Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Prescription for Pitching Healthcare Stories

Recently, the LCWA healthcare team participated in a luncheon hosted by the Publicity Club of Chicago entitled, “Rx for Healthcare Media,” where some of Chicago’s leading healthcare journalists discussed how to stand out in Chicago’s competitive healthcare market and gave PR pros insights into working with journalists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel included Scott Becker, publisher of Becker's Healthcare; Katharin Czink, Medical Watch producer at WGN-TV; Lauren Petty, health reporter at NBC; and Kristen Schorsch, reporter at WBEZ.

Photo courtesy of photographer Will Byington
To kick off the program, each panelist introduced themselves and offered some pitching tips for healthcare stories, including:
  • Think real people with human interest angles and patient-focused features (with the exception of Becker’s Healthcare, whose core focus is providers).
  • Personalize pitches and talk to reporters like people. A personal approach is the most effective way to go about placing stories. 
  • Keep all mediums – such as digital and audio – in mind when pitching an NPR affiliate. Think characters and scenes to take people to places.
  • Make sure your pitch is understandable for the audience. Simplify press releases into layman’s terms and avoid using jargon or acronyms with no explanations.
  • Above all, journalists are looking for experts they trust to provide perspective. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Pitches
The media landscape has shifted significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the news cycle is now coronavirus 24/7. With the new normal of a singular focused news cycle, the pandemic is challenging the way we engage in media relations – especially for a number of our clients who are medical associations. During this time, it’s important to be careful in how you tell your story – and evaluate whether this is the right time to be telling it at all.

While NBC and WGN are solely focused on COVID-19, with 4-5 reporters tied to the virus at once, both Petty and Czink stressed that other pitches are still welcome, but to keep in mind these stories will be pushed to a later date, depending on when the pandemic passes the news cycle.

Yet, with all the negative news coverage daily, there are still positive stories to tell. From the healthcare workers on the frontlines to the local distilleries making hand sanitizers to colleges using 3D printing to create face shields. These are the encouraging, hopeful stories that people need to hear at this time.

The partnership between the healthcare industry and journalism has never been more important, and we will continue to work with our clients to arm the public with the information they may need to navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Forging Ahead

The last few weeks have been unlike any others. We are all grappling with the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to disrupt our lives and plans for the foreseeable future. Though stressful, maintaining our work on behalf of clients brings us a sense of normalcy. LCWA service continues uninterrupted for our clients.

Here’s how we’re working through it:

Remote Collaboration. Our team was already adept at working with remote team members, and everyone has adjusted quickly to working from home. We continue to kick off our work week with our 10 a.m. “Buzz Board” meeting on Mondays, which gives us a chance to discuss the week’s news and upcoming events, and the impact they will have on our clients. We are using Zoom and Microsoft Teams to ensure frequent face-to-face meetings, both planned and impromptu. These personal interactions are a bright spot in these long days of social distancing.

Quick Counsel. We always have an eye on the news so that we can be quick with counsel for our clients. We are helping our clients manage their communications during this situation – from changing events and supply chain dilemmas to front line healthcare directives. Every client is affected in different ways, and our account teams know enough about their organizations to offer both insight and action.

The New Reality. We are revising our expectations of target audiences to fit the new way everyone is working and living. The old rules are out the window! B2B audiences need to hear messages in a new way, now that they are working differently. Consumers are focused on meals, education and staying occupied at home. We are helping our clients understand the current situation, and how it impacts their communications plans.

Flexible Programs. “Flexibility” has always been key at LCWA – it’s even included in our mission! And it’s never been more important than it is right now. We are working with our clients to adjust plans for our day-to-day work, as well as for the future. There is a great deal of uncertainty, but we are committed to helping our partners get through this and emerge as strong as possible.

We wish you health and safety as we all navigate this situation. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Making the Most of Working from Home

I've spent a lot of time working remotely, and suddenly, most others in our office are doing the same. While the short commute and lack of distractions are great, it can also be isolating and hard to collaborate. Here are some of my tips for starting a work from home routine that keeps you happy and productive.

  • Stay on schedule. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is maintaining a good work/life balance. It’s very easy for work to creep into morning and night routines, and to feel like you’re always working. First, keep your regular office hours. Also:
    • Don’t sign-in until you have showered and had your coffee or breakfast.
    • Step away for lunch, even if just to another room for a few minutes.
    • Sign off at night and put your computer away
  • Set up a designated work space. Have a spot where you go to work each day. A home office is great but not necessary. You can have a designated seat at the kitchen table, or a certain spot on the couch, where you can spread out your notebooks and papers. At the end of the day, close your computer and leave your things close by, and leave this space. It will give you a good mental break to physically divide "work"      and "not work."
  • Schedule calls and keep in touch. It’s good to have some structure to your day. If you don’t have calls on your schedule, schedule some conversations with teammates. In addition, call others on the team frequently to bounce things off of them, or just touch base on how things are going.
  • Move around. Without trips to the proverbial water cooler or conference room, you end up sitting all day! Get up and move around. Phone calls can be a good chance to move away from the computer. I love wearing my Airpods while I talk, wandering around the house or even outside. 
  • Try not to multitask to much. It’s really tempting to look at email or keep working on a project when you are on a conference call. But since your active calls are few and far between, make sure to be present and really pay attention to them.
  • Keep visitors at bay. Depending on your friends' and family's situations, they may think working from home is the same thing as not working. Communicate that you are working regular hours and keep visits or outings limited to lunchtime or after work, as usual.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Is Springing Forward a Step Backward?

On Sunday morning many Americans had to“spring forward," turning the clock ahead an hour for daylight saving time. Unfortunately, according to an official Health Advisory by our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), studies show that moving into or out of daylight saving time has adverse effects on sleep/wake patterns that can last five to seven days. And a recent survey we conducted with theAASM showed that 55% of U.S. adults felt more tired than usual after the spring time change.

In light of these findings, LCWA crafted a press release which detailed the health and safety dangers of the daylight-saving time transition, highlighting this statistic and studies showing other negative health impacts. We conducted outreach to targeted national media outlets, resulting in great media coverage. Read all about it in this article in Wall Street Journal and this article from Refinery29.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Power of Reaching a Multi-Cultural Audience

Multi-cultural marketing is no longer a niche business, as the U.S. consumer market continues to grow in diversity. For instance, one in six Americans claim Hispanic origins. Headquartered in Chicago, the 5th largest city by Hispanic population, LCWA knows the importance of reaching this critical and fastest-growing audience segment.

Our team takes pride in knowing and understanding the local Hispanic media. So, when our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) wanted to highlight a bilingual volunteer, Jose Vazquez, who is a pulmonary fibrosis patient and advocates for more awareness of this serious lung disease,  we knew NBC/Telemundo’s local program “Marcando La Differencia” (“Making a Difference”) would be a perfect fit. For this particular project, we worked with the Telemundo team to tell Jose’s compelling story. The segment aired on both NBC and Telemundo. You can watch the full segment here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Making Marketing Magic for B2B Clients

Creating noteworthy thought leadership pieces for business-to-business clients is an essential part of putting your client at the forefront of meaningful conversations. Content pieces like case studies, research surveys, white papers or insight reports are all great ways to position clients as a leader in any given industry. But what to do after content creation is done? Marketing that content is what really takes a program from good to great. Here are some ways that PR and marketing pros can get the information out to a wider audience and make some marketing magic.
  • A new landing page: Create a new landing page for your content. This allows you to add context to the information and position it specifically for target audiences. It also establishes a link to use as a call-to-action for your ongoing communications.
  • Social advertising: Amplify the new content through social ads – especially LinkedIn. Social ads can be targeted very specifically, so you will be able to hone in on the exact people who you want to see your content. As a primarily business platform, LinkedIn is a perfect option to further market your materials. 
  • Email marketing blasts: Market directly to industry professionals by creating and distributing emails that publicize your client’s content and directs users to your link. Eblasts go right into the inbox of your target audience and are a great way to build some buzz.
  • Digital adsUtilize digital banner ads that appear to consumers based on their recent search activity. Target your intended audience based on interest to get your information in front of the right eyes.
  • Partnerships: Consider partnering with an industry association or influencer to get the content in front of a wider audience. These types of groups often have great advertising and marketing options and are a great way to really make an impact with your new content.
  • Print and deliver: Sometimes it’s best to distribute information the old-fashioned way! Print out great articles and provide them to your sales team to hand-out in meetings or mail them to customers. Seeing your thought-leadership will reinforce your expertise and remind them of all the great things you do!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Brings PF Awareness to San Antonio

Our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) set record-breaking attendance this year at its biennial PFF Summit, the world’s largest healthcare conference on pulmonary fibrosis (PF), as 950 PF patients, healthcare professionals, caregivers and scientists from around the world convened in San Antonio to advance the care of those living with PF.

To tell the PFF story locally in San Antonio, our health team hit the ground running pitching local health reporters and news desks in the weeks leading up to conference. As part of these efforts, we were able to secure a compelling piece on the local CBS station, KENS-TV, featuring co-chairs of the PFF Summit.

To open the segment, PFF Ambassador and San Antonio resident, Dot Delarosa, shared her PF health journey, offering hope and inspiration to those affected with PF by speaking about her own experiences with this serious lung disease. In addition, local pulmonologist Dr. Anoop Nambiar of UT Health San Antonio, and Dr. Joseph Lasky of Tulane University in New Orleans, shared expert insights on the disease, including risk factors, symptoms and important research in the pipeline.

Click here to watch the full segment, and to learn more about pulmonary fibrosis and the PFF, visit