Monday, July 8, 2013

EAFocus in the community

EAFocus was at the Rochester Rotary Club lunch on July 2 at Rotary Park in Downtown Rochester. Peter Fornasiero (who recently joined North American Bankcard’s Pay Anywhere team) and I were Barb’s guests. The luncheon was the first meeting led by newly elected Rotary President Jay Eastman, M.D., and a new statue for the park’s pond was revealed that was donated by Rotarian Marty McClure.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The world of issues focused PR

One of the most common questions most individuals get asked once of “working age” is: What do you do for a living? My response, “I work for a Rochester-based public relations firm.” Sometimes I get a blank stare because public relations (PR) can relate to so many avenues or be confused with marketing and/or advertising – but that’s for a different blog post.

When someone gets the basic gist of PR, a common follow up question is “well what type of PR do you do?” And this is where I love the conversation to go! My response? “Well, EAFocus is an issues-focused public relations firm. We have clients ranging from medical organizations and physicians to CPAs and attorneys to municipalities and school districts.” I gather in most circumstances people are trying to figure out, what do you do all day? Here’s the answer.
While I can’t sell the secret sauce of EAFocus, I will tell you my job requires me on a daily basis to be current on the latest issues. That means reading the newspaper (yes, the actual paper that can still get ink smudges on your fingers), listening to various talk-radio programs during my commute (who knew the AM stations were broadcasting through the car of a mid-twenty year old!), watching news broadcasts on both the local and national level (I do watch more than Nashville and The Real Housewives) and keeping up on industry trends for all of our clients. From there, it is a matter of understanding what the issues and topics most relevant to each client are and how trends and issues taking place on both a local and national level affect them. Whether there is a local story that has the potential to gain national interest or a national story that has a local tie, EAFocus stays abreast on the hot button issues to make sure our client’s stories relating to these topics are being shared with the right audience at the right time.

Beyond my need for news, working for EAFocus and our wonderful clients provides the opportunity to work on projects tied to fascinating (well, in my book at least!) issues. Since the first of the year we have had the opportunity to be involved with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's (MEDC) Community Ventures program through one of our clients, gained insight into the ways plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are expected to expand and the roles cities will play in the adoption of their infrastructure thanks to the efforts of another EAFocus client and developed a greater understanding of the impact on patent trolls in business and even the public sector, courtesy of another client. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!  

In addition to my news addiction, I have always enjoyed meeting people. EAFocus and our clients have provided numerous opportunities to attend networking and similar type events. From meeting local leaders and the Governor of Michigan to other young professionals and business leaders, let me just say, I love my job and I never lack for being surrounded by interesting people!

Does your organization need to communicate important issues to your clients or constituents? EAFocus can help.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

EAFocus, Inc. Hosts Press Conference Announcing Collaborative Effort to ‘Pick Up the Pace’ in Flint (Literally!)

EAFocus, Inc. was at it again yesterday morning in Flint! Below average temperatures and overcast skies seem to be a ‘good luck charm’ for us when it comes to organizing and facilitating press conferences in Flint. This time, EAFocus organized a press conference to announce  Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, the Ruth Mott Foundation and the Crim Fitness Foundation are teaming up for the Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy Crim Mile Marker Challenge in support of efforts to increase access to the famous Flint run/walk, the Crim.
Barb and I arrived at the Community Outreach for Family and Youth (C.O.F.Y.) center in Flint ready to share another good story on collaborative efforts taking place in the city. The C.O.F.Y. center is one of the many facilities utilized by the Crim for their fitness programs and served as the perfect location to host the press conference.

The center is impressive with a bright, welcoming entrance and friendly employees working behind the desk, tidy locker rooms, a walking track above a basketball court, a fitness room complete with treadmills, stationary bikes and workout equipment and numerous other amenities. As we entered the basketball court and headed to a smaller room off to the side, upbeat music from an aerobics class was playing  - perfect for keeping our pre-press conference energy and excitement high.
Steve Wolbert, the director of community relations and government affairs for Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, served as the event’s emcee. A native of Flint, Steve is the go-to guy for telling stories of Flint’s resurgence efforts, this time shared by Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, the Ruth Mott Foundation and the Crim.  In addition to Steve, other speakers included Erin Lamb, the program director for the Crim, Mark Yonan, board chair for the Crim, Sara Rios, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation, Andrew Younger, Race Director of the Crim and Russell Becker, D.O. from the Michigan Vascular Center.

Attendants also heard from Phil Hagerman, CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, who addressed why his organization got involved with the Crim saying, “Our goal is to pick up the pace of the energy and momentum of this community.” The last speaker of the press conference was Linda Meyer, a woman who has overcome many obstacles in her life and completed her first Crim 5k last year with financial support from the Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy Crim Mile Marker Challenge and training help from the Crim. “I’ve started many things in my life but never finished them… this was something I finally finished,” said Meyer.

Just as quickly as the guests and media arrived they left and another successful press conference was on the books for the EAFocus team! Read more about the Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy Crim Mile Marker Challenge here.

Story from ABC12 Flint:

Monday, April 29, 2013

EAFocus Coordinates Press Conference Featuring Two Entrepreneurial Nuns, Philanthropic CEOs and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

On the morning of Friday, April 19th Barb Fornasiero and I arrived at St. Luke’s N.E.W. (North End Women’s) Life Center, Inc. – an organization started in the basement of a church in an old north-end neighborhood in Flint as a faith-based program that incorporates education and workplace training to help women become self-sufficient providers for their families. As we walked into the building we were welcomed by a friendly young lady at the front desk. We continued down a long hallway lined with classrooms. The end of the hallway opened to a larger room with a stage, seating, tables and a kitchen in the back.

The kitchen was filled with women of all ages preparing food and making sure the facility looked spic and span for the guests who would be visiting shortly. We were then greeted by Sister Carol Weber and Sister Judy Blake, co-founders of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center.
But why were we in this church in Flint? Why were these women veering from their daily work routine to host guests? Who were the VIPS they were expecting?  (Hint: not us!)

Simply put, we were gathering for a press conference organized by EAFocus. But this wasn’t any old press conference (is there such a thing??) and it’s not every day you walk into a church and see a “secret service”  agent, so these weren’t just any average Joe’s attending the press conference – Governor Rick Snyder was on the agenda! As Barb and I helped finalize the setup of the room and ensure things were in order for our client Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy (CEO Phil Hagerman is a member of the business advisory council for St. Luke N.E.W. Life Enterprises), we watched the security team from the Governor’s office verify the building was secure.
The room quickly filled with local elected officials, the hard working employees of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises, media, Flint area leaders, the business advisory council and other Flint community supporters.

We were then introduced to Governor Rick Snyder’s communications team (very nice folks!) and met in one of the N.E.W. Life Center classrooms with all the press conference speakers: Phil Shaltz, managing partner of Uptown Developments and president of Shaltz Automation, Phil Hagerman, CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, Srs. Weber and Blake, Michael Finney, CEO and president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Governor Rick Snyder. As the Governor entered the room, he shook each of our hands and introduced himself.
We all chatted for a few minutes about what a great cause we were gathering for (and I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! As a young PR professional, it’s not every day you are coordinating a press conference for such influential people). Then it was show time!

We were escorted down the long hallway and took our seats as the press conference began. As I scanned the room, all the seats were filled (75+), media and press filled the back of the room with their cameras and others stood around to hear the investments the sisters, business advisory council, the MEDC and the state were making in Flint. Each speaker gave their remarks, which were inspiring and gave confidence that the business developed by the sisters is a replicable business model that can benefit other cities in addition to Flint. The press conference was filled with applause, standing ovations, laughs and tears. Mike Finney joked with the Governor that state should alter the dress code to allow for workers to wear the scrubs made by N.E.W. Life Enterprises (the room roared with laughter and applause).
What an exciting morning for me! Alas, it was over in the blink of an eye. We saw our weeks of preparation pay off and well deserving individuals receive recognition for their efforts and hard work in bettering their community.

To read more about the details of the press conference and gain a better understanding of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center/ Enterprises and the business advisory council, please click here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When a Career Dream Comes True

The real life experience of a young public relations professional

No matter what your profession, you normally have at least one thing you hope you will get to experience in your career. For many public relations professionals that dream may be visiting a TV station for the taping of a client's appearance on the station’s news program. On Tuesday (April 3rd) the dream I had during my four years of studying at Central Michigan University and in the first few years of my career became a reality.

Barbara Fornasiero and I headed to the Fox2 station in Southfield, MI Tuesday evening and as we pulled up to the security gate, I remember having this feeling of “we’re just arriving for another client meeting” and this was no extraordinary experience.

We walked to the front door past the weather “patio” (it’s amazing how different things are on TV versus “behind the scenes”!) and entered into what appeared to be an ordinary office building: waiting room, long hallways and doors that led to what I assumed to be offices. We finally arrived in the “green room” (it is actually painted green too).

After the evening news segment finished, we were greeted by Murray Feldman, Fox2 news anchor. He guided us from the green room to the taping studio. As the doors opened a cold blast of air hit me; as we walked down a short black hallway, it opened up to what I imagine to be a broadcaster’s equivalent to Disneyland.

There were various taping areas for the weather, the “famous” brown couch for more ‘casual’ news stories and the main news anchor desk where Feldman is frequently stationed, all dotted by cameras, teleprompters and other taping equipment. Large spotlights shone from the ceiling and lit the room in all its glory. Barbara and I were then invited to sit at the news anchor desk while they taped the segment. As I took the few steps up the platform, I looked around and thought to myself “well this is pretty cool.”

There was a camera man who gave the directions of what cameras to look at, when graphics would appear on the screen and what the timing of the segment would be. Another gentleman was responsible for getting the microphone set up on our client.  As we waited for everything to get set up I looked around the room and took in as much as I could, from the equipment to the layout and all the people it takes behind the scenes to make a show run smoothly.

When the cameras, teleprompter and rest of the crew were ready, the countdown began until the light on the camera turned red – they were recording. As I sat in the chair I watched our client, attorney Terry Bonnette of Nemeth Burwell, knock the socks off the segment. In five minutes it was a wrap and we were done.

We were escorted out of the studio and to the front door by Mr. Feldman (extremely nice man!) and got into the car to head back to the office. It wasn’t until we were waiting at the gate to exit that the past hour caught up to me.

I was looking at the photo Barbara took of me and couldn’t wait to share this exciting experience with friends and family (and you, our blog readers). And that is when it hit me:. my first career dream came true.

I am sure for most seasoned professionals, you can relate to that first “big moment” in your career. To those just starting out (no matter what your profession), make sure you take in and allow yourself to experience as many different things as possible. You never know when your first big career dream will come true! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Welcome back guest blogger and EAFocus colleague Sara Przybylski!

4 things to check for in your writing

I recently saw a picture of a tattoo that read “Live You’re Life.” It got me thinking about how careless we have become in our writing and making sure we are using correct spelling and proper grammar. Unfortunately for this individual, their lack of proofreading is permanently marked on their side. For the rest of us, here are four items to check for in your writing.
1.   Their, There and They’re
Along with the use of “your” or “you’re”, the improper use of “their, there or they’re” is just as common. Many of us learned the correct usage in elementary school but here is a friendly reminder:
Their – refers to the third person possessive adjective. [Example: Where is their house?]
There – refers to many things, one being a location. [Example: My car is over there.]
They’re – is the contraction of “they” and “are”. [Example: They’re going to the concert tonight.]
2.   Since vs. Between
This one can be a little trickier and isn’t as commonly talked about as number one. The proper use of “since” and “between”:
Since – refers to time. [Example: My parents haven’t slept since 1988.]
Between – refers to a relation. [Example: The distance between us has increased.]
3.   Over vs. More Than
A big thank you to one of my college professors who made us PR students learn the AP Stylebook like the back of our hand. I don’t remember everything and still have to reference the book occasionally, but this is one lesson I don’t think I will ever forget (and I hope you won’t either). The difference between “over” and “more than”:
Over – refers to spatial relationships. [Example: The cow jumped over the moon.]
          More Than – refers to numerical values. [Example: There were more than 50 people in attendance.]
4.   That, that, that…
Writing is all about being concise and straight to the point. Throwing “that” in every sentence to extend your word count no longer provides succinct content for your readers. You will be surprised how few times the word “that” is actually needed to clearly portray your thoughts.
Case in point: I have not used the word that until this section of my blog post and the word that will not appear again.
We’re not all perfect when it comes to writing. However, we all need to start proof reading our work a little more and relying on spell check less.
What other common errors do you see in writing?

Friday, March 1, 2013

4 Things to Include in a Social Media Policy

Welcome back guest blogger and EAFocus Associate/social media guru Sara Przybyslki! Follow Sara on Twitter @MichiganPRguru
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a two-person shop, it is important to have a social media policy. Why?
Well, a policy ensures you have consistency in the way your social media program is run and maintained. Your policy should be a combination of legal protection for the organization as well as rules and guidelines for all employees – ranging from those managing the pages to those simply engaging and interacting on the pages.

While each organization needs to structure its social media policy to meet its specific needs, following are four general areas I suggest you include (or at least consider including) in your policy:
1.    Protection for Your Brand. The policy should provide clear legal protection of a brand’s identity. A section addressing who within an organization is entitled to create a company page on a social media site is crucial. You want to ensure every employee is not able to take the company logo and create a page and run it as though it is the official company social media site. This section should also address the legality of using the brand’s logo, slogan or any other trademarked materials to  create a social media page that may be misconstrued as belonging to and sanctioned by the company (i.e. explain what the repercussions of doing so will be).

2.    Guidelines for Managing Social Media Pages. When do you delete a post? You can’t delete all negative comments because people will stop interacting on the page if they see numerous posts being removed, but there should be a line drawn to determine when posts should and should not be removed. Having a clear understanding and setting a precedent on how negative comments will be handled on a social media page are crucial. If you don’t have set guidelines on how to handle the conversations taking place on your company’s social media pages, you are doomed to chaos and confusion. Because social media is so quick paced, you need to have a quick resource to reference so the pages are managed and handled consistently (i.e. if someone uses a curse word in a comment and you delete it, any other post made with profanity should be deleted as well). Don’t make exceptions.

3.    Purpose of the Social Media Policy. Individuals drafting the policy and those reading and abiding by it need to not know the purpose behind the document. If you think the sole purpose of your policy is: “We need something to protect us” or “Everyone says we should have one,” think again. Understanding what the company culture is, items you want to protect (see number 1) and how you will manage the page are imperative. Without this common understanding of the role social media is to play in your organization and what the purpose of the policy is, you won’t be successful in creating a useable policy that covers legal matters and sets guidelines.
4.    Who Manages the Page(s)? Clearly define who in the organization is responsible for managing the social media pages. People and roles/responsibilities change within an organization. Because Joe and Sue had a conversation when a Facebook page was created stating who was going to post the content and monitor the conversation, it is not necessarily common knowledge to others in the organization. Without having in writing that the Social Media Manager (i.e. Joe) is responsible for drafting the content and the Community Manager (i.e. Sue) is responsible for managing and monitoring the pages, when someone or both of them leave their current roles, the job functions and common understandings are gone as well.
One last note to leave you with…be sure the policy is not a ‘threatening’ document to discourage employee interaction and participation on the company pages.

Do you have any other items you have included in your policy?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Social Media is not a ‘One Size Fits All’

Welcome back guest blogger and EAFocus associate, Sara Przybylski! Follow Sara on Twitter @MichiganPRGuru.

You know your brand needs to be on social media to stay relevant in today’s market. So, you decide to create an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. You waiver on the idea of Pinterest and Instagram but decide to ‘start small’ and look at expanding your social media presence in the future – great! Well, sort of…
The problem with assuming your brand needs to be on these social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) is that all four of the sites might not be the right fit for your brand. You’re probably thinking, of course they are! You may be right, but let’s take a step back and fully understand the function and audience of each platform.

Facebook is a site that is no longer being used for the up-to-the-second updates on what people are doing (or at least it shouldn’t be used in that fashion). Facebook is a site to share photos, videos and really engage in two-way conversation. The audience of the site started as college students and has quickly grown to encompass everyone under the sun from grandparents and children to people making pages for their pets and cars. Brands should use Facebook as a platform to truly build a relationship with individuals by engaging in meaningful conversations.
While a brand still needs to update the page frequently to appear in the newsfeeds of its fan base, it does not need to be sending information every 15 minutes.

So ask yourself, “What age group is my brand looking to communicate with? What type of content will we be able to share on a regular basis? Will we be sharing photos and videos, asking questions and sharing other industry related information?” If you answered yes, then Facebook could be a social media site for your brand to build a presence.


LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Commonly explained as the “Facebook for the business community” the site allows you to post a profile explaining your work history, education, volunteerism, etc. along with connecting with fellow colleagues, other professionals in the same or similar industry and with companies.

As a brand, you want to have a presence on LinkedIn if you are looking to have more intellectual conversations with your connections than, say, Facebook. Brands can provide detailed information about the company, products and services offered and even open positions. Again, this is not a site to post an update every 15 minutes; instead, posting meaningful content approximately four to seven times a week is sufficient. LinkedIn is a platform to share company news, industry related articles, start meaningful two-way conversations and engage with professionals who have an interest in and need for/ desire of your brand.
So ask yourself, “Is my brand looking to connect with “the working world” (soon-to-be college graduates through seasoned professionals)? Will we be able to share industry news and articles on a regular basis? Are we looking to engage our audience in deeper conversation or are we looking to keep the conversation light?” Depending on how you answer the above questions, LinkedIn may be a social media site that makes sense for your brand participation.

Twitter is a real-time, up-to-the-minute (sometimes second) running feed of information. From breaking news and sports updates to the latest celebrity gossip and sales from retailers (okay, some may argue all of the above are ‘breaking news’), the individuals on Twitter are extremely diverse, meaning your potential audience is very diverse. 

Twitter is a platform that requires frequent updates in order to be successful. However, the content a brand shares on Twitter also needs to be meaningful and engaging. There is still no place for “We are open for the day”… “”First customer of the day just came to the store”… “The manager just drank a diet pop.” Instead, your brand should be sharing interesting facts, news and updates about the company, relevant industry news and articles, photos, videos and posing questions – all in 140 characters or less.
So ask yourself, “Is my brand looking to engage in real-time conversations with a wide range of audiences? Are we able to provide frequent updates (multiple tweets per day) of meaningful information? Do we want to communicate in fast paced, short messages?” If you answered yes, Twitter may very well be an excellent platform for your brand to build a presence on.

YouTube is all about video. Whether the video footage is of your cat or dog doing ‘amazing’ tricks to crazy stunts and demonstrations of the latest gadget, YouTube lends itself to be an interactive, informative and fun social media site (not that the others are not fun).

If your brand has the capacity to take lots of video footage, has complex ideas, processes or products that can easily be explained through video or are looking for a way to communicate your brand’s culture, video can be a great option.
So ask yourself “Is my brand looking to provide information in an entertaining fashion? Do we have the capacity to provide new videos on a semi-frequent basis (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)?” Depending on how you answered the above questions, YouTube may be the right platform for your brand to participate on.

The social media platform(s) where your brand needs to be present is determined by your audience and the purpose social media plays in your overall business strategy. Your response should not be “we need to be on social media because everyone else is.” Instead, your response should be tailored to the function and audience of each platform as well as how it relates to the overall business goal: “We need to be on LinkedIn to build a presence among the business community to engage with them on a more intellectual level and in a medium where they are already participating.”
Maybe the above four social media sites aren’t the right fit for your brand. Pinterest and/or Instagram could make more sense depending on your business strategy. Whatever the site(s), just make sure you have a sound reason for being there - and your content reflects that.
Remember: Your brand needs to keep a consistent tone, reflective of the brand, across whatever social media platform(s) you choose, while tailoring messages to the specific audience of each site. This means you cannot copy and paste the same content posted to Facebook on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you have individuals who follow you across a variety of platforms, they are going to want different information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Lastly, don’t just post content because you feel you need to post another update; make sure the content has a purpose and is meaningful. Happy socializing!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Web Ecosystem: Why Websites and Social Media Sites are Vital to Each Other’s Survival

Introducing Sara Przybylski - new EAFocus associate and guest blogger! Follow her on Twitter @MichiganPRGuru.

It seems the next big thing in social media is introduced every week. With the ever changing social sphere, many are questioning what online platforms are best for their brands. Is it just social media? If so, what social media sites? Or is it a combination of a website and social media?

As people spend more time surfing social media sites for the latest news on world politics, business, fashion and celebrity gossip, are websites even necessary for a brand to survive?While some may argue that brands don’t need a website to create a strong community and loyal customer base, I beg to differ.

Websites are the center of the online universe; the online platform that houses all information about a brand from the brands perspective. Websites are the starting and ending point for a company trying to develop a presence in the web ecosystem. A brand’s website is where anything a customer or potential customer can learn about the company is (well, should be) located.

However, in a day where your customers expect to be able to engage with you in conversation via the Internet, websites alone won’t keep you afloat. People expect to feel like they are important to a brand, that they can have two-way conversations and feel as though their opinion and voice count - and are being heard. It is for these reasons that social media sites are an important component to the web ecosystem. Yet social media sites supplement the branded content on the website, they don’t replace it.

Social media sites are the medium where the customer or potential customer engages with the brand to build a relationship and connect with other likeminded individuals who share a common interest in the brand. If someone lands on your website and wants to engage in a conversation about your brand but there are no social media sites connected to it, she will likely look for another similar brand to potentially build the relationship, i.e. the brand’s competition. Conversely, if the customer is engaging on a social media platform of the brand and wants to learn more about a specific product or make a purchase, she will seek out a website. 

Consider this example: as a company, you share information about a new feature added to an existing product via a photo on Facebook. An individual sees this photo because a friend of theirs “liked” the photo and it appeared in their newsfeed. Out of curiosity, the individual clicks on the photo to learn more. She is intrigued after reading a little more about the product but doesn’t fully comprehend what this new feature means as it relates to the brand as a whole. This photo has piqued the individual’s interest enough to visit your website to learn more about the product and, ultimately, your entire company.

This scenario presents the perfect synergy of the social media site and website working together in a thriving web ecosystem. The information you shared on the Facebook page piqued the interest of an individual who then visited your website to learn about other products and potentially make a purchase. In addition, this individual could decide to like the Facebook page, look for other social media pages to connect with to keep getting updated information about the brand, share this information with their social media networks and ultimately again, make a purchase. It is this viral and web like sharing that keeps the web ecosystem alive and thriving. Without a website to learn more about a company and the social media sites to engage with the brand, individuals are not being given the outlets and information they desire.

What do you think? Are websites at risk of extinction  in the web ecosystem?