Wednesday, December 9, 2020

2020: Media Monitoring to Drive Business Direction

Media relations remains a key offering at LCWA. Over the years we have keenly observed and adapted to the changing media landscape and the many technologies that allow us to track media coverage from all over the world. Long gone are the days of receiving hand-cut paper clippings, as we did when I started my career. My, how times have changed!

Times changed again dramatically this year. As extensions of our clients’ internal brand and marketing teams, we were called upon not only to maintain our media monitoring and social listening, but also to observe and report on the pandemic and its potential effects on clients’ business operations. COVID-19 has disrupted personal and professional lives, of course, and it also has taken its toll on supply chains and staffing, requiring large and small companies alike to pay attention to data like never before.

  • How many hospital beds are available in the location where a major client facility processes orders?
  • Will the local, state or federal government shut down activity where our client’s factory is located?
  • Can people travel to/from a particular region?
  • How will local shutdowns affect restaurants, events and destinations relevant to our clients and audiences? 

Thanks to extensive resources – including local departments of public health, major media coverage, universities and our own Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners on the ground, we have been able to deliver extremely meaningful reports to clients as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis and pivot operations accordingly.

This level of information has been of the utmost importance to leadership and operations teams as they determine business strategies, and the LCWA team is thankful for its ability to play a role in this effort.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

As Seen on @bookswithgail – A New Perspective on Influencer Marketing

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. A typical week for me includes reading anywhere between two to five books, so I frequently receive requests for book recommendations from those around me and happily oblige in sharing my favorites. Over the summer, as quarantine boredom hit an all-time high, I decided on a whim to create an Instagram account dedicated to sharing my book reviews. I named it “@bookswithgail” and figured a handful of friends and family members would be interested in following the account for a convenient way to find new reads. When I created the account, I never imagined it would grow to have a following of more than 2,600 bookworms in just four months. 

Managing @bookswithgail has become a hobby that I am so passionate about. Along with reaching thousands of followers, I’ve received dozens of books gifted by publishers, and even started a book club (virtually for now, of course) with some amazing fellow “bookstagrammers” in Chicagoland. The account has not only allowed me to connect with other book lovers, but also with some of my favorite authors. Many authors love connecting with readers over social media and will often comment on and share my posts about their books, which has been a huge highlight of the experience.

As an assistant account executive at LCWA, I love working with influencers for our clients. Running my book Instagram has afforded me valuable insight into the “other side” of influencer marketing. Usually, I’m the publicist reaching out to influencers with whom we want to partner. But now – thanks to @bookswithgail – I get to play both roles and I’m also on the receiving end of those requests, working with publishing houses to review books and post about them before they’re published.

Running @bookswithgail provided me with a fun, creative outlet during a global pandemic, and it’s also given me unique insights into influencer relations. Getting to experience the partnerships from both sides has made me better both as a PR professional and as a book reviewer. I look forward to continuing to use this experience as a “boots-on-the-ground” way to improve influencer programs I work on in the future! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

AASM Experts Say Seasonal Time Changes are Losing Favor

On November 2 we turned our clocks back one-hour, signaling the end of daylight saving
time. While most of us are accustomed to the biannual time change, evidence suggests there are downfalls to the ritual of “springing forward and falling back.” Which is why in September and October, we helped our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) bring awareness to their position statement which supports eliminating seasonal time changes for the benefit of public health and safety. The position statement outlined the various effects of time changes, which range from increased risk of stroke and hospital admissions to sleep loss and more, arguing that standard time more closely aligns with the daily rhythms of the body’s internal clock.

To drive attention to the AASM’s statement, LCWA drafted a pitch with highlighted results from the AASM’s July 2020 survey, which found that a majority of Americans (63%) are also in support of the elimination of seasonal time changes in favor of a national, fixed, year-round time.

The pitch also touted that the AASM’s statement has been endorsed by more than 20 organizations including the National Safety Council (NSC), the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the World Sleep Society. Legislators have come out in support of a fixed, year-round time in recent months, including Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who recently introduced a bill to keep daylight saving time in place through the fall of 2021. The bill has been placed on the Senate calendar and remains a timely and attention-grabbing angle as the AASM’s statement continues to gain traction.

LCWA distributed the pitch via Newswise and pitched the AASM’s statement to national consumer and health media. As a result of our direct-to-editor outreach, we secured high-impact interviews for key AASM spokespeople with the Washington Post and Healio.

The statement received extensive national coverage, generating more than 280 million impressions. Notable placements included: 


o   Inside Edition, Medscape, CNN, CNET, Chicago Tribune, Smithsonian Magazine, Associations Now, Bustle, Vice, Business Insider, Healthline, Prevention, USA Today, HealthDay, Vox, Everyday Health and WebMD.


o   St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Kansas City Star and The Des Moines Register.


o   HLN, WJBK, KTTV, CBS Sacramento, WGN and Good Morning America.


o   KYW-AM, WLS-AM, KPLA-FM and AM 900 Hamilton's News Talk Leader (CHML).

These results show that the debate for/against seasonal time changes continues to be a hot topic of interest for the media and American public.

Monday, November 2, 2020

L.C. Williams & Associates (LCWA) Earns Spot on Forbes’ Inaugural “America’s Best PR Agencies 2021” List

CHICAGO (Nov. 2, 2020) – Chicago PR agency L.C. Williams & Associates (LCWA) has been named to Forbes’ first-ever ranking of the 200 best public relations agencies in America. LCWA is a mid-sized communications and digital marketing firm with specialties in home and housewares, healthcare, B2B communications and food and beverage.

In partnership with market research firm Statista, Forbes identified the best PR firms in America through a survey of more than 12,700 experts and 20,500 customers who nominated more than 5,000 firms. Click here to see the full list.

“We are honored to be included in this inaugural list from Forbes, which was created with input from industry experts and actual customers,” said Kim Blazek Dahlborn, president and CEO of LCWA. “Reputation is such an important factor in our business. We are thrilled that our happy clients continue to spread the word about LCWA’s high-quality work and meaningful results.”

LCWA shares this honor with eight of its Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) PR affiliates: Three Box Strategic Communications (Dallas), The Castle Group (Boston), Landis Communications Inc. (San Francisco), The Hoyt Organization (Los Angeles), The Conroy Martinez Group (Miami), S&A Communications (North Carolina), Buchanan Public Relations (Philadelphia) and The Fearey Group (Seattle). PRGN is a leading network of more than 50 hand-selected public relations firms servicing key markets around the world.

In making the announcement, Forbes commented: “As public relations professionals look to navigate their clients through an uncertain, volatile and noisy year. . . PR agencies have increasingly sought to integrate with their clients to provide new types of information that help with both external and internal communications.”

For more information, visit, or follow LCWA Team on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About L.C. Williams & Associates (LCWA)

L.C. Williams & Associates is a mid-sized Chicago PR Firm. Founded in 1985, the company provides a full range of services including brand building, media relations, social media, influencer outreach and grassroots marketing. LCWA is one of the top 75 independent PR firms in the country and one of the top ten in Chicago, according to O’Dwyer’s list of national, independent PR firms. It also is ranked as one of the top three agencies specializing in home products public relations, in the top 35 of agencies working in food and beverages, and the top 45 of agencies working in healthcare public relations.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Driving Awareness for Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month

In September, we helped our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) celebrate Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month to drive awareness for this serious lung disease affecting more than 200,000 Americans. This year presented a particularly difficult media environment, with health coverage focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, but our team found creative ways to cut through the clutter.

News Coverage

To kick off the month, we distributed feature articles to media in both English and Spanish. We also sent out a press release about the common myths and misconceptions surrounding pulmonary fibrosis (PF) causes, treatments, diagnoses and more. News coverage generated more than 400M impressions.

Radio Media Tour

PFF medical expert Dr. Sonye Danoff got the word out nationally in a series of radio interviews. She described the symptoms and risk factors of PF and encouraged listeners to discuss the disease with their physicians. Dr. Danoff completed 17 interviews, totaling 473 segment airings with more than 29M impressions.

Web Blitz

For additional coverage, we submitted articles by the PF medical team and patients to national websites, generating more than 21M impressions. Sample articles included:

  • PFF Ambassador Melissa Wheeler shared her first-hand experience with PF and her lung transplant journey. She also encouraged women to be their own advocates and speak to their doctors.
  • Patient’s Lounge – PFF Ambassador Fred Schick discussed his unexpected PF diagnosis, as well as symptoms and risk factors to look out for.
  • Thrive Global – PFF’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gregory Cosgrove discussed key signs and symptoms of PF, along with how to get involved during PFAM.
  • Vocal Media – PFF Medical Expert Dr. Joyce S. Lee defined PF and highlighted available treatments.
  • – PFF Medical Expert Dr. Sonye Danoff shared important facts about PF and ways to spread the word in September.

Digital Ad Campaign

To amplify our messaging even further, a digital ad campaign in both English and Spanish reached key at-risk and general awareness audiences. The ads – both in text and video formats – highlighted PF myths, symptoms and risk factors, as well as portraits of PFF ambassadors to raise awareness and fundraising efforts. The digital ad campaign significantly drove clicks to and, garnering 24,000 clicks and nearly 2M impressions across Facebook and banner ads.

Despite a unique news cycle, we were still able to increase awareness of PF during this important month. To learn more about PF, visit  

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Inaugural Student Sleep Health Week Paves the Way for Student Success

From September 14 to 20, the LCWA healthcare PR team helped the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) hold the inaugural Student Sleep Health Week. Amidst a back-to-school season unlike any other, the observance amplified critical messaging surrounding student sleep health, powered by expert spokespersons, influencers, partner organizations – and even Congress!

We kicked off the campaign by obtaining newsworthy statistics with a survey of 2,000 adults across the U.S. In the survey, over half (57%) of parents of school-age children said that they have a child or teen who does not get enough sleep on school nights. This stat, and others from the survey, were highlighted on the Student Sleep Health Week landing page and throughout content.

To widen the campaign’s reach, we coordinated outreach to other organizations which have stakeholders in the student health and wellness arena. Signing on to support the week were American School Counselor AssociationAmerican School Health AssociationNational Association of School NursesNational PTANational Safety CouncilProject SleepSociety for Health and Physical Educators, and Sleep Research SocietyPartners, along with state and county health departments, were provided toolkits including press releases, custom social media content and graphics, and copy for newsletters and websites.

A press release highlighting the stats drove editorial media coverage, including The Houston ChronicleThe Herald News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. We also placed byline articles by experts across a range of thought-leadership media outlets, including MediumThriveGlobal and ScaryMommy.

To drive the buzz on social media, we had partnerships with 16 online influencers, who drove conversations about the benefits of student sleep with content on FacebookInstagramTikTokYouTube and blogsInstagram Live interviews also drove buzz and covered a range of topics related to student sleep, from the benefits of melatonin to the importance of a consistent bed and waketime.

This first Student Sleep Health Week will become a first annual -- Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Rodney Davis introduced House Resolution 1103 to support that National Student Sleep Health Week be held annually during the third week of September.

We look forward to working with the AASM to continue holding Student Sleep Health Week for years to come!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Be Ready for the Unexpected This Fire Prevention Month

While our client First Alert, the most trusted brand in fire safety, works hard year-round to educate others about the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) safety, First Alert’s mission becomes increasingly important come Fire Prevention Month in October. Throughout the month, fire departments, nonprofit organizations and other safety advocate come together to educate the public about the importance of whole home safety.

The First Alert brand and PR team uses the month of October as an opportunity to push First Alert’s smoke and CO safety messages to the media and consumers alike. We work hard to saturate the media in a variety of ways to deliver helpful and informative safety tips to people across the country.

Media Relations  

As a first step toward educating the public about the importance of being prepared for the unexpected this Fire Prevention Month, we issued a multi-media press release in both English and Spanish to complement a bilingual broadcast media tour. In addition to the press release, the team also distributed a syndicated feature story to coincide with Fire Prevention Week but that includes tips to generate interest throughout the fall. Both releases underscore the importance of whole home safety as we continue to spend more time at home, and encourages readers to create an emergency preparedness plan with their family.


October is an equally busy time for many of our non-profit partners and media partners. Beginning in late September and throughout October a variety of initiatives – many virtual – extend our whole home safety messaging to audiences of all ages. Local media campaigns with TV and radio stations reach audiences however they obtain content. And this year more than ever our local partnerships have proven that creativity wins. The Aurora Regional Fire Museum, DuPage Children’s Museum and other Chicagoland organizations have worked with us to create and share content with their audiences.

Celebrity PSA

A cornerstone of First Alert’s Fire Prevention Month campaign is a celebrity PSA intended to remind Americans to talk to their families about fire safety and take key steps to help protect what matters most. Actor Taylor Kinney, who plays a firefighter on television, as entered millions of households with his compelling safety message.

To learn more about First Alert and the importance of fire safety, check out

Friday, September 11, 2020

LCWA Honored by PRSA Chicago and PCC

Like everything else, awards season looked quite different this year. But Chicago’s
community is creative and resilient, and we were proud to gather with our peers at two amazing virtual events. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Chicago conducted its annual Skyline event earlier this summer, and the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) held its Golden Trumpet Awards last night. Adding to the fun? Winning some awards for our great client work! We were lauded for three campaigns:

Thank you to these organizations for recognizing our efforts, and to our teams and client partners for striving for excellence every day!

Friday, August 28, 2020

‘Tis (Always) the Season for Pitching

We all know the goal for PR pros is to keep our clients top of mind with reporters and editors, but it’s not as simple as blasting a general pitch every couple of weeks to the same media list. Planning is vital to successful pitching – and a year-round seasonal pitching schedule is an essential component of a successful media relations program. Having a well thought out calendar of when to pitch, what to pitch and how to pitch is very effective, and will help set you and your client up as a go-to resource for editors.

Here are a few tips to help you launch a seasonal pitching program:

What to pitch
The goal is to have relevant and timely pitches strategically planned throughout the entire year. Magazine editorial calendars, typically found in the media kit or advertising section on the publisher’s website, list topics that will be covered in each issue and can act as a guide to crafting targeted pitches. Take note of any key focus points, like trade shows, product launches or events that will require media outreach. Finally, take a look at seasonal opportunities including other recognition months and days, holidays and important times of the year for your client’s brand or products.

When to pitch
Depending on the type of media outlet you’re pitching, your lead time could range from days to weeks to even months in advance. Make note of magazines editorial deadlines, then backtrack a few weeks on your own calendar. While lead times vary by publication and writer, as a general rule of thumb, our agency sticks to long lead times when pitching media. Here’s an example: 
  • Magazines: 5-6 months in advance
  • Regional magazines: 3-4 months in advance
  • Newspapers: 4-6 weeks in advance
  • Online: 2-4 weeks in advance
Whom to pitch
It’s important to prioritize media opportunities. If you work through all your valuable pitching opportunities for the year, you’re bound to see some overlap. Take into consideration your goals for media coverage for the year – whether it be national magazines, regional or local coverage – and prioritize media opportunities based on the best fit for your client’s news or product.

Seasonal pitching calendars can be a valuable roadmap to year-round media placements. Keep these tips in mind while building out your calendar and you’ll have great media opportunities and placements to share with your client in no time! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

DAP Platinum Patch Earns Feature in Better Homes & Gardens

Receiving inclusion for a client’s product in award programs or round-ups from key media outlets can greatly influence your efforts in driving awareness for a product, as well as sales. Back in January, our team worked to secure interest from Better Homes & Gardens in DAP Platinum Patch™ Advanced Exterior Filler. The home product was recently featured in the “On Our Radar” round-up of the national home improvement magazine’s Fall DIY issue, reaching millions of potential consumers. 
Better Homes & Gardens expressed many of Platinum Patch’s key benefits, as it noted, “Ideal for exterior repairs, this paintable patch requires no messy mixing. The weatherproof compound is strong like an epoxy but quick-setting like a putty. Two-hour drying time and water cleanup make it easy to fix almost any surface.” Our team is proud to have helped our client claim this national recognition with one of the most well-known magazines in the home arena.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Five Tips for Pitching Media during COVID-19

There is virtually no industry or business activity that has not been impacted by COVID-19 in some way, and media relations is no different. With the global news cycle focused on the pandemic, the COVID era is challenging and changing the way PR pros engage with journalists. Over the past several months, our team has had to continually adapt our outreach approaches to effectively and sensitively support our clients. 

Here are five tips we’ve found for cutting through COVID to keep clients and brands top-of-mind with media.
  1. Do your research. Even before our “new normal,” this was arguably the most important pitching tactic. With shrinking newsroom staffs, many reporters have transitioned to other beats and some sections are not being published as regularly as they once were. Before reaching out, be sure to double check what journalists are covering, even those you may know well. Follow newspapers closely to understand the extent and frequency of coverage and plan outreach according to the current cycle for that beat. 
  2. Check schedules. As newspapers and magazines adjust to stay afloat, many are publishing less frequently and/or cutting staff hours. Check in with your contacts to stay updated on their current work and publishing schedules. Some newspapers, for example, have reporters working every other week or only on select days.
  3. Keep emails concise. One thing that hasn’t changed is that most journalists prefer email because they are especially crunched for time. With heavier workloads and reduced resources, it’s now more important than ever to adhere to the best pitching practices frequently cited by journalists, such as straightforward subject lines and to-the-point emails with assets that are easy to access.
  4. Offer video interviews. With social distancing protocols, media are looking for experts who can interview via FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. And, this applies to more than just broadcast studios. Many print publications are seeking video interviews as they increase their digital coverage. Be sure to media train interviewees on best practices when conducting a remote interview.
  5. Go local, think global. Locals outlets are especially challenged as they try to maintain advertising and subscription revenues. Local stories and experts are more likely to garner media interest across all types of media. Even better, if you can identify a local angle that connects to or exemplifies a national or global news story, especially COVID, you have a real opportunity to break through the clutter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Key Elements of a Crisis Communications Plan

Today's business landscape is littered with risks of crises and unexpected issues. Should a crisis arise, it’s vital to respond in an accurate, timely and thorough manner.The key to responding well in a crisis is preparation. While most organizations are aware that it’s critical to have a crisis communications plan in place, many often struggle with what to include in the plan.

A crisis communications plan should include several key details, such as protocol to follow and how to respond and communicate appropriately, but also should be kept as simple as possible so it’s easily understandable during a time of crisis. Following are some key elements to include:

  • In-Depth Overview: Introductory materials should outline why the plan was developed and detail best practices for how your organization will handle the situation and how messages are communicated.
  • Crisis Team: Identify and include complete contact information for each member of the crisis team. Then outline the responsibilities of each member. Determine who will collect information, who will field media calls, who will serve as the spokesperson, and who will handle internal communications.
  • Key Messages: Develop some overarching messages about the organization to convey should any crisis occur. These messages should guide your organization’s response to the crisis. Develop no more than three key messages and expand on each message with appropriate supporting facts and statistics.
  • Tactics and Targets: Once messages and talking points are created, establish a communications action plan for reaching key publics. List all possible internal and external target audiences as it’s essential to communicate with any audience that might be touched by the crisis, using a consistent message. Consider adding support materials such as communication checklists, media lists, company policies, fact sheets, news release templates and other important materials in appendices.
  • Outline of Crisis Scenarios: Every crisis plan should include examples of a crisis or incident that would trigger the need to respond. Examples of potential incidents include a natural disaster, lawsuit, cyberattack, violent crime, rumor, health issue or workplace harassment. A plan should include several hypothetical situations, a communication action to respond and key messages and talking points for all stakeholders.
  • Internal Procedures: Determine how employees will receive key messages and how they will be reached during a crisis. Identify who will monitor the crisis so that the course of action can be adjusted as events warrant, as well as to further refine message development and focus communications activities more precisely.

Once a communications plan is complete, be sure to share it with all key executives and crisis team members. Prepare both digital and hard copies so that it’s easy to access quickly if needed. Keep in mind that a crisis plan should change over time. It should be a living document that is tested, re-evaluated and updated as needed. Incorporate the date the document was last edited or in an index that lets reviewers know what section was updated and when.

Incorporating key elements into a quality communications plan ensures your company will be more prepared to effectively handle communications related issues that arise during a crisis and should be a key component of an organization’s overall disaster recovery plan. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Shifting Expertise from Office to Home During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic took its grip on the world in March, office workers suddenly changed to a new “work from home” structure. Our client Boise Paper, which has carved out a social media niche as an expert on “Office Life,” needed to adjust its content and pivot messaging to better appeal to a drastically different workforce.  To achieve this, we worked with them to adjust to timely topics and provide needed advice to workers via its blog and social channels. 
  • Working remotely won’t disappear post-pandemic, so the Boise Paper blog provides a perfect opportunity to provide valuable insight on how to be both productive and happy while working from home. Post topics included getting acquainted with Zoom meetings, how to maintain professional development remotely and ideas for how to build teammate rapport at a distance.
  • On Boise Paper’s social channels, we also shared remote working tips that followers could relate to. Additionally, we bridged the content to highlight community topics of interest during the pandemic. In particular, we drove awareness of Boise Paper’s partner the American Red Cross’s blood donation shortage. We also highlighted employee efforts band together to make masks for employees. The shift in content direction not only highlighted things of interest to followers, but also allowed Boise Paper to support its partners and communities from afar.
Check out Boise Paper’s social pages – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and blog for more career advice – whether you are working from an office or your home!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Global Partners Set the Tone for PR in ‘Era of Responsibility’

There’s no doubt that the public relations industry has faced new challenges during the global pandemic. Whether it be reduced marketing budgets, saturated media landscapes or decreased consumer engagement, PR pros have seized the opportunity to find creative communication solutions while strengthening brand authenticity. To stay up to date while navigating COVID-19 and heightened social activism, we’ve turned to the expertise of our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partners for global trends and insights:
  • As consumers spend more time online, managing clients’ web reputation has never been more important. According to our PRGN partner Toomas Kull of Cabinet PrivĂ© de Conseils, S.A. in Geneva, Switzerland, The Five Pillars of Online Reputation Management point to building cohesive messaging and transparency. Consumers crave authenticity, but it has to be backed up with integrity, and more importantly, with brand action. Adapt content to be timely and reflect a concern for what your audience cares about by listening, staying informed and staying engaged.
  • As states reopen, agencies will begin to revisit in-person event planning. According to Keri McIntosh of The Castle Group in Maui, Hawaii, event planning must place a substantial emphasis on public health and safety. Reinventing the Live Event Experience – Key Considerations for Meeting Planners includes taking significant, transparent precautions to ensure that vendors are vetted and credible, venues are compatible with social distancing and participants are informed. Most importantly, planners must integrate and document COVID-19 protocols into official emergency response planning.
  • In an exploration of Female leadership and PR: What have they in common?, PRGN partners’ Alessandra Malvermi of Sound Public Relations in Milan, Italy, discusses the value of having women in leadership roles within the industry. At a time when empathetic, complex communications are essential, the value of skills that are often owned by women must become central to communications strategy.
  • Going back to the basics might be exactly what your clients’ social feed needs. Canadian PRGN partner’s Ashleigh Cartier of Media Profile in Toronto claims that now It’s Time for a Social Media Marketing Reset. For starters, foster two-way conversations on social media platforms rather than one-way content pipelines. Focus on quality of content rather than quantity. Lastly, think of your social audience as a huge focus group. Listen to what they have to say!
  • Dawn Burke of Cullen Communications in Dublin, Ireland, provides relevant insight on How to communicate in our new era of responsibility. Now is not the time for brands to go silent, but rather to reflect on communication strategy, core values, community engagement and how to build or rebuild public trust. If done right, brands will come out of the pandemic stronger than when they entered it.
Balancing public safety, marketing and credibility to meet the emerging needs of consumers during COVID-19 has placed a larger responsibility on companies to steer conversations and set authentic, progressive standards. We’re proud to have a strong partners in our global network of independent agencies to collaborate with as we navigate newfound public relations challenges and opportunities.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Five Tips to Prepare for a Successful Zoom Interview

The media landscape has shifted significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Instead of in-studio or in-person interviews, virtual interviews using videoconferencing tools like Zoom have become the norm.

To prepare for success, below are five useful tips to make the most out of a virtual video interview:
  • Secure your setting – Pick a quiet, well-lit spot to do the interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral.
  • Prepare your technology – Use a computer if possible, and put your camera at eye-height, using a computer stand or stack of books if needed. Ahead of time, test the lighting to ensure it is not too bright and test the sound. Don’t forget to clean your camera lens, too!
  • Think about appearance and body language – When it comes to what you wear, treat the video interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally. Also, be sure to have good posture but don’t be stiff – hold yourself up and be relaxed! Double check your Zoom username and picture as well to ensure that they are both interview appropriate.
  • Eliminate possible interruptions – If you are interviewing in a space with multiple people or pets, be sure to let everyone in the area know ahead of time that you will be in an interview while securing any distractions away from your interview space. Also, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed and turn off any notifications to prevent sounds during your interview.
  • Practice, practice, practice! – Consider doing a practice interview to test the technology beforehand so that when it’s interview time, you are prepared. Try to look directly at the video camera to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer. One trick here is to center the face of the other person on your screen to be right below your camera.

Keeping these best practices in mind will help you make the most out of any video interview. Check out these recent Zoom interviews we secured on behalf of our clients the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) and Monte Nido & Affiliates:
  • HCPLive – Featuring Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, chief medical officer of the PFF
  • WFLD-TV (FOX, Chicago) – Featuring Melissa Spann, chief clinical officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates (pictured)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

It Might Be Time to Think Small(er)

The current challenges presented by the pandemic have resulted in enormous changes in the way we do business. Companies are reevaluating how they work, reconsidering processes, systems, office spaces, vendors and budgets. This transitional period might be an excellent time to take a closer look at your public relations agency to ensure you are maximizing your budgets and getting the level of services you need and deserve. In other words, it might be time to go small(er)!
A mid-sized, independent agency offers a number of advantages over large, international conglomerates. Some of these pluses include:
  • Senior involvement: At a firm the size of LCWA, you’re guaranteed involvement from senior staff. At larger firms, senior members tend to “preside” over an account, while at smaller, mid-sized firms, senior folks jump right in and help with the actual planning and implementation of programs. The experience, skill set and insights of senior managers could prove invaluable during these unprecedented times. 
  • Flexibility: A smaller, independent firm is also a nimble firm, quick to respond to changing market conditions. Without a cumbersome bureaucracy to slow it down, good things can be accomplished in a shorter period of time.
  • Focused attention: Regardless of your budget, chances are you will be a big fish at a smaller pond (shop). With a shorter client roster, your business will get the attention it deserves. What’s more, your team will have the time to know your business – and industry – inside and out.
  • Global reach: A smaller firm doesn’t necessarily mean a local firm. Many mid-sized agencies offer national services, and also are affiliated with other like-sized firms around the world. This network of agencies will provide your business with diverse resources if needed. LCWA, for example belongs to the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), and works closely with partner agencies throughout the country and around the world on an as-needed-basis.
As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, this might be a good time to consider an independent public relations agency. The advantages listed above might just make it the right decision at the right time.  

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,
  • 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

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.