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,, Managed Care Magazine, Healthcare Dive and, 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 today and find out if you are at risk for pulmonary fibrosis.