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?