Thursday, January 28, 2010

Key to Consistent Image is Consistency

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

Similar to other Northeast Wisconsin residents, I’m a pretty big fan of Wisconsin sports, which leads to the occasional viewing of ESPN’s Sportscenter. I’m also a fan of the quirky habits and personalities. The following clip, featuring various Minnesota Vikings players and head coach Brad Childress discussing Brett Favre’s request for them to wear Wrangler jeans while playing football, made quite the impression on me. Of course it was all in fun and a great play for Wrangler, but it got me thinking.

Besides being hilarious, this was a great PR tactic for Wrangler and the Vikings. Image is something every business or individual who’s connected to some sort of brand or business needs to be aware of. Image sets individuals apart from others, can establish you as an expert in your industry, if you’re not careful, it can work against you if not managed properly. When it comes to building an image, consistency is the most important aspect. For instance, you can’t say your company supports environmental awareness and then the next day burn a pile of tires in the empty lot next to you. It’s important to live your brand.

Let’s use this clip as an example of image building for Wrangler, Brett Favre and Jared Allen.

First of all, Wrangler’s image centers around “manly men.” Think about the latest advertisement Brett Favre appeared in to promote Wrangler. It consisted of a group of men in a muddy field, running around playing tackle football. This clip portrays the same image for Wrangler. It perceives Wrangler jeans as sturdy, rugged and apparel that even professional football players like to wear when they’re active. What a great endorsement from some of the toughest and most recognized men in sports

Secondly, think about how this clip projects Favre’s image. He’s a leader, strong, influential and his opinion is important. If he says everyone needs to wear Wrangler jeans, everyone is going to wear Wrangler jeans. As a quarterback of a professional football team, what other image would you want to portray?

Lastly, let’s look at Jared Allen. This clip portrays him as a little bit of a goof ball, fun loving and a little quirky. Some may wonder why he would want to be portrayed that way. Don’t football players want to be seen as macho and tough? Well, when you’re trying to set yourself apart from others in a highly competitive industry like the NFL, quirky instead of macho may be the way to separate yourself from the pack. The key is to be consistent.

The moral of the story is that the way an individual’s or businesses’ image is portrayed depending on the individual’s ultimate goal. Whether it’s to be a leader, a goof or a manly product, the most important thing is to remain consistent.

I thought this clip was funny and entertaining, and a great PR move to enforce Allen’s quirky nature, Wrangler’s toughness and Favre’s leadership? What do you think? Did this clip that pokes fun at Wrangler, Allen and Favre change or reinforce your perception of them at all?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mark McGwire – too little too late?

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

Did Mark McGwire’s recent admission of steroid use help him or hurt him? In a strategic move, McGwire finally announced what most people already suspected or knew – that he used steroids during the 1998 baseball season when he made history by hitting a record-breaking 70 homeruns in one season.

But did he do the right thing or make things worse? Did he ruin or help his image? There are few things to consider:

1. Timing: This recent admission has many people wondering what took so long. There weren’t too many people out there that didn’t at the very least question McGwire’s possible use of performance enhancing drugs. So why not admit it then? Or during his testimony at the congressional hearings in 2005? Why be honest about the steroid use now? Well, that leads to the second point:

2. What outcome is McGwire looking for? Did McGwire do it because he needed to come clean with his family friends and fans? Maybe the guilt he felt finally caught up with him. Or was it because he was hoping that the 5th time on the ballot to Cooperstown would be the charm if he did? Not to mention he is just a few weeks away from a new gig as the Cardinals’ hitting coach, putting him once again in the spotlight.

As a PR professional, I believe that McGwire did the right thing by admitting steroid use, but he should have done it a lot sooner instead of going into hiding (much like some other famous sports star we all know). I would have recommended that he face the facts and come clean. Yes, it is going to be painful, but he would have come out of this situation on a much more positive note 10 plus years ago. In fact, there are several examples of sports stars that admitted to some form of performance enhancing drug use and suffered few consequences such as Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi. And while McGwire admitting things now will lead to some level of forgiveness, it will (and already has) led to much speculation as to his motives for doing so (see #2 above).

Whatever the reasons, McGwire has more to do than impress his new boss at the Cardinals. Rebuilding his image and regaining trust with his fans is a task he needs to take on as well.

So what do you think? Did McGwire’s admission of steroid use help or hurt his image? I’d like to get your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Memo to Google: Tried and true methods are sometimes the best

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

Innovation is great, but sometimes it doesn’t pay to reinvent the wheel as Google is learning the hard way. The world’s leading Internet search engine recently launched the Nexus One smart phone designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s iPhone and has been dealing with consumer complaints ever since.

The reason is, Google broke from the traditional method of selling cell phones utilizing company-owned stores, partnering with “big box” retailers or via online sales with significant customer service provided via telephone. Instead, Google sold the Nexus One through its online store while providing little in the way of customer support and online.

The result -- since launching the phone eight days ago, Google has been inundated with customer complaints regarding coverage, delivery problems, network compatibility, dropped calls and other operational issues. The problem is the only method for Nexus One phone users to complain is via Google’s support forum for which Google promises a response within 48 hours. I can’t speak for everyone but 48 hours is a lifetime for my phone not to work in today’s “need it now” society.

I’m all for innovation. It’s what’s keeps us looking towards the future and provides fun and interest in our lives. However, there are certain things that are just fool proof and providing a strong customer service to cellular phone users is one of those things. Google forgot one important item in this phone launch – the human factor. Not everything can be solved by searching online.

I’ve had issues with my iPhone and thankfully the local AT&T store was helpful in providing on the spot assistance. I can’t imagine having to log on to Google forum, trying to clearly write a message of what my phone problem is and then wait two days for a response.

Google is an innovation leader and has done amazing things with technology and I have no doubt they will quickly correct the situation. In the meantime, the lesson to be learned is that sometimes tried and true methods of doing something are the best way to do it and that not everything brand new is better.

I’m curious to hear from anyone that has a Nexus One phone and has experienced problems with customer service, or from those who’ve tried something new only to find out that the old way worked better.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A New Year Means a New PR Plan for Your Business

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

It’s hard to believe, but 2010 is officially underway! I imagine I’m not alone when thinking at the start of every year, “Gosh, where did this past year go?” We’re all very busy and before we know it, the days and months can quickly get away from us. For this reason, it’s important to take time to develop your PR plan for 2010 now.

Here are some tips to help you get started on your planning:

  • Set realistic goals – To start a new year’s PR plan for your business, make a list of specific things you’d like to achieve by the end of 2010. Perhaps you’d like to have a feature on you or your business at least every other month. Maybe you’d like to increase traffic to your Web site or you’d like to gain three new clients in a new city. Whatever you decide on for your goals, make sure they are realistic and that you don’t put too much on your plate.
  • Seek out opportunities – A good place to start is to check out editorial calendars from business publications or trade journals that are in your target markets. From the calendars, you’ll be able to find upcoming features that your business could act as the “expert” on that topic. Keep in mind, magazine typically work a few months out so you’ll want to throw your hat in the ring early. Other places to look for opportunities include: newspapers and news or radio stations. Also, look for speaking opportunities through your chamber of commerce. Once you have found what opportunities you want to take advantage of, pick a few things to accomplish each month.

  • Monitor success – One key component to any successful plan is to monitor your success. Maybe you gained new clients after a recent feature of your business or traffic to your Web site has increased. If you tried an opportunity and it didn’t seem to garner any positive attention, you may want to try a different form of media.
  • Revise PR Plan – As you get further into the New Year, make sure you are continuously looking at your PR plan and making adjustments. We all know goals can change throughout the year, so you want to make sure you are adjusting your plan to fit your new goals. Also, by looking at your plan often, you are more likely to stick with it throughout the year.

After reading these tips, what are some ways you’d like to promote yourself and your business this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts!