Thursday, July 28, 2011

Feelin’ Happy?

By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
So, has the recent announcement of the change in McDonald’s Happy Meals made you, well, happy?

In case you haven’t heard, Mickey D’s is cutting calories by adding apple slices and taking away about half of the fries inside each beloved red box in an effort to make the meal more health conscious (original Happy Meal: 590 calories, new and improved version: 470 calories).

But will this change make a difference? Will the trimmed down version of the Happy Meal make a dent in the more than 12.5 million obese children in America? Is it meant to?

A quick scan of online articles and message boards shows the sides are somewhat divided. Some feel the change is a start in paving the way for healthier food options at fast food restaurants while some say that fast food is bad food, no matter how many apples you throw at it.

My concern is that this latest McDonald’s update will result in the same reaction that many Americans tend to have to a change like this: that a “healthier” Happy Meal option translates to the Happy Meal now being “healthy,” or good for you. And because a Happy Meal is perceived as good for you, many more will be ordered, thus continuing the cycle of unhealthy eating habits. Let’s face it; the lower-cal options aren’t created because a restaurant cares about a person’s overall health. They do it because they want to sell more products.

But like most people commenting about the Happy Meal, I find myself in the moderation camp. A trip to McDonald’s (or to any other fast food establishment) should be limited to every once in a great while. All the packing and marketing claims aside, in the end, it’s about our own personal choices. We are ultimately responsible for our own health and the well being of our children.

How about you? Do you think McDonald’s is on the right track or is the cycle continuing?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Accomplishing Unthinkable Feats Because of Technology

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

I recently read a news story about a woman who is planning to swim 103 miles this summer from Cuba to Key West, Florida. The woman is 61-year-old Diana Nyad. What I found most interesting about this story is that one of the reasons Diana is so confident in meeting her goal is because of the technologies that will be utilized during her journey.

Diana first tried attempting this brave feat in 1978 when she was just 29 years old, but she was forced to abandon the effort due to weather conditions. Despite her age now, the technologies that she’ll be using may just help her meet her goal! Diana and her team will be using satellites, global positioning systems, advanced navigation software and special electronic “shields” to help deter ocean predators. Because of the technologies available now, just 33 years after her first attempt, her
team will be able to accurately forecast when weather conditions will be ideal for her journey.

This story is extremely amazing and inspiring and it got me thinking about how I take technology for granted. I used to view technology as something that makes things simpler in our day-to-day-lives. And while this is certainly true, advances in technology are allowing people to achieve amazing things! Take a minute to think about how much more you can accomplish during any given day. Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, we can research, respond to emails, schedule meetings and appointments and pay our bills all while accomplishing other tasks at the same time! Think beyond that to how technology has allowed us to develop the land rovers on Mars and help amputees with a technologically advanced arm or leg. Diana Nyad’s story is a great example and reminder of how much else we can achieve through today’s technologies.

Do you have any examples in your life that technologies have allowed you to do something amazing? What about examples of how technologies help you achieve things on a daily basis, whether it’s personally or professionally? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Summer Disconnect – Not a bad thing

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

For the first time in several years, I know of people taking a summer break or vacation and actually going “off line.” They don’t take their Blackberry, iPad or laptop or, if they do, they don’t check in more often than once a day. The amazing thing is, when they return, they’ve all remarked “it was the best (most refreshing, most fun, take your pick) time off I’ve had in a long time.” The world didn’t end, their deals didn’t fall through and their co-workers stepped up to help out. They actually had a break and it was a good thing.

We have all become instant communication addicts (me included) and we’re hooked on knowing everything and answering everything RIGHT NOW. We laugh about being “addicted” to technology, but there is some truth in that word. It begins to take over your life. Raise your hand if you’ve had lunch or dinner with a good friend, only to do a quick check of your messages / Facebook / Twitter and then return a call, email or post in the middle of a one hour lunch? Think about that. Was it necessary? Really? (And I’m a guilty party.)

I’ve come to realize that you don’t have to be connected every single day or even every single hour. In fact, there are some big advantages to disconnecting. What are we missing by not paying attention to the world around us? Are you really listening to what your friend is saying? Are you enjoying the sunset in front of you? Are you learning from what that conference speaker has to say? You certainly won’t have that refreshed feeling after returning from a few days off if you’ve spent most of the time checking in.

So, how and when do you disconnect? Or don’t you. Love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is technology making our lives better or is it taking over

By: Cole Buergi, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Skynet, an artificially intelligent system designed to safeguard America’s nuclear weapons, becomes self-aware and revolts against mankind in the blockbuster movie Terminator and its sequels. I can remember watching Terminator when it premiered in 1984 and thinking how scary it would be if that could really happen.

Flash forward to 2011 and take a look around. Technology is everywhere, becoming an entrenched part of most people’s daily lives. Whether it’s a smart phone, iPad, laptop or some other technology gadget, like it or not, we are becoming very dependent upon them.

Are we getting close to creating a real life Skynet situation where technology rules our lives or tries to take over?

No, that seems a bit extreme to me but it is amazing to see how technology has changed our lives, much of it for the better and, arguably, some of it for the worse. Today you have apps that can start your car from anywhere, turn lights on and off in your home, find the music you like or monitor your health. You can Skype with people around the world or post photographs for the entire world to see in mere seconds. Convenient technologies for most and, if you can think of it, there is probably an app for it.

On the flip side, technology allows you to be tracked just about everywhere you go, you can be reached 24 hours a day by anyone and it’s almost impossible to get away no matter where you go. Even worse from my perspective is seeing teen’s texting each other while sitting only a few feet apart. I’m not exaggerating.

I, for one, would struggle without technology. I rely on it heavily for work and for my personal life. Could you “survive” a week or even a day without technology? Imagine what that would be like. What would you miss the most? Do you ever fear we are too dependent upon our little devices?