Monday, July 22, 2019

Award Spotlight: “Trex Decks Out the World”

As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. At LCWA, we are big believers in the power of collaboration. This year, that philosophy paid off in meaningful results for our client, Trex Company, and high-profile recognition for our agency in the form of a 2019 Trumpet Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Collaboration was the key to this award-winning campaign, which focused on elevating Trex as the world’s leading brand of wood-alternative decking. As the company’s long-time agency of record, LCWA vetted and engaged agencies in five key markets – Australia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the UK – to create a global PR team, tapping talent from our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners.

To ensure brand integrity and message consistency, LCWA served as the central hub for the integrated agency team, reviewing and approving all activities and content. PR assets, ideas and successes were shared across markets to both inspire and optimize budget.

Together, our agency teams focused on garnering Trex coverage in influential industry and consumer media outlets in all of our key markets by keeping the pipeline filled with Trex news, imagery and story ideas. LCWA provided agency partners with press releases and pitches offering tips for creating a dream outdoor space with Trex. These materials were then customized with cultural nuances for each market.

We maximized Trex exposure at key international industry events and partnered with high-profile home/building influencers to showcase the ease of building a deck with Trex. We also coordinated photo shoots in each market to capture authentic imagery for use with media, across social channels and in Trex’s international marketing materials.

For this program and client, media coverage and impressions were the primary metrics for measuring success. The combined efforts of our global PR team generated 385 media placements, delivering more than 260 million impressions. Beyond impressions, the influencer projects allowed us to cost-effectively gather market-specific images and video assets, along with authentic user-generated content. Additionally, all of the influencers continue to be Trex brand advocates and ambassadors, promoting their projects and the Trex brand in bonus content.

These results and the seamless collaboration between agencies far surpassed client expectations and earned continued work and increased budgets for all agency partners in 2019.

The "Trex Decks Out the World" Campaign won a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of International Campaigns.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tips for Building Partnerships

Our PR campaigns work to reach relevant audiences with our clients’ key messages. One great way to communicate with target audiences: work with associations or organizations of which they may be a member. When seeking strong partnerships, it is important to follow these steps:
  • Identify organizations with similar messaging and values. When building partnerships, the first task is to ascertain groups that would be a good fit. In addition to looking at size, location and membership, make sure there is a functional fit based on need and message. Next, look at the core values of each organization and ensure that the two will work well together. And of course, take time to see if any competitors have ever worked with them, as well.
  • Set realistic expectations. Consider what resources your organization has to dedicate to a partnership. If you want a hands-off project, consider a group that has opportunities already in motion. For more customized programs, be ready to take the lead in development and implementation.
  • Find a mutual goal. After identifying potential partners, propose a program that will offer benefits to both of you. For a true partnership to succeed – and last – it must be mutually beneficial. Establish a shared vision that both groups can move toward.
  • Set expectations and be flexible. When it’s time for implementation, identify where responsibilities lie, deadlines for projects and an ongoing communication process to keep everything flowing. That said, issues can occur, so be flexible and ready to work closely with the other organization to ensure all expectations are met throughout the program.

If you set the foundation for a strong partnership, it can pay dividends for years to come.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Award Spotlight: First Alert 2018 Campaigns

First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety, had a banner year in 2018. Celebrating its 60th jubilee, increasing its involvement in community risk reduction efforts and launching a new smart home product all warranted comprehensive, award-winning campaigns!

The “60 Years of Firsts” campaign highlighted the ways First Alert has launched innovations since its founding. To amplify outreach with local fire departments, LCWA launched the "60 Years of Thank Yous” donation sweepstakes. Sixty departments were randomly chosen to receive either 60 smoke alarms or 60 carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Additional campaign elements included firefighter brand ambassadors and local community sponsorships. Overall, the campaign garnered more than 286.2 million impressions, and the sweepstakes earned more than 700 entries!

First Alert and LCWA partnered with two reputable and well-known fire safety organizations – Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation – to coordinate the “Town/Gown Community Service Project” campaign. This project promoted fire safety education and collaboration between students, fire departments, universities and their surrounding communities. Through an application process, 25 fire departments were selected to receive 100 smoke or CO alarms for community outreach with college students in their respective communities. In addition to national outreach, LCWA coordinated with departments for local media outreach for each initiative, earning more than 97.2 million impressions and installing 2,500 alarms in at-risk homes.

In addition to community outreach, First Alert launched its latest innovation in 2018: a 3-in-1 smoke and CO alarm with a premium speaker and built-in Amazon Alexa, dubbed the Onelink Safe & Sound. LCWA and First Alert debuted the product at CES 2018 to key tech media, including Digital Trends and The Verge. Before the official launch in May, LCWA secured several one-on-one interviews with top consumer and tech media, including Gearbrain, Gizmodo and Good Housekeeping. The Onelink Safe & Sound’s key features were amplified with a strategic influencer program and celebrity endorsements, including a celebrity-gifting suite. Finally, LCWA researched and submitted the alarm for consideration to several editorial and product award programs, earning seven awards including the Good Housekeeping 2018 Lab Pick and the GOOD DESIGN Award. Overall, the Onelink Safe & Sound launch resulted in more than 2.1 billion impressions!

First Alert won a Golden Trumpet from the PCC in the Marketing Category and a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Marketing – Consumer Products, Packaged Goods category for the “Onelink Safe & Sound Launch.” The “Town/Gown Community Service Project” won a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Most Effective Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the PCC in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. First Alert won a Skyline Award in the in Events & Observances, Businesses – Products Category from PRSA Chicago for its “60 Years of Firsts” campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) in the Special Events category.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Leveraging News of the Day

It’s the job of PR professionals to constantly look for ways to keep their clients in the news. One such approach is responding to news of the day or breaking news stories. This is an especially useful strategy when your clients don’t necessarily have their own news to share. By leveraging trending stories already in the news you can insert your clients into the conversation. Effectively leveraging the news of the day requires the following key steps: 

Select the Right Stories 

As you scan the news of the day, it’s important to consider what storylines make the most sense for a particular client. Consider piggybacking on news angles that capture the attention of the media. Such examples include research studies, interesting statistics, new trends or data about the industry that’s relevant to your client.

Steer clear of stories that may come across as insensitive, such as promoting good deeds after a natural disaster. A PR professional should never try to take advantage of the misfortune of others. In such instances, it’s important to subtly share your good deed or assistance in relief efforts so you come across as supportive but not desperate to reporters or readers.

Respond Quickly 

In order to use other news for your clients, it’s essential that you constantly read and watch pertinent news outlets so you can contact a reporter as soon as possible. If you respond too late, it’s likely that your client’s competitors will already have beaten you to the story.

For breaking news, most journalists need an expert to comment on a situation quickly via a phone interview, video conference or live video interview so have your spokesperson prepared and ready to go.  Once a reporter or editor sees they can count on you quickly for story ideas, and expert comments, then you become a valuable resource to them.

Be a Resource

The best way to build relationships with reporters is to be succinct and provide them with 
material they haven’t already learned or written about. In other words, don’t waste their time. As a PR professional, it’s your job to capture the attention of these writers with a different angle or addition to the story.

Leveraging the news of the day and inserting clients into a news conversation requires a few key steps that include regularly monitoring the news and finding ways to insert your client into relevant stories. To do so effectively, you must offer new angles to the story, share useful information, be timely, and know your client’s spokespersons and areas of expertise.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Award Spotlight: American Academy of Sleep Medicine “Sleep Works for You”

Getting insufficient sleep and working while fatigued have become commonplace in the modern workforce, causing employees to experience cognitive declines and presenting employers with heightened safety risks and increased economic costs. So, LCWA and our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — the leading voice in the sleep field launched the “Sleep Works for You” campaign.

This multifaceted campaign, conducted on behalf of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project — a cooperative agreement between the CDC and the AASM — embodied the vision of achieving optimal health through better sleep for long-term success and well-being. “Sleep Works for You” encouraged employees, from entrepreneurs to shift workers, to prioritize sleep for safety and productivity on the job, and educated employers on ways to help workers avoid fatigue and develop healthy sleep habits.

To reach these audiences, the campaign included a wide variety of tactics, such as feature stories, media outreach — highlighted by a co-branded press release with the National Safety Council — influencer partnerships, a Twitter chat and social content, landing page design and more.

The campaign resonated strongly with media, consumers and influencers, and was honored with the Skyline Award in Integrated Communications from PRSA Chicago and a Silver Trumpet in Integrated Communications from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Blending Traditional and New Media to Tell the PFF Story

While working with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), we have experimented with a variety of channels to raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis and engage target populations with the PFF’s resources and research. These goals include reaching patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers, and demonstrating the value of the PFF to each group. As the array of media channels continues to grow, we have been able to tap into specific audiences through their preferred sources of information and entertainment – be it traditional publications or new media options.

Tried and True
For our traditional media program, the PFF team has been leveraging top national media outlets to share the personal stories of our PFF Ambassadors from across the country. By speaking about their individual experiences with pulmonary fibrosis, PFF Ambassadors help us promote disease awareness on behalf of the PFF, provide up-to-date information, and offer hope and inspiration to the PF community.

As part of this effort, our team recently secured a piece in Reader’s Digest to tell the story of PFF Ambassador Tom Frey, whose story is unlike any other. Tom, a retired NYPD detective, shares his personal journey from being a first responder during 9/11 to his diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis – which links back to his time spent at Ground Zero 18 years ago. This is a great example of leveraging a long-standing, influential publication to reach a broad consumer base that also coincides with the PFF’s target audience. You can read Tom’s inspirational story here.

Always Streaming
In terms of new media, we wanted to communicate the stories of a pulmonary fibrosis patient, caregiver and healthcare provider through a mobile-friendly channel where individual voices could shine. We worked with the RareShare Podcast, which is one component of a social hub run by the Rare Genomics Institute serving hundreds of rare disorder communities. The podcast works to share important information with patients, families, research organizations and healthcare professionals who are affected by rare disorders in an effort to improve both quality of life and treatment options.
PFF Ambassadors who represent both patient and his wife/caregiver, Jim and Karen Carns discussed how they learned about pulmonary fibrosis together and worked with the PFF to connect with support groups and tap into valuable resources. Dr. David Lederer, the PFF’s senior medical advisor, shared the latest research and innovations in care, bringing valuable insight for both patient and healthcare provider audiences.

The different perspectives flowed seamlessly together throughout the interview, resulting in a compelling episode that underscores the challenges that come with a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, the importance of finding the right support and resources, as well as the major strides the healthcare industry is making toward finding a cure. You can stream the episode here.

By integrating both traditional and new media in our PR strategy, the LCWA healthcare PR team gets the best of both worlds.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Five Keys to Working with a Team of Agencies

There a shift happening in the marketing world. As companies look to streamline every aspect of their businesses, they are turning to “one-stop shops” for all of their marketing needs. But, just as you wouldn’t trust one doctor to treat every aspect of your body, it’s highly unrealistic to expect one agency will be able to offer best-in-class service across the broad, varied and ever-evolving marketing spectrum.

With the complexity and choice of media channels today, there are a lot more moving parts and opportunities than ever before. It’s virtually impossible for any single agency – no matter the size – to be able to cover all marketing bases – let alone, do it well. Savvy companies understand this and, instead, are finding success working with integrated agency teams.

We have experienced this type of collaboration firsthand through our work with Trex Company, the inventor and undisputed market leader in composite decking – and for good reason. Trex understands the benefits of working with specialists and knows that two heads are better than one when it comes to promoting and elevating its world-class brand. In fact, LCWA is part of a team of five core marketing agencies working together to promote Trex. We also partner with four additional PR firms in key international markets to promote the brand globally.

As with any team, this type of collaboration requires commitment, authenticity and transparency. It requires putting egos on the shelf and focusing on what’s best for the client. It can be challenging at times – especially when there is overlap in capabilities between agencies. In my experience, however, a little flexibility and cooperation can go a long way toward delivering a whole that is, unquestionably, greater than the sum of its individual agency parts.

Having had the privilege of being part of an effective multi-agency team for the past decade, following are some lessons we’ve learned along the way for successful collaboration

1. Know your strengths
Understand that each agency was hired for a reason and brings a specific type of expertise to the party. While you may have capabilities in other areas, focus on what you have been hired to do and do it really well. Be at the ready if other capabilities are needed but, otherwise, stay in your lane and set yourself apart by delivering excellent work that exceeds expectations.

2. Clarify roles and responsibilities
Agencies are used to managing clients, creating workflows and leading client meetings and conference calls. With more than one agency in the picture, responsibilities can become muddled. A simple rule of thumb is, if it falls into your area of expertise, you’re the project lead. Likewise, know when to let someone else take the lead. If there are projects or assignments for which multiple agencies are qualified, have an open discussion at the outset to determine who will take the lead. Be reasonable, be fair and be clear so that the team – and the client - knows who’s in charge and how the work will be completed.

3. Foster open communications
Communication is crucial to effective integration and collaboration. Keep each other updated by scheduling regular all-agency calls or meetings to review projects, status updates, timelines, deliverables and next steps. Share research, background materials, insights and analyses that might be helpful to other agency team members. Use collaboration tools like WebEx and Google Docs to prepare integrated documents and presentations, and leverage project management sites, such as Basecamp, to house materials where they can be easily accessed at any time by all agency partners.

4. Make time to meet without the client
While time with the client is always valuable, it is equally essential for agency partners to meet autonomously. For Trex, our agency team schedules all-agency calls and meetings to brainstorm, strategize, evaluate and assess various projects. These agency-only events allow us to speak openly and freely about challenges and concerns. We also are able to brainstorm together without worrying about positioning or polish. In my opinion, this is when the magic happens. Ideas are sparked and built upon, bonds are formed, and the collaboration is organic.

5. Pitch integrated programs as a team
When a client invests in a multi-agency marketing team, it is important to deliver against that vision by approaching every call and meeting with the client as a united front. Focus on delivering holistic, integrated solutions – rather than pitching tactical recommendations by discipline. Support and amplify each other’s ideas and highlight opportunities where assets can be leveraged and maximized across channels. This not only reinforces the collaboration between agencies but also demonstrates how the team is realizing time and cost efficiencies that positively impact the client’s bottom line.

As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. When agencies collaborate, they create a rising tide that lifts all of the boats in the marketing mix, and the client gets the best of everything.