Friday, February 26, 2016

Favorite Finds

Brands took the spotlight this week for reasons both good and bad. Here are some of my favorite finds from around the Internet this week.
  • Facebook Reactions – The social media world was abuzz when Facebook launched its highly anticipated Reactions feature, which allows users to express their opinions on posts by choosing from “like,” “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.” So far it seems as if brands are jumping on board and are enjoying the tailored feedback.
  • Starbucks Rewards – Starbucks announced plans to overhaul its rewards program and customers were not happy. While Starbucks claims that the changes were made based on customer feedback and will now honor those who spend the most money, many feel that the update is a slap in the face.
  • JetBlue Unanimous Vacation - JetBlue got a lot of people talking when they posted about a recent promotion where they rewarded an entire flight with a free trip to a destination of their choice. The catch? All passengers had to come to an unanimous agreement about where they wanted to go.
  • Selfie Shopping New technology in the works from MasterCard may soon make it possible to make purchase online by posing for a selfie, eliminating the need to remember account passwords.  
  • Leap Day – With Leap Day taking place on Monday, the Internet was full of fun facts about the holiday. If you’re lucky enough to have a birthday on February 29, some brands are even offering you special deals.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Weil-McLain Heats Up Conversation at 2016 AHR Expo

Last month, our client Weil-McLain attended the 2016 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Expo in Orlando, Fla., where nearly 61,000 industry representatives gathered to get the scoop on the latest tools and technology in the HVAC marketplace. Thanks to some proactive outreach and diligent booking efforts from LCWA, Weil-McLain entered the 2016 AHR Expo arena with a leg up on the competition – 15 media appointments with top trade publications.

Our media efforts paid off, as the pre-show engagement with editors elicited a 100% attendance rate. Editors were excited to learn about the latest in heating innovation from Weil-McLain, and the brand received significant exposure during the show. And of course, the media attention from AHR Expo also proved to be a success, with the conversations from the show leading to two immediate placements and more pending coverage in 2016.

We look forward to heating up the AHR Expo again next year – in Las Vegas!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Favorite Finds

We never experience a dull moment in the office or in the Twittersphere! Here are some of my favorite reads from this week:
  • PR Daily posted a strong article about features for brands to leverage on Facebook. For novices of social media, it’s a good resource and reinforces what we’ve been working with clients to do, i.e. use more video on the channel, which has a strong hosting capability. “Able to host videos up to 1080p (HD) resolution and up to 2.3 GB in size, Facebook has become an important video hub,” wrote Jim Dougherty.
  • I like to think of myself as very productive. This Inc. online article describes several “productivity systems” that entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council will eliminate this year. I don’t know about you, but my inbox has never been at zero!
  • This infographic nicely and succinctly shares 21 tools that social media marketers can consider for their programs.
  • Finally, in a week that kicked off with the Grammys, this article about cutting through the clutter of Taylor Swift and Kanye West provides some good guidelines for PR pros.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

First Alert Connects Home, Safety and Trust

Our client First Alert prides itself on the safety and security that it offers to consumers, who trust its products to help them protect what matters most. To ensure it maintains that trust, the company conducts a Brand Trust Survey* each year, which compares the brand to others in the safety arena. Good news coming out of this year’s survey, conducted in January: First Alert still tops the list as the most trusted name in home safety, and the most trusted brand in smoke, fire and carbon monoxide protection. These findings are especially important as First Alert continues its foray into the world of smart home products with its Onelink by First Alert brand. This portfolio of Apple HomeKit-enabled connected home products include the Onelink by First Alert Wi-Fi Smoke + CO Alarm, which a significant majority of consumers name as the first smart home product they would purchase for their home. With more introductions to come in the Onelink by First Alert portfolio, we’re excited to continue leveraging First Alert’s position as the most trusted name in home safety!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Favorite Finds

When #FatTuesday coincides with #NationalPizzaDay, you know you’re in for some tasty tweets! Here’s a look at what social media served up this week:
  • Beads, please: This week marked the official start of #MardiGras, and while we’re 900 miles (and a good 50 degrees) away from New Orleans, @NBCChicago offered these ideas for celebrating in Chicago.
  • Burrito Blitz: When Chipotle briefly closed its locations this week to discuss food safety, it offered disappointed lunchtime consumers a “raincheck” to come back another time for a free burrito. Great news for everyone – except this guy, whose phone number almost exactly matched the rebate code.
  • Go Bayside: Relive your favorite “Saved by the Bell” moments at this new Max-themed pop-up diner opening in Chicago’s Wicker Park this summer. According to the establishment’s Facebook page, the restaurant will feature food items like "AC Sliders, Preppy BLT, Macaroni & Screech, Belding Fries, a Lisa Turtle Milkshake and more.”
  • VanBnB: If all this food is making you sleepy, the Art Institute is offering the perfect respite for #Impressionism fans  – a replica of artist Vincent Van Gough’s bedroom. To coincide with the museum’s new exhibition, the museum has created a replica of one of the most iconic bedrooms in art, and is offering lucky fans to spend the night in it by listing it on AirBnB.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Trials and Triumphs of Trade Show Season

When you specialize in promoting brands in the home and building products arena like we do, January is inevitably one of the busiest months of the year. Why? Trade show season! This year was no exception. Between the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the International Builders’ Show (IBS), and the Winter Furniture, D├ęcor and Gift Market – all hosted in Las Vegas, Sin City became a home-away-from-home for many of our team members last month.

Tim recently posted about how LCWA helped our client First Alert cut through the clutter at CES to make its mark on the discriminating tech journalists covering that event. With the other two shows now behind us, I’m pleased to report similar successes for our clients Trex and Fashion Bed Group.

Of course, success never comes without its challenges. In fact, garnering attention from media at industry trade shows has become increasingly difficult. Where outlets used to send droves of representatives to walk the shows, they now send skeleton crews and, in some cases, an individual editor or reporter to cover the thousands of companies and brands that exhibit at these massive events.

Achieving perennial success for our clients requires fresh, creative thinking, strategic persistence, and the ability to learn and grow from each event. With the latter in mind, following are three takeaways from our experiences so far this year:

Timing is everything.
A great deal of PR success around trade shows has to do with timing. The tricky part is that timing is not a one-size-fits-all concept when it comes to media. Every editor, reporter and producer has a different schedule and set of deadlines. It’s our job to navigate those varying timelines in a way that comes across as helpful without being harassing.

For Fashion Bed Group, an “early bird” approach proved effective in generating buzz for the brand in the weeks leading up to the Las Vegas Furniture Market. By monitoring and maximizing every coverage opportunity, and getting materials and images into the hands of media well in advance of the show, LCWA was able to secure 18 Market-related placements for the brand before the show opened. In addition to garnering media attention, this pre-show exposure drove increased showroom attendance and business leads.

Still, getting out early is not enough – especially during peak trade show season when many editors are covering multiple events back-to-back and even simultaneously. This year, a majority of our media appointments for Trex were secured in the last few days leading up to IBS. We even booked a few while on-site from the Trex booth!

Relationships rule.
One of the benefits of working with a PR firm that specializes in a particular industry is access to a network of media contacts that has been built and nurtured over time. By leveraging our strong relationships with media in the home and building arena, LCWA was able to garner show-related coverage for Fashion Bed Group in every one of the company’s priority trades. Additionally, despite having very little “news” to share, our team delivered a record-number of media to the Trex booth during IBS, hosting representatives from 35 different outlets, including a mix of consumer and trade media ranging from HGTV Magazine and the DIY Network to Qualified Remodeler and Plastics News.

Fresh ideas trump food and freebies.
Freebies and refreshments have become so commonplace at trade show booths that they no longer attract attention or differentiate. To help Trex deliver a truly meaningful and memorable experience for this year’s IBS attendees, we thought beyond trinkets and truffles and unveiled the “Trexperts.” Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell, the dynamic duo from HGTV’s popular “Decked Out” series, generated buzz and drove traffic to the Trex booth throughout the show. Instead of a standard meet-and-greet format, we coordinated a “Showfies” sweepstakes. Booth visitors were encouraged to take selfies with the stars and upload them to social media for the chance to win a variety of Trex prizes. This fun and interactive approach resulted in a lively, continuous stream of fans and visitors to the Trex booth while also boosting Trex’s social media presence during the show through posts, “likes” and shares.

LCWA also arranged for the “Trexperts” to join a representative from Houzz for an in-booth presentation and panel discussion on outdoor living trends that attracted an audience of 150+ attendees and reinforced Trex as an industry authority.

While trade show season is well underway, the fun is far from over. Next up is one of our favorite events of the year - the International Home and Housewares Show coming up March 5-8 right here in Chicago. We’ll be there. Will you?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Favorite Finds

Parties were a trending theme this week -- from The Iowa Caucus to the Big Game. While there can only be one winner in the end, I hope that this weekend we can have a few united moments in the name of football and fun. Here are a few of my favorite finds from the first week in February:

  • Brain “Bus”ter – This week the internet collectively scratched its head as kids easily answered the question and adults struggled to figure out the latest viral game – which way is the bus moving in this picture?
  • Earned Election – Whichever way you lean you can acknowledge that Trump is making headlines and receiving a massive amount of earned media. Reports indicate that this is a very strategic candidate decision and as an advocate of earned media, the story caught my interest this week.  
  • Content Creators – Do you know the new influencers? We’re watching the new generations and how they consume and search for media. This PRWeek article articulates how brands are working with these budding stars and reaching key audiences.
  •  For the Grammar Geeks – How many correct answers did you get in this grammar quiz?
  • Live Looks – Live broadcasting just got easier with new options available from GoPro and Periscope and Facebook Live streaming out to iPhone users. We’ve already seen several breaking news stories from newsrooms and our imaginations are rampant with ideas for the future.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

“Hybrid Day” Kicks Off Successful Launch

When client Snow Joe told us it was releasing the first snow blower to offer the convenience of corded or battery-powered operation all in one eco-friendly, easy-to-use model – the Hybrid – we knew we had to make a big splash. To celebrate this dual-dynamo, revolutionary rechargeable, we planned “Hybrid Day” to announce the official launch of this snow blowing innovation. "Hybrid Day" was a full-day onslaught of fun and energy, incorporating many facets of both traditional and social media. On the media side, a press release, wire distribution, targeted pitching and technology reviews generated buzz. Online, we had a constant stream of engagement, introducing partnerships with influential YouTube unboxers and bloggers, day-long social media activity including sweepstakes, GIFs, graphics, an adventure with "Snow Bro" and more. The launch of this pioneering product was a great chance for LCWA to explore many ways to really saturate the consumer space with product messaging and express Snow Joe’s focus on power, innovation – as well as its witty, fun and bold voice. Since "Hybrid Day," we’ve continued to secure media placements and build partnerships with social influencers to make sure Hybrid is top-of-mind for anyone in the market for a snow blower this winter!