Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can You Silence Social Media?

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

A good portion of the world has had all eyes on Prince William and his soon-to-be-wife Kate Middleton since their engagement last year. While the wedding is sure to be filled with tradition and history, so will the way the world has to view it. According to the article “Sorry, Social Media Addicts: Tweeting Ban In Effect For The Royal Wedding” released by TIME on April 27, Westminster Abbey will be a “tweet-free zone” during Friday’s ceremony.

According to TIME, it has been arranged that signal-blocking technology will be used to prevent guests of the wedding from tweeting during the ceremony. Personally, I am bummed out! Since I am typically not around a television during the day, I was looking forward to the comments, photos and who knows what else that would be popping up on Twitter during and after the ceremony.

Besides my personal disappointment, I think this “signal-blocking” technology brings up a larger issue. During the riots in Egypt, the earthquake in Japan and many other major events that have taken place throughout the world in the last couple of years, social media has played a huge role in communicating to news sources, family members and more.

With the use of this technology at the Royal Wedding, do you think this could lead to other organizations or even possibly world leaders using the same technology to block instantaneous information from getting out about rebellions, strikes, protests, etc.?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Inevitable Question from My 9 Year Old

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

Last night my 9-year-old son said “Mom, Logan wants me to be his friend on Facebook. Can I join Facebook, too?”

It was a question that I knew would eventually come as he got older and more into being with his friends. Even knowing this, I still wasn’t prepared for the question. It’s just like when I got the “Where do babies come from?” question. I had no idea what to say. My mind went racing in a thousand different directions: Okay, Kristen, think. Some of his friends are on Facebook, would it be that bad? I can monitor what he is saying and doing, right? If I show him how to use Facebook, would it be safe? Why doesn’t my husband ever get these questions!??

Hundreds of experts have weighed in on the subject of kids and Facebook and there are even more websites that have parents talking to other parents about what the right age and maturity level is. I’ve read advice that says age 10 is okay while others said not until 17. But all the expert documentation and parent advice in the world is difficult to remember when you are in that moment, just you and your child, with that question.

It’s an important decision to make, really. At this point in my son’s life, is Facebook even necessary? Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook. I have an account of my own (which I allow my son to view with me and make comments to grandparents and cousins) and it has been a great way to reconnect with old friends. But the only “friends” my 9-year-old needs to keep in touch with are the ones on the playground every day. And, quite frankly, I’d rather he first learn to communicate in person with these friends instead of through a computer screen.

So as I was searching my brain for an answer to my son’s question, it was clear that I knew it all along. “Sorry, buddy. But your dad and I both agree that nine is too young for a Facebook account.” And it was as simple as that. Not that my son was happy with my answer, but after a longer discussion, he understood where I was coming from.

Do you think there is a “right” age for kids to be on Facebook? Or does it depend on the maturity level of the child? The decision I made is what was best for my family. What works best for yours?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Think Social Media isn’t a Big Deal? Some Would Literally be Lost Without it!

By: Beth Kneisler, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

While many people jumped on the social media bandwagon right away, others have been slower to join the movement. Some have been hesitant due to privacy concerns, some don’t know how they’d squeeze one more thing into their days and others simply don’t see its value.

Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were primarily created for socializing and information sharing. So, here in fact lies the reason why some don’t find it necessary. If it’s just for chatting with friends and co-workers, pick up the phone or go to their office, right?! While social media were viewed at first as socializing websites, they now have a new purpose that no one could have ever dreamed about less than half a decade ago.

These social media sites have become important communication tools during disasters and are actually helping to save lives! A recent article in the USA Today outlined the different ways social media helped during Japan’s crisis. One example the article highlighted was when a U.S. ambassador “Tweeted” about several patients needing to be transferred out of a hospital that was near a troubled nuclear power plant. After only an hour of dialogue via the social media site, the ambassador was told the patients would be evacuated by Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces.

This is just one of the many examples how social media has literally saved lives. Social media sites have also been instrumental in other disasters such as the BP oil spill and after the earthquakes in Haiti, Chili and New Zealand.

While some remain hesitant about social media sites, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard are now using the platforms during relief efforts. The USA Today article did point out that one of the biggest challenges, however, is to get officials acting on information from non-official sources, a.k.a us! But, I have no doubt this too will come with time.

So, for all you non-“tweeters” and “Facebookers,” hopefully this article helped to shine some light on the possibilities of social media.

Can you think of other situations, either in your own life or during a large natural disaster, where social media was a key player in helping to make a positive difference? What do you think social media has the potential to do for us in the future?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How Much Time Do You Spend on Social Media?

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

Now there’s a question I’m asked at least several times a week; especially from those not in the communications business. What they’re really asking is: “How do you find the time to do all that social media stuff?” And that first question is usually followed by: “I know I should be using it more for business, but I just don’t get how it can help our PR and marketing efforts.”

For someone who hasn’t used much social media, the idea of actually using it can be daunting. Telling them to just jump in and “do it” doesn’t cut it. They’re looking for a bit more concrete advice and information. I view it as an educational opportunity; not just to talk about what we do here at L&F, but to also give them some advice on how to get started.

A little prodding about how they use the internet, and their cell phones, at work or home gives me a pretty good indication as to whether or not they’re actually using social media and how they’re using it (i.e. having a Facebook account or posting reviews on a site such as or if they are totally out of the loop. Then we can discuss how to leverage some of the platforms / outlets to their advantage.

But still…they inevitably come back to the question about how much time I spend on social media. As someone in an industry that uses social media a lot, from both a client and company perspective, I try not to answer that question because it just scares them off! (And to some, justifies their fears that social media will consume their life.) What I do, is discuss the importance of starting small, using only those platforms best suited to help them achieve their PR / marketing goals and then learning about tools that can make their social media life easier and more efficient.

So how do you answer the question: How much time do you spend on social media? (And by the way, I spend a lot of my day on social media because it’s something I believe in and something we do for many of our clients.)