety of topics).

After my presentation there were several case study presentations and, again, those two questions came up repeatedly. I admit, being in a company where social media has long been a part of what we do and who we are, I take the answers to those questions for granted. But it’s a very good reminder to those of us immersed in social media (be it for ourselves or our clients), that we have to continue to reach out and let our clients and others know what social media is all about; how it works and how to measure results. Contrary to what many think, not everyone is Tweeting or has a YouTube channel.

There’s no better way for PR or marketing to make its case for integrated social media than making sure the CEO and other key leaders understand (at least a little bit) what social media is and what it can do for them; how it can positively impact not just the ROI, but the overall brand and image of the business.

How do you do that? First, spend some time with them just walking through the basics of what you’re proposing. Show them what a Facebook page (or other social media) looks like. Most CEOs will never admit they haven’t gone online to check it out (in fact, some are downright proud of the fact they never go online). It’s an education process up front. Case studies of complimentary companies, your clients or even your competition can also be a great way to show what’s going on “out there.” Have a plan for using social media, as opposed to simply saying “we need a Twitter account.” Know your target markets and the results you’re hoping to achieve. Decide how you’ll measure success. There are many measurement tools out there, ranging from simple to complex, so be sure to share what they look like.

There are no “one size fits all” answers to “how do you use social media and how do you measure results?” But the more you know – and the more you share that knowledge – the more likely it is you’ll be able to develop and implement an effective social media effort.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BP stops the leak and its leadership gap

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

I’m jokingly wondering if BP read my last blog about BP’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward’s public relations gaffes and that is why he was replaced on Tuesday with BP executive Robert Dudley.

Dudley, with a proven track record for handling difficult situations for BP, was first selected in early June to take the lead in the gulf oil cleanup, removing Hayward as the public face for BP regarding the spill. On Tuesday, Dudley became the first American to lead the British company.

What’s not a laughing matter is the combined sigh of relief among Americans who seem to feel more comfortable with Dudley’s leadership. Almost immediately after Dudley’s transition into the lead role for the Gulf cleanup, there was a noticeable change in how things were being done. Dudley got the team on track with messaging and began airing and printing ads on what BP promises to do to make things right.

Equally important was that the ads feature BP employees, all of whom live and work in the Gulf states and share messages that are believable. Coupled with that is the gushing pipeline has been capped, the leak has stopped and plans are to completely “kill” the well in the next few weeks.

Can Dudley take the credit for capping the well and stopping the leak? No. That would have eventually happened no matter who was leading the effort. What he gets credit for is showing compassion, a deep concern and understanding of the situation and, most importantly, offering hope that things can and will get better.

On another more positive note, reports today from the Gulf are that oil is dispersing and deteriorating faster than expected thanks to weather and water conditions. Although it will take years to fully realize the spill’s impact, all Americans are closely watching with concern and tempered hope that it is far less than feared and that everyone in the Gulf region gets their “lives back.”

BP has a long way to go to even remotely begin rebuilding its reputation, but the first steps have been taken. Under Dudley’s leadership, there appears to be a glimmer of hope.

What do you think? Can BP ever recover from this disaster?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How’s Your Atmosphere?

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

It’s official. Facebook is taking the world by storm. Now with 500 million users, if Facebook were a country, it’d be the third largest in the world. While it’s impressive how fast the company has taken off, there’s another very impressive part of the company that many aren’t aware of.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer, Facebook CEO and Co-Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, talked about the workplace atmosphere at Facebook. Among free food every day, 21 vacation days and the ability to come and go as you please, Facebook also pays 100 percent of its’ employee’s benefit premiums, they give unlimited sick days and daycare reimbursement, as well as up to four months of paid parental leave for employees (watch the interview at

During the interview, Zuckerberg explained the reasoning behind all the perks is that he doesn’t want any of his employees to be distracted while at work. While many of us don’t work at companies with this many extra incentives, more and more businesses seem as if they’re looking for and implementing unique perks for their employees. Think about it. There’s a pretty good chance that if you aren’t able to wear jeans all week long or even get to bring your pet into work with you, you know someone who can.

So, why are companies implementing all these perks? Well, there are many reasons, but ultimately, it’s good PR. Often times, business focus so much on creating good relations with their external audiences, such as neighbors, customers, media, etc., that internal audiences are over looked. A company’s employees are walking advertisements so if they are disgruntled, it will ultimately affect the businesses’ image as well as how other people perceive them.

If you’re a business owner, take a minute to think about what perks you have for your employees. Even if unlimited sick days and free food aren’t exactly realistic, what about supporting an employee’s work with a local non-profit? Maybe you allow employees to volunteer at a local fundraising event rather than coming into the office? Perhaps you let everyone leave a half-hour early on a random day? Whatever it is you do for your employees, just be sure to always keep them in mind when you’re making plans and goals for your business. You may even want to consider taking a look at this when you review your overall PR plan.

So, now it’s your turn. What does your company do for its’ employees? Do you know of a company whose image has improved from good-workplace atmosphere? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Have an opinion? Get out your credit card!

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

The Sun Chronicle, a Massachusetts daily newspaper, this week put a new policy into place – readers have to pay $1 and register their name, address, phone number and a credit card number to comment on any articles on the newspaper’s website. In addition, the name that appears on the credit card is the name that will automatically be attached to the poster’s comments.

Certainly this isn’t the first time that a media outlet has looked to institute charges for its website, but typically it has been to access web content and the results have been mixed, at best. At first blush, with my news reporter background, this would seem to be a step back for free speech. It’s certainly an approach that could stymie anonymous speech and dialogue on important issues making the news.

But if you’ve spent any time reading the comments that are made at the end of newspaper articles online, you can also understand the approach that The Sun Chronicle is taking. The Chronicle’s publisher said the change was being made “to eliminate past excesses that included blatant disregard for our appropriateness guidelines, blind accusations and unsubstantiated allegations.” We’ve all seen some of the excesses that they’re talking about.

Of course, the World Wide Web is often viewed as the Wild West where just about anything goes. It has exponentially accelerated the flow of information and opinions and torn down geographic communication barriers. In just a matter of seconds you or I can comment on the latest stories in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or even the New York Times. While most of us will follow a website’s “appropriateness guidelines,” there are many who do not and their actions have obviously influenced one media outlet that has responded with a fee and full disclosure policy.

If you’re like me, when I’m told I have to pay to access something online, I quickly move on, keeping my credit card in my wallet. Even at just a dollar a comment, I won’t be adding my opinion to the stories on The Sun Chronicle, or any other website that sees fit to follow suit.

What do you think? Is The Sun Chronicle’s approach a good one? Are you willing to pay a buck every time you feel compelled to comment on an online news story?

Please add your comments to this blog posting…free of charge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mid-year PR check up

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

No matter where your business is in its fiscal year, now is a good time to pull out your PR plan for 2010 and see how you’re doing. Like most business activities, PR requires consistency and persistence to be effective; but flexibility and a recognition that things will change over time are also important.

If you have a PR plan in place, take time to review what you set out to accomplish and determine if you’re still on track to achieving your PR goals by doing the following:

  • First, review your PR goals and objectives. This is how you develop and refine key messages. By reviewing your goals and objectives you can make sure that what you are saying, and how you say it, reflects what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Second, review your PR activities. What worked and what didn’t work? Whether it’s social media, traditional media relations, community outreach or sponsorships, take a few moments to look back and evaluate how it played out. Is there something you need to improve or change? Is there something that worked really well and should be continued?
  • Number three on the mid-year tune-up list is identifying potential new opportunities that might occur during the rest of the year, such as major milestones, product launches and new service offerings. You can then develop a list of action items to organize activities that will enable you to achieve your objectives.
  • Finally, adjust and update your plan. Hopefully your PR plan is a written document as opposed to something you “just do.” Every PR plan should be a living document that you refer to on a regular basis.

If you haven’t created a PR plan, this is a great time to review past PR efforts and develop a plan to meet your PR goals. If you don’t have the time to put together a complete PR plan, at a minimum put your goals and objectives in writing so you can refer back to them and evaluate your success.

Remember, planning and reviewing your PR strategy now will not only help generate new ideas and opportunities, it’ll give you guidelines for day-to-day activities. While PR plans are subject to change, planning ahead enables your business to stick to your overall goals and maintain a focus. What is your business doing to make sure its PR goals are met this year?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Modesty is NOT the Best Policy

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

In the world of public relations, honesty is always the best policy. However, there are too many times when companies are also taking the route of modesty being the best policy. Personally, we may be hesitant before we go around "tooting our own horn" about something great we accomplished, because we don't want others to think we are "full of ourselves" or conceited. In the business world, this should almost NEVER be the case. I can't tell you how many companies that are doing awesome things in the community and the business world but don't tell anyone about it!

Many times, businesses think what they are doing in the community isn't a big deal because they've been doing it for so long it seems natural, they think others are doing more so nobody cares about them, or that it makes them look bad if they tell others these efforts. That's simply not true. Promoting the good your business and your employees are doing shouldn't only take place when you have a new product to offer or are running a sale.

There are a number of ways to promote the great things your business is doing, but the one that is commonly overlooked or forgotten about is awards. Many organizations such as local chambers, non-profits, industry associations and more have some sort of annual award or recognition. Businesses often wait and hope for others in the community to nominate them for these types of awards. However, if you're one of those companies that doesn't tell anyone about the good you are doing, how will anyone even think to nominate you? Nominate yourself! Many are surprised to learn that awards and recognitions do not require a third party nomination. Or, if you still feel a little uncomfortable giving yourself "a pat on the back," ask a business colleague or client that you have a solid relationship with to nominate you.

Winning awards and receiving recognition for your work not only increase your credibility as a company or business leader, but gives you another selling point and avenue for reaching potential customers.

Some annual awards and recognition programs in Northeast Wisconsin include:
Green Bay Chamber Small Business Recognition Awards
Fox Cities Chamber Small Business of the Year Award
Ethics in Business Awards
Volunteer Awards
Athena Award
Manufacturing Awards of Distinction

What other awards have you applied for or won in the past? What other award programs are out there that aren't listed here?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The World Cup with Ear Plugs

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

Whether you are actively keeping track of the World Cup or just stopping every now and then to catch the highlights, you have probably heard a loud buzzing sound coming out of your TV. No need to worry – it’s not an angry swarm of bees; it’s just the vuvzela, the long, plastic horn that has been blaring without end since the first game began.

The vuvzela gives off a loud, buzzing sound that is just downright annoying and has been subject to a lot of criticism from all corners of the World Cup. It is interrupting the enjoyment of the games for fans both at the stadium and at home, coaches and players are having difficulty communicating with each other on the field and sport commentators are having trouble yelling over the loud hum of the stadium that never seems to end.

It has gotten so bad that hearing specialists have come forward saying that the loud blaring of the horns can actually cause hearing damage if a person is exposed to the constant humming for too long (it has a decibel level higher than drums). ESPN is working on a way to change frequencies for their broadcasts to help lower the background noise level and fans have said that the horns have taken away all spirit of the game, drowning out their singing and chanting for their team.

If you haven’t heard the sound of the vuvzela, check out this six second clip:

Now imagine that sound being constant not only during the entire game, but before it, on the streets after a game, and just about everywhere you go.

So will the vuvzelas be banned from the rest of the World Cup? According to FIFA (the International Football Association) president, Sepp Blatter, the answer is no. The reason? Because the vuvzela has long been a part of South African tradition and history, emulating a horn that was once used to call meetings to order. And the vuvzela is a staple at most South African sporting events, not just the World Cup. Blatter later tweeted: “Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?"

So did Blatter make the right call, even with global criticism from fans and players? What would you have done if you were the president of FIFA? Listen to tradition or listen to the crowd?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Practicing: Something Even CEO’s Should Be Doing

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

Ever since we were children, we’ve learned the importance of practicing. Whether it was getting ready for a music lesson, a big game or even our drivers license, without practice, we would not have done as well as we had hoped. Even though we may not have to get ready for these types of activities anymore, as adults we have presentations, demonstrations, meetings, conferences and media interviews to prepare for. And, while we often take the time to prepare a PowerPoint presentation or write out talking points, all too often, practicing the actual speech or doing a run-through of the presentation gets overlooked.

You assume that because you’re talking about something related to your profession, the words will just come to you or if questions are asked you’ll know all the answers. More often than not, something unexpected happens and because time wasn’t taken to troubleshoot potential snags, you find yourself in front of a group of people looking unprepared.

This exact thing happened recently to none other than Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs. During a conference to unveil the next-generation iPhone, Jobs was touting its more than 100 new features, such as video calling over Wi-Fi networks. As he began demonstrating the new iPhone’s display, he found himself struggling as he realized he couldn’t get web access. He asked the audience to help him out by shutting down their Wi-Fi and he was then able to gain access to the Internet. Despite the rest of the unveiling going smoothly, as a PR person I still found myself asking, “Doesn’t Apple care enough about their brand and image to take a few minutes to practice the actual demonstration?”

Luckily for Apple, the problem was quickly resolved, but can you imagine if Jobs was unable to get any web access? Even despite the many Apple fans out there, I think it’s safe to say that there would be people doubting not only their products but their overall image and brand as well.

No matter how seasoned you may be in your career, you can never outgrow practicing. Even if video can be edited to “erase” your blunder, the people who watched your mistake won’t forget. Remember, your company’s brand and image is everything and you don’t want to be the one putting that in jeopardy.

Have you ever witnessed an unpracticed presentation? Maybe you learned the importance of practicing the hard way? I’d love to hear your lessons learned!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP - Practice What You Preach

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

As the environmental disaster continues to unfold in the Gulf, so does the BP public relations team that is developing, refining, scrapping and then re-developing messages for the public in an effort to save the company’s reputation as well as BP’s existence as a business.

BP is trying to position itself as a caring company that understands the impact of this disaster and what it takes to correct it. However, their actions don’t mirror what they say. For instance, BP is employing local fishermen, displaced from their jobs due to the spill and whose livelihood has been devastated for who knows how long. These fishermen are being hired by BP to help with the cleanup. Yes, it’s a great way to ensure they have some form of income during this time. However, very early on when hiring these fishermen, BP was requiring those accepting jobs to sign an agreement holding BP harmless for any damages caused by the disaster. The federal government had to step in and require BP to remove that clause in their employment agreement.

Another instance is when BP, Halliburton and Transocean were testifying in front of congress regarding the well platform explosion that killed 11 people and created the problem in the first place. During the testimony, it was almost comical to watch these company representatives point their fingers at each other as to who was responsible for problem and the cleanup. It was almost like watching school kids in a classroom when asked who put the gum on the teacher’s chair.

Probably the biggest lapse in judgment was the recent comment by BP CEO Tony Hayward when he spoke to the media regarding the disaster saying, “There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back…..” Eleven workers were killed during the explosion and thousands, if not millions, more people are and will continue to be impacted by the disaster now and for many years in the future.

This doesn’t sound like a company that means what it says. Instead, it sounds like a company that is willing to say whatever it thinks it needs to say to manage its reputation, what little of it remains.

The fundamental flaw in BP’s messaging is they don’t live what they preach. You can’t say how much you care about the environment and the people impacted by this disaster and then have your CEO quoted as saying all he wants is his life back. A sound public relations strategy means you need to believe in and live your corporate messaging. The companies that live their corporate philosophy tend to have outstanding reputations. There are some companies that don’t practice what they preach and manage to maintain a positive reputation. However, much like BP’s reputation, eventually not living what you preach will catch up with you. In this instance unfortunately, it took a disaster of epic proportions to shed light on it. And, once the world’s microscope is on you, there is no escaping it.

My best advice, live what you’re preaching. Prove you have compassion for the people and environment impacted. Most of all stop the leak and work on rebuilding that area.

Does anyone believe that BP will live up to its promise to compensate for lost damages to everyone impacted by the disaster?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yo Yo Hoaxster: Funny or not?

By Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

You may have heard about K-Strass, the man who recently appeared on several Midwest morning news shows, claiming to be a yo-yo master. Turns out, he was anything but a yo-yo master, which was apparent literally seconds into his interviews with local hosts.

Videos of his appearances have been making the rounds (one sample: I have to admit that, if this were in a movie, I would be laughing right along with everyone else at what was a very uncomfortable situation. It was totally bizarre (think “Borat”) but, as a former journalist and now as a PR professional, it gives me heartburn!

Newsrooms are stretched thin these days and unfortunately it means that sometimes they are scrambling to fill interview slots on morning and weekend shows. My understanding is that the stations were contacted by someone claiming to be his promoter / PR person. The pitch sounded like K-Strass would be an interesting interview and would provide visuals with his yo yo tricks. I felt bad for the news people who suddenly found themselves dealing – live on air – with someone who was obviously not who he was supposed to be. It’s tough to be punk’d when you’re just doing your job.

The whole thing also made me a bit angry. As a PR firm, we regularly reach out to journalists, encouraging them to book interviews or appearances with our clients. We work hard to make sure the guests we’re promoting are interesting and newsworthy. If a news anchor or host is at a TV station we haven’t dealt with before, we make an extra effort to get to know them and what kinds of things they’re looking for in a guest. I don’t blame the journalists / producers who were duped if they make it twice as tough next time for someone to get a booking on their show.

I can hear some people saying at this point, “So what? It was funny!” Well, humor depends on your point of view. It’s clear the line between news and entertainment is already getting blurred and for those of us who take pride in our professions, this kind of “reality comedy” is making our jobs a lot tougher.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts of an L&F Intern

By: Holly Melander, L&F Intern, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

As my final day as an intern at Leonard & Finco approaches, I’ve been reflecting on all that I’ve accomplished and learned throughout the past 9 months and also my path into the public relations field.

In the Fall of 2006 I started my college career at UW-Green Bay knowing exactly what I wanted to study and be involved in. From day one I knew that the communications field was going to the best fit for what I loved to do: tell stories and work with people. Everybody has a story to tell in some form or another, and what I have developed a passion for is not only hearing people’s stories but also helping them tell it. During my internship at L&F, I’ve discovered that helping people & businesses tell their stories is only the tip of the iceberg and a lot more goes into being successful in this field.

This wasn’t my first experience as an intern. I held two previous internships in college prior to working here. Each experience has been valuable in its own way, but it wasn’t until my time at L&F that I truly learned and valued the importance of teamwork and being well organized. With clients in a wide variety of areas I had to learn to always be on my toes and ready for the next project or be able to handle multiple client projects at one time. Excellent time management and organization quickly became a key to survival in this office. However, the biggest difference I can see between this internship and others boils down to one word: teamwork.

At L&F, I wasn’t treated like “just an intern” or “temporary employee.” I was treated like a member of the L&F team and office family which allowed me to be more creatively involved with client brainstorm sessions, weekly staff meetings, social media and Web development, news release development, create columns for clients and so much more! This internship has taught me to value those that are around me and the importance of building a good network of people you can count on and trust. I know that everything I learned at L&F will serve me well in the future.

Thanks to everyone inside and outside L&F that made this experience what it was and for being strong mentors to me. It has truly been one of the most valuable experiences in my college and post-college career and couldn’t be more thankful for it!

So, do you have an internship experience that really sticks out in your mind? Was it a good experience or was it something that could have been improved?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running to Succeed

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

I finished my first half marathon this past weekend and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s an amazing accomplishment and a great feeling to know I have my first half marathon under my belt. Reflecting back on my run, I realized there are similarities between preparing for a half marathon and preparing a successful PR plan.

First and foremost, it’s all about your mindset and putting a plan into place. For the past four and a half months, I trained by running three times a week in order to prepare myself for the big day. It was hard work, sheer willpower and determination that kept me going. I hit a setback in early April when I experienced some pain in my right foot, but that didn’t keep me from moving forward. I readjusted my training program in a way that allowed me to continue towards my goal. On race day I knew I would cross the finish line no matter what.

This is the same way businesses should approach their PR plans. It starts with knowing the desired outcome and then breaking it down into smaller steps that will lead to the end result. Yes, there can be frustrations and setbacks, but remember that any plan requires flexibility because things can change over time. For instance, once your plan is in place, you may find that your target audience is responding quicker than anticipated, there might be an increase or decrease in budget that changes how you carry out the original plan as intended, or your plan might not be working. The ability to create a plan with room to “roll with the punches” is essential for effective PR.

In the case of preparing for a half marathon or preparing a successful PR plan, you can’t expect immediate results, but through persistence, dedication and determination the desired results will be achieved. Have you accomplished anything recently that has taught you about how you can achieve success? What type of obstacles have you come across in PR and how did you overcome them?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oil Spills and Finger Pointing

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

As gallons of oil continue to spill into the Gulf, a new spill started recently on Capitol Hill as BP, Transocean and Halliburton went before Congress. As I was thinking about this Blog, I was actually going to say some nice things about BP and how they’ve kept their focus on working to stop the leak and do what is needed to clean up the mess. Then I heard some of the finger pointing that has started to happen.

Certainly BP’s brand was strong and mostly positive before the explosion, leak and environmental disaster at the oil rig in the Gulf. Since then, it’s certainly appeared to the public that BP was keeping its focus where it should be, stopping the leak and planning for the cleanup. Even if those efforts were taking far too long, BP didn’t seem to be more concerned about efforts to its reputation and public perception.

But listening to a bit of what was said during the May 11th hearing certainly raises questions. BP points its finger at Transocean which operates the rig…Transocean says it’s Halliburton’s fault since they built parts of the structure. Halliburton, which, of course, already has some issues with its reputation, says don’t blame us.

While the hearings on Capitol Hill started on May 11th, BP’s top lobbyist started his work well ahead of that saying that they have had to prepare for the Congressional hearing but remain focused on stopping the spill and cleaning up the environmental disaster. One has to wonder if that message was lost on day one of the hearings with fingers being pointed in so many different directions.

Time will tell how BP comes out of this mess. From a PR perspective, little can be gained by talking heads at this point. The real positive PR will have to come when there are constructive steps in dealing with this disaster and everyone involved begins doing the right thing in cleaning up this environmental mess.

What do you think of the mess in the Gulf? Any PR advice for BP? We’re interested in your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's Happening with Social Media in Northeast Wisconsin?

By: Kristin Rabas, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

As an account executive at Leonard & Finco Public Relations, I speak to all of my clients about social media whether they are currently active in it or not. I’m not saying that every social media outlet is right for every single business, but it’s important that all businesses are at least aware of and have a realistic grasp on what it’s all about.

For example, a client once told me that their industry tended to be old fashioned and nobody in their industry would be involved in social media. After a little research, I had to agree – there were a limited number of companies in this industry using social media. However, the kicker was that the majority of the industry’s targeted media outlets and specialty publications had editors, reporters and more with Twitter and Facebook accounts. Needless to say – the company was quite surprised.

This may only be one example, but it shows how social networking literally seems to be everywhere! Let’s look specifically at Northeast Wisconsin.

Leonard & Finco Public Relations recently conducted an Internet survey that found social media usage among Northeast Wisconsin businesses and community groups and journalists had significantly increased in the past year.

This year’s survey revealed*:
-more than 67% of business and community leaders surveyed use social media for work
-nearly 89% of area journalists use social media for work purposes

Approximately one year ago, Leonard & Finco Public Relations conducted the same online survey about social media. In the past year, according to both surveys, businesses and community leaders using social media increased from 56% to 67% while journalists using social media went from 68% to 89%.

The majority of Northeast Wisconsin business / community leaders using social media for work say they do so to:
-Connect with / communicate with others in the community or their industry (76%)
-Connect with / communicate with clients (39.5%)
Monitor news (36.5%)

On the other hand, area journalists use social media in a very direct way to help them do their jobs, reporting they:
-Find contacts and interviews (77%)
-Help identify story ideas (70%)
-Share stories with others (67%)

However, the survey also showed some business and community groups are still undecided about whether social media is having a positive impact on their organizations, with 41% unsure of the impact.

So, what do you think? Are you surprised by the findings of this survey? Have you started using social media for your business in the last year? If so, what changed your mind?

For more results and to learn more about Leonard & Finco Public Relations’ social media survey, visit

*Note: The Leonard & Finco Internet survey targeted more than 160 area journalists and more than 760 Northeast Wisconsin business / community leaders. The response rate was 20%.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Online Commentary

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

If you have ever read a newspaper online or a blog, you have probably glanced at the reader comment sections. These comment areas are very popular among online readers and have grown to essentially become a part of the article itself. But, are they of any benefit?

When I glance at reader comments, more often than not, I read one, maybe two relevant comments that actually pertain to the article. The rest are people either commenting on the most minor of details or are using this platform to rant their personal and political views. That is the good and the bad with reader comments: anyone can say just about anything--but they most likely won't face any serious consequences for doing so if the comment is inappropriate (other than to have their message reported or taken down).

But that is what social media is about: to engage in a conversation with others. It is a wonderful concept which means there will be comments you agree with and those you disagree with. But as I read the Good Morning America message board, I really have to stop and say that a conversation on whether George Stephanopoulos should wear a tie every day or not can only be taken so far. Really, with all the news in the world, this is what people are talking about most on the message board?

That's the problem. Social media has given us a huge opportunity to have our voices heard and debated, but we forget that it doesn't have to be every five minutes with silly comments. It's like the person that sends out a tweet every three seconds about what they are doing: "Taking the dog for a walk!" "Sitting on my porch reading a magazine!" It's just not necessary. And don't use this voice to hide behind your computer and make inappropriate comments, either. That is just bad form. What you say online should be something you are willing to say face to face.

When I look at reader comments and message boards to see what people are saying, there are times when the comments are more entertaining than the story. From time to time I leave my own comments as well. That is what social media is all about.

So what is your feeling on online reader comments and message boards? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment of your own!

Writers note 4/28/10: George Stephanopoulos wasn't wearing a tie this morning. The GMA message board must have got to him!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Make Mother Earth & Consumers Love You: “Go Green” 365 Days a Year!

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

April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. What was first started as a day of awareness has turned into a day of marketing and promotions. Think of virtually any company and chances are you’ll find that they’re doing something during Earth Week. While “going green” during this week is important, all too often companies forget the importance of being eco-friendly throughout the entire year.

Being “green” has turned into a global movement and from what I’ve seen, people like to support companies who strive to be as eco-friendly as possible each and every day. By doing this, you’re not only helping out our planet, but you’re getting to the very core of good marketing-standing out in a positive manner! If the only “green” promotion or initiative your company does is on Earth Day, you really aren’t doing anything different from everyone else.

How do I know this? After this week, I won’t remember the free gadget or percentage-off coupon I received from a store. Instead, I’ll be thinking about, for example, the local company who throughout the year is working to bring back an endangered species, the companies that have joined together to help clean the river, and the business that is producing eco-friendly products.

Operating in an environmentally-friendly manner is creating goodwill at its finest and it’s a wonderful way to garner PR for your company throughout the entire year. Many people have the mindset that media aren’t interested in “green” stories anymore since that angle has been covered so much, but this is not the case. What the media wants to hear about are the companies that are seriously working hard throughout the entire year at reducing their carbon footprint.

So what does your company do throughout the year for the environment? I’d love to hear your answers! Remember, if you’re answer is, “We’re giving away free cups of coffee in eco-friendly cups on Earth Day,” you might want to re-think your “green” initiatives.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Really, a car with two Televisions?

By Cole Buergi, Senior Account Executive, Leonard and Finco Public Relations

What kind of society have we become that we need to have two monitors in the back seat of a minivan so that two children can watch two different shows simultaneously? I ask because a commercial aired last night highlighting this technology and during the commercial I had to ask myself the following:

Are the children of today in such a desperate need of stimulation that they can’t even ride in a car without some electronic distraction? Are parents taking the electronic babysitter too far? Is it really that much easier to play a video in the car to distract your child than to have a conversation with them?

I asked some friends about why they feel they need to have this technology in their vehicle. Without exception, all say it helps keep the kids occupied and from becoming unruly, particularly on long trips. They are also quick to remind me (as if I needed it), that I don’t have children so I have no basis for an opinion.

It’s true, I don’t have kids. But I was one once (a long time ago). And I have fond childhood memories of riding in the car with my parents and just chatting and having them point out things to me as we went down the road. This included road trips to Florida and to Colorado. To entertain each other we talked, played road trip games and just enjoyed the scenery.

I’m also quick to point out that I have seven nieces and nephews that I transport to various places frequently and have done so for years. When we travel, there are no video games being played or DVD being watched. We talk about how school is going, what’s happening in their world or about what we see as we drive. It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about them and stay involved in their lives.

It’s also a break for them from the sensory overload of technologies they are bombarded with. I’m not against technology, it’s essential in our society and at almost every age level. However, the last thing I want is for one of my nieces or nephews fond memories of me is riding down the road while watching Ratatouille.

Do you agree or disagree? Are parents taking the electronic babysitter too far?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

PR Advice for the Vatican?

By Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Will someone please step forward to help the Vatican and the Catholic Church with its current, or I should say ongoing, PR issue? It’s actually becoming painful to watch it playing out. It seems that every day there are new stories and new allegations and when the Vatican responds, it’s another fiasco and another round of controversy. Let me say up front that I believe the Catholic Church has done an incredible amount of good in this world, but I also believe that those good efforts are in serious danger of taking a permanent back seat to the issues now at hand.

The basic rules of crisis management are to tell what happened, why it happened and what you’re going to do about it. In addition, you should ALWAYS express concern, empathy or sympathy for those impacted by the situation. Then you repeat, repeat, repeat so that your audience(s) hear a consistent message. That doesn’t seem to be happening.

Yes, telling the truth can hurt – a lot; but it can also be the start of something bigger and better. It can restore damaged credibility, start the healing process and lay the ground work for better things to come with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. People tend to respect those who say they’ve made mistakes, if that statement is accompanied by a genuine effort to correct or atone for what was or is wrong.

It’s understandable that church leaders feel besieged, but how they handle this latest round of allegations will determine how the church and its leaders are viewed in the future. The incredible public media interest may or may not be fair, but it is the reality right now. It’s a reality the church has to deal with if it wants to survive in the future.

What PR advice would you have for the Catholic Church and its leaders?