Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Spirit Shines Bright

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

If you’re like me, you’ve been glued to your television set for the past week and half watching the world’s greatest athletes perform at the Olympics. The competition has been amazing and the viewership for this Olympics has set records in the television industry.

The Olympics have brought the world together in happiness and in sorrow. Viewers worldwide mourned in the tragic death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who crashed during a training run on the opening day of the games.

And, of course, who could forget the few awkward moments when a malfunction happened during the lighting of the Olympic flame inside the arena during the opening ceremony or the protests regarding the chain link fence keeping visitors from getting close to the Olympic flame outside.

Through the tragedy and minor missteps, some truly wonderful stories have been shared with the world. Stories like speed skater J.R. Celski who fell in September during Olympic trials and severely cut his leg to the bone with his own skate. It was thought he might not be able to compete in the Olympics, but he did, and took a bronze in the 1500 meter. Or downhill skier Lindsey Vonn who overcame an ankle injury to capture her first Olympic medal, a gold medal, in women’s downhill and added to it a bronze in the Super-G.

Perhaps the greatest story of these games is of Canadian skater Joannie Rochette who is in third after the short program yesterday. She decided to continue to compete just two days after her mother died. You could sense the pain inside her as she took the ice. And, with true Olympic spirit, fans from countries throughout the world inside the arena that night, showed their support with thunderous applause. My hope is she takes the gold.

Stories like these and so many others exist throughout the Olympic Village and it’s these stories that embody the Olympic Spirit and what draws millions of viewers to watch each day.

The one thing I’m most grateful for is that the Olympics allows the world the opportunity, for one brief moment, to forget about all the negative things happening in the world and, for two weeks, the talk at the water cooler is, “did you see that performance last night?”

Share with us your favorite moment of the games. Do you think NBC has done a good job on the coverage? If not, what could they do differently?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Best PR of All: Good Customer Service. And why don’t people get that?

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

People often ask us what’s the best PR a company can do? The answer is simple: provide good customer service. No matter how much strategic communications planning you do, how much great media you earn, or how much of a buzz you’re generating, bad customer service can come back to haunt you. Case in point: I just returned from a seminar in Las Vegas. The conference was great. The hotel was an entirely different story. Never stayed at Caesar’s Palace before and was really looking forward to it. The place looks over the top fabulous. Rooms are very nice. But the customer service? Terrible.

There was a large conference of about 2,000 young hairstylists checking in at about the same time I arrived. Total chaos in the registration area. I was informed by Caesar’s personnel that they “hadn’t expected” all the people and they were “slammed.” Strange, considering they have a conference center. I was repeatedly told to come back in an hour and things would be better and I could check in. They never were better. Three hours later, after talking with several personnel who were directing the registration traffic, I was finally allowed to check in at the preferred guest desk.

Then I dropped off my luggage ticket at the bell desk and was told the bags would be at my room in a half-hour. And so the wait began. Every hour I called. If the bell desk didn’t answer (which it often didn’t), I called the front desk. Every hour I was told the bags were on their way. After four hours, I had it and went to the bell desk, politely but firmly stating I wanted my bags NOW. Amazingly, they were able to find them in ten minutes. No apology and no offer to take them up to the room. Just an “explanation” that they sometimes have a glitch in their system which indicates the bags are being delivered when they aren’t. OK….four hours of hourly calls and they had no idea there was a problem? And what happened to the front desk guy I talked with (twice) who said he was looking into it?

Next stop: the manager. Explained to him what happened and he said he was surprised that no one had alerted him to the problem. (It wasn’t like I didn’t try letting someone know). He said they were looking into a new way for handling check-in when there were conferences and was unaware of the baggage issue. He never offered an apology or asked what he could do to make it right. So, I asked for him to comp my room and provide a dinner voucher because I had: a.) lost a half day of work since my computer was in my bag in the luggage hold and b.) spent the evening in my room waiting for my bags while friends went out to dinner. He told me he didn’t have the authority to comp my room but could offer me “something” for the spa or a meal. I challenged his inability to comp my room and he said he could do a night but no more. After a seven hour ordeal you think he would have apologized and OFFERED something to make it right.

This set the tone for the rest of the stay. No in-room information about property amenities, restaurants or check out procedures. Calls to the bell desk or front desk that either weren’t answered or took a long time to answer. Being charged a dollar a page, plus Internet time to print out my return flight boarding passes. No final bill under the door on the morning of check out.

No surprise that when I returned home I posted about my experience on several social media sites and my Facebook page. How many people see that? And I can tell you it generated comments and some phone calls from friends who said they had similar experiences there. Bad PR? Absolutely. Could they have made me a fan despite the problems? Absolutely. Apologize. Ask what they can do to make it right. It’s really not that tough.

Love to hear your customer service stories; the good, the bad and the ugly. Have you encountered a bad experience only to be won over by a firm or person who got it?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Super Bowl Commercials Enhanced with Social Media

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

This past Sunday millions of viewers tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLIV and I was one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching football, but when it comes to the Super Bowl my attention is equally focused on the commercials. This is the one day in which the commercials are just as important as the game. After all, companies spend 2-3 million dollars or more on a 30 second spot in the world’s most popular sporting event just to showcase their specially created ads to generate a variety of public reactions, whether it be developing an image or changing public perceptions.

This year companies used humor, celebrities and the presence of social media to enhance their Super Bowl ads. From Google’s first Super Bowl commercial “Parisian Love” to the humorous Doritos ads submitted by fans, the commercials were viewed by millions around the world.

Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were utilized to increase the anticipation for these expensive advertisements. For instance, on Facebook, fans were asked to select the commercial they would most likely want to view during the Super Bowl, giving viewers the opportunity to help determine what commercial would be aired.

During the Super Bowl, social media networks helped create an instant buzz of feedback online through real time tweets on Twitter as well as postings to Facebook Fan pages regarding opinions of the ads. And, if you did miss out on a commercial during the big game, YouTube offers a place to go to view all the commercials again and again.

What was traditionally referred to as “word of mouth” now has morphed into “word of social media.” Companies are realizing the full power and reach of social media and what it means to their bottom line. When used correctly and, in conjunction with traditional media, social media is a cost effective way to increase the effectiveness of the ad campaign and to attract viewers to a company’s social media network.

What are your thoughts? With another Super Bowl completed and millions spent on advertising, which companies do you feel spent its money wisely?