Friday, December 22, 2017

These Are a Few of Our Favorite (2017) Things

Tis the season for end of year recaps that wrap up another year gone by. Here are a few of my favorite roundups from 2017:

  • Top Ten Times Brands Nailed it on Twitter – Who can forget Carter Wilkerson’s viral plea for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets, or KFC’s response when a Twitter user realized that they only follow the five Spice Girls and six men named "Herb" – a play on their secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.
  • The Best Inventions of 2017TIME’s annual round-up of the best products and services that launched over the past year is full of innovation. With everything from glasses for the blind to low-guilt ice cream, 2017 sure seemed to be a groundbreaking year.
  • The Tech That Died in 2017And on the flip side, this year saw just as many products and brands fade into darkness. October saw the demise of AOL Instant Messenger (RIP away messages), and an increase in competition in the fitness wearable market sealed Jawbone’s unfortunate fate – despite the fact that they were at one time dominant in the industry.
  • Trivia Madness – And finally, on an unrelated note, I had to share about the trivia game that is taking the world (and some LCWA team members) by storm. HQ Trivia – a free app that invites you to play live trivia twice a day for the chance to win cash – has become a viral sensation. In fact, many agencies throughout the U.S. find themselves pausing work for 15 minutes every afternoon to play along. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Politics & PR in 2017: Lessons From the Media

Earlier this month, I attended the Publicity Club of Chicago's  luncheon featuring an esteemed panel of state and local politics reporters from the AP, POLITICO, WBEZ and the Chicago Tribune. They did not hold back when sharing their thoughts on the political media environment in 2017. As we all know, the atmosphere was volatile, straining relationships between reporters, PR reps
and the public. The panel shared its thoughts on the “best and worst” of political PR in 2017, and we walked away with some key learnings on how to stay in the “best” column.
  • Keep dialogue professional: No matter what the perspective, look for opportunities to steer the dialogue to a place of maturity and flexibility. Debate respectfully and seek solutions for the greater good.
  • Engage in active listening: For any two-sided issue, it’s tempting to keep communicating without listening. But asking questions and engaging the other side can create understanding on both sides, which reduces controversy and can steer processes, messages or even policies down the road.
  • Be transparent: One of the best ways to improve even the worst crisis is to own it – and the easiest way to make it worse is to hide or cover it up. The facts will come out anyway, so while the road to redemption in the public eye may be long, engaging the media proactively and honestly will start the process off right.
  • Issue apologies quickly: If something goes wrong, there is only one chance to apologize the right way. The apology needs to be sincere and specifically address the issue while offering a solution to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It needs to be on-message without sounding corporate and stuffy. And it needs to come from the top. A failed first apology can make a company or organization look unorganized, unaccountable and uncaring.
  • Focus on positive relationships: Maintaining respectful relationships with media is a must to survive and thrive in this business, and PR practitioners will be working with reporters long after today’s hot news item. Angry texts, emails or phone calls will only make a bad situation worse, and can create an irreparable relationship with a key media contact.

At LCWA, we continually work on building good relationships with reporters and editors, even in the face of a changing media landscape, and by embracing practices, we can be poised to land on the “best” lists in 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Vive la France! Vive BATIMAT!

Last month I had the great pleasure of working  alongside a member of the WE Agency, our Paris-based PRGN partner, on behalf of TREX. The long-time LCWA home PR client was exhibiting at the bi-annual “mondial du b√Ętiment” (world of building show) BATIMAT and is dedicated to expanding its reach in the French market.

With their local expertise, keen knowledge of the show and strong connections with French consumer and building trade media, the WE Agency delivered an impressive roster of journalists to the Trex booth. Together with the WE Agency and Trex representatives, I spoke with scores of media and building professionals about the benefits of Trex’s U.S.-made, world-class decking products and showcased many beautiful uses of Trex decking.

While the language is different (thankfully, I speak French), the atmosphere both in the convention center and back in the office at the WE Agency is much the same. In fact, one of the highlights of this trip was learning how similarly we approach PR.

On my next trip, I have planned to visit the WE Agency in their offices to meet more members of their excellent team, and of course we extend an open invitation for them to visit us back in the Windy City!

Friday, December 8, 2017

This Week in Color

With the holidays just around the corner, everything from store windows to streetlights are getting lit up in red and green. This week, even the news seemed particularly colorful. Check out my multicolor week in review:
  • Out of the BlueAfter losing his dog nearly two months ago, our very own Nicho Campos just picked up his furry friend Sky all the way down in Tallahassee, Florida. Showing up out of the (sky) blue, the American pit bull mix was found after a truck driver picked her up in Indiana. The driver made his way to Florida and took her to a shelter so they could find her a home. Luckily, that home she found was back in Nicho’s arms.
  • Blazing Orange – Californians have faced continued devastation this week from wildfires, now consuming over 100,000 acres of land. Many images of the blaze have been shared across social media this week, but one video showed true bravery in the face of this hare-y situation. While people across the state have lost their homes, one man recognized that animals too are losing their homes and stopped at the side of the road to save a rabbit that had been stuck in the burning bushes.
  • Turning Green – A seaside resort in France is taking seafood into the digital age. Local oyster farmers have installed refrigerated vending machines allowing guests to satisfy their oyster cravings around the clock. Some people may love a 3am vending machine oyster, but just the idea is making me turn green…
  • Ultra Violet – Pantone has finally released their color of the year for 2018 named “Ultra Violet.” The company boasts the trending color saying it “suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead and the discoveries beyond where we are now.” I didn’t know one color could do all of that. Regardless, it is time to get out the sunscreen, because 2018 is going to be filled with Ultra Violet.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In the Marketing Mix: Experiential

The lines between traditional forms of communication are blurring. With more tools at our disposal than ever before, industry professionals have endless ways to tell a client’s story—one of which is by dropping the consumer right in the middle of that story. Experiential marketing connects brands with consumers by facilitating direct consumer interaction. For some greater insight into activating this side of the marketing mix, I attended the International Association ofBusiness Communicator’s event “Coffee with the Communicators: Experiential Marketing” with experts from Gravel Experiential. Here are a few highlights from the discussion on how experiential marketing can help flesh out a client
  • Finding the Right Fit – Experiential marketing can take many forms, which allows the opportunity to best fit the brand. From product launches and pop-up stores, to mobile tours and flash mobs, this form of communication can put brands in unexpected places to get direct interaction from consumers. 
  • Planning Ahead – Like any traditional program, this type of activation takes planning. At the outset, the most important question to ask is “what is the objective?” Not only will this allow you to find the right type of program, but will also allow you to address who the specific audience will be, what resources you are able to allocate to the project, if there a seasonality to the event and more. With more dollars being shifted from traditional programs to these “touch” experiences, spending your dollars wisely will allow lasting impressions to be made.
  • Keeping Consumers Engaged – One key element of a successful experiential program is finding a way to keep consumers engaged beyond just one main activation. For example, Gravel XP launched a McDonald’s program in Indonesia, creating an artificial snow sledding hill inside a mall, hosted by Ronald—but they went one step further. To keep those in line entertained, the program included photo opportunities throughout, which encouraged social sharing and allowed the program to reach far beyond the walls of the mall itself.
  • Reinforcing Success – Any program works best with support. By combining elements of the marketing mix along with an experiential event, the brand story can reach a larger audience through traditional earned media, live longer through social and digital, or even be captured for use in an advertisement. Creating a “360 campaign” allows the many fragments of the communications industry to come together, creating something greater than the sum of its parts.

Friday, December 1, 2017

From Food Coma to News Coma

This week started out with everyone still in a food coma from Thanksgiving, but continued on to be a busy news week. From a royal engagement to holiday travel woes, there was a little bit of information for every category – good and bad.
  • An American Princess – Everyone woke up on Cyber Monday to some cheerful and welcome news about everyone’s favorite prince, Prince Harry of England. Kensington Palace and Clarence House announced via their Twitter accounts that Prince Harry, soon to be the sixth in line to the British throne, was engaged to be married to American Suits actress Meghan Markle. The pair have been linked since the summer of 2016 and officially a couple since November 2016. The couple expressed their love for each other and their excitement for the May 2018 wedding in their engagement interview. Cheers to the happy couple!  
  • Holiday Travel Hell – American Airlines got in some hot air this week after
    accidentally giving too many pilots and crew members vacation during the holidays. A
    scheduling glitch gave too many employees PTO during the crucial time period of late December, leaving thousands of flights without a crew team. Initially, as many as 15,000 flights could have been impacted, but the airline has been working diligently to fix this snafu to get everyone where they want to be during the holidays. Although just to be safe, it may be best to stick to road or rails to get to grandma’s house this year...
  • Similar Allegations, Different Culprit – Unfortunately, this news headline is becoming all too common in America: Matt Lauer, longtime news anchor for NBC’s TODAY Show, has been fired for accusations of sexual misconduct. In a statement released on Wednesday morning by NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, it’s stated that a detailed complaint had been filed against Lauer and that they have reason to believe it’s not an “isolated incident.” Lauer comes after a string of high-powered men in the TV and movie industry have been accused of sexual misconduct – including CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor and Harvey Weinstein.
  • High and Low Notes – The 2018 Grammy nominations came out this week with many expected nominations, and also some snubs, by the nomination committee. One trend many are seeing with these new nominations is the straying away from traditional pop music and emergence of rap and hip-hop music in the big categories. Some artists who hit the high note include Jay-Z, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar. 
  • Carpet King – Ending on a silly note, if you want to go viral on social media, sometimes all it takes are some good shots of hotel carpet. Just ask @MyHotelCarpet, who received more than 540,000 followers (and counting) in a couple of days thanks to his daughter.