Thursday, October 31, 2019

How to Help Clients Earn Valuable Awards and List Placements

A gold star is a great way to denote a job well done. This applies to products, as well. Awards, “best of,” and “top of the top” lists are recognition for a great device and respect for innovation and quality. This recognition can give cachet within the industry, improve credibility with consumers and drive overall brand awareness.

To create a successful award program, here are three steps to consider:

Set the stage.
All award entries are not created equal, and there could be many that could fit your product. If there are not set parameters for your program, the list of possible awards could become a daunting prospect. It’s important to narrow the list. Consider your product’s audience. For a toy, this may be parents and children, while for an app it may be mobile developers. Once you have defined the target audience, it’s important to consider budget. There are typically costs for submitting a product award entry, and some can be quite costly. Additionally, winners will need to consider any add-ons as well. This could include logo usage on the website, a press release or even packaging.

Research award programs.
Once clear goals have been determined, it’s time to dig into the awards that fit for your product. When doing your evaluation, it’s critical to consider two types of submissions – product and editorial awards.

Product awards have a formal entry, criteria and evaluation process – typically along with a fee. Some well-known product awards include the Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards, the Good Design Awards and the CEPro Best Product Awards. Conversely, editorial awards or “best of” lists are more fluid – there may not be a formal submission form or application, however publication editors evaluate products and determine which are the best after a series of rigorous tests. The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is the most well known. Both editorial and product awards can still include add-on costs.

When evaluating awards, it’s important to consider what products won in the past. This can confirm if your product is a fit for the award, and ensure your time and budget are not wasted on an unlikely entry.

Crafting the submission.
After selecting awards that are the best fit for your product, the last step is handling the submission itself. The bulk of submissions are based on a written product description.

Each award program considers specific criteria. This can be as vague as if the product went to market that year, or specific questions such as “Did the product meet an unmet need?” Each entry should be handled as a unique submission, catering the product for the specific award submission criteria. While the product may be the same, it’s best to hark on different values to promote how it is innovative, impacting the end user or different than existing products.

If you put the right tools in place with robust goals, research and submissions, then your award program will be on the right path to finish strong!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Making the Case for Urgent Care Reimbursements

In an industry as complex as healthcare, there are many sectors that are constantly changing and progressing. One such sector is urgent care, where our client the Urgent Care Association (UCA) is leading the charge for better payer reimbursements for urgent care centers that provide valuable services to millions of patients nationwide.

When pitching a new UCA position statement on payer reimbursements, it was important to target trade media that speak directly to insurance-related audiences. In addition, we reached out to more general healthcare media to ensure a wide audience of industry decision-makers were aware of UCA’s stance on the issue. While most healthcare outlets understood the situation and why the position statement was being shared, a few needed some context as to the who, what, where, when and why of the statement.

We worked with UCA to define the key messages and assembled background on what initially catalyzed the need for the statement. We weaved these details into our pitches to ensure all media understood why UCA created the position statement and the importance of it in the current healthcare landscape. Our efforts resulted in six trade media placements and an interview with Health Plan Weekly that resulted in an in-depth feature article on urgent care reimbursements! 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Take Your Product Launch to the Next Level

There are certain basic PR tactics that should be done as a matter of course when you are releasing a new product, from developing key messages and issuing a press release to establishing a target audience and seeding products with media.

In order to capture an increasingly distracted audience, your brand needs to take some extra steps to create a remarkably effective PR campaign. Here are some big ways to make your product launch pack a punch:
  • Generate buzz. A teaser campaign is essential to building expectation and excitement for a new product launch. Start building anticipation weeks or even months in advance on social media with consistent, vague updates. Drop hints, such as cool features or new colors, or simply post images with a catchy headline or “coming soon” message. A fun, engaging teaser campaign will create hype and lay the foundation for a successful launch day. If possible, offer select editors some exclusivity with unique content to generate some high-profile coverage in the days leading up to the launch.
  • Upgrade your press release. When it comes to engaging both consumers and editors, traditional press releases are getting lost in the shuffle. Consider distributing a multimedia news release, which can help bring your brand and new product to life with video, images, links, audio, social bookmarking and other compelling creative assets. A multimedia approach encourages more sharing among consumers and provides much more digestible information for the modern journalist, as well as more resources to help them develop their story angles.
  • Create multiple videos. The importance and impact of video cannot be overstated. While they can take a lot of time, energy and resources to create, all your hard work will definitely pay off. The key to maximizing engagement and effectiveness are several catchy videos that are one minute or less. For content hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, the videos can be longer and more in-depth. Videos produced to support a product launch should highlight the different product features, demonstrate how the product can be used in daily life or offer behind-the-scenes look at the product development or design.
  • Go live. Making your product release a big deal with a launch event is a tried-and-true tactic. If you can’t coordinate your launch around an existing event, such as a trade show or big occasion like the Super Bowl, get the creative juices flowing to determine the best approach to gain face-to-face time with your target audience. Live events could be a charity auction, customer dinner or guerrilla marketing stunt. If an in-person event isn’t possible, you can still make it an occasion by hosting a webinar, Reddit AMA or a live social chat. 
The bottom line is that you need to create a unique, effective PR strategy that suits your brand and builds enthusiasm for your new product, driving media, consumers and any other key players to act.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Smoke Alarms Help Protect What Matters Most in Any Language

Our multi-lingual society calls for communications in other tongues, particularly when it comes to a topic relevant to everyone: home fire safety.

For Fire Prevention Month the First Alert brand and PR teams created and leveraged a variety of Spanish-language resources to reach a wider audience at a heightened time of public fire safety education and retail initiatives. 

In addition to a Spanish-language press release and direct-to-editor pitching to share new home fire statistics and key safety directives, the team collaborated with other brands on a bilingual satellite media tour, expanding our reach and important safety messages to include Spanish-language radio and TV stations across the country.

We also coordinated and publicized in-store fire education events for adults and children nationwide, providing Spanish-language spokespeople in key markets through retail partners and distributing thousands of bilingual activity books to teach children about fire safety and proper emergency escape planning.

For this campaign and for future initiatives, the brand team developed a series of Spanish-language fire safety videos featuring Dr. Manuel Fonseca, president of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters. A veteran firefighter and passionate educator, Dr. Fonseca shares for Spanish-speaking consumers some vital information about proper home fire and carbon monoxide safety.

As a part-time foreign language instructor, I personally and professionally view these as vital components in our efforts to spread the word about home fire safety to as wide an audience as possible. With hope I say they make an impact.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Using Editorial Calendars as Roadmaps for Trade Pitching

As a leading national provider of decorative commercial railing systems, our client Trex Commercial Products has supplied products for some of the largest projects in the country – from sports arenas and educational institutions to healthcare facilities and hotels. With a target audience of architects, contractors, glaziers, fabricators and more, our agency team executes a successful trade-marketing program to connect “TCP” with the architecture and design industry.

As part of this trade program, our team comprehensively researches and monitors the editorial calendars for key industry publications to identify potential coverage opportunities. At the beginning of each year, we compile a month-by-month list of planned editorial coverage that serves as a roadmap for our media outreach.

From our experience, we find that editorial calendars play a crucial role in any successful trade marketing program. They allow us to align our pitches with the topics that are most relevant to editors and afford us timely reasons to reach out to keep our clients top of mind for editorial inclusion.

Following are some examples of opportunities where we have been able to pair a compelling case study with an editorial calendar to garner high-profile coverage for Trex Commercial Products:
  • Interiors + Sources Magazine – Every month, Interiors + Sources features a product showcase in the “Sources” section of the magazine. We pitched the editor a line-up of projects from Trex Commercial Products, showcasing the company’s work in healthcare, hospitality and aviation. The end result was a beautiful full-page round-up, positioning Trex Commercial Products as an expert of architectural railing systems.
  • Retrofit Magazine – Responding to an editorial calendar focus on hospitality renovation projects, we pitched and secured a great case study feature on Trex Commercial Products’ work at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in St. Louis Park, Minn.
  • Architectural Products Magazine – Inspired by the magazine’s planned editorial focus on universities, our team pitched a Trex Commercial Products’ project at Hope College in Holland, Mich. We successfully secured a full-page feature on the project, highlighting how TCP’s Track Rail System enhances the sense of community at the student center.

As you can see, editorial calendars can be valuable roadmaps for pitching, especially in niche markets like the A&D industry. When working with Trex Commercial Products, we put our hard hats on and think like an architect. By doing so, we are able to build awareness and demand for Trex Commercial Products and position the company as an expert and go-to resource for commercial railing systems.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Six Daily Habits for Success in a PR Agency

The fast pace, always changing environment of PR can leave many wondering how to ensure success in agency life.  Here are six daily habits every PR agency professional should adopt:

Define Success Each Morning – Start each day with an action plan. Outline what must get done for the day vs. what would be nice to get done. Make it a goal to get through the entire “must do” list and to also check off one to two items from the “nice” list.  This will ensure the day is a success and also set you up for success tomorrow. 

Be Flexible – PR is unpredictable. What seems like a fairly routine day can quickly be turned upside down with an influx of media requests or a client crisis. Be nimble and learn to adjust goals and priorities for the day at a moment’s notice. This also means being a good internal communicator. It’s important to inform team leads if your attention needs to be diverted to one client. Account leads can help reassign or reprioritize other client work.       

Be in the Know – From the latest in industry and social media trends to what’s happening in world news and pop culture, be in the know.  This helps better serve clients by offering recommendations on everything from the latest social platforms to utilize to pop culture trends to leverage to postponing a new product announcement due to breaking news.   

Write it Down – Pen and paper can be two of the most important tools in any job. Whether taking notes in a meeting, creating a to-do list or capturing a creative idea, writing everything down serves as a great method to recall important information and ideas. Notes are an invaluable resource to refer back to in the future.

Turn “No” into “Yes” – At LCWA “no” is not in our vocabulary. If media are saying “no” to a pitch, find a new angle to go after them with. If a client has a challenging request, find creative ways to make it happen. Turning a “no” into a “yes” is a daily practice and a way of agency life.

Never Stop Learning – With the emergence of social media and the 24 hour news cycle, the PR industry is changing at a pace that is more rapid than ever before.  Never stop learning about new and emerging tools and trends. Carve out time each day to read up on industry news. This helps better serve clients with cutting edge and effective communications solutions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Will You Dare 2 Compare Your Paper Choice?

Do you know what brand of paper your office uses? Is it recycled paper? If you’re not sure, you’re likely not alone. LCWA launched Boise Paper’s Dare 2 Compare influencer campaign with the goal of driving awareness for Boise® ASPEN® Recycled papers.

Boise ASPEN has a number of differentiators, including a 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee and its status as America’s Top Selling Recycled Paper Brand. To show off these attributes and encourage business-focused audiences to make the switch to Boise ASPEN, four influencers first tried the paper and then created engaging, informative content for their followers. The results? Influencers love ASPEN:
  • “I’ve been using Boise® ASPEN® Recycled Copy papers proudly, which is made with recycled content that is consistent with Boise Paper’s high quality standards and hardworking characteristics.” – The Mogul Mom
  • “Now I realize the importance of measuring all of those factors plus the cost. That’s why I like using Boise® ASPEN® Recycled Copy paper, because they have a great 99.99% Jam-Free® Performance Guarantee!” – Naturally Stellar
  • “I use paper a LOT – for presentation handouts, sales proposals, marketing strategies, client work and so much more! Boise Paper is a brand that understands that we have deadlines to meet, people to impress, and work to do. All of their products add up to Quality You Can Trust™.” – The Motivated Millennial
  • “When you can get that kind of quality, and be doing your part to help the environment, is there any real choice?  When you take the #Dare2Compare challenge, we’re betting you, too, will become a Boise ASPEN fan!” – Ms. Career Girl
The campaign generated more than 290,000 impressions for the Boise ASPEN brand. Next time you need to buy a ream of paper, will you Dare 2 Compare?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Livecasting News and Events

Using video is key to a successful marketing approach – especially if it’s live. Nowadays, we consume everything directly from our mobile phones, tablets or computers, bringing content right to our fingertips. And if you’re someone like me, who doesn’t have basic cable, I’m frequently livestreaming news and events online. According to Go-Global, by 2020, live streaming is expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic. If you want your news or event to reach more people, you have to make it accessible online. But, where do you even begin?

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
  • Utilize livestreaming tools: Thanks to live video broadcast tools available today, you don't need any fancy equipment to broadcast live video. As long as you have a working camera and microphone built in to your computer or smartphone, you’re smooth sailing. Consider social channels like YouTube Live or Facebook Live, as well as tools such as Wirecast and Restream.io, where you can broadcast to multiple streaming platforms simultaneously.
  • Set the stage: Before going live, pick an optimal location from which you’ll broadcast your stream. Identify a location with the best lighting and avoid backlighting your subject. If outside, be mindful of the sun’s glare, which can make your live cast hard to see.
  • Practice makes perfect: To alleviate some of the stress of going live, preparation is key. Find time to rehearse and test everything before going live – from your equipment to the Wi-Fi connection. You can even run a test before you go live to make sure everything is working well and that you understand the controls of the live stream tool you’re using.
  • Spread the word: Market your livecast ahead of time by promoting on social media leading up to your event. Let your followers know the specific time and place you will be going live. And, don’t forget to record your live show so anyone who misses it can catch up later.
  • Be creative: Find ways to weave in graphics, audio or video files. For example, a clock indicating event time remaining, or a simple graphic to identify a speaker. Tools like Wirecast allow you to add backgrounds, graphics, screen captures, video files and more during your live stream. You can even add remote broadcasters to join the conversation as well!
  • Interact with your audience: One of the benefits of livecasting is that you can get real-time feedback from your followers. According to Facebook Live, users spend more than 3x more time and comment 10x more when the video is live. Bring the audience into the broadcast and interact with them by reading and answering comments.
     Not only is live casting cost-effective, but it’s highly engaging and authentic as well. Following these simple steps will help you live cast like a pro!