Friday, March 31, 2017

Facebook Tests ‘Rocket Ship’ and Other Space Discoveries

Another Facebook addition, the  2017 State of the Media Report and a new public library from NASA…all in all, another exciting week in reads on Twitter! Here are some of my favorite finds:
  • Facebook Still Tops – According to the Cision’s “2017 State of the Media Report,” Facebook continues to dominate as the most valuable channel for audience engagement, growing three percent over 2016. The social network now features 1.9 billion unique monthly users! On the reverse side, Twitter saw a significant decline among respondents, dropping almost 19 percent from last year’s report.
  • Facebook Rocket Ship? – Facebook is testing a new addition to the platform that consists of a ‘rocket ship’ icon. The icon is a means of transporting users to an alternate News Feed that shows content from Pages and news media outlets that they are not following, reported TechCrunch. The concept appears to be part of Facebook's strategy to help users broaden their interests and ideas. 
  • Credibility Crisis – With the rise of misinformation and “fake news,” another new trend emerged in Cision’s 2017 State of the Media Report: journalists are extremely concerned with the public’s perception of the industry. In fact, 91 percent of journalists reported believing that the media is somewhat or much less trusted than they were three years ago.
  • Search and Discover! – NASA has officially launched a new video, audio and image library for the public. The NASA Image and Video Library allows users to search, discover and download a treasure trove of more than 140,000 NASA images, videos and audio files from across the agency’s many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight and more.
  • Writing Wisdom – Writers can avoid most punctuation errors by mastering the following 10 punctuation tips, per PR Daily.
  • Brand Color Creation – One of the most important factors that companies and marketers consider while deciding on their brand is the color. This infographic from Market Inspector reveals how specific colors have the power to influence customers’ emotions and perception towards a product or brand.

Monday, March 27, 2017

UCAOA Expert Bylines Increase Association’s Healthcare Industry Thought Leadership

LCWA helped client Urgent Care Association of America spend the first few months of 2017 staying on the forefront of emerging healthcare trends by landing two bylined articles in top trade outlets, targeted at leaders in the insurance industry as well as colleagues in the urgent care industry. With an increased need for the value-based care provided at urgent care centers, which deliver high-quality care for common illnesses and non-life-threatening injuries, the relationship between urgent care and payers has never been more symbiotic.

The first article, authored by Laurel Stoimenoff, as UCAOA’s chair of Health & Public
Policy/Legislative Committee, appeared in the January issue of California Broker. The article spoke directly to brokers about how the urgent care industry, when included in payers’ networks, can improve patient experience and overall population health, while reducing costs.

The second, which appeared in prominent industry website Becker’s Hospital Review , authored by Cindi Lang, MS, RN, chair of the UCAOA Accreditation Committee, promoted UCAOA’s Accreditation program by citing recent case studies of major payers (including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia) in some states now requiring local urgent care centers to achieve accreditation in order to be included in-network. This showcased the numerous advantages available for centers that fulfill high standards of urgent care accreditation, and underscored how payers and consumers are increasingly demanding proof of value and quality from healthcare services.

Through these articles, UCAOA was able to effectively reach multiple stakeholders and provide convincing arguments to payers, brokers and members/potential members about urgent care’s vital role in the healthcare landscape, and positioned UCAOA, as its Accreditation program continues to direct impacts payers’ policies, as the one of most influential organization in the space. Coming up next for the association: the 2017 UCAOA Urgent Care Convention & Expo

Friday, March 24, 2017

Insights and Highlights from the HOME + HOUSEWARES SHOW

After 25+ years in the PR biz, I consider myself a trade show veteran. Between the International Builders Show, Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, National Hardware Show, NeoCon, DeckExpo SURFACES, and countless International Home Furnishings Markets, I’ve walked enough shows to max out any step tracker. Just this week, I attended my umpteenth International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago – but this time, I had the pleasure of seeing it through different eyes.

Instead of my usual role as client representative, this time I led a group of younger LCWA staff members on their first-ever trade show excursion. How fun and refreshing it was to experience the vastness and energy of the show from their perspective and, of course, to regale them with a few of my tales from the trade show trenches.
As we walked from hall to hall, sampling our way through the Dine + Décor Expo, discovering new ways to connected in the Wired + Well Expo, and marveling at the multitude of multi-faceted and multi-functional solutions in the Clean + Contain Expo, we noted several themes repeating across categories and products. Based on our educated – if not scientific –observations, following are a few of the trends we expect to see popping up soon at retail and in homes across the country.
  • Bamboo – There was so much bamboo on display at McCormick Center, we half expected to see Po from “Kung Fu Panda” greeting attendees in any number of exhibits. Hard wearing and easy to maintain, bamboo has become increasingly popular as a material for household items – especially those that require daily use. We saw placemats, coasters, baskets, bowls, storage containers, drawer organizers, chopping boards and spoons – all designed to deliver green living with style.
  • Single-use Gadgets – “Find a need and fill it” was a mantra we saw being carried out in many booths. This year’s show was a virtual “Shark Tank” paradise, with an endless number of devices designed to do one thing really well - from mango slicers and ginger peelers to strawberry corers to corn strippers.
  • Tea Time – While at-home coffee brewers commanded their share of floor space, devices designed especially for making – and drinking – tea stole the spotlight. Apparently, the days of heating up a mug of water in the microwave and dunking a tea bag are gone. Exhibitors showed a wide range of heating mechanisms and tea steepers that allow consumers to heat water to the perfect temperature for every type of tea imaginable. 
  • Color – Color proliferated everything from Kitchen-Aid appliances (shown in 86 different hues) to mixing bowls, pot handles, measuring cups - even air purifiers. The Sencor exhibit looked like an Easter display with tea kettles and toasters in retro-inspired pastels ranging from pistachio and pumpkin to cornflower and buttercup. As predicted by Pantone, green was definitely the Color of the Year. We also saw a lot of yellows and pinks, but in more sophisticated tones such as ballet slipper vs. bubblegum.
  • Smart & Connected – And no trend list would be complete without a nod to the continued influx of “smart” products, which have infiltrated the housewares industry in a huge way. Among this year’s innovations were the Gourmia smart oven, which features a camera that allows you to watch what you’re cooking from your phone or other connected device. GeniCan showcased a device that can automatically order products that are tossed into a garbage or recycling bin. The device scans the bar code of the disposed product and sends the order directly to Amazon Dash. But our hands-down favorite was the SproutsIO, a smart, soil-free microgarden with sensors and a camera – both controlled by an app – that enables users to monitor how the plants are growing.
All in all, our outing to the 2017 Home + Housewares Show proved to be enlightening, energizing and essential – especially for an agency that specializes in promoting home products. What a joy and privilege it is to work in such a dynamic industry!

Media and Mayhem

Spring finally sprung this week, although we are off to a cold start with blustery winds. With more and more reasons to be anxious when watching the news, here are my favorite finds from this week:
  • GIF Marketing – No matter how you pronounce the word, GIFs are increasingly popular and Tenor, the company who created the GIF keyboard, has pulled some metrics on the top GIF marketers to shed light on consumer behavior. Check out the Marketing 101 suggestions from AdWeek, and the top performers from Domino’s, Netflix, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.
  • Chicago Thrill-Seekers – The Willis (Sears) Tower announced a planned renovations. A $20 million upgrade will include expanding the Skydeck to two floors, adding an open-air ledge walkway, and letting visitors use a rope (and harness) to rappel inside a glass box on the building’s exterior from the Skydeck’s top floor to the one below.
  • Profiling Reddit – Reddit is finally following suit of Facebook and Twitter by embracing user profiles. Currently in a testing phase, users will soon have a personal page tied to their avatar along with a feed.
  • Operation Wine & Cheese – An elaborate crime gang dedicated to the theft of wine and cheese was arrested by the Italian police this week as part of “Operation Wine & Cheese.” According to police the gang had stolen more than 16,000 bottles of fine wine and 168 wheels of Parmesan cheese dating back to 2015.
  • Influencer StrategyA new study from the Media Insight Project has found that it is the identity of the sharer on social media who has the biggest impact on whether an individual trusts the story, more so than the news source. This research further credits the importance of working with credible influencers who can act as brand ambassadors.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Politics and Pandas

With the new American president using Twitter as a platform and social media becoming an increasingly more important channel for civic engagement, posts and tweets this week took a political bent. But – there also were lots of lovable pandas. Here are my favorite finds from this week:

Hate Speech Police – In advance of its 2017 elections, Germany has drafted a law that requires social sites, such as Facebook, to delete slanderous content or incur fines up to 50 million pounds. The potential law is sparking debate on whether or not these hate speech trackers will undermine social users’ freedom of speech.

Brands in the Political Fray – Should your brand take a stand socially and politically? A recent survey reveals 73% of consumers will switch brands if a similar
one supports a good cause. A recent “On Brand” podcast explores how companies can become more valuable when they are perceived as being authentic and having a point of view.

Big Mac Hack – Moments after a tweet from @McdonaldsCorp that insulted President Trump went viral, the company deleted it and announced that its account had been hacked. The event raises concerns about brands’ social media security and whether President Trump and Grimace will remain friends and business partners.

The Great Firewall – Pinterest has joined the ranks of other social media sites that have been blocked by the Chinese government. The online world is questioning why a scrapbooking site popular for sharing images of animals and recipes, and not political commentary, would be of concern.

Pandas go Viral – Thursday was National Panda Day, and the Twitterverse was flooded with the most adorable photos and videos. If you want a reason to smile, check out this panda playing in the snow, this baby panda or this panda trying to cuddle

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Boise Paper Sweepstakes Looks Brilliant with 2017 Resolutions

The Boise Paper “Make Your Bright Ideas Look Brilliant” campaign is building awareness for the bright, high-quality Boise POLARIS® Premium paper line. To complement this campaign as well as drive customers to purchase Boise POLARIS Premium paper, LCWA held an online sweepstakes asking consumers how they would “look brilliant” at work and beyond in 2017. As expected, this question generated a lot of insightful and powerful answers about what it means to look brilliant.

The “Look Brilliant” Sweepstakes offered a first place prize of a $250 Office Depot gift card and was promoted on Boise Paper’s main social channels of Facebook and Twitter.  The Sweepstakes was very successful, scoring more than 7.4K entries in three weeks. After the Sweepstakes, LCWA created a short video to capture the great office tips provided by the entrants. Some of the best tips include: dress for success, surround yourself with a great support system and create an efficient and organized workspace.

We love developing exciting and helpful social content for our resident “office life” expert, Boise Paper. Stay tuned for more great programs throughout the year!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Electrolux Masterpiece Food Processor is the “Best of the Best”

Awards season isn’t just for Hollywood’s finest, and LCWA is excited to congratulate our client, Electrolux, on its recent “Best of the Best” Gold Award win at the Housewares Design Awards. The Electrolux Masterpiece Food Processor brought home the award by wowing judges with its innovative and uniquely tilted design, which creates better tasting mixtures and a more consistent blend.

This is just the latest great review for the Masterpiece Collection. LCWA has been working all year to create buzz in the media. From national media such as the TODAY show, Bon Appétit, Pop Science, Men’s Journal and CNET have applauded the collection. Additionally, online influencers Décor Chick, Hannah Hagler, Lolly Jane and Modly Chic also know this product line really is the best of the best.

We look forward to more great coverage for this innovative, yet chic product and the rest of the Electrolux Masterpiece line.  

LCWA Celebrates Insomnia Awareness Day

Daylight saving time is upon us, and we are all suffering from that lost hour after “springing forward” last night. Daylight saving time is big news, typically garnering stories on reminders to adjust your clocks, the history of the bi-annual activity and how best to prep your internal clock for the time shift. 

For the past few years, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has leveraged the attention on the lack of sleep that surrounds daylight saving time to raise awareness of a very common and dangerous sleep disorder: insomnia. Insomnia Awareness Day takes place each year on the Monday after daylight saving time in the spring to educate the public on the symptoms, warning signs and treatment options for those who experience prolonged, disrupted sleep.

To ensure information is made available to as many consumers as possible, LCWA and AASM developed a multi-platform campaign that includes: 
As a result of the campaign, AASM will generate millions of impressions across all channels on Insomnia Awareness Day and throughout the week. But more importantly, valuable information on how to improve overall wellness by seeking treatment for insomnia will reach the public when lack of sleep is top-of-mind.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Cleaning

With spring just weeks away, it seems as if there’s no shortage of news about brands looking to roll out fresh updates – especially when it comes to social media. There was plenty of social buzz blowing into our newsfeeds this week, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Social Déjà vu – Facebook launched a new tool dubbed Messenger Day on Thursday in effort to keep up with Snapchat’s growing popularity. Messenger Day allows users to add photos and videos to their “day,” which can then be shared with your entire list of Messenger contacts or a select group of friends. And guess what…everything disappears after 24 hours.
  • There’s a New Guy in Town – Well…almost. Crain’s Chicago Business shared that a new luxury lifestyle magazine will soon join the Chicago media scene. ChicagoMod is expected to launch later this month and will focus on fashion, dining, philanthropy and travel.
  • The Power of a Follow – Get those social audiences growing! According to a new survey from Sprout Social, more than half of consumers of all generations are more likely to buy a product from a brand that they follow online. 
  • Mind the (Generation) Gap – Brands are constantly receiving mixed messages about which social platforms they need to be on to reach certain demographics. This handy infographic breaks it down into simple terms.
  • It’s Easy Being Green – Our sweet home Chicago is prepping for its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration taking place this weekend. From watching the Chicago River turn (slightly more) green to parades and 5Ks, there’s plenty to do all weekend long for those hoping to partake in the festivities.      

Thursday, March 9, 2017

National Health Care Media Offer Insights

Our health care PR team attended a great Publicity Club of Chicago luncheon on Wednesday. “Taking the Pulse of National Health Care Media” featured an esteemed panel consisting of Charlie Brooks, producer for CBS Evening News, K. Aleisha Fetters, a freelance contributor to leading health and fitness publications, and Lori Rackel, editor of the Chicago Tribune’s health and family section. The session was moderated by Suzanne McBride, chair of the Communication and Media Innovation Department at Columbia College Chicago.

The topic was an important one for LCWA, as we work to get national media attention for our health care clients like AASM and UCAOA on an ongoing basis. Some of the top insights we will be considering as we develop strategies and pitches moving forward include:
  • Right now, all health news is national news. Given the attention placed on the potential replacement of the Affordable Care Act and commentary from all facets of the health care industry, any news from hospital systems, corporations or associations will be more closely watched than usual – for better or worse!
  • Addiction and weight loss stories are tops with readers. All of the panelists agreed that stories on alcohol and opiate addiction are major topics of interest these days, and weight loss stories always drive clicks online, making these two topics that resonate with both readers and reporters.
  • Local focus is diminishing – even for local papers. Rackel noted that the Tribune is responsible for creating articles that will be fed to sister papers all over the east coast and country, leading to stories that are less locally-focused and more appropriate across the nation. This is a big change from the “keep it local” mentality of papers in the past.
  • The quickest to respond, wins. The panel reinforced something we know very well – that the first expert to respond to a request is the one reporters will rely on, time and again. Responding to media immediately, and developing a process that makes spokespeople available quickly, will drive national coverage and lead to ongoing relationships with media.
  • Show, don’t tell. Video is important to media in all channels, as even newspapers and magazines have to supply supporting content for their online channels. Producing high-quality raw footage that can be used by outlets will increase the chances of landing a story.
We appreciate the insights offered by these high-profile media contacts, and look forward to putting them into action for our healthcare public relations clients in the future.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

AASM Promotes Heart Impacts of Sleep Apnea on Twitter

LCWA recently helped AASM and the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project with a successful Twitter chat to raise awareness about the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea on heart health. Left untreated, this common and severe sleep disorder can be devastating to heart health – more than doubling the risk of dying from heart disease, according to recent research.

With this staggering disease in mind, LCWA coordinated efforts for the #SnoredtoDeath Twitter chat with several partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Sleep Research Society, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine to participate and help lead the conversation about ways that obstructive sleep apnea damages hearts if untreated. Additionally, Wall Street Journal health columnist Sumathi Reddy moderated the online discussion.

The #SnoredtoDeath Twitter chat achieved more than two million timeline impressions, and provided a great opportunity to share messaging about how sleep apnea hurts hearts.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Just Blame It On The Accountants

Pretty embarrassing yet exciting ending to the Oscars last weekend with #envelopegate! Well here is a smorgasbord of interesting tidbits to get you through the potentially less exiting weekend coming up: 
  •  Where’s the permission slip?!?!? Remember those amazing school field trips to different museums where you got to run around, learn things and not be in class? Well a national push for #museumadvocacy2017 hit the ground running this week in an effort to garner support for museum funding across the country. Check out the Alliance of Museums information to see if your lawmakers are in support of funding museum services!
  • Space Goddesses! The LEGO craze is going nowhere fast, and now it’s making a statement! A news editor at MIT submitted a “Women of NASA” design to the LEGO Ideas competition and gathered enough votes for the company to consider manufacturing it! The five historic pioneers included in the set are: Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist, Katherine Johnson, a physicist and mathematician, Sally Ride, an astronaut and physics professor, Nancy Grace Roman, the “Mother of Hubble” and NASA executive, and Mae Jemison, a medically trained-astronaut!
  • Shoot for the stars! To continue this wonderful, outer space nerdfest, the Planetary Science Vision 2050 workshop was held this week where some of the smartest people around came together to discuss future plans for  NASA’s Planetary Science Division. Just days after announcing NASA found new planets (!), leading scientists started setting goals for new solar system exploration projects by 2050! Check out some crazy plans for #v2050 experts are putting on the To-Do List. Book your shuttle now!
  •  What’s an answering machine? For some lower brow fun, adults both over and under the age of 34 took to Twitter to share their funny #MillennialPrankCalls ideas until many started to point out that millennials do not actually make phone calls!
  • Happy Fat Tuesday! Show me your Paczkis! This week we celebrated #FatTuesday or what we in Chicago call it #PaczkiDay! People took to the streets, bakeries and other eateries to fill up on tasty goodies. Different regions shared their own spin on the classic binge-fest like the Coney Paczki or #PancakeTuesday.
  • Oh the weather outside is…weather… In case you have been sleeping through the last few weeks, the weather has been playing with our emotions a bit. To keep people focused on the prize that is warmer days, #SpringIn5Words brought some hope and humor to the up-and-down temps! My favorite is one of the cheesiest posts as well as learning what Flexxball is!!
  •  It’s not personal, it’s just business! This week the company behind the social app Snapchat made its trading debut with an IPO at $17/share. But the juicy story came out the day before when leaked emails revealed its sales team was practicing some sketchy tactics to sell ads. Let’s keep it classy, Snap.
  • Lookin’ good for your age! Scientists believe they have found the remains of the earliest habitable environment on Earth in an ancient hydrothermal vent. These potentially 3.77 billion-year-old fossils may hold the key to knowing for sure how life began on this planet, and just how old everything really is! And speaking of an earlier generation of life, some other awesome scientists used laser technology to create detailed images of what many dinosaurs looked like hundreds of millions of years ago!
  • Good night, Babar! Remember that all-nighter you pulled? Elephants do it all the time! Scientists discovered that while elephants in zoos sleep around 6 hours a day, elephants in the wild typically get just 2 hours of shut-eye a night, with many matriarchs staying awake for several days at a time! 
  • Small but mighty! On a smaller scale, it turns out bees are incredibly intelligent. Many assumed the small brain-size in bees was holding them back cognitively, but they were wrong! Scientists were able to teach bees how to play football to get a reward! *Mic drop*
  • Set the pace to gruelingIn perhaps the most inspiring of events this week, a 99-year-old runner faced off against a 92-year-old speedster in what turned out to be a clash of TITANS! Forget the Patriots Super Bowl comeback, this almost centenarian just dominated his sprightly opponent! #Heroes. Happy Friday! Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Snow Joe Clears the Snowy Path to Success

Smack-dab in the middle of Chicago, we here at LCWA know a thing or two about snow. LCWA recently worked with client Snow Joe to launch the first cordless two-stage snow blower powered by lithium-ion batteries.

The winter program targeted top outlets across the United States and Canada, touting product attributes like ease-of-use, tech innovation and power while still being green and battery-powered. These angles, along with timely media relations surrounding regional snow storms, gained media attention resulting placements such as Men’s Fitness Ultimate Gift Guide for Dad, a Popular Mechanics  tech feature, a winter gadget listing in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Product of the Month and an on-air segment on NBC News Chicago featuring one of our very own account members demonstrating the product on the streets of Chicago (now that’s going the extra mile for a client)!

With winter almost over, the program has generated 14.9 million impressions positioning Snow Joe as the leader in electric snow clearing technology—proving the power of the snow blower, the power of the brand and the power of good strategy. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Electrolux Brings Counter Couture to "Today"

This week, nearly 2 million Today Show viewers learned how they could become Michelin-worthy chefs in the comfort of their own kitchens with client Electrolux’s Masterpiece Blender and Masterpiece Immersion Blender. Host Kathie Lee and guest-host Jenna Bush Hager promoted the products’ innovative features and sleek designs as part of the recurring Give It Away segment, on which Electrolux was previously featured with its Masterpiece Food Processor. Five lucky Todayviewers were selected to each receive both of these premium products to help them create masterpieces in their own kitchen, with help from Electrolux’s exclusive, chef-inspired PowerTilt and TrueFlow Pro technologies. Talk about delicious winnings! Stay tuned for more exciting innovations in small home appliances from Electrolux in 2017.