Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Intern’s Perspective

In a three month internship with LCWA, I have learned what interns elsewhere would learn in three years. That much condensed knowledge and experience is invaluable, so here is my effort to condense it even further. Now that I've been officially hired as an assistant account executive, here are my six tips for a successful internship. 
  1. Wear your swim trunks… because you’re going to jump right in. An internship at LCWA is like being pushed into the deep end of a pool; while some interns are getting their feet wet in the industry by fetching coffee for others, I’m over here completely submerged in direct media contact, account brainstorms, and my own huge amounts of coffee. 
  2. Keep it diverse.  They say you become like the five people you spend the most time with, so make those five people as diverse as possible. As an intern, I have had the opportunity work on a variety of accounts with many different kinds of people. Put the time in to listen to different people pitch, read releases for the same client but written by different team members, and take stock in how the differences may suit each case best. 
  3. No pun intern-ded. While that pun is definitely not my best, I have found my creative use of language helpful in everything from punny release titles, to spinning stories to relate to specific publications, to rapping about PR for my coworkers (“I’ll release that release with real ease like its greased, getting press so loud you can barely hear these beats”). Find your own way to tap into your creativity, your clients and your coworkers will appreciate it.
  4. Eat a burrito. You’ve got an hour for lunch in one of the greatest cities on earth. Don’t eat a sad desk lunch alone in front of a screen you see all day, but eat a burrito while walking through Millennium Park in a juxtaposition of waterfront and skyline. Get some vitamin D. You’ll be glad you did. 
  5. Make it personal. At the gym, when I am sore and sweaty and tired and don’t think I can make it through the last minute of cardio, I just tell myself “It is only a minute. You can do anything for a minute.” A three month internship feels like a minute—so use it to push yourself. Take up a new hobby, try a new workout program, cook a new meal every week. You’re going to grow professionally, why not use that three month time frame to grow personally too?
  6. Break through the noise. This last tip is less about interning in PR and more about the communications field as a whole. The world is supersaturated with brand messages being shoved down consumers’ throats. We all see so many messages every day, that we have developed an automatic response to shut everything out as we click the ‘skip ad’ button. How can you make your message stand out from the others? Be genuine. You break through the noise immediately when you are communicating not as a businessperson, but as a human person. Take stock in what your audience (broad market or individual on the phone) cares about; you will be rewarded for it every time.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Favorite Finds

Twitter was abuzz this week about #ChewbaccaMom, #MemorialDay and of course tips and tricks for the savvy PR pro. Here are some of my favorite finds for the week:
  • Facebook Live had a MOMENT… And all of a sudden the world has a new appreciation for the Facebook Live feature. If you loved #Chewbacca mom as much as we did (her laugh doppelganger works in our office), it will warm your heart to see how Facebook rewarded her for her blockbuster video. And when you are done daydreaming about your own water cooler mome
    nt with Chewbacca, check out how McDonald’s used Facebook Live this week for their
    Starving Artist campaign to celebrate National Burger Day this Saturday. We’re looving it.
  • Then Turned Moments to Days. Speaking of Facebook Live, TechCrunch reported that FB Live is unveiling a new continuous video tool that lets publishers broadcast streams for hours on end. This is particularly useful for capturing subject matter with no definitive start and end points — like trade show booths, nature and of course cat videos. Pretty much anything live webcams have always been used for on other parts of the web. 
  • Doodle It Out. Did you know those whimsical doodles’ on the top of your meeting agenda can make you smarter, happier and more productive? Check out the backstory from Reader’s Digest.
  • Golden Gardens. We have a special place in our heart for home designs and trends – be it interiors or exteriors. So of course we cheered this week when the Chelsea Flower Show gave gold to the first black, female designer in 103 years. Beyond the gold, we also loved this installation in honor of the show that transforms London restaurant Sketch into a blooming garden. It’s a huge step for the industry and also good inspiration for those of us who will use the long weekend to get our own gardens. 
  • Follow the Stars. Instagram brands looking to up their game can take a note from the stars, who are better at being relatable, getting internet humor, using “the face” and crafting the caption. Get inspiration to up your brand’s Instagram page here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Favorite Finds

In between booking a Weird Al Yankovic live phoner for RiverEdge Park, scheduling a TV press junket for Donny & Marie at Paramount Theatre, working on a Merit School of Music feature with WTTW-TV Chicago Tonight, promoting TimeLine Theatre’s terrific new Midwest premiere of Chimerica, and prepping for today’s announcement that the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is returning Jan 19-29, 2017, I also had fun hijacking the LCWA Twitter feed this week. 

Here’s what I found that I thought might interest you – some work related, others not so much:
  • Twitter quietly snuck out of the social networking app section of the App Store this week, and swiped itself right into the news section. Twitter is apparently tired of competing with Facebook as a social playground, and instead rebranding itself as a news curation tool. I know that’s how I use it.
  • By mid-week, the Twitterverse was all a’Twitter when the app announced it may remove photos and links from the 140-character limit. That’s BIG.
  • US News and World Report says being busy might be good for your brain. Ahhh, so that explains why LCWA has an office full of brainiacs
  • Are you brave enough to watch Hyper-Reality, a new 6-minute concept video by Keiichi Matsuda showing the potential future of virtual reality? Kinda scary, our world in the not too distant future, where virtual and physical worlds are merged in a city saturated with a never ending barrage of ads, media, messages and pop ups. Note: This film is rated NL – Not for Luddites.
  • On a lighter note, name that ringtone! Musician Tony Ann posted a video of himself playing popular ringtones like the iPhone Marimba and T-Mobile’s jingle on piano. And guess what? Tony makes them sound pretty good.
 Have a great weekend everyone, and Go Cubs!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Favorite Finds

It was a big week for social media news and activity. Here are some highlights from across the social spectrum: 
  • Instagram Gets a New Look: The popular photo-sharing app introduced a new logo on Wednesday morning – to some very mixed reviews. In an interesting PR twist, the social network explained the process in a blog post, even disclosing some of the logos it decided not to use.
  • Facebook Focuses on Instagram: Call it cyber-stalking or marketing genius, Facebook is furthering its ability to target the right person in the right place at the right time by extending its retargeted Dynamic Product Ads to Instagram where users can now expect to see sponsored posts promoting items they’ve recently viewed elsewhere on the Web.
  • Periscope Goes Perpetual: This week, the live-streaming app introduced a public beta allowing users to keep their Periscope broadcasts beyond the current 24-hour lifespan. By using #save in the broadcast title, users can now save and easily search for broadcasts by title or topic.
  • Twitter Tightens the Reigns: In the latest example of tension between Silicon Valley and the federal government over terrorism and privacy, Twitter Inc. cut off U.S. intelligences agencies from access to a service that sifts through the entire output of its social-medial postings.
  • Pinterest Pins Amazon Exec: Pinterest announced the addition of former Amazon exec Michelle Wilson to its board of directors. Wilson brings extensive background in global growth and talent acquisition, both of which are key areas of focus for the popular bookmarking service.
  • YouTube vs. Amazon: Speaking of Amazon…the major online retailer is intensifying its rivalry with Google with a new ad-supported video service called Video Direct that resembles YouTube by letting account holders upload original or licensed video clips.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Favorite Finds

Last week was busy in the world of fashion, education and politics.
  • A time to celebrate our teachers – This week and specifically, Tuesday, May 3, marked Teacher’s Appreciation Week and Teacher’s Appreciation Day. The social world exploded with love for teacher’s everywhere – from kindergarten to college professors. Teacher’s even got to reap the benefits of their selfless work with some good deals at a variety of places – like Chipotle!
  • Record settingThe Tony Award nominations came out earlier this week for the upcoming awards show on June 12, and by no one’s surprise Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton picked up quite a few nominations – 16 to be exact! The musical about the life and death of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is the first production to ever be nominated for this many awards. Other shows that picked up multiple nominations include School of Rock, Waitress, Bright Star and The Color Purple.
  • Worn technology – As you may have seen, fashion’s biggest event was last Monday - the Met Gala was held in NYC with the theme ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.’ Some stars took the theme quite literally (Claire Danes, Gigi Hadid and Lady Gaga) while others strayed away from and focused more on their own glam. Either way, the gala is a spectacular event that launches their yearly Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • The ‘presumptive nominee’ – Switching gears into politics…the Indiana primary was make or break state for both Ted Cruz and John Kasich to attempt to stop Donald Trump from receiving the majority of delegates to clinch the nomination. After landslide losses for both Cruz and Kasich, the two GOP candidates  called it quits. With this turn of events, Trump is the ‘presumptive nominee’ and it is unlikely that there will be a contested convention later this summer.
  • Public speaking tips from “nerd prom” – The White House held its annual White House correspondent’s dinner last Sunday night and it was certainly a star-studded event. As a tradition, the President took a few punches from comedians during a roast, but he also knew how to deal them out as well. We can all take a few tips on public speaking from our Commander in Chief, like always use humor, knowing your audience and using what you know.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Trex’s “Trexperts” Help Washington Post Readers Get Decked Out for Spring

To kick-off the spring outdoor living season for our long-time client Trex, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-performance, wood-alternative decking, LCWA successfully pitched and secured high-profile exposure for the brand on “Home Front,” a live online Q&A hosted by The Washington Post. The widely followed and interactive platform proved to be an ideal showcase for Trex’s new spokespeople – deck experts and home improvement TV personalities Paul LaFrance and Kate Campbell, a.k.a. “The Trexperts.”

During the one-hour “Home Front” chat hosted by The Washington Post Home & Design Writer Jura Koncius, participants submitted questions related to their outdoor living spaces to be answered in real time by the Trexperts. Paul and Kate fielded 25 questions on a variety of topics, ranging from decking materials and colors to outdoor living accessories and deck maintenance. During the course of the conversation, our Trexperts highlighted the many advantages of composite over wood decking, and were able to organically promote the Trex brand and drive traffic to Trex.com.

Based on the success of the live chat, excerpts were then selected to be featured in an outdoor living article published in the April 28 print edition of The Washington Post. Overall, more than 40.4 million consumers have learned about the advantages of Trex composite decking over its competitors. Plus, the Q&A will continue to pay dividends, as it will “live” on the newspaper’s website and continue to drive traffic to Trex.com.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LCWA Adds Partners in Minneapolis, New York and Hong Kong

New member agencies enhance capabilities and expand reach of global communications group

PRGN looks to continue expansion in the U.S., Europe and in other markets around the globe

Outgoing PRGN President Ed Stevens, Susan Evans,
Loren Mortman and Joanne Chan with
PRGN President Evelyn Holtzhausen
Washington, D.C. – May 3, 2016 – Three top-notch communications firms, two in the U.S. and one in China, were welcomed as full members of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) at the spring conference of the one of the world’s largest network of public relations agencies on Thursday, April 29, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

The agencies are: The Equity Group, headquartered in New York City with a longstanding reputation for excellence in investor communications and outreach; Evans Larson Communications from Minnesota, specializing in omnichannel communications strategies for a broad range of national and international clients; and LBS Communications Consulting Ltd from Hong Kong, excelling in financial communications and investor relations with one-stop expertise in the Greater China region.

These new members extend the range of the network, expanding the PRGN presence into most major cities around the globe. The induction into the global consortium was made during PRGN’s twice-yearly meeting in Washington, D.C.

“With a new total of 47 member agencies, PRGN is ideally positioned to help its clients succeed in global markets,” said Evelyn John Holtzhausen, founder of HWB Communications, Cape Town South Africa, and president of PRGN.

"We are thrilled and honored to be joining PRGN,” said Loren Mortman, president of The Equity Group. “We believe being part of this selective group will create new and exciting opportunities for our firm, and provide ongoing education and collaboration. My colleagues and I look forward to serving as a reliable resource for PRGN members and its clients seeking to build relationships within the U.S. investment community.”

Susan Evans, president of Evans Larson Communications said, “We are delighted to be a part of PRGN. Membership within this talented organization gives our firm access to expertise in many countries, further strengthening our ability to deliver solutions to clients that have interests in many parts of the world.”

"We are so excited to be part of this well-respected global network with so many passionate PR experts and we believe the exchange and cooperation within the organization will make LBS an even better PR consultant with global insights and resources in different parts of the world for our clients," said Joanne Chan, managing director of LBS Communications Consulting Ltd.

PRGN partners meet twice a year in cities around the world. The next meeting will be held in November 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal. At each meeting, the firm’s leadership discusses best practices, and ways the network and its client base can collaborate in local markets around the world.

Agency members are independent, local, owner-operated public relations and communications firms that share expertise and resources, while providing broad-based comprehensive communications strategies to clients worldwide. If a company or organization is interested in the services of PRGN’s local agency network, go to www.prgn.com for more information.

Independent agencies interested in joining the network, can visit the member recruitment section of the PRGN website for more information or email its membership chair, C.L. Conroy, CEO and Founder of The Conroy Martinez Group at CL@conroymartinez.com.

# # #

About Public Relations Global Network (PRGN)

Clients across six continents depend on the combined resources of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) to deliver targeted public relations campaigns in markets around the world.  With revenues of more than $110 million (U.S.D.), PRGN is one of the world’s largest international public relations networks.  PRGN harnesses the resources of approx. 50 independent public relations firms and more than 900 communications professionals to connect international companies and organizations with individual and culturally diverse markets globally.  Visit PRGN online at www.prgn.com or on twitter at @PRGN.

In the Mix…LCWA Gives It Away on TODAY

Relationship building is one of the keys to public relations, and by being a reliable source for media, LCWA has been able to create a meaningful relationship at the TODAY Show. We were able to secure three clients on TODAY for a total of six segments throughout the first quarter of 2016! To assist TODAY’s Take launch their new Facebook page, LCWA promoted their page as part of their “25 Days of Giveaways” with a giveaway of an Electrolux Expressionist Kettle, Electrolux Masterpiece Blender and a Snow Joe iON Hybrid Snow Blower. In the initial segment, the Snow Joe iON Hybrid was even specifically called out by Al Roker! Each giveaway was subsequently promoted on the new Facebook page in addition to a shout out during the third hour of TODAY.

Additionally, the LCWA team secured and coordinated two spots on the TODAY Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda for their “Give It Away” Sweepstakes. Trex Outdoor Furniture provided a beautiful appearance on set with a giveaway of an Adirondack chair and side table to five lucky viewers to help prep for spring with some new outdoor furniture made from recycled materials – including plastic milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles. Electrolux was able to upgrade appliances with an Ergorapido Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra and a Masterpiece Blender, providing a stylish 2-in-1 vacuum and a hi-tech blender to five individuals.

Through a mutually beneficial relationship with TODAY, these opportunities established great content for our clients and all six segments in total reached more than 18.8 million impressions, and many new Electrolux, Trex and Snow Joe owners as well!