Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Networking Nets Results

The benefit of networking in the pursuit of new business is a topic dear to my heart. So, I was thrilled to lead the discussion on the subject at one of the recent “Brown Bags” we regularly conduct for staff during lunch on issues related to PR agency practices and business operations.

As an avid aficionado of alliteration, I had some fun expressing my personal definition of networking as (one aspect of) marketing, meetings, mingling, mailings, multi-faceted, (sometimes) maddening and mind (top of).

We talked about the many places and people ideal for networking in our industry, ranging from the obvious, such as professional groups like Publicity Club of Chicago, former clients and ad/marketing agencies, to the less evident sources of leads that can include social groups, suppliers and even the editorial media.

The brief “how to network” session covered serving on committees, connecting at events, using social media, just talking to folks and my favorite, sending notes (or in today’s world, e-mails). I read a few of my missives to illustrate how to make such communications meaningful, whether that’s forwarding a pertinent article to a contact, mentioning an upcoming event that may be of interest, citing some work we’ve done or informing them of a media opportunity ideal for them – no strings attached.

I closed with some personal anecdotes to illustrate the importance of never giving up (three years of e-mails netted one of our largest clients today), to be nice to everyone (a former job seeker we treated with respect called us 10 years later seeking a proposal) and to always think to network (we landed a nice project after a chance meeting in an elevator).

Networking can be fun – and profitable. That’s a winning daily double!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another Successful LCWA Media Tour

This week, we held our annual LCWA HomeMakers Media Tour in New York, bringing together some of our home-focused clients and the influential media that cover them. Representatives from Eureka, First Alert, La-Z-Boy and Pergo were on hand to showcase their latest and greatest products and services.

We met with editors representing more than 20 of the nation's top shelter media outlets during the open house at the Royalton Hotel, and already we are working on some great upcoming stories.

Here are some reasons that I think our LCWA Media Tour is consistently successful:

  • A One-Stop Shop – Our “one-stop shop” mentality is a benefit we offer to media all year long, since we can provide many different home products with just one phone call. Media enjoy that they can come to one place to learn about a wide variety of trends in the home arena. And the tour provides this same benefit – in person!
  • Focused Presentations – Having multiple clients in one place makes things efficient for editors. Media know that we will not waste their time. We always provide valuable and interesting information and product news.
  • Collaborative Discussions – Our clients love the opportunity to get to know their “peers” at other companies, to share their stories and to offer advice on conducting business in today’s ever-changing marketplace.
  • Fun Atmosphere – Most of all, we have a great time in New York City! This time out, the entire group enjoyed a delicious dinner at Quality Meats in Midtown – I highly recommend the ice cream cake for dessert – and some of us got to take in the Tony-nominated “Promises, Promises” after the event.
After months of work, it’s hard to believe the event is over – and the follow up begins!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Associations Using Research to Drive Fact-Based PR, Marketing

While working on content for a presentation that Senior Research Analyst Heidi Tarr and I will deliver June 22 at Chicago’s Navy Pier for the Association Forum of Chicagoland, it occurred to me that the people in associations who are responsible for communications, marketing and member services increasingly use the power of research tools to boost their effectiveness.

The LCWA Research Group does a lot of work for large professional associations. Because associations often operate with very tight budgets, it may seem counter-intuitive that they will spend dollars on research to underpin fact-based strategies, tactics and messaging for communication, marketing or member services. But research projects more than pay their way. The results lead to purposeful programs and a greatly increased likelihood that desired outcomes will be achieved.

Research can identify priority audiences – for current and perspective members or industry outreach – and then sharply focus programs and communications content that will appeal to them and provide a baseline for measuring progress. This can make all the difference for giving association members the information and services they want or for attracting and engaging prospective members.

Research findings can energize members and provide a focus for topical outreach programs too. It was an essential component of the award-winning program LCWA delivered for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) and its foundation, Nuts, Bolts, & Thingamajigs (NBT). The Publicity Club of Chicago awarded the program a 2010 Golden Trumpet in the Issues Management category. The media relations program was based on LCWA Research Group findings that identified the manufacturing labor shortage as an issue that intensely concerns its members. This platform offered great opportunities to educate consumers and businesses on the fact that U.S. manufacturers face a serious shortage of skilled workers. “We wouldn’t have even had an issue without the research,” said Pat Lee, FMA director of public relations.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Under the Table and Through the Flowers: Clever Ways to Promote Products at Events

Leave it to GROHE to make its faucets and showerheads even more beautiful! Thanks to a talented team of event planners, faucets and showerheads were the center of attention at a vibrant Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) party I recently attended.

GROHE did a great job of showcasing its products. Here are some tips I gathered on how to uniquely feature products at an event:
  • Blend in: The showcased products shouldn’t look like advertisements. Instead, try to blend them in with the event’s décor. For example, at the KBIS event, guests placed their food and drinks on double-layered glass coffee tables. Underneath the first layer of glass were faucets and showerheads, but guests had to look closely to spot them.
  • Let guests interact: Guests will be more interested in products if they are showcased in a way that invites interaction. GROHE displayed showerheads, bath and kitchen faucets that guests could sample and touch, allowing them to have actual experiences with the products instead of just viewing them as décor.
  • Think outside of the box: Be creative with where you place products. At GROHE’s party faucets were surrounded by votive candles as centerpieces, and vases on buffet tables were trimmed with colorful showerheads mixed in with the flowers.
  • Take it home: Have guests remember your product long after the event is over by handing out a catchy party favor. This can be a sample product, coupon to purchase the product, small “teaser” version of the product or complimentary item.
I hope these tips help you creatively show off products at your next event!