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%.