Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Serving Up A Great Big Bowl of Deliciousness

Introducing New Alexia Premium Vegetable Side Dishes

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

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

900 North Michigan Shops Illuminate the Magnificent Mile

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Prep

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

“SMART” Insights on Public Relations in Brazil

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

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Staying Hungry for Chicago Food Media

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Insights from an Intern

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Future of Journalism in Chicago

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Business and Bonding in Beautiful Kyoto

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Halloween Fun Sweetens a Dark Week

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

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