Thursday, March 26, 2015

Get Twitter Talking

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

Yahoo! You just hit 1,000 followers on Twitter. BUT… no one is talking. If your followers aren’t engaging with you or each other, 1,000 followers is just about as useful as having 10. So how do you engage?

Don’t just tell, ask. So many businesses get caught up in sharing information about their brand that they forget to ask questions. Start by simply asking for an opinion: “Launching new product line. Here’s a sneak peek. What do you think?”

Talk about more than just you. Sure, it’s your Twitter feed, but don’t make it all about you. Your audience will quickly lose interest if all you do is post about yourself. Consider adding posts about community events, relevant industry news or just fun items you come across that might help spark a conversation. “Summerfest line-up just came out today. Who are you going to see?”

Be active and responsive. If someone asks you a question, be sure to respond in a timely manner. This is what you’ve been waiting for! In addition, be sure to check out any new followers and follow them back if the fit is right. And be sure to give credit where credit is due by mentioning people’s names when you make a comment or share something from their feed: “Great post about how B2Bs can best use social media from @ABCcompany.”

Hashtags. The poor hashtag has come under a lot of fire lately for overuse or misuse. Don’t blame the hashtag, blame the user! Hashtags were designed for a reason…to let you search for specific information and find new followers. That being said, use hashtags when it makes sense. No one wants to muddle through a post full of them. Keep it simple: “Can’t wait to see who the #Packers pick in the #NFLDraft.”

Taking just a few minutes each day to really engage with your Twitter followers can be fun and have big benefits in the end. Give it a try and see who you start a conversation with! Do you have other tips to offer? Feel free to share!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Millennials and the changing way of getting your news

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

There’s been a lot said about Millennials and their appetite for news. Or should I say their lack of interest in keeping up with news events.

But a new study sheds a little different light on the subject. 

The comprehensive study was conducted by the Media InsightProject – a collaboration of the American Press Institute and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

Some of the findings…

  • 85 percent of Millennials say that keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them
  • 69 percent say they get news daily
  • 45 percent say they regularly follow five or more “hard news” topics
  • 40 percent say they pay for at least one news-specific service, app or digital subscription

The study shows that Millennials are a group that really doesn’t consume news in discrete sessions or by going directly to news providers. Instead, they tend to get news through the sources that they interact with on a regular basis. So it should come as no surprise that 88 percent of this generation gets news from Facebook regularly and more than half of them get news from Facebook on a daily basis.

The study finds that “news and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way that Millennials connect the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem solving, social action and entertainment.”

So for those of us in PR or the news business, it’s a challenge to try to reach a broad audience that includes Millennials. It’s crucial to use the tools available through “new media” to reach these younger news and information consumers, yet we can’t toss aside traditional avenues that still reach many “seasoned” viewers, listeners and readers.

What do you think? How do you stay on top of the news? Have your news consumption habits changed over the years?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Information requests: Be Cautious

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

In the past few months, a number of our clients have received “requests for information” from members of the public. Without divulging any confidential information, I can tell you these clients aren’t government entities that are used to handling such requests, which are often made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In each case, the clients reached out to us to get our take on it.  Our “take” can be summed up in one phrase, “be cautious.”

If a request for information is made of your company, and it’s not the type of request you’d normally receive, you need to find out a little bit more before you agree to provide any details. Mainstream journalists will always identify themselves when they request information or interviews. However, community and student activists, as well as citizen journalists, may not be as forthcoming. That’s where you can get into trouble because you don’t know where the information will show up and whether or not it will be edited to suit someone’s particular “slant” on an issue.

Someone requesting information about your policies, procedures or even a recent news story about your firm should be willing to identify themselves. A friendly and calm discussion with them, whether by phone or email, can quickly give you a sense of why they want the information. Don’t promise that you will send everything they ask for; simply let them know you will consider their request and get back to them. After that contact, conduct a general background search on the individual doing the asking as well as whether or not there have been recent online or social media discussions about this topic. Then you can decide whether responding will be helpful or if it will, in some way, compromise your organization or put you in a difficult public position. 
As you respond, do so briefly and truthfully. It also helps if you can direct them to website links (yours or industry groups) as part of your response. Just don’t get engaged in an on-going discussion where you might have a tendency to answer questions off the top of your head. In today’s world, a crisis can ignite in a matter of seconds or with a single email, so be cautious.