Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In the Mix…First Alert and the Chicago Bulls team up for Fire Safety

Recently, LCWA team members joined client First Alert, the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Bulls for a “Take Charge of Fire Safety” event at William H. Brown School of Technology on Chicago’s West Side. Students from kindergarten through middle school participated in a variety of fun and exciting fire safety activities, including an obstacle course, coloring a fire safety image, lessons on planning an escape route, and “stop drop and roll” and “get low” practices. They also enjoyed presentations by the Chicago Fire Department – in full uniform! – and much more. As a special surprise, current Bulls players Cameron Bairstow and E'Twaun Moore were there to encourage the students to practice fire safety, and Bulls mascot Benny the Bull had the crowd going wild the whole day. Plus, the Bulls posted a tweet and Instagram photo about the event, garnering more than 19,000 likes. The event was a major success, and LCWA was thrilled to lend a hand in First Alert’s ongoing efforts to help keep Chicago’s kids safer.

Monday, March 30, 2015

In the Mix…Trex Highlights Top Trends for Outdoor Living

As we shed our winter coats and finally head into spring, do you know what’s hot – and what’s not – this outdoor living season? As outdoor living and entertaining become increasingly popular, nobody wants to be caught with a patio that’s passé – especially readers of design and style media.

That’s the idea behind our client Trex’s annual Outdoor Living Trend Forecast, which highlights the top trends that will be seen outside homes across the country this year. The Forecast is a great opportunity to showcase the latest Trex products, while also strengthening the company’s thought leadership position and legacy of innovation and expertise within the industry.

Already, editors have taken notice, with early pickup in both trade and consumer media. With 2015 being heralded as “the year decking gets its groove back*,” we expect the Forecast and the momentum it is generating to lay the groundwork for a successful decking season!

*Home Channel News, October 2014

Friday, March 27, 2015

Favorite Finds

This week was madness – and we’re not talking about basketball! From puppy cuteness overload to teenage heartbreak, this week the Internet just can’t even.

Here are my favorite finds of the week:
  • Puppy Love: If your social feed seemed extra adorable on Monday, that’s because it was #NationalPuppyDay! While celebrities and athletes joined in on the cause to raise awareness for pet adoption, our favorite pup pics came from @chicagoist, which featured adoptable pets from Chicago rescue organizations.
  • Auf Weider ZAYN: Pop heartthrob Zayn Malik announced that he was leaving #OneDirection, citing his desire “to be a normal 22-year old.” Naturally, teenage fans everywhere took to Twitter, Vine, SnapChat and every other social app to collectively FREAK OUT.
  • Oh yeah, there’s a basketball tournament: As #MarchMadness heats up, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s #Sweet16, via @usatoday.
  • Facebook’s new friends: The New York Times broke the story that Facebook is holding talks with major media publishers to host news within Facebook. The plan has been touted as a way to streamline user experience, but some media observers are saying it could destroy journalistic integrity. Either way, it’s yet another reason for PR pros to stay on top of their social media game.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life Fitness Brings Innovation to IHRSA 2015

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association held the 34th Annual IHRSA Trade Show from March 11-14 and Life Fitness was there to show off the latest in industry-leading trends and products. The LCWA/Life Fitness team conducted proactive outreach to fitness media and was able to secure seven booth appointments in support of the latest news from Life Fitness, ranging from the IHRSA debut of Brunswick billiards tables to Life Fitness open technology and a brand-new Rower machine. LCWA also brought a virtual element to IHRSA – managing a Tagboard page with a real-time social media feed that showcased the latest activity from Life Fitness fans and booth attendees on the floor. Next up, Life Fitness shakes up the FIBO show in Italy!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Contigo Puts Spill-Proof Products on Display at IHA

LCWA helped client Contigo®, a leading producer of innovative water bottles, travel mugs and kids cups, display spill-proof products designed for every lifestyle and every age at the International Home and Housewares Show. The Chicago company highlighted new innovations, as well as the company’s popular Contigo AUTOSEAL™ and AUTOSPOUT® collections, to more than 40 media outlets during the four-day trade show at McCormick Center. In addition, LCWA also helped Contigo’s sister brand bubba tout its exciting new TasteGuard Travel mug to trade and consumer media, leading to a great placement in Chicago’s own Daily Herald. Cheers to another great, spill-free trade show!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Favorite Finds

The Twitterverse this week was filled with #SXSW announcements, new social platforms and features and a hearty amount of best practices and advice I loved reading. Here are my favorites!

  • Meerkat Makes Its Debut – The live-streaming iOS app has been called “the breakout app of SXSW” and yet has already faced several ups and downs in its first week. Issues included privacy, a shut-down from Twitter and several critiques over “parasite apps.” We’ll be watching the adoption closely, but remembering other possibilities – like live streaming from Google Hangouts to YouTube.
  • Facebook Financials – As peer-to-peer payment systems become more popular, Facebook is diving into the fray and offering the option to pay others through Facebook messenger.  It’s free to use and seems simple and secure. More to come as it rolls out in the U.S. over the coming months.
  • Twizzler Challenge Takes Off – It’s been…interesting… to watch the #TwizzlerChallenge unfold. It’s yet to be seen if this will indeed be the new #IceBucketChallenge, but with a few high-profile celebrities already participating, the charity-focused stunt is gaining a bit of ground for the autism cause.
  • Bacon and Eggs – It’s just too cute of a campaign to ignore. I loved watching the web videos featuring Kevin Bacon promoting incredible eggs.
  • News You Can Use – It’s nice to see that in the latest study from American Press Institute, 85% of millennials “say keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them.” The overall learning was that instead of seeking out news (e.g. reading a newspaper) this generation is more interested in letting the news come to them (for example, with Twitter).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Less Stress in Sunny Orlando

With the brutally cold winter we had in Chicago this year, we were happy to “escape” for a few days to warm Orlando to help the Jarden Pets Division launch its “Less Stress” rebranding at the annual Global Pet Expo. The booth served as a nexus for four pet-focused brands under the Jarden umbrella and featured a “Less Stress Lounge” complete with ample seating, free chair massages and “Less Stress Kits” filled with items like compression masks to help visitors relax. LCWA was charged with coordinating the media for the show and during the two days met with several trade and consumer outlets to walk editors through the new positioning and introduce them to the available products from First Alert for Pets, Healthy Home Solutions, Oster and Oster Professional. We brought the warm weather back with us to Chicago and are looking forward to turning the “hot” leads from the show into spring/summer coverage.   

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Sunshine, Less Sleep: Second Annual Insomnia Awareness Day

On the heels of daylight saving time on Sunday, March 8, LCWA client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) declared Monday, March 9, the second annual Insomnia Awareness Day – reminding those who suffer from chronic insomnia that help is available from the sleep team and an AASM-accredited sleep center. As a result of LCWA’s outreach, our sleep experts were featured in influential consumer outlets including The Wall Street Journal, the Daily Herald and Huffington Post.  LCWA also coordinated a Huffington Post blog piece from AASM President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler.

To reach even more insomniacs suffering from sleep loss, LCWA coordinated a Twitter #InsomniaChat, and secured a Wall Street Journal health columnist to serve as moderator. The chat included more than 50 participants and earned more than 470,000 timeline deliveries on Twitter.

Temporary insomnia symptoms, which occur in about 30 to 35 percent of adults, can be caused by a sudden change in schedule, such as the one-hour shift to daylight saving time. LCWA shared tips to help Americans cope with the potential hour of sleep loss and recommended options for seeking treatment for sleep illnesses. As many as 10 percent of adults have a chronic insomnia disorder, which involves ongoing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite an adequate opportunity for sleep. For more information on sleep illness or the AASM, visit sleepeducation.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

Favorite Finds

Spring seems to finally be in the air here in Chicago, and here are my favorite finds this week!
  • Instagram on Top – According to new data from eMarketer, the number of U.S. Instagram users increased by 60 percent in 2014, and is estimated to top 100 million by 2018. Already, Instagram is bigger than Twitter, and it is currently the fastest growing social media platform among U.S. social network users. Here is a list of other Instagram statistics to help you stay on top too!
  • Frozen 2 – In anticipation of the Frozen short, “Frozen Fever,” which is accompanying “Cinderella” out in theaters today, Disney has officially announced that they are working on a Frozen sequel and social media is blowing up already in anticipation. If you can’t wait, check out this new song, “Making Today a Perfect Day,” from “Frozen Fever.”
  • End of carpool? – In Washington and Los Angeles, affluent families are turning away from the car pool and nanny-share rides to using a different option – Uber. Now Uber is becoming a child pick-up service, even launching UberFamily, even though their terms & conditions state no one under 18 can ride without an adult. Something to consider in these busy times? Needless to say this could be the way of the future for carpooling.
  • Just Misunderstood – Reddit is unlike any other social media site, and as such, it tends to get misunderstood by many. However this article from Spin Sucks offers some great ways that Reddit can be used in a PR and marketing manner without angering the Reddit mob.
  • #Zoolander2 – Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson hit Paris Fashion Week this week as their favorite characters, Derek Zoolander and Hansel to announce the making of Zoolander 2. This PR stunt worked out well, perhaps because it was so big, such a surprise and it was even funny.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Entertaining Spokespeople – 5 Tips from PRSA Chicago’s February Event

A common PR tactic I see used in many award-winning campaigns and much of the work we’ve done with clients over the years is using spokespeople. And I’m not just referring to the product managers, C-suite and marketing team we usually have access to with clients – I’m talking about third-party spokespeople who lend their credibility to a brand.

Last month I attended the PRSA Chicago February event: “Entertainment PR: Leveraging and Building Celebrity Brands,” where the local PR community heard from a panel of industry professionals including agents, an entertainment PR lawyer and a talent agency. Here are what I believe to be five key takeaways:

1.      Be Flexible. Just because a project doesn’t have a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn’t mean you have to automatically eliminate the possibility of working with a spokesperson – but it does mean that you’ll have to be a little more flexible and creative. Find a celebrity with an issue or cause that can be a win-win for both parties.

2.      Look for “Peripheral” Celebrities. There are plenty of people who have public credibility either because they were once famous or because they know someone famous. Most sports teams, for example, have ambassador programs which require athletic alumni to make appearances within the community and remain in the public eye. There also are celebrities who create their own status from being a friend (e.g. Gayle King via Oprah) and are willing to take on more spokesperson duties simply because they are trying to build their own brand.

3.      Get Social. To many in the entertainment industry social media reputation is just as important – if not more so than traditional media. A follower or fan count becomes almighty to someone trying to build his or her own brand so if you can show the person how you’ll help build his or her community, a social media partnerships becomes an even easier ask. Start by interacting with your desired spokesperson and make it easy for him or her to incorporate your brand into an Instagram post or Tweet.  Especially if what you’re asking for is a “warm and fuzzy” moment tied to a charity or good story – without too much commercial branding – many people are willing to help you with social efforts for little or no cost.

4.      Make it a Match. Start by finding celebrities via charities that align with your brand – that helps to identify the person’s core values. Next make sure to do a proper media audit and study how that person comes across in interviews and stories – that can help set expectations for the relationship and what you’ll be able to ask for out of the partnership. Finally, build a trust and be a real human with the person – they’ll be more likely to want to “give” on certain parts of the contract and help make it a beneficial relationship for you both.

5.      Set Expectations. The more “famous” the celebrity, the less you can expect from the relationship at an even higher cost than you probably anticipate. A contract is a must but it’s not iron-clad, make sure beyond the trade agreement that there is a mutual understanding for the nitty gritty (e.g. how early do they need to be at an event?). If it’s not in literal terms, don’t expect it will go the way you think it will. Be prepared for all kinds of scenarios and upfront with what you want.