Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In the Mix…Coordinating Video Shoots with eHow and Life Fitness

For the past several months, I worked with our client Life Fitness to create a series of instructional fitness videos on the popular how-to website To coordinate the opportunity, I coordinated with a number of parties, including the talent producer, video producer, Life Fitness personal trainer and the manager at the gym hosting the video shoot. With so many different people involved, communication was key to making sure all the moving parts came together to create successful videos that met the goals of both and Life Fitness. Here are some best practices for effective communication:
  • Be Upfront: Before the planning phase, make sure you know each person’s goals for the opportunity – but be upfront about what can be accomplished to set realistic expectations.
  • Stay in the Loop: When sorting out logistics, it’s important to keep all of the parties up to date. Even if you haven’t confirmed all the details, create reminders for yourself to check in with each person and give them a quick status update so they don’t feel out of the loop.
  • Come Together: In the final days leading up to the shoot or interview, hold a call with everyone involved to answer any last-minute questions and make sure everyone is on the same page. 
The shoot resulted in a series of ten videos detailing exercise tips and best practices, and highlighting the new Life Fitness Synrgy360 equipment. Thanks to Life Fitness personal trainer Eric and all involved in making this shoot a success! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Style Your Safety” with a Summer Sweepstakes

Style or safety…why not have both? Our client First Alert just kicked off a fun summer sweepstakes on Facebook to celebrate its new Maximum Protection Smoke Alarms, which blend high tech with high design in a series of alarms sure to enhance any home d├ęcor! These alarms also feature a patented smoke entry system that reduces the chances of nuisance (or false) alarms that can lead to alarm deactivation due to battery removal. To raise awareness, First Alert is giving away 100 Maximum Protection Smoke Alarms each week through August 16, helping 300 lucky winners to stay safe – and stylish – this summer and beyond. To enter the “Style Your Safety” Sweepstakes, visit the First Alert Facebook page (and get your Instagram app ready for Round 2 later in August!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Finds

It’s no surprise that the royal baby was the big trending story on social media this week, but it wasn’t the only news to make headlines. Here’s a look at some of our favorite finds:
  • LinkedIn Insights: A new infographic dubbed “Portrait of a LinkedIn User” reveals that two people join LinkedIn every second of every day, but most users aren’t very active. More than half spend only 0-2 hours on the site each week. Only 33.5% utilize company pages, and 7.5% of those surveyed hadn’t even heard of company pages.
  • Hack Attack: Chipotle admitted this week to staging its own Twitter hack last weekend as a tactic for gaining followers and getting people to pay attention – and it worked. The company gained 4,000 new followers the day of the “hack.”
  • Beyond Hashtags: Even as PR pros, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-evolving Tweet speak. This guide from Mashable offers a complete and easy-to-reference guide to Twitter lingo.
  • #RoyalBabyWatch: Because this list wouldn’t be complete without at least one reference to the royal baby, here’s what intrigued us most. For the first time, The Guardian offered a royal-free version of its website, giving readers the option to “turn off” news about the royal baby. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In the Mix...Tweeting with the Wall Street Journal

Dr. Badr
Aiming to educate connected patients in 140 characters or less, we recently secured an opportunity for our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The organization’s president, Dr. Safwan Badr, participated in a national discussion on sleep via Twitter hosted by the Wall Street Journal’s health team. Joined by sleep physicians from the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Badr emphasized the importance of talking with your doctor if you’re experiencing sleep problems – answering such questions as “What can go wrong with our bodies if we don’t get enough sleep?” and “Is there such a thing as ‘catching up’ on sleep?”  The hour-long event garnered mentions, retweets and new followers for the AASM’s Twitter handle and, more importantly, educated people about the dangers of sleep illness. For a full recap of the discussion, search #SleepChat on Twitter.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In the Mix…Contigo Commutes in the Chicago Tribune

As a result of our efforts targeting commuters for our client Contigo, the Chicago Tribune ran a great review of its West Loop and Randolph travel mugs in last Sunday’s edition, reaching 781,324 readers. The review, titled “No Spill Travel Mugs” is posted in the Travel section and includes a picture of both the West Loop and Randolph mugs, a description of AUTOSEAL Technology and a mention of the website. The article has also been picked up nationally by the Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel, educating a wide audience about Contigo’s solutions for busy consumers!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Finds

From a nationwide heat wave to airborne shark attacks, we’ve witnessed weather phenomena that have garnered lots of attention on Twitter. While perusing the Twitterverse, we’ve also learned a lot this week about how to best take advantage of social media platforms. Here are our favorite media stories and tips-based articles for the week:
  • Social Strategy – While sales are the bottom line, they shouldn’t be your only social media objective. From providing great customer service to establishing an industry expert status, here are attainable social media goals for individuals or companies.
  • Beat the Heat – Social media has racked up millions of references to hot weather this week! High temperatures are expected to remain throughout the weekend. ABC News offers tips to stay cool.
  • Triumphant Tweets – Check out these suggestions for creating successful Tweets. Two best tips – To achieve higher levels of engagement, use a maximum of three hashtags and keep Tweets under 100 characters.
  • Twitter Storm – The debut of Sharknado took a bite out of social media, generating 5,000 Tweets per minute for several hours. The SyFy Channel is hosting a Twitter contest to help name the sequel with hopes of trending #Sharknado.
  • Eternal Email – While social media campaigns are on the rise, email marketing is still a useful strategy to encourage people to take action.



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Interview Best Practices

Interviews are an opportunity for our clients to spread the word about their companies first hand. They are also a time when clients get to feel the work we do for them first hand, which is why attention to detail is crucial every step of the way.  We coordinate interviews for our clients every day and below are some best practices we recommend for turning a good opportunity into a great experience (and awesome coverage) for your client:
  •  Align time zones – Interviews rarely happen in the same city or state – and with international clients we know first hand how important time zones are.  Be clear when you set up an interview to specify what “time" you are talking in.  Use an outlook calendar invite to make sure everyone is in sync for the same hour.
  • Test phone numbers – Will your spokesperson be in a conference room, on their cell or in their office? Get the numbers you need in advance and make sure they work so you can ensure a smooth connection.
  • Set expectations – Clients need to know how much time to set aside, what level of detail they should be prepare to share and understand the audience the reporter is writing for. Reporters need to know the extent of a spokespersons experience and knowledge. Aligning on these things ahead of time will make for a productive conversation for everyone involved.
  • Prep for successDetailed talking points can go a long way to help prepare for an interview.  Even the most seasoned spokesperson benefits from having his or her key messages and goals for the interview clearly defined before the conversation starts. Offer to conduct mock interviews or review talking points with spokespeople prior to their interview so they feel comfortable and confident when they connect with media.
  • Over-confirm with everyoneSure, all parties were ready last week, but that doesn't mean they remember the appointment today. Make sure you confirm with both the reporter and your client within an hour of the appointment so you know their schedules and priorities have not changed.
  • Follow up fastThey did the grunt work and now its your turn to hustle. Before the day ends make sure you provide feedback and thanks to your spokesperson, and that you touch base with the reporter to verify their needs were met.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Connecting with "The Second City"

Who better connects with audiences than Chicago’s renowned improv comedy troupe The Second City (where stars such as Tina Fey, Dan Aykroyd, Bonnie Hunt and Bill Murray cut their acting teeth)? That’s why our most recent Brown Bag professional development series for staff featured a presentation from the group’s Communications division, which applies its creative development process and engagement concepts to help companies build brand awareness and loyalty.  The division partners with PR firms, marketing agencies and corporate marketing departments to co-create unique content for brands.
The session was a lively one with insightful examples and some fun improv exercises for us that underscored several key themes, including:
  • Audiences will tell you what’s funny if you let them
  • All comedy is local…what’s funny to pipefitters will be less funny to benefits consultants
  • Audiences want in on the act…break down the wall that separates you from your audiences
  • Speed is a virtue
One approach that resonated for many of us was how to best react to and build upon an idea presented to you. Rather than rejecting an idea outright with a “No, because,” or giving a half-hearted acceptance with a “Yes, but,” nurture the thought with a “Yes, and.” You still can change the direction of the idea, yet maintain the positive brainstorming spirit.

Favorite Finds

Stay tuned for a post from Gary about our LCWA staff Brown Bag Lunch and Learn session earlier this week with Second City Communications, which was full of valuable insights and lots of laughs.

All of the kidding around didn’t stop us from scraping the web for the very latest social media tips and trends however. Here are this week’s Favorite Finds:

Instagram: I lead the arts division at LCWA, so this new online guide on building an Instagram community that thrives, published by the National Arts Marketing Project and American for the Arts, immediately grabbed my attention. But I’m sharing it here because it includes “aha moment” case studies and tips that will benefit any social media marketer, arts or not. 

America’s top brands: Quick, name your state’s most famous consumer brand.  Don’t know?  Here’s a fun, informative map courtesy of Gizmodo.

Social media: Are you legendary on LinkedIn?  Talented on Twitter?  A Prodigy on Pinterest?  Don’t be shy. Nominate yourself, or someone you know, for the new reality TV show Social Media Allstars. Click here to sign up for the Casting Call.

Facebook: Privacy settings are complex and seem to be ever changing.  If you’re concerned about who sees what on your Facebook feeds, posted new tips for how to lock down your privacy settings.

Fingerprint IDs: Fast Company reports France is rolling out new fingerprint ID scan payment technology on mobile devices. Meanwhile, Apple is considering adding fingerprint scanners on new iPhone models, too. 

I give that innovation a four-finger Vulcan salute!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Favorite Finds

The short week Independence Day week wasn’t short on advice. As the social media scene continues to advance and new tools are introduced, many companies and experts are willing to share success stories and best practices. Take a look at what we learned last week in our favorite finds below.
  • Facebook: Many brands use Facebook contests and sweepstakes as a means to generate fans. But, how many of those are true fans? Social Media Examiner shared tips on how to attract quality entrants who match your brand.
  • Pinterest: With so many pins available, what’s the best way to stand out in the crowd? Some say rich pins – which provide more information and even link to retailers.
  • Podcasts: Remember these? Podcasts are still popular and there’s proof that it benefits business.
  • Vine: With the recent launch of Instagram video, many brands are changing channels, but there are a few who are finding success with vine.

 Hope you had a great 4th!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In the Mix…Contigo Showcases Gifts for the Holidays

Temperatures might be rising across most of the country as summer is in full swing, but Contigo is already thinking about colder weather and the holiday season. In June, I attended the Holiday Gift Show in New York City with our client Contigo to showcase products to media looking for items to feature in holiday gift guides. During the one-day show, we met with nearly 100 magazine editors, newspaper reporters, TV producers and bloggers to highlight the brand’s spill- and leak-proof drinking solutions for one-the-go consumers, including water bottles, travel mugs, kids cups and a new tumbler launching this fall.