Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rejuvenate TV Tour Takes the Click n Clean Message to the Masses

Recently, LCWA’s home PR team participated in a back-to-school co-op media tour for the Rejuvenate Click n Clean Multi-Surface Spray Mop System. Hosted by TV host and lifestyle expert Ereka Vetrini, the tour featured top products that help moms survive the hectic school year. Leveraging the company’s existing commercial video, Vetrini spoke about the mop’s maneuverability, touting its ability to speed clean any flooring surface for a whole-home clean. What’s more, Vetrini spoke with TV anchors about ways the Click n Clean saves moms money and is environmentally friendly with its microfiber cleaning pads that can be rewashed up to 400 times.

The media tour reached more than 102.1 million people with 376 airings in key markets. “The Daily Flash” and “Newswatch” shows syndicated interviews just in time to support a product promotion and end cap display with partner The Home Depot.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Four Questions to Ask When Vetting a Media Opportunity

Most PR campaigns are focused on generating strong media coverage to ensure key messages are delivered to target audiences. But not all media coverage is created equal, and it is important to focus on securing high-quality coverage that meets specific criteria depending on the campaign. Here are four questions to consider when vetting a media opportunity.

Is the Outlet a Good Fit?
Every PR campaign typically includes key messages designed for target audiences. When vetting media opportunities, review the outlet’s main audience to ensure it matches the selected audience for the campaign. Research the size of the audience as
well, and how the outlet or reporter drives engagement with its readership. The tone of the coverage and the type of reporting can greatly impact how key messages are received by the audience.

Tip: Research the outlet and the media contact to identify the tone and type of coverage offered. Ask specific questions to get an idea of what the intended final product may look like.

Is the Topic a Good Fit?
The context surrounding key messages is just as important as the inclusion of the key messages in any media coverage. Understanding how campaign language will fit into a story is vital to ensure the media opportunity engages the audience in way that aligns with campaign goals.

Tip: Craft key messaging and statistics for clients that continually drive back to the main points or goals to prevent interviews or written statements from going off topic. Focus on concise language to eliminate opportunities for messaging or quotes to be taken out of context.

Is the Type of Opportunity a Good Fit?
Another aspect of a media opportunity to consider is the type of medium used to reach audiences – print, online, TV, social media, etc. Some campaigns have very specific key messages and target audiences that are best reached through certain channels. In addition, the requirements of the channel, such as urgent deadlines or in-person interviews, may be hard to accommodate.

Tip: Discuss potential media opportunities with the client at the start to gauge resources and ensure priorities are aligned. Assign key spokespeople to different topics, and determine the availability of each spokesperson as well as the organization as a whole to meet different types of media opportunity requirements.

Is the Timing a Good Fit?
PR campaigns are often designed strategically throughout a calendar year to align with seasons, events, awareness celebrations or other key markers. However, it is wise to keep campaigns adaptive and flexible, as the current climate in any industry can greatly impact the success of a campaign, and media opportunities should be reviewed with these considerations in mind. For example, it may be wise to delay a campaign if a major controversy just occurred in the client industry, or a campaign may be bumped up a few months if new research supporting the messaging was released by a third party.

Tip: Stay current on all the latest news in the client’s industry to ensure your team is able to predict how media will cover a topic relative to recent news. Discuss these trends and industry news with the client to determine their comfortability with different types of media coverage.

While PR teams want to produce as much media buzz as possible for each client campaign, quality is more valuable than quantity. The right media opportunities will deliver key messages to target audiences in a tone and medium that best suits the goals of the campaign, providing support for client initiatives without straining resources. A few simple questions may separate the best media opportunities, ensuring campaign success!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Keep Home Happening with

Clean & Cook Supply online makes it easy to find, buy and stock up on cleaning accessories, such as vacuum bags, belts and filters that help keep appliances and the home running smoothly. And now it’s even easier, thanks to a newly designed website that is more user-friendly so that consumers can quickly find and order the right accessories to keep home happening.

To help Clean & Cook Supply grow its customer base and establish a larger online presence, LCWA helped launch a new Facebook page as way to engage with customers. Facebook ads and an interactive social sweepstakes were designed to gain followers quickly and establish Clean & Cook Supply as a go-to resource for cleaning tips and products. Running concurrently, Facebook ads both encouraged users to enter the sweepstakes – a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card – as well as ‘like’ the new Facebook page and visit the website. The sweepstakes engaged fans with questions supporting key brand messages about changing vacuum bags, filters and belts, and generated more than 8,000 entries and nearly 2,200 page likes in less than one month. Additionally, the Facebook ads earned more than 600 clicks to the Clean & Cook Supply website, 88,000 impressions and more than 2,800 engagements. 

Native and display ads were designed to deliver quick, educational content to targeted audiences, directing viewers to useful content on the Clean & Cook Supply website. Creative featuring taglines like “we have a belt for that,” “we have a bag for that” and “we have a filter for that” helped increase awareness about what exactly can offer. The ads delivered almost 2 million impressions and 1,500 clicks.

This strategic use of social and digital activations helped establish Clean & Cook Supply’s new online presence, enhance their visibility online and drive consumers to the new website. Here’s to Keeping Home Happening!

Monday, November 5, 2018

LCWA Wins Four PRGN Awards

During the annual Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) Awards Gala held in Bucharest in October, we celebrated the great work done by all members. Consisting of 50 independent agencies from around the world, the PRGN is a group of top thinking and performing agencies, and these awards highlight “best of the best” programs from Singapore to Warsaw, and Budapest to Melbourne. 

LCWA was honored to win four awards this year, including the gold in the Agency Collaboration category for our partnership with the UK-firm, Spider PR, on social media influencer outreach conducted on behalf of Trex. We also won the gold in Blogger/Vlogger Outreach for Trex, and the First Alert team was honored with the Integrated Marketing gold for its Super Prepared Family campaign. In addition, our Ecore account team won the bronze award in the B2B category for its stellar trade and vertical media relations work.

Congratulations to our teams, clients and fellow award winners on their accolades!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

LCWA Delves into the Past to Tell Brand Stories

Earlier this year, when long-time client Beam Suntory (JimBeam® Bourbon) tasked us with helping to bring its 223-year history to life for its large internal audience and loyal consumers, the Heritage PR Team at LCWA met the challenge with a number of creative and effective tactics.

We started with an aggressive identification and collection of historical materials such as photos, documents and artifacts. These materials, many of which were unearthed in libraries, university archives and museums, as well as family members’ basements and attics, were digitized and uploaded online for employees to utilize to help communicate and market the brand story.

The Beam story came to life in another fashion last month when I had the privilege and pleasure of hosting a two-hour storytelling session for top sales representatives at the company’s annual sales meeting in Las Vegas. In addition to trying my best to entertain my audience with tales of the Beams, I had the opportunity to present the only film footage of Jim Beam ever taken (1938). Our team discovered the footage after months of searching, ultimately finding it in the possession of a distant family member in a small town in Tennessee. The highlight of the session, however, was the appearance of Jim Beam himself, an actor selected and scripted by LCWA. Old Jim regaled the audience with stories about his youth as well as the family’s struggles through Prohibition.

Most recently, we brought the Beam heritage story to the small screen in Louisville, Ky., a vital and highly competitive market for Beam Suntory. Master Distiller Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s great- grandson, appeared on the local ABC affiliate, WHAS-TV, and presented a number of never-shared-before items with viewers, including rare bottlings dating back to the 1890s and the original letter written by Jim Beam requesting reinstatement of his liquor license after Repeal of Prohibition in 1933.  We hope to coordinate similar television appearances around the country over time.

As the company’s 225th anniversary approaches in 2020, we look forward to remaining immersed in the Beam Heritage Initiative through continued research and creative programming that highlights the remarkable story of the First Family of Bourbon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Six Tips for Creating Engaging Facebook Content

Many of our clients depend on our PR and social media team to manage and create engaging content for their social media pages. Though each platform provides value in one form or another, there is little doubt that Facebook is one of the most powerful tools for brands to connect with certain consumer audiences.

Facebook possesses a larger audience than any other platform. It can be a tool to help our clients reach and engage with their target audiences organically. Additionally, Facebook allows for freedom and flexibility in the content d and offers a wide range of customizable options to “boost” posts at minimal costs to reach a wider, targeted audience.

Looking to create appealing, shareable content that gets results? Here are six tips for creating engaging Facebook content that will keep followers actively interested:
  • Know your audience – The key to developing a great feed is to post content that genuinely interests your target audience. So who are the people following your page – parents, teachers, hobbyists, employees, professionals? Take the time to figure out who the brand’s key audiences are on Facebook, and customize the content and info to their needs and interests.
  • Keep it short and simple – The shorter the post, the less likely your followers are to scroll right past it. Sometimes getting your point across in just a few words can be difficult, but when possible, remember shorter and direct is better.
  • Bring variety and personality – Post a mix of content to keep followers interested. In addition to important company, product and industry news, give your page life by incorporating blogs, tips, polls and call-to-action posts. Likewise, if there’s something unique or quirky about the brand or business, be sure to draw positive attention to it.
  • Make it personable – For a few of our clients, LCWA's PR and social media team has seen that posts with some of the highest engagement rates are ones that highlight a company’s local community involvement or individual employees. Giving followers something they can directly connect or relate to on a personal level is a sure fire way to win.
  • Use high-quality visuals – Every post should have a visual element to it! This can range from photos and visual tips and stats, to infographics and videos. Take advantage of appealing visuals on-hand or create your own. Everyone loves when an eye-catching image or video pops up on their feed.
  • Boost posts to reach the right audience – Whether it’s an announcement, promotion, link or event, any type of post can be “boosted” on Facebook. Boosted posts aren’t limited to people who already follow the page so this is a great option to reach a wider, target audience – Facebook allows users to set the parameters for who will see the boosted post including age, sex, location, and interests.
Creating engaging social media content doesn’t have to be a challenge, just keep these six tips in mind and you’ll be off to a good start to generating interesting content.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Increases Awareness with “Not Everyone Breathes Easy” Campaign

This month, LCWA worked with our client, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), to launch a new campaign aimed at increasing awareness about pulmonary fibrosis (PF). The “Not Everyone Breathes Easy” campaign will reach individuals who may be at risk for the disease or are undiagnosed, and encourage them to speak with a physician about PF.

More than 200,000 Americans are living with pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and debilitating lung disease that leads to scarring of the lungs. The disease remains largely unknown, which can lead to later stage diagnoses.

To kick off the awareness campaign, LCWA and the PFF crafted a microsite,, for visitors to learn about specific symptoms and risk factors. The site includes a Pulmonary Fibrosis Risk List worksheet individuals can download and bring with them to their next doctor’s visit, as well as patient stories of those living with the disease. The microsite also directs individuals to the PFF site for resources to direct them toward next steps.

As we look ahead, we are excited to get the word out about pulmonary fibrosis with many unique campaign aspects. This includes an upcoming #NotEveryoneBreathesEasy Twitter chat (mark your calendars for Nov. 2), banner ads and media outreach. Check out the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 7 to see our first print advertisement for the campaign, as well!

Visit today and find out if you are at risk for pulmonary fibrosis!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Creating a Feature Story Pitch

Writing a winning feature story pitch can be both one of the biggest challenges and most rewarding parts of the PR world. With the convenience of email, editors receive an endless number of pitches daily. So, how do you stand out from all the rest?

As PR professionals, we’re always asking ourselves – Is this story compelling enough? Will it relate to the journalist we’re pitching and the audience we’re targeting? It can take weeks to get a pitch finalized and even longer to garner interest from a reporter. But, if you do it right, you may see it through to a published piece.

Here are some helpful tips to create a successful feature story pitch:

  • Have an attention-grabbing subject line: This will be the first step to getting a reporter to open your email. Keep it short and unique. Keep in mind, many journalists will file story ideas and go back to them. It’s important to have something in the subject line that will make it easy for editors to find later on.
  • Keep it short and simple: Journalists do not have the time to read every bit of detail in each email they receive. Your pitch should state key facts and get to the news hook quickly.
  • Make it timely and relevant: See what’s buzzing in the news and on social media and find a way to jump into those conversations. This will help your pitch resonate with a reporter. For instance, if you’re pitching a cleaning product, tie in spring cleaning. 
  • Illustrate a trend: If your client has valuable data, use it. Interesting statistics can illustrate a trend that you can connect to your pitch. You can pull analyst or research data from third-parties, as well.
  • Do your homework: Know the media and your audience. Editors are more likely to respond if they know you put in the time to research their beat – whether that means reading their articles or following their social channels. Tailor your pitch to the specific person you’re pitching. Maybe reference an article they recently published that’s relevant to your news.
  • Have a compelling call-to-action: After offering your story idea, set a clear action step. Offer an interview opportunity, product review and/or sample, bylined article, etc. Give the media an incentive to actually do something with the information you just gave them.
Following these simple steps will help you create a persuasive media pitch and become a PR pro in no time.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Legislation by the Numbers: Spreading Awareness for Carbon Monoxide Alarm Replacement

Twelve states. Twelve laws. Twelve anniversaries. What do these numbers mean for our client, First Alert? Twelve unique opportunities to spread awareness of the importance of
replacing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms upon their expiration.

As part of our work with home safety client First Alert, we monitor and report daily on any pending smoke and CO legislation that may impact First Alert’s customers – from congressional bills to local municipal ordinances. With this information, we can help ensure that customers in the affected areas have access to the level of protection required, and conduct local media outreach to generate awareness and news coverage.

However, once the laws are on the books and the initial headlines fade, it’s important to remember that the impetus behind them remains as important as ever – and it’s up to us to keep these important safety requirements top-of-mind.

Milestone Management

One media relations “tool” that has proven particularly successful is leveraging the anniversaries of these laws to reinforce key safety messages. While many companies and industries mark significant anniversaries by the decade, the important number for us is none other than lucky number seven.

That’s because when many CO safety laws were implemented, many CO alarms had an expected, useful life of approximately seven years before expiration. When it comes to marking seven year CO legislation anniversaries, there’s no bigger year than 2018. That’s because in 2011 a wave of legislation initiatives brought CO protection to the forefront of home safety. A dozen states enacted the 2009 International Residential Code, which required CO alarms in newly constructed homes, or enacted CO legislation of their own. For people that complied when their state’s law went in effect, it is very likely that their CO alarms are in need of replacement.

Customized Communications

For First Alert’s CO Legislation Anniversary campaign, the LCWA home PR team researched the laws of each affected state (California, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin). As no two laws are exactly the same, it was critical to uncover any nuances and specifics in order to draft customized, accurate press materials that we could use in each state.

While this approach takes significantly more time and effort that a one-size-fits-all press release, these extra steps provided our team with relevancy, credibility and trustworthy expertise when approaching local media. Our team was able to go beyond simply providing general information – and instead explain the specific impact for citizens in each jurisdiction.
Preparation – and persistence – leads to success, and as of today, the program has yielded more than 88 million media impressions. However, what impresses me the most is that these numbers were achieved through good, old-fashioned pitching. It’s “safe” to say (no pun intended) that few media would have even been aware of their state’s anniversary without our efforts – let alone cover it. 

As the lines between advertising and public relations continue to blur, it’s a good reminder that PR is uniquely positioned to make the most of these types of opportunities for our clients.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Satellite Media Tour – A Tried-and-True Method to Delivering Meaningful Results

When it comes to generating high-quality results that matter to your clients, a satellite media tour (SMT) remains an effective public relations tactic. However, the approach to a SMT is different than it was just a few years ago. Today, it is important to employ a paid-earned-shared-owned model to maximize results and drive reach across television, radio and the Internet.

Here are a few additional tips to executing a successful media tour:
  • Maximize the assets available to you. TV and digital are both visual mediums. Good
    video helps tell your story and reduces the amount of time a producer is left with just a talking head. Good, compelling video – even if it is outtakes from a commercial or b-roll from an instructional video – will get your story aired and supplement a spokesperson’s script.
  • Identify opportunities with co-op satellite media tours. Stand-alone TV tours exclusive to just one brand may not fit within every campaign budget. However, that is no reason to shy away from television. A co-op satellite media tour typically features three to five brands that a spokesperson presents together under one umbrella theme. From syndicated interviews across key markets to in-depth segments that can be amplified across brand’s social channels with minimal paid support, a co-op media tour allows brands to share production costs while still elevating their presence during key seasonal time pegs such as back-to-school, holiday entertaining or even spring-cleaning.
  • Settle on three to four key messages. Producers are tight on time and interviews run the risk of being cut short. To maintain brand integrity, identify the top three to four key messages you want a spokesperson to focus on. Be sure to work with your spokesperson in advance to ensure their comfort level with the messages and outline a script to help deliver product attributes in a clear and concise manner.
Regardless of which SMT approach you take, the advantages are many. Media remain hungry for content. If you’re looking for a creative way to bring your product(s) to life and desire meaningful results, let the LCWA public relations help.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Target, Educate, Engage for ARM & HAMMER

Keeping up the little things in life, such as vacuuming, make sure consumers’ homes continue running smoothly and effectively. However, many people do not realize the importance of changing vacuum bags and filters to keep their vacuum running at optimal performance. In fact, a full vacuum bag or clogged filter can inhibit a vacuum’s power, reducing suction, and leaving allergens and dust behind.

Luckily, ARM & HAMMER makes Premium Allergen bags and HEPA filters for nearly all kinds of vacuums, making it easy to keep vacuums running at peak performance. In order to educate consumers about ARM & HAMMER vacuum bags and filters – along with the brand’s Pet Fresh Dry Carpet and Carpet and Upholstery Extractor Cleaners – to consumers passionate about homecare, the LCWA home PR team implemented a variety of strategies that provided ongoing engaging tips and content as part of the campaign to help the audience clean and maintain their homes.

  • Leveraged seasonal themes: LCWA delivered educational editorial content with a successful MAT release focused on spring cleaning tips to get rid of the lingering grime and grit of winter.
  • Used unique and relatable voices: Four on-target influencers, including Centsational Style, educated their followers about ARM & HAMMER vacuum bag and filter product benefits and maintenance, and the odor and stain neutralizing pet products, and where to purchase. Consumers gravitated toward these popular allergy and pet messages expressed by expert influencers they trust.
  • Amplified messages: Display ads delivered impactful results, while native ads scaled the influencers’ content. Additional messaging reached homemakers about how to Trap, Capture and Clean odors – so they can create a vibrant living space for day-to-day life, whether it’s playing with the kids or pets, tackling a to-do list or simply relaxing.
Overall, the ARM & HAMMER campaign delivered more than 270 million impressions and 3,000 engagements. It targeted, educated and engaged the home caregiver audience, with basic, but important, tips to keep their homes running smoothly and a reminder that it’s important to pay attention to vacuum bags and filters.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Six Client Service Practices to Live By

According to Gartner, 89 percent of businesses compete through the level of customer experience they’re able to deliver. Public relations is an industry in which a client’s positive experience is vital for an agency’s long-term growth and success.  At LCWA, we pride ourselves on the superior level of service we offer clients. It’s a strength and a competitive differentiator that helps us retain clients, gain referrals and grow new and existing business. 

These six client service best practices top the list of how LCWA maintains its long standing tradition of client service.

  • Become an Expert – At LCWA, we take interest in our clients. We learn their business, industry and competitors. We speak their language, understand their objectives and share their goals. We know how they like to work and tailor every communication, report and timeline to meet their needs. In short, we become an invaluable extension of their internal team. 
  • Develop Quality Control – LCWA controls work quality through our proprietary 1-2-3 approach. The rules are simple and ensure the highest level of work and communications is being conducted for and on behalf of our clients:
    • 1 Hour to Return Client and Media Communications
    • 2 Sets of Eyes on All Materials
    • 3 Times Through Every Email Before It’s Sent 
  • Deliver and then Over Deliver – Meeting deadlines and producing results are mandatories in our book. We like to go above and beyond. Whether surpassing impression goals or submitting a report a day early, our objective at LCWA is to exceed our clients’ expectations. 
  • Be Solution-oriented – We’ve never met a challenge for which we cannot offer a solution.  LCWA trains its staff to be resourceful, to find ways to make clients’ “asks” happen and to always bring creative solutions to the table for discussion. This is how our teams operate internally and when working with clients. 
  • Be Nimble – We understand that no program, budget, meeting, etc., is set in stone. We work to be flexible and ready to adjust at a moment’s notice to meet our clients’ needs.  
  • Take Pride in Your Work – Every piece of work that goes out the door at LCWA is a reflection of the entire team. Because of this, we take pride in producing top notch work from the smallest to the largest tasks. Our clients benefit from this pride.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Back-To-School with Boise Paper and Box Tops for Education

Our client, Boise Paper, has been a long-standing partner of the General Mills Box Tops for Education™ program, helping schools across the country earn money to purchase essential items, such as books, art supplies, sports equipment, instruments and more. As part of the company’s commitment to providing Paper with Purpose, Boise Paper is proud to support local schools in the communities its customers call home by offering Box Tops clips on select reams of multipurpose paper

During the back-to-school season, LCWA's PR and social media team conducted a multi-faceted campaign to encourage consumers to select products with Box Tops clips while back-to-school shopping and drive awareness of great promotional deals on Boise Paper products.  

LCWA enlisted influencers The Simple Parent and A Mom’s Impression to co-host our #BoisePaperB2S Twitter Chat. Talking about the Box Tops program and back-to-school shopping, the chat was a huge success with great engagement from over two hundred unique contributors throughout the entire hour! 

A Facebook Sweepstakes took place over a four-week period and utilized the “Stock the Classroom and Backpack” theme. Contestants entered for the chance to win two $250 Visa e-gift cards, one for themself and one for their favorite teacher. Entrants were asked to answer two questions: what is the most essential item in your child’s backpack, and what is the strangest item found in your child’s backpack? Some of the strangest things include a spider, dried Play-Doh, a bird and teeth.

Additionally, two Facebook ads ran throughout the summer to promote the use of Box Tops clips and their availability on Boise Paper products. Overall these ads were a huge success in directing consumers to Boise Paper’s special back-to-school reams of paper.

Our influencer program featured six bloggers sharing their thoughts on the importance of stocking up on essentials, like Boise Paper products, for homes and classrooms during back-to-school shopping, as well as their thoughts on how Box Tops for Education impacts their schools. Each influencer created great original content! Check out a few of the posts from Pragmatic Mom, Mommy Katie and B-Inspired Mama.

We also distributed an e-blast to consumers to generate awareness of the Box Tops for Education clips available on Boise Paper products during the 2018 back-to-school season. With the click-through rate at more than double the industry average, this was one of our most successful e-blasts of the year.

Finally, we helped raise awareness and provided support for two back-to-school shopping events in Vancouver, Wash., through social media ads, promoted posts and event pages. Families in the local community were invited to join Boise Paper at two Vancouver stores where kids enjoyed fun crafts and projects while their parents shopped for supplies – a win-win for everyone!

Throughout the summer, this campaign successfully spread the word about Boise Paper’s enduring partnership with the Box Tops program and its special back-to-school promotions. Since 2011, Boise Paper has contributed nearly $11 million to U.S. schools across the country. We’re always happy to help our clients celebrate their community involvement! 

Monday, October 1, 2018

IABC Chicago Introduces the Lou Williams Research Pioneer Award

Last week, the International Association of BusinessCommunicators (IABC) Chicago instituted the Lou Williams Research Pioneer Award and awarded the inaugural award to
LCWA. In announcing the creation of the award, the organization lauded our founder, Lou Williams, ABC, APR, IABC Fellow, as a “rogue pioneer who had the audacity to advocate that the role of communication in organizations should play out at the highest strategic level as a business leader.”

Naming this IABC Chicago award after Lou is fitting given his passionate support of IABC throughout his life and career. It was an honor to accept the Lou Williams Research Pioneer Award on behalf of LCWA. 

Lou started the firm because he wanted to make a difference in the public relations industry – and he did. He was a veteran of big, national agencies.  His goal was to create a firm that had all of the large agency strategic thinking and capabilities, including research, but he wanted to offer the personal approach and dedication of a smaller firm. LCWA has been operating under that same philosophy for more than 30 years.

All of us at LCWA continue to pursue his vision. This award is a wonderful way to honor his legacy.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Brand Makeovers and PR Pointers

This week featured several major brand makeover announcements as well as some interesting and helpful marketing tips for PR practitioners. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Hello Dunkin', goodbye Donuts – Dunkin’ Donuts made its rebrand official on Tuesday, shrinking its name to just "Dunkin." Fun fact: the brand had been credited with popularizing the word "donut," instead of "doughnut," in the 1950s, according to Business Insider.

Weighing in on WW – Weight Watchers is no more as the company has rebranded as WW. It also is adopting a new tagline, "Wellness That Works," as it responds to changing views on healthy lifestyles. Think it’s a good move?

Say What?! – How do you decide which brand you’ll buy when selecting a new product or service? In a new study from Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin, respondents showed that personal connections matter more than ever when getting a product recommendation, and that younger consumers are especially swayed by word-of-mouth marketing.

Yowza! Scrabble Adds 300 Words – This week, the sixth edition of the Merriam-Webster Official Scrabble Players Dictionary dropped. Brace yourself, Scrabble fiends. More than 300 new words have been adopted, and the compilers have embraced some millennial mainstays like “twerk,” “emoji,” “yowza” and “listicle” and some long awaited gems: “OK” and “ew.”
Under the Influence - Did you know that tweets from influencers and brands combined can increase purchase intent by a factor of more than five? This infographic via PR Daily lists 10 key strategies you should consider to help elevate influencer marketing strategies and activate these influential advocates.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Filtrete Features Oft-Forgotten Handy Home Maintenance Tips

Even the most DIY-savvy homeowners often forget to take care of the tools that help them keep their homes clean, especially vacuums. So our home PR team worked with Filtrete to reach “handy homeowners” with creative influencer, native and display ad content for how to keep their vacuums in tip top shape by changing bags, belts and filters.

Creative and educational storytelling was particularly important piece of the program to ensure messages resonated with consumers. A partnership with DIY influencer and home maintenance pro Cass of the popular home renovation blog Remodelaholic set the stage for engaging, educational content. She developed content for her blog and social channels highlighting 6 Common Cleaning Tasks You Probably Forgot, as well as hosted a Facebook Live event touting brand messages supported by helpful “how-to” product visuals. Her content was further amplified via targeted editorial-style native advertising. Display ads with contextual targeting also helped reach the DIY consumer.

Altogether, the combination of content supported by paid amplification drove more than 4.5 million impressions and over 7,000 engagements to help Filtrete help consumers keep their Fresh Homes Happening.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Take a Sip and Grab a Seat – Class is Back in Session

Back-to-school season is here, and although it’s been a couple years (OK, maybe a bit more than that for some of us…) since we’ve stepped foot in a classroom, there were plenty of lessons to be learned on online this week.

  • Mad about Glad: Chicago restaurant Giant is one of the hottest tickets in town, so when it hosted an invite-only event for media and influencers under the guise of sampling its new fall menu, many took the restaurant up on the offer. As servers delivered the last course of the night – covered in Glad Press N’ Seal – it was revealed that everything they had eaten was prepared three days prior and wrapped in the sealing product. Cameras were on hand to capture the “gotcha” reactions – but instead of surprise or amusement, patrons were angry that they had been lured there under false pretenses. So much for transparency! (get it?)
  • Hit the Books: Looking to avoid a Glad fiasco? Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic resources out there for brushing up your PR skills. @MuckRack compiled this list of essential “must-read” books for PR pros. Several of our favorites made the list, including the tried-and-true AP Stylebook..
  • All About Me(moji): The latest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS 12, arrived Monday, with several updates and improvements that are sure to excite users. One of the more interesting features is Screen Time, which allows users to track the amount of time they spend looking at their device, as well as schedule “downtime” to block access to distracting apps. Speaking of distractions, our favorite feature has got to be the “Memoiji,” a personal avatar you can create to look just like you. We couldn’t resist giving it a shot!
  • Shop the Story: Instagram has long been a place where people seek inspiration, but it hasn't always been easy to buy the looks or products you see. Taking a cue from Pinterest, Instagram announced that it is introducing new shopping features, including the ability to shop items via Stories and the Explore page. The features could keep Instagram’s growing user base on the app for longer during each session – which ultimately translates into additional revenue opportunities. It also is a departure from the app making money only through ads or sponsored posts.
  • Pumpkin Spice Overload: From lattes to cereal to dog treats and vodka, there’s no escaping the pumpkin spice craze. One Chicago auto shop got in on the madness by offering fall-loving customers a “Pumpkin Spice Oil Change.” Of course, there’s no such thing, but it’s still been a boon for business. The owner reports that traffic to the shop is up as several customers stop in each day to ask for one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Talking Shop (Photoshop That Is)

The lines between forms of communication are blurring, and design technology is more accessible than ever with programs like Canva and Photoshop. Consequently, PR and marketing professionals are finding design to become an increasingly necessary skill. Recently, members of our Chicago PR team attended a workshop held by the American Marketing Association which highlighted a few high-level design concepts.
Looking for a design refresher? Here are a few thoughts on design gleaned from the workshop that you can use in everything from digital ads to Facebook posts:
  1. You're Just My Type - The words you write can communicate more than what they say. For example, do you get a different feeling from the Coca-Cola logo than from the FedEx logo? The classic script from Coca-Cola echoes the company's heritage,  while the bold, sturdy FedEx type (along with the hidden arrow - if you don't know what I mean, check it out) shows reliability. Pick the typeface (a family such as Arial) and font (an individual such as Arial Bold Italic) to enhance the visual story you are telling. Pro tip: Less is always more. Two fonts, three at most. And every time you use Comic Sans on anything that is not a comic strip, a designer weeps.
  2. Showing Your True Colors - Why is a smiley face yellow but an angry face is red? Color psychology details the subconscious connections we all have between colors and our lives. Not only can choosing the right color tell your story, but it can also add new meaning to that color by connecting it with your brand. Without thinking about it, viewers can see your materials and identify the content with your brand based on the visual cues alone. To keep the Coke example goingCoca-Cola has their shade of red trademarked (Known as KU Crimson #F40009).
  3. Take Your Pix - Its not only what you share, but how you share it. Bitmap images are made of pixels and commonly see in digital photos, while vector images are composed of shapes and lines allowing them to be scaled up to any size. When working with bitmap images (as they are more common) make sure to only scale within the limits of your desired outputa.k.a. if you are looking to print, make sure you have at least 300 pixels per square inch, or 72 ppi for digital. 
Armed with this newfound design knowledge, go forth and create. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Week of Remembrance

 It has been a week of remembering the past while looking toward the future. People have come together in times of crisis, becoming stronger together. Here are a few stories from the past week:
  • Chicago Remembers 9/11 - 17 years after the tragic events in New York City, people around the country have been sharing memories of 9/11. Back in 2001, 500
    Chicagoans traveled to Ground Zero, and this week they recalled some powerful, personal stories. Check out this story about how our city helped our nation in need.
  • Lisa Brennan-Jobs Remembers Her Father, Steve Jobs - This week Apple launched two new phones and a new watch, but another story from Apple is making headlines too. Apple's founder Steve Jobs had a complicated relationship with his family, and his daughter's personal account of the relationship was detailed in her new memoir "Small Fry." Her stories have caused some controversy, with other family members questioning the portrayal of the man they knew.
  • Air BnB Helps Those in Crisis Today - Hurricane Florence continues to threaten the East Coast, but one brand is trying to do its part in helping those in trouble. By activating their "Open Homes" system that has been in place since 2012, Air BnB allows evacuees and relief workers to log in to an Air BnB account and book a new place to stay for free.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Passport to International PR

Even when you’re a household brand name like Trex, things can get lost in translation. Ove
r the past decade, the leading manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing has focused on expanding its global footprint. Today, Trex products are available in more than 40 countries. As the PR agency of record for Trex, the LCWA home PR team has been at the forefront of introducing and driving preference for the brand in these new markets through public relations, specifically by maximizing earned media coverage across priority markets including Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Successfully executing PR on an international level takes strategy, advanced planning and a little local insight. Through our involvement in the Public Relations Global Network, we have had the pleasure to partner with some of the finest independent firms in the world, who act as extensions of our LCWA account team. In essence, we are the central hub for Trex global public relations, providing strategic direction, developing core content, and ensuring brand consistency, while our agency partners serve as in-market experts, offering local insight and customization to ensure our approaches and materials reach and resonate with their intended audiences.

While we aim to promote and deliver one brand everywhere, we have learned that one size does not fit all when it comes to international PR. Here are a few tips and tricks for achieving PR success on a global scale:

1. Be Aware of Brand Awareness. 
In the U.S., Trex has been virtually synonymous with composite decking since the company first invented and introduced the concept back in 1996. While the brand has earned enviable brand awareness domestically, international awareness is a much different story. In fact, the whole idea of wood-plastic composites (WPC) is relatively new to international audiences – thus impacting the direction, tone and focus of our global outreach.

2. Know the Market. 
We learned quickly that expanding internationally would require much more than just expanding our media distribution lists. Each of Trex’s priority markets came with its own unique set of characteristics and challenges. Beyond the anticipated cultural and lingual differences, each market had distinctive distribution channels and product offerings, as well as differing levels of understanding of and receptiveness to WPC products. For example, German consumers are avid DIYers but need proof of product quality and performance, while French consumers value eco-friendly products and prefer to enlist professional contractors to build their decks. These insights influence the focus of our messaging when developing programming and materials for each market.

3. Master the Language. 
While in most of the markets we target for Trex, English is widely understood and used, differences in diction and nuances in enunciation play a key role in communicating and establishing Trex as culturally authentic. Our agency partners lend their local expertise by customizing materials to reflect local trends, expressions and colloquialisms. For instance, where we often compare Trex decking to wood in the U.S., our partners in the UK and Australia refer to “timber” instead. Additionally, a “garden” in the UK can refer to a deck or patio, not just a bed of flowers or vegetables. In Germany, “decking” translates to “outdoor flooring.” But our favorite phraseology by far is the reference to “secret fixings” in the UK when referring to the Trex Hideaway hidden fastening system. It sounds like something straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel.

4. Appear Authentic. 
It’s not enough to use the right words – the right images are important as well. We learned early on in our international expansion process that pictures of elaborate, multi-tiered Trex decks with vast ocean views did not necessarily resonate with consumers in France, Germany and the UK where backyards are much more modest in size. Landscape, too, has to be considered. For instance, we can’t provide our Australian PR team with outdoor living images that have evergreens or maple trees in the background. This attention to detail allows our international teams to provide media with suitable images, increasing opportunities for coverage. In some cases, we have worked with our agency partners to source local photographers and coordinate market-specific photo shoots to capture imagery that is truly authentic and relatable.

A strong sense of brand combined with attention to cultural distinctions have been the driving forces behind our international expansion efforts for Trex. Through seamless collaboration with our agency partners, we have been able to successfully drive awareness and preference for Trex in all of its key markets. Vive le Trex!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Influence and Controversy

While the week was short, we still had plenty of trending news to keep us busy on social! Here are my top picks from this week:

·         Insta Shopping – Instagram is considering another new app – this time IG Shopping – that would let users browse goods that they would be able to purchase directly from the app. Currently, more than 25 million businesses already have Instagram accounts, and nearly two million advertise on the platform. Additionally, four out of five Instagram users follow at least one business. Instagram has declined to comment on any specifics thus far, but definitely something to watch!

·         Fowl Play – At the U.S. Open this week, a woman was caught dipping her chicken finger into her Coke. This has led to mass controversy on whether this is a “sin” toward the chicken finger or the soda, including some suggesting she should “go to jail” for such an offense. You can decide for yourself after watching the ESPN clip here.

·         College Influencers – The latest way to help with college tuition is by being a social media brand influencer. The New York Times found the number of college students who are also brand influencers is steadily increasing. Victoria Secret, for example, has ambassadors at more than 100 campuses, and Virginia Tech estimates more than 1,000 students are being paid to promote products on campus. That can certainly be a nice resume-builder!

·         Gone Viral – Lindsey Lohan is making waves this week – all the way in Mykonos, Greece. The actress shared a video that an onlooker posted of her dancing, saying #DotheLilo. This has since gone viral with people recreating her dance. Here’s to Lindsey jamming out in Greece, check the video out yourself or even recreate it!