Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Insomnia Awareness Night Drives Conversation and Awareness

Insomnia Awareness Night is held on the Monday nearest the summer solstice to drive conversation and awareness about chronic insomnia. On Monday, June 22, our team organized several online events for the observance, which is organized by our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) along with the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM) and AmericanAlliance for Healthy Sleep (AAHS). Online activities included:
  • Facebook Live – We started the night off with a Facebook Live from 9:30 – 10 p.m. ET. Influencer Kelly Olexa acted as host for the event, interviewing AASM’s sleep expert Dr. Emerson Wickwire in a Q & A format on her page, www.facebook.com/thekellyoshow.
  • Twitter Chat – Next up was a Twitter Chat from 10 – 11 p.m. ET with Dr. Deirdre Conroy behind the AASM Twitter handle, Dr. Jade Wu as expert on the SBSM account and Kelly Olexa serving as moderator. In addition, the AAHS joined to provide patient perspectives on insomnia, along with many others who chimed in with questions and thoughts on the disease using #InsomniaNight.
  • Reddit AMA – The night wrapped up with an hour-long Reddit AMA. From 11 p.m. to midnight ET, clinical sleep specialist and AASM board of directors’ member Dr. Jennifer Martin hosted an AMA to answer a wide range of insomnia questions. The AMA received a “Moderator’s Choice Award,” meaning the conversation was of top interest to many Redditors.
In addition to the scheduled social media events, our team created content for all social channels, including Instagram story posts, to help inform audiences about insomnia throughout the night. Combined with our media outreach efforts, the Insomnia Awareness Night campaign was a success, garnering more than 136 million impressions and engaging many patients and healthcare providers.

To learn more about Insomnia Awareness Night and to find resources on healthy sleep, visit http://sleepeducation.org/insomnia-awareness-night.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Monte Nido Brings Eating Disorder Recovery to Chicagoland

This spring, our team was tasked with driving media coverage for client, Monte Nido & Affiliates, which was entering the Chicagoland market for the first time with two new residential eating disorder facilities. Little did we know, the openings would occur just a
s focus shifted to a global health pandemic.

With our initial, pre-coronavirus pitching, we landed coverage in major outlets like Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, Daily Herald and WBIG-AM.

Then the coronavirus outbreak drastically changed not only our everyday lives, but the healthcare media landscape. The news cycle was focused on covering COVID-19 around the clock. We had to get creative and shift our pitching strategy. We dug in and did research, and learned about the unique impact that quarantine and stay-at-home orders were having on people with eating disorders, especially adolescents who had lost their regular routine of attending school and activities.

For the opening of Clementine Naperville in June, which offers programming for girls ages 11 to 17, we focused on the impact coronavirus was having on adolescents with eating disorders, and tied in the new resource that would soon be available in the area. This pitch resulted in coverage from WFLD-TV (Fox Chicago), Daily Herald, Glancer Magazine, Naperville Sun and in an upcoming issue of Chicago Parent.

In total, we generated 12 stories that led to almost 16 million impressions, far surpassing our original goal of 5-6 placements. This is a great reminder of why it’s so important for PR pros to make sure stories have a tie to current events when working with the media.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Urgent Care Strong During COVID-19

Every day continues to bring more coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, from breaking news of the latest developments to many stories of fear and uncertainty. However, amidst all the noise, it can be easy to miss out on some of the more positive news updates that are still occurring in light of the unprecedented situation.

During the past few months, the LCWA health team worked closely with our client the Urgent Care Association (UCA) to recognize the monumental efforts of urgent care centers on the front lines of the pandemic and the positive impact they are making in their communities across the country.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Reyes, Victory Medical

From communities uniting to aid with PPE shortages to urgent care staff going above and beyond to ensure the safety of their patients, our team set out to tell these inspiring stories through local media outreach. Below are a few pieces that we were able to generate from Austin to New York. 

Make-A-Mask Initiative Draws National Support for Austin Healthcare Workers

In response to significant PPE shortages, UCA member center Victory Medical took matters into their own hands. After calling upon their community to help sew handmade masks and starting a “Make-A-Mask” Facebook group that went viral soon after, thousands of donated masks from across the country were distributed to smaller private practices and urgent cares in Austin to augment the short supply. You can watch this coverage from Austin’s KXAN-TV (NBC) and KVUE-TV (ABC) to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Chrysa Charno, AcuteKids PediatricUrgent Care
Local University Pitches in to Create 3D Face Shields in New York
After UCA member Acute Kids Urgent Care in Webster, N.Y. found themselves desperate for PPE to keep young patients and their parents safe, they partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to create face shields for the medical personnel. The team at RIT’s Center for Additive Manufacturing and Multifunctional Printing (AM Print Center) went to work creating 3D printed facemasks for the Acute Kids practice. You can watch this inspiring story via Rochester’s WHAM-TV (ABC).

UCA continues to advocate on behalf of all urgent care centers nationwide about the important role they play in the healthcare continuum. Together, they embody #UrgentCareStrong.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Striving for a More Diverse PR Community

During the last few weeks, LCWA has been focused on helping our clients communicate with their audiences around the racial inequality issues facing our country. At the same time, we’ve engaged in many discussions about how LCWA can contribute to this movement in a meaningful way. We believe in equality and inclusion. As an agency with little diversity, we know it’s important that we listen and learn. We are grateful for the guidance of our industry’s Black voices for creating this Call to Action, which provides recommended steps to improve diversity in PR and advertising. We’ve also been talking to our peer agencies in Public Relations Global Network and engaged with the PR Council for input and ideas.

We are committed to taking steps to improve Black representation within our industry, as well as our agency. We are starting an ongoing Diversity and Inclusion Committee to help us identify actionable, measurable ways we can make an impact. The committee will begin by focusing on two main areas:
  • Education. The topics of systemic racism and implicit bias are uncomfortable, but important. We will actively plan and seek ways for our leadership and staff to learn more on these topics.
  • Recruitment. We will explore ways to encourage more people of color to consider and enter our industry. We will also examine what we can do to our own recruitment and hiring processes to attract diverse talent.
We know that this is just part of the solution. Our team is committed to implementing real change in our industry for the long-term. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

LCWA Named Top Three in Home, Top Ten in Chicago

A valuable measure of our firm’s growth in the industry, we are proud to be a part of the O’Dwyer’s PR agency rankings. We were once again recognized for our category
specialization, as well as named a leader in the city we call home.

3 in Home and Housewares. A specialty of LCWA for 30 years and counting, we are proud to be among the top agencies focusing on the home and housewares category.

10 in Chicago. A testament to our valuable local connections and breadth of work, LCWA was ranked in the top 10 of independent PR firms in Chicago.

31 in Food and Beverages. Another passion of the team at LCWA, we love working in the food and beverage category.

41 in Healthcare. More important now than ever, we are proud to serve our various clients in the healthcare industry making an impact and raising awareness through times of newfound challenges.

We extend a warm congratulations to all of our peers also earning a spot on the O’Dwyers lists­ – especially our PRGN network partners at Landis Communications in San Francisco, Buchanan PR in Philadelphia, the Hoyt Organization in L.A., Bianchi Public Relations in Detroit and Novitas Communications in Denver. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

How to Make the Most of an Internship, Even During a Pandemic

Taking on an internship is a great opportunity to get a feel for a company or industry early in your career. Nothing can replace real-world experience! But when disruptions occur, such as our current global pandemic, flexibility will become your greatest asset. As an intern, it’s your job to be curious. Transitioning your internship from in-office to remote is a great opportunity to build skills and demonstrate your commitment to growth despite unpredictable events.

While you might not be in the office to ask questions or join team meetings, there are important strategies you can embrace to stay connected, inquisitive and engaged.

Stay Organized, Stay Engaged.
Working from home can be challenging when you haven’t done it before. Staying organized is the first step to staying on top of project deadlines and demonstrating the ability to manage time. Take 10 minutes each morning to map out your day; prioritize your tasks, establish goals and block off time for meetings or webinars. By staying organized, you will be more efficient and more engaged in day-to-day tasks.

Create and Stick-to a Routine.
Going from commuting every day to working in your living room is a significant transition. However, taking the time to get ready as if you still are going to the office is key. Go for a morning walk, make your coffee and put on a new outfit. Learning how to work on a nine to five schedule solo is just as important as clocking in. Sticking to a normal routine will help you stay refreshed and focused.

Build Virtual Relationships with Coworkers.
Just because you can’t chat with coworkers in person doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. Using online tools, like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or Zoom, is a great way to maintain a sense of informal communication outside of email. As an intern, you are likely one of the newest staff members. Joining virtual staff events, like Zoom happy hours, are a fun way to get to know your coworkers and talk about things outside of work. For professional development, schedule a weekly touch-base meeting with your mentor or advisor. This is a great way to check-in on projects, goals and questions during your internship

Embrace Uncertainty.
Displaying flexibility and enthusiasm will keep you on track to successfully completing your internship. Embrace the opportunity to learn new skills remotely, especially in the digital age. Adapting to a new work environment with a positive attitude demonstrates commitment and dedication to your projects, clients and coworkers. After all, this is a new experience for everyone.

Yes, And...
While your workflow may be unpredictable as the economy fluctuates, let your team and mentor know you are ready to tackle new projects. Every new assignment is an opportunity to learn about a client, an opportunity to work with new staff members and to develop new skills. Saying “yes,” even if the assignment is out of your comfort zone, will help determine your strengths and weaknesses.

While navigating uncertain times during your internship, remind yourself that with the right attitude you can grow, learn and leave a lasting impression. Especially in public relations, adapting to crisis is part of the job. Embrace new challenges during your internship and stay enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Writing During COVID-19

Navigating the present coronavirus crisis means working through the unknown every single day. Part of our jobs as PR professionals is to anticipate the unexpected and prepare appropriate messaging for the given context, but how do we ensure our focus remains on problem solving and not selling during a crisis? How do we manage existing campaigns without being insensitive, and how do we respond to a negative situation appropriately, all while remaining ‘on-brand’?

These were all questions running through my mind before I had the pleasure of remotely attending a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) webinar featuring Ann Wylie of Wylie Communications on tips for PR writing during a crisis. Below are a few of my favorite takeaways on how to write effectively during COVID-19 (or any crisis):

Write with compassion.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are writing for. Make sure the tone is appropriate for the context of the occasion and audience and does not come off as insensitive. Think about it this way—it’s not about ME, it’s about WE. Read over your work and count the ratios of I/You, Me/We to ensure the focus is on the audience.

Write confidently.
During a crisis, it is especially important to communicate early and communicate often. Being proactive instead of reactive can help unify your message and show ownership and understanding of the situation. It’s okay to say you don’t know something instead of not addressing it at all – silence can be misinterpreted. Just make sure you have the credibility, authority and stakeholder permission to say what you’re saying.

Write clearly.
Everyone is stressed right now. Nobody has the time or attention span to read a dense article amidst the constant steam of COVID-19 news right now, especially those on the frontlines. A good rule of thumb in life and in writing is to simply get to the point. Cut through the clutter by streamlining sentences and paragraphs. Pro tip: The ‘sweet spot’ for sentence understanding is 14 words. Try Microsoft Word’s Readability Statistics feature for helpful info on the readability and clarity of your content.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, remember to be compassionate in your work. The most important thing in as communicators in a crisis is to be there to support your clients’ needs. We are all in this together!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Finding Unity Amidst Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented sentiment of unity within Chicago, across the country and around the globe. One member of our team, group manager Lindsey Lucenta, is making an impact in her neighborhood during this time of crisis, with a vision that far exceeds the scope and reach of the virus itself.

Q: How did you get involved with the Chicago mutual aid effort?
In mid-March, I reached out to offer my time by filling out an online form to volunteer with a newly started Chicago mutual aid network. There were over 400 people in my neighborhood, Logan Square, who also offered to lend a hand. Given this massive interest, we created the hyper-local Logan Square Mutual Aid. In less than two months, we are now part of a city-wide mutual aid effort, organized neighborhood by neighborhood. With a ‘neighbor-helping-neighbor’ mentality, we are building an infrastructure that encourages community members to play a role in fulfilling the essential needs created during the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent shelter-in-place orders.

Q: What is the goal of your chapter?
To help people who are struggling during COVID. We focus on helping the vulnerable – the elderly, the disabled, those with immuno-deficiencies. Given this wide-reaching scope, we have several teams which each focusing on specific community needs – including food, healthcare and social work, to name a few. Everything from helping individuals get groceries, to offering legal services to those who need assistance as tenants.

Q: What does your specific role look like?
I’m the food distribution coordinator. My role is to oversee local business outreach to secure donations, track inventory, train volunteers, and coordinate delivery of food boxes to individual and families. Primarily, we’re collecting food during the week, then distributing on the weekends. We recently secured a storage space with refrigerators and tables (a big win!), and a few Chicago alderman have donated PPE to ensure we follow safety protocol. As we grow, we plan to equip our space to handle larger donations and more food deliveries.

 Q: Who did you turn to for best practices on sanitation and facility health?
We’ve partnered with Food Not Bombs, an organization that works with the food service industry to collect what would otherwise be wasted food. However, as many restaurants have closed, their normal supply chain has been cut off. So we have been collaborating on best practices to secure large-scale or ongoing food donations from Chicago businesses and residents. I volunteered with them to learn their processes for sanitization, food packaging and delivery During the pandemic, constant cleaning of supplies and hand washing is essential. And, thanks to our collaboration, we were able to secure the aforementioned storage space.

Q: How have you seen the ‘neighbor-helping-neighbor’ concept come to life?
It’s really a concept of ‘solidarity, not charity,’ which is the cornerstone of the mutual aid movement. Some of the core values that we model our structure on are engagement, transparency and self-determination. For example, we have neighbors who are receiving groceries each week due to economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Simultaneously, these same individuals also have cars or bikes and have volunteered their time and vehicles to deliver groceries. We have had hundreds of individuals who have offered to buy groceries for their neighbors out of their own pocket. We’re now obtaining the funds to pay them back, but the selflessness and graciousness has been so inspirational.

Q: What is the vision for Logan Square Mutual Aid looking past the pandemic?
I definitely see our organization evolving to meet community needs. Even after the virus is no longer an immediate threat, the economic effect is going to be residual. I am honored to be surrounded by so many intelligent, passionate people who are working together to build a grassroots, community-driven organization that directly serves our neighborhood.

Thank you for all you do, both for your community and LCWA! We’re excited to see our team making an impact.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Home Is Where the Heart Is: Tips for Effectively (and Sensitively) Courting Consumers in the COVID-19 Era

This article was first published on Furniture World

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has ignited increased interest among consumers in their homes. As most of us are spending much more time at home, we are seeing and experiencing our homes in news ways and finding ourselves with extra time to tackle improvements from DIY projects to major renovations. With that in mind, now is an ideal time to position relevant brands in front of a captive and eager audience with home-focused content.  

When it comes to brand marketing and public relations, however, it’s no longer business as usual. The consumer mindset has changed drastically, requiring brands to revisit messaging and re-think their communications strategies to adapt to the new and evolving environment in which we find ourselves living.  

In our work with many of today’s top home brands, we are helping them to navigate and adjust, as needed, to changes in the marketplace and in consumer lifestyles. Following are some insights and approaches that we have found to be effective for keeping home brands relevant and top-of-mind during this uncertain and unpredictable time: 

  • Position Brands for a New Way of Living – Focus on projects that help to make quarantine living more comfortable and enjoyable – everything from design and d├ęcor to organization, cleaning, safety and sanitation. Weave products into emerging lifestyle trends, such as segmenting home spaces in creative ways to accommodate working from home, inspiring new ways to cook or workout at home to keep things fresh and fun, and ideas for games or other activities to help keep family members entertained, occupied and safe.  

  • Instill Confidence – Share ideas for simple, cost-effective upgrades that add value to a home and that consumers can tackle confidently without needing a lot of expertise or assistance. When possible, provide video or step-by-step guidance to help DIYers approach projects knowledgeably and confidently. 

  • Pitch New Channels  Once a cumbersome and expensive endeavor, TV exposure is now easier to coordinate no matter where your spokesperson and influencers are located thanks to Zoom, Skype and other video conferencing services. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, local and national stations alike have turned to remote reporting so it’s still possible – and actually easier – to book segments (both live and taped) or conduct virtual media toursIt’s also a great time to explore online media outlets, as well as home-focused blogs and influencers you may not have previously targeted. 

  • Update Social Media Presence and Content  Consumers are spending much more time these days on their computers and mobile devices, making it crucial for brands to find ways to engage customers via social media and other online channels. Depending on the brand or service offering, aim to provide information that can help people stay healthy mentally, physically and financially. Maintain authenticity and review all content through a hyper-sensitive lens. 

  • Drive Online Sales Opportunities – During these times of social distancing, businesses and consumers are relying more than ever on e-commerce. Successful brands will be those that make it easy for consumers to find, select, purchase and receive products and services. Work with clients to optimize online ordering, offer virtual appointments and sales calls to replace on-site visits, and update websites to add home or curbside deliveriesDoing so may require an investment in new systems and technologies – but the dividends will be worth it in the long run. 

As we continue to traverse a rapidly changing landscape, brand communications and marketing efforts will require careful and continual refinement. Take time to audit key messaging for sensitivity and make updates as needed. Ensure that all key stakeholders are updated and aligned with any changes and communicating consistently and with one brand voice. 

While these are certainly challenging times for everyone, brands in the home arena are facing a unique opportunity to reach consumers and reinforce their relevance. By identifying the right messages and implementing smart, sensitive tactics, savvy marketers can positively position their brands and businesses for success in both the short- and long-term.