Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lessons Learned as an Intern

We have been lucky to have Derek Baker as our LCWA intern this winter. Here, Derek outlines some of the things he has learned from the experience. 

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to work as an intern at LCWA.  I learned valuable lessons regarding public relations and what it means to be part of a working environment. As a member of the LCWA team, I’ve worked with people who have different personalities, approaches, and skill sets that all contribute to the success of the firm. Over time, I have come to recognize how I fit into the culture and how to use this experience to best benefit my professional development as well as the success of the firm. 

Here are some tips:

Ask questions and know your clients. Questions are essential in developing your understanding of the business as well as demonstrating to your team that you can think critically. Ask supervisors for background on assignments. Knowing the context of a project can give you valuable insight and make you more efficient at your job. Additionally, understanding the client, their industry and the media landscape will give a better perspective of your team’s plan, which can improve the way you approach tasks in the future.

Being an enthusiastic employee is key to being a team player. This is easy when you receive fun projects that complement your natural skill set, but is more difficult when you enter unfamiliar territory that may not come as easily. Nonetheless, it is important to persevere and earnestly approach projects with an open mind. Understanding that you are part of a bigger picture is crucial, and demonstrating an eagerness to learn and lend a helping hand will label you as an asset to any team.

Value your work. When you are a small part of a big picture it can be difficult to see the importance in the small tasks that you are contributing. It might be easy to rush work along or not give 100 percent because you don’t see how your work contributes to the bottom line. It is important to remember that everything you do counts. From the smallest of tasks to the biggest of projects, your co-workers are depending on you to get the job done so they can do their jobs, as well.

Confidence is the most valuable lesson an internship will teach you. Entering a new work environment will no doubt offer challenging experiences. From simply answering the phone, to client requests on deadline, every task at the beginning of a work experience may seem daunting. There is the potential for failure and more horrifying…embarrassment. However, by the end of an internship, daily tasks become like second nature. Suddenly, the things you feared doing in the beginning become part of a norm and you approach them with a new outlook. You have the skills and knowledge to complete what is being asked of you and you will have identified your strengths and weaknesses as well as ways to leverage both. The confidence created as a result is invaluable. As you enter the workforce, you will have the confidence knowing that you have an expertise that will benefit you and any team that you join.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Boise Paper Facebook Sweepstakes A Sweeping Success!

Whether it’s excellent time management, superior organizational skills or even specific office supplies, everyone has a special trick to stand out from the crowd at work. We recently worked with our client, Boise Paper, to hold a Facebook Sweepstakes to hear more about what people had learned to help them look brilliant at the office.

Utilizing the “Don’t Look Back, #LookBrilliant” theme, Facebook and Twitter posts were used to promote the Sweepstakes. Contestants entered with their tips for the chance to win a grand prize of $500. Some of the top ideas submitted include:

Stay Organized
  • Organization and time management make a huge difference. – Evelyn F.
  • Always keep your desk clean and clutter-free to present an organized work space. – Ronald O.
  • Arrive to work at least 10-15 minutes early in the morning. – Guadalupe V.

Act Professionally
  • Communication with coworkers is pivotal to successfully working as a team. – Chris M.
  • Dressing professionally brings a better presence and presentation to your work. – Mary C.
  • Eye contact really helps you look more professional! – Jennifer L.
Be Proactive
  • Stay ahead of problems and be proactive. – Pete B.
  • Volunteer to take on new tasks to increase your knowledge and bring value to your work. – Katreia B.
  • Use the best equipment - like Boise Paper - to really shine! – Linda F.
Once the entry form was complete, entrants were provided with information and tips on how Boise Paper can help them look brilliant with the full line of Boise POLARIS® papers.

The grand prize winner, along with two second place winners, was announced via a Facebook Live broadcast on the Boise Paper Facebook page.

This sweepstakes was a great way to engage with Boise Paper’s social followers, convey brand messages and earn new followers. Stay tuned to the Boise Paper social channels for future Sweepstakes and chances to win!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Creating a Video Ad Strategy that Reels Viewers In

Whether your client is more suited for readers of People or Professional Remodeler, there’s one place that virtually all audiences turn to for information and entertainment: YouTube. While video ad production was once reserved solely for big brands with big budgets, it is now a scalable, essential component of any integrated public relations and marketing program.

Need proof? During the past year alone, LCWA's social media team has helped launch video ad campaigns as diverse as our client roster, targeting medical professionals, general consumers, do-it-yourselfers, business executives and professional contractors – just to name a few! According to YouTube, people are spending 1 billion hours watching video each day. All you need is a few seconds of that time to make a significant impact for your clients. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Start off Strong – How long do you have to grab viewers’ attention? 10 seconds. For pre-roll ads with a skippable option, cut that number in half. With limited viewer time – and patience – it’s imperative to grab viewers’ attention as quickly as possible. Let your creative juices flow by creating a compelling story that pulls at viewers’ heartstrings, or set up a joke or prank that will leave the audience waiting for the punchline. Instead of an ad, think of your video as a movie trailer. As PR pros, we’re often focused on the words, but when it comes to video, sound and visuals are just as important elements – if not more so – for drawing viewers in.

Know Your Type – YouTube currently offers six different types of advertising formats. Become familiar with the pros and cons of each to determine the best mix for your campaign strategy. For example, if your goal is simply brand awareness, six-second non-skippable bumper ads, which automatically play before a viewer can watch a video, may be the best option. On the other hand, if your goal is to convey information or elicit a call-to-action, Native Instream and Discovery ads, which have longer playing options, may be more effective, as they can link to outside websites and sources.

Test, Compare, Test Again – Remember, it’s all about the numbers. As a Google company, YouTube offers a host of analytics to help determine the effectiveness of your ads. While you or your client may have a “magic number” of view counts in mind, other metrics, such as engagement rate and time spent watching, are often better indicators of ad performance. For this reason, we recommend launching at least two ads at the same time and conducting A/B testing to see which version audiences react to most. Comparing the results side-by-side, you may find that one ad is better at capturing viewers for longer periods of time, while another may drive more clicks or channel subscribers. From there, you can adjust your budget and strategy to optimize results. Another tactic we’ve used to guide video strategy is to survey focus groups prior to launch. The feedback may be harsh, but it can be extremely helpful in determining which ads to move forward with or tweak with further production.

Keep Creating – Even for experienced marketers, each new video ad campaign is a learning experience. With each campaign you launch, you’ll gain greater insight into audience trends and what it takes to win them over. Keep creating, and have fun!

Monday, February 4, 2019

LCWA and AASM Help Americans Tackle Sleep

Chronic sleep loss and sleep illness are big problems in America with nearly 30 million adults afflicted with sleep apnea. To help further educate the community about this growing epidemic, the LCWA healthcare PR team helped long-time client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) create and launch two new national public service announcements (PSAs).

To start, we enlisted AASM advocate and former NFL offensive lineman Aaron Taylor to urge television viewers to defend their sleep by talking to a doctor about obstructive sleep apnea – a potentially life-threatening disease involving episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. An avid snorer since high school, Taylor shared his personal experiences with moderate obstructive sleep apnea and helped AASM reach new audiences with his sports and broadcast affiliations. 

LCWA worked hand-in-hand with Taylor and AASM to develop a script that addressed the warning signs of sleep apnea and demonstrated that many of the damaging effects of the disease can be stopped, and even reversed, through diagnosis and treatment by the sleep team at an accredited sleep center. The script came to life naturally, as Taylor brought television host Adam Zucker and fellow football analysts Randy Cross and Brian Jones together in studio. The result was a 30- and 15-second PSA fit for both television and radio.

To date, the PSAs have aired more than 1,175 times reaching an audience of 10.9 million.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Proofing to Perfection

Part of earning the trust of our clients and media contacts is providing error-free work. We pride ourselves on mastering the details, and even have a rule that any external materials
must be proofed by “two sets of eyes” before they go out the door. We recently gathered our Chicago PR team together to discuss top tips for proofing to perfection. These are the ten rules we strive to live by when it comes to proofing:
  1. Do the job – proofing is different from reviewing. If a proofer gets too caught up in making big-picture content or organization suggestions, it’s easy to overlook the small stuff like typos or missing punctuation. That’s why it’s important to know which task you are assigned and stick to it.
  2. Proof the complete document, from headline to boilerplate. It’s natural to take your eye directly to the body of content, but this can mean accidentally missing mistakes in a header or title page. Similarly, if you’ve seen a boilerplate many times, it’s tempting to just skim it. But putting focus on the entire document, start to finish, is a must.
  3. Print it out. A good old-fashioned hard copy is the best way to spot formatting inconsistencies or small errors like an extra space.
  4. Adhere to AP style. There are multiple ways to say or write the same things in the English language. (Oxford comma, anyone?)  For grammar, words, numbers, phrases, titles, states and more, we follow AP Style to determine the final guidelines. This results in consistent work across the agency, and materials that are “media ready.”
  5. Know copy editing symbols. You can’t make the needed changes if you have no idea what that symbol means! We use consistent editing symbols to make it easy on both the proofer and the author.
  6. Make proofing marks easy to spot. Ever missed a tiny edit made in black ink? I sure have! We ask proofers to use a different color and ensure edits are visible by flagging with a check mark, or even Post-its if the document is very large.
  7. Be respectful of others' time. Proofing takes time, so we need to make sure to allow plenty of it. While there are always tight deadlines that require an immediate look, we try to let proofers take their time with documents to avoid mistakes.
  8. Rely on new eyes. It’s very hard to see the details in something you have already reviewed multiple times. Whenever possible, we want the proofer to have a “fresh” look at the document, so they are more likely to find those hidden issues.
  9. Don’t let anything slide. With moments to go to deadline, it can be tempting to let a small error slide. But when perfection is the goal, you must make note of even the smallest mistake. On many occasions we have reprinted or rebound stacks of materials because of a “tiny” typo. A little extra effort is worth the fix when our reputation – and the reputations of our clients – depend on it.
  10. Take responsibility for the document. Proofing is a real job at LCWA – so real that we require proofers to sign off on their work and take accountability for it. Our team members know they are playing a role in delivering high-quality work, and they take that seriously.

Monday, January 28, 2019

LCWA Client DAP Wins Pro Tool Innovation Awards

Is there better news to pass onto a client than that they’ve won an award? Congratulations to LCWA client, DAP, for picking up two Pro Tool Innovation Awards for new Platinum Patch exterior filler and Dynaflex Ultra exterior sealant. These two products were chosen from among 300 entries as best-in-class products in their respective categories.

Crafting award submissions is a great way of generating buzz for clients, so it’s no surprise that they are an integral part of several LCWA home PR campaigns. No matter the client or industry, the path to gold always involves the same steps:

There are awards programs for every industry – some more well-known than others. It’s critical to do a “deep dive” to uncover new or previously overlooked opportunities and keep from missing out.

Not every opportunity is worth considering, depending on the client and its priorities. Some may come with pricey submission fees, require time-consuming entries, or ask for details that a client isn’t comfortable sharing. Put yourself in your client’s shoes to determine if the effort involved is worth the potential reward.

Awards programs often ask for similar types of information, but taking a copy-and-paste approach to multiple entries can significantly reduce your prospects of winning. Above all else, make sure that each entry clearly addresses the information and questions asked.  In addition, pay attention to details such as word counts and file size requirements to avoid penalization or disqualification.

With this successful formula in place, we look forward to a year filled with more honors for DAP, as well as other LCWA clients!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Multitasking in the Workplace: Tips for Success

Someone once told me you need to slow down in order to speed up. But how could that be in a workplace where multitasking is almost expected? Let me explain.

Multitasking is not about piling on the work to the point of exhaustion. Rather, it is about channeling your energy in an efficient and effective manner so that you can accomplish more in less time. To understand multitasking and increase your workplace performance, success and satisfaction, you must first learn to make quick decisions about the sequence and importance of tasks and then proceed to complete those tasks.

Here are a few other tips to consider:
  • Eliminate distractions – By limiting interruptions and keeping your work area free of distractions (social media included), productivity increases, errors decrease and stress levels are reduced. Your focus remains centered on the task and you’re likely to deliver higher quality work against deadlines.
  • Combine similar tasks to work on at the same time – You can lose focus by diving right into tasks without a plan or structure. Grouping compatible tasks allows you to divide projects by urgency and priority.
  • Cut the clutter – Deal with paper only once by putting documents in their place. Decide to either place documents in an “action needed” or client file. If they don’t fit into either, toss it.
  •  Adjust your expectations If you are overwhelmed by having too much to do within the time committed, determine the most important priorities to complete and reset the deadlines with others.