Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PFF Ambassador and 9/11 First Responder Shares PF Story

Each September, our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) observes Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, a 30-day campaign to raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis (PF), a devastating lung disease affecting more than 200,000 people in the United States.

To raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis and #PFMonth, the PFF team tapped PFF Ambassador and retired NYPD detective Tom Frey to help us shine a light on this disease. Tom was a 9/11 first responder who was called to Ground Zero on that fateful day in 2001. Years later, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and then PF, all linked back to the toxic chemicals from his 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts.

In the months leading up to September, we proactively pitched Tom’s story to national media outlets in hopes that we can help others understand the many journeys people affected by PF have experienced. As part of these efforts, we secured national print, online and broadcast coverage in support of Tom’s heartfelt story.

Broadcast: We worked with NBC New York to plan a segment, where Tom revisits September 11 by walking the grounds of the World Trade Center Memorial with NBC 4 reporter David Ushery. You can watch the full segment here.

Print: Cindy Dampier of the Chicago Tribune spoke with Tom and the PFF’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cosgrove on a piece about 9/11-related illnesses on the rise among first responders. Read the Tribune cover story here.

Online: Tom shared his PF story with Today Show Online’s health contributor Agnes Pawlowski. Read about his experience at Ground Zero in his own words here.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that remains largely unknown, even among doctors, and can lead to later stage diagnoses. With more than 50,000 new cases of pulmonary fibrosis diagnosed annually, it is imperative that we raise awareness of the disease and educate patients on all of their healthcare options. To learn more, visit

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Kick off Annual Planning with Four Key Questions

Believe it or not, 2020 isn’t so far away. And while several organizations operate on fiscal years starting in July or even October, the majority of our clients embark now on planning for the traditional calendar year. Now is the time to regroup with the C-suite to discuss updates to long-term goals and any short-term projects.

How do you balance current and near-term programming while starting the conversation about next year’s plans?
  • Ensure you have an overarching sense of how the current year’s results are faring and what your budget status is. (This should really be top-of-mind for any account lead at any time.)
  • Approach the topic during a regular status meeting or call, but be careful not to let that derail more pressing matters. Instead, set a future date on the calendar to regroup about the coming year.
  • Prepare to address – even informally – a few tactics worth preserving and some program elements that could be replaced in the next year.
  • Review quarterly reports and call notes to refresh knowledge of corporate objectives.
When more formal discussion begins, these key questions can help foster productive discussion:
  1. Will there be any particular new product or service focus for the year, perhaps broken down by month or quarter?
  2. In addition to core communications to key audiences, are there new audiences we can consider targeting in the coming year?
  3. What are some key events in which the organization plans to participate (again or first the first time) in the year ahead?
  4. Are we working with a similar budget for the coming year, or should we plan for any changes?
These are some primary details that can help your team start thinking about creative strategies and tactics for a successful 2020 – while still focusing on delivering solid results this year.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Multimedia News Release Powers Up Town/Gown Launch

Now in its third year, the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project teams institutions of higher education and fire departments to install First Alert alarms in at-risk homes and increase fire safety education in these communities. This unique, impactful project is coordinated through a partnership between First Alert, Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation, and invites colleges, universities and fire departments across the country to apply for the opportunity to participate.

In order to emphasize the project launch, encourage departments to apply and offer up access to multi-media assets, LCWA developed an attractive multi-media news release featuring five photos and an educational smoke and carbon monoxide alarm safety whiteboard video. The user-friendly format appeals to media and partners alike who can easily view, share and download the assets to promote the project across their networks as well.

This year’s launch has already garnered millions of impressions and the rate of entries is up from last year. The best part is knowing that these efforts will not only help prevent future tragedies, but improve the well-being of the communities individually impacted. Learn more about the Town/Gown project at

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Back-to-School Fashion with North Riverside Park Mall

From colorful backpacks to comfortable athleisure, there's a style for every kid no matter what grade they're heading into this school year. LCWA client North Riverside Park Mall offers a one-stop-shop for youth school apparel. Its colorful selection of retail stores makes it easy for families to start the 2019-2020 school year in style. What’s more, there is even something for mom to feel like she is on trend when shuttling between the drop-off line and after-school sporting activities.

To showcase Instagram-worthy looks from a few of the mall’s stores, our Chicago PR team secured and coordinated a back-to-school fashion show on WCIU – The Jam. Outfitted in fancy new kicks and layers that easily transition into the fall, students dazzled The Jam hosts Felicia Lawrence and Carly Henderson with their new looks and ear-to-ear smiles. The segment was strategically timed to reach viewers just before the first bell rang and now lives on the WCIU website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Five Tips for an Effective Brainstorm

Leading a successful brainstorm is not tricky. It is simply the product of good planning.

Over the years, I have hosted my fair share of brainstorms. Some fell flat and others resulted in wild ideas that once tamed turned into stellar campaign concepts. I have determined that planning and structure are key to driving productivity. It takes some practice to manage the room and focus creativity, at times, but every session presents the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Whether capturing rapid-fire ideas or being mindful of a voice in the back of the room that is timidly sharing a half-baked idea, the ability to keep up the momentum and maximize the talent in the room are also key to running a worthwhile brainstorm.

Here are five other tips to jumpstart brilliant ideas.
  1. Assign the Prep Work – The most productive brainstorms often begin with ideas from those who have taken the time to read, digest and think about the creative brief or other materials that were shared in advance. It is that initial pre-read that grounds the participants in the client’s business, offers information about the goals that need to be achieved, and a few resources or online sites that should be reviewed in advance. If you do not have a full creative brief or you are simply trying to generate jump-start ideas without client direction, consider sharing a top-line idea or theme as inspiration to the group.
  2. Motivate with Sweets – I always appreciate a surprise treat during a meeting. And while it may sound trivial, treats, tchotchkes and other branded materials can elevate the energy within a room from the start. Snacks can fight fatigue, while other items can satisfy those who likes to fidget and showcase the brand that is up for discussion.
  3. Appoint a Scribe – Good facilitation requires good listening skills and very sharp group awareness. Consider having one person close to the project run the meeting. A scribe can build off his or her direction and write down every single idea that is mentioned, taking a neutral and respectful stance toward each idea. Knowing a scribe will map out the ideas, the moderator can focus on building off shared ideas and take cues for new direction if needed. 
  4. Round Robin Versus The Post-Its Method – There are many different ways to jumpstart brainstorm session. In some cases, it may be most effective to simply ask who wants to share an idea first. At other times, you may want to shake things up and make the brainstorm experience more interactive. Give each participant a stack of Post-Its, trying to assign a different color to each participant. Next, share one central idea or business case for them to generate ideas around. Set a timer and ask everyone to write one idea on a Post-It, knocking out as many as possible and putting the notes onto a whiteboard (or the wall!) before the buzzer rings. Once complete, read the ideas aloud, moving like concepts together and sharing them with the room. You will find that some ideas will rise to the top as other complement one another and drive towards a bigger theme to talk through. 
  5. “Yes, and?” – No idea is too small or too big. Rather, each presents opportunity to shape the ideation. I have always been a fan of the “Yes, and?” technique that is often used in comedy improv as it does not allow for ideas to be analyzed or scrutinized for sounding off base. It not only helps generate a new idea quickly, but also softens any critique. Some groups find this technique hard to follow, but try it once your team has narrowed down the ideas and see how things get remixed.
Remember, the simple nature of a brainstorm can foster truly creative ideas. Nevertheless, a little advanced planning is needed for the meetings to be both fun and fruitful.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Bylined Articles Educate about Workplace Sleep Programs

LCWA helped the Welltrinsic Sleep Network increase awareness about sleep deprivation and tools that employers can take to improve healthy sleep among employees. Part of this campaign effort involved securing bylined articles in trade publications geared toward employers. 

LCWA coordinated articles by Dr. Lawrence Epstein, president and CEO of the Welltrinsic Sleep Network, in Benefits Magazine and its Canadian counterpart, Plans & Trust. These large trade publications target corporate benefits staff and cover employee benefits and compensation. Both articles highlighted the impact of sleep deprivation in the workplace and ways that employers can fight fatigue in the workplace.

Because sleep is particularly important in the transportation industry, LCWA also secured an article in Modern WorkTruck Solutions. The story focused on the detriment of sleep deprivation to the industry, as well as providing some fixes that can be done by employers – and employees – to improve health and safety for their drivers.

Overall, these three articles drove conversation about the impact of sleep deprivation and also drove awareness of the Welltrinsic Sleep Network, which provides employee wellness programs, as a solution.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Finding and Using Compelling Stats to Get News

In the PR business, including stats in press releases and other media-facing materials is vital. They add significance and credibility to your clients’ announcements, and can also be a great way to craft headlines — creating news that can bolster client messaging, help garner media results during a lull in client activity or even spearhead a campaign.

You also want your clients to be the leader in their industries, and having a library of stats lends them authority and helps them be the “go-to” source for media when they are looking for expert resources to help shape their stories.

But, the stats need to be legitimate and compelling, or the media won’t be interested. So, how do you find and use stats to deliver the best client service? Here are some recommendations from the LCWA team:

How to find stats: 
  • Deploy a survey: A high-level, consumer-friendly survey can help secure a variety of news angles that can be used to drive coverage. The survey can be wide-ranging if you’re looking for topics that can be used throughout the year, or the questions can be narrowed down if you’re looking for a brand new story to spearhead a campaign.
  • Ask the experts: If you work with an organization that represents experts, such as medical professions, conducting internal outreach for their insights and day-to-day observations can allow you to bolster current messaging and come up with new information that interests media.
  • Audit the research: Some clients may have a cache of studies that haven’t been adequately utilized for marketing purposes. It may behoove you to review the materials and see if there are newsworthy nuggets, or overarching themes, that can be pulled and used.

 How to use stats:
  • Craft your own news: Even if it seems there aren’t any original client stories to tell that would actually interest media, you still need to deliver results. However, if you can find a key stat that allows you to conduct outreach on a topic that hasn’t been sown in your clients' industry landscape before, this can allow your client to become an authority on the subject or even create breaking news. Media are always looking for something new, and this enables you to deliver.
  • Create a library: Your clients’ online newsrooms or media kits are a great place to host an easily accessible list of impactful stats. When a reporter can simply pull stats to include as references in stories, a rise in impressions and coverage is sure to follow. Stats that are owned by your client will be attributed to your client in stories, indefinitely.
  • Visualize the information: Stats are perfect for infographics and other visual content that tell your story in an intriguing way for use in social media or to help deliver the increasingly busy media the information and digital content they need.
  • Determine your outreach strategy: So, once you have the stats, what do you do with them. As mentioned above, it depends on your goals — ongoing pitching or campaign-leading news. You may find that the information you gathered can lead to a combination of the two. Some recommended tactics include press releases, wire releases, wire releases, direct-to-editor fact sheets, supporting infographics and visuals, spokesperson quote sheets and more.
In this media landscape, you need to have a leg-up on the competition, create authority and keep your client relevant, lead with new information and make things easily digestible for reporters — who are covering multiple beats or topics they don’t know much about and are under tight deadlines. Finding and using compelling stats can set you and  your clients up for success.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How to Utilize Content across Social Platforms

When creating social content for a client, not all social media platforms should be used the same way. Each platform has different goals and audiences, so it is crucial that your content, social calendars and formats are created specifically for each. Follow these tips to help each platforms audience get the most out of your content:  
  • Tailor your message. Instead of copying and pasting your text from one platform to the next, vary the length, image formatting, hashtags and vocabulary based on the platform you’re using. This ensures you won’t lose part of a caption on Twitter, tag an Instagram handle on Facebook or invite your followers to retweet you on LinkedIn. 
  • Post consistently. How consistently you post on a social platform should be specific to which platform you are using. Post content on Twitter multiple times per day to reach the maximum audience, but for Instagram and Facebook, post content less frequently to avoid spamming your follower’s feed. Consider using Instagram and Facebook stories to keep your client top of mind on days you aren’t posting to your feed.
  • Keep the time in mind. Just because you are sharing similar content across social platforms, doesn’t mean it has to publish at the same time. Schedule posts for the individual peak times on each social media network. Posting when the most amount of people will see it, will maximize engagement. For example, post on LinkedIn between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays to reach the largest audience.
  • Consider the media you’re using. Before deciding on content, think about how you can integrate videos, images, text or gifs based the platform you’re posting on. To get more engagement on Facebook, create a video or image to get your message across. On Twitter, tweet an image or gif along with your text for more favorites and retweets.

Following these tips can help you run successful social media campaigns, gain new followers and get great exposure for your clients.    

Monday, August 12, 2019

Boise Paper and the Red Cross Join Forces this Summer to Fill the Missing Types

As part of its Paper with Purpose® promise, our client Boise Paper is committed to making a difference in the communities its customers and employees call home. And this year, Boise Paper is demonstrating that commitment through its ongoing support of the American Red Cross.

This summer, Boise Paper joined other global brands to help raise awareness of the Red Cross’ Missing Types Campaign, a movement to inspire 325,000 people across the U.S. to help save lives by donating blood. Here are a few stats that might surprise you:
  • There are 50,000 people in the U.S. who have never donated blood before
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
  • Only three out of every 100 people donate blood in the U.S. in a given year
  • Blood types typically go missing in the summer
Alarming, right? There simply aren’t enough people donating blood to help patients in need. When A, B and O blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever. That’s why the Boise Paper team hit the ground running to help raise awareness of this important cause. Here’s what we accomplished in a very tight time frame of only one month:
  • Updated the Boise Paper logo without the letters A, B and O
  • Drafted original content for Boise Paper’s social channels
  • Presented a Facebook sweepstakes
  • Created a Facebook ad
  • Distributed an e-blast
  • Hosted a Twitter Chat with the Red Cross, AND …
  • Launched an influencer campaign 
Each initiative stressed the importance of blood donations and encouraged new and existing blood donors to visit to schedule a blood donation appointment. The entire campaign garnered over 33 million total impressions in June – all in an effort to inspire more people to donate blood and help save lives.

Through the support of generous blood donors, blood drive hosts and partnerships like the one it has with Boise Paper, the Red Cross is able to provide 40% of the nation’s blood supply to 2,500 hospitals across the country every day.

To learn more about the Missing Types Campaign and how you can get involved, please visit

Monday, August 5, 2019

DAP Platinum Patch Honored as a Best New Home Product

Product award programs can lead to editorial accolades and powerful third-party endorsements that drive awareness and sales for clients and their products. That’s why LCWA has established an annual awards program for DAP. Each year, our team works to ensure DAP’s newest innovations are recognized by some of the top awards programs in the Home and Building Products industries.  Most recently, DAP was recognized by  This Old House on its list of Top 25 Best New Products in the Building Materials category. After months of research, reviews, testing and input from industry pros, This Old House magazine’s editors recently released its list of top products that represent the “finest in new materials and mechanical systems for construction and remodeling projects.” We’re proud to have help our DAP client secure a spot on this coveted list. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Celebrating Summer at Santa’s Village with The Jam

Who says you can’t celebrate Christmas all year-round? LCWA client Santa’s Village Amusement Park in Dundee, Ill., is the perfect place to do just that! During the summer months Santa’s Village is the ideal destination for Chicagoland families with young kids. The park features everything from animal attractions and Kiddieland rides to weekly entertainment shows and a brand-new arcade. To showcase the exciting attractions, LCWA secured and coordinated a dynamic on-site segment with WCIU – The Jam. It’s safe to say that everyone had some fun!

The Jam host, Kelsie Huff, visited Santa’s Village and saw more than 200 animals, birds and fish, chatted with president and owner Jason Sierpien, and even rode the park's most popular roller coaster, the Super Cyclone!  With live clips airing throughout The Jam's morning broadcast between 6 and 8 a.m., we reached many Chicagoland viewers. The story now lives on the WCIU website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

There’s still plenty of summertime left, so be sure to visit Santa’s Village with your family.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Award Spotlight: Creating an Engaging Microsite with

In October 2018, LCWA and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) developed and launched this new microsite to help introduce key information, symptoms and risk factors about pulmonary fibrosis (PF)—a debilitating lung disease—to the vast majority of the population who do not know about the disease. is a key component in a multi-faceted three-year program designed to increase awareness of both PF and the PFF. The site features simple animation, bold text and easy-to-understand information highlighting primary PF symptoms and risk factors, and funnels visitors into the additional detail and resources that PFF provides. Key features include: 
  • Dynamic design: Interactive animation, obvious “lung” visual cues and bright colors offer approachable and engaging content for site visitors. 
  • Key statistics: Focused content explains the scope of the disease, core symptoms and risk factors, with opportunities to click through to additional information.
  • Multi-media content: PFF patient videos offer personal stories to make the symptoms relatable, while demonstrating three unique paths to diagnosis and treatment.
  • Calls-to-action: A printable “risk list” gives patients a tool to further review their symptoms and risk factors with their doctor. A “Find a Doctor” resource points to local physicians who can provide care for those who need it.
In order to drive visitors to the site, all campaign materials and efforts lead to Tactics include consumer and trade media relations, digital and social ads, and an educational Twitter chat. Since its launch, has received thousands of visitors and we look forward to watching that number continue to grow as we enter the second year of this important awareness campaign.  

The site was awarded a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of websites.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Presenting Tips to Keep the Focus on You…Not the Phones

It’s hardly a secret that we’re overwhelmed with information, particularly in our industry. Texts and tweets, emails and posts, all demand our attention, fighting to be read, digested and responded to.  In this noisy environment, the prospect of giving a presentation or a speech can be daunting to say the least.

With attention spans so short (and meetings sooo long) the ability to communicate persuasively and in a concise manner is more important than ever.
Listed below are a few tips and techniques that might help you make the most of your next presentation opportunity.  They’re designed to get your audience to put down their phones and listen up. Read on!
  • Know your material inside and out. There’s no winging it with presenting.  Know your subject matter and anticipate potential questions.  The quickest way to lose your audience is by showing a lack of understanding and relevance to the issue at hand. If your audience doesn’t think you know the material, they will tune out.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  No matter how good you THINK you are, or how many times you’ve presented, you can always be better – so rehearse. Out loud. If possible, practice in the very room you plan on presenting in.  Use the same tone of voice you plan on using during the actual presentation.  Early in my career, I used to script out every single word and memorize it.  It was pretty extreme, I admit, but it also worked.  I got promoted a lot.
  • Start and finish strong.  The two most important parts of any presentation are the beginning and end.  So make sure they work.  Start off with something relevant – tell them why what they’re about to see and hear is important.  Then after you review the deck, close with a big finish. Sum up the idea, the results, and impact, as enthusiastically as you can.
  • Do your homework. How long do you have? Who, if anyone, are you following? How many people are you presenting to? Who are the decision-makers? What time of day are you presenting? (Avoid after lunch if possible; mid-mornings are best.)  What are the hot-buttons for this crowd? The more you know ahead of time, the better you’ll be.
  • Speak up! Forty percent of a presentation’s impact comes from the way you sound. So speak up! Use inflections. Be enthusiastic. Speak at an even pace. Make eye contact if possible.
  • Make the deck eye-pleasing. Everyone has their own style when it comes to the visuals but there are some basic rules-of-thumbs.  Use a horizontal format; highlight key words; don’t use more than two or three colors; limit the copy to six bullet points of no more than six words; use charts and stats sparingly (don’t overdo them.)  Short videos or photos can also help ensure attention levels remain high. Avoid using a laser pointer. (Do they still make those?)
  • Don’t talk to the visuals.  The visuals are merely there to support you and help you tell your story.  Refer to them but don’t read them. Sum them up and provide details, context and perspective. Remember, your deck or slides aren’t the star – you are.  So shine on.
  • Body language. Use hands and gestures appropriately.  This will help maintain attention and help you relax you as well.
  • Leave time for questions:  Be cognizant of the time.  A terrific presentation can be ruined because there wasn’t enough time left for a robust question and answer session.   In my experience, the Q&A is the exclamation point of a presentation.   It’s usually the last chance you have to make an impression, so plan accordingly!

Jim Kokoris has close to 40 years of speech writing and speaker training experience. For more information, contact Jim at

Monday, July 22, 2019

Award Spotlight: “Trex Decks Out the World”

As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. At LCWA, we are big believers in the power of collaboration. This year, that philosophy paid off in meaningful results for our client, Trex Company, and high-profile recognition for our agency in the form of a 2019 Trumpet Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Collaboration was the key to this award-winning campaign, which focused on elevating Trex as the world’s leading brand of wood-alternative decking. As the company’s long-time agency of record, LCWA vetted and engaged agencies in five key markets – Australia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the UK – to create a global PR team, tapping talent from our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners.

To ensure brand integrity and message consistency, LCWA served as the central hub for the integrated agency team, reviewing and approving all activities and content. PR assets, ideas and successes were shared across markets to both inspire and optimize budget.

Together, our agency teams focused on garnering Trex coverage in influential industry and consumer media outlets in all of our key markets by keeping the pipeline filled with Trex news, imagery and story ideas. LCWA provided agency partners with press releases and pitches offering tips for creating a dream outdoor space with Trex. These materials were then customized with cultural nuances for each market.

We maximized Trex exposure at key international industry events and partnered with high-profile home/building influencers to showcase the ease of building a deck with Trex. We also coordinated photo shoots in each market to capture authentic imagery for use with media, across social channels and in Trex’s international marketing materials.

For this program and client, media coverage and impressions were the primary metrics for measuring success. The combined efforts of our global PR team generated 385 media placements, delivering more than 260 million impressions. Beyond impressions, the influencer projects allowed us to cost-effectively gather market-specific images and video assets, along with authentic user-generated content. Additionally, all of the influencers continue to be Trex brand advocates and ambassadors, promoting their projects and the Trex brand in bonus content.

These results and the seamless collaboration between agencies far surpassed client expectations and earned continued work and increased budgets for all agency partners in 2019.

The "Trex Decks Out the World" Campaign won a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of International Campaigns.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tips for Building Partnerships

Our PR campaigns work to reach relevant audiences with our clients’ key messages. One great way to communicate with target audiences: work with associations or organizations of which they may be a member. When seeking strong partnerships, it is important to follow these steps:
  • Identify organizations with similar messaging and values. When building partnerships, the first task is to ascertain groups that would be a good fit. In addition to looking at size, location and membership, make sure there is a functional fit based on need and message. Next, look at the core values of each organization and ensure that the two will work well together. And of course, take time to see if any competitors have ever worked with them, as well.
  • Set realistic expectations. Consider what resources your organization has to dedicate to a partnership. If you want a hands-off project, consider a group that has opportunities already in motion. For more customized programs, be ready to take the lead in development and implementation.
  • Find a mutual goal. After identifying potential partners, propose a program that will offer benefits to both of you. For a true partnership to succeed – and last – it must be mutually beneficial. Establish a shared vision that both groups can move toward.
  • Set expectations and be flexible. When it’s time for implementation, identify where responsibilities lie, deadlines for projects and an ongoing communication process to keep everything flowing. That said, issues can occur, so be flexible and ready to work closely with the other organization to ensure all expectations are met throughout the program.

If you set the foundation for a strong partnership, it can pay dividends for years to come.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Award Spotlight: First Alert 2018 Campaigns

First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety, had a banner year in 2018. Celebrating its 60th jubilee, increasing its involvement in community risk reduction efforts and launching a new smart home product all warranted comprehensive, award-winning campaigns!

The “60 Years of Firsts” campaign highlighted the ways First Alert has launched innovations since its founding. To amplify outreach with local fire departments, LCWA launched the "60 Years of Thank Yous” donation sweepstakes. Sixty departments were randomly chosen to receive either 60 smoke alarms or 60 carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Additional campaign elements included firefighter brand ambassadors and local community sponsorships. Overall, the campaign garnered more than 286.2 million impressions, and the sweepstakes earned more than 700 entries!

First Alert and LCWA partnered with two reputable and well-known fire safety organizations – Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation – to coordinate the “Town/Gown Community Service Project” campaign. This project promoted fire safety education and collaboration between students, fire departments, universities and their surrounding communities. Through an application process, 25 fire departments were selected to receive 100 smoke or CO alarms for community outreach with college students in their respective communities. In addition to national outreach, LCWA coordinated with departments for local media outreach for each initiative, earning more than 97.2 million impressions and installing 2,500 alarms in at-risk homes.

In addition to community outreach, First Alert launched its latest innovation in 2018: a 3-in-1 smoke and CO alarm with a premium speaker and built-in Amazon Alexa, dubbed the Onelink Safe & Sound. LCWA and First Alert debuted the product at CES 2018 to key tech media, including Digital Trends and The Verge. Before the official launch in May, LCWA secured several one-on-one interviews with top consumer and tech media, including Gearbrain, Gizmodo and Good Housekeeping. The Onelink Safe & Sound’s key features were amplified with a strategic influencer program and celebrity endorsements, including a celebrity-gifting suite. Finally, LCWA researched and submitted the alarm for consideration to several editorial and product award programs, earning seven awards including the Good Housekeeping 2018 Lab Pick and the GOOD DESIGN Award. Overall, the Onelink Safe & Sound launch resulted in more than 2.1 billion impressions!

First Alert won a Golden Trumpet from the PCC in the Marketing Category and a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Marketing – Consumer Products, Packaged Goods category for the “Onelink Safe & Sound Launch.” The “Town/Gown Community Service Project” won a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Most Effective Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the PCC in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. First Alert won a Skyline Award in the in Events & Observances, Businesses – Products Category from PRSA Chicago for its “60 Years of Firsts” campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) in the Special Events category.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Leveraging News of the Day

It’s the job of PR professionals to constantly look for ways to keep their clients in the news. One such approach is responding to news of the day or breaking news stories. This is an especially useful strategy when your clients don’t necessarily have their own news to share. By leveraging trending stories already in the news you can insert your clients into the conversation. Effectively leveraging the news of the day requires the following key steps: 

Select the Right Stories 

As you scan the news of the day, it’s important to consider what storylines make the most sense for a particular client. Consider piggybacking on news angles that capture the attention of the media. Such examples include research studies, interesting statistics, new trends or data about the industry that’s relevant to your client.

Steer clear of stories that may come across as insensitive, such as promoting good deeds after a natural disaster. A PR professional should never try to take advantage of the misfortune of others. In such instances, it’s important to subtly share your good deed or assistance in relief efforts so you come across as supportive but not desperate to reporters or readers.

Respond Quickly 

In order to use other news for your clients, it’s essential that you constantly read and watch pertinent news outlets so you can contact a reporter as soon as possible. If you respond too late, it’s likely that your client’s competitors will already have beaten you to the story.

For breaking news, most journalists need an expert to comment on a situation quickly via a phone interview, video conference or live video interview so have your spokesperson prepared and ready to go.  Once a reporter or editor sees they can count on you quickly for story ideas, and expert comments, then you become a valuable resource to them.

Be a Resource

The best way to build relationships with reporters is to be succinct and provide them with 
material they haven’t already learned or written about. In other words, don’t waste their time. As a PR professional, it’s your job to capture the attention of these writers with a different angle or addition to the story.

Leveraging the news of the day and inserting clients into a news conversation requires a few key steps that include regularly monitoring the news and finding ways to insert your client into relevant stories. To do so effectively, you must offer new angles to the story, share useful information, be timely, and know your client’s spokespersons and areas of expertise.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Award Spotlight: American Academy of Sleep Medicine “Sleep Works for You”

Getting insufficient sleep and working while fatigued have become commonplace in the modern workforce, causing employees to experience cognitive declines and presenting employers with heightened safety risks and increased economic costs. So, LCWA and our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — the leading voice in the sleep field launched the “Sleep Works for You” campaign.

This multifaceted campaign, conducted on behalf of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project — a cooperative agreement between the CDC and the AASM — embodied the vision of achieving optimal health through better sleep for long-term success and well-being. “Sleep Works for You” encouraged employees, from entrepreneurs to shift workers, to prioritize sleep for safety and productivity on the job, and educated employers on ways to help workers avoid fatigue and develop healthy sleep habits.

To reach these audiences, the campaign included a wide variety of tactics, such as feature stories, media outreach — highlighted by a co-branded press release with the National Safety Council — influencer partnerships, a Twitter chat and social content, landing page design and more.

The campaign resonated strongly with media, consumers and influencers, and was honored with the Skyline Award in Integrated Communications from PRSA Chicago and a Silver Trumpet in Integrated Communications from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Blending Traditional and New Media to Tell the PFF Story

While working with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), we have experimented with a variety of channels to raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis and engage target populations with the PFF’s resources and research. These goals include reaching patients, families, caregivers and healthcare providers, and demonstrating the value of the PFF to each group. As the array of media channels continues to grow, we have been able to tap into specific audiences through their preferred sources of information and entertainment – be it traditional publications or new media options.

Tried and True
For our traditional media program, the PFF team has been leveraging top national media outlets to share the personal stories of our PFF Ambassadors from across the country. By speaking about their individual experiences with pulmonary fibrosis, PFF Ambassadors help us promote disease awareness on behalf of the PFF, provide up-to-date information, and offer hope and inspiration to the PF community.

As part of this effort, our team recently secured a piece in Reader’s Digest to tell the story of PFF Ambassador Tom Frey, whose story is unlike any other. Tom, a retired NYPD detective, shares his personal journey from being a first responder during 9/11 to his diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis – which links back to his time spent at Ground Zero 18 years ago. This is a great example of leveraging a long-standing, influential publication to reach a broad consumer base that also coincides with the PFF’s target audience. You can read Tom’s inspirational story here.

Always Streaming
In terms of new media, we wanted to communicate the stories of a pulmonary fibrosis patient, caregiver and healthcare provider through a mobile-friendly channel where individual voices could shine. We worked with the RareShare Podcast, which is one component of a social hub run by the Rare Genomics Institute serving hundreds of rare disorder communities. The podcast works to share important information with patients, families, research organizations and healthcare professionals who are affected by rare disorders in an effort to improve both quality of life and treatment options.
PFF Ambassadors who represent both patient and his wife/caregiver, Jim and Karen Carns discussed how they learned about pulmonary fibrosis together and worked with the PFF to connect with support groups and tap into valuable resources. Dr. David Lederer, the PFF’s senior medical advisor, shared the latest research and innovations in care, bringing valuable insight for both patient and healthcare provider audiences.

The different perspectives flowed seamlessly together throughout the interview, resulting in a compelling episode that underscores the challenges that come with a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, the importance of finding the right support and resources, as well as the major strides the healthcare industry is making toward finding a cure. You can stream the episode here.

By integrating both traditional and new media in our PR strategy, the LCWA healthcare PR team gets the best of both worlds.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Five Keys to Working with a Team of Agencies

There a shift happening in the marketing world. As companies look to streamline every aspect of their businesses, they are turning to “one-stop shops” for all of their marketing needs. But, just as you wouldn’t trust one doctor to treat every aspect of your body, it’s highly unrealistic to expect one agency will be able to offer best-in-class service across the broad, varied and ever-evolving marketing spectrum.

With the complexity and choice of media channels today, there are a lot more moving parts and opportunities than ever before. It’s virtually impossible for any single agency – no matter the size – to be able to cover all marketing bases – let alone, do it well. Savvy companies understand this and, instead, are finding success working with integrated agency teams.

We have experienced this type of collaboration firsthand through our work with Trex Company, the inventor and undisputed market leader in composite decking – and for good reason. Trex understands the benefits of working with specialists and knows that two heads are better than one when it comes to promoting and elevating its world-class brand. In fact, LCWA is part of a team of five core marketing agencies working together to promote Trex. We also partner with four additional PR firms in key international markets to promote the brand globally.

As with any team, this type of collaboration requires commitment, authenticity and transparency. It requires putting egos on the shelf and focusing on what’s best for the client. It can be challenging at times – especially when there is overlap in capabilities between agencies. In my experience, however, a little flexibility and cooperation can go a long way toward delivering a whole that is, unquestionably, greater than the sum of its individual agency parts.

Having had the privilege of being part of an effective multi-agency team for the past decade, following are some lessons we’ve learned along the way for successful collaboration

1. Know your strengths
Understand that each agency was hired for a reason and brings a specific type of expertise to the party. While you may have capabilities in other areas, focus on what you have been hired to do and do it really well. Be at the ready if other capabilities are needed but, otherwise, stay in your lane and set yourself apart by delivering excellent work that exceeds expectations.

2. Clarify roles and responsibilities
Agencies are used to managing clients, creating workflows and leading client meetings and conference calls. With more than one agency in the picture, responsibilities can become muddled. A simple rule of thumb is, if it falls into your area of expertise, you’re the project lead. Likewise, know when to let someone else take the lead. If there are projects or assignments for which multiple agencies are qualified, have an open discussion at the outset to determine who will take the lead. Be reasonable, be fair and be clear so that the team – and the client - knows who’s in charge and how the work will be completed.

3. Foster open communications
Communication is crucial to effective integration and collaboration. Keep each other updated by scheduling regular all-agency calls or meetings to review projects, status updates, timelines, deliverables and next steps. Share research, background materials, insights and analyses that might be helpful to other agency team members. Use collaboration tools like WebEx and Google Docs to prepare integrated documents and presentations, and leverage project management sites, such as Basecamp, to house materials where they can be easily accessed at any time by all agency partners.

4. Make time to meet without the client
While time with the client is always valuable, it is equally essential for agency partners to meet autonomously. For Trex, our agency team schedules all-agency calls and meetings to brainstorm, strategize, evaluate and assess various projects. These agency-only events allow us to speak openly and freely about challenges and concerns. We also are able to brainstorm together without worrying about positioning or polish. In my opinion, this is when the magic happens. Ideas are sparked and built upon, bonds are formed, and the collaboration is organic.

5. Pitch integrated programs as a team
When a client invests in a multi-agency marketing team, it is important to deliver against that vision by approaching every call and meeting with the client as a united front. Focus on delivering holistic, integrated solutions – rather than pitching tactical recommendations by discipline. Support and amplify each other’s ideas and highlight opportunities where assets can be leveraged and maximized across channels. This not only reinforces the collaboration between agencies but also demonstrates how the team is realizing time and cost efficiencies that positively impact the client’s bottom line.

As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. When agencies collaborate, they create a rising tide that lifts all of the boats in the marketing mix, and the client gets the best of everything.