Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crossing the line? Facebook password requests

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

I’m not sure why this controversy over Facebook password requests just exploded onto the national media scene, but it’s really created a firestorm of controversy. More specifically, the controversy is over employers and others asking for access to your Facebook account. Whether or not people realize it, this practice has been going on for some time now.

More than four years ago, when my niece was being recruited by various colleges to be on their gymnastics team, she told me they all checked her Facebook page. Her college coach had access to the pages of the entire team. He routinely did random checks of their accounts.

A number of professional job recruiters I know also ask to see Facebook pages. I personally don’t know of any fellow business owners who ask for passwords, but I do know some of them look at Facebook pages before hiring.

While I find requiring access to be totally out of line, as an employer I can also understand why someone might be tempted to do it (even though there are serious legal issues associated with it). Facebook pages can tell a lot about people and how they conduct themselves and their lives.

The reality is, people’s private lives are rarely private anymore. Part of the point of social media is sharing your life with others. Often that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. And it often includes online “friends” or followers that you don’t personally know. So why is it surprising that an employer, wanting to learn more about a potential employee, would ask to see a Facebook page?

I can hear people saying right about now that it’s their “right” to have a private account. Of course it is. And I defend that right. I also think it’s a good thing that Facebook says it will fight to stop employers from requesting access to private accounts.

However, as I always tell others who ask for advice about what they should or shouldn’t put on their Facebook pages, “Don’t post it if you don’t want the world to see it.” That includes your private accounts. You never know who’s looking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Changing World of Media

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

The world of media is vastly different than just a few years ago and will continue to evolve as more and more people access the Internet. More information than ever before is now available at the click of a button and more and more people are utilizing the web for information, socializing, shopping and more. News not only breaks, but it tweets and posts, which demonstrates the efficiency and influence of social networks. With every new interactive update, information is sent faster and reaches more people around the world.

Social networks such as Twitter are a primary information source to receive breaking news. Twitter connects millions of people to one another based on common likes or interests. We no longer find information, it finds us. We are becoming active participants because we receive information through the networks we’ve created. Whether it is viewing online versions of newspapers, reading mobile updates or commenting on a blog post, there is an active role in finding the information we’re looking for. If useful information is found, we can share the information with those in our social network to generate a buzz or attract additional followers. Social media is accelerating and in the process, reduces the time between an event and millions of people learning about it.

The future of media will be rooted in active engagement and its worth will be measured by our contribution and collaboration with our personal social networks. But even with the changing media, many still rely on traditional media outlets as a primary news source. It’s hard to deny the growing popularity of social networks, but we can’t forget the importance of our roots. The skills and attributes of traditional media are still just as valuable as they’ve ever been in successfully communicating a message. For instance, in today’s public relations world, try launching something using social media alone. You’ll quickly notice the gap that traditional media can leave if it’s lacking and vice versa. A good public relations plan integrates both traditional media and social media activities.

How do you best address and manage the changing world of media in your organization?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Can you hear me while you’re tweeting?

By: Scott Stein, Vice President of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes get sucked into social media and miss things that are going on around me. So intent to let followers know the latest about a sporting event I’m at (usually hockey), I’ll actually sometimes miss a big play while tweeting away on my phone.

Of course, that’s not such a big deal. I’m there for fun and I know at least a couple of my followers appreciate the periodic updates.

But what about those who are so intent on tweeting while they’re doing their jobs that they may miss some key information. Can the rush to be the first to report a quote from a news conference interfere with getting all of the information that’s being presented?

Of course, I understand that the days of news reporters sitting back at a news conference or other event and taking in all the information and asking all of their questions before going back to the station or office to write the story appear to be over. With the proliferation of social media, there’s now a rush to be the first to get the information on Twitter, telling the story one tweet at a time. But when a reporter’s focus is on composing the next tweet, is that reporter still able to get the next key point from the speaker? What about the subtle visual cues/messages that may be missed when tweeting is taking place?

Maybe it’s just that reporters today are simply better at multi-tasking. But, as a PR professional, I have to wonder if there’s a need to change my approach when planning a news conference or other event to take into account the social media posting that may be taking place.

I obviously have a lot of questions about this topic. What do you think?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Being Interview Ready

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

Being interviewed by the media seems like it would be any easy thing. The interviewer asks a question and you provide the answer. Done deal, right? Not so fast. If you’ve had experience with media interviews, or even if you haven’t, preparation is key if you want to be happy with the end result.

Why prepare? The answer seems obvious. You want to make a good impression, be articulate and represent your business or organization in the best way possible. But there are other reasons to prepare that you may not have thought of:
  1. Tough questions. Even if the interview is friendly, you never know when a reporter might ask a tough question or touch on a subject that you have not anticipated. Plan ahead by making a list of what those types of questions could be and practice your responses in case it comes up during the interview.
  2. You’re asked a question you don’t know the answer to. We’ve all dreaded this… what if a reporter asks you a question and you don’t know the answer (or are not able to respond to)? Instead of saying “I don’t know” or “no comment,” let the reporter know that although you may not be the right person, you are willing to help them out. Say something like “I don’t know the answer to that but I will look into it and get back to you.”
  3. Brief responses. You have about five seconds to make a good impression during an interview so make sure that every second counts. Know what your main messages or talking points for the interview are and be consistent in using them during the interview. Be concise in your responses and resist the urge to keep talking. Do your part to keep the interview moving along.
Here are few other quick tips to help you prepare:
  • Have someone in your office ask you possible questions and practice your response.
  • Practice your responses in a mirror to take note your facial expressions.
  • Pause before answering a question to gather your thoughts if necessary. Speak clearly and with authority.
  • If the interview is for television, don’t look directly into the camera. Talk to the person who is conducting the interview. If the interview is for print, offer some possible visuals for a photographer to take photos of.
Taking just a little time to prepare for an interview will help you secure the best interview possible. Has anyone out there had an experience when you weren’t as prepared for an interview as you should have been? Feel free to share your story so we all can learn!