Thursday, April 24, 2014

Think before you hit “send”!

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Wow. There are so many blog topics to choose from this week, I’m just not sure what direction to go.

I first considered the fake Twitter account in Peoria, Illinois. The satirical fake mayor account that portrayed Mayor Jim Ardis as a cursing, pot-smoking politician prone to hanging with strippers and hookers got the mayor so riled up that he sent the police to raid the account holder’s house. So far, no charges have been filed against the guy, but his roommate did get pinched for having some marijuana.

Then where was the story out of New York City. Now, we all want great interaction through the social media accounts we create, but the NYPD apparently didn’t consider all the possibilities. The NYPD asked people, on Twitter, to share photos of themselves with New York’s finest. Rather than getting nice photos of residents posing with police officers, they got thousands of posts mostly showing police brutality.

Then there’s the story of the Buffalo Bills and the number of texts they send to their fans. One fan, who signed up to get the team texts was so upset he started a class action lawsuit against the team. At issue, the team said it would send no more than five texts in a week and, at one point, the upset fan received 13 texts in a two week period.

The class action lawsuit ended with the team agreeing to pay $3 million. Nearly 40,000 fans who were part of the class action lawsuit will get debit cards for the Bills team store, while the fan who initiated the lawsuit will get $5,000. The big winner appears to be the fan’s attorneys who will be paid more than $560,000.

I’m sure I could find more strange but true stories from the instant communication world that we now live in. The bottom line, be careful when you’re planning your next move in social media; whether it’s a satirical “faux mayor” account that you think is funny, a “great” idea to get the engagement you’re looking for from Twitter or the promises you make in setting up an opt-in texting program.

Surely, there are more cautionary examples from social media. What have you seen or heard?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Think Before You Link!

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

One of the most annoying things I come across every day as I scroll through email or online sources is clicking on a link that is either broken or takes me to the wrong information. It’s so frustrating! And what is even more frustrating is that fixing this issue is rather simple. Take these measures into consideration to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Be specific with your link.
Links should take people exactly where they need to go. If you want your audience to find more information about an event you are holding, link them to the specific page of your website where that information can be found. Just linking to your homepage where visitors have to search on their own won’t cut it.
Make sure it works. Yes, link shorteners are great. But they also provide an opportunity for mistakes to happen. After you create a link, send yourself a test email so you can check to make sure it works properly.
Be sure links come from reputable sources. It’s amazing how many people will share links to articles and information they have never read. Have you heard of the source before? Is the content relevant? Is it a source others would feel comfortable visiting?
Check your links often. If you link to other sources like news articles or videos, check the links often to make sure they still work. Keeping a daily eye on links takes five minutes and gives the overall impression that you are sharing current and relevant information.

By taking a few simple steps to up your game when it comes to providing links, you can be certain the information you are sharing is appropriate and professional.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Crisis plans aren’t optional

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

One of our firm’s areas of expertise is crisis management; and we’ve been doing a lot of it lately.  It has really driven home the point that no matter what kind of business you have, you need a crisis management plan.  It doesn’t have to be 300 pages long and jammed into a three ring binder.  It does have to be something you think about in advance; you know, a “what would we do if?” type of exercise.

All too often businesses and organizations think they have it under control and if something happens they’ll just deal with it.  But, I can tell you that when you’re dealing with a crisis and the media suddenly shows up in your parking lot, you aren’t going to have time to wing it.  And you may not have the expertise to wade through the myriad of stakeholders you need to communicate with.

So how do you put together a crisis management plan?  There are plenty of resources around to help you. The Internet is full of crisis plan examples. You can hire a firm like ours to help. You can turn to your insurance company or your attorney. Or maybe you have someone on staff that is good with planning. The key is to get your key people together and talk about those “what ifs.”  What are the most likely things that could happen to your business? If something happens, what stakeholders will you need to contact and communicate with? Compile the lists that you will need (employee contacts, insurance, legal, document backups, etc.). Decide who is going to tackle what in the event of a crisis.  Figure out what outside help you might need. Write it all down and then revisit the plan at least once a year. It will make a world of difference when a crisis actually occurs.

One final note: When a crisis occurs, it will never unfold the way you anticipate. But, if you have a plan, you’ll have some good ideas about how to proceed. That will be worth its weight in gold.