Thursday, May 30, 2019

Talking PR with the Next Generation

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Global Experience, Creative Ideas

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fighting Pancreatic Cancer with the Rolfe Foundation

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

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

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.