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.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

How to be the Greatest Trade Showman

In-person, hands-on interaction with media at trade shows can offer invaluable relationship building and product education opportunities. And planning ahead ensures that every opportunity is capitalized on, to rise above the clutter for a memorable experience and media coverage.
  • Reach out before the show. Most trade shows will provide contact information for registered media in advance. Even if they don’t, reach out to priority contacts before the show to let them know you’ll be there and where to find you. Setting up appointments in advance will ensure you are able to meet with your key targets and make the most of your time. 
  • Create an experience. Trade shows can be a great way to enable media to interact with your product and get hands on. So help them experience the best features of your product. Whether they can push buttons, make a small project or hear what it sounds like, this tangible interaction will stand-out.
  • Make eye contact, shake hands. This seems really obvious, but yet so many booths are full of staff who stand around on their phones, which could mean missed media and sales opportunities. Put. The. Phones. Away. And make sure those staffing the event know who the primary media contact is so any media who stop speak to the right people.
  • Be social. Personal connections support professional results. Attend, or even host, social gatherings where media will be present to build relationships that will extend beyond the show.
  • Stay in touch. Make sure you get media contact info and that they get yours. This could be a press kit, small giveaway with contact info attached or a business card exchange. Follow-up within 1-2 weeks of the show with personalized notes and don’t forget to add them to your LinkedIn network. Ensure any sample requests are delivered in a timely fashion.
Trade shows are a significant monetary and time investment, but these tips can help deliver media coverage amplifying product news and innovation. And don’t forget: smile, greet, dance, repeat. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

First Alert Talks Fire and CO Safety with ABC 7 Chicago

As the most trusted and recognized brand in home safety, our client First Alert is committed to educating the public about fire safety and the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. As part of this effort, every school year First Alert teams up with the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Bulls to organize a “Take Charge of Safety” program to educate elementary school-aged children in Chicago Public Schools across the city about home fire and CO safety – now in its fourth year!

During the 2018-2019 school year, LCWA set out to promote the “Take Charge of Safety” events and the importance of teaching kids about whole home safety, including escape planning and what to do when an alarm sounds. As part of our media outreach, we secured an in-studio segment on ABC 7 Chicago featuring First Alert Brand & PR Manager Ashley Gocken as well as CFD Deputy District Chief Walter Schroeder. Watch the full segment here.

In addition to stressing the importance of fire safety education for kids, Ashley and Chief Schroeder also discussed fire and CO safety tips every homeowner should know, such as...
  • How often should people check their smoke and CO detectors? Test your alarms regularly and replace batteries every six months (unless you have a 10-year sealed battery). Daylight Saving Time is a good reminder of this.
  • Where should smoke and CO detectors be placed in people's homes? Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, inside each bedroom and in the main corridors, and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on each level of the home and in a central location outside each bedroom.
  • When do you know it’s time for a new alarm? It is necessary to replace smoke alarms every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms every five to ten years. If you don’t know how old an alarm is, the safest bet is to replace it immediately.
The “Take Charge of Safety” program is just one out of the many collaborative events First Alert supports every year across the country to positively impact the long-term safety for both families and their communities. To learn more about First Alert and fire/CO safety, please visit www.FirstAlert.com.



Monday, April 22, 2019

LCWA and Santa's Village Make a Splash for Park's 60th Anniversary


This summer, LCWA will help Santa’s Village celebrate its 60th anniversary with a Chicago-area media and influencer outreach campaign designed to showcase the amusement park’s long-standing tradition of creating life-long memories for local families.   

We kicked-off the celebration by announcing the planned addition of Santa Springs, a family-friendly, interactive water play attraction within the amusement park. News of the coming attraction was featured on NBC 5 Chicago (WMAQ-TV) and in the Elgin-Courier News and Lawndale News.
 Opening this summer, Santa Springs marks Santa’s Village’s largest expansion ever and will join the park’s list of premier attractions, including thrill rides, kiddie rides, games, shops, food temptations and more than 200 animals. The water experience will feature zero-depth entry to a 10,000 square foot, 8-inch deep wading pool with a two-story interactive water play structure. The water play structure will include dozens of water toys with two giant tipping buckets and six water slides, including a 50-foot long, four lane kiddie racer slide.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more exciting announcements on the celebration of Santa Village’s 60th anniversary!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tips for a Successful Twitter Chat

Coordinating a Twitter chat is a great tactic to generate online conversations about your client and its campaign. Based on your goals, chats are good for driving clicks to landing
pages, increasing social followings, promoting new products or services, highlighting spokespersons and more.

LCWA’s social media team regularly coordinates successful Twitter chats for clients in numerous industries, accomplishing a variety of goals. Here are some tips we recommend to make any chat a campaign highlight: 
  • Partner with an influencer, blogger or media member, who has a social following and reaches your target audience, to serve as the host. This is a good way to increase participation, excitement and credibility.
  • Delegate roles and responsibilities, such as having the host tweet questions, the client’s handle share information and a client expert/spokesperson respond organically to participants’ questions from his or her personal handle.
  • Designate a simple, catchy hashtag to tie the conversation together and get across the campaign message. Use the correct tone, too, such as branded for a product launch versus general for an awareness campaign.
  • Promote the chat on social media (on client, host and expert accounts) with engaging content and clear direction on how to join.
  • Offer a chance to win prizes to get a nice boost in participation.
  • Draft a script of numbered questions and responses, but remain flexible in order to answer incoming questions and remarks. 
  • Keep the tweets short to increase retweets and responses. 
  • Run the chat for one hour or less, and choose a time when your target audience is active on social media.
  • Use a hashtag tracking site to make following the chat easier and for gathering post-chat metrics. 
  • Set up a conference call with anyone on the client-side who needs to provide approval on responses or wants to follow the chat, and/or to help flag tweets for spokespersons to respond to. 
  • Answer participants’ questions quickly and look for ways to engage with the rest of the chat – including asking follow-up questions or sharing an acknowledgement.
  • Give a clear closing message and site referral, and don't forget to thank everyone for participating to end the chat.

Monday, April 15, 2019

LCWA Named Top Five in Home/Housewares Category, Top 10 in Chicago

We eagerly await the annual in O’Dwyer’s PR agency ranking each year as a barometer of our firm’s standing in the industry. This year, we were pleased to be recognized as a key presence in our city and a leader in the categories we love.

  • Home is where LCWA’s heart is. Once again, LCWA has been named one of the top five independent agencies focusing on home and housewares. This is a testament to the great work provided by our home PR team to our longtime clients. The home category has been a specialty of LCWA for over 30 years, and our team has a true passion for telling stories about how our clients make consumers’ home lives better. While the method for telling these stories continues to evolve, our connection to these messages remains the same.
  • Sweet home, Chicago. LCWA also is the number eight PR firm in Chicago, according to the listings. With our downtown presence, local insights and strong media contacts, we love helping Chicagoland clients build awareness, engagement and sales. Our position as a top Chicago agency also places us in the top 12 for Midwest firms.
  • Foodies, unite. We are happy to be a top food and beverage firm, landing in the top 30 of agencies across the country. Our clients keep us awash in delicious recipes and cocktails, and you won’t hear us complain!
  • Healthcare on the rise. As one of the top 50 firms in the healthcare category nationally, we are proud to be making an impact and increasing our presence in this important category. Our healthcare PR team loves driving awareness of disease prevention and treatment among the audiences that need it most.
Congratulations to all of our peers also earning a spot on the O’Dwyers list – especially our PRGN network partners at Landis Communications in San Francisco, Buchanan PR in Philadelphia, the Hoyt Organization in L.A., and Bianchi Public Relations in Detroit. We are proud to be in such great company!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Holding a Successful Facebook Sweepstakes

LCWA’s Social Media and PR Team regularly recommends including Facebook
Sweepstakes in our clients marketing strategies because they can help facilitate a number of goals and are an effective way to capture attention, engage your followers, gain new followers and improve your organic reach. Running a sweepstakes contest sounds easy on the surface, but a successful contest requires more strategy than just enticing people with a prize. Follow these six steps to get started hosting your Facebook Sweepstakes:

1. Set Goals
Start your planning by setting goals. Theses can range from collecting email addresses for your e-blasts, getting more followers or boosting engagement to promoting a product or simply raising brand awareness. Once you have your goals set you can structure your sweepstakes to produce the desired results.  

2. Choose a Host Platform
The simplest way to host a sweepstakes is through a third-party app, like Woobox or Wishpond. Through these apps, you’re able to connect your sweepstakes to your Facebook page, upload your own graphics and download useful entry information and statistics post-sweepstakes.

3. Draft Rules and Regulations
Sweepstakes must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including age and residency restrictions. Your contest terms and conditions must also make it make it clear that Facebook is not associated with or responsible for any issues related to the contest. Be specific when stating the time frame of the contest and don’t forget to include a link to the sweepstakes terms and conditions on your entry page.

4. Determine the Sweepstakes Entry Method and Prize
Your goals will help you to determine your entry process, we recommend keeping it simple. Try a two-step entry process like sharing an email address and answering a simple question related to the theme of the sweepstakes. When selecting a prize, offer one that’s appealing to your audience and incentivize people to follow through with an entry.

5. Promote and Monitor Your Sweepstakes
The average Facebook user sees hundreds of posts a day, make sure your sweepstakes stands out by using high-quality, attention grabbing graphics and clear call-outs like “Enter Now.” While your contest is running, post about it regularly on Facebook and your other active channels. And if you have budget for Facebook ads or promoting the posts, make the spend worth it by getting the contest in front of your target audience.

6. Select and Announce Winners
Selecting a random winner of the sweepstakes is the most impartial and you can use an online random number/name generator. Announce your winners in a fun way, try a Facebook Live broadcast or short video post, and be sure to contact winners directly within the specific time frame in the sweepstakes rules.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

How to Create the Perfect Spokesblogger Campaign


As this industry (and the world) continues to progress in the digital age, influencers are being tapped more than ever by brands to help share their key messages, build awareness and generate sales. While the industry is ever-evolving, there are definitely dos and don’ts that will stand the test of time.

I’ve worked with influencers on a variety of campaigns for multiple clients; from solely social campaigns, one-off blog posts and even vlog campaigns on YouTube. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few best practices when creating a multi-faceted influencer program – or spokesblogger program. Check out my top tips for putting together successful spokesblogger programs for your clients. 
  • Communication – Open communication will lay the groundwork for the influencer-agency relationship. Be transparent with the influencer you’re working with about what is expected of them upfront. Have a call at the beginning of the partnership to go over things like style, content, etc. so that there are no surprises later on. Additionally, establish the best form of communication throughout the partnership and touch base regularly throughout the process. This way, you can forward real-time updates to your client.
  • Establish a plan – In the same vein, it’s vital to establish a plan and timeline in the early stages of a partnership. Create an ideal plan with specific deadlines and materials, share it with the influencer and follow the plan throughout the partnership. Additionally, establish the logistics of turning in materials to alleviate any last minute confusion. Stay organized by tracking every element the influencer delivers in excel (or your preferred platform), this way you can go back and reference anything the client may have a question on.
  • Know your client– It’s important to know what the client expects to get out of this relationship. Is it sales for a product, awareness for a brand, clicks to a website, followers on a social channel, or something else? Talk about this with your client and then relay this information to the influencer. Give the influencer as much inside information as possible, because when they understand the purpose and expectations, they will be able to create the perfect program.
  • Get creative – This can sometimes depend on the client you’re repping, but don’t be afraid to be creative in the development of the program! Create a fun and enticing theme that will make an influencer interested in the brand. This will help your program stand out from others. Additionally, allow the influencer their own creative freedoms. It’s OK to stick to a pre-devised plan, but influencers tend to appreciate at least some creative freedom in the process.

At the end of the day, creating an immersive spokesblogger program comes down to respect and mutual understanding between the influencer, agency and client. When all parties are on the same page, the program will come together seamlessly!


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Sleep Takes Center Stage as Spring Arrives

It may not feel like it, but spring is here – a great time to focus on improving sleep! To drive awareness of healthy sleep and position client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) as the go-to source for information, the LCWA health care and social media teams helped the AASM showcase its expertise around daylight saving time – where the lost hour of sleep can lead to serious issues – and improve sleep health around the globe on World Sleep Day.

During the daylight saving time campaign insight from AASM experts helped consumers prepare for the lost hour of sleep in the days leading up to “springing forward.” Media outreach drove AASM quotes and tips in outlets such as CBSNews.com, Bustle and the Toronto Sun. During an influencer component, top family bloggers shared online content about the AASM’s sleep duration recommendations and its nifty Bedtime Calculator. On top of that, engaging content and an infographic shared on AASM social media channels helped followers recover from the time change.

To continue the momentum beyond daylight saving time, LCWA leveraged the AASM’s pedigree in the sleep community to collaborate with the World Sleep Society in celebration of its World Sleep Day. On World Sleep Day, the AASM hosted a #HealthySleepChat on Twitter with a popular blogger and AASM Immediate Past-President Dr. Ilene Rosen. The interactive chat, which was listed as an official World Sleep Day activity, saw high levels of engagement, helping the AASM establish itself and its messages in the crowded World Sleep Day conversation.

To learn more about sleep health from the AASM, visit http://sleepeducation.org/.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Leading Effective Conference Calls – Grab your pen and paper!


We work with clients and partners across time zones and continental divides, but even if you spend the majority of your work day talking with people within feet of you, some good conference call tips may someday be helpful.

Our client and partner projects often necessitate formal conference calls with far-flung individuals who work together to achieve a shared goal or simply need to be informed of status updates or action items. As an agency lead, managing such calls involves a certain style, not to mention internal preparation and follow-through.

Whether I am responsible for leading the telephone meeting or not, I strive for certain norms of preparation, participation and follow-up to ensure everything runs smoothly. Here are some of my recommendations for maximizing everyone’s time investment and ensuring we put our best feet forward when we’re in the driver’s seat:
  • Prepare Fully – I like to devise a call agenda for myself 24 hours in advance. This gives me time to think about what else may be missing and to check on others’ progress, as many projects have moving parts, and not everyone involved may be on the call. It is also imperative to prepare a more top-line formal call agenda, which should be proofread and shared at least an hour before each call if you are the lead.
  • Know Your Audience – Take note of any call invitations that have been transmitted to others or simply forwarded outside of your organization. It’s important to know with whom you’re speaking so any conversational banter before everyone joins is still personal and tailored.
  • Share the Voice – Everyone on the call should have a voice and deserves the full attention of other participants. To ensure participating team members have an opportunity to talk, designate topics or updates for them to own well before dialing in.
  • Respect Others – Be punctual, be polite and be organized. This shows everyone involved that you respect their time as much as your own. Send a thank you email, when appropriate, to all participants too.
  • Outline Next Steps – If action items are not abundantly clear from the call, consider compiling a short list of action items along with those individuals responsible for their follow-through. For more formal discussions, call minutes may be warranted. If so, designate a formal note-taker ahead of time, and make a point to draft the minutes immediately following the call.
  • Set What’s Next – If the conference call is a not on a regular, fixed schedule, set in advance when the next call will be and send appropriate invitations early so that people can plan their schedules.

Since many meetings are virtual, it’s helpful to have these best practices in mind, whether you’re speaking with a large group of professionals you’ve not previously met or are hosting a weekly roundtable via phone. I hope you’ll find them helpful too.



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

LCWA Explains Pulmonary Fibrosis through Dynamic Video

Multi-media storytelling is a compelling method for delivering brand messages, especially for lesser-known, complex topics like pulmonary fibrosis (PF). LCWA recently launched a short, engaging video for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation as part of an awareness-driving campaign to educate more patients and caregivers about the symptoms, risks and prevalence of PF, a progressive lung disease.

LCWA designed the video to deliver core key messages in a vibrant, visual method, using dynamic text and animation. Even more, this video was budget-friendly to make—no video shoot necessary.
Video tips to keep in mind:
  • Short form keeps attention. Overall length of 30-seconds or less and concise copy ensures messages are memorable.
  • Visual cues support or even repeat the messages and make them relatable. 
  • Music selection sets the tone and keeps the pace of the video flowing, BUT make sure the visuals can stand-alone without music for those who have devices muted
Ensuring the content is viewed is another important piece of the campaign strategy, which includes a distribution plan on social channels, as well as paid digital platforms. Creative content paired with a thoughtful distribution can help tell your story and better reach your audiences.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Meaningful Data is Catnip to Healthcare Reporters

You find them in articles, case studies, research reports, blog posts and social content: statistics. Whether writing for consumers or industry professionals, healthcare reporters value strong, meaningful statistics from credible sources. When working with our healthcare clients, we encourage sharing primary data whenever appropriate to support key messages and increase share of voice in the media.

The Urgent Care Association (UCA) is a prime example of how we work with a client to use proprietary data to drive thought leadership in a crowded industry. Each year, UCA collects benchmarking data from its growing membership of on-demand healthcare providers, resulting in useful metrics to illustrate industry growth and operational or clinical trends. We then review and write up press materials showcasing top benchmarking results to share with media, along with expert insight from UCA leadership to put the numbers into context, and an infographic to visually illustrate the data and enable social sharing.

Media typically cover the initial benchmarking results as an update on the industry, as well as cite the data year-round to support other articles covering news in on-demand care. Because UCA gathers its data annually, many media outlets have come to rely on the metrics for their ongoing coverage – making UCA a thought leader and go-to source for industry information.

This year was no exception! Shortly after sharing the latest benchmarking results, we coordinated a flurry of media requests from a wide array of outlets including TIME Magazine, NOLA.com, Managed Care Magazine, Healthcare Dive and Forbes.com, to name a few. Many more outlets will cite the UCA benchmarking results throughout the year as they write about urgent care growth, new trends in on-demand care, expanding services at urgent care centers and other similar topics. This will keep UCA top-of-mind with key outlets while reinforcing our key messaging to target audiences.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lessons Learned from a 5-Year Public Awareness Campaign

Over the last five years, I have been honored to be a part of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness project. The project was a collaboration between our client, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Sleep Research Foundation (SRS). This project has included multiple public awareness campaigns to help elevate the awareness and priority placed on healthy sleep.

Our campaigns have included “Stop the Snore,” which pushed more patients at-risk for obstructive sleep apnea to seek treatment; “Awake at the Wheel,” which focused on preventing the dangerous but overlooked habit of driving while drowsy, and “Sleep Recharges You,” which aimed to increase the number of high school students getting the recommended sleep each night.

We have learned a lot from these campaigns, and had the opportunity to present our learnings to the attendees at the PRSA Health Academy Conference in Washington D.C. While it’s difficult to synthesize five years of work into five tips – here are some high-level lessons:
  • Narrow the Scope. Aiming messages at broad audiences makes it harder for anything to stick to anyone. Try to segment out audience groups into the smallest groups possible, so that you can develop messages that resonate with each of them specifically.  Instead of talking to “anyone who sleeps,” we were much more successful when we aimed at specific groups of people, such as:
    • Individuals with diabetes
    • Teen athletes
    • Shift workers
    • Parents of elementary school students aged 8-12
  • Measure Actions, Not Behavior.  Many health campaigns have far-reaching objectives that can only be measured in big chunks of time. While working toward these big goals – such as increasing the number of patients seeking care for obstructive sleep apnea, or decreasing traffic accidents caused by drowsy driving – we found other actions to measure to indicate we were on the right path during the short terms. Our most successful campaigns used measurements like online tools, pledges or calculators; event participation; downloads of information; referrals to physicians or health centers.
  • Create News. New research is a must when working with health care-focused media. If you don’t have a new study or newsworthy findings, create other reasons to focus on your story. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Campaign included two consensus panels focused on healthy sleep duration recommendations – one for patients, one for those up to age 18. These panels allowed us to make specific duration recommendations by age, and secure the news coverage of those recommendations. We also issued position statements on controversial issues and jumped on news of the day to drive coverage in the absence of scientific research. 
  • Empower Others to Tell Your Story.  Every audience segment has individual influencers that matter to them. For teens it’s not just parents, coaches and teachers – but other teens themselves. Moms listen to other moms. Find the influencers that matter to your audience and give them the tools needed to spread your messages. Associations are a great way to reach professional audiences. Work with those who have a captive, engaged audience to get the word out. Collaboration with another group doubles your reach and is always better than going it alone!
  • Take Messages Directly to Audiences. Digital marketing has changed the game in terms of making it easy and accessible to reach the exact audience members who need to hear your healthcare messages. Use social and digital marketing to reach the exact people you want, with the exact message they need. Between sponsored and boosted posts on Facebook and Instagram, targeted posts by job title on LinkedIn, or search and data-driven ads reaching just the right people at just the right time, today’s digital tools help drill down to the individual and ensure your messages are seen – and calls-to-action are understood.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tips for a Perfect Press Release


A press release is still an essential PR tool. From announcing a new product or service to expanding knowledge about a brand, press releases have remained a mainstay of journalism, even in the age of social media. When journalists’ inboxes are filled with press releases and news tips, make your press release standout by using the following tips:
  • Press Release vs. Pitch: Before beginning to write a release, ask yourself if the story is newsworthy. If it contains an actual news announcement or offers new information – write a press release. If the story doesn’t fall in either of these categories – like a feature story – it is a better fit for a pitch.      
  • Get to the point: Journalists don’t have time to read long and wordy press releases. Create straightforward headlines that will tell the reader why they should care right away. Then, use your first paragraph to fill in the details – don’t just repeat the headline. 
  • Always use AP style: Not only will this garner respect from a journalist, but using AP style also heightens your chance of having the story published. A release written in AP style is ready for media and in the correct format, making it ready to run at a moment’s notice.  
  • Utilize quotes: Personalize a story by including a quote that puts emphasis on the main message of the release. Always be sure to get permission from the quoted individual.
  • Include contact information: A press release should always include press contact information so anyone with questions or interview requests can easily reach out.  

Following these steps will help to ensure that you are writing the most effective press release. Now go out and get your clients the recognition they deserve!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Trex and LCWA “Make It Easy” to Succeed at the International Builders’ Show

Each year, the International Builders Show (IBS) marks the unofficial kick-off to our annual PR support for long-time client Trex Company – and 2019 was no different. From a completely re-engineered decking collection to the brand’s first all-aluminum pergola design, Trex had a lot of news to share during this year’s show and our team held nothing back in an effort to generate awareness, interest and impressions.

While Trex strives to “make it easy” for homeowners and contractors to build their dream decks, our LCWA team lends its extensive trade show experience and media know-how to make it easy for journalists and influencers to “deck out” their magazines, websites and broadcast segments with the latest products and expert insights from our client. This year, our team booked and hosted meetings at the Trex booth with more than 35 different consumer and trade outlets.

These meetings already have resulted in immediate coverage by publications such as Builder Magazine, LBM Journal and Plastics News. Additionally, we secured inclusion for Trex in a number of articles scheduled to appear throughout the critical spring deck building season.

Beyond generating valuable media coverage for Trex, the continuous flow of high-profile media representatives into the Trex booth helped drive added buzz and excitement. Show attendees – and surrounding competitors – took particular note of the many broadcast cameras that visited the Trex exhibit. Through strategic pre-show pitching, along with some quick on-the-spot wrangling, we coordinated multiple video shoots and in-booth interviews with production teams and talent from TV and YouTube programs, podcasts and online influencers.

Once again, Trex and LCWA effectively leveraged the industry’s biggest trade event to garner media coverage across all mediums, including print, online, radio and television. With outdoor living season fast approaching, Trex is well-poised for maximum exposure and continued success!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Setting Meaningful KPIs

Setting meaningful KPIs is a valuable driver and measurement of business success. At LCWA we work with our clients to set KPIs based on their goals and objectives, resulting in a clear understanding of how our PR and social efforts support the business. This moves PR from a “nice to have” to a “must have.”
Here are some proven KPIs to consider when tracking your campaign’s success: 
  • Media Impressions: Media coverage secured by the PR team. This number can be looked at as a whole for the brand or broken down into subsets such as tracking placements by product, industry vertical, priority media targets, etc. 
  • Sentiment: Measuring tone of articles or brand mentions allows you see if your brand is creating positive or negative associations. It may also be of value to compare your brand’s sentiment to that of the competition.
  • Key message penetration: Outline the priority messages for your brand or product and track how successfully those messages are communicated through secured media coverage. At LCWA, we like to track this metric (really all metrics) along the way and make any necessary campaign adjustments to ensure the right messages are reaching the target audience.  
  • Share of voice: This is the percentage of coverage for your brand compared to its competitors. Share of voice can be tracked by volume or reach. If budget does not permit to track both, work with your client or team to determine which is of most importance.  
  • Social engagement: A measurement of how many likes, shares and comments the content and coverage you generate receives. If you are finding a certain type of content is driving more engagement than others, incorporate more of this content into the mix.
  • Event promotion: Track your team’s success in driving event attendance, garnering media coverage of events, and building relationships with attendees and key constituents.
  • Web traffic: The number of visitors that are driven to a brand or company website as a result of your campaign. This can be easily tracked by creating a unique link to be used in your communications efforts.
  • Reach: Focuses on the sum of your efforts. How many potential consumers did you reach through broadcast, print and online coverage in traditional and social media outlets.

Now that you’ve set KPIs, how do you measure? There are a host of analytics dashboards available that enable you to see your public relations performance metrics and keep track of your KPIs. Burrelles, Meltwater, Hootsuite, Radian 6, Facebook Analytics…the options are endless. With a little research you will be able to employ the right mix of tools within your budget to track results.
Finally, don’t forget to merchandise and promote your campaign’s success.  This includes creating visual reports and presentations that can easily be shared by your direct client with internal stakeholders. It’s a sure fire way to keep PR as a “must have.”


Monday, March 4, 2019

LCWA and PFF Raise Awareness of Pulmonary Fibrosis on WGN

This month, LCWA worked with our client, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), to educate the community about pulmonary fibrosis (PF) by securing a great feature on WGN’s “Living Healthy Chicago” program.

To bring the segment to life, we enlisted the help of PFF volunteer and patient, Mark Cochran, to tell his story about living with PF, as well as his doctor, Sangeeta M. Bhorade, MD of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, to speak on the disease and how it impacts patients. Watch the full segment at this link.

With more than 200,000 Americans living with PF and 50,000 new cases of PF diagnosed annually, the importance of raising awareness is now greater than ever. This segment was a part of our overall “Not Everyone Breathes Easy” campaign, launched late last year to reach individuals who may be at risk for the disease or are undiagnosed, and encourage them to speak with a physician about PF.

Just as Mark did, taking the next steps with your doctor and advocating for testing to determine if you have pulmonary fibrosis is crucial so treatment can begin as early as possible. Mark, who works closely with the PFF to advocate for patients living with this disease, hopes that others with a similar lung disease will find hope through hearing his story.

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

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Preparing for Media Interviews in Five Simple Steps

You have secured a media opportunity for your spokesperson, now it’s time to get them ready! Whether you are dealing with a seasoned public speaker or an industry novice, it is important to make sure your spokesperson is comfortable and prepared before an interview. Here are some simple steps to consider for each interview:

Step 1: Background Information
Leading up to the interview, pull together background information on the reporter and media outlet. These details should go beyond just audience size and geographic reach to include why the outlet is a good fit for your story. Background on the style, tone and types of stories typical of the reporter is equally important, as they will likely be the one interacting directly with your expert.

Tip: When the spokesperson understands how this interview opportunity will meet communication goals, they will feel more comfortable during the interview.

Step 2: Key Messages/Talking Points
Even the most veteran spokespeople can find themselves going off on a tangent during an interview, veering away from original point of the opportunity. PR teams must ensure key messaging is top-of-mind during any media opportunities and worked into interview responses naturally. Create general messages to keep in mind, as well as precise talking points for anticipated questions.

Tip: Do not overwhelm the spokesperson with a script, but rather provide main messaging and a few key stats that they can pop in the story organically.

Step 3: Interview Logistics
One easy way to make a spokesperson nervous is to not have all the details of the interview ready ahead of time. Ensure your client and team have accurate information on the date, time, location and other logistics prior to the interview so necessary arrangements can be made. The small details can quickly turn a simple interview into a stressful disaster without careful planning and coordination.

Tip: Always double check the information your team has is the same as the reporter, and provide regular updates to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Step 4: Media Training Tips
Whether it is talking too fast, not standing still or sharing too much information, even professional spokespeople may have bad habits to break. Based on the type of interview (phone or TV), develop a list of basic interview best practices to help prep the spokesperson so he or she feels ready and is not self-conscious when answering questions.

Here are a few to keep in mind: 
  • Keep answers short and concise
  • Speak slowly and take breaths when you need to think about an answer
  • Smile when appropriate
  • Avoid clothing with large words or brands, as well as “jingly” jewelry
  • Find a comfortable stance to avoid swaying
Tip: Remind your spokesperson of basic rules, like not fidgeting or avoiding busy patterns. They may seem obvious to you, but are likely not as well known to your expert.

Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice
Reading and understanding talking points is one thing, but using them correctly in a response to a reporter requires a different skill set. Set aside time before the interview to talk through tough questions and allow the spokesperson to run through potential answers. These practice interviews can range from a simple over-the-phone discussion to a more thorough, role-playing rehearsal. The goal is make sure the spokesperson is comfortable with the topic, key messages and interview format before the actual interview.

Tip: Develop a variety of question types to help train the spokesperson on how to adapt to difficult questions and steer the conversation back to key messages.