Friday, December 22, 2017

These Are a Few of Our Favorite (2017) Things

Tis the season for end of year recaps that wrap up another year gone by. Here are a few of my favorite roundups from 2017:

  • Top Ten Times Brands Nailed it on Twitter – Who can forget Carter Wilkerson’s viral plea for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets, or KFC’s response when a Twitter user realized that they only follow the five Spice Girls and six men named "Herb" – a play on their secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.
  • The Best Inventions of 2017TIME’s annual round-up of the best products and services that launched over the past year is full of innovation. With everything from glasses for the blind to low-guilt ice cream, 2017 sure seemed to be a groundbreaking year.
  • The Tech That Died in 2017And on the flip side, this year saw just as many products and brands fade into darkness. October saw the demise of AOL Instant Messenger (RIP away messages), and an increase in competition in the fitness wearable market sealed Jawbone’s unfortunate fate – despite the fact that they were at one time dominant in the industry.
  • Trivia Madness – And finally, on an unrelated note, I had to share about the trivia game that is taking the world (and some LCWA team members) by storm. HQ Trivia – a free app that invites you to play live trivia twice a day for the chance to win cash – has become a viral sensation. In fact, many agencies throughout the U.S. find themselves pausing work for 15 minutes every afternoon to play along. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Politics & PR in 2017: Lessons From the Media

Earlier this month, I attended the Publicity Club of Chicago's  luncheon featuring an esteemed panel of state and local politics reporters from the AP, POLITICO, WBEZ and the Chicago Tribune. They did not hold back when sharing their thoughts on the political media environment in 2017. As we all know, the atmosphere was volatile, straining relationships between reporters, PR reps
and the public. The panel shared its thoughts on the “best and worst” of political PR in 2017, and we walked away with some key learnings on how to stay in the “best” column.
  • Keep dialogue professional: No matter what the perspective, look for opportunities to steer the dialogue to a place of maturity and flexibility. Debate respectfully and seek solutions for the greater good.
  • Engage in active listening: For any two-sided issue, it’s tempting to keep communicating without listening. But asking questions and engaging the other side can create understanding on both sides, which reduces controversy and can steer processes, messages or even policies down the road.
  • Be transparent: One of the best ways to improve even the worst crisis is to own it – and the easiest way to make it worse is to hide or cover it up. The facts will come out anyway, so while the road to redemption in the public eye may be long, engaging the media proactively and honestly will start the process off right.
  • Issue apologies quickly: If something goes wrong, there is only one chance to apologize the right way. The apology needs to be sincere and specifically address the issue while offering a solution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It needs to be on-message without sounding corporate and stuffy. And it needs to come from the top. A failed first apology can make a company or organization look unorganized, unaccountable and uncaring.
  • Focus on positive relationships: Maintaining respectful relationships with media is a must to survive and thrive in this business, and PR practitioners will be working with reporters long after today’s hot news item. Angry texts, emails or phone calls will only make a bad situation worse, and can create an irreparable relationship with a key media contact.

At LCWA, we continually work on building good relationships with reporters and editors, even in the face of a changing media landscape, and by embracing practices, we can be poised to land on the “best” lists in 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Vive la France! Vive BATIMAT!

Last month I had the great pleasure of working  alongside a member of the WE Agency, our Paris-based PRGN partner, on behalf of TREX. The long-time LCWA home PR client was exhibiting at the bi-annual “mondial du bâtiment” (world of building show) BATIMAT and is dedicated to expanding its reach in the French market.

With their local expertise, keen knowledge of the show and strong connections with French consumer and building trade media, the WE Agency delivered an impressive roster of journalists to the Trex booth. Together with the WE Agency and Trex representatives, I spoke with scores of media and building professionals about the benefits of Trex’s U.S.-made, world-class decking products and showcased many beautiful uses of Trex decking.

While the language is different (thankfully, I speak French), the atmosphere both in the convention center and back in the office at the WE Agency is much the same. In fact, one of the highlights of this trip was learning how similarly we approach PR.

On my next trip, I have planned to visit the WE Agency in their offices to meet more members of their excellent team, and of course we extend an open invitation for them to visit us back in the Windy City!

Friday, December 8, 2017

This Week in Color

With the holidays just around the corner, everything from store windows to streetlights are getting lit up in red and green. This week, even the news seemed particularly colorful. Check out my multicolor week in review:
  • Out of the BlueAfter losing his dog nearly two months ago, our very own Nicho Campos just picked up his furry friend Sky all the way down in Tallahassee, Florida. Showing up out of the (sky) blue, the American pit bull mix was found after a truck driver picked her up in Indiana. The driver made his way to Florida and took her to a shelter so they could find her a home. Luckily, that home she found was back in Nicho’s arms.
  • Blazing Orange – Californians have faced continued devastation this week from wildfires, now consuming over 100,000 acres of land. Many images of the blaze have been shared across social media this week, but one video showed true bravery in the face of this hare-y situation. While people across the state have lost their homes, one man recognized that animals too are losing their homes and stopped at the side of the road to save a rabbit that had been stuck in the burning bushes.
  • Turning Green – A seaside resort in France is taking seafood into the digital age. Local oyster farmers have installed refrigerated vending machines allowing guests to satisfy their oyster cravings around the clock. Some people may love a 3am vending machine oyster, but just the idea is making me turn green…
  • Ultra Violet – Pantone has finally released their color of the year for 2018 named “Ultra Violet.” The company boasts the trending color saying it “suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead and the discoveries beyond where we are now.” I didn’t know one color could do all of that. Regardless, it is time to get out the sunscreen, because 2018 is going to be filled with Ultra Violet.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In the Marketing Mix: Experiential

The lines between traditional forms of communication are blurring. With more tools at our disposal than ever before, industry professionals have endless ways to tell a client’s story—one of which is by dropping the consumer right in the middle of that story. Experiential marketing connects brands with consumers by facilitating direct consumer interaction. For some greater insight into activating this side of the marketing mix, I attended the International Association ofBusiness Communicator’s event “Coffee with the Communicators: Experiential Marketing” with experts from Gravel Experiential. Here are a few highlights from the discussion on how experiential marketing can help flesh out a client
  • Finding the Right Fit – Experiential marketing can take many forms, which allows the opportunity to best fit the brand. From product launches and pop-up stores, to mobile tours and flash mobs, this form of communication can put brands in unexpected places to get direct interaction from consumers. 
  • Planning Ahead – Like any traditional program, this type of activation takes planning. At the outset, the most important question to ask is “what is the objective?” Not only will this allow you to find the right type of program, but will also allow you to address who the specific audience will be, what resources you are able to allocate to the project, if there a seasonality to the event and more. With more dollars being shifted from traditional programs to these “touch” experiences, spending your dollars wisely will allow lasting impressions to be made.
  • Keeping Consumers Engaged – One key element of a successful experiential program is finding a way to keep consumers engaged beyond just one main activation. For example, Gravel XP launched a McDonald’s program in Indonesia, creating an artificial snow sledding hill inside a mall, hosted by Ronald—but they went one step further. To keep those in line entertained, the program included photo opportunities throughout, which encouraged social sharing and allowed the program to reach far beyond the walls of the mall itself.
  • Reinforcing Success – Any program works best with support. By combining elements of the marketing mix along with an experiential event, the brand story can reach a larger audience through traditional earned media, live longer through social and digital, or even be captured for use in an advertisement. Creating a “360 campaign” allows the many fragments of the communications industry to come together, creating something greater than the sum of its parts.

Friday, December 1, 2017

From Food Coma to News Coma

This week started out with everyone still in a food coma from Thanksgiving, but continued on to be a busy news week. From a royal engagement to holiday travel woes, there was a little bit of information for every category – good and bad.
  • An American Princess – Everyone woke up on Cyber Monday to some cheerful and welcome news about everyone’s favorite prince, Prince Harry of England. Kensington Palace and Clarence House announced via their Twitter accounts that Prince Harry, soon to be the sixth in line to the British throne, was engaged to be married to American Suits actress Meghan Markle. The pair have been linked since the summer of 2016 and officially a couple since November 2016. The couple expressed their love for each other and their excitement for the May 2018 wedding in their engagement interview. Cheers to the happy couple!  
  • Holiday Travel Hell – American Airlines got in some hot air this week after
    accidentally giving too many pilots and crew members vacation during the holidays. A
    scheduling glitch gave too many employees PTO during the crucial time period of late December, leaving thousands of flights without a crew team. Initially, as many as 15,000 flights could have been impacted, but the airline has been working diligently to fix this snafu to get everyone where they want to be during the holidays. Although just to be safe, it may be best to stick to road or rails to get to grandma’s house this year...
  • Similar Allegations, Different Culprit – Unfortunately, this news headline is becoming all too common in America: Matt Lauer, longtime news anchor for NBC’s TODAY Show, has been fired for accusations of sexual misconduct. In a statement released on Wednesday morning by NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, it’s stated that a detailed complaint had been filed against Lauer and that they have reason to believe it’s not an “isolated incident.” Lauer comes after a string of high-powered men in the TV and movie industry have been accused of sexual misconduct – including CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor and Harvey Weinstein.
  • High and Low Notes – The 2018 Grammy nominations came out this week with many expected nominations, and also some snubs, by the nomination committee. One trend many are seeing with these new nominations is the straying away from traditional pop music and emergence of rap and hip-hop music in the big categories. Some artists who hit the high note include Jay-Z, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar. 
  • Carpet King – Ending on a silly note, if you want to go viral on social media, sometimes all it takes are some good shots of hotel carpet. Just ask @MyHotelCarpet, who received more than 540,000 followers (and counting) in a couple of days thanks to his daughter. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Serving Up A Great Big Bowl of Deliciousness

Introducing New Alexia Premium Vegetable Side Dishes

Amid busy lives and hectic schedules, families continue to seek ways to simplify their lives, especially in the kitchen. But simple doesn't have to mean tasteless. Alexia Foods, a line of premium, frozen potatoes and all-natural side dishes, has introduced six new Alexia Premium Vegetables Sides. Flavors include:

These hot new additions to the freezer section have whet our appetite and inspired us to say goodbye to traditional starchy foods. After all, they’re Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free and ready to serve in less than 10 minutes. Can you say #WINNING? Better, yet #PASSTHEMASH?!

The LCWA food PR group is excited to team up with Alexia to help drive awareness of the new sides among established fans while jumpstarting conversation around starch substitutes. You can follow along via Facebook and Instagram to see how Alexia makes every day simply delicious. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

900 North Michigan Shops Illuminate the Magnificent Mile

LCWA kicked off the holiday season with Illuminate 900, the second annual tree lighting ceremony hosted by our client 900 North Michigan Shops to benefit Make-A-Wish® of Illinois. With a gorgeous 50-foot tall tree at center stage, the event featured seasonal activities, holiday performances and a host of yuletide characters. Ushering in the holiday spirit, Santa led the countdown alongside Erin Powers, seven-year-old Make-a-Wish recipient, to pull the switch and shine the first holiday lights on the Magnificent Mile!

The extravagant event generated tons of media attendance and excitement for the upcoming holiday season at 900 North Michigan Shops! Live coverage aired on NBC Chicago, ABC Chicago and WCIU-TV. Several local lifestyle magazines, including Michigan Avenue, Modern Luxury CS, Time Out Chicago and Make It Better featured online coverage about the holiday happening. Chicago bloggers also joined the festivities, with upcoming posts to be published by The Chicago Moms and The Social Heir.

From a beautiful performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir to hundreds of guests taking “an elfie” with The Real Elf, the event was a great success – with Chicagoans coming together to ring in the true spirit of the season. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Prep

As we prepare to brine the turkey and bake pies this Thursday, it is a wonderful opportunity to prepare for the holidays – and the onslaught of retail media coverage. While I can’t wait for that slice of pie, here are a few of my favorite finds that make the week go a little faster to help get you to the long weekend:
  • Turkey Pardon – Turkey’s ‘Drumbone’ and ‘Wishstick’ were able to join previous White House turkeys at Virginia Tech’s “Gobbler’s Rest” exhibit after an official pardon. But not before spending some quality R&R at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel over the weekend, courtesy of the National Turkey Federation, who supplies the turkeys every year to the White House. 
  • Black Friday or Bust – While consumers prepare for the annual trip to early morning sales, a growing trend for Black Friday is actually spent away from the crowds. A new report from App Annie predicts that time spent doing mobile shopping via apps will grow 45 percent in the U.S. during this week, compared to the same time two years ago, and also expects apps to generate over six million hours of shopping on Black Friday on apps such as Amazon, Wish, Etsy and Zulily alone. Is this representing a shift away from the Black Friday in-store shopping craze?
  • Naughty or Nice? – Pinterest, in the spirit of the holidays, has launched “Pinterest Secret Santa,” allowing users to find friends or family on Pinterest and create custom boards based on ideas that those friends and families have been saving. Or, use the “Secret Santa” to select a persona and find a gift that will fit your family member – such as a pet person or a world traveler. If you want to get started on your gift giving, you can check out the concept for yourself here.
  • Social Media Video Watching – As attention spans continue to get shorter, it continues to get harder for brands to get customers attention, especially on social media. For example, Facebook users spend an average of 1.7 seconds with any piece of mobile content on the platform, compared to 2.5 seconds on desktop. Recent research from Nielsen has found that brand recall, awareness and purchase intent is much higher with video impressions that are only two-seconds. So perhaps that short-attention span isn’t such a bad thing? To help make the most of those two-seconds, Adweek offers some suggestions to break through the noise.

Monday, November 20, 2017

“SMART” Insights on Public Relations in Brazil

From a shrinking media landscape to increasing competition for journalists’ attention, public relations professionals across the globe face many of the same challenges. However, thanks to a recent visit from Ana Julia Castilho, an account manager with our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partner SMARTPR, the LCWA team got an inside look at the unique environment and role of the public relations industry in Brazil.

With clients such as Buzzfeed, Waze and Pinterest, SMARTPR specializes in technology and digital clients. While overall strategies and tactics for securing coverage may seem similar to our own practices, Ana pointed our several unique aspects that she and her colleagues must consider to maximize reach in Brazil:
  • Brazil is still recovering from a deep economic crisis, as well as several political corruption scandals. As a result, some journalists can be wary of intentions, and the public remains skeptical of news media in general – particularly news involving politicians or the government. 
  • Layoffs continue to plague the journalism industry. According to Ana, more than 5,000 journalists have lost their jobs since 2012. Many former editorial staffers now freelance for multiple outlets, which makes staying on top of appropriate editorial contacts particularly challenging. In addition, regional and local news receive little coverage, as outlets simply don’t have the staff to devote it. 
  • Another impact of the shrinking number of journalists is that many reporters no longer have a particular “beat” and instead cover a wide variety of topics. This is especially true for technology reporters. When it comes to securing coverage, one can't rely on job titles when determining the best contacts to pitch.
  • Social media in the United States features many popular influencers, but their popularity in Brazil is decreasing due to eroding trust. Several successful influencers have begun selling their own products, while others have been brought down by legal troubles for failing to disclose partnerships. 
Despite these challenges, the public relations industry in Brazil is booming. Global companies such as Skype, Avaya and Amazon Web Services (all SMARTPR clients) continue to enter the market and expand their presence – making SMARTPR’s work all the more important. We’re grateful we were able to host Ana and gain more global perspective from one of our newest PRGN partners!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Staying Hungry for Chicago Food Media

Here at LCWA, we are always seeking to do more for our clients, and to be ahead of industry trends. That is to say…we stay hungry. Recently, that hunger became a little more literal as LCWA food PR team members attended the Publicity Club of Chicago’s luncheon “Word Hard, Play Harder: Chicago’s Food and Lifestyle Scene.”

Highlighting industry trends, influencers from across various media (including blogs HoneyAndBirch and AmongOther Things, ABC7, Ad Age, and Weber Shandwick) weighed in on Chicago’s view on the food industry. Here are a few highlights:
  • Balanced Diet, Balanced Coverage – Consumers are becoming more and more health conscious, while also possessing the inherent desire to indulge. Social content is dominated by restaurants that create specifically “instagrammable” dishes, but such restaurants rarely gain return customers. Indulgent content is a great hook (who doesn’t love to see flowing chocolate?), but in the end, people like to see media strike the same balance they seek to have in their own lives.
  • Easy Eating – People will buy whatever is most accessible. In the age of Amazon Prime, fast food is even faster when UberEats will let you open your front door to a McDonald’s delivery. In the grocery aisle, it feels like smaller companies are gaining a larger presence, but that accessibility doesn’t come without help. For example, Kellogg recently bought RXBar, so the same company owns your whole ingredients health bar as well as the Pop-Tarts on the other side of the aisle. 
  • Global Food, Local Sensibility – Globalization has allowed people to experience the cuisines of every culture without traveling. This continued theme of accessibility allows us here in Chicago to get Japanese food just around the corner from our favorite Mexican spot. However, this does not mean the culture of the cuisine comes with the food. Europeans sit and eat, or sit and drink their coffee. In the U.S., everyone feels they need to be busy and eat on the go. The speed of American consumption is influenced by the way we view food on TV, with cooking shows always centered around speed, challenge and competition.
So next time you get a meal (which we presume is right now, after reading this much about food), consider taking your time to eat and enjoy, or at least consider how the media has influenced the food in front of you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Insights from an Intern

Maggie McBrien recently completed her internship and will be joining LCWA as a full-time employee. I sat down with Maggie as she makes the transition from intern to assistant account executive to talk about her internship at LCWA. She had a
lot to say about what she learned and shared her thoughts with me on the most important takeaways from her internship. While it’s difficult to condense her whole experience into a single blog post, here are some key insights she shared on how to be successful early in one’s career.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As an intern, it’s not expected that you already know it all. This is the time to ask questions and even make mistakes. Your coworkers are eager to help and want to see you succeed, so take the opportunity to pick their brains. Ask for clarity if you’re unsure about something and you’ll be surprised by how much you learn.
  • Become a master of time management. Maggie quickly realized that in this industry, no two days are the same. You can never fully prepare for what the day will bring, but by staying organized and on top of your assignments, you will be better equipped to handle whatever comes your way. To-do lists will become your best friend, so whether that’s in the form of pen and paper or your Microsoft Outlook calendar, find what works for you and stick to it.
  • Get creative. In order to succeed in PR, you have to constantly keep ideas fresh and discover new ways to do even the simplest of tasks. Think about different avenues to approach anything from crafting catchy email subject lines to discovering new angles for a product pitch or trying out alternative approaches to social media content. The more creative you can be, the better.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone: While being an intern can feel nerve-racking at times, use this opportunity to overcome any fears you may have and get outside of your comfort zone. With an office in the heart of downtown Chicago, it’s a waste to not make the most of your experience. Become familiar with your surroundings; grab a coffee from somewhere different instead of Starbucks, try new restaurants with coworkers for lunch, and go to industry events to network with other professionals. Put yourself out there, and your whole experience will become richer, more fulfilling and most importantly, fun! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Future of Journalism in Chicago

It’s no secret that the state of journalism has changed over the years. And as traditional news rooms evolve into multimedia companies, it seemed only fitting for the Publicity Club of Chicago to call on representatives from some of the city’s top publications to get their point of view and talk about what the future holds. LCWA attended in the organization’s November luncheon to join in the conversation and hear what they had to say.
Below are a few highlights from the panelists:
  • FACTS STILL RULE! Journalists at The Daily Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and The Chicago Tribune agree that maintaining professional journalism standards is nothing new. If anything, there is more pressure than ever to name sources and remain transparent. Staff size may be smaller, but journalists may still be willing to connect face-to-face (although all agree email is preferred!) for the right story and the facts.
  • REACHING YOUNGER READERS IS IMPERATIVE – Nearly all media are facing declining advertising revenues. The folding of outlets such as only further validates the need to develop niche products that attract new audiences. Media companies realize that the way consumers are consuming news is constantly changing and new ways to drive scale, such as with video or events, may be needed. 
  • THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE ENDLESS – Newsrooms are no longer filled with just editor desks or photography rooms. Mindsets are shifting, new ideas are brewing and perspectives are changing with new leadership and a blend of veteran and junior staff. However, John Lampinen, Senior Vice President and Editor of the Daily Herald, may have said it best when he stated that he hopes people will one day come back to printed newspapers, as they serve as a respite in today’s always-on, mobile society.
This writer and college journalism major couldn’t agree more. Here’s hoping professional journalism remains balanced and fair while it finds a happy medium between the digital and print worlds.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Business and Bonding in Beautiful Kyoto

The fall 2017 Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) meeting was one for the books! Taking place in Kyoto, Japan, it marked the longest trip we’ve ever taken to meet with our colleagues from around the globe. But with great business learnings, good friends and a beautiful landscape, it was more than worth the journey. Some highlights:
  • Celebrating 25 Years. This meeting marked the 25th anniversary celebration for PRGN. The group began as a consortium of independent firms around the U.S., working together to provide “arms and legs” in other regions. Now, the group is international with 53 partners from around the world, offering global insights on business reach and communications tactics that directly benefit all of our clients.
  • New Partners, New Friends. Three new agencies representing five countries were added to PRGN at the conference.  Another Company is the top independent PR and communications agency in Mexico with offices in Columbia and Panama, with clients

    including Waze, Hubspot, Calvin Klein, SAP, Tim Hortons, Adidas Group, Prada, Peninsula Hotels and others.
    Perspective Strategies, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a strategic communications and issue management firm with clients including key government agencies, public listed companies and multinational brands such as the East Coast Economic Region Development Council, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, PETRONAS and Durex, among others. Finally, SMARTPR of São Paulo, Brazil, offers communications, advertising, public relations, journalism and design. SMARTPR clients include Expedia, BuzzFeed, Waze, AWS – Amazon Web Services, Logitech, Pinterest, Level 3, among others.
  • Award Winning Case-Studies. An annual fall conference tradition, the PRGN Best Practices Awards are handed out to agencies based on peer-to-peer voting on the best work over the past year. LCWA was proud to win five awards, including a Gold, two Silver and two Bronze, for our work for AASMTrexUCAOA and Boise Paper.
  • An Amazing Cultural Experience. Beyond all of the great business sessions, it was a
    dream come true to explore Japan with friends from around the world. Our hosts from
    Integrate Communications, based in Tokyo, planned a once-in-a-lifetime series of activities including a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, sake tasting, performance by Maiko dancers, temple visits and unforgettable meals. For me, the highlight was a zen meditation experience, held at 6 a.m., in an 800-year-old Kyoto temple -- quiet and empty except for our group. The sound of raindrops on the wood roof as we learned meditation from a Japanese master was a bonding experience none of us will soon forget – and a great reminder that while the business side is important, the friends we make along the way are the real treat. 
    Enjoying time with PRGN partners from Denmark, Miami, Hong Kong, Dubai, Boston, Philadelphia, Ireland, Chile and Nashville.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Halloween Fun Sweetens a Dark Week

With the New York City terrorist attack and various scandals and indictments, there was a lot of serious talk on social media this week. We also saw a lighter side, with Halloween celebrating a sense of fun and bringing people together.

  • Winning Halloween: While some folks might throw on some fake cat ears or put on a pumpkin sweater, others go all out – really all out. From spoofing memes to honoring favorite TV shows, the range of options for tweet-worthy costumes has never been greater. Some personal favs: a green army man on the subway, dad bod Leonardo DiCaprio and the DMV sloth from Zootopia. 
  • “Meat” Me in the Middle? Other than fruitcake and politics, few things are more polarizing than candy corn. No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, it’s worth wondering what gives these kernels of contention their, uh, unique taste and texture. If you guessed the cartilage and bones of animals, you are…right? But before you get too grossed out, remember that gelatin is in a ton of other things that we all eat, so enjoy!
  • Crisis Costume-ications: The next time a current or prospective client asks you to describe your PR crisis strategy, tell them you always take a creative approach and will represent them especially well on Oct. 31. Whether it’s Kendall Jenner with a can of Pepsi or Warren Beatty telling millions that “La La Land” won Best Picture, dressing up as your favorite crisis on Halloween will allow everyone to take a step back and wonder, again: “How did they let that happen?”
  • IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: There were some great entries, but we SQUASHed the competition in our building’s pumpkin contest! Our Pumpkin Spice Latte brewed up a win for Most Original Pumpkin! Quite the Happy Halloween, indeed.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Frightful Finds to Spook-Up Your Weekend

The world can be a weird place sometimes, and the week leading up to Halloween is no exception. Whether your fears are real or fake, here are some of my strangest finds from the past week. 

  • Who ya gonna call?  – According to a recent survey, 30 percent of people believe their house is haunted, 45 percent believe in ghosts and 65 percent believe in spirits or the supernatural. So whether it’s Casper the friendly ghost or the belief in reincarnation, the existence of the supernatural adds an enticing thrill during this spooky month.
  • Leave the fakeness to the costumes – Halloween is a time for tricks and treats, but more and more candy is being manufactured with strange chemical ingredients. A treat here or there won’t do too much harm, but look out for things like growth hormones, vanillin, artificial colors and BHT, a preservative linked to cancer.
  • Windex in the Windy City – More than 2,000 people have RSVP’d yes to the Facebook event “Windex the Bean”, with another 20,000 interested users. Posts on the page spark everything from possible t-shirt suggestions to people debating Windex’s effect on the environment. Currently, the only known details are the date, Nov. 15, and the brief description of, “The Bean is dirty.”
  • Not so safe and sound – Notice anything strange on your bank statement lately? If you’ve recently used an ATM machine at a Walgreens in Chicago, you may want to check. More than a dozen skimming devices have been found throughout the city, with seven of these being at Walgreens locations. Experts say best practices include inspecting machines and covering keypads while using ATM machines.
  • What to do in-between Halloween plans… – Today, the wait is finally over and Stranger Things Season 2 is on Netflix. But with a packed Hallo-weekend what’s the best way to fit in watching this addicting series? The Hollywood Reporter published a cheat sheet on the most efficient way to watch the new season so you’ll be all caught up Monday morning at the office. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Fun Facts: Under the Sea and Outer Space Edition

The daily news feeds are not exactly uplifting, as of late. So I wanted to share some pretty interesting tidbits about stuff happening below the surface and beyond the cloud. 
  • Picking Up On Some Kilonova Vibes: In case you missed it, space is back! In
    August, scientists were able to witness (for the first time ever) a
    kilonova – when the cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other and exploded gamma rays throughout the universe. The event, which occurred some 130 million years ago, is the first cosmic event to be witnessed with telescopes and gravitational wave detectors – utilizing resources and researchers at more than 70 laboratories across all continents. Don’t worry, they took pics. Now enter the era of multi-messenger astrophysics!
  • So Where Is The Cheese? If those Kilonova images got you all fired up, you are going to love what Google Maps is offering – a digital glimpse of more than a dozen planets and moons throughout space! Using half a million images from the Cassini probe and other spacecrafts, Google Maps can now transport viewers to the surfaces of Pluto, Venus and several moons all with a few clicks! Or just watch an astronaut play with a fidget spinner in space. Not a fan of technology? You can still sneak a peek at the wonders above this Sunday when the Orionid meteor shower – considered to be “the most beautiful” – will occur. Just hop a ride on Trainy McTrainface to a prime lookout and enjoy the show.
  • Fly Me To The Moon: Holding out for the real thing? Not to worry! Why experience space through pictures, when you could cruise through the Milky Way on your very own inflatable space yacht?!?! (Oprah voice) Come 2022, all the cool kids will be chilling on the expandable space habitat working for big lunar businesses or the local moon government. No big deal.
  • This Space Is Filthy! The outer limits are not all exploding stars, emo-looking moons and floating astronauts. There is a lot of junk in space, apparently. And all that exploring and leaving our garbage behind has accumulated some 100 million pieces of science trash orbiting Mother Earth at 17,500 mph. Check out Adrift, a film investigating the potential hazard the floating junk poses to our satellites and future spacecrafts. Clean up in aisle space.
  • What Goes Up...After we frolic through space, what’s the return flight like? China’s first space laboratory launched in 2011 is on a literal crash course back to Earth after officials confirmed they lost control of it last September. The 8.5 ton laboratory, named Heavenly Palace, is expected to hurtle back to Earth sometime in 2017, with no strong guesses on where it might land. So, keep an eye out for that piece of space junk, in particular.
  • Making Waves: When that space lab crashes, I am sure there will be quite a splash. But it won’t be anything compared to the loudest underwater sound ever that was recorded in 1997 off the coast of Chile. The Bloop examines this scientific mystery that was detected by hydrophones 5,000 miles apart, lasted for one minute and has never been heard again!
  • Go Ask Flipper: Apparently humans aren’t that special. A study of dolphin, whale and porpoise species found those with bigger brains tend to live human-like lives. So those showboating Orcas at Sea World may just be the underwater version of the Kardashians, you never know! In other food chain news, scientists have reported a rise of alligator attacks on sharks. That’s right, in the battle of Lake Placid vs. Jaws, alligators are flipping the script and coming out on top in certain rivers and estuaries.
  • Vintage Genes…Some evolutionary advancements seem fast, while other undersea wonders have ancient roots. Paleontologists examined the hatchling of a sea turtle from the Eocene epoch and discovered it had a pigment-based survival trait common to modern sea turtles. The 54-million-year-old turtle hatchling had the same color patterns as current turtles – dark back with light edges – that provides protection against UV radiation from the sun. The dark skin increases their body temps so they grow faster and boosts survival rates – a phenomenon called adaptive melanism that has been preserved for millions of years. Slow and steady wins the race!  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Award Spotlight: American Academy of Sleep Medicine “Sleep Recharges You” Campaign

LCWA recently won three IABC Chicago Bronze Quill Awards for our programs for Trex and Boise Paper, as well as our American Academy of Sleep Medicine “Sleep Recharges You” campaign, which was designed to promote the importance of healthy sleep among teenagers. 

The #SleepRechargesYou campaign was driven by a 2016 study by the CDC showing that more than two-thirds of high school students are currently failing to get enough sleep. Our program goal was to increase the number of teenagers sleeping the recommended number of hours per night.

Research has found that sleepy teens may fare worse in school than their well-rested peers, as teens who are sleep deprived may be more easily distracted and recall information more slowly. Sleeping fewer than the recommended hours also is associated with attention, behavior and learning problems. Additionally, lack of sleep may also impact teens’ athletic performance. When teens sleep, hormones are released that help them grow taller and develop muscles. Sleep also helps restore energy to the brain and body.

The impact of sleep deprivation on teens, as well as key interests of teens, were taken into account when developing our program messages. We chose to communicate to teenagers about four areas in which sleep can improve daily life: beauty, sports, learning and health. Additionally, LCWA determined that the target audiences were not only teens themselves,  but also their parents and the school administrators, coaches and health counselors who influence teen behavior.

LCWA reached teenagers through their peers, working with teen influencers on social media
to convey to teens the importance of healthy sleep. Additionally, a we worked with a teen to advocate to her peers with several blog posts highlighting the importance of sleep. LCWA and AASM also collaborated to promote the “Sleep Recharges You” campaign via digital and social media advertising, promoting the benefits of healthy sleep directly via Facebook and Instagram. Banner ads also appeared on websites geared toward teens, such as, and

LCWA and AASM targeted parents by announcing recommended sleep duration broken down by age group. These recommendations generated media stories in more than 1,000 outlets. We also distributed several releases highlighting the importance of sleep for teens and proactively pitched media with timely angles throughout the year. A mat release about the importance of teen sleep was disseminated to reach parents on a local level. To further convey the importance of this issue, we created blog posts from AASM spokespeople for HuffPost, Thrive Global and Sharecare.

To reach educators, the AASM created an educator toolkit, offering lesson plans and a full-sized poster for classrooms on the importance of sleep. This was distributed in classrooms widely throughout the country, and LCWA helped generate awareness for the kit through outreach to associations and trade outlets.

Overall, this well-rounded campaign garnered more than 763 million impressions and a media value of $3.5 million. There were more than 1.3 million impressions as a result of the digital and social media advertising campaigns, and the AASM received more than 1,400 poster requests from high schools throughout the country and Canada.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Don’t Let Paraskevidekatriaphobia Ruin Your Week

It’s Friday the 13th! A day of mystery and superstition. To kick of this week’s recap, here are some weird facts you may not know about this legendary day courtesy of USA Today. For instance, did you know that people with a fear of Friday the 13th are said to have paraskevidekatriaphobia? Try saying that five times fast. Actually, if you can say it once we’d be impressed!

In other news this week…
  • He Said, She SaidThe Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday that they would open their ranks to girls, allowing female scouts to achieve the group’s highest honor: Eagle Scout. While the Boy Scouts say they’re working to better serve families, the Girl Scouts claim their male counterparts are making a desperate play to bolster membership. As this battle of the sexes continues to heat up, PR Daily offers some interesting takeaways for communicators. Our favorite – “No one is reading the footnotes.”
  • Clever, Indeed! – Big news this week for those of us working in the home décor arena. The editorial team behind industry icon AD: Architectural Digest launched a spin-off e-zine called CLEVER. The new digital destination draws its name and inspiration from small-space, residential design with content that caters to the 18-to-34 crowd.
  • In the Cards – In a significant shift for the app, Snapchat announced this week the introduction of Context Cards, which add contextual information to geotagged photos and images shared in public stories. This new addition to the Snap process will provide information about locations and events with a simple swipe. But that’s not all. Context Cards also provide a way to take simple actions like calling for a ride with Uber or reserving a table through OpenTable. Coupled with the recently released Snap Maps, Snapchat continues to engrain itself as the place to be for today’s younger social media users.
  • The Write Stuff In an age when introducing yourself as a reporter might lose you even more friends than in the past, contributor Kristin Long argues that a journalism degree may be the most powerful education for today’s young writers. Her “6 Reasons You Won’t Regret Getting a Journalism Degree” are enough to make any undergrad switch majors. We’ll be looking for your resumes!