Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Polishing to Perfection: A Whitepaper on Flooring

In PR, attention to detail and keeping all audiences in mind is vital to the success of any project – and whitepapers are no exception. We recently completed one such whitepaper for our client Ecore, an innovator in flooring technology for commercial, athletic and residential facilities. The goal of the whitepaper was to introduce the important role sound-absorbing flooring materials play in creating a healing environment in healthcare spaces.

Collaborating with several different flooring and healthcare experts, we collected research and insights on the different ways healthcare infrastructure directly impacts clinician performance, patient satisfaction and overall efficiency. We solicited and incorporated many strong industry voices to lend credibility and speak intelligently to a diverse audience, and highlighted primary data from our client’s proprietary research on flooring material and sound to elevate them as a thought leader.

Faced with a wealth of information and insights, it was imperative that we seamlessly weave the statistics and key learnings together while making the whitepaper engaging for all audiences. This meant becoming well-versed in the technical details and taking a team editing approach to ensure each talking point was perfectly conveyed.

In the end, the final piece showcases Ecore’s expertise in healthcare flooring by effectively addressing the needs and concerns of designers, architects, facility managers, administrators, clinicians and patients. This diversity in messaging also enabled us to successfully capture the attention of – and coverage in – a variety of media outlets, including Commercial Architecture, Health Facilities Management, Medical Construction & Design, Floor Covering Weekly and Floor Trends – all of which has helped to drive awareness, interest and downloads of the whitepaper from the Ecore website.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cooking Up a Crisis and Tracking New Trends

While the USA Gymnastics trial and government shutdown talks dominated the headlines, there were a few unrelated stories that somehow cut through the clutter. Here are a couple that captured our attention:

The Unicorns Are Back – It wasn’t long ago that news feeds were filled with magical references of a unicorn trend. Well, according to Shutterstock’s 2018 visual trend report, fantasy landscapes, colors and even unicorns will continue to be popular. In fact, the image service found a 297% increase in unicorn searches by its users in 2017. Space themes, natural luxury and punchy pastels also top the visual trend list.

Crock Pot Crisis – Product placements are no stranger to movie and television audiences
today. We all remember the impossible-to-ignore trail of Reese’s Pieces followed home by an alien named E.T. or have seen branded shopping bags on the kitchen shelves of some of America’s favorite television families, but how often do we see a product placement spark negative backlash and a social media frenzy? Until this week, the Crock-Pot was nothing more than a hardworking kitchen appliance. Now it's a central plot point on the NBC's hit show "This Is Us," implicated in the death of the family's beloved patriarch, Jack Pearson. And Crock-Pot is on the defensive. Coverage has bubbled up to national media outlets such as FOX News, CNN and more, causing the brand and PR team to stay on their toes.

Social Media Resolutions – It’s hard to believe that January is nearing an end, but it’s not too late to embark on a New Year’s resolution. Besides just thinking about personal goals, consider elevating your social media marketing strategy with a few new features offered by some of the major social platforms. From increasing your creative flair to educating audiences in new ways, revamping your social strategy can help further increase engagement and delight your fans.

Check this out – Go ahead, admit it! You’ve spied on friends, colleagues or strangers online to see what they’re up to. Whether for curiosity sake, positive reinforcement or just a sense of fulfillment, we’ve all done it. According to Mashable, this desire to dig through our social media feeds is part of our DNA. But be careful, social media can have a negative effect on our mental health as others’ lives aren’t always what they appear to be online. It seems obvious, but yet we still go back to who just liked, shared or commented on our photos.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

“Building” the Case for More Client Coverage in Orlando

For many the LCWA home PR team, January means one thing – IBS. No, I’m not talking about digestive disorders (although trade show food can definitely be rough on the stomach). I’m talking about the International Builders’ Show – the largest building and construction industry gathering in the world.

As one of the nation’s top agencies specializing in home products, we’ve attended the show and handled media logistics for many years on behalf of several different clients. What makes this year unique, however, is that we had not one – not two – but three clients exhibiting at this year’s show, all eager to connect with builders, showcase new products and secure media coverage for the months ahead.

Working a trade show for one client is challenging enough, but three requires an immense amount of coordination, attention to detail, and above all else, coffee. It’s enough to make your stomach turn, but with four team members on the ground in Orlando, we not only emerged in one piece, but with immediate placements and pending coverage for all three clients. Here are some highlights from this year’s show:
  • Trex Company – We continued to up the ante for our client Trex Company, once again securing a record number of trade and consumer media appointments. Editors were eager to hear about the latest trends in decking and railing – and in particular, the trend toward more modern, contemporary outdoor spaces. Case in point – the new Trex Signature Rod Rail, which offers the popular look of cable railing, but with the durability and strength of aluminum. Rod Rail has already been a hit with media, with an immediate placement in the ProSales and BUILDER magazines’ show recap.
  • BRK Electronics/First Alert – In just its second year at the show, safety client BRK/First Alert secured one of its biggest honors, the Best of IBS Award, for the Onelink Safe and Sound Smoke/CO alarm. Leveraging this news, the LCWA team doubled the number of media appointments from the previous year. Already, the alarm has been featured in Hardware Retailing, as well as a live broadcast of the “On the House” radio program, recorded on the show floor.
  • DAP – DAP, a leading manufacturer and supplier of caulks, sealants, foam, adhesives, and repair products, marked its return to this year’s show with an exclusive breakfast for media attendees. As editors and reporters fueled up for the day, LCWA provided tours of the DAP booth and introduced media to the latest innovations, including Dynaflex Ultra Advanced Exterior Sealant. The breakfast approach allowed LCWA to spend quality time with media, who didn’t feel rushed to move on to their next appointment. The effort has already paid off, with an immediate placement in BUILDER and Multifamily Executive magazines’ show recap.
Beyond immediate placements, the International Builders’ Show is an ideal opportunity to reconnect face-to-face with editors and lay the groundwork for coverage in the year ahead. If the early results are any indication, we’re in for a promising 2018!

Friday, January 19, 2018

This Week’s News Helps Beat the January Blues

Wrigley rocks, flights get fun and it doesn’t stink that Chicago is on Amazon’s list. Get your popcorn ready for my favorites of the week.
  • It’s Poppin’ Off: From the movie theater to the ballpark, popcorn is an American staple
    we can all celebrate on #NationalPopcornDay. These days it goes far beyond traditional buttered. With shops nationwide serving dozens of flavors like Northwest Raspberry, Wasabi Ginger and Mole, even the most discerning hipster will be satisfied. I say stick with the classic cheese/caramel combo and call it a day. 
  • Don’t Stop Believing: Wrigley Field continues to cement itself as a top destination for summer concerts, with each year bringing an increasing amount and wider variety of top acts. It was just announced that Def Leppard and Journey are joining forces for a major show, which is a good time to revisit the cool story of Journey’s replacement lead singer. The current lineup also includes Fall Out Boy and Foo Fighters.
  • Your Team “Stinks”: Old Spice’s advertising and marketing is usually a slam dunk in terms of making people do a double-take. The company’s new “Sweat Mop Boys” are no exception, as they use mops that look like sticks of Pure Sport Plus deodorant to clean college basketball courts midgame. They are currently keeping things dry and fresh in the Pac-12. It remains to be seen how long this funky campaign will last and if it will expand. 
  • ORD to LGA: Start spreading the news, because American Airlines is launching a shuttle service between O’Hare and New York’s LaGuardia Airport in April. The service will offer 15 flights per weekday on the half-hour, plus dedicated gates and expedited check-in so you can be king of the hill, top of the heap in no time. Plus, the flights include free wine and beer, so grab your vagabond shoes and head to the city that doesn’t sleep this spring.
  • The Amazon-ing Race: The possibility of a $5 billion dollar capital investment and 50,000 new tech jobs has officials nationwide foaming at the mouth to try to get Amazon’s HQ2 in their cities. This week, Amazon narrowed its list of potential locations down to 20, including Chicago and what seems like most cities west of Colorado. According to USA Today, Chicago’s talent pool and nearby universities, incentive offering, airports and housing are attractive, but the homicide rate and shady politics might ax
    our chances.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Observations from Las Vegas

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show I was wowed by the numerous innovative technologies and cool trends on display from my own client FirstAlert and the dozens of neighboring exhibitors that I had a chance to check out more closely. But something else truly impressed me more, perhaps this year more than in the past. The incredible teamwork on display was truly inspiring. At First Alert, from operations and engineering, to booth design and building, and marketing of all types, the collaboration of these teams resulted in a lovely booth space, lots of third-party attention and internal and external praise for a job well done. Being an integrated part of this team and seeing everything come together for a successful CES was extremely rewarding.

Speaking of teamwork, everyone on the First Alert PR team at LCWA spent the last few
months hard at work to make sure First Alert cut through the media clutter at the highly buzzed about show. And last week everyone stepped up to follow up with media, track coverage and keep other projects moving flawlessly.

To achieve a successful CES show, of course, requires a handsome amount of trust and dedication, not to mention individual hard work, intellect and ingenuity. And for us to do our job well, it requires true partnership with a great client -- a partnership for which I am personally very grateful.

Here’s to another great show! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Living Your Best Life with Electrolux

Today’s world of public relations is growing rapidly, extending far beyond traditional media relations and writing press materials. Working with social media influencers to share their stories and integrate our clients’ brands into their lives has become a large part of what we do as PR professionals. That’s why, for our longtime client Electrolux, we established an influencer program spanning four months and featuring multiple partners and content activations.

Hello Glow, Penelope’s Oasis, Poppytalk and The Taylor House all brought individual flair to expressing how Electrolux products helped them live their best life at home through original blog content, images, social content and videos. In addition to creating content for their own blogs, every influencer generated original content for the Electrolux blog, Live.Love.Lux.

With 35 blog and social placements, and 11,548,213 total impressions, the program brought the Electrolux brand to life and engaged target audiences. Even better, content and imagery created by these influencers will be used for months and years to come.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Put Your Best Face Forward…

The weather is all over the place and a little out of control, but thank goodness we have Oprah Winfrey to make us feel better about our future…

  • She killed it: In case you live under a rock, the Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the Golden Globes this past weekend, and her acceptance speech was nothing short of Oprah-tastic! Things may not seem great day-to-day, but at least we still have O to provide some perspective and yell inspiration into our faces!
  • So how much do we tip? Speaking of inspiration, sort of… Toyota announced future plans to explore the self-driving market, looking to partner with Pizza Hut and send steaming hot pies out to people without hiring a driver. Yes, these ovens-on-wheels plan to make ordering in even easier without the hassle of any human interaction at all. Don’t worry, other companies are also experimenting with driverless cars, including Uber and Amazon, so need for in-person social skills can be eliminated completely. 
  • All eyes on you… Some technologies are reducing face-to-face interactions, while public and private organizations in China are following everyone’s face everywhere they go. The entire country has embraced facial recognition technology in an effort to build a nationwide surveillance and data-sharing platform. Facial recognition and artificial intelligence will analyze video feeds of people going about their daily lives to improve public safety, predict crime, coordinate emergency services and achieve a plethora of other privacy-free goals. The database will also be merged with other databases tracking China’s 1.4+ billion residents’ activities including travel, social media and online shopping.
  • Urine for a surprise! Sure China wants to track your every movement, but Ikea wants to test your urine. A new advertisement for everyone’s favorite DIY furniture store includes a test strip at the bottom women can use as a pregnancy test to see if the crib in the ad is something they need. Not only does the ad offer a discount on a baby crib, but it also doubles as a pregnancy test further upping your savings! #DoubleCouponDay
  • No take-backs: Some people will do more than urinate on a coupon to save a few dollars. Case in point, one Costco customer attempted to return a dead Christmas tree on January 4. The Christmas spirit is officially gone for the next 10 months.
  • Check your tone…and word count: Sad and frustrated that Christmas has come and gone? Join the club! No really, everyone has a case of the post-Santa blues right now – and some relieve their stress in unique ways. For example, a famous New York Times memo that has been around since 1994 shows one frustrated reporter’s hilarious take on the editing style of all his editors. The memo has resurfaced recently as a reminder that it’s a struggle on both sides of the fence -- everyone is miserable. 
  • Change your outlook: To shake those blues, focus on the future. As a little pick-you-up, here are the top 6 social media trends expected to take over 2018 according to Sprout:

o    Higher engagement rates between brands and customers
o    Customizable chatbots
o    Increased use of social listening tools
o    In-platform messaging and social Instagram stories
o    Augmented-reality and face filters (Thanks, China!)
o    Social call-out culture and taking a stance

Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Turning Reams into Dreams with Boise Paper

Our client, Boise Paper, partners with many organizations to make a positive impact on the community. The company works with the General Mills Box Tops for Education™ program to help students and parents across the country earn money for their schools to purchase essential items, such as books, art supplies, sports equipment, instruments and more. As the exclusive office paper brand of the Box Tops for Education program, Boise Paper is proud to support local schools and children in the communities its customers call home, and help schools get the essential supplies they need by offering Box Tops clips on select reams of paper.

In 2017, LCWA helped promote two major campaigns to support the Box Tops for Education partnership during key seasonal timeframes – back-to-school and the holiday season.

Our fall influencer program featured blogger partners sharing why they purchase products with Box Tops clips. Several influencers had a personal tie to Box Tops, and their passion for the program was evident in the great content they created. Check out great posts from Classy Mommy, The Simple Parent and A Parenting Production. We also created Facebook ads and distributed an eblast to consumers to make sure all were aware of the Box Tops for Education clips available on Boise Paper products during the vital back-to-school shopping season.

A few months later, we helped to promote the annual Give the Gift of Box Tops Sweepstakes where entrants had the chance to win one of three prizes of 10,000 Box Tops clips and 400 reams of Boise Paper products for their favorite school. With a press release to announce the launch of the sweepstakes, a Facebook ad to target parents of school-aged children and ongoing social content to maintain interest, we were able to help increase the number of entrants by more than 20 percent over the previous year. Most importantly, three schools in Waterford, Mich., Ashland, Mont., and Bentonville, Ark., are able to buy needed supplies thanks to Boise Paper and Box Tops for Education!

We’re always excited to help our clients celebrate their valuable community contributions, and look forward to continuing our efforts for Boise Paper in 2018.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The New Year Brings Reflections and Outlooks

Among all the trending media stories this week, the Twitterverse was filled of reflections on the past year and
forecasts of 2018. Here are my favorite finds:

Top Tweets in 2017 – It was a big year on Twitter. From politics and hashtag movements to celebrities, check out which Tweets generated the most engagement last year.

New Year, New You From fitness and health goals to a renewed focus on personal finance or starting a new hobby, one of the most popular hashtags this week was #NewYearsResolution. Check out these 2018 resolutions for communication pros from PR Week.

NYE Moments on Facebook Live – More than 10 million people around the world counted down to 2018 on Facebook Live – setting an all-time record that was up 47% from last year and showcasing how popular livestreaming from social networks has become. Our city of Chicago was #7 on the top 10 list of cities for NYE livestreams.

2018 Trends to Follow – Social media is undoubtedly one of the fastest changing industries, so it’s important to stay ahead of the game. Here are seven social media trends that will impact your strategy in 2018 and ahead.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Remembering Lou Williams

Last week marked not only the end of a year, but the end of an era for our agency with the passing of our founder, Lou Williams. In light of this sad news, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts about the man who meant so much to me both personally and professionally. Lou enjoyed life and followed his dreams. He had success in business and was a leader, teacher, author and mentor to many. He also had a love of travel, sailing, flying, photography and woodworking that took him on many adventures.

Lou started L.C. Williams & Associates because he wanted to make a difference in the public relations industry – and he did. A veteran of big, national agencies, he set out to create a firm that had all of the strategic thinking and capabilities of a large agency but with the personal approach and dedication of a smaller firm. LCWA has been operating under that same philosophy for more than 30 years. To honor his important contributions to our industry, Lou became a Fellow in both the International Association of Business Communicators and Institute for Public Relations and its Measurement Commission.

He had the spirit and energy of an entrepreneur who was not afraid to take risks. I will be forever grateful to him for having the confidence in me to lead the firm after his retirement. As the second-generation owner, I often find myself asking, “What would Lou do?” when faced with important business decisions. His guidance has proven to be very important to the company and to me.

Lou’s influence at our firm goes far beyond his name on the front door. Today, we focus on providing a valuable agency experience to our clients, just as Lou did. All of us at LCWA will continue to pursue his vision and honor his legacy. He certainly will be missed. 

To access Lou’s obituary or to make a memorial donation, please click here.