Friday, November 18, 2011

Crisis Management 101: Understand the magnitude of the problem and get PR help quickly

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

The sexual abuse accusations against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky at PENN State University has destroyed a once pristine image of a college steeped in rich history, championship athletics and an educational experience second to none.

The school is now reeling from backlash as more details surface about the extent of the alleged abuse and who knew what and when.

Examining this from a pure public relations perspective, the university’s leadership has failed in the handling of this crisis. The incredibly slow response by the college to even acknowledge there was a crisis shows me just how much the school believed in its own infallibility.

The leadership appears to have completely ignored the magnitude of the problem and to get outside PR help immediately to make efforts to stay out in front of the story. Only recently has the school hired an outside PR firm, skilled in crisis management, more than a week after the first news story appeared about the abuse.

During that time, the university’s famed head coach Joe Paterno was forcibly retired, students have protested in the streets, more victims are coming to light and the depth of who knew what and when is starting to become known.

Hindsight is 20/20, but all PR experts know that when in a crisis mode, the first thing to do is assess the situation to determine its magnitude and then immediately assemble the resources to address the issue. In this case, hire outside PR experts! The goal is to get out in front of the story, working to shape the message and minimize the damage to your brand.

The university did none of this and now the story is out of their control. In fact, their lack of reaction is only adding to the appearance of complacency with the happenings around them.

If brought on board immediately, could a crisis management team have saved the university’s reputation? That answer can never be known, but a swift, proactive response would have definitely helped give the impression the school was working to find out the truth instead of cover it up.

Only time will tell if the PR team can salvage or rebuild the image of this famed college.

I’m curious to know what our readers think about it. If the university’s leadership had reacted more quickly, could the story have taken a different direction and not done as much damage to the college’s image? What do you think they should do now moving forward?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Looking to Increase Your Search? Turn to Google+ Pages

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

For businesses and brands, increasing your Google search results just got a little easier. Google recently launched its Google+ Pages, which helps businesses and brands set up an online presence and acts as another avenue to connect with customers and fans.

You may be wondering, how is this any different than Facebook or Twitter pages? It’s a question that crossed my mind as well and from my research I found that it’s similar in respect to companies being able to set up an online identity. But Google offers something extra with Google+ Pages, higher ranking in Google search results. Google+ Pages are added to Google search results, making it quick and easy to come across pages with a simple “+” sign.

Now, you could do a search for “Fox News Facebook” or “Fox News Twitter” and the pages will appear at the top of the search results. But by simply typing a “+” in front of the company name or brand, for instance “+Fox News,” the Google+ Page appears. Or, to make things even simpler you could type “+F” and get a listing of all the Google+ Pages for businesses and brands that start with the letter F. The lists of pages are small right now, but I am sure the lists will grow in the coming weeks and into the future.

Google+ Pages offer another option for any company looking to establish a presence on the Internet. People can add the pages to their Google Circles in order to follow the business or brand and select a “+1” to publicly recommend the page on Google. Google+ Pages might not be right for every company, but it’s definitely something you’ll want to check out.

What do you think of Google’s newest launch? What type of an impact do you think Google+ Pages will have?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Remember a Veteran on 11-11-11!

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

A week or so ago I was visiting my favorite store, Festival Foods in De Pere. I normally don’t go down the aisle with the greeting cards, but for some reason I did on this day (probably to avoid another congested aisle). As I strolled past the greeting cards I noticed a new section of cards commemorating Veterans Day.

I don’t ever remember seeing cards for Veterans Day, even though the greeting card industry seems to create many new holidays or observances just to sell more of their product. But the small display of Veterans Day cards really hit me. Maybe it’s because my 89-year-old dad is a Navy veteran who served during World War II and in Korea and I’m not sure how many more Veterans Days he’ll have to celebrate.

So I checked out the different cards. There were cards for dads who are veterans, as well as cards for specific branches of the Armed Forces. It was actually a tough decision, but I settled on a card that I liked and now I just have to remember to get it in the mail so it arrives at the right time.

I don’t send or give cards very often, usually just birthdays for special people in my life. Of course, each Christmas I also vow that I will consider sending Christmas cards next year. But sending a card to the very special veteran in my life just feels right; it’s an opportunity to say thanks for everything he’s done for me and for our country.

I’d encourage you to join me this Veterans Day. Send a card to the special veteran in your life. Even if you don’t have a close relative who is a veteran, surely you know someone who has bravely served his or her country and would appreciate being remembered on 11-11-11.