Monday, July 29, 2019

Award Spotlight: Creating an Engaging Microsite with

In October 2018, LCWA and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) developed and launched this new microsite to help introduce key information, symptoms and risk factors about pulmonary fibrosis (PF)—a debilitating lung disease—to the vast majority of the population who do not know about the disease. is a key component in a multi-faceted three-year program designed to increase awareness of both PF and the PFF. The site features simple animation, bold text and easy-to-understand information highlighting primary PF symptoms and risk factors, and funnels visitors into the additional detail and resources that PFF provides. Key features include: 
  • Dynamic design: Interactive animation, obvious “lung” visual cues and bright colors offer approachable and engaging content for site visitors. 
  • Key statistics: Focused content explains the scope of the disease, core symptoms and risk factors, with opportunities to click through to additional information.
  • Multi-media content: PFF patient videos offer personal stories to make the symptoms relatable, while demonstrating three unique paths to diagnosis and treatment.
  • Calls-to-action: A printable “risk list” gives patients a tool to further review their symptoms and risk factors with their doctor. A “Find a Doctor” resource points to local physicians who can provide care for those who need it.
In order to drive visitors to the site, all campaign materials and efforts lead to Tactics include consumer and trade media relations, digital and social ads, and an educational Twitter chat. Since its launch, has received thousands of visitors and we look forward to watching that number continue to grow as we enter the second year of this important awareness campaign.  

The site was awarded a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of websites.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Presenting Tips to Keep the Focus on You…Not the Phones

It’s hardly a secret that we’re overwhelmed with information, particularly in our industry. Texts and tweets, emails and posts, all demand our attention, fighting to be read, digested and responded to.  In this noisy environment, the prospect of giving a presentation or a speech can be daunting to say the least.

With attention spans so short (and meetings sooo long) the ability to communicate persuasively and in a concise manner is more important than ever.
Listed below are a few tips and techniques that might help you make the most of your next presentation opportunity.  They’re designed to get your audience to put down their phones and listen up. Read on!
  • Know your material inside and out. There’s no winging it with presenting.  Know your subject matter and anticipate potential questions.  The quickest way to lose your audience is by showing a lack of understanding and relevance to the issue at hand. If your audience doesn’t think you know the material, they will tune out.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  No matter how good you THINK you are, or how many times you’ve presented, you can always be better – so rehearse. Out loud. If possible, practice in the very room you plan on presenting in.  Use the same tone of voice you plan on using during the actual presentation.  Early in my career, I used to script out every single word and memorize it.  It was pretty extreme, I admit, but it also worked.  I got promoted a lot.
  • Start and finish strong.  The two most important parts of any presentation are the beginning and end.  So make sure they work.  Start off with something relevant – tell them why what they’re about to see and hear is important.  Then after you review the deck, close with a big finish. Sum up the idea, the results, and impact, as enthusiastically as you can.
  • Do your homework. How long do you have? Who, if anyone, are you following? How many people are you presenting to? Who are the decision-makers? What time of day are you presenting? (Avoid after lunch if possible; mid-mornings are best.)  What are the hot-buttons for this crowd? The more you know ahead of time, the better you’ll be.
  • Speak up! Forty percent of a presentation’s impact comes from the way you sound. So speak up! Use inflections. Be enthusiastic. Speak at an even pace. Make eye contact if possible.
  • Make the deck eye-pleasing. Everyone has their own style when it comes to the visuals but there are some basic rules-of-thumbs.  Use a horizontal format; highlight key words; don’t use more than two or three colors; limit the copy to six bullet points of no more than six words; use charts and stats sparingly (don’t overdo them.)  Short videos or photos can also help ensure attention levels remain high. Avoid using a laser pointer. (Do they still make those?)
  • Don’t talk to the visuals.  The visuals are merely there to support you and help you tell your story.  Refer to them but don’t read them. Sum them up and provide details, context and perspective. Remember, your deck or slides aren’t the star – you are.  So shine on.
  • Body language. Use hands and gestures appropriately.  This will help maintain attention and help you relax you as well.
  • Leave time for questions:  Be cognizant of the time.  A terrific presentation can be ruined because there wasn’t enough time left for a robust question and answer session.   In my experience, the Q&A is the exclamation point of a presentation.   It’s usually the last chance you have to make an impression, so plan accordingly!

Jim Kokoris has close to 40 years of speech writing and speaker training experience. For more information, contact Jim at

Monday, July 22, 2019

Award Spotlight: “Trex Decks Out the World”

As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. At LCWA, we are big believers in the power of collaboration. This year, that philosophy paid off in meaningful results for our client, Trex Company, and high-profile recognition for our agency in the form of a 2019 Trumpet Award from the Publicity Club of Chicago.

Collaboration was the key to this award-winning campaign, which focused on elevating Trex as the world’s leading brand of wood-alternative decking. As the company’s long-time agency of record, LCWA vetted and engaged agencies in five key markets – Australia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the UK – to create a global PR team, tapping talent from our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners.

To ensure brand integrity and message consistency, LCWA served as the central hub for the integrated agency team, reviewing and approving all activities and content. PR assets, ideas and successes were shared across markets to both inspire and optimize budget.

Together, our agency teams focused on garnering Trex coverage in influential industry and consumer media outlets in all of our key markets by keeping the pipeline filled with Trex news, imagery and story ideas. LCWA provided agency partners with press releases and pitches offering tips for creating a dream outdoor space with Trex. These materials were then customized with cultural nuances for each market.

We maximized Trex exposure at key international industry events and partnered with high-profile home/building influencers to showcase the ease of building a deck with Trex. We also coordinated photo shoots in each market to capture authentic imagery for use with media, across social channels and in Trex’s international marketing materials.

For this program and client, media coverage and impressions were the primary metrics for measuring success. The combined efforts of our global PR team generated 385 media placements, delivering more than 260 million impressions. Beyond impressions, the influencer projects allowed us to cost-effectively gather market-specific images and video assets, along with authentic user-generated content. Additionally, all of the influencers continue to be Trex brand advocates and ambassadors, promoting their projects and the Trex brand in bonus content.

These results and the seamless collaboration between agencies far surpassed client expectations and earned continued work and increased budgets for all agency partners in 2019.

The "Trex Decks Out the World" Campaign won a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago in the category of International Campaigns.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tips for Building Partnerships

Our PR campaigns work to reach relevant audiences with our clients’ key messages. One great way to communicate with target audiences: work with associations or organizations of which they may be a member. When seeking strong partnerships, it is important to follow these steps:
  • Identify organizations with similar messaging and values. When building partnerships, the first task is to ascertain groups that would be a good fit. In addition to looking at size, location and membership, make sure there is a functional fit based on need and message. Next, look at the core values of each organization and ensure that the two will work well together. And of course, take time to see if any competitors have ever worked with them, as well.
  • Set realistic expectations. Consider what resources your organization has to dedicate to a partnership. If you want a hands-off project, consider a group that has opportunities already in motion. For more customized programs, be ready to take the lead in development and implementation.
  • Find a mutual goal. After identifying potential partners, propose a program that will offer benefits to both of you. For a true partnership to succeed – and last – it must be mutually beneficial. Establish a shared vision that both groups can move toward.
  • Set expectations and be flexible. When it’s time for implementation, identify where responsibilities lie, deadlines for projects and an ongoing communication process to keep everything flowing. That said, issues can occur, so be flexible and ready to work closely with the other organization to ensure all expectations are met throughout the program.

If you set the foundation for a strong partnership, it can pay dividends for years to come.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Award Spotlight: First Alert 2018 Campaigns

First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety, had a banner year in 2018. Celebrating its 60th jubilee, increasing its involvement in community risk reduction efforts and launching a new smart home product all warranted comprehensive, award-winning campaigns!

The “60 Years of Firsts” campaign highlighted the ways First Alert has launched innovations since its founding. To amplify outreach with local fire departments, LCWA launched the "60 Years of Thank Yous” donation sweepstakes. Sixty departments were randomly chosen to receive either 60 smoke alarms or 60 carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Additional campaign elements included firefighter brand ambassadors and local community sponsorships. Overall, the campaign garnered more than 286.2 million impressions, and the sweepstakes earned more than 700 entries!

First Alert and LCWA partnered with two reputable and well-known fire safety organizations – Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation – to coordinate the “Town/Gown Community Service Project” campaign. This project promoted fire safety education and collaboration between students, fire departments, universities and their surrounding communities. Through an application process, 25 fire departments were selected to receive 100 smoke or CO alarms for community outreach with college students in their respective communities. In addition to national outreach, LCWA coordinated with departments for local media outreach for each initiative, earning more than 97.2 million impressions and installing 2,500 alarms in at-risk homes.

In addition to community outreach, First Alert launched its latest innovation in 2018: a 3-in-1 smoke and CO alarm with a premium speaker and built-in Amazon Alexa, dubbed the Onelink Safe & Sound. LCWA and First Alert debuted the product at CES 2018 to key tech media, including Digital Trends and The Verge. Before the official launch in May, LCWA secured several one-on-one interviews with top consumer and tech media, including Gearbrain, Gizmodo and Good Housekeeping. The Onelink Safe & Sound’s key features were amplified with a strategic influencer program and celebrity endorsements, including a celebrity-gifting suite. Finally, LCWA researched and submitted the alarm for consideration to several editorial and product award programs, earning seven awards including the Good Housekeeping 2018 Lab Pick and the GOOD DESIGN Award. Overall, the Onelink Safe & Sound launch resulted in more than 2.1 billion impressions!

First Alert won a Golden Trumpet from the PCC in the Marketing Category and a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Marketing – Consumer Products, Packaged Goods category for the “Onelink Safe & Sound Launch.” The “Town/Gown Community Service Project” won a Skyline Award from PRSA Chicago in the Most Effective Corporate Social Responsibility Campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the PCC in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. First Alert won a Skyline Award in the in Events & Observances, Businesses – Products Category from PRSA Chicago for its “60 Years of Firsts” campaign and a Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) in the Special Events category.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Leveraging News of the Day

It’s the job of PR professionals to constantly look for ways to keep their clients in the news. One such approach is responding to news of the day or breaking news stories. This is an especially useful strategy when your clients don’t necessarily have their own news to share. By leveraging trending stories already in the news you can insert your clients into the conversation. Effectively leveraging the news of the day requires the following key steps: 

Select the Right Stories 

As you scan the news of the day, it’s important to consider what storylines make the most sense for a particular client. Consider piggybacking on news angles that capture the attention of the media. Such examples include research studies, interesting statistics, new trends or data about the industry that’s relevant to your client.

Steer clear of stories that may come across as insensitive, such as promoting good deeds after a natural disaster. A PR professional should never try to take advantage of the misfortune of others. In such instances, it’s important to subtly share your good deed or assistance in relief efforts so you come across as supportive but not desperate to reporters or readers.

Respond Quickly 

In order to use other news for your clients, it’s essential that you constantly read and watch pertinent news outlets so you can contact a reporter as soon as possible. If you respond too late, it’s likely that your client’s competitors will already have beaten you to the story.

For breaking news, most journalists need an expert to comment on a situation quickly via a phone interview, video conference or live video interview so have your spokesperson prepared and ready to go.  Once a reporter or editor sees they can count on you quickly for story ideas, and expert comments, then you become a valuable resource to them.

Be a Resource

The best way to build relationships with reporters is to be succinct and provide them with 
material they haven’t already learned or written about. In other words, don’t waste their time. As a PR professional, it’s your job to capture the attention of these writers with a different angle or addition to the story.

Leveraging the news of the day and inserting clients into a news conversation requires a few key steps that include regularly monitoring the news and finding ways to insert your client into relevant stories. To do so effectively, you must offer new angles to the story, share useful information, be timely, and know your client’s spokespersons and areas of expertise.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Award Spotlight: American Academy of Sleep Medicine “Sleep Works for You”

Getting insufficient sleep and working while fatigued have become commonplace in the modern workforce, causing employees to experience cognitive declines and presenting employers with heightened safety risks and increased economic costs. So, LCWA and our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) — the leading voice in the sleep field launched the “Sleep Works for You” campaign.

This multifaceted campaign, conducted on behalf of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project — a cooperative agreement between the CDC and the AASM — embodied the vision of achieving optimal health through better sleep for long-term success and well-being. “Sleep Works for You” encouraged employees, from entrepreneurs to shift workers, to prioritize sleep for safety and productivity on the job, and educated employers on ways to help workers avoid fatigue and develop healthy sleep habits.

To reach these audiences, the campaign included a wide variety of tactics, such as feature stories, media outreach — highlighted by a co-branded press release with the National Safety Council — influencer partnerships, a Twitter chat and social content, landing page design and more.

The campaign resonated strongly with media, consumers and influencers, and was honored with the Skyline Award in Integrated Communications from PRSA Chicago and a Silver Trumpet in Integrated Communications from the Publicity Club of Chicago.