Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should brands take a stand over what’s said about them on social media?

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

We’ve heard the story before: Customer uses brand for a service/product, etc. Brand tells customer they can’t get the service/product in the way they want for any number of reasons. Customer gets upset and posts complaint on Twitter. Tweet goes viral. Brand spends time putting out yet another social media fire.

I just saw a case this morning that stayed true to this formula. A man and his two children were ready to board a Southwest flight. The man was an A-List member and had priority seating. When he tried to board with his two children, the Southwest agent said the children had to wait because they were not A-List members. The man felt the agent was rude and non-responsive to his questions so he posted a tweet about the incident.

Shortly after the man was seated on the flight with his children, the man was told he needed to get off the plane. The man and his children got off the plane and were told (by the same agent who saw the tweet) they were removed from the plane because they felt the post was a threat. The man and his kids were eventually allowed back on, but only after he deleted the tweet.

I’m not going to get into who was in the right here. You can read the story yourself and draw your own conclusions. What I found interesting was that Southwest Airlines sort of fought back a bit. We live in a time where brands tread carefully so they don’t anger customers who might post about their experience. But could we be seeing some brands starting to push back? Do they have the right to protect their online image if a customer is saying things that are wrong? Could it be that (gasp) the customer might be wrong every now and then?

I read a story about a popular NYC restaurant that noticed their reviews were turning negative. After hiring an outside firm to find out why this was happening, the restaurant found that it wasn’t their staff that was causing slow service and long wait times to get a table but it was the customers who were constantly on their phones, reading reviews, taking photos of their dinner, etc. that added an extra 20-30 minutes to the overall typical meal time. The restaurant’s conclusion: post the findings on Craigslist and ask people to be more considerate.

Do you think some businesses are starting to say enough is enough? Should brands hold customers just as accountable? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What?! Why Do I Need Media Training?

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

I can’t tell you how often we hear that headline statement from CEOs or other company executives.  Some of the very same traits that make people good leaders – expertise, confidence, ability to speak in public – also make leaders feel “I’ve got this one.”  Interestingly enough, we also hear a variation of this from some mid-level managers who say “I’ll never be the company spokesperson so why do I need media training?”  The answer is simple:  talking to the media, doing interviews or handling unexpected media questions is not the same as talking to your leadership group or employees. And, you never know when you might find yourself in a media situation, even if you’re not the designated spokesperson.  Being prepared is essential. Winging it is never a good idea.  You want to get it right and you’ll most likely only have one shot to do so. 
Good media training will help you understand what the media wants, what the current state of the media is like and how to prepare for media interviews; including techniques that help ensure you’ll get your main points across.  It should also include role playing for potential media scenarios as well as videotaping of mock interviews or news conferences.   Think of it this way, you wouldn’t do a big presentation without preparation and that’s what media training does; it prepares you to handle media situations.  It’s also a good idea to do a little brush up on your media training every few years. The communications world is rapidly changing and that also impacts how you prepare for the media.

So the next time your communications team or consultant suggests media training don’t run for the door. Take the time to learn how to put your best messages forward.  It could be the difference maker in your next media interview.   

Friday, July 11, 2014

Move over mainstream, social media is gaining more and more ground

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I can’t think of any other technology that has transformed an industry as much as social media has
had an impact on marketing and public relations. Just a few years ago, a PR practitioner’s main avenues for influencing audiences were television, radio and print media.

Fast forward to 2014, and these powerhouse media have given way to social media including Facebook, Pinterest, Snap Chat, LinkedIn, Twitter and a host of other platforms. This has significantly shifted the how, what and why in regards to marketing.

Not all that long ago, if you wanted to promote a special event, you would place an ad in the paper or run a spot on television or the radio. Perhaps, if the budget allowed, you might do some direct mailing. It was all one way communication.

Social media creates two-way communication. Not only that, but it’s virtually instantaneous two-way communication. For this reason, it’s important to think about the messages you would have likely used in traditional media and understand that it may not produce the outcome you’re hoping for in the realm of social media.

For this reason, and many other, it’s important to recognize the fundamental differences between traditional media and social media and adjust your communication strategy depending upon how and why you want to communicate. 

t’s important to note that I’m not saying the traditional media are not still major players and shouldn’t be used to share information. They play a significant role in communicating. However, social media has definitely joined the ranks as an important aspect of any marketing plan and understanding how to use it effectively can make a major impact on your business.

Share with us how you’ve had to adjust your marketing strategies and tactics when using social media.