Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Boise Paper Awards One for You, One for Teacher in Successful Sweeps

Since 2011, Boise Paper has been a proud partner and supporter of the General Mills Box Tops for Education program which helps schools across the country earn money to purchase essential items, such as books, art supplies, sports equipment, instruments and more.

This back-to-school season, the LCWA social media team helped Boise Paper hold a Facebook sweepstakes to support the partnership and build awareness of special back-to-school reams of Boise Paper products featuring Box Tops at Office Depot. Utilizing the theme “1 For You, 1 For the Classroom,” entrants got the opportunity to win two $250 Visa e-gift cards – one for their own back-to-school shopping, and one to give to a deserving teacher. 

Overall, the sweepstakes was a big success, driving thousands of entries and an increased awareness of the good that Box Tops for Education does in the community.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

LCWA Shows Magazine Editors that We’ve Got Them “Covered”!

While we may be gearing up for cold temperatures and snowfall, shelter magazine editors are already thinking spring! With that in mind, we recently headed to Meredith Corporation in Des Moines, Iowa – the headquarters for several of the nation’s leading home and lifestyle publications, including Better Homes & Gardens, Midwest Living and Traditional Home – to promote some 2020 outdoor living must-haves from our new client Classic Accessories.

Classic Accessories is the leading manufacturer of high-quality, benefit-rich protective covers, furnishings and accessories for outdoor living and today’s active lifestyles. In spring of 2020, the company will launch a new patio collection under its Duck Covers brand and we wanted to give editors a sneak peek at what’s to come. (You’ll have to wait until next year to learn more!)

We met one-on-one with more than 20 editors representing 15 different Meredith print and online properties. Our display proved a great conversation starter, allowing us the opportunity to discuss in detail the Classic Accessories brand and new products. Each editor walked away with a comprehensive media kit and story ideas that could feature the new collection or other Classic Accessories products. And, LCWA walked away with a number of great leads for editorial coverage in spring and summer editions!

Overall, our visit to Meredith Corporation afforded us direct access to editorial influencers and provided the opportunity to position Classic Accessories as the leader in protective covers and as a valuable resource for outdoor living coverage. LCWA effectively solidified relationships with known editors, established rapport with new editors and laid the groundwork for future editorial coverage.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Influencer Marketing – Not Just a Consumer Tactic

When you talk about “online influencers,” most people think of mommy bloggers, celebrities or fashionistas telling consumers about the latest “must have” products. But influencer marketing can also be a huge asset for business-to-business marketing. Here are a few reasons why B2B companies should consider partnering with influencers in their next PR push.
  • Drive critical audience awareness. There are influencers reaching every segment of the population, it’s just a matter of finding the right person for your messages. Today’s influencers cover a wide variety of topics and reach audiences through workplace blogs, LinkedIn timelines, ongoing podcasts and more. To find the right influencer, look for three things: reach, relevance and resonance. If you have those things, the influencer will have the power to bring critical awareness to your campaign within your audience.
  • Build thought leadership. Influencers are always looking for new and interesting content. Have interesting survey results or an intelligent white paper? Send it to an influencer to discuss and dissect in a new and interesting way, keeping your brand at the forefront of the conversation.
  • Help your company stand out. Influencer marketing in the B2B market is still relatively untapped, so why not be the first in your industry to harness it? Your brand will stand out and apart from competitors. Influencer marketing isn’t slowing down, so the sooner B2B companies lean into it, the more ROI they will get out of it.
  • Create essential credibility. Building customer trust is important and necessary when growing a business, and there’s no better way to illustrate your credibility than by working with a trustworthy third party.  Choose an influencer that matches up with your company’s values and style so that their followers will connect with your brand’s content. An influencer stamp of approval is useful in demonstrating credibility and can win you new fans for the long term.

There are many great influencers out there. Hopefully this insight will encourage your company to start applying influencer marketing into your next campaign!

Monday, November 4, 2019

First Alert Celebrates Fire Prevention Month

When it comes to fire and carbon monoxide (CO) safety, First Alert works hard to ensure everyone has the tools to keep loved ones safe year-round. During October, the fire service, nonprofit organizations and industry partners offer families ample fire safety education for Fire Prevention Month. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of every five home fire deaths result from fires where there is no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarms. To highlight the importance of home safety, LCWA worked with First Alert to improve awareness nationwide.

To reach consumers directly and underscore this information, First Alert partnered with Lowe’s stores and local fire departments across the U.S. to educate the public about how to protect their families and homes from the threats of fire and carbon monoxide (CO). This involved fun, family-focused activities to teach families about equipping their homes with smoke and CO alarms, as well as planning and practicing a fire escape plan.

LCWA assisted First Alert and Lowe’s in announcing the partnership with a press release as well as distributing a separate release focusing on fire safety and reliable protection for Fire Prevention Month. First Alert shared new data which showed that 60% of consumers do not test their smoke and CO alarms monthly as many forget or aren’t aware of the need for regular testing.

To ensure successful events at the participating Lowe’s stores, LCWA assisted in securing participation at the events nationwide. This included customer service support and coordination with fire safety professionals.

To increase public education, LCWA coordinated a multi-faceted media campaign. This included two media tours promoting home safety and the Lowe’s events in local markets. Additionally, we conducted outreach to numerous local markets to highlight the home safety events occurring at local Lowe’s stores.

In total, LCWA coordinated more than two billion impressions for Fire Prevention Month. Through this outreach, we hope people take home safety seriously all year!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

How to Help Clients Earn Valuable Awards and List Placements

A gold star is a great way to denote a job well done. This applies to products, as well. Awards, “best of,” and “top of the top” lists are recognition for a great device and respect for innovation and quality. This recognition can give cachet within the industry, improve credibility with consumers and drive overall brand awareness.

To create a successful award program, here are three steps to consider:

Set the stage.
All award entries are not created equal, and there could be many that could fit your product. If there are not set parameters for your program, the list of possible awards could become a daunting prospect. It’s important to narrow the list. Consider your product’s audience. For a toy, this may be parents and children, while for an app it may be mobile developers. Once you have defined the target audience, it’s important to consider budget. There are typically costs for submitting a product award entry, and some can be quite costly. Additionally, winners will need to consider any add-ons as well. This could include logo usage on the website, a press release or even packaging.

Research award programs.
Once clear goals have been determined, it’s time to dig into the awards that fit for your product. When doing your evaluation, it’s critical to consider two types of submissions – product and editorial awards.

Product awards have a formal entry, criteria and evaluation process – typically along with a fee. Some well-known product awards include the Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards, the Good Design Awards and the CEPro Best Product Awards. Conversely, editorial awards or “best of” lists are more fluid – there may not be a formal submission form or application, however publication editors evaluate products and determine which are the best after a series of rigorous tests. The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is the most well known. Both editorial and product awards can still include add-on costs.

When evaluating awards, it’s important to consider what products won in the past. This can confirm if your product is a fit for the award, and ensure your time and budget are not wasted on an unlikely entry.

Crafting the submission.
After selecting awards that are the best fit for your product, the last step is handling the submission itself. The bulk of submissions are based on a written product description.

Each award program considers specific criteria. This can be as vague as if the product went to market that year, or specific questions such as “Did the product meet an unmet need?” Each entry should be handled as a unique submission, catering the product for the specific award submission criteria. While the product may be the same, it’s best to hark on different values to promote how it is innovative, impacting the end user or different than existing products.

If you put the right tools in place with robust goals, research and submissions, then your award program will be on the right path to finish strong!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Making the Case for Urgent Care Reimbursements

In an industry as complex as healthcare, there are many sectors that are constantly changing and progressing. One such sector is urgent care, where our client the Urgent Care Association (UCA) is leading the charge for better payer reimbursements for urgent care centers that provide valuable services to millions of patients nationwide.

When pitching a new UCA position statement on payer reimbursements, it was important to target trade media that speak directly to insurance-related audiences. In addition, we reached out to more general healthcare media to ensure a wide audience of industry decision-makers were aware of UCA’s stance on the issue. While most healthcare outlets understood the situation and why the position statement was being shared, a few needed some context as to the who, what, where, when and why of the statement.

We worked with UCA to define the key messages and assembled background on what initially catalyzed the need for the statement. We weaved these details into our pitches to ensure all media understood why UCA created the position statement and the importance of it in the current healthcare landscape. Our efforts resulted in six trade media placements and an interview with Health Plan Weekly that resulted in an in-depth feature article on urgent care reimbursements! 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Take Your Product Launch to the Next Level

There are certain basic PR tactics that should be done as a matter of course when you are releasing a new product, from developing key messages and issuing a press release to establishing a target audience and seeding products with media.

In order to capture an increasingly distracted audience, your brand needs to take some extra steps to create a remarkably effective PR campaign. Here are some big ways to make your product launch pack a punch:
  • Generate buzz. A teaser campaign is essential to building expectation and excitement for a new product launch. Start building anticipation weeks or even months in advance on social media with consistent, vague updates. Drop hints, such as cool features or new colors, or simply post images with a catchy headline or “coming soon” message. A fun, engaging teaser campaign will create hype and lay the foundation for a successful launch day. If possible, offer select editors some exclusivity with unique content to generate some high-profile coverage in the days leading up to the launch.
  • Upgrade your press release. When it comes to engaging both consumers and editors, traditional press releases are getting lost in the shuffle. Consider distributing a multimedia news release, which can help bring your brand and new product to life with video, images, links, audio, social bookmarking and other compelling creative assets. A multimedia approach encourages more sharing among consumers and provides much more digestible information for the modern journalist, as well as more resources to help them develop their story angles.
  • Create multiple videos. The importance and impact of video cannot be overstated. While they can take a lot of time, energy and resources to create, all your hard work will definitely pay off. The key to maximizing engagement and effectiveness are several catchy videos that are one minute or less. For content hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, the videos can be longer and more in-depth. Videos produced to support a product launch should highlight the different product features, demonstrate how the product can be used in daily life or offer behind-the-scenes look at the product development or design.
  • Go live. Making your product release a big deal with a launch event is a tried-and-true tactic. If you can’t coordinate your launch around an existing event, such as a trade show or big occasion like the Super Bowl, get the creative juices flowing to determine the best approach to gain face-to-face time with your target audience. Live events could be a charity auction, customer dinner or guerrilla marketing stunt. If an in-person event isn’t possible, you can still make it an occasion by hosting a webinar, Reddit AMA or a live social chat. 
The bottom line is that you need to create a unique, effective PR strategy that suits your brand and builds enthusiasm for your new product, driving media, consumers and any other key players to act.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Smoke Alarms Help Protect What Matters Most in Any Language

Our multi-lingual society calls for communications in other tongues, particularly when it comes to a topic relevant to everyone: home fire safety.

For Fire Prevention Month the First Alert brand and PR teams created and leveraged a variety of Spanish-language resources to reach a wider audience at a heightened time of public fire safety education and retail initiatives. 

In addition to a Spanish-language press release and direct-to-editor pitching to share new home fire statistics and key safety directives, the team collaborated with other brands on a bilingual satellite media tour, expanding our reach and important safety messages to include Spanish-language radio and TV stations across the country.

We also coordinated and publicized in-store fire education events for adults and children nationwide, providing Spanish-language spokespeople in key markets through retail partners and distributing thousands of bilingual activity books to teach children about fire safety and proper emergency escape planning.

For this campaign and for future initiatives, the brand team developed a series of Spanish-language fire safety videos featuring Dr. Manuel Fonseca, president of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters. A veteran firefighter and passionate educator, Dr. Fonseca shares for Spanish-speaking consumers some vital information about proper home fire and carbon monoxide safety.

As a part-time foreign language instructor, I personally and professionally view these as vital components in our efforts to spread the word about home fire safety to as wide an audience as possible. With hope I say they make an impact.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Using Editorial Calendars as Roadmaps for Trade Pitching

As a leading national provider of decorative commercial railing systems, our client Trex Commercial Products has supplied products for some of the largest projects in the country – from sports arenas and educational institutions to healthcare facilities and hotels. With a target audience of architects, contractors, glaziers, fabricators and more, our agency team executes a successful trade-marketing program to connect “TCP” with the architecture and design industry.

As part of this trade program, our team comprehensively researches and monitors the editorial calendars for key industry publications to identify potential coverage opportunities. At the beginning of each year, we compile a month-by-month list of planned editorial coverage that serves as a roadmap for our media outreach.

From our experience, we find that editorial calendars play a crucial role in any successful trade marketing program. They allow us to align our pitches with the topics that are most relevant to editors and afford us timely reasons to reach out to keep our clients top of mind for editorial inclusion.

Following are some examples of opportunities where we have been able to pair a compelling case study with an editorial calendar to garner high-profile coverage for Trex Commercial Products:
  • Interiors + Sources Magazine – Every month, Interiors + Sources features a product showcase in the “Sources” section of the magazine. We pitched the editor a line-up of projects from Trex Commercial Products, showcasing the company’s work in healthcare, hospitality and aviation. The end result was a beautiful full-page round-up, positioning Trex Commercial Products as an expert of architectural railing systems.
  • Retrofit Magazine – Responding to an editorial calendar focus on hospitality renovation projects, we pitched and secured a great case study feature on Trex Commercial Products’ work at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in St. Louis Park, Minn.
  • Architectural Products Magazine – Inspired by the magazine’s planned editorial focus on universities, our team pitched a Trex Commercial Products’ project at Hope College in Holland, Mich. We successfully secured a full-page feature on the project, highlighting how TCP’s Track Rail System enhances the sense of community at the student center.

As you can see, editorial calendars can be valuable roadmaps for pitching, especially in niche markets like the A&D industry. When working with Trex Commercial Products, we put our hard hats on and think like an architect. By doing so, we are able to build awareness and demand for Trex Commercial Products and position the company as an expert and go-to resource for commercial railing systems.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Six Daily Habits for Success in a PR Agency

The fast pace, always changing environment of PR can leave many wondering how to ensure success in agency life.  Here are six daily habits every PR agency professional should adopt:

Define Success Each Morning – Start each day with an action plan. Outline what must get done for the day vs. what would be nice to get done. Make it a goal to get through the entire “must do” list and to also check off one to two items from the “nice” list.  This will ensure the day is a success and also set you up for success tomorrow. 

Be Flexible – PR is unpredictable. What seems like a fairly routine day can quickly be turned upside down with an influx of media requests or a client crisis. Be nimble and learn to adjust goals and priorities for the day at a moment’s notice. This also means being a good internal communicator. It’s important to inform team leads if your attention needs to be diverted to one client. Account leads can help reassign or reprioritize other client work.       

Be in the Know – From the latest in industry and social media trends to what’s happening in world news and pop culture, be in the know.  This helps better serve clients by offering recommendations on everything from the latest social platforms to utilize to pop culture trends to leverage to postponing a new product announcement due to breaking news.   

Write it Down – Pen and paper can be two of the most important tools in any job. Whether taking notes in a meeting, creating a to-do list or capturing a creative idea, writing everything down serves as a great method to recall important information and ideas. Notes are an invaluable resource to refer back to in the future.

Turn “No” into “Yes” – At LCWA “no” is not in our vocabulary. If media are saying “no” to a pitch, find a new angle to go after them with. If a client has a challenging request, find creative ways to make it happen. Turning a “no” into a “yes” is a daily practice and a way of agency life.

Never Stop Learning – With the emergence of social media and the 24 hour news cycle, the PR industry is changing at a pace that is more rapid than ever before.  Never stop learning about new and emerging tools and trends. Carve out time each day to read up on industry news. This helps better serve clients with cutting edge and effective communications solutions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Will You Dare 2 Compare Your Paper Choice?

Do you know what brand of paper your office uses? Is it recycled paper? If you’re not sure, you’re likely not alone. LCWA launched Boise Paper’s Dare 2 Compare influencer campaign with the goal of driving awareness for Boise® ASPEN® Recycled papers.

Boise ASPEN has a number of differentiators, including a 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee and its status as America’s Top Selling Recycled Paper Brand. To show off these attributes and encourage business-focused audiences to make the switch to Boise ASPEN, four influencers first tried the paper and then created engaging, informative content for their followers. The results? Influencers love ASPEN:
  • “I’ve been using Boise® ASPEN® Recycled Copy papers proudly, which is made with recycled content that is consistent with Boise Paper’s high quality standards and hardworking characteristics.” – The Mogul Mom
  • “Now I realize the importance of measuring all of those factors plus the cost. That’s why I like using Boise® ASPEN® Recycled Copy paper, because they have a great 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee!” – Naturally Stellar
  • “I use paper a LOT – for presentation handouts, sales proposals, marketing strategies, client work and so much more! Boise Paper is a brand that understands that we have deadlines to meet, people to impress, and work to do. All of their products add up to Quality You Can Trust™.” – The Motivated Millennial
  • “When you can get that kind of quality, and be doing your part to help the environment, is there any real choice?  When you take the #Dare2Compare challenge, we’re betting you, too, will become a Boise ASPEN fan!” – Ms. Career Girl
The campaign generated more than 290,000 impressions for the Boise ASPEN brand. Next time you need to buy a ream of paper, will you Dare 2 Compare?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Livecasting News and Events

Using video is key to a successful marketing approach – especially if it’s live. Nowadays, we consume everything directly from our mobile phones, tablets or computers, bringing content right to our fingertips. And if you’re someone like me, who doesn’t have basic cable, I’m frequently livestreaming news and events online. According to Go-Global, by 2020, live streaming is expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic. If you want your news or event to reach more people, you have to make it accessible online. But, where do you even begin?

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
  • Utilize livestreaming tools: Thanks to live video broadcast tools available today, you don't need any fancy equipment to broadcast live video. As long as you have a working camera and microphone built in to your computer or smartphone, you’re smooth sailing. Consider social channels like YouTube Live or Facebook Live, as well as tools such as Wirecast and Restream.io, where you can broadcast to multiple streaming platforms simultaneously.
  • Set the stage: Before going live, pick an optimal location from which you’ll broadcast your stream. Identify a location with the best lighting and avoid backlighting your subject. If outside, be mindful of the sun’s glare, which can make your live cast hard to see.
  • Practice makes perfect: To alleviate some of the stress of going live, preparation is key. Find time to rehearse and test everything before going live – from your equipment to the Wi-Fi connection. You can even run a test before you go live to make sure everything is working well and that you understand the controls of the live stream tool you’re using.
  • Spread the word: Market your livecast ahead of time by promoting on social media leading up to your event. Let your followers know the specific time and place you will be going live. And, don’t forget to record your live show so anyone who misses it can catch up later.
  • Be creative: Find ways to weave in graphics, audio or video files. For example, a clock indicating event time remaining, or a simple graphic to identify a speaker. Tools like Wirecast allow you to add backgrounds, graphics, screen captures, video files and more during your live stream. You can even add remote broadcasters to join the conversation as well!
  • Interact with your audience: One of the benefits of livecasting is that you can get real-time feedback from your followers. According to Facebook Live, users spend more than 3x more time and comment 10x more when the video is live. Bring the audience into the broadcast and interact with them by reading and answering comments.
     Not only is live casting cost-effective, but it’s highly engaging and authentic as well. Following these simple steps will help you live cast like a pro!

Monday, September 30, 2019

AASM Shares Back-to-School Health Tips

To help prep parents and kids for back-to-school season, LCWA and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted media outreach providing families with tips for a healthy sleep routine this school year. In conjunction with sleep hygiene recommendations for children, LCWA promoted the official sleep recommendations from AASM and drove parents to the online bedtime calculator, which allows users to enter their age and needed wake time to determine their bedtime for optimal health and success.

LCWA secured coverage with numerous outlets, including U.S. News & World Report, Newswise, Drugs.com, Healthday, Health News Digest and News Medical. Overall, this outreach increased awareness of sleep hygiene for children and families among consumers nationwide, drove traffic to the bedtime calculator and earned more than 16.8 million impressions.

To ensure you are sleeping enough on a regular basis, try the bedtime calculator for yourself!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Own an Issue: Keys to Establishing Effective Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that can help a company build a reputation and establish itself as an industry expert and authority. With an effective thought leadership strategy, experts can establish credibility for an issue, differentiate a business from the competition, and create positive brand interest.

Customers and clients often prefer companies that are recognized as thought leaders because these organizations are perceived as industry leaders. According to the 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, 89% of B2B buyers said that thought leadership content increased their awareness of a brand.

Here are some key steps to consider when building a thought leadership program:
  • Identify Issue and Influencer – The first step in creating a thought leadership program is to identify an issue to own that is insightful and persuasive, differentiates your organization and will resonate with target audiences. Concurrently, it’s important to select a spokesperson who is a savvy speaker and can connect his or her subject matter expertise to company goals and messages.
  • Create Inspiring Content – Once the issue is established, it’s vital to craft valuable and pertinent content that speaks to a brand’s purpose. Consider investing in proprietary research that can serve as new news to pique the interest of the media and target audiences. Authoritative content from a trusted source is more likely to earn public approval and support. 
  • Make the Commitment – Conducting an effective thought leadership program doesn’t happen with a single whitepaper. It requires a long-term strategy and a willingness to share ideas and concepts in a meaningful way. Consider a variety of ongoing tactics to reach target audiences including the development of bylined articles, opinion pieces, videos, talking points, speeches, blog posts, media pitches, podcasts and more.
  • Be Go-To Resource – Ensure that the spokesperson is media trained and fully
    prepared for all types of interviews and speaking opportunities. Once a reporter or editor sees they can count on a spokesperson quickly for a story or expert comments,
    then you become a valuable resource to them.
  • Partner with Thought Leaders – Collaboration can help boost a thought leadership program and help build momentum quickly. Consider partnering with another high-profile influencer, executive or speaker to expand your reach and platform in the industry.
  • Review Strategy – Evaluation of a thought leadership program is essential. Be sure to improve and update the program strategy as you learn what types of materials and content resonate most with target audiences. 
Thought leadership is a proven and powerful marketing tool to showcase and support ideas and viewpoints – and to build credibility and expertise for an organization. A long-term strategic thought leadership program can build trust over time and, most importantly, move target audiences to action.

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 www.AboutPF.org.

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 https://www.firstalert.com/towngown/.

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 RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes 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 RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes.

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.