Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Media Results in a “League” of their Own for LCWA’s Newest Client

League, a Canadian digital health and wellness start up, has major plans for U.S. expansion, and we’re pleased to welcome the company to the Windy City as both a neighbor and LCWA client!

Backed by a $25 million investment – one of the largest in Canadian start-up history – League is putting down roots in Chicago and has selected the growing River North tech corridor as the site of its U.S. headquarters.

League is represented nationally and in Seattle by The Fearey Group, a fellow member of the Public Relations Global Network. For the Chicago launch, The Fearey Group and League team tapped into LCWA for a tailored launch strategy that would capture the attention of the city’s top media outlets and potential League customers.

The announcement led to a flurry of media interest and interview requests within a matter of days – resulting in stories published in the Chicago Tribune and top technology blogs such as Built in Chicago, Technori and ChicagoInno. In addition, League’s founder, Michael Serbinis, was a featured guest on WGN’s “The Startup Showcase” program.

While goodie baskets are nice, we are excited to see Chicago welcome our new neighbors with a “basket” of media coverage! We look forward to working with League as the company grows in Chicago and beyond.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Selfies, Surprises and Social Media Strategies

This past week officially kicked off the summer season and the Internet was abuzz with hot topics. Here are my favorite finds from this week:
  • Improve Your Selfie Game – In honor or National Selfie Day this week, a new study revealed people respond more favorably to selfie images where the subjects had adopted one specific pose. Namely, they had tilted their head at a 15 degree angle and to the right. Apparently, it’s all about the angles.
  • A Surprise Gift For You! – Now that I have your attention, did you know that nearly half of recipients (47 percent) open an email based purely on the subject line? It’s just as important as the actual content, acting as its own mini-marketing campaign. Here are 9 tips for better email headlines.
  • Rebrand Refresh – A brand update isn’t just a marketing initiative—it’s a company-wide effort that should involve every department from HR to engineering to finance. PR Daily offers these strategies for successful rebranding campaigns.
  • Instagram Success – Successful Instagram marketing is more than just posting a perfect shot. Here are four power tips that can launch your efforts on the visual app.
  • Lead Generation – Looking to market to a specific generation on social media? An infographic from Webpage FX explains where Generation Z, millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers spend their time online.
  • Writing Wisdom – Writing is a key component of a successful public relations campaign. PR Daily offers these seven tips to help improve your copy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

LCWA Wins Two PRSA Skyline Awards

Our team celebrated once again last night, when we picked up two awards at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Skyline event. The annual PRSA event was a chance to hear about the great work being done in the Chicago PR community, and an opportunity to connect with old friends.

LCWA won the Skyline Award in the category of Marketing – Consumer Services – Healthcare Services for our work with the Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA). The award honors last year’s “Urgency or Emergency?” Campaign, which you can read about in an “Award Spotlight” blog post. 

We also won the Skyline Award for our work with Weil-McLain, in the category of Media Relations – Business to Business – Products. The “Making the Case for Weil-McLain Boilers” campaign case study is highlighted here.

Congratulations to our LCWA team members, as well as to our client partners at UCAOA and Weil-McLain, for these honors!


Golden State Gets the Gold, Twitter Underwhelms

This week was full of exciting news and moments. We crowned a new NBA champion, planned a meaningful tribute to a loveable TV superhero, entered for a chance to play dodgeball against celebrities, and even saw a much awaited (but not really) update from our friends at Twitter. Here are my favorite finds!

Golden State brings home the gold!
Unfortunately for teams outside of Oakland and Cleveland, the Warriors and Cavaliers played in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. Think fans got tired of seeing these two basketball titans compete? Think again! More than 24 million people tuned in to watch the series’ fifth game, the most for a game 5 since Bill Clinton was in the White House. 

Remembering Adam West – aka TV Batman
On June 15, the city of Los Angeles celebrated the life of Adam West, who’s starred as Batman in 1906s TV series, by shining the famed bat signal at the city’s village hall. With fans attending
the ceremony dressed in appropriate Batman garb, this was truly a tribute made for a superhero.

Dodgeball 101 – dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge
Want to relive the world’s greatest dodgeball match between Team Globo Gym and Average Joe’s? Ben Stiller, everyone’s favorite ageless celebrity, is making your dream a reality! Fans of the movie, or anyone who wants to throw on their spandex and hit the dodgeball court (is this really a thing?), can enter to win the ultimate dodgeball prize package – complete with a pizza party. Proceeds benefit the Stiller Foundation, which helps provide educational opportunities for children around the world.  

Twitter’s underwhelming update

King of the 140 character news flash, Twitter announced this week that they’ve considered users’ ideas and have taken feedback to heart. However, some people were not so enthused when the update consisted of only redesigned look-and-feel. At least now we have circular profile photos!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Facebook Live to a McFlurry Surprise

The testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before Congress was certainly the hottest topic in the news this week, but there also was no shortage of marketing and pop culture news. Here are some stories that caught our eye.
  • Facebook Live Checklist – This week PR News reminded us that, “just because you can go live with nothing but an iPhone and an idea doesn’t mean you should.” The reputable industry news outlet shared IBM’s best practices for a successful Facebook Live event. Top tips include: Focus on interaction, how-to videos resonate, let the audience dictate the length and build a small crew.
  • Pretty, but Not So Tasty Popsicles – Thanks to our client Culligan International, we appreciate the importance of clean water, which is probably why a story on sewage popsicles from Mashable Social grabbed our attention. Students from the National Taiwan University of Arts, collected sewage runoff from 100 locations in Taiwan to make popsicles and create a social campaign that would emphasize the importance of clean water. In this case, we’ll look but not taste.
  • Welcome Ella and Alexander! – Hollywood welcomed two new members this week with the birth of Ella and Alexander Clooney.  Proud parents George and Amal released this statement following the twins’ birth, “This morning Amal and George welcomed Ella and Alexander Clooney into their lives. Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine. George is sedated and should recover in a few days.” Let’s hope George has recuperated by now.
  • McFlurry Sandwich Goes Viral – Created by a fan of McDonald’s, the McFlurry sandwich is a sweet combination of two items on the fast food giant’s menu – cookies and the Oreo McFlurry. The tasty sensation has gone viral with 18,000 retweets and 58,000 likes. We’ll take two!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Award Spotlight: “Making the Case for Weil-McLain Boilers”

What can a landmark Wisconsin church, a vintage, luxury apartment in Washington, D.C. and a leading Chicago medical facility possibly have in common?

Each uses heating systems fueled by boilers from Weil-McLain and each served as dramatic illustrations of the products’ benefits in a high-profile case study editorial media initiative that won a Trumpet award from the Publicity Club of Chicago.  

Some background: Weil-McLain, although a leading North American manufacturer of hydronic boilers, historically had minimal visibility in industry trade publications, a vital conduit to customers.

In addition to launching an ongoing editorial coverage campaign, LCWA recommended the sales force would benefit most from publication of case study articles that showcased how Weil-McLain boilers solve an array of heating challenges. 

However, case study articles are submitted to media every day with editorial space in print editions at a premium; even publications’ online versions do not use every article submitted. That’s why LCWA determined it critical to feature facilities that were decidedly distinctive to pique editor interest, such as:  
  • The Zion Episcopal Church, a Wisconsin landmark founded in 1846 by the Rt.
    Reverend Jackson Kemper, the first missionary Episcopal Bishop
  • The Mendota, Washington, D.C.’s oldest intact luxury apartment built in 1901
  • The Weyhill Guest House, a former farm house now used as an historic boutique bed and breakfast
  • A medical facility operated by a leading health care provider, Presence Health

The articles also needed to:
  • Focus on end-users’ unique challenges
  • Portray how Weil-McLain boilers responded to these challenges with high-tech, innovative features
  • Include strong customer endorsements

Another key tactic: development by LCWA of well-written, clever copy. A small sampling:
  • “Historic Church Sings Praises of New High Efficiency Condensing Boilers” (headline from Zion Church article)
  • “Pennsylvania Country Club Gets Guest House in Order with New Boilers” (headline for Weyhill Guest House article)
  • “A medical center in Chicago required a quick, efficient remedy to nurse its aging and failing boiler heating system back to good health” (lead to Presence Health article)
  • Advanced System ‘Harbors’ Efficient Heat for Chicago Condo Building” (headline for Belmont Harbor article)

Six in-depth case studies were researched, written and published in leading HVAC and engineering journals.

Prominent editorial coverage was gained in a major way. In just a 10-month period, a remarkable 56 print and online placements were attained (17 print and 39 online). That’s more than one per week! And, these were not just mere product mentions. Coverage ranged from two to four pages with large color photos.

Even more valuable, these articles vividly illustrated how Weil-McLain boilers solved major heating challenges and featured comments from customers that delivered impactful testimonials. Some examples:
  • Weil-McLain products restored this historic guest house to its former heating glory.”  
  • “These new boilers are more energy efficient, feature low-range pressure controls and have the ability to modulate.”
  • “We didn’t have a single service call through all of last year’s heating season, which says it all for the quality of the units.”
  • “It really is a phenomenal, efficient system and the energy savings have been fantastic.” 

These powerful, third-party endorsements conveyed through yet another influential third-party (the editorial media) boosted the Weil-McLain brand and provided the sales force with compelling information to present to sales prospects.

The "Making the Case for Weil-McLain Boilers" Campaign won a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of Media Relations - Business to Business.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Award Spotlight: UCAOA “Urgency or Emergency?” Campaign

When unexpected health mishaps arise, many people’s first reaction is to head to an emergency room. But when those illnesses and injuries aren’t true emergencies, not knowing the best option for care – or, in the case of emerging freestanding emergency rooms, not understanding the types of facilities at which they’re seeking treatment – can end up costing patients both time and money.

Helping consumers nationwide, The Urgent Care Association of America’s (UCAOA) “Urgency or Emergency?” campaign educated patients about healthcare options, including urgent care centers and emerging free-standing emergency departments, to help select the best option for their needs.

To start, LCWA conducted a consumer survey to ascertain the level of awareness and understanding about urgent care services and drive audience selection and messaging. The survey found that the vast majority of patients understood urgent care offerings, and it also provided insights into how patients choose their healthcare options. LCWA also worked with UCAOA to mine the data from its annual benchmarking report to determine trends, including overall growth of centers, which services were most utilized and diagnoses seen most often, and insurance and payment data for comparison to other healthcare destinations.

Through additional secondary research, we learned that 27 percent of all ER visits could take place at an urgent care center or retail clinic, generating potential costs savings of approximately $4.4 billion annually, and that 98 percent of patients who visit urgent care centers are in the appropriate care setting.

With these findings in hand, we aimed outreach to the general public to inform them about the growing segment of free-standing emergency departments in the country, narrowing our target audiences from general consumers to millennial moms, who were shown to be more confused about health care choices, and to value the convenience and affordability offered by urgent care. The program’s objectives were:

  • Educating patients about the role of urgent care as a high-quality, affordable and convenient medical option for immediate but non-emergency, non-life threatening situations
  • Increasing public knowledge of free-standing emergency departments to decrease consumer confusion
  • Driving consumers to UCAOA social channels and web pages, including the custom landing page to locate the closest urgent care center, www.whereisurgentcare.com
To meet these objectives, we executed several components designed to educate patients about how urgent care is a better option than ERs – both traditional and free-standing – for illnesses and injuries that are not life- or limb-threatening, including gathering an expert panel of media spokespeople, a wide-scale national media launch with a full suite of press materials, an #UrgencyorEmergency social media blitz complete with an engaging infographic and Twitter chat, along with reactive outreach to industry trends and a seasonal pitch calendar to always stay top-of-mind with priority media.

For the busy back-to-school period, LCWA narrowed our focus to millennial moms, to educate young parents that urgent care is the best option for children’s illnesses and injuries during the school year. We reached this key audience through a back-to-school press release, collaboration with top mommy bloggers and an #UrgentCarePrepared hashtag contest.

The program garnered high-level results, such as 585 million media impressions with a media value of nearly $3 million, in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, NPR and Bloomberg, all with at least one key program message included in the article. On the social media and blogger side, program activities achieved nearly 45 million impressions.

As the program concluded, results showed that LCWA was able to educate patients on emerging healthcare options, drive interest in industry growth based on regional expansion, and keep UCAOA top-of-mind with key audiences while strengthening thought leadership. 

The Urgent Care Association of America won a Gold Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of Marketing - Healthcare.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Award Spotlight: “Trex Makes It Easy”

Building a deck can be overwhelming but, in 2016, Trex set out to make things easier by introducing online tools to guide users through the deck planning process. L.C. Williams & Associates led PR and social efforts to engage consumers and drive them to key resources on the Trex website. The “Trex Makes It Easy” campaign combined proven PR methods executed in fresh ways with strategic influencer partnerships to deliver a record number of media and social impressions. Most important to Trex, the campaign contributed to a 30% YOY increase in traffic to Trex.com, and a 99% increase in engagement with pages that deliver strong conversion and customer leads.

“Make It Easy” served as the thematic foundation for our award-winning program, which focused on elevating Trex as the undisputed leader in the composite decking category and positioning Trex.com as a destination for expert help.

To elevate Trex as the undisputed leader in the composite decking category, we:
  • Issued an outdoor living forecast predicting trends from the experts at Trex with links to key resources on Trex.com
  • Developed and placed bylined articles on behalf of Trex experts in priority trade journals
  • Maintained a consistent presence in influential consumer and trade media outlets
  • Maximized Trex’s presence and demonstrated new online tools at trade shows

To position Trex/Trex.com as a destination for expert help and resources, we:
  • Enlisted deck building experts and HGTV personalities Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell to serve as campaign spokespeople (a.k.a. “Trexperts”)
  • Partnered with Houzz to conduct a trends presentation featuring the Trexperts during the International Builders Show (IBS)
  • Promoted Trex resources in a series of “how-to”-focused pitches and press releases, a Trex-exclusive satellite media tour (SMT), and social content – all strategically linked to purchase indicators on Trex.com
  • Engaged influential home/shelter/design media with the online tools during interactive meetings with editorial decision makers from top print and digital titles based in NYC
  • Coordinated deck builds with influencers requiring use and promotion of the new online tools
  • Planned and executed seasonal social sweepstakes that drove entrants to online resources

As a result of this campaign, media impressions for Trex hit an all-time high of 1.4 billion in 2016, generating 120M+ additional impressions over 2015 and equaling more than $14.4 million in advertising value. Trex secured the most media placements in the decking industry with nearly 1,000 more hits than its closest competitor. From a messaging standpoint, more than 90% of the editorial coverage generated in 2016 can be tied to “Make It Easy” outreach.

Socially, Trex maintained the largest and most engaged brand community in the industry across channels managed by LCWA. The brand dominated social engagement among its key competitors in 9 out of 12 months and retained its position as the industry leader in fans and share of voice. Most notably, social efforts drove more than 43,000 clicks to Trex.com.

The "Trex Makes it Easy" Campaign won a Gold Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of Marketing - Consumer.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Award Spotlight: Boise Paper “Office Life” Campaign

The Boise Paper “Office Life” social media and digital marketing campaign was designed to help Boise Paper foster awareness and engagement across its social media channels and develop advocates among professionals and consumers. Our approach consisted of rotating monthly business themes driven by social media content, online events and influencer partnerships.

Prior to launching the campaign, LCWA conducted a detailed online marketing analysis of Boise Paper and its primary competitors to determine the scope, strategy and expected outcomes of the digital marketing initiative. We also completed a search engine optimization test to test the efficacy of various keywords. Based on our findings, we developed key program objectives and sought to establish Boise Paper as an “office expert” and resource for the small business and consumer audiences.

To launch the campaign, we worked with Boise Paper to create www.BePaperSmart.com, which highlights ongoing thought-leadership on office topics, product info and tips from an internal Boise Paper “Office Life” expert. We got creative with monthly themes like #WorkWithPurpose, which focused on tips – from gathering groups of volunteers to fundraising to donating gently used items – for “doing good” at work; #DeskForSuccess, where we presented practical organization tips for professionals; and #PaperPreparedness, which educated audiences about all different types of office paper, terms and features.

Each theme included a variety of activities, from creative content, infographics and videos, to Twitter chats and blogger partnerships. We also distributed customer emails and relied on banner ads to extend reach and drive clicks to the BePaperSmart.com site.

Ultimately, the “Office Life” campaign proved to be extremely successful. We doubled social media impressions and engagements over 2015 levels, increased follower bases and drove massive clicks to our destination websites.

The Boise Paper 2016 "Office Life" Campaign won a Gold Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of Online - Social Media Campaigns.

Friday, June 2, 2017

LCWA Celebrates Four Awards from PCC

Last night, I attended one of our agency’s favorite events – the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Golden Trumpet Awards dinner, held at the historic Palmer House Hilton. I enjoyed connecting with our industry peers and hearing a great speech from keynote speaker and Lifetime Achievement Award winner, David Axelrod.  And of course, it’s always great to celebrate award-winning client work, as we had four client campaigns honored by the PCC.

LCWA took home three Gold Trumpets and a Silver Trumpet in categories that were packed with great national brands and the top agencies in Chicago. Winners included:
  • Urgent Care Association of America, “Urgency or Emergency? Campaign,” Gold Trumpet in Marketing – Health category
  • Trex, “Trex Makes it Easy,” Gold Trumpet in Marketing – Consumer category
  • Boise Paper, “Office Life," Gold Trumpet in Online – Social Media Campaigns category
  • Weil-McLain, “Making the Case for Weil-McLain Boilers,” Silver Trumpet in Media Relations – Business-to-Business category
We appreciate this recognition from our peers, and congratulate all the winners at the PCC Golden Trumpet Awards! Visit the blog next week to read “Awards Spotlight” descriptions of each of our winning campaigns. 

Nutella and Rosé Pineapples

As the rain clouds have turned into sunshine around the Windy City, summer seems to finally be on the horizon. With the temperatures finally hitting in the 70s, here are some other hot finds from this week:
  • New AP Stylebook – The AP Stylebook released the revised 2017 version this week, which included nearly 200 new or revised entries. One of the most important revised entries for PR, is the endorsement of using “they” as a singular pronoun. According to AP, this was done for two reasons, the “recognition that the spoken language uses they as singular, and we also recognize the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she.”
  • Nutella Cafe – The world’s first Nutella café opened not only in Chicago this week, but across the street from our office! The lines this week maintained a steady stream outside, aided by the sunny weather. Patrons enter through a door shaped like a Nutella jar, which also includes pendants shaped like hazelnut flowers and a ceiling designed to remind customers of Nutella waves.
  • Internet Trends Report – Mary Meeker, a tech industry analyst since the 1980s, has released her annual trends report which highlights changes on social media and on the web. Some of the key insights include that internet ad spend will surpass TV within the next six months, the influence of the growing image and voice search and the value of customer service on social media.
  • National Spelling Bee – The national spelling bee is this week, and in honor of such a prestigious event, Google has taken us all down a peg by sharing what the most popular misspelled word is from each state. For us Illinoisans, it is “appreciate,” however our lovely friends up north have trouble spelling their own state – Wisconsin. Check out the full list and map here.
  • Rosé Pineapples – If you are looking for the inflatable swans of 2017, look no further. A new pineapple genetically engineered to be pink on the inside will soon be filling up Instagram for those “oh so lovely” summer photos. Learn all about this trendy fruit here.