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?