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.

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Prints Checklist for At-Risk Readers

LCWA worked with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) to increase awareness about pulmonary fibrosis as part of our “Not Everyone Breathes Easy” campaign. This included securing and designing print advertisements to raise awareness about pulmonary fibrosis and the campaign with individuals who are at risk for the disease.

To foster a cohesive look for the campaign, we designed a printed checklist that could be torn and carried into the doctor’s office. This created a clear call-to-action and made it easy for readers to understand what may be putting them – or a loved one – at risk for pulmonary fibrosis. Additionally, it tied to the “Not Everyone Breathes Easy” microsite, where a downloadable Risk List is available on the AboutPF.org website.

With the checklist in place, it was important that each advertisement utilize strategic imagery and messaging based on the specific target audience.
  • A Chicago Tribune advertisement ran in November 2018, and featured an image of Gary, a PFF ambassador and patient. We also worked with the Chicago Tribune on an e-blast and online content in its “Primetime” section, which is targeted to Baby Boomers.
  • Another ad ran in the January issue of WebMD Magazine, during the height of flu season. As the most read magazine at the doctor’s office, the ad copy suggested to readers that the cough they may be currently waiting to see their doctor for might not be the flu – but something more serious.
  • An advertisement in the annual Garden Guide Magazine was used to reach senior females. This also included two e-newsletter placements to drive further awareness of the disease among Garden Guide readers.
  • A full-page advertisement in VFW Magazine, which reaches veterans of foreign wars, ran in the May issue. With an average age of 66, it reaches the prime audience for those at risk of pulmonary fibrosis.
Overall, the traditional advertising program secured four print advertisements and reached more than 19.3 million impressions, increasing awareness of the disease nationwide to those at-risk and encouraging readers to advocate for their health.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

How to Maximize Influencer Content

Influencer partnerships have become a staple of many public relations campaigns, providing an effective way to promote product, increase brand awareness and generate authentic, engaging content. In fact, influencer-generated content (IGC) has proven to drive consumer engagement and sales. Here are just a few statistics that demonstrate why your brand needs to make the most of its IGC:
Collaborations with bloggers, YouTubers, celebrities and other influences can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, so naturally you want to get as much mileage as possible out of your investment. Savvy PR pros are leveraging influencer campaigns to generate high-performing content that can be recycled on their websites, social platforms and other owned channels – ensuring that they maximize the ROI of each piece of content.

Get more out of your influencer partnerships by re-purposing IGC with these five tips:
  1. Share all IGC in real time. This one may seem obvious, but it can often be overlooked. Be sure to repost all of the branded content on your owned channels, as well as “like” and comment on the influencer’s pages. It’s an easy way to show the influencer support, give your loyal followers the opportunity to check out the post and amplify audience reach.
  2. Promote, promote, promote. I can’t state this enough! In addition to sharing the content, create your own social posts that tag or link to the influencer’s channels. Share the content with your customers via an e-blast. Publish a blog post on your website that links to the IGC. Just be sure to add more meat to the post to make it an original piece of content.
  3. Turn quotes into graphics or videos into GIFs. Bring new life to IGC when re-purposing it for your own channels. Use free graphic design tools to make fun, colorful images that feature the influencer's quote or trim down videos that will prove more attention-grabbing on Instagram. 
  4. Use images in ads and marketing materials. Spell out usage rights from the beginning to ensure that you have permission to use the content commercially. When planning the campaign, feel free to prepare some content examples, such as an inspirational mood board, to provide the influencer with an idea of the brand identity you want to portray.
  5. Secure a testimonial. Influencer testimonials carry more weight than those written by consumers. One way to compile the testimonial is to simply use a photo of the influencer along with an excerpt from their original piece of content. Sometimes influencers prefer to write a separate endorsement for the brand’s website, so be sure to check.
Re-purposing IGC in clever and creative ways can definitely stretch the PR dollar long after a campaign has run its course, as well as help your brand reach a larger audience and boost traffic. Remember, it pays to recycle!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Establishing Boise Paper as a Go-To Source for Office Life Tips

Over the last several years, the LCWA digital marketing team has worked closely with our
client, Boise Paper, to successfully position the company as a go-to expert on office topics via social media content. Our team creates “Office Life” campaigns, which are focused on sharing tips and advice on various work-related topics, for Boise Paper’s business professional audience. The latest campaign utilized #BusinessTripTricks to share tips and tricks to help make business trips a breeze.
  • Social Media Content: Do you know your way around airline and hotel loyalty programs? What about how to fast-track your way through an airport, benefits of a rental car versus rideshares or the best personal safety devices? Content created for Boise Paper’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds provided these tips and more.
  • Facebook Live: Our Boise Paper Office Expert Sarah Yedlick took to Facebook Live with two videos on the business travel topic. Tips on packing like a pro, and how to make health-conscious choices while on the road, provided a personal some personal advice to viewers. Give them a watch here.
  • LinkedIn Vlog: Business travel is hectic with jam-packed schedules and not a lot of free time. Boise Paper’s LinkedIn followers learned how to best prepare to be productive throughout a trip, plus a good breakdown on how to make managing business travel expenses simple. Watch our office expert share these tips here.  
  • Blog Posts: Blog posts on Boise Paper’s blog, BePaperSmart, expanded on social media content and rounded out the #BusinessTripTricks campaign. Give the blog a visit if you’re looking for tips on how to keep your business expenses organized, how to fit a workout into a tight schedule or how things like body language and attire vary around the world.
The Office Life content is regularly among our highest performing material across social platforms each month. Past campaign topics have included office technology tips, how to work smarter and work-life balance insights. What office life topic would you like to see Boise Paper tackle next?




Friday, June 14, 2019

LCWA Takes Home Five PRSA Chicago Skylines

We added some more "bling" to our office, thanks to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Chicago. The organization awarded LCWA with five Skyline Awards at its reception last night. It was an honor to celebrate these awards and a great year of innovation and creativity with our Chicago industry peers. 

The First Alert team won three awards last night, in the categories of Marketing for Consumer Product Goods, Events and Observances and Most Effective Corporate Responsibility Campaign. Our Boise Paper digital marketing team won the Integrated Communications - B2B category. And our healthcare PR team won with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in the Integrated Communications - Associations/Government/Nonprofit Organizations category. 

Congratulations to all of our winning teams and clients!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Strategically Reaching Younger Audiences via YouTube

As part of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, we worked with our partner the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to reach young adults ages 18-24 years old with information about the importance of a good night’s sleep. Knowing this demographic was highly mobile and known to engage in late-night binge-watching activities, LCWA initiated a digital advertising campaign that strategically seeded content across YouTube channels during the overnight hours of 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. The campaign included a dynamic :20 video featuring a combination of motion graphics, animation and kinetic typography, uniquely designed to capture viewers’ attention and resonate with the target demographic. Messaging directed viewers to MakeTime2Sleep.com, a specially designed landing page on the SleepEducation.org website that features the AASM’s bedtime calculator and sleep tips.

The strategy proved successful with a stellar 59% completed video view rate, far exceeding the U.S. benchmark of 25%.


Friday, June 7, 2019

LCWA Wins Seven PCC Awards

It was a banner night for several LCWA teams as we were honored with seven awards from the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) on Thursday. We were especially proud of the wide variety of clients and programs represented, as we won awards for work in healthcare PR, home and housewares marketing and B2B communications. Our award-winning campaigns included:
  • First Alert's “Onelink Safe & Sound Launch” was honored with a Golden Trumpet in the Marketing category. The company's “60 Years of Firsts,” won a Silver Trumpet in the Special Events category, and the “Town/Gown Community Service Project” also won a Silver Trumpet in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. 
  • The Boise Paper “Procurement Education” campaign won a Silver Trumpet in the Integrated Marketing Communications category. 
  • "Trex Decks Out the World" won a Silver Trumpet in the International Campaigns category. 
Thank you to our clients for their ongoing trust and partnership -- and for their help in implementing these campaigns. And congrats to all winners at the PCC Golden Trumpet awards last evening!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

LCWA’s Global Reach Expands with New Partners

During the recent Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) meeting in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, the PRGN selected two new agency members from Helsinki (Finland) and New York (USA), adding to the global reach and local expertise we can provide to our clients.
  • hasan communications, a communications and public relations agency based in Helsinki, Finland, is led by Managing Director Päivi Holmqvist. The agency helps organizations to grow their visibility and brand awareness supporting them with innovative thinking, carefully targeted communications, engaging storytelling and effective marketing.
  • New York-based Southard Communications was established 25 years ago by Bill Southard, a communications professional with more than 35 years of experience, who has counseled some of the U.S.’s leading Fortune 500 firms.
Founded in 1992 by a group of visionary public relations leaders, PRGN is one of the world’s largest international networks of independent public relations and communications agencies with more than $85 million in revenues and approximately 1,000 professionals in 54 offices of 50 member agencies throughout the globe.

We are happy to welcome these new members into our network and look forward to working with them in the future. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Talking PR with the Next Generation

Recently, I participated in a career day at a middle school in the west suburbs, during which groups of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students rotated classrooms to hear from a wide variety of professionals. There were firefighters, police officers, a judo instructor, an accountant, hair stylists and more — and of course, me: the public relations guy.

While college and career are far around the bend for this age group, it’s never too early for them to think about what they want to do. I was thrilled to represent our industry and share my insights with dozens of students across four sessions.

Through some personal “day in the life” and relatable, real-world examples, I did my best to help open their eyes to what PR is and what a PR professional does. I also shared my timeline from middle school through today to demonstrate potential education and career paths they could follow to enter the industry and sustain success.

To no surprise, I found the students to be very social media-savvy and up-to-date on trends and how we consume media. Growing up exposed to influencers, digital media and experiential programs, they were able to discuss numeral instances of PR in-action, such as celebrity partnerships on Instagram, online coverage of their favorite products and hashtag campaigns. Fortunately, they also understood examples involving print media!

I continue to be invigorated working in PR, and after my experiences at career day, I can safely say that the future of our industry — one where we need to be at the forefront of a rapidly changing landscape — is in good hands (even if we’re communicating via hologram by then).

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Global Experience, Creative Ideas

Last week I attended the 50th meeting of the Public Relations Global Network in the Netherlands. With more than 40 agencies represented from around the globe, the conference provided enhanced international perspective and a chance to brainstorm for our clients. Highlights included:
  • Reaching Generation Z: Our keynote speaker, René Boender, gave a spirited presentation that encouraged looking beyond the next months or years to help our clients plan for a rapidly approaching and unrecognizable future. He also helped us understand the perspective of the “five-screen” generation and how they will get their info in years to come.
  • Digital Dominance: We heard about digital marketing best practices from our partner firm in London, Spider. The “digital first” mantra has taken hold at LCWA, and across the world, as we all look for the most efficient and effective ways to reach audiences.
In addition to these great learning opportunities, I enjoyed the personal time I got to spend with my colleagues from around the globe. I look forward to seeing all of them again soon!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fighting Pancreatic Cancer with the Rolfe Foundation

LCWA is providing digital marketing and media support to raise awareness and drive registration for the Rolfe Foundation’s upcoming event. On June 1, 2019, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation will host its ninth annual DASH for Detection 5K walk and run. The event supports early detection pancreatic cancer research and raises much needed awareness for the deadly disease.

Our goal is to reach the Rolfe Foundation’s target audience of Chicago-area families and fitness enthusiasts through community calendar listings on sites like ABC7, CBS Local, WGN, Time Out Chicago, national running guides and more. We also are targeting these audiences through social media ads that drive people to the DASH registration link. These ads have generated more than 1,400 direct registration clicks and 297,000 impressions so far, and reach continues to grow as event day gets closer.


If you’d like to be a part of an event that gives back, register for the DASH for Detection today!


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Eyeballs for Eblasts: Creating Attention-Grabbing Enewsletters That Drive Clicks


How many emails do you get in a day? If you’re anywhere close to the average American professional, the number typically hovers around 100-150.

When it comes to launching an enewsletter or “eblast” campaign, it’s important to keep this reality in mind. According to Constant Contact, the ideal open rate for enewsletters is around 15%, and for many industries such as tourism or hospitality, the number is closer to 10-11%.  While this may seem low, remember that it’s all a numbers game. For a brand that’s looking to reinforce key messaging, raise awareness or promote a product, this 10-15% can make an impact.

At LCWA, we recommend, design and distribute e-newsletters for a variety of clients, from healthcare associations to office product manufacturers. Because email distribution systems provide valuable information such as open and click-through rates, each email is an opportunity to hone our approach and improve results. That being said, we’ve developed some tried-and-true tactics to ensure each communication captures readers’ attention and spurs action.

Go Niche
Bigger isn’t always better. While it may seem counterintuitive to limit the reach of your e-blast to a select portion of your key audiences, content that is tailored to a particular audience almost always performs better than general eblasts with broad messaging. Remember, it’s engagement rates that indicate performance, not number of recipients.

Make sure your messages are drafted with a particular audience in mind (for instance, business owners, parents, association members, etc.) and only include information that is relevant to them. You may have lots of great points to make, but unless they pertain to that audience, you run the risk of losing the attention of readers, or worse – have them click the “unsubscribe” button. Don’t forget to apply this advice to your subject lines as well. The more personal you can make your subject line, the better the chances of readers opening the email.

Keep It Simple – And Scrollable
Most readers will only spend a few seconds browsing your email, so text-heavy and graphic-laden designs can distract from your messages – and no one wants to read an essay. My advice is to use short, condensed phrases and bullet points. When it doubt, edit!

When it comes to design, consider that most people will be viewing your email either in a desktop window or on their mobile device. Opt for a more vertical layout – with phrases and elements listed one after another, rather than in a row. Presenting one bit of key information at a time is easier for readers to digest, and also encourages them to scroll for more. Use elements like colors and bold-faced type to draw focus on particular messages or actions you want the reader to take.

Create a Strong Call-to-Action
Be sure your readers know from the moment they open your email what action you want them to take. Whether it’s to “Learn More,” “Donate,” “Apply” or “Buy Now,” clear call-to-actions lead to greater click-through rates.

Whatever your call-to-action is, use strong action verbs, and design the text button large enough so that there’s no way readers can miss it. Typically, I design call-to-action buttons with a bold, contrasting background color, and leave plenty of space surrounding it so that it stands out from other content.

In addition, consider embedding links in headlines, logos and product images, as well as textual links in the body of your copy. The more opportunities you provide, the more likely they’ll click on one of them.

Don’t Go Overboard
Some businesses or organizations may be able to get away with more frequent – or even daily – eblasts, particularly if they have a passionate audience or are launching a campaign. However, the last thing you want to do is saturate your audience to the point that they unsubscribe.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how often you should email a particular audience. As long as the content is fresh and relevant, it’s valuable. Go with your gut – if your call-to-actions and messages seem repetitive or stale to you, it is likely that your audience feels the same. One helpful metric is to track unsubscribe rates, which tend to level off after a few initial emails. If you notice a significant uptick, it may be time to scale back.

Subscribe
Chances are, you have a handful of enewsletters in your inbox right now. Open them, read them, study them. Take note of what works and w hat doesn’t, and apply to your own campaigns.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Reaches Audiences on Airwaves Nationwide


LCWA recently helped the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) raise awareness about pulmonary fibrosis through a coordinated radio media tour with stations across the country. Our goal was to educate adults 60 and over about pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and debilitating lung disease that affects more than 200,000 Americans and remains largely unknown.

The series of radio interviews took place over the course of one morning with PFF’s senior medical advisor, Dr. David Lederer. Coverage included several nationally syndicated interviews including “Bill Martinez Live,” “The Angie Austin Show” and “Let’s Just Talk,” as well as 10 local radio stations including the “Dr. Pat Show” in Seattle. The tour reached more than 27 million listeners nationwide to educate them about this deadly lung disease.

Visit www.AboutPF.org today and find out if you are at risk for pulmonary fibrosis.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

LCWA Goes Pink for Mother’s Day


When Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park approached LCWA to help raise awareness of the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, we knew we had a great story tell. Since 2002, the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk has raised over $6 million, directly supporting the needs of breast cancer patients and survivors in Chicagoland. The walk not only harnesses hometown pride as it honors those impacted by the disease, but also raises funds for the state-of-the-art treatment and services provided by Little Company of Mary Hospital.

LCWA was proud to join the cause and rally media to cover the 20th anniversary of this hometown event. Take a look at how we helped raise awareness in advance of the event by sharing two patient and walk committee members’ stories on Chicago’s WGN Midday News.

For more information about the annual Beverly Breast Cancer Walk or to donate, click here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Creating a Winning Broadcast Segment

Securing a broadcast segment is a big win in the PR world. Broadcast television is a great way to deliver messages to a wide audience in a short amount of time. Keeping it visually compelling, identifying strong spokespeople and staying on message contribute to the success of the coverage. There are plenty of tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure the segment garners meaningful and positive attention for your client and goes as smoothly as possibly.

These five tips can serve as a guide to get the most out of your client’s few minutes in the spotlight:
  • Craft a Creative Pitch: Whether you’re pitching a live demo of a product or a food or drink sampling, make sure it is visually compelling and relevant to viewers. Community impact elements and entertainment factors are also helpful. If you have graphics or b-roll, include those visuals in your pitch. For breaking news or events, pitch the local news desks. For in-studio or longer-lead story ideas, pitch the appropriate producer or reporter.
  • Have a Game Plan: First identify your audience and the type of segment you secured – live, pre-recorded, in-studio or on-location. The type of segment will determine how to prepare your client and what key messages and visuals will be most appropriate. It is also important to know who your audience is and what you want them to know.
  • Identify Strong Spokespeople: An effective spokesperson is not just a messenger, they represent the bigger picture. While your spokesperson should be an industry expert, they should also be comfortable on camera and experienced telling the story to an external audience. The strength of your spokesperson makes a significant difference in how an audience will perceive your company, products or services. 
  • Deliver Key Talking Points: Broadcast segments are typically brief – a few minutes in length – and time flies! That means that there is a limited amount of time to deliver your key messages. When drafting talking points, pinpoint two or three top-line messages that you want to communicate – no matter what the questions are.
  • Schedule Media Training: Part of our jobs as PR pros is to provide media interview preparation for clients, including body language and eye contact. Sharing the dos and don’ts of being on camera (e.g. good posture, looking at the reporter not at the camera, be conversational) and suggesting what to wear (avoid patterns and white shirts), are all necessary for nailing the segment.
TV offers a unique opportunity to share a client’s message in a powerful way. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way creating a winning broadcast segment.