Friday, May 31, 2013

Favorite Finds

We hope everyone enjoyed the short work week and the unofficial kick-off or summer!  Once again, we present you with our weekly dose of our favorite news stories for the week:

  • Death of the Professional Photographer? – This week, Crain’s Chicago Business announced that Sun-Times Media has completely eliminated their photography staff for both the Chicago Sun-times and its sister suburban papers.  When talking to a web editor at another suburban newspaper this week, I learned that simple images taken on a reporter’s or reader’s iPhone are typically sufficient for a story.
  • Early Onset School Year – According to a Stuart Elliot article in the  New York Times, advertisers are already hitting the papers with ads for the 2013-2014 school year, when students aren’t even out for the summer yet.  Will editorial shift their calendar forward as well?
  • Attribution EtiquetteSocial Media Today gives a simple breakdown of polite behavior when giving nods to original content authors online.
  • A Facebook Helping Hand – In addition to suggesting pages to users based on their current “likes,” Facebook is now encouraging users to “share” pages they already like with friends that might want to hit the thumbs up button as well.  Thanks for having our back, Facebook!
  • The Twitterverse Visualized – This week, Twitter put out a few cool maps that show every geotagged Tweet since 2009.  Our hometown Chicago is holding its own as one of the most tweeted-from locales!

In the Mix...Sound the Trumpets: First Alert and LCWA Strike Gold!

PR awards season kicked off last night with the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Annual Trumpet Awards. LCWA was there and did not leave empty handed. Along with client First Alert and fellow agency partner NewsMark, Inc., LCWA was recognized with a Golden Trumpet Award in the category of Issues Management for consumer education campaigns conducted in conjunction with new carbon monoxide alarm legislation passed in the states of California and Washington.

For First Alert, a leading manufacturer of carbon monoxide (CO) detection devices and a diehard advocate of consumer safety education, this legislation offered an invaluable opportunity to inform Californians and Washingtonians about the importance of CO safety, as well as explain the steps needed to comply with these new laws. LCWA used survey research, media outreach, public safety events and direct outreach to fire services and property managers in both states to spread the word about the new laws and the importance of CO alarms.

These combined state-specific campaigns generated nearly 1 million impressions in print, online, television and radio coverage and reached an additional 50,000 CA and WA residents through social media efforts. More than 180 fire departments participated in a dedicated fire services webinar hosted by First Alert, and apartment managers requested and distributed more than 32,000 First Alert CO safety door hangers to alert tenants about the new alarm laws. Most importantly, First Alert saw significant sales increases in both states as a result of these campaigns, meaning millions of residents are now protected from the threats of CO poisoning.

It is always a thrill to have our work recognized, especially by our industry peers and particularly for such an important cause. We are pleased to share this award with First Alert, News Mark, Inc. and the legislators and residents of Washington and California. Congratulations to all!

Alison, Kim, Gary and Shannon accept the Golden Trumpet
 at the Publicity Club of Chicago's 2013 Awards Ceremony.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

In the Mix…Counting Down To Summer with a Sweepstakes

Things are heating up, and we’re not talking about the temps! Our client Trex is currently hosting a sweepstakes that has brought fans flocking to Facebook! The “Countdown To Summer” Sweepstakes launched on May 20 and will run through June 17. In an effort to build brand awareness and increase its already sizable Facebook presence, Trex is giving away two outdoor living items per week to help eight lucky winners get “decked out” for summer. After only one week of the sweepstakes, Trex reached a Facebook milestone with 35,000 “likes”! To enter the “Countdown To Summer” Sweepstakes, visit the Trex Facebook page

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's That Time of Season

Working in public relations, we’re perpetually engrossed in a media campaign or preparing for the next one. But while focused on the future, it’s critical we keep an eye on seasonal and trend opportunities to incorporate into our ongoing media outreach. Below are some tips for leveraging opportunities that come and go with the seasons:
  • Go where the guides are – The seasonal pitching calendar is built around holiday shopping gift guides – a behemoth media topic that all but dominates the last two months of the year.
  • Break through the holi-daze – Beyond the end-of-year gifting, every holiday provides an annual, unique opportunity to tell your story. What resolutions will be made in the new year? How will we show our love on Valentine’s Day? From the spooky to outrageous – what inspires our Halloween costumes?
  • Change with the leaves – Once you’ve got the traditional holidays covered, consider how your products may fit with other major stories throughout the year. For example, spring equals cleaning while summer is all about free time and vacations. In fall, students return to the classroom or campus, making it the perfect time to talk back-to-school essentials.  
  • Timing is everything. We recommend hitting long-lead media four to six months before your targeted season, and begin outreach to short-lead media with six weeks to spare. Social media can be handled just days in advance as consumer’s shift their mindsets.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In the Mix…Entertainment by the Yard

It’s time to raise a toast to summer! Just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, we coordinated a television and radio satellite media tour for our client Trex to promote its stylish and high performance outdoor living products at a time when many homeowners are looking for ideas on how to make over their backyards. Broadcasting from a jaw-dropping, multi-level Trex deck near Toronto, Canada, we offered interviews with HGTV personality Paul Lafrance to news stations across the U.S. and Canada. Paul advised viewers on the latest trends and products in outdoor living, and offered his tips for creating a dream outdoor oasis.  In the span of 6 hours, he spoke with 30 different media outlets, reaching well over a million viewers! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Favorite Finds

While it doesn’t officially begin until June 21, Memorial Day weekend typically marks the start of summer. Warmer weather, outdoor patios, graduation ceremonies, summer blockbusters and barbecues all signal that the season has arrived. Here are my favorite finds to unofficially kick off summer.
  • Agile Marketing – In today’s fast-paced digital world, more brands are finding ways to revise marketing strategies in real-time. A recent article from Mashable shows how three start-ups have learned to be more nimble in order to meet consumer needs more quickly.  
  • Teens and Facebook – A recent PEW Research Center study on teens and Facebook is getting a lot of attention this week. The report found that teens are now less enthusiastic about the platform because their parents are becoming more active, the network facilitates too much “drama” and too many people overshare information on their newsfeeds. However, teens are not completely abandoning Facebook, but rather, becoming more active on Twitter and Instagram.
  • This Is Water – With graduation season upon us, a commencement speech with a newly produced video accompaniment  has gone viral on social media – and deservedly so. Originally given at Kenyon College’s graduation ceremony in 2005, the speech from author David Foster Wallace encourages listeners to be more conscious of their everyday surroundings, even during the most mundane and sometimes stressful moments in life.
  • PR Lessons in Iron Man 3 – Most summer blockbusters don’t stick with you too long after you pass through the cool air-conditioning of the theater lobby. Yet, the PR News Blog provides some actual key communications takeaways from Iron Man 3, including “keep your sense of humor,” even when facing disappointment.  
  • Brand Controversies – In light of recent controversies affecting brands this week, PR News Daily reported on a new study that suggests some controversies might actually be good for brands. The survey found that brands that take a stand on a specific issue can actually build more affinity with consumers who feel the same way.    

Thursday, May 23, 2013

In the Mix…Frigidaire Success Continues with “Gift of Time” Sweepstakes

We recently wrapped up the “Gift of Time” Facebook sweepstakes for client Frigidaire Professional, which awarded six winners with the product of their choice and two grand prize winners with a five-speed blender, convection oven and a 5-in-1 grill and griddle. The four-week sweepstakes had an astounding 391,000 entries, with entrants earning additional chances to win by referring friends and/or answering the question, “How will your Frigidaire Professional product give you the gift of time?” We received more than 40,000 answers to that question, with responses ranging from “spending more time with friends and family” to “I need a second oven because I use my main oven so much – I make all my own bread and rolls.” We are excited to give the “gift of time” to our eight sweepstakes winners and continue talking with media and bloggers about these great products! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

In the Mix...Twitter Parties Encourage Consumers to Give the "Gift of Time"

To support the launch of Frigidaire Professional’s sleek, time-saving kitchen countertop appliances at Target, we’re taking to Twitter to encourage consumers to give the “gift of time” to moms, dads, grads and newlyweds this spring. We garnered excellent engagement with consumers by hosting two Twitter parties on wedding and Mother’s Day gifting, which generated 4,300 tweets and more than 27 million impressions. The hashtag #Frigidaire also became a trending topic – proving that we broke through the Twitter clutter in a big way for Frigidaire Professional. Tomorrow night we will hold our final spring Twitter party to discuss graduation gifts. Look for the hashtag #Frigidaire Tuesday night between 8 and 9 p.m. CT and come join the conversation!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Favorite Finds

It’s been a gorgeous week in Chicago, but like the weather here, the Twittersphere is volatile.  Here are some favorite finds from the past week:
  • Today’s Customer – This insightful article stresses the existence of varying paths to purchasing a product and reminds us that real human experiences remain paramount in providing customers “complete context” for them to make a purchase decision.
  • Charlatans – I don’t often see this word in a headline, so it caught my eye. This article from Ragan grounds communications professionals and thoughtfully suggests the fundamental that quality trumps quantity, particularly in measuring messaging success.
  • App Changes – What’s more volatile than ever-updated iPhone apps? This picture gallery demonstrates the latest and greatest from the Facebook app.
  • U.K. Whitepaper – Our friends across the pond have offered a new whitepaper for free download. The author recommends a new mindset in an increasingly fragmented media landscape. The fragmentation, she says, give us more opportunity as communications professionals. Carry on! 
  • Fun End-of-Week Reading – For the history buff in all of us, this is a great collection of quotes from notables past and present. According to Bill Gates, “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spent it on PR!” 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Favorite Finds

As technology and social media evolve, it’s exciting to figure how PR will change too with the new trends.  This week, there were many celebrated successes as brands capture more consumer attention via digital means. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:
  • Tablet Takeover: How many of you now use your tablet as your go-to digital device? Our friends at Hearst Corporation are capitalizing and just surpassed one million tablet subscribers. Could tablet subscriptions out-pace print soon?
  • Google Glass: As the world awaits the launch of Google Glass, many brands are taking this time to figure out how it will affect marketing.  ReadWriteWeb shared this helpful guide to what we should know about the new technology.   
  • Pinterest Paradox: Although some brands are leading the way with popular brand boards, it seems consumers still drive the most engagement on the popular social network. Looks like we still have some work to do. 
  • Klout Perks Up: In some opinions, Klout Perks aren’t very enticing. American Airlines is looking to change that with access to their Admirals Clubs for those with a score above 55, making it tempting for many to get back to raising their score.   

Monday, May 6, 2013

In the Mix...Contigo Celebrates Teachers

When kids have great teachers, we all win – which is the premise behind our client Contigo’s “Thank You, Teachers” sweepstakes. In anticipation of the upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week, Contigo is asking its Facebook fans to celebrate all the special teachers in their life by nominating a teacher for a chance to win a prize pack of Contigo products for the teacher and the school. Plus, nominators also will be entered to win Contigo prizes and will receive a coupon code just for entering! The 20 winning teachers will be highlighted throughout May, so be sure to check out the Contigo Facebook page to enter your favorite teacher!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Favorite Finds

Whether it’s traditional, digital or social, media is constantly evolving – and as PR practitioners, we’re learning new skills, best practices, features and apps on a daily basis. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite things we learned this week.: 
  • Tag It: Thursday, Instagram rolled out its latest feature, “Photos of You,” which allows users to tag other users – and brands – directly in their photos, creating an archive of pictures that can be viewed on any user’s profile. For brands, this could mean tagging influencers in photos to drive followers and increase engagement. 
  • Facebook Knows Best: Facebook published a thorough guide for journalists outlining best practices for breaking and updating news on the site, proving once again that social media platforms are growing sources where consumers get their news.
  • Digital Skills: With digital and social platforms changing how people watch and read their news, PR pros are generating coverage in new ways. This article outlines four new roles for PR professionals.
  • Meet Charlie: If you attend a lot of new business meetings or networking events, you’ll want to meet Charlie. A SXSW Accelerator finalist, this mobile app pulls up information about the people in your meeting and even details common likes and interests.