Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Knowing When to Chill on the Netflix Marathon

Recently, the CEO of Netflix claimed the only competition the company faces is sleep. That was disturbing to the sleep experts and physicians at our client, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Already, people put too little priority on sleep and many do not get the seven or more hours per night needed for optimal health. We worked with the AASM to create a statement and tips on how to “binge-watch responsibly,” and distributed them on Tuesday – the same day as the highly-anticipated release of the newest season of “House of Cards.”

The tips for maximizing sleep while still getting caught up on your favorite show included:
  • Set an episode limit each night before you begin watching
  • Take a break between each episode to get out of the “auto-play” loop
  • Download episodes on your smartphone to control how many you watch at once
  • Schedule time on the weekend to catch up on your favorite shows
  • Use an app to filter blue light after sunset to minimize the alerting effects of brightly lit screens at night,
  • Stream videos to your TV instead of your mobile device at night to reduce exposure to brightly lit, handheld screens
  • Avoid using mobile devices while in bed
  • Turn off all screens at least a half-hour before bedtime
Many reporters have embraced the warning to not lose sleep in favor of your favorite shows, with stories appearing on Newsweek.com, Vanity Fair.com, Variety.com, Market Watch.com, Pop Culture.com, SFGate.com and Digital Trends.com. Hopefully Netflix subscribers – and those watching Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and every other streaming service – consider their health the next time they decide to watch “just one more” episode of their favorite show!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

AASM Partners with Teens to Teach #SleepRechargesYou

Teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep per night to promote optimal health, and when well rested, teens are more likely to be healthy, energetic and have a positive attitude toward life in general, helping them to be their best and do their best. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of high school students in the U.S. are failing to get enough sleep on school nights, and research shows that 69 percent high school students in grades nine to 12 reported sleeping less than eight hours on an average school night. Insufficient sleep in teens can impact everything from grades, athletic performance and driving safety.

To help combat this serious health issue and spread that message that #SleepRechargesYou, LCWA and client American Academy of Sleep Medicine worked with teen influencers to effectively reach their peers where they “live” – on social media – and encourage their large teen followings to make sleep a priority.

These influencers all had numerous teen followers and focused on varied lifestyle interests such as sports or beauty. Each was provided with key messages about the importance of sleep, and encouraged to create Instagram posts and Tweets describing their personal challenges and victories in the battle to achieve healthy sleep. The content was met with high levels of engagement, including numerous comments from followers sharing how sleep affects their lifestyles.

The program, which can be viewed in its entirety here, reached more than 600,000 social media users and garnered 17,500 engagements on the subject of #SleepRechargesYou.



Friday, May 26, 2017

The Rise of the Avolatte and the Fall of Network TV

As we head into Memorial Day weekend to kick off the much-awaited unofficial start of summer, stories from around the web were all over the place this week. Here are a few that caught my eye: 
  • Avolatte, Please – First the coffee world was taken by storm with the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. Now it’s the avocado latte – better known as an avolatte. What was first created as a joke by a coffee shop in response to Australian millionaire Tim Gurner’s claim that young adults are unable to own homes because they blow their money on avocado toast and fancy lattes has now taken off down under. While both items are delicious on their own, I have a hard time imagining that this combination would be tasty.
  • Hashtag Fail – Mexican gubernatorial candidate Javier Zapata attempted to stand out from his competition and promote his candidacy via rented billboards and a quite literal custom campaign hashtag. What hashtag did he decide to use, you ask? #Hashtagcampaña, which quite literally translates to “campaign hashtag.” While
    this certainly got people talking, the jury’s still out on whether this was planned or not.
  • Down in the Dumps – With the official end of the 2016-17 television season taking place on Wednesday, network TV ratings continued to take a huge hit. Several shows attracted audiences of fewer than 700,000 viewers in live-plus-same-day viewings, and the lowest-rated network show finale came in with an average audience of 548,000. While networks are quick to attribute declining viewership to outdated measuring techniques, it’s evident that streaming services are continuing to take a larger and larger slice of pie.
  • Mind-blowing – Facebook revealed that it is hard at work on its new neuroscience center called the Center for Marketing Science Innovation. This space will be a place for the social network to conduct research that will help marketers and advertisers better understand what type of content resonates across platforms and devices. The lab will study users in a variety of situations (such as living rooms or conference rooms) meant to simulate viewing content in various settings, including on a desktop computer, mobile device or big-screen television.
  • By the Numbers – In celebration of the long weekend, WalletHub released an infographic about Memorial Day, including everything from the number of men and women who have served our country in war time to how many hot dogs are consumed every second between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has a Message for You, and It’s Personal

Did you know, that pancreatic cancer’s five-year survival rate is just seven percent? This is the lowest of all the major cancers, by far. LCWA is trying to help improve this statistic by assisting our new client, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, in delivering and bringing awareness to the utterly important message of early detection. Rolfe is a leading Midwest institution with the mission to of being a catalyst for the early detection and ultimate cure of pancreatic cancer. We are excited to be working with them to help share and support this message.

To do so, LCWA helped launch Rolfe’s very first PR campaign called Pancreatic Cancer: It’s Personal! On May 8, brand-new website tools were activated to help individuals “know you family” and “know your risk.” The website tools can be found at www.KnowMyRisk.org and the tools include a worksheet to be filled out with family members to discuss medical histories as well as providing access to genetic counselors across the country. A press release was distributed to key Midwest outlets to educate individuals about early detection, its benefits and the new online assets.

In addition to the website and media launch, LCWA created social media content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to support the media initiatives. The content displays pancreatic cancer statistics and information about the online tools in a lively and engaging way. The goal of ramping up Rolfe’s social media channels is to continue the support of the message of beginning a path to early detection in order to elevate the survival rate of pancreatic cancer. We look forward to continuing our work with Rolfe by spreading this important message to as many people as possible and raising awareness for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Filters, Fancy Flushes and Four Seconds of Fame

While the White House continued to dominate the headlines, there were a few unrelated stories that somehow cut through the clutter. Here are a couple that captured our attention and tickled our funny bones:
  • Copycats – This week, Instagram launched is latest update - a fun, but familiar, new feature called Face Filters. The selfie lenses closely mimic what was arguably Snapchat’s most differentiated characteristic – and could spell more challenges for Snap Inc. on the horizon. This announcement comes on the heels of the recent roll out of “Saved Collections” on Instagram – a seemingly direct knock-off of Pinterest. Are there no original ideas out there?
  • Presidential Photobomb – At Wednesday night’s MLB game between the Texas Rangers and the Philadelphia Phillies, Fox Sports’ reporter Emily Jones was upstaged by an impromptu appearance by George W. Bush. The former president casually strolled by during her broadcast and appeared to say “hey” when he noticed the camera. The unplanned cameo lasted just four seconds but quickly went viral.
  • You fly. They’ll buy. The fight for tech talent has never been fiercer, with cities across the U.S. ramping up efforts to entice qualified candidates to move outside of major metropolitan areas. Cities like Detroit and Buffalo are doling out serious incentives to people open to starting a new life in a new city. Those willing to relocate as far as Alaska can pretty much write their own ticket. 
  • Luxury LoosGuests at Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception this Saturday will be treated to nothing but the best – including a luxury “throne room,” featuring private cubicles outfitted with signature eco-friendly toilets from AndyLoos, and vanity units with luxury basins, large mirrors and spot lighting. Talk about a royal flush!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trex Builds a Better Deck – and a Bigger Fanbase – with North American Sweeps

What’s better than spending summer outdoors on a deck? Spending summer outdoors on a brand new, free deck! To kick off the first day of spring and get fans and followers excited about the 2017 outdoor living season, Trex recently hosted a Facebook sweepstakes where one lucky winner had the chance to win $10,000 in Trex materials to help them build the deck of their dreams.

For this promotion, we enlisted the help of the “Trexperts” – better known as HGTV home improvement personalities Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell – and asked them to each design a deck that could be built with $10,000-worth of Trex materials. Entrants were asked to vote daily for their favorite deck design for the chance to win the $10,000 prize. Entrants also had the opportunity to share the sweepstakes with their Facebook friends to earn bonus entries.

The combination of a high-value prize and the added reach from the Trexperts’ social audiences attracted 96,000 total entries and more than 38,000 new fans, while heightening awareness of Trex products during the critical spring buying season.

For those looking for ways to update their own outdoor living space this season, we encourage you to stay tuned to the Trex Facebook page over the next few weeks for another exciting opportunity to win a great prize!


Monday, May 15, 2017

The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Magazines

Last week I attended the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) monthly luncheon featuring a panel of five magazine journalists and freelance contributors who discussed how to best to pitch them. 
  • Kendra Chaplin, publisher of Chicago Woman magazine
  • Cindy Kuzma, a contributing editor at Runner’s World magazine, and contributes to print and online features for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, SELF and Prevention
  • Sarah Ryan, editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Weddings and deputy editor of CS Magazine
  • Hilary Shenfeld, a Chicago-based freelance reporter whose work has appeared in People magazine, Newsweek and more
  • Kate Silver, and award-winning freelance writer and editor specializing in health, food and travel stories
The panel provided many great tips and insights that we can incorporate into our ongoing story pitching for our clients. 

Keep Email Short
All the panelists strongly preferred to be pitched to via email, with one panelist admitting she hates receiving phone calls from people she does not know and will not answer the phone. They all also want short, concise pitches and subject lines that get to the heart of the message within the first three lines.

“Tell me the story the way you would at a cocktail party,” said Kate Silver, who emphasized including the juicy details and keeping pitches conversational.

Leave a Little Wiggle Room
When pitching via email, PR professionals can sometimes get impatient and send follow-up messages to editors and writers within 24 hours of the original message. The panel agreed that PR pros should allow more than 24 hours before a follow-up email is sent, preferably a few days.

Likewise, when offering exclusivity on a story, the writer or editor may not respond until three to five days later. If there is a tight deadline for exclusivity, include that timeline in the email pitch so the writer is aware. That way, when the deadline passes, PR pros can feel free to move on to the next writer.

Mix it Up
The majority of the panelists work for outlets that create both print and online content. They encouraged PR pros to send new ideas, studies, announcements, etc., to the media ASAP because they may have a use for it immediately for an online piece, or down the road for a print piece. Trying to map out exactly when a topic might be of use for a long-lead print placement may not always work, as each print outlet has its own schedule it works off of. Online content, on the other hand, can be turned around within a day and may be valuable anytime.

Some panelists explained that the preference for online or print for specific stories has shifted over the past few years. While traditionally longer pieces would be used for print and shorter pieces for online, many are realizing the opposite is true today. Online enables them to experiment with a broader range of topics, without being confined by space or specific sections/departments for stories to fall under as in print. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Warmer Weather Brings Hotter Stories

Slowly but surely, the weather is warming here in Chicago. And as we anxiously await summer’s official arrival, a few news stories and trending topics caught our eye this week.
  • More Unicorns Anyone? We may be feeling a little unicorn’ed out and are still coming down from a sip of Starbuck’s tangy Frappuccino, but the mythical craze continues to blanket our news feeds. Whether it’s the pink and blue hues of Pearl Bath Bombs that promise to blanket water with glitter or this Social Media Today infographic that details the 10 best online marketing strategies to make you a unicorn, we’re left wondering when the next fad will take over.
  • Top This – With aesthetics designed to mirror that of traditional roofs, Tesla’s new solar roof tiles are starting to turn heads. Techies and environmentalists aren’t the only ones taking note though. Homeowners can now use the company's online tool to estimate the solar roof's costs and savings, based on their roof's square footage. There may be a few more hurdles on the horizon, but one thing is for sure…this is one breakthrough for the solar-energy industry worth watching.
  • Feeling sleepy? If so, actor Chris Evans will read you a bed time story. The actor is the latest to make an appearance on BBC’s CBeebies Bed Time Stories, where he read a story from Shelly Becker and Eda Kaban’s Even Superheroes Have Bad Days — something Evans, who plays Captain America in the Marvel movies, may know a thing or two about. Geared towards helping children cope with negative emotions, the tale is both empowering and comforting. It’s just one more example of how celebrities and social media can come together for a common cause.
  • To Infinity & Beyond – No longer set to self-destruct after one view, Snaps now have the power to live longer and loop – characteristics that closely resemble what Instagram gives its users. And while this is just one step closer for the platform to more closely compete with its social counterparts, some say that Snapchat still has quite a bit of catching up to do. A recent Captiv8 study showed that 57 percent of social influencers are still posting more on Instagram than Snapchat. However, die-hard Snapchatters are staying loyal and experimenting with all the changes.
  • Just When You Thought It Was Over – When you’re back from celebrating all the mothers or mom-like-figures in your life this weekend, be sure to check out the latest in the box office. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” reviews are reporting that the movie lists as many post-credit scenes as actual Guardians of the Galaxy. We won’t spoil anything about the five extra scenes; however, some report them to be tantalizing with significance to Guardians’ and Marvel’s future stories.
Cheers to a bright and sunny weekend!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UCAOA Teaches Patients about Healthcare Options

When an unexpected illness or injury arises, many patients don’t know where to turn. Should they go to the emergency room or try to make an appointment with a general practitioner? Is the local urgent care the best bet, or should they try a retail clinic or the nurse stationed in their office building? How about telemedicine? The "on-demand" healthcare options are ever growing.

That’s why the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) launched a campaign to help educate patients about the various healthcare options available, how much to expect to pay at each and when to go where.

To get the conversation started about available options, LCWA and UCAOA worked with mommy bloggers to discuss their healthcare experiences. Posts from Heartfully Heather, Jenn’s Blah Blah Blog, MomStart, Mom Blog Society and Pretty Opinionated helped illuminate what should be considered when choosing a provider.

At the same time, national news media are working to educate patients about when to go to urgent care, with many highlighting the differences between urgent care and free-standing emergency rooms, including NBC Nightly News and The Washington Post.

We continue working with online influencers and media to educate patients, providing them with information not only about urgent care, but all on-demand healthcare options, so they can make the best choices possible. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

We Didn’t Start The Fyre, But We Know Someone Who Did

This week, though the weather has been dreary, social media has been fyre. From hot fashion trends of celebrates to the quaint, old-timey styles of the British royals, there seems to be something for everyone. Here are my four happenings that caught my eye:
  • Fyre didn’t cause this meltdown – In case you missed it, the Fyre Festival – promised to be an upscale version of Coachella publicized by model influencers (think Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, etc.) in late 2016/early 2017 on a remote island in the Bahamas – was ultimately cancelled last weekend, but not until festival goer showed up to a massively disorderly venue with nowhere to sleep, nothing but cheese sandwiches to eat, and no way to get home. This hugely hyped-up event flopped harder than anything in recent memory, causing a major social media fire storm. Read more about the timeline of destruction here. 
  • You can catch me at the MET – On Monday, May 1st, starlets, actors, musicians and models alike gathered in their Monday’s Best for the biggest night in fashion at the MET Gala in NYC. Each year, the gala benefits the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and ultimately marking the opening of the annual fashion exhibit.  The theme, and also exhibition, was avant-garde designer Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. You can always expect the attendees to be dressed to the nines, and often leaving people in shock and awe. Some of this year’s “best” includes: Rhianna, Zendaya, Lily-Rose Depp, and Cara Delevingne. Although their looks definitely weren’t ‘safe,’ they followed the theme and impressed the fashion critiques.
  • We’ll never be royal – A few events in the world of the British monarchy occurred this
    week. The first being Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who celebrated her 
    second birthday this week. The family noted the occasion by releasing a rare picture of the Princess, taken by her mother, Kate. The second bit of royal news is about a relative more than 90 years Charlotte’s senior, her great-grandfather Prince Philip. The palace announced Thursday that Prince Philip, husband to Queen Elizabeth II, will be stepping down from public appearances come September. The pair have been married for nearly 70 years and Philip is 95 years old, so it’s probably time for him to relax and have a cup of tea.
  • It’s not a building, it’s not a park, it’s a… – Former presidents of the United States typically build something to commemorate their own achievements, and the same goes for President Obama. On Thursday, the initial design plans were released for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park, Chicago. This center will consist of a museum, a forum and a library surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful landscaping. The community hopes that this project, already being compared to the Millennium Park renovation, will have transformative ramifications for the areas around it. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Meeting with Our Global Partners

Last week I attended the Public Relations Global Network(PRGN) conference in Dallas, hosted by our partner firm there, Three Box Strategic Communications. It was a great meeting of smart professionals and I thoroughly enjoyed the time networking, learning and sharing ideas with leaders from PR firms around the world. Nearly 40 agencies were represented, and the perspective on communications, media and digital trends from individual markets, and as a collective, were extremely insightful.

During the meeting we welcomed two new partners: asoluto, which will expand our European coverage into Vienna, Austria, and S&A Communications out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Both agencies are well-connected in their markets. I look forward to working with them.

I also had a chance to connect with partners Spider PR in the UK and The Fearey Group in Seattle to discuss the current client projects on which we are collaborating. As partners, we are always looking for ways to expand our opportunities to work with one another.

During every Spring Conference we welcome a new president, and this time the gavel passed to Christina Rytter from Scandinavian Communications. This marked the end of a very successful leadership year by Evelyn Holtzhausen, of HWB Communications in South Africa, and we thank Evelyn for his work!

As with every PRGN gathering, we were able to mix in a bit of fun with all that business. No trip to Texas is complete without barbeque and beef – and we had plenty of both. We are proud to be a part of this global PR network and look forward to the next gathering of peers and friends.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Identifying Key Influencers for PR Campaigns

Working with the media is as old as the hills in the PR world, but the online influencer landscape has changed significantly in the past few years.

Through diligent searching, outreach and relationship building, my colleagues and I have built a database of YouTubers, Instagrammers and others whose reach is wide and influence significant. But the tides shift quickly – new people join the scene and others fade from view. Tracking these personalities – some may say sensations – can be time-consuming, but some new tools are helping make the process of researching and sorting the thousands of possibilities more efficient.

PR pros are in an endless pursuit of finding great contacts on behalf of their clients. It’s an increasingly crowded space where those with great influence maybe didn’t hone their craft in journalism school but are important to our campaign because of the number of followers on Instagram or views on YouTube.  It will, of course, be interesting to follow this evolution.

Care to chat about an influencer outreach program for your company? 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Finding Humor in Daily Office Life with Boise Paper

Whether it’s a boss that drones on and on with nothing but clichés, equipment that doesn’t work, or constant interruptions while on a conference call, office life is full of daily frustrations. While these challenges are enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure – could they also be an unlikely source of humor?

We certainly thought so, and with our client Boise Paper, we produced a comedic video series as part of Boise Paper’s “Make Your Bright Ideas Look Brilliant” campaign, meant to build awareness for the bright, high-quality Boise POLARIS® premium office paper line. For these videos, we also wanted to create a friendly, relatable persona for the brand. 

With four common office scenarios in mind, LCWA swung into action by drafting scripts, casting actors, coordinating a film crew and scouting locations. And while many commercial video shoots take months of preparation, LCWA was able to rely on our previous production experience, trusted relationships with producers and editors, and ties to Chicago’s artistic community to deliver final, polished videos in a month’s timeframe.

As for going viral – since posting the videos in March, the videos have received nearly 30,000 views on Boise Paper’s YouTube channel and 100,000 views on Facebook, and counting!

So without further ado, grab some popcorn and join the thousands of people that have laughed along as Boise Paper demonstrates how to “look brilliant” at the office, no matter what comes your way!