Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Contigo Travel Mug Scores on National TV

Holiday gift guides are very competitive, especially at the national broadcast level, which is why LCWA was thrilled to gain coverage for the new Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop with Easy Clean Lid travel mug in a round-up on "The Dr. Oz Show" last week!  The show featured Contigo’s top travel mug in a holiday gift segment titled “Health Gifts That Won’t Be Returned.” The placement reached more than 1.8 million viewers and featured a Dr. Oz guest who gushes about her love of the Contigo mug for its ability to keep coffee hot.  Dr. Oz himself even got excited about the mug, demonstrating the key features of the product to his audience and showing viewers how the AUTOSEAL button keeps coffee both hot and safely contained. LCWA was thrilled to raise the profile of this very gift-able item during the holiday shopping season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Alert Secures National Coverage for Innovative Alarm

The First Alert Safety POD (Protection on Demand) is ready to go wherever you go and is generating a ton of media attention, thanks to seasonal outreach conducted by LCWA.

The Austin-American Statesman and Chattanooga Free Press featured the First Alert Safety POD in holiday fitness gift guides – highlighting the alarm as a great present for friends and family members who take their running from the treadmill to the pavement. With the easy-to-find panic alarm and built-in bright LED light, runners can feel more secure when jogging alone or at night.

In addition, newspapers from coast-to-coast – from the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Houston Chronicle – have touted the compact device as ideal for helping consumers guard against loss and personal injury when traveling, exercising outdoors, in a college dorm or at home.

LCWA is excited to continue to work with media to generate coverage for a great product – the First Alert Safety POD – that provides on-the-go security and peace of mind. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Favorite Finds

The air is full of holiday cheer – and tons of news from the social media world. Below please find a list of my top picks for the week:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Favorite Finds

The Twitterverse is in full giving-season mode! From giving us great deals on Cyber Monday and a day this week completely devoted to charity donations (Giving Tuesday) to many Tweeps doling out great advice, we saw a generous amount of Twitter conversation this week. Here are the highlights:

  • Online Cookies! Not to be confused with browser cookies, the real-deal sweet treats from the Girl Scouts of America will now be available for order online. Troops around the country will now have a digital option for selling Girl Scout Cookies – and based on the Twitter excitement we saw – they’ll do quite well.
  • Holiday Hoopla. With Thanksgiving in the rear-view mirror and a host of December observations ahead, many brands are jumping on the holiday train and playing to consumers’ love of the season. Here are a few ways to join the festivities.
  • Say This. Many working Americans will go through an annual review process in December, so we found it timely to review a list of 15 “magic” things great leaders say not only during reviews, but every day. Let’s learn from this.  
  • The Gender Game. We see a lot of females in the PR industry, so it was surprising to read this perspective from the UK, which says that media is still a gentleman’s club. Do you agree?       

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spin Doctor Warnings and Key Learnings from November’s PRSA Chicago Event

Last month I attended the last PRSA Chicago program of 2014 – “Spin Sucks: Creating Compelling Content for Google and Humans in 2015” presented by Gini Dietrich. Many of us PR pros look to Gini for her humorous and on-point insights on Twitter and her blog – Spin Sucks – but it was nice to get an in-person perspective from her November presentation.

Basically, Gini wants us to know that no matter what “other people” are doing in the PR industry, it’s important to stay strong with our counsel and remember ethics. She touched on three different areas where it could be easy to jump in the name of results: 
  • Whisper Campaigns. This is the “anonymous” practice of starting a rumor with malice in mind. One way to stay straight? If it’s not true, don’t say it. 
  • Astroturfing. Otherwise known as pure fakery, there have been instances of companies creating fake accounts to “review” issues and products and even fake letters to the editor. Not only is this unethical, it’s illegal.
  • Media Manipulation. Gini shared that PR pros now outnumber journalists 4:1 – so we have an obligation to help the media as much as we can. Reporters often are in the race of “get to it first” so it’s our job to give them the truest facts up front so there’s no confusion or backlash that can come from it.
I very much appreciated Gini sticking up for us do-gooders and issuing a plea to fellow PR practitioners to keep doing the right thing. It was nice to be reminded that PR strategy is a marathon – and that despite the viral videos and seeming overnight successes we see on social media, there is no one magic bullet that will ever equal long-term success.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Favorite Finds

It’s a short work week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but there was no shortage of news stories. Here are some of the headlines, tips and tales that caught our attention:

  • Smell-o-Vision is here! Rumored to be in development for years (literally…. years) the untapped potential for smell-technology is starting to become a reality. Debuting at London’s Heathrow airport is the “Scent Globe” that lets travelers smell the world. What marketing implications will this new technology has as it becomes more widespread? What it in action here.
  • Twitter now saves you money…Twitter is now letting marketers run promotions in the Twitter newsfeed that users can redeem via their credit card. If a Twitter Offer pops up in your timeline, now you can add the Offer to your credit card or debit card for the future purchase. This holiday season will kick off the new feature, but read more about here.
  • Marriott and Hilton Introduce Cancellation Fees… Both Hilton and Marriot recently announced plans to boost revenue through cancellation fees and as a result, stirred up a negative social media frenzy. Is this a terrible PR move, or standard business practice? Learn more about here.
  • The #Hashtag is here to stay The hashtag may have once been an up-and-comer trend, but it with its own USB keyboard link, and it’s ever increasing presence in our culture, it looks like it’s here to stay. Check out the latest gadget for the hashtag here.      

First Alert Gives Gift of Safety in Time for Holidays

This week – just in time for the holidays – the First Alert team at LCWA was thrilled to help support First Alert and its work with the CBS Chicago Cares telethon, benefiting
 the American Red Cross - Greater Chicago Region.

First Alert played a prominent role in the day, including presenting the Red Cross with a $48,000 check for its Team Fire Stopper program! I also was privileged to attend a donation event at a Bronzeville fire station, where team members handed out more than 300 combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, 100 10-year smoke alarms and 300 Tundra fire extinguishing sprays to members of the community to help protect them and their families this holiday season and beyond! In addition, CBS Chicago filmed a live segment from the station to remind viewers about the donation event and the importance of having working smoke and CO alarms. It was a wonderful experience, and helping so many people to stay safe was the perfect way for First Alert and LCWA to kick off the holiday season!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oakbrook Center Debuts Exclusive, High-Tech Holiday Cottage

Last week, LCWA was on hand to help our client, Oakbrook Center, with the grand opening of DreamWorks Animation’s Adventure to Santa—a state-of-the-art, high-tech holiday cottage that allows visitors to embark on a virtual journey to the North Pole. Guests at the event enjoyed a spectacular light show, photographs with Shrek, food from several restaurants at Oakbrook Center and the opportunity to be some of the first to travel by sleigh to the North Pole.

As one of only eight locations throughout the country to host this magical DreamWorks Animation experience, Oakbrook Center gathered great attendance for this event on a cold and snowy evening. The event received coverage on ABC 7 Chicago and Fox 32 Chicago, as well as several online outlets, and was a great way for Oakbrook Center to kick-off the holiday season. 

Favorite Finds

There was a bitter wind blowing through Chicago, but hot stories continued to burn up our social media feed. Here are some of the headlines, tips and tales that caught our attention: 

  • Facebook Cracks Down... Facebook announced that overly promotional content on brand pages – meaning posts that solely push people to buy a product or enter promotions/sweepstakes – will receive lower priority in news feeds in 2015. Whether you think the announcement is a public service to the Facebook community or a fatal blow to corporate Facebook pages, it's clear that change is in the forecast for brands actively marketing via Facebook.
  • Twitter Opens up…Twitter – the platform for real time news and commentary – is ready to let users get nostalgic. Twitter announced that you can now search for any tweet ever sent. Interested to see who has shared love for your brand, topic or competitor in the eight years since Twitter started? Click here to give the new advanced search option a try.
  • #Cringeworthy Marketing Made Us Squirm…Every week comes with a new set of social blunders, and this time Dave & Busters and Barbie made headlines for how not to market a brand. Dave & Busters’ racist #TacoTuesday tweet and poorly edited apology made consumers wonder who runs the national brand's social pages, while a bumbling computer engineer Barbie traded girl power for unflattering female stereotypes.
  • And the "Best of 2014" Began! With December just around the corner, the pull to recap 2014 has proven too strong for some of our journalist friends. Two of our favorite “best of 2014” proclamations thus far? We loved Mashable’s 20 most shared ads of 2014 and our inner word-geek closely followed the heated debate for #WordoftheYear that transpired between Vape and Exposure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Decked Out at DeckExpo

At the recent Remodeling Show and DeckExpo in Baltimore, LCWA helped client Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative composite decking, showcase its total outdoor living package – from substructure to spotlights – including Trex Elevations Steel Deck Framing System, Trex Transcend decking and railing, and Trex Outdoor Lighting.

DeckExpo provides building and remodeling professionals with a vibrant exhibit hall, filled with hundreds of the industry's top manufacturers, hands-on training and business education. On behalf of Trex, LCWA coordinated media appointments with editors from high-profile industry trade outlets to share insights into 2015 trends and reinforce the company’s position as the leading resource for high-performance outdoor living solutions.

Now that DeckExpo is behind us, we’re gearing up for the biggest building products trade show of the year – the International Builders’ Show. And, with winter setting in here in Chicago, we’re looking forward to a January visit to Las Vegas

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Promoting Popularity of PopUps

Can you guess what’s popping up in larger-than-usual numbers right about now?  That’s right, it’s pop-ups – those temporary stores such as seasonal shops, farmers markets, flea markets and arts and crafts fairs. LCWA is helping client PopUp Republic, a new Chicago-based social media marketing firm servicing the pop-up category, promote its multi-faceted services and the burgeoning pop-up industry.

Just last week, LCWA garnered two high-profile stories. VentureBeat, which receives 7.5 million unique monthly visitors, featured PopUp Republic’s founding by CEO Jeremy Baras and the firm’s new online marketplace for pop-ups called “PopUps Across America,” an industry first.  And, a Chicago Business Journal story showcased the company’s national survey conducted by LCWA Research Group of 1,200 Americans about pop-up stores. The poll asked Americans their top reasons for shopping at a pop-up. Ranked first? “Finding seasonal products,” cited by 61%. Other reasons for patronizing pop-ups cited included finding new and unique products (39 percent), shopping locally (36 percent) and getting attractive pricing (34 percent.)  LCWA will continue to promote PopUp Republic throughout the busy holiday pop-up season.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Favorite Finds

We found some interesting headlines this week in the social media realm. Following are some of the stories and tips that caught our attention: 
  • Cosmic Connections: As scientists cheer and the media celebrate, brand managers may consider the best way to get in on the action of the Philae comet landing. PR News Writer Matthew Schwartz suggests not getting too cosmic with the brand connection.
  • Apple of My Eye: A new “brand intimacy rankings” survey of Americans by MLBM revealed that Apple is the winner by a landslide, with intimacy rankings more than eight times as high as the runner-up. Rounding out the top five are Sony, Nike, Dell and Starbucks.
  • Famous Alex: It’s only been about a week and a half since the first #AlexFromTarget tweet was sent. Since then, Alex Lee has made an appearance on Ellen and his fan base has grown to 733,000 Twitter followers. A New York Times article revealed both the perks and the pitfalls of Alex’s new Internet fame.
  •  In Facebook We (Don’t) Trust: Facebook and other social networks did not fare well in a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, as 81 percent of respondents said they felt “not very” or “not at all secure” using social media sites when sharing private information with other trusted people or organizations.
  • Pitch Perfect: Communications officer Tracy Schario, a presenter at PR News' Dec. 11 Media Relations Next Practices Conference in Washington, D.C., offers 11 tips to help PR pros connect with the journalists who matter.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Contigo Gets “Real” on New National TV Show

LCWA secured a placement on Fox’s hottest new afternoon talk show “The Real,” and reached more than 1.1 million viewers nationwide! The segment focused on “Essentials for Your Next Trip to the Gym” and included an on-air product demonstration of the Contigo Kangaroo water bottle, which features a built-in compartment, so users can carry keys, an ID, money, a gym pass and more when on the go. An audience giveaway and online article were also a part of this great placement, which aired last week. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Urgent Care’s Response to the Ebola Scare

Last month, as news of the Ebola virus in America spread, everyone – including media – was wondering: how is our healthcare system preparing for this threat? And part of that -- what if someone with Ebola symptoms walked into their neighborhood urgent care center? Luckily, the Urgent Care Association of America was there to provide guidance to its members and ensure that clinics around the country were prepared – and, we were able to help UCAOA reach the general public by coordinating interviews for the association’s spokespeople with top media outlets.

During height of media interest in Ebola, we coordinated media interviews for the UCAOA with the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Modern Healthcare, The Dallas Morning News and KDRV-TV in Denver, and provided written statements for many other local inquiries. The AP story alone was featured on numerous high-profile news websites and was picked up by more than 150 outlets in total. UCAOA experts used these opportunities to show how urgent care was extremely prepared to handle potential Ebola cases – and to encourage citizens who believed they had symptoms to call 911 to limit potential exposure to others.

The hype and hyperbole of the Ebola threat has subsided, but thanks to UCAOA’s quick response to the situation and readiness to speak with interested media, we were able to help offer reassurance at the height of the scare – and establish UCAOA as a well-prepared, informative resource for health-related stories.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Favorite Finds

Mid-term elections took Chicago by storm this week, with some surprise outcomes along with big sports announcements and tech news:
  • In a press conference Monday, the Chicago Cubs officially announced that Joe Maddon is taking over as manager.
  • Google unveiled a brand new Android version of the Google Calendar App. New updates include more seamless email integration, real time event updates and a new layout.
  • Republican candidate, Bruce Rauner, defeated Democrat Pat Quinn in the race for Governor of Illinois. Along with a win for Republicans in the President’s home state, the Republicans now control a majority of the U.S. Senate.
  • Tech site CNET announced bold plans to launch a print magazine in the final quarter of 2014.
  • Facebook is rolling out three initiatives to raise awareness and money to fight the spread of Ebola. A message at the top of user’s timelines will give them the option to donate to three nonprofits; International Medical Corps, the Red Cross and Save The Children. Facebook is collaborating with UNICEF to get information on Ebola prevention, symptoms and treatment to people in affected regions. Additionally, Facebook is working with NetHope to boost communications for medical and aid workers in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In the Mix…Get Your Garage Ready for Winter!

To find out just how Americans utilize (or under-utilize) their garage spaces, the LCWA Research Group executed research on behalf of client The Lehigh Group, makers of Crawford-brand garage organization products. The findings? Seventy percent of Americans use the garage to store potentially dangerous equipment, while nearly 60 percent store flammable liquids as well as other dangerous chemicals in their garage space. Considering that only 27 percent of Americans report feeling confident that their garages are "very organized," this can spell safety hazards. LCWA pitched these findings to priority media, as part of the annual National Clean Out Your Garage Day program, which has gained significant media coverage – including a story about winter garage prep with syndicated Philadelphia Inquirer writer Alan Heavens. The story garnered significant print pickup, including placements in the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, Florida Times-Union, South Bend Tribune and numerous other daily newspapers – reaching more than 3.7 million readers around the country who now look to The Lehigh Group and Crawford for their garage organization needs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the Mix...Life Fitness Names the 2014 Top Personal Trainer!

We recently traveled to New York City to assist our client Life Fitness in naming the top personal trainer for 2014 at their annual Personal Trainers to Watch competition. The 10 elite finalists spanned the globe, representing five continents and six countries and competed in a live global competition on Friday, Oct. 17 at DavidBartonGym. The finalists were judged on their training skills using Life Fitness equipment and their passion for fitness – and one trainer emerged the winner: Cristiano Arthur S. Parente, of São Paulo, Brazil! Cristiano, personal trainer and CEO of Koatch, demonstrated a unique approach to personal training and an impressive level of dedication to the industry – Congrats, Cristiano!

Check out the winner announcement video or learn more about the other finalists at www.lifefitness.com/pttw

Friday, October 31, 2014

Favorite Finds

Happy Halloween! This week was full of tricks and treats. Following are just a few of the stories we collected in our treat bag:

  • Too Soon?!: Nothing was scarier this week than the continued concern and coverage of the Ebola crisis. In the spirit of the season, a British nightclub decided to host an Ebola-themed Halloween party com
    plete with biohazard décor and bartenders dressed in hazmat suits. Following backlash from the public and media, the profits from the event are being donated to charity and the bar owners are under self-imposed quarantine.
  • Fanatical Fans: San Francisco Giants fans upheld two baseball traditions this week – winning the World Series in even-numbered years and setting the city on fire in celebration.
  • Royal Tweets: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II dipped a toe into 21st-century communications when she posted her first tweet during an event at the Science Museum in London. The inaugural tweet was posted to the official British monarchy Twitter feed under the Queen’s official handle @BritishMonarchy.
  • Power Couple: IBM announced a partnership with Twitter to help shape business decisions using data collected from tweets worldwide. Together, the powerful duo will help businesses predict trends in the marketplace as well as consumer sentiment about products and brands, and consult with businesses on the best use of Twitter data.
  • Is He Nuts?!: John Oliver, host of HBO’s comedy news show “Last Week Tonight,” aired a hilarious but thought-provoking segment emphasizing just how much sugar Americans consume and what it does to our brains. In lieu of communicating in grams, Oliver suggested the use of Circus Peanuts as a more relatable way to translate the amount of sugar in foods, and urged viewers to show their support by tweeting using #showmeyourpeanuts. In the few days since the “Sugar” episode aired, the hashtag received more than 8,500 online mentions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AADSM Takes a Bite Out of the Big Apple

This month LCWA took two board members from the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) through the offices of influential health media to introduce editors to a surprising solution to treating sleep apnea – available from a dentist!  More than 25 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea in the U.S. and an estimated 50 percent of those diagnosed can’t use a CPAP machine, the traditional treatment for the disease. During each 30-minute meeting secured by LCWA, editors learned about the effectiveness and compliance rating for oral appliance therapy, a mouth-guard like device offered by AADSM member dentists. They even had the chance to interact with a CPAP machine and several oral appliances first-hand.  During our time in New York, we met with seven editors representing magazines that reach a total of 17M readers, including influential journalists at Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, First For Women and SHAPE.  

We look forward to leveraging these conversations in the coming months to generate magazine articles that raise the profile of oral appliance therapy and our client AADSM. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Connecting Globally at the PRGN Conference: London

Last week I was very lucky to attend the fall meeting of our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) affiliates in London. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet with the principals from our partner agencies around the world, and this meeting was no exception. Here were some of the highlights:
  • Big Picture Perspective. During the conference, I led a roundtable discussion of attendees on the global economy, business landscape and PR outlook for next year. We also discussed expectations for social media and the major news stories of 2014. All of our partners had interesting perspectives on what’s going on in the world, and it was enlightening to discuss how the impacts of today’s realities vary from Seattle and Spain to Sweden and Singapore.
  • Idea Sharing. There is nothing more educational than hearing what is working – and what isn’t – for other mid-sized, independent PR firms. We discussed many new business and marketing dilemmas as well as recruiting and retention issues. Guest speakers gave expertise on valuable topics, and case studies showed creativity in action.
  • Networking 101. Meeting new friends, and catching up with old ones, is the best part of being a member of PRGN. Over delicious dinners or pints at the pub, the conference provided plenty of opportunities to really get to know my colleagues from around the world.
  • Award Winning.  I was proud to pick up two first place and one second place award on LCWA’s behalf. Knowing all of the great work done by the PRGN across the world makes receiving these honors – given for work done for clients Trex, Eureka and Life Fitness – even sweeter.
All in all it was another great gathering. While it was hard to say “cheerio” to our PRGN partners in London, we look forward to ongoing collaboration until our next gathering. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Favorite Finds

Here are my favorite finds from a very busy week.
  • 5 PR lessons from celebrities – Theses celebs bring more to the table than their talent; they have shown insight into ways PR pros can use these tips to help clients as well. Are you using any of these lessons already?
  • Calling in Sick? – CareerBuilder has released its annual list called “The Most Unbelievable Excuses for Calling in Sick” which ranges from “I just put my casserole in the oven” to “I accidentally got on the plane.” Check out the whole list and see if you recognize any of them.
  • PR News releases its own quiz – In this day and age of apps and ways to pass the time, PR News has made its own quiz to see which TV character in the PR biz you are, take it now and see if you agree!
  • Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made – With the last installment of The Hobbit movies coming out in December, Air New Zealand has released their newest safety video, “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made,” with guest appearances from Elijah Wood and director Peter Jackson – watch it and see if you think it’s as epic as they do!
  • RIP Mr. de la Renta – After battling cancer, Oscar de la Renta passed away on Monday at 82. Celebrities (and first ladies!) shared their tributes to this fashion icon and tweets came in from around the world to comment on his legendary career.

Friday, October 17, 2014

An Urgent Case for Urgent Care

In September, we were thrilled to welcome new client the Urgent Care Association of America to the LCWA family. And last week I had an opportunity to jump right in to the association’s Annual Fall Conference in Denver.

It is an exciting and important time in the urgent care industry, which has experienced recent rapid growth and continues to play an important role in today’s healthcare system. At UCAOA’s largest-ever Fall Conference, I was able to attend a variety of sessions and seminars about the issues facing the urgent care industry and meet with the Association’s leadership, including Board members and prominent urgent care owners, operators and staff from across the country.

During the conference, we coordinated our first media interviews for the organization as the Ebola threat became more and more serious in the U.S., starting with a local TV segment about how urgent care centers were preparing for the virus. With urgent care centers on the front lines of this healthcare issue, it made sense for the experts of the UCAOA to weigh in on this important topic.

The conference and the segment were an exciting start to our new relationship, and I look forward to sharing news of future media stories coordinated for the Urgent Care Association of America!