Is Detroit the next Brooklyn? The next Silicon Valley? Or even Berlin, Germany

To the outside world, it’s seems popular to jump on the Detroit Resurgence Bandwagon. Shoot, everyone from VP Joe Biden to Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are doing it – and who doesn’t feel good about having an American-made car in the driveway after watching a Chrysler television spot that highlights the can-do attitude of the Motor City set to the heart-pounding tunes of Eminem?

I’m excited and honored to be playing even a small role in what’s happening in and around Detroit. On the heels of our own announcement to join the exhilarating buzz that is the “D,” I do want to set the record straight. You see, by my calculations, I’ve spent roughly 220 days in Detroit in the past two years. I’m no local – but I’m no stranger anymore either. And in my time here, I’ve come to understand that the Motor City is and always has been its very own culture with its very own vibe – no offense, but it doesn’t want to be Brooklyn. And I believe it’s better for it.

From where I sit today – in a open-air, glass office amidst tech start-ups in a collaborative incubator workspace – the city that brought us the modern-day automobile, paved roads, traffic lights and don’t forget Jiffy muffin mix – is heading into yet another exciting era. Finn Partners is joining in on that action not because it’s the trendy thing to do, but because the Detroit I’ve come to know always has – and always will be – a spirited town of hardworking people who won’t give up until they’ve left their mark on the world. And that’s good company to keep.

Peter Finn created Finn Partners on the belief that strong partnerships are the foundation of success.  Detroit, in our opinion, is full of those partners. So let’s do this together, Detroit. We’re looking for good people to join our team and good companies to work alongside in this great city. I hope you’ll allow me to introduce you to our network of 300+ talented individuals and show you what we’re made of- we have a lot in common.


Our View on the FDA’s New Social Media Regulations: Coloring Inside the Lines Can Be Creative, Too

For a social media professional – a breed of marketer stereotyped as young, crazy, uber-creative hipsters – I’m an odd bird. Even at a very young age, I was most comfortable coloring inside the lines. I found comfort in rules and would get upset at those who broke them – although that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the challenge of bending those rules a little bit to have some fun.

So how does this relate back to social media at Finn Partners? My team has found our little niche in the social media world – regulated industries. With recent clients spanning healthcare, insurance and finance, I was excited to see the Food and Drug Administration release a first draft of social media guidelines for pharmaceutical companies last week.

Although still vague and coming in pieces, I find it encouraging to see this gradual shift for the industry – one dominated by more type-A lawyers, regulators and red-tape procedure loving folks than almost any other industry. With these guidelines, I hope pharmaceutical companies will begin to embrace social media as a way to provide relevant, valuable content to healthcare professionals, consumers and caregivers – all while better understanding what these audiences want to learn and know about the diseases and conditions their products aim to cure, comfort and control.

Ready to jump in?

  • First, understand the guidelines. (If you haven’t read them yet, they can be found here.)
  • Next, invest in a great listening exercise. Get the right tools and do your homework to find your key audiences online – where are they talking? What are they saying?  What information can you provide better than anyone else?
  • If the above step sounds intimidating to do internally, find an agency partner who understands how to be both careful and creative. Coloring inside the lines can still be beautiful and impactful!
  • Get your ducks in a row – create processes and plans that will prepare you for the unexpected. This is where you create flow charts and utilize best practices in the banking and insurance industries and prove out how to handle PHI, off-label recommendations and community guidelines.
  • Educate as you plan. Don’t forget to invite legal and key executives to the table. If you keep all decision-makers looped in along the way, they’ll be more comfortable letting you make the leap.
  • Finally, dip that toe in the social media pool and then jump on in. The water’s fine.

Actions Speak Volumes: Lessons from a Mascot

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an MLB Kid’s Opening Day sponsored by one of our clients. Looking back at the more than 1,600 images the team captured of excited kids and employee volunteers, Paws, the larger-than-life home team mascot, was by far the star of the day.

That got me thinking about why I, as an adult, am so enamored by mascots. My first thought was – my alma mater doesn’t have a mascot – maybe I’m trying to fill that void in my life. (There are hundreds of answers to the question “What exactly is a Hoosier?” and none of them is “a mascot at sporting events.”) On further contemplation, that’s not why I love Paws, Benny the Bull and all their animated character friends running around Florida theme parks.

Mascots are silent. They’re not allowed to speak. And yet, they move people. They can get kids excited about doing push-ups and jumping jacks, elevate the volume of a cheering crowd to energize a struggling team, and I would argue even build brand loyalty among the tiniest of fans too young to understand the rules of baseball or know who number 35 is on the field. So, what does this mean to those of us who communicate for a living?

No, I’m not saying every brand needs a mascot. I do, however, believe we can all learn a few lessons from Paws and his silent, furry friends on how to use our body language and non-verbal communication:

1. Smile. You can’t see the smile of the hot, sweaty kid inside the costume, but you know it’s there. I smile when I craft social media customer service responses on touchy subjects or when I’m providing difficult counsel to a client by phone. They can’t see you, but they know it’s there. That positive energy shines through.

2. Connect. Mascots may touch more than is appropriate in our line of work – but the important thing is to connect through a handshake, eye contact or posture that says “You are important and I am paying attention to you.”

3. Be animated.  It’s ok to stand up to present an idea or use facial expressions and hand movements to get your point across. Show not only with your voice that you’re excited about what you’re saying and you believe it. The other people in the room will believe you.

Who’s your favorite mascot?  What else can we learn from them?


Social Media Week in Review

Zuckerberg in his go-to hoodie. (Photo courtesy of

As the world counts down to the Facebook IPO, what’s hot in social media this week besides Mark Zuckerburg’s hoodie?

A Little Help from My Friends – That’s right – search is getting even more social. Microsoft Bing announced this week that Bing will help you search with the help of your Facebook friends.  According to InformationWeek, this move competes with Google’s Search Plus Your World search integration.

Saturday Morning Cartoons Pins – When should you pin, and when to wait?  If you’re pinning during business hours, you’ve got it all wrong. Statistics from, everyone’s favorite metrics tool, proves the best time to pin is Saturday morning. What are you doing tomorrow morning? Well, I guess I’m going to pin on behalf of my clients after my morning workout! (You should follow them.)

Tweet Tweet – Twitter users’ reactions to hot news this week has been bigger news than Twitter’s own news. You might not have heard about a faster mobile version or a new “discover” button, but you probably saw the outrage over the controversial TIME magazine cover, Obama’s support of gay marriage or the season finale of NBC’s “The Voice.” (And if you’re wondering, according to, the best time to tweet is between 1 and 3 p.m. Eastern on Monday.)


Social Media Week in Review

Between March Madness, the continued race for the Republican nomination, and a host of NFL announcements, the world of social media still managed to make a few headlines this week. Here’s a look at what you missed while you were too busy following Tebow, Manning, et al.

Get Ready for Your Close-up!  

Facebook is all about the photos these days. This week the social media giant announced high-resolution photos (four times larger than before) and the ability to view them full-screen. In short, it’s increasingly important that client photos used online be high-quality. With all brand pages transitioning to the timeline format shortly, be ready for lots of talk and trends around cover photos as well. This week on Mashable they took a look at cover photo trends of local TV stations.

Happy Birthday, Twitter!  

Twitter turned six on Wednesday and also claimed 140 million users. That marks it as the third largest social networking site, behind Facebook (840 million users) and LinkedIn (150 million users). A study by the University of California Riverside also released this week suggests that the key to making money in the stock market may in fact be found amidst all those tweets. The researchers found a correlation between the buzz a company receives on Twitter and it’s stock price! While I continue to invest in footwear, let me know how Twitter stock predictions work out for you.)

Why Is Everything So ‘Pinteresting’?

And a social media update isn’t complete without my personal favorite way to kill time, Pinterest. Why exactly is Pinterest so addicting? Millions of online women ask that question every day, and a new infographic this week seeks to provide the answer: it’s easy, it’s a refreshing change from Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget the simplicity of design. Check it out on Mashable for more fun data points. Go ahead, pin it! I did. Still not convinced you should be thinking about Pinterest for your clients? Social Media Today wrote a great post about building trust on social media between brands and female consumers via Pinterest. Check it out!

Are You Reaching Audiences via Mobile? 

Mobile-centric products from Facebook are on their way, including “Sponsored Stories” and more. We all know by now that mobile is increasingly important and we’re integrating it with our client work. But, what we didn’t know before this week was that the number of mobile Facebook users doubles that of desktop users (If you take public transit to work every day, you, like me, aren’t too surprised by this 2:1 stat.). A testament to even kids spending plenty of quality time with their phones, another report released this week shows that the average teen receives 60 texts a day. Maybe kids need more homework!

What did I miss? Please share your thoughts in the comments and best of luck to all the teams in the Sweet 16, most importantly my boys, the Indiana Hoosiers!


A Season of New Beginnings: 5 Things PR Taught Me about Puppies

Arlo the PuppyI’m Emily Shirden, a managing associate in our Chicago office. It comes as no surprise we’ve been talking a lot about new beginnings of late.  The launch of Finn Partners is just a start!  It’s also that magical time of year when creative minds come together in conference rooms to brainstorm strategic plans for the year ahead.  As I sat with brainstorming notes and a fresh PowerPoint deck in front of me the other night, I couldn’t help but think of the unsolicited advice I’ve been given about another fresh start in my life.   I’m getting my first puppy in a few short weeks.  The more I thought about it, everything I need to know about raising a puppy, I already learned at Finn Partners.

1.  Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. I was told to teach the puppy to sit when greeting people. Don’t just yell at him for jumping up.  Here at Finn Partners, we want to aim high and focus on the end goals and objectives, especially when brainstorming a new program.  What would be a key win for the client – a hit on CNBC? An exclusive in USA Today?  Growing Facebook “likes” by 300 percent?  Focusing in on how we get to those wins and how we can all work together to deliver positive results is something I’ve already been trained to do.

2.  Make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss the puppy rules with family and friends who will play a significant role in his life. At Finn Partners, this relates back to the importance of making sure everyone comes to the table with the background they need and is up-to-date on anticipated deadlines and results.  Ongoing communications with internal teams, clients and vendors assure that everyone is working towards the same goal and delivering on expectations.  While I don’t believe the vet was referring to status calls and frequent chats with the client, that’s how I assure all my teams are going to deliver anticipated results.  What do you do?

3.  Baby gates are your friend. Physical baby gates may save my rugs, but mental ones can work wonders if brainstorming conversations keep circling back on one topic or focusing on a “can’t” instead of a “how can we?” Here at Finn Partners, we’re all firm believers in focusing in on what we can change and keeping out the second-guessing, especially when coming up with big ideas for the year ahead.

4.  Set a routine. Potty training, apparently, proceeds more smoothly if the puppy knows what to expect every day. I’ve got this one under control, too.  My teams will tell you I’m a sucker for schedules.  One of the first things we teach junior staff at Finn Partners is the simplest, easiest way to build trust with media and clients is to deliver promises on time and of course, produce project trackers to clients like clockwork on the agreed-upon schedule.

5. Supervise, supervise, supervise. If you cannot watch the puppy like a hawk, he needs to be in his crate or in his “room,” they say.  PR and social media programs need to be watched constantly, too.   We live in a fast-paced world.  Checking in on metrics quarterly no longer works.  If engagement isn’t as high as you’d like it to be on a social media program, you need to know in week two, not week 10.  If media aren’t responding to a pitch, it’s better to re-strategize after a day, instead of a week.  Keeping a close eye on all programs, and being ready to change the course as needed, once again, is a nod to account management at Finn Partners.

You see – everything I need to know about being a puppy parent, I already learned from the partnership of professionals I have the honor of working with daily.  What else can you add to this list?