Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Navigating the Changing Landscape of Pitching Healthcare Reporters

Members of the LCWA healthcare PR team recently attended a monthly PCC luncheon focused on navigating and learning how to more effectively pitch healthcare reporters. For LCWA, this was an especially interesting topic, as we proudly work with many healthcare networks, associations, non-profit organizations, etc. If there is a possibility of learning to better our clients, we’re there, and this panel discussion did not disappoint.

The panel included Justin DeJong, vice president for communications at the American Medical Association, Harris Meyer, senior reporter for Modern Healthcare, Alex Keown, freelance journalist covering the pharma and biotech industries, and Kristen Schorsch, healthcare reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business. Every panelist gave different insights into important topics for 2018, what they look for in pitches, how to grab their attention and what not to do when trying to reach them. Here are some of the most insightful tidbits we learned. 
  • The opioid epidemic, Medicare/Medicaid issues and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease were the biggest stories in 2017, and the panelists expect these topics to continue to gain traction in 2018. Stories with data and new angles on these topics will be hot.
  • As we know very well, pitches should be done with thought. The person sending the
    pitch should do their homework, know the niche the reporter likes to write about and tailor their pitches to that. Reporters appreciate when they are presented with thoughtful, well-researched story ideas.
  • PR teams can grab a reporter’s attention by offering specific, on-the-point ideas of how their story could work for them. Including a way to make to make it a bigger, broader story is always helpful to reporters.
  • The panel recommended not trying to pitch a reporter a topic they have never covered. Take the time to understand the publication and pitch the editors and reporters based on their past coverage.
Overall, this panel had a lot to say about the evolution of the healthcare industry and how PR professionals can be of service to reporters. They also expressed their gratitude to great people, letting us know that we are of great value to them. PR professionals are the “bridge” to a story and provide support to the reporter that is often invaluable. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Full Plate of Social Media Buzz

For one short moment this week, it was actually warmer in Chicago (64°F) than Phoenix, Ariz. (59°F) – giving LCWAers a brief taste of spring. Now that we’re back to reality, how do we deal with freezing winter temperatures? One word – carbs. Fortunately for us, social media delivered this week, with tasty holidays like #National Cherry Pie Day and #National Margarita Day for us to indulge in. Here’s what else whet our appetites online this week:
  • Oval Office Antics – It’s no surprise that the leaders elected to our nation’s top position have other superlatives that make them stand out. From the president that played the most musical instruments (6) to the president who gained the most weight in office (50 lbs.), some of their accomplishment are more boast-worthy than others! The History Channel commemorated Presidents’ Day with this fun video of presidential trivia.
  • KFC Crisis – One thing not on our plates this week? KFC’s famous fried chicken. Due
    to a shipping and logistics error, KFC restaurants throughout the U.K. were forced to close, and let’s just say, the Brits did not keep calm and carry on. #KFCCrisis trended worldwide, as would-be patrons were forced to eat elsewhere, reaching a fever-pitch with police and local officials urging the public to not to call emergency services regarding the matter. For what it’s worth, KFC’s PR response has received high marks by admitting their mistake, and adding a dash of humor.
  • Everybody In – With opening day at Wrigley Field just a month away, the Cubs gave fans another reason to get excited with a new slogan for the year – #EverybodyIn –
    paying homage to the connection the team has fans across the world. On Thursday, fans in Chicago were treated to free Garret Popcorn in Daley Plaza, as well as a chance to win free tickets, giving the Loop a distinctly Wrigleyville vibe.
  • Margarita Madness – National Margarita Day in February? Why not. There’s no reason to wait until May to enjoy this round-up of tasty tequila concoctions.
  • Go for the (Fashion) Gold – The world of figure skating is filled with rules and regulations, but for commentators and former Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, there’s only one: never wear the same outfit twice. With Closing Ceremonies this weekend, say goodbye to PyeongChang with a look back at this pair’s most dazzling outfits.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Staying “Pet Fresh” with ARM & HAMMER

When tasked with promoting the ARM & HAMMER line of Pet Fresh bags, filters and carpet cleaner to both millennials and this fall, the LCWA home PR team leveraged the massive popularity of pet-focused online influencers to promote the products’ benefits and drive consumers to online retailers.

To reach these distinct target audiences “where they live” online, we utilized a two-tier approach. For millennials, we identified leading “Pets of Instagram” accounts – including Sam Has Eyebrows and Emwng – to help tell the Pet Fresh story with engaging content featuring quality photography and video. We also reached out “Pet Parent” bloggers including, This Worthey Life, Tamara (Like Camera) and The Adventures of J-Man & Miller Bug, to reach Moms with pets. The influencers created relatable web and social content, including reader giveaways for extended reach and enthusiasm.

With 1.6 million impressions, the program successfully demonstrated to pet lovers how ARM & HAMMER can help keep homes clean and odor-free, even with furry family members. Stay tuned for more exciting ARM & HAMMER activations this year!

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of the Real World

It was a week of great highs and tragic lows. From the mountaintops of Pyeongchang to the hallways of a high school in Parkland, Florida, our spirits have been lifted and crushed. In an attempt to distract us all from these emotional extremes, following are some other stories that caught our eyes this week:
  • Figure Skating or Fried Rice? – As much as we love our friends at Chicago’s ABC7 News, we definitely got a chuckle out of the gastro-inspired graphic they used during a report on the 2018 Winter Olympics. The award-winning news program mistakenly posted a graphic with the Olympics logo that read “P.F. Chang,” as in the popular U.S. eatery, where it should have read Pyeongchang, the South Korean city hosting the Games. Other media outlets had a field day and we all had a good laugh – perhaps with the exception of the WLS graphics department.
  • Brrr, That’s Cold! – In other Olympics news, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are
    grabbing headlines – and audiences – with their icy takedowns of the figure skaters competing at the Winter Games. Even before the Opening Ceremony, the Olympians-turned-analysts gave a chilly reception to many of the skaters performing in the early events,
    throwing more shade (and drawing more viewers) than the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” One viewer tweeted that “NBC should send Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir to cover White House press briefings.” 
  • Is He or Isn’t He? – New details were released this week about the pending royal nuptials between Price Harry and Meghan Merkle, including the time and place and a leak about a special guest performer for the ceremony. Early in the week, numerous media outlets reported that Grammy winning artist Ed Sheeran was likely to perform as the couple walked down the aisle after US Weekly reported that Sheeran had been personally asked to perform by the Prince. However, this morning, those dreams were dashed by reports confirming that Sheeran will not be performing at the royal wedding due to a previously scheduled concert in Dublin – and the fact that, according to his manager, he hasn’t been invited.
  • Has High Point Hit a New Low? – Designers this week were buzzing about the rumor that High Point Market is planning to open its doors to consumers, sparked by an invitation that read, “For the first time, High Point Market, the largest furnishing industry trade show in the world, is opening the showroom floor to consumers, providing unprecedented access to view the latest products and designs in home furnishings.” Market officials have confirmed that the High Point show will remain a trade-only event. The invitation is for an exclusive limited-attendee consumer tour being sponsored by Hearst media. Tour participants will not be permitted to purchase products from any of the showrooms. They will be referred to retailers or interior designers, and the tours will only allow access to participating showrooms.
  • Oh, Snap! – In an effort to regain momentum and retain influencers, Snapchat announced this week that it will roll out new analytics tools designed to help advertisers and influencers refine their Snapchat approach. Following the expansion of its Advertising API availability, Snap Inc. is also giving selected creators access to in-depth analytics data. With these new tools, popular creators will now have more reason to come back to Snap, with the capacity to quantify their efforts with actual data, while the new Discover layout will give them increased exposure to more users, adding to Snap’s appeal.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bringing Brand History and Heritage to Life

The long and storied 223-year history of Jim Beam Bourbon came alive at the Beam
Suntory headquarters in Chicago in January, offering the Beam staff a variety of experiences ranging from a virtual tour of the Jim Beam bourbon distillery in Clermont Kentucky and hands-on cocktail classes, to bourbon tastings and fireside chats with Beam family members.

One of the highlights of the festivities was the unveiling of The Heritage Collection featuring rare letters, documents, photos and bottlings from the company’s past.  The LCWA heritage PR team had spent close to two years identifying and collecting these artifacts from around the country in an effort to preserve and celebrate the company’s unique history. The crown jewel of the Collection was a short film featuring Jim Beam in 1939 celebrating the opening of his plant after Prohibition. The LC Williams team located the 8 millimeter black and white film, the only film of Jim Beam, in tiny Sewanee, Tennessee and negotiated with the owner to purchase it as well as other relics.

After Chief Executive Officer Matt Shattock and Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Messina were treated to a special tour of the Heritage Collection by yours truly, the materials were then put on full display in the company’s lobby for the entire week for all employees to view.  In addition to acting as tour guide and museum curator, I also had the privilege to lead two seminars on the company’s history while the audience sipped cocktails. History never tasted so good.

The Collection is part of a larger initiative being developed by Beam Suntory and LCWA, designed to raise employee and consumer awareness of the iconic brand’s heritage.  We’re currently planning big things to help celebrate Jim Beam’s 225 year anniversary in 2020. Stay tuned!


Friday, February 9, 2018

Braving Winter in Chicago

With the “biggest snow storm of the year” headed toward Chicago, everyone is starting to hibernate for the final six weeks of winter. Below are some of my favorite headlines of the week to keep you cozy over the weekend.
  • Super Sunday – Just like that, the biggest sports night of the year came and went.
    While the game was pretty exciting (the Philadelphia Eagles won their first-ever Super Bowl against the New England Patriots), as a professional in the PR industry, the ads were even more exciting. The trend this year was less brands, bigger story lines. Brands like Tide, Bud Light and the NFL didn’t just do one solo ad, instead, ads with entire storylines and characters were shown through the big game. Companies that stayed away from long-winded stories but still had people talking included Amazon Alexa, Doritos and Mountain Dew, Toyota and Budweiser. Take a look at commercial highlights 
  • More Than Just Plunging Temperatures – On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a historical plunge of 1,175 points. This was the largest point decline ever in the Dow, making a lot of shareholders and investors worried about its future. This dive in points was unique because it wasn’t caused by any one event, in fact, in recent months the stock markets have been doing very well. Even with the market taking another dive on Thursday, here’s what you need to know about the plunge and how the Dow will continue to change. 
  • Slippery Start to the Winter Olympics – From one major sporting even to another, Thursday marked the official start to the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea and tonight the opening ceremony will commence. However, this Olympics feels about different than years past. With tensions between North Korea and pretty much every other nation on high, North and South Korea have come to a sort of agreement to promote “unity” for the games. On another note, the Olympics were plagued with a sickness called Norovirus – as of Wednesday, 86 people – no reported athletes – were diagnosed with the food and waterborne illness. Aside from these troubles, be sure to tune in over the next couple of weeks to NBC for all of the winter sport fun!

Stay warm, Chicago!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Weil-McLain Brings the Heat to 2018 AHR Expo

Last month, our client Weil-McLain attended the 2018 International Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration (AHR) Expo here in Chicago, where more than 65,000 industry representatives gathered to get the scoop on the latest tools and technology in the HVACR
industry. Thanks to some proactive outreach and diligent booking efforts from our B2B PR team, Weil-McLain entered the 2018 AHR Expo with a leg up on the competition – nearly 20 media appointments with top trade publications.

Everyone on the Weil-McLain team at LCWA spent the last few weeks and months hard at work contacting industry editors and writers to make sure Weil-McLain received prominent attention at this popular show and the world’s largest HVACR marketplace.

Our efforts paid off. Editors were excited to learn about the latest in heating innovations from Weil-McLain, and the brand received significant exposure during the show. And of course, the media attention from the AHR Expo also proved to be a success, with conversations from the show leading to two immediate placements and more pending coverage throughout the year.

We look forward to heating up the AHR Expo again next year – in Atlanta!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Self-selecting the News

As usual, it was a busy week for the news media, and social platforms are no different. Instead of the State of the Union on Tuesday, the State of the State in Illinois Wednesday or the building excitement for some football game this weekend, I focused my attention on some better business practices … and a little bit of nostalgia. Here are my favorite finds from a week in the Twitterverse:
  • Who knew a big-name CEO wasn’t already on Twitter? That was th
    e case for Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg … until this week! He does have an incredible bio, rising from intern at Boeing to its helm.
  • Social Media Today shared an infographic on the worst color choices for your website. It may seem elementary, but we’ve all visited sites that could use design improvements! What’s on the list? Pure black, red and green, bright-on-bright colors and light on white are the worst offenders.
  • Hurrah for earned media! Results of strategic editorial outreach are driving more B2B marketers to rethink their ad spend. A study by Cision and Demand Gen “found that 79% of marketers are prioritizing earned media over traditional paid ads, which have become less effective.”
  • This article from Inc. magazine references some easy-to-follow daily habits from a variety of sources. These “high achievers” perform such habits for themselves. It’s worth a read.
  • Tom Hanks to play Mr. Rogers?! I feel like I’m back at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Good memories.

Enjoy the weekend!