Friday, April 21, 2017

The wrong word and quickly you’re the next social media topic

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

This past Monday was Patriots’ Day. Typically, not a big holiday for most of us, unless you happen to be in Massachusetts or you’re fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Many of the more than 26,000 runners who finished the race this year received an email from race sponsor Adidas on Tuesday. Its goal was to celebrate the runners, recognize their accomplishment and maybe sell some additional sports apparel. But the email went out with the subject line…“Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”

Given what happened four years ago when bombs went off at the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260, the email quickly became the subject of criticism on social media. Some of the responses on Twitter…

  • “I don’t know how an advertising team doesn’t catch this.”
  • “Seems a little inappropriate.”
  •  “Are your copyrighters living in a black hole?”
  •  “Did you hire the @united pr team?”
  •  “Adidas – are you tone deaf?”

Adidas, a long-time sponsor of the Boston Marathon, responded quickly…
“We are incredibly sorry. Clearly, there was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”

The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.”

The Adidas’ Twitter account also has many tweets of support, including those who say many people are too easily offended these days.

Still, given what happened in Boston on Patriots’ Day in 2013, one has to wonder how a subject line like that made it through the review process and into people’s inboxes. It’s a great reminder to those of us who send things out via email, social media, snail mail or any other form of communication, have a second or third set of eyes take a look at it. They may catch something that you just didn’t consider.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

United Airlines: A crisis that keeps getting worse

By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

There’s an old adage about being in trouble. It reads, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” That’s sound advice that was ignored by United Airlines (UA) immediately following a video on social media showing aviation police manhandling a passenger off a flight. Was this passenger being unruly or disruptive to deserve such treatment? No. He simply was chosen as one of four passengers to be asked to give up their seat as UA overbooked the flight.

With the incident itself creating a deep crater, UA should have realized the seriousness of the matter and stopped digging. Instead, UA grabbed the shovel firmly and started digging even deeper by issuing a statement to address the incident. It read:
"This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened."
— United CEO Oscar Munoz
Not exactly what you would call a sincere apology and so full of fluff, that even the most corporate minded individuals recognized this as pure bologna. Not only did the original incident set social media ablaze, the statement added even more jet fuel to the fire.  

What should have immediately happened instead is textbook PR 101: Crisis Management which includes a full apology from Munez to the victim and to announce that immediate steps are being taken to ensure something like this never happens again. 

Instead, it took days for an apology and only after immense pressure was placed on UA and Munez. Since then, Munez has been making the media rounds clarifying UA’s position. Considering it’s stock price and brand destruction, it may be too little, too late.

What do you think UA should have done differently? If given a choice, would you pay more to fly a different airline just to avoid flying United Airlines?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Saying “Yes” in PR

By: Allison Barnes, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Someone recently told me their new motto in life was to say ‘yes’ to opportunities and experiences because it will either be a great time or they will have a great story on why it didn’t work out. After I heard this, I thought about how we could say ‘yes’ more in public relations. 

Staying on top of trends is easier said than done because there are so many to keep up with. The coolest social media platforms seem to change week by week, while other trends may feel out-of-date by the time you implement them. 

Think of an area in your business you would like to improve and choose one way to try to improve it. This could be anything from refreshing your social media content, trying a new computer program or testing out an organizational system for the office. Invest the time and energy it deserves to give it a fair chance, and see how it goes. If it works out, great, but if it doesn’t then don’t sweat it! What did you learn from trying it? Can an aspect of the implementation be changed for a better result? 

The same can be said for pitching a story to the media. If a reporter is interested and wants to do the story, you’ve reached your goal. On the other hand, if the reporter doesn’t like the pitch, they may tell you why it doesn’t work for them. This is valuable feedback to learn because it may inspire a different story to pitch, a new approach to the pitch or the reporter could reach out to you in the future on the topic.

Saying “yes” can lead to a lot of wonderful opportunities, lessons or success for your company. So, what will you say yes too?