Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall: A Season of Change

With Chicago weather in the 80s and up all week, and more in the forecast, it’s hard to believe we are celebrating the first official day of fall. Yet as many of us can’t wait for cooler temperatures, change is already in the air for these finds this week:
  • Rolling Stone Up for Grabs – Jann Wenner, found and owner of Rolling Stone for the last 50 years, has put his controlling stake of the magazine up for sale. The era of print advertising and circulation is changing, and this landscape can be seen as other magazine editors have stepped down as well. To name a few editors: Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, Robbie Myers of Elle, Nancy Gibbs of TIME magazine and Cindi Leive of Glamour have announced they are stepping down.
  • Amazon Baby Registry – A large number of Amazon customers this week experienced confusion and panic after receiving emails that customers had purchased gifts from their baby registry – which they had not created – some did not even have a baby. This technical glitch has since been corrected, but if you’d like to check out some of the many responses on Twitter, you can check them out here.
  • Toys ‘R’ Bust – What used to be a mecca for children in the ‘80s and early ‘90s has now become barren, as this week Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy. Experts say the company’s failure to focus on its online presence led to its downfall. With brands such as Amazon, Walmart and Target dominating the online space, it is easy for toy shoppers to navigate online. Researchers estimate 41 percent of toys and games in America to be purchased online this year, twice the proportion from 2009. The future of Toys ‘R’ Us still remains to be seen, but it in the meantime it may have great deals for holiday shopping?
  • The Upside Down – Movie and television themed pop-up cafés have become trendy, with a Game of Thrones pop-up in Washington D.C., a Star Wars themed cantina in Hollywood and a Stranger Things bar here in Chicago. “The Upside Down” has been gaining popularity until this week, when Netflix provided them a very ‘80s themed cease-and-desist letter. While you only have one more week to visit the establishment, you have to admit Netflix handled this legal situation with the right amount of flair to keep fans happy.
  • Pinterest Sections – There are now more than 100 billion Pins on Pinterest, which has also reached 200 million users. This week Pinterest announced new “Sections” in Beta testing, which will allow users to create sub-boards. For example, users could have a recipe board with sub-boards broken down by categories, so you don’t have to search through all your food pins to find desserts.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Going Above and Beyond for Beyond Paint

Before and after photo featured on blog "In My Own Style."
Who doesn’t love a good makeover? This was the thinking behind our recent campaign for Beyond Paint – a revolutionary new refinishing paint that combines primer, finisher and sealer all in one product and bonds to virtually any surface with no sanding, stripping or priming required. Inspired by the mindset that seeing is believing, we tapped our home PR team's network of lifestyle, home décor and DIY bloggers to coordinate a series of makeover projects ranging from flea market furniture finds to kitchen cabinets and countertops. We provided the paint and let the bloggers do the work – and the publicity in the form of before-and-after posts, video testimonials and social content.

Bloggers provide authentic and relatable perspectives on product experiences that consumers find refreshing. Our collaborations with trusted influencers including Remodelaholic, The Taylor House, In My Own Style and more, helped Beyond Paint drive brand and product awareness among targeted home enthusiasts. The program also racked up online impressions and shares that drove increases in Beyond Paint fans/followers, as well as traffic and sales leads to the brand website.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Apple of My Eye

The calendar says we still have one week left of summer, but the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte says it is already fall. That’s right, that means crunching leaves, carving pumpkins and – my favorite – picking apples. Check out my apple picks from the news this week:
  • A Line at the Apple Store – A full ten years since the iPhone was first introduced, Apple announced three new iterations of the iconic device at its release event this past Tuesday at the new Steve Jobs Theater. To most, the news means not much more than higher quality photos and a hit to their bank account, but to the communications industry it means new technologies driving the way we connect with brands and with each other. Forbes looks beyond the hype to what the new iPhone means for the future.
  • International Eat An Apple Day – Tomorrow, September 16th, people all over the world will be celebrating International Eat An Apple Day with fresh apples, caramel apples, apple pies, and every apple concoction you can imagine. Some of our LCWA Team members have been down in Kentucky this week with our client Jim Beam, so may we suggest a little happy hour celebration with a Jim Beam Apple & Soda?
  • An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away – but that may not be enough. A new study has found that people stay sedentary for 12.5 hours or more a day have the highest risk of death from any cause. So maybe eat your apple a day while walking…
  • Pink Ladies in the Big Apple – New York Fashion Week came to a close this week with some definite trends popping up beyond the runways. While NYFW is about the new spring collections debuting, just as much attention is given to the street style of those attending. One of the biggest trends in street style was combining pops of color, specifically red and pink together. Spring fashion in the last week of summer and a blog post about fall…now I am really confused. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

To Market, To Market

As one of the country’s top agencies specializing in promoting home products, it seems every time we turn around we are facing another “Market.” Between the Spring and Fall Home Furnishings Markets in High Point, N.C., and the semi-annual Las Vegas Markets, planning for “Market” has become a quarterly tradition for LCWA. So, it only makes sense
that over the years we’ve learned a trick or two (or three) for maximizing media coverage for our clients.
  1. The early bird gets the word (no, that’s not a typo). When it comes to securing Market-related media coverage, timing is everything. What many don’t realize is that trade media in the home industry plan their Market coverage long before each event occurs – more than a month in advance for most. For our client Fashion Bed Group (FBG), which attends all four Markets during the year, we just finalized our press materials for Fall Market (which begins October 14) and have already done an initial round of outreach to our key media targets. This “early bird” approach has proven effective in generating buzz for the brand in the weeks leading up to each Market, which in turn helps to drive showroom attendance and business leads during the actual events.
  2. Find something new in your “news.” With four Markets each year, inevitably we are faced with repeated products and company news from show to show. While the audiences for each event may vary, the media that cover these shows are mostly the same. And, to them, a product or announcement is only “new” once. Therefore, we are continually faced with the challenge of creating “new news” out of subject matter they may already have seen and even covered. Part of what our team brings to the party is the ability to work with clients to find new ways to tell the story to keep an important product or topic in the news.
  3. A little personalization goes a long way. No one likes to receive bulk mail or a form letter. This rings especially true for media. One of the benefits of hiring a PR firm that specializes in a particular industry is working with a team that has nurtured strong relationships with media that cover that industry and knows how they tick. Our home PR team of experts has worked with some of the same editors for more than 30 years. We know what they like and don’t waste their time, our resources or a client’s budget on information they won’t use. So, while FBG sells a wide array of products ranging from youth beds to bar stools, we don’t send every press release to every editor we target. If a contact covers adjustable bases, that’s the only information they receive from us. This level of customization and personalization is what has earned LCWA our reputation as the go-to agency for media and companies in the home products arena.

 Strategic timing, a nose for news and a personal approach are just a few tricks of the trade that we employ to achieve media success for our clients. Based on the more than 30 placements we generated for FBG in coverage related to the latest Summer Las Vegas Market, it’s a formula that works. Next stop, High Point!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

LCWA Fires Up The Great Distillery BBQ Cook-off with Jim Beam Bourbon

Fierce competitors set aside their differences in the name of barbecue and a good cause as some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries and cooperages gathered at the Jim Beam® American Stillhouse in Clermont, Ky,. last week for the inaugural “Great Distillery BBQ Cook-off.” Together with the world’s No. 1 selling bourbon, Jim Beam®, LCWA helped demonstrate that the world’s best barbecue comes from the world’s best bourbon distilleries.

From concept to reality in one month, LCWA’s expert team of in-house event and media relations specialists brought new meaning to bourbon and barbecue. The result was big and bold, just like the whiskies the Beam family has been making for more than 220 years. Guests enjoyed a series of hands-on activities such as cornhole, make-your-own barbecue rub and interactive tableside cocktails as they watched teams smoke, sear and sauce their way to the winners’ circle.
The competition not only celebrated camaraderie and America’s native spirit, but also
supported Operation BBQ Relief, a nonprofit consisting of volunteers from competition barbecue teams who provide hot meals to displaced families and emergency personnel in areas impacted by natural disasters. The organization was recently deployed in Texas and soon will be in Florida providing relief to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Chocolate, a Commercial Blunder and Cooler Weather

Now that Labor Day has passed, the first feelings of fall are upon us in Chicago. With a new season and cooler weather approaching, here are my favorite finds from this (chilly) past week.



  • Healthy Sibling Rivalry – It’s apparent that Facebook stories never took off in the way the social media giant had hoped, and now it’s turning to sister company Instagram for some help. The photo sharing platform is now testing the option to let users share their Instagram stories directly to Facebook. It will be interesting to see if users take to this new tactic and give Facebook the boost that it’s look for.
  • CNN’s Commercial Carelessness – With the impact of Hurricane Harvey last week, many brands looked to reevaluate their marketing and advertising plans and shift the focus to relief efforts. Apparently, CNN didn’t get the memo. Despite the news channel’s constant coverage of the storm’s aftermath, it failed to pull an ad for the Hurry Cane, which included claims such as, “Americans are loving the Hurry Cane!” CNN has since said the ad only aired in certain markets, but not before angering many of those who saw it.
  • Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice – With Labor Day marking the unofficial start of fall, brands are looking for every opportunity possible to capitalize on the pumpkin spice craze, which is still going strong. From cough drops to every beauty product imaginable, there’s no shortage of items for pumpkin lovers to get their hands on. And beware PSL fans, your beloved Starbucks drink will be a bit pricier this year.
  • Think Pink – Millennial pink lovers also had reason to celebrate this week as Swiss scientists debuted the first new kind of natural chocolate in over 80 years – ruby chocolate. Along with milk, dark and white chocolate there is now a rosy-pink confection that is made from the Ruby cocoa bean and has an all-natural unique, fruity taste. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fibre-Craft Wants You to Dab It Up

LCWA client and local Chicago company Fibre-Craft, a leader in creative activities, has recently launched a new high-tech coloring sensation, DabitZ!

The new DabitZ series, launched this August, combines innovative technology with artistic spirit to take classic coloring to new heights with “dabbing.” Starter sets come with everything you need to try this photomosaic art form and to make your own masterpiece. DabitZ is inspired by the painting technique called Pointillism, but users don’t need to be talented artists to “dab it up.” Starter sets include templates called DabDesignZ, and the free DabitZ app can transform any picture into a template design as well. Simply take a photo, create a template, print it and dab it up!

LCWA has helped to lead a flurry of activity surrounding the official DabitZ launch, from the official release, to developing a feature story which has received pick-up nationwide, including in the LA Times, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

As we head into September, LCWA coordinated a co-op SMT just in time for back-to-school season! DabitZ was touted as a wonderful, creative addition to after-school activities, and the SMT was booked on more than 19 affiliates nationwide.

Our PR push will continue to build as we work with social media influencers to raise awareness of this new and fun activity. We look forward to continuing to work with Fibre-Craft as “dabbing” becomes the newest trend. Get yours in time for National Coloring Day on September 14!