Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Becoming a better public speaker

By: Jim McShea, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
To most people who know me, I’m a good communicator. I can be well spoken, witty, sometimes even erudite. However, if you put me in front of a room full of people to recite a speech or presentation, communicating becomes difficult. I get the jitters, my mouth gets dry, and I start to stutter.

Until recently this wasn’t a problem. In my previous line of work, behind the scenes of a local TV news station, I rarely had to speak in front of a large number of people. Now that I’ve moved into public relations, public speaking is a part of the job, whether it’s a staff meeting, conducting an on-camera interview, or making a public presentation at city hall.

So, what can I do to get better? I’ve done some research in an effort to make sure that I can deliver when I’m called on to make a presentation or deliver a speech. Here are a number of the tips that have helped the most:

  • Preparation is important: be sure to review your notes several times and practice beforehand. Videotaping yourself while practicing is a good idea because you can watch your body language and identify any bad habits and work to correct them. Also, have someone else watch your presentation and offer input.
  • Know your audience: take time to research who you are speaking to and tailor your speech to reach them. Analogies and examples that work for one audience may not work for another. A bad analogy could lead to difficulty getting through to an audience, or even turn them against you.
  • Start Strong: Be sure to grab your audience’s attention. Use a startling fact, a humorous anecdote, or a shocking statistic to get their attention. Also, avoid “Burying the lede” a turn of phrase from my TV days. It means you took too long to get to the focus of your presentation.
  • Speak Slowly: Many people, including myself, tend to speak faster as they get more excited, potentially leading to mumbling. Instead, slow down. Make sure you annunciate every word. It can help your clarity, and prevent mistakes.

There are plenty of other tips and tricks you can use, like maintaining eye contact, dressing properly, and using humor wisely. Ultimately you need to adopt a public speaking style that works for you, and helps you connect with an audience.

Finally, keep in mind that the best way to improve your public speaking skills is to gain experience. The more speeches and presentations you give, the better you get. Eventually, giving a speech or making a presentation will become second nature.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tips for Getting Your Story Noticed By A Reporter

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

As a PR professional, I’m frequently asked how to get a story “noticed” (code word for “get my story used by the media”).  There’s never a one size fits all answer, but it helps to understand what news is.  Here are seven tips that might help:
  • Is it something new or different? Something brand new or different, whether it’s an opening, new information, a new product line, etc. will raise the interest level. Just avoid saying it’s unique unless you can prove it!
  • Will the story appeal to the reporter or outlet’s target audience? Pitching a story about a new lawnmower to a swimmer’s magazine isn’t going to get results. Know who you’re pitching to. Make sure your pitch or release fits.
  • Is it something people need to know about? Taxes aren’t the most popular topic but, if there’s a tax code change with widespread impact and you’re an accountant, you have a shot at getting a business reporter interested in your take on the new code.
  • Why will people care about it? A new president at a big retail company or high-profile local firm is likely to get coverage. But the new president of a small, B2B firm probably won’t generate that kind of interest.
  • Is it visual? Even print media and radio look for photos and/or video these days. (Think about their websites and social media accounts.) What do you have to offer from a graphics, photo or video perspective?
  • Are you offering expertise or advice? Providing non-commercial expertise or advice about your industry and your works can be a great way to tell your story and showcase what you do.
  • Is it something quirky or entertaining? Sometimes the strangest things make the media. That’s because they’re quirky enough, or entertaining enough, to perk the interest of a reporter. There may not be any true news value, but if it’s fun, it could make the news.
Before you start pitching a story or sending out releases, do a quick review of this list. As we often say during media training, “It doesn’t matter what you think; the bottom line is, news is whatever the editor or reporter thinks it is.”  So pitch wisely my friends!

Friday, June 16, 2017

For some, it’s exciting when the new AP Stylebook arrives

By: Scott Stein, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

For any writer or reporter, the arrival of the AP Stylebook each year brings a certain amount of excitement. Seriously!

Many in the communication business have come to rely on the AP Stylebook and the folks over at Associated Press keep things interesting by making some changes each year. Many of those changes are a reflection of changes in communication and changes in society.

Some examples in the latest edition of the AP Stylebook include: 

  • Gender denotes a person’s social identity, while sex is defined as a person’s biological characteristics.
  • The term fake news may be used in quotes or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon of deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.
  • The AP Stylebook now says it’s acceptable to use they as a singular pronoun when crafting the sentence as plural would be too clumsy or awkward.
  • Don’t use the term driverless vehicle unless there is no person in the vehicle who can take control in an emergency. The preferred term is now autonomous vehicles.
Of course, there are a number of other changes in the newest AP Stylebook, which will keep me going back to it as my most used reference book. And I have no doubt that there will be many additional changes in the 2018 edition as language and communication styles continue to change.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Location isn’t just important in real estate

By: Allison Barnes, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

Social media is often measured in the success of a topic by what’s trending, how many views a video may get, or how many likes, retweets or shares a post gets. But what’s next for determining successful social media? The activity in each location. 

In a recent Forbes article, the author shared that “Geosocial Index” is becoming a prevalent way of measuring social media presence, such as people’s posts, likes and shares, at popular locations across the globe. 

The idea behind it is to track the social media presence of a location to determine which locations are more popular than others. Locations like sports venues, hotels and tourist destinations are currently being tested in this method. 

With this new way of thinking, it’s important to make social media content specific to locations and for public locations to be more active on social media. For example, airports could benefit from this method of measurement because travelers passing through often kill time between flights on social media. By encouraging these visitors to share their location on social media and to post about the airport will boost the social activity. 

Social media platforms often give users a way to share their location. For example, “check in” on a Facebook status or give your location on an Instagram photo. Tag your location on a tweet or add one of the popular location filters to your next Snapchat photo. An interesting display, artwork, large logo or window overlooking a view are just a few options to give visitors at any destination something they will want to share. 

This location data from social media could be influential for those looking for the latest trendy travel destination or up-and-coming city activity. The data will also increase the profile of hotels, landmarks, concert venues and tourist destinations.

What do you think of Geosocial Index? Are you influenced by location?