Thursday, August 29, 2019

Five Tips for an Effective Brainstorm

Leading a successful brainstorm is not tricky. It is simply the product of good planning.

Over the years, I have hosted my fair share of brainstorms. Some fell flat and others resulted in wild ideas that once tamed turned into stellar campaign concepts. I have determined that planning and structure are key to driving productivity. It takes some practice to manage the room and focus creativity, at times, but every session presents the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Whether capturing rapid-fire ideas or being mindful of a voice in the back of the room that is timidly sharing a half-baked idea, the ability to keep up the momentum and maximize the talent in the room are also key to running a worthwhile brainstorm.

Here are five other tips to jumpstart brilliant ideas.
  1. Assign the Prep Work – The most productive brainstorms often begin with ideas from those who have taken the time to read, digest and think about the creative brief or other materials that were shared in advance. It is that initial pre-read that grounds the participants in the client’s business, offers information about the goals that need to be achieved, and a few resources or online sites that should be reviewed in advance. If you do not have a full creative brief or you are simply trying to generate jump-start ideas without client direction, consider sharing a top-line idea or theme as inspiration to the group.
  2. Motivate with Sweets – I always appreciate a surprise treat during a meeting. And while it may sound trivial, treats, tchotchkes and other branded materials can elevate the energy within a room from the start. Snacks can fight fatigue, while other items can satisfy those who likes to fidget and showcase the brand that is up for discussion.
  3. Appoint a Scribe – Good facilitation requires good listening skills and very sharp group awareness. Consider having one person close to the project run the meeting. A scribe can build off his or her direction and write down every single idea that is mentioned, taking a neutral and respectful stance toward each idea. Knowing a scribe will map out the ideas, the moderator can focus on building off shared ideas and take cues for new direction if needed. 
  4. Round Robin Versus The Post-Its Method – There are many different ways to jumpstart brainstorm session. In some cases, it may be most effective to simply ask who wants to share an idea first. At other times, you may want to shake things up and make the brainstorm experience more interactive. Give each participant a stack of Post-Its, trying to assign a different color to each participant. Next, share one central idea or business case for them to generate ideas around. Set a timer and ask everyone to write one idea on a Post-It, knocking out as many as possible and putting the notes onto a whiteboard (or the wall!) before the buzzer rings. Once complete, read the ideas aloud, moving like concepts together and sharing them with the room. You will find that some ideas will rise to the top as other complement one another and drive towards a bigger theme to talk through. 
  5. “Yes, and?” – No idea is too small or too big. Rather, each presents opportunity to shape the ideation. I have always been a fan of the “Yes, and?” technique that is often used in comedy improv as it does not allow for ideas to be analyzed or scrutinized for sounding off base. It not only helps generate a new idea quickly, but also softens any critique. Some groups find this technique hard to follow, but try it once your team has narrowed down the ideas and see how things get remixed.
Remember, the simple nature of a brainstorm can foster truly creative ideas. Nevertheless, a little advanced planning is needed for the meetings to be both fun and fruitful.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Bylined Articles Educate about Workplace Sleep Programs

LCWA helped the Welltrinsic Sleep Network increase awareness about sleep deprivation and tools that employers can take to improve healthy sleep among employees. Part of this campaign effort involved securing bylined articles in trade publications geared toward employers. 

LCWA coordinated articles by Dr. Lawrence Epstein, president and CEO of the Welltrinsic Sleep Network, in Benefits Magazine and its Canadian counterpart, Plans & Trust. These large trade publications target corporate benefits staff and cover employee benefits and compensation. Both articles highlighted the impact of sleep deprivation in the workplace and ways that employers can fight fatigue in the workplace.

Because sleep is particularly important in the transportation industry, LCWA also secured an article in Modern WorkTruck Solutions. The story focused on the detriment of sleep deprivation to the industry, as well as providing some fixes that can be done by employers – and employees – to improve health and safety for their drivers.

Overall, these three articles drove conversation about the impact of sleep deprivation and also drove awareness of the Welltrinsic Sleep Network, which provides employee wellness programs, as a solution.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Finding and Using Compelling Stats to Get News

In the PR business, including stats in press releases and other media-facing materials is vital. They add significance and credibility to your clients’ announcements, and can also be a great way to craft headlines — creating news that can bolster client messaging, help garner media results during a lull in client activity or even spearhead a campaign.

You also want your clients to be the leader in their industries, and having a library of stats lends them authority and helps them be the “go-to” source for media when they are looking for expert resources to help shape their stories.

But, the stats need to be legitimate and compelling, or the media won’t be interested. So, how do you find and use stats to deliver the best client service? Here are some recommendations from the LCWA team:

How to find stats: 
  • Deploy a survey: A high-level, consumer-friendly survey can help secure a variety of news angles that can be used to drive coverage. The survey can be wide-ranging if you’re looking for topics that can be used throughout the year, or the questions can be narrowed down if you’re looking for a brand new story to spearhead a campaign.
  • Ask the experts: If you work with an organization that represents experts, such as medical professions, conducting internal outreach for their insights and day-to-day observations can allow you to bolster current messaging and come up with new information that interests media.
  • Audit the research: Some clients may have a cache of studies that haven’t been adequately utilized for marketing purposes. It may behoove you to review the materials and see if there are newsworthy nuggets, or overarching themes, that can be pulled and used.

 How to use stats:
  • Craft your own news: Even if it seems there aren’t any original client stories to tell that would actually interest media, you still need to deliver results. However, if you can find a key stat that allows you to conduct outreach on a topic that hasn’t been sown in your clients' industry landscape before, this can allow your client to become an authority on the subject or even create breaking news. Media are always looking for something new, and this enables you to deliver.
  • Create a library: Your clients’ online newsrooms or media kits are a great place to host an easily accessible list of impactful stats. When a reporter can simply pull stats to include as references in stories, a rise in impressions and coverage is sure to follow. Stats that are owned by your client will be attributed to your client in stories, indefinitely.
  • Visualize the information: Stats are perfect for infographics and other visual content that tell your story in an intriguing way for use in social media or to help deliver the increasingly busy media the information and digital content they need.
  • Determine your outreach strategy: So, once you have the stats, what do you do with them. As mentioned above, it depends on your goals — ongoing pitching or campaign-leading news. You may find that the information you gathered can lead to a combination of the two. Some recommended tactics include press releases, wire releases, wire releases, direct-to-editor fact sheets, supporting infographics and visuals, spokesperson quote sheets and more.
In this media landscape, you need to have a leg-up on the competition, create authority and keep your client relevant, lead with new information and make things easily digestible for reporters — who are covering multiple beats or topics they don’t know much about and are under tight deadlines. Finding and using compelling stats can set you and  your clients up for success.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

How to Utilize Content across Social Platforms


When creating social content for a client, not all social media platforms should be used the same way. Each platform has different goals and audiences, so it is crucial that your content, social calendars and formats are created specifically for each. Follow these tips to help each platforms audience get the most out of your content:  
  • Tailor your message. Instead of copying and pasting your text from one platform to the next, vary the length, image formatting, hashtags and vocabulary based on the platform you’re using. This ensures you won’t lose part of a caption on Twitter, tag an Instagram handle on Facebook or invite your followers to retweet you on LinkedIn. 
  • Post consistently. How consistently you post on a social platform should be specific to which platform you are using. Post content on Twitter multiple times per day to reach the maximum audience, but for Instagram and Facebook, post content less frequently to avoid spamming your follower’s feed. Consider using Instagram and Facebook stories to keep your client top of mind on days you aren’t posting to your feed.
  • Keep the time in mind. Just because you are sharing similar content across social platforms, doesn’t mean it has to publish at the same time. Schedule posts for the individual peak times on each social media network. Posting when the most amount of people will see it, will maximize engagement. For example, post on LinkedIn between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays to reach the largest audience.
  • Consider the media you’re using. Before deciding on content, think about how you can integrate videos, images, text or gifs based the platform you’re posting on. To get more engagement on Facebook, create a video or image to get your message across. On Twitter, tweet an image or gif along with your text for more favorites and retweets.

Following these tips can help you run successful social media campaigns, gain new followers and get great exposure for your clients.    

Monday, August 12, 2019

Boise Paper and the Red Cross Join Forces this Summer to Fill the Missing Types

As part of its Paper with Purpose® promise, our client Boise Paper is committed to making a difference in the communities its customers and employees call home. And this year, Boise Paper is demonstrating that commitment through its ongoing support of the American Red Cross.

This summer, Boise Paper joined other global brands to help raise awareness of the Red Cross’ Missing Types Campaign, a movement to inspire 325,000 people across the U.S. to help save lives by donating blood. Here are a few stats that might surprise you:
  • There are 50,000 people in the U.S. who have never donated blood before
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
  • Only three out of every 100 people donate blood in the U.S. in a given year
  • Blood types typically go missing in the summer
Alarming, right? There simply aren’t enough people donating blood to help patients in need. When A, B and O blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever. That’s why the Boise Paper team hit the ground running to help raise awareness of this important cause. Here’s what we accomplished in a very tight time frame of only one month:
  • Updated the Boise Paper logo without the letters A, B and O
  • Drafted original content for Boise Paper’s social channels
  • Presented a Facebook sweepstakes
  • Created a Facebook ad
  • Distributed an e-blast
  • Hosted a Twitter Chat with the Red Cross, AND …
  • Launched an influencer campaign 
Each initiative stressed the importance of blood donations and encouraged new and existing blood donors to visit RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes to schedule a blood donation appointment. The entire campaign garnered over 33 million total impressions in June – all in an effort to inspire more people to donate blood and help save lives.

Through the support of generous blood donors, blood drive hosts and partnerships like the one it has with Boise Paper, the Red Cross is able to provide 40% of the nation’s blood supply to 2,500 hospitals across the country every day.

To learn more about the Missing Types Campaign and how you can get involved, please visit RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes.

Monday, August 5, 2019

DAP Platinum Patch Honored as a Best New Home Product

Product award programs can lead to editorial accolades and powerful third-party endorsements that drive awareness and sales for clients and their products. That’s why LCWA has established an annual awards program for DAP. Each year, our team works to ensure DAP’s newest innovations are recognized by some of the top awards programs in the Home and Building Products industries.  Most recently, DAP was recognized by  This Old House on its list of Top 25 Best New Products in the Building Materials category. After months of research, reviews, testing and input from industry pros, This Old House magazine’s editors recently released its list of top products that represent the “finest in new materials and mechanical systems for construction and remodeling projects.” We’re proud to have help our DAP client secure a spot on this coveted list. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Celebrating Summer at Santa’s Village with The Jam

Who says you can’t celebrate Christmas all year-round? LCWA client Santa’s Village Amusement Park in Dundee, Ill., is the perfect place to do just that! During the summer months Santa’s Village is the ideal destination for Chicagoland families with young kids. The park features everything from animal attractions and Kiddieland rides to weekly entertainment shows and a brand-new arcade. To showcase the exciting attractions, LCWA secured and coordinated a dynamic on-site segment with WCIU – The Jam. It’s safe to say that everyone had some fun!

The Jam host, Kelsie Huff, visited Santa’s Village and saw more than 200 animals, birds and fish, chatted with president and owner Jason Sierpien, and even rode the park's most popular roller coaster, the Super Cyclone!  With live clips airing throughout The Jam's morning broadcast between 6 and 8 a.m., we reached many Chicagoland viewers. The story now lives on the WCIU website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.


There’s still plenty of summertime left, so be sure to visit Santa’s Village with your family.