Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some People (and Companies) are Finally Getting it – You Have to Pay Attention to Social Media

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

It’s amazing to me when I hear someone say “social media is overrated” or “not everyone uses social media – I don’t.”  There’s a recent case in point that proves the power of social media.  Earlier this month Gap attempted to rebrand itself by replacing its iconic navy blue square and white font logo for a black font with a smaller blue square in the upper right hand corner. 
Gap quickly learned that social media reaction can not only be fast…it can be furious! 
Many consumers of the Gap brand voiced their opinions of the new logo on Gap’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and it wasn’t flattering!  Gap made its decision to revert back to its classic roots in a matter of days after observing complaints. 
Gap isn’t the first company to deal with an online social media backlash against a new brand and it won’t be the last.  What matters in this case is how quickly people created a buzz about the new look and how quickly the company responded.  Brand consumers want to have a say in something they care about and, these days, social media gives them that say.  Companies need to listen carefully when they distribute information and need to be prepared with a back-up plan should reaction be unfavorable.
What do you think about Gap’s rebranding effort and how they handled the situation?  Can you think of any other examples where companies listened to its consumers based on feedback received from social media?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You Can’t Ignore What Others are Saying

By: Scott Stein, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

It’s a different communications world that we live in today. Technological advances have given us a myriad of new, faster tools to communicate on levels we never thought possible in the past.

As a result, businesses have to be more cognizant of their image or brand and must certainly be diligent in protecting its name.

As a PR firm, we advise our clients to pay attention to what’s being said about them. That used to mean checking the “Letters to the Editor” section of the local newspaper. There’s so much more to pay attention to today, but failing to do so can have serious consequences.

Consider the recent developments with Chevron Corp. Activists interested in attacking the oil company’s environmental record created an online hoax that actually pre-empted Chevron’s planned advertising campaign.

The U.S.-based oil company on Monday launched its “We Agree” ad campaign that features a down home approach with photos of people and various slogans like “oil companies need to get real” and “oil companies should support the communities they’re a part of.”

What apparently happened is that several activist groups (The Yes Men, the Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch) were tipped off about the ad campaign and created a fake website that suggested that Chevron agrees that oil companies should “fix the problems they create” and “clean up their messes.” The phony website was announced to the media through a fake news release that was designed to look like a news release from Chevron. Some news outlets were even fooled and had to post corrections.

Granted, Chevron is a corporate giant and a big target. But even small businesses need to monitor traditional and social media to see what people are saying about their operations. Harnessing the power of the Internet and social media, a disgruntled individual or organized group can do a lot of damage in a very short time.

What do you think? Does your business monitor traditional and social media to determine what others are saying?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons Learned from Brett Favre

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

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve certainly heard the accusations recently brought against Brett Favre for the “revealing” text messages and voicemails he left for a female New York Jets reporter. When this story first came out earlier this year I thought, well, his reputation is completely blown so I doubt he’ll come back for another season. But then a strange thing happened and the story fizzled away before it really got any major attention. Well low and behold, he’s back for another season, back into the spotlight and making headlines across America.

Working in PR, this story got me thinking about a number of things that Brett Favre has done wrong since this story broke and how it translates to the business world.
  • Public Perception / Reputation. It can take years for a company to build a positive reputation within a community. It took Brett Favre multiple seasons as the Packers quarterback before the community accepted and believed in what he could do for the team. However, just like in Brett’s case, a company’s reputation can be tarnished in a split second. The worst thing a company can do when negative news or speculation surfaces is to ignore it. As of today, I have not seen one report of Brett Favre publicly apologizing (except to his team which happened behind closed doors) for his actions or even trying to tell his side of the story. This just makes him look guilty and unforgiving. Once seen as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, he now looks like a joke who cares about nothing but himself. Long story short, businesses need to have a plan in place for when a crisis arises and tackle it head on. Ignoring it let’s everyone draw up their own conclusions.
  • Social Media Policies. Technology and social media have given us the ability to send information, pictures, music, databases, thoughts and more to hundreds, thousands or even millions of people worldwide with the click of a mouse. While I’m sure Brett Favre didn’t intend for anyone else to see his text, once it was sent, he no longer had control over what was done with that information. This should serve as a reminder to businesses that social media policies need to be in place for anyone who’s tweeting or posting about your company. Once information is sent there’s no turning back.
Sometimes mistakes and crises are unavoidable. But looking at Brett Favre’s story serves as a reminder of what not to do and procedures companies must have in place in order to combat such situations if they do arise.

What is your take on the way Brett Favre is handling his current situation? Will his reputation ever recover after this latest blunder?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity!

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

Whether you are a fan of Jon Stewart and the Daily Show or not, you have to admit, he did make a great point about media on a recent appearance on Oprah. Aside from making me laugh, Stewart spoke about how the 24/7 news cycle, although a powerful tool, can also create a cycle of overreaction and unnecessary fear.

His point: that the vast majority of people that live in this country are really very smart, sensible, reasonable and altogether “normal” folks that live up to their everyday responsibilities. It’s just the crazy few with not-so-well-thought-out ideas that make it on TV. As he quoted during his Oprah interview (and which has now become my favorite quote ever) “Crazy gets you on TV, normal makes dinner.” I love this quote because it is so true. Because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy at times to get the impression that our country might be losing site of it’s purpose because, as an earlier L&F blog post mentioned, a pastor that says he plans on burning the Quran gets picked up by every major news station. I believe what Stewart is trying to say is that although this one individual does not represent the majority, sometimes that point is hard to remember due to the national and global attention it receives.

So Stewart’s reaction to all of this insanity is to hold a “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington DC at the end of October. In Stewart’s words, the rally is “…a rally for the people who've been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) -- not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority.”

I can’t go to DC – too busy with work and the kids and about a million other things we are all busy with. But, if you have some moments of free time, here is a link to learn more:

So do you think we need to restore sanity in America? Are we giving too much credit to those who are way over the top and make in on major news networks? What should our news be focusing on?