Friday, August 28, 2015

Favorite Finds

This week included tons of announcements from brands and social media companies! Check out my favorite trends from the Twitterverse:
  • Unboxing is Unbelievable – The volume of YouTube unboxing videos has boomed in recent years. Many are still user-generated videos, but brands are starting to get in on the action. Disney and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are hosting an 18-hour unboxing marathon in 15 cities and 12 countries on September 3 in preparation for the unveiling of new toys on Force Friday (September 4). A Los Angeles Times article gives a rundown of the event, including live broadcasting on “Good Morning America.”
  • Thinking Outside the Square – Instagram announced this week that users can now post in landscape and portrait formats. According to a reporter for The Verge, no longer will people struggle to capture the perfect Instagram photo!
  • The Internet of Things Hits the Gym – A new service targeted at health clubs, GymGroups, includes hardware and gym-branded mobile apps. It combines social networking and the features of popular fitness watches into hardware that is attached to a workout center’s exercise equipment. GymGroups is setting the stage for a new segment of the industry – the connected gym.
  • “Friends” Fans Get Swifty – Taylor Swift and Lisa Kudrow, Phoebe from “Friends,” played the song “Smelly Cat,” at the Staples Center in LA. Don’t get it? Take a trip back to the ‘90’s.
  • Twitter Targets the Masses – Even though 95 percent of people in Twitter's most important global markets are aware of Twitter, less than 30% of them actually use it. To grow its user base beyond youth and tech enthusiasts, Twitter will launch its first integrated marketing campaign, centered on an upcoming feature designed to curate tweets around live events. An Ad Age interview Twitter CFO Anthony Noto shares the details.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Shop Healthy and Save at the Supermarket

This month, our client UnitedHealthcare launched an innovative program in Illinois and northwest Indiana. The Healthy Savings program offers discounts to members who make healthy shopping purchases at more than 250 participating grocery stores. LCWA was tasked with promoting the initiative and made a big splash with a front page business section story in the Chicago Tribune. Additional coverage for the program included stories in community newspapers and segments on area radio programs. These placements helped increase awareness of the distinctive digital coupon program throughout the market.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Favorite Finds

It was a busy week with everything from children heading back to school to high-profile scandals. Here are some of the stories that I found most interesting:
  • Scandalous: It was a bad week for those whose names start with a “J.” Jared Fogle is in deep water after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, and Josh Duggar is again in the spotlight after hackers stole user data from Ashley Madison and he was outed as a member of the affair-enabling site.
  • Shopping Screw-ups: Two major retailers found themselves facing backlash from angry customers after glitches in their rewards programs. Bloomingdales accidentally gave its loyalty program members shopping sprees ranging from $5,000-$25,000 and them made them return all their merchandise, while Sephora found themselves facing mass returns when customers were unable to redeem their rewards points for prizes promised, such as trips to Paris and Los Angeles.
  • The Four-day Work Week: The parent company of the Japanese retailer, Uniqlo, is testing out the four-day work week, allowing 10,000 employees to work 10-hour days, four days a week. The idea behind the program is that a more flexible schedule attracts and retains talent, particularly women, but the jury is still out on if working longer hours in a day will hurt productivity.
  • Flashback Friday: For those who are not aware, Facebook Notes do still exist and they are getting a major facelift. After Twitter got rid of its character limit for direct messages, Facebook decided to follow suit and create a way for people to read and write longer-form stories. We can only hope this will eliminate the novel-long status updates from people you went to high school with.
  • We’ve All Been There: The first day of school is rough, and this kid shows us that it’s okay to miss your mom. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Local Non-profit Earns Extra Credit for Back-to-school Child Hunger Relief

Did you know that:
  • 1 in 5 children in our community can’t count on 3 meals a day.*
  • 3 out of 5 teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry.*

As the beginning of another school year approaches, one area organization is leading the way in combating these startling statistics. Dedicated to ending child hunger, LCWA client Loaves & Fishes Community Services – a Naperville-based hunger relief and anti-poverty organization – is helping to ensure local students are prepared for pop quizzes, book reports, science projects, and spelling tests throughout the school year by providing essential nutrition that contributes to their health and intellectual development. 
  • Breakfast – On average, students who eat breakfast earn higher math scores, attend more days of school, and are more likely to graduate.* Loaves & Fishes client families with school-aged children receive extra breakfast items, milk, and eggs to provide a nutritious start to their children’s day.
  • Lunch – The consequences of child hunger at school include difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomachaches, colds, poor academic performance, and behavioral problems.* Over the summer months, when subsidized school lunches are not available, Loaves & Fishes provides lunch items for children, and during the school-year, nutritious after-school snacks.
  • Dinner – Food-insecure children are 90% more likely than kids from food-secure homes to have their overall health reported as “fair/poor” rather than “excellent/good.” Hunger in childhood also has been linked to significant health problems in adulthood.* Last year, Loaves & Fishes provided 4,960 client families – including 8,719 children age 18 and under – in our community with groceries for nutritious evening meals.

LCWA is proud to partner with Loaves & Fishes Community Services in the fight against child hunger by working with area media to promote the organization’s life-changing programs and outreach initiatives. Over the past year, we’ve helped the organization reach new donors, volunteers, and families in need through exposure in such high-profile media outlets as CBS2 News, Chicago Business Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Sun Times, Chronicle of, CLTV, Daily Herald, FOX News Chicago, Illinois CPA Insight Magazine, Kane County Chronicle, NBC5 Sunday Morning, PBS “In the Loop," WDCB-FM 90.9, and WERV-FM 95.9 “The River.”

For more information about Loaves & Fishes and how you can get involved, visit

*Sources: Research by Children’s HealthWatch as reported by Feeding America [Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on Our Nation], and Hunger in the Classroom: Share Our Strength Teacher Report 2012

Friday, August 14, 2015

Favorite Finds

It was a week for laughing in a hipper way, settling scores and celebrations. Check out my favorites from the Twitterverse:
  • The Demise of LOL – LOL is so 2008 – or is it? Recent Facebook study that proclaimed “haha” is the most popular way we laugh online, with only 1.9% laughing with the old LOL, but analysis suggests that where you live has more to do with how you laugh than your age. You won’t find any hehe or haha in Chicago, for example. We love a good emoji in the Windy City.
  • Periscope Problems – Live video streaming app Periscope is popular in part because of the ability for real-time Q&A, but insiders suspect that sexual harassment may be driving female broadcasters away from the new social channel.
  • Tinder Tirades and North Korea – It comes back to vanity…Vanity Fair that is. The magazine’s September issue sparked a Twitter tirade with Tinder over an article claiming the app has changed dating norms and fostered a culture of casual sex and few relationships. Responding in 30 tweets of wrath, Tinder called out the article false and made many assertions about its validity, including a claim that it has “many users in China and North Korea who find a way to meet people on Tinder even though Facebook is banned.” The North Korea reference took on a life of its own with Twitter users, resulting in hundreds of satire-filled tweets reflecting on the dating service’s application in the communist country.
  • Press Release Hacking – U.S. authorities announced arrests this week in association with an insider trading conspiracy that involved hacking into wire distribution services MarketWired, PR Newswire and BusinessWire to gain valuable business news. Trading on the stolen news before it became public resulted in $100 million illegal profits. MarketWire issued a statement to partners including LCWA detailing the security steps it has taken since the 2010 attack to protect customers.
  • Celebration Station – From #NationalSmoresDay and #NationalRelaxationDay to #MiddleChildsDay and #LefthandersDay, this week was packed with wacky events for everyone. And while middle children tweeted out their plight and left-handers trumpeted their unique perspective, our favorite buzz of the day comes from the planes buzzing our offices Thursday and Friday in preparation for the coming #ChicagoAirAndWaterShow. Eyes to the skies, Chicago!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Eureka Perfect for Syndicated "Mom’s Gear" Column

Decades in home products PR have helped our LCWA media relations team cultivate strong relationships with syndicated writers. When Eureka launched its new vacuum, the Eureka Brushroll Clean, we knew it would be a perfect fit for one of our favorite writers, Maggie O’Neill, author of the "Moms Gear" column for the Tribune News Service. Maggie writes thorough, honest and influential reviews, and it is always a pleasure to work with her. Her review of the Eureka Brushroll Clean was very positive – leading to excitement and high fives around the office when it appeared on the websites of more than 20 major daily newspapers. We expect it to run in print in several more over the next few months. This is another example of how media ties can help our clients accomplish their PR goals.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Favorite Finds

This week featured some big news for social media brand managers and really head-scratching Tweets. Here are my favorite finds:
  • Managing a brand’s Instagram became much easier. Hootsuite announced this week that the company will fully integrate Instagram into its social media management platform. Brand managers will be able to “schedule and publish Instagram content, monitor and engage with Instagram audiences and create team workflows,” according to Social Media Today. The logistics of managing a brand’s Instagram account has always been a source of headaches for PR people. This news solves most of those problems.
  • Yelp adding data on hospital wait times, quality. While Hootsuite may have just cured headaches, Yelp is surely causing a few in health systems across the country, with its announcement (h/t Mashable) that it will integrate ProPublica data into its pages health care facilities. The data includes, according to Mashable, ER wait times, patient satisfaction scores, the number of free beds available and any government fines for not meeting CMS standards. The information is compiled by ProPublica from their own research and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for 4,600 hospitals, 15,000 nursing homes, and 6,300 dialysis clinics in the U.S. and will be updated quarterly.
  • Facebook adding live video streaming for famous people. Facebook has added a new feature, simply called Live, that will allow celebrities to shoot live streaming video that will be broadcast to their followers’ news feeds. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Serena Williams, Michael Buble and Martha Stewart all live streamed on Wednesday to promote the feature, according to Mashable. Live video has been the social media trend of 2015, and with this announcement, it appears unlikely Facebook will integrate with live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope. The company hasn’t announced if the feature will extend to users other than celebrities.
  • NFL teams as tone-deaf as ever. The Minnesota Vikings promoted Family Day at their training camp with a picture of star running back Adrian Peterson kissing his son, and the Indianapolis Colts invited Twitter followers to bring unused or expired prescription drugs to Colts training camp for “safe disposal.” Both seemingly innocuous to the uninformed, but puzzling if you know about Peterson’s well-publicized child abuse case and Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s struggles with drug abuse.