Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Prescription for Pitching Healthcare Stories

Recently, the LCWA healthcare team participated in a luncheon hosted by the Publicity Club of Chicago entitled, “Rx for Healthcare Media,” where some of Chicago’s leading healthcare journalists discussed how to stand out in Chicago’s competitive healthcare market and gave PR pros insights into working with journalists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel included Scott Becker, publisher of Becker's Healthcare; Katharin Czink, Medical Watch producer at WGN-TV; Lauren Petty, health reporter at NBC; and Kristen Schorsch, reporter at WBEZ.

Photo courtesy of photographer Will Byington
To kick off the program, each panelist introduced themselves and offered some pitching tips for healthcare stories, including:
  • Think real people with human interest angles and patient-focused features (with the exception of Becker’s Healthcare, whose core focus is providers).
  • Personalize pitches and talk to reporters like people. A personal approach is the most effective way to go about placing stories. 
  • Keep all mediums – such as digital and audio – in mind when pitching an NPR affiliate. Think characters and scenes to take people to places.
  • Make sure your pitch is understandable for the audience. Simplify press releases into layman’s terms and avoid using jargon or acronyms with no explanations.
  • Above all, journalists are looking for experts they trust to provide perspective. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Pitches
The media landscape has shifted significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the news cycle is now coronavirus 24/7. With the new normal of a singular focused news cycle, the pandemic is challenging the way we engage in media relations – especially for a number of our clients who are medical associations. During this time, it’s important to be careful in how you tell your story – and evaluate whether this is the right time to be telling it at all.

While NBC and WGN are solely focused on COVID-19, with 4-5 reporters tied to the virus at once, both Petty and Czink stressed that other pitches are still welcome, but to keep in mind these stories will be pushed to a later date, depending on when the pandemic passes the news cycle.

Yet, with all the negative news coverage daily, there are still positive stories to tell. From the healthcare workers on the frontlines to the local distilleries making hand sanitizers to colleges using 3D printing to create face shields. These are the encouraging, hopeful stories that people need to hear at this time.

The partnership between the healthcare industry and journalism has never been more important, and we will continue to work with our clients to arm the public with the information they may need to navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Forging Ahead

The last few weeks have been unlike any others. We are all grappling with the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to disrupt our lives and plans for the foreseeable future. Though stressful, maintaining our work on behalf of clients brings us a sense of normalcy. LCWA service continues uninterrupted for our clients.

Here’s how we’re working through it:

Remote Collaboration. Our team was already adept at working with remote team members, and everyone has adjusted quickly to working from home. We continue to kick off our work week with our 10 a.m. “Buzz Board” meeting on Mondays, which gives us a chance to discuss the week’s news and upcoming events, and the impact they will have on our clients. We are using Zoom and Microsoft Teams to ensure frequent face-to-face meetings, both planned and impromptu. These personal interactions are a bright spot in these long days of social distancing.

Quick Counsel. We always have an eye on the news so that we can be quick with counsel for our clients. We are helping our clients manage their communications during this situation – from changing events and supply chain dilemmas to front line healthcare directives. Every client is affected in different ways, and our account teams know enough about their organizations to offer both insight and action.

The New Reality. We are revising our expectations of target audiences to fit the new way everyone is working and living. The old rules are out the window! B2B audiences need to hear messages in a new way, now that they are working differently. Consumers are focused on meals, education and staying occupied at home. We are helping our clients understand the current situation, and how it impacts their communications plans.

Flexible Programs. “Flexibility” has always been key at LCWA – it’s even included in our mission! And it’s never been more important than it is right now. We are working with our clients to adjust plans for our day-to-day work, as well as for the future. There is a great deal of uncertainty, but we are committed to helping our partners get through this and emerge as strong as possible.

We wish you health and safety as we all navigate this situation. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Making the Most of Working from Home

I've spent a lot of time working remotely, and suddenly, most others in our office are doing the same. While the short commute and lack of distractions are great, it can also be isolating and hard to collaborate. Here are some of my tips for starting a work from home routine that keeps you happy and productive.


  • Stay on schedule. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is maintaining a good work/life balance. It’s very easy for work to creep into morning and night routines, and to feel like you’re always working. First, keep your regular office hours. Also:
    • Don’t sign-in until you have showered and had your coffee or breakfast.
    • Step away for lunch, even if just to another room for a few minutes.
    • Sign off at night and put your computer away
  • Set up a designated work space. Have a spot where you go to work each day. A home office is great but not necessary. You can have a designated seat at the kitchen table, or a certain spot on the couch, where you can spread out your notebooks and papers. At the end of the day, close your computer and leave your things close by, and leave this space. It will give you a good mental break to physically divide "work"      and "not work."
  • Schedule calls and keep in touch. It’s good to have some structure to your day. If you don’t have calls on your schedule, schedule some conversations with teammates. In addition, call others on the team frequently to bounce things off of them, or just touch base on how things are going.
  • Move around. Without trips to the proverbial water cooler or conference room, you end up sitting all day! Get up and move around. Phone calls can be a good chance to move away from the computer. I love wearing my Airpods while I talk, wandering around the house or even outside. 
  • Try not to multitask to much. It’s really tempting to look at email or keep working on a project when you are on a conference call. But since your active calls are few and far between, make sure to be present and really pay attention to them.
  • Keep visitors at bay. Depending on your friends' and family's situations, they may think working from home is the same thing as not working. Communicate that you are working regular hours and keep visits or outings limited to lunchtime or after work, as usual.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Is Springing Forward a Step Backward?


On Sunday morning many Americans had to“spring forward," turning the clock ahead an hour for daylight saving time. Unfortunately, according to an official Health Advisory by our client the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), studies show that moving into or out of daylight saving time has adverse effects on sleep/wake patterns that can last five to seven days. And a recent survey we conducted with theAASM showed that 55% of U.S. adults felt more tired than usual after the spring time change.

In light of these findings, LCWA crafted a press release which detailed the health and safety dangers of the daylight-saving time transition, highlighting this statistic and studies showing other negative health impacts. We conducted outreach to targeted national media outlets, resulting in great media coverage. Read all about it in this article in Wall Street Journal and this article from Refinery29.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Power of Reaching a Multi-Cultural Audience

Multi-cultural marketing is no longer a niche business, as the U.S. consumer market continues to grow in diversity. For instance, one in six Americans claim Hispanic origins. Headquartered in Chicago, the 5th largest city by Hispanic population, LCWA knows the importance of reaching this critical and fastest-growing audience segment.

Our team takes pride in knowing and understanding the local Hispanic media. So, when our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) wanted to highlight a bilingual volunteer, Jose Vazquez, who is a pulmonary fibrosis patient and advocates for more awareness of this serious lung disease,  we knew NBC/Telemundo’s local program “Marcando La Differencia” (“Making a Difference”) would be a perfect fit. For this particular project, we worked with the Telemundo team to tell Jose’s compelling story. The segment aired on both NBC and Telemundo. You can watch the full segment here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Making Marketing Magic for B2B Clients

Creating noteworthy thought leadership pieces for business-to-business clients is an essential part of putting your client at the forefront of meaningful conversations. Content pieces like case studies, research surveys, white papers or insight reports are all great ways to position clients as a leader in any given industry. But what to do after content creation is done? Marketing that content is what really takes a program from good to great. Here are some ways that PR and marketing pros can get the information out to a wider audience and make some marketing magic.
  • A new landing page: Create a new landing page for your content. This allows you to add context to the information and position it specifically for target audiences. It also establishes a link to use as a call-to-action for your ongoing communications.
  • Social advertising: Amplify the new content through social ads – especially LinkedIn. Social ads can be targeted very specifically, so you will be able to hone in on the exact people who you want to see your content. As a primarily business platform, LinkedIn is a perfect option to further market your materials. 
  • Email marketing blasts: Market directly to industry professionals by creating and distributing emails that publicize your client’s content and directs users to your link. Eblasts go right into the inbox of your target audience and are a great way to build some buzz.
  • Digital adsUtilize digital banner ads that appear to consumers based on their recent search activity. Target your intended audience based on interest to get your information in front of the right eyes.
  • Partnerships: Consider partnering with an industry association or influencer to get the content in front of a wider audience. These types of groups often have great advertising and marketing options and are a great way to really make an impact with your new content.
  • Print and deliver: Sometimes it’s best to distribute information the old-fashioned way! Print out great articles and provide them to your sales team to hand-out in meetings or mail them to customers. Seeing your thought-leadership will reinforce your expertise and remind them of all the great things you do!


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Brings PF Awareness to San Antonio

Our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) set record-breaking attendance this year at its biennial PFF Summit, the world’s largest healthcare conference on pulmonary fibrosis (PF), as 950 PF patients, healthcare professionals, caregivers and scientists from around the world convened in San Antonio to advance the care of those living with PF.

To tell the PFF story locally in San Antonio, our health team hit the ground running pitching local health reporters and news desks in the weeks leading up to conference. As part of these efforts, we were able to secure a compelling piece on the local CBS station, KENS-TV, featuring co-chairs of the PFF Summit.

To open the segment, PFF Ambassador and San Antonio resident, Dot Delarosa, shared her PF health journey, offering hope and inspiration to those affected with PF by speaking about her own experiences with this serious lung disease. In addition, local pulmonologist Dr. Anoop Nambiar of UT Health San Antonio, and Dr. Joseph Lasky of Tulane University in New Orleans, shared expert insights on the disease, including risk factors, symptoms and important research in the pipeline.

Click here to watch the full segment, and to learn more about pulmonary fibrosis and the PFF, visit www.AboutPF.org.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Our Go-To Image and Design Resources

Photos and infographics grab user attention much faster and more effectively than text, increasing engagement and receiving more likes, shares and clicks than plain text updates.

In fact, according to a recent report from QuickSprout, content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without relevant images, equating to nearly double the views as content without any visuals.

Anyone can create visually captivating and engaging content for social media, email campaigns, websites and more with the right tools! Here are a few of our go-to, user-friendly image and design resources we utilize around the office nearly every day:

Canva: A start-to-finish design program perfect for non-designers, Canva provides templates and a plethora of stock images for social media platforms, ads, professional documents and print collateral. It’s a simple to navigate platform that makes image creation easy with premade templates, custom image sizes, drag-and-drop interface, cool fonts and more.

Easil: Easil is a drag-and-drop design tool that will have you creating attention-grabbing visual content in no time. With modern, edgy templates for posters, flyers, social media graphics, menus and more, Easil also offers an array of stock images making it a great back-up or alternative to Canva – plus Easily features an easy to use GIF-generator to help mix up social content.

BeFunky: If you are regularly needing some Photoshop capabilities without all the bells and whistle, BeFunky if for you. The platform has three basic functions: photo editing, collage making and graphic design. Each function has easy to use tools allowing you to crop and resize images, retouch portraits, batch edit photos, customize collages and more, in addition to access to over a million free stock images and icons.


ImageColorPicker.com: This is just a great tool to keep bookmarked on your web browser if you’re regularly creating visual content. ImageColorPicker.com allows you to upload images and URL’s to get the color codes – HTML/HEX value, RGB value and HSV value – for any color in the image you select. Using this site to get exact color codes is a lot easier than just eyeballing a match.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

What Happens in Vegas: Highlights from the Trex Booth at IBS 2020

Contrary to popular opinion, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there – especially when you play your PR cards right. With a combination of strategic media outreach, well-timed social content and an in-booth appearance by a special celebrity guest, the LCWA team helped longtime client, Trex Company, hit the jackpot at this year’s International Builder’s Show (IBS).

One of the first major industry events of 2020, IBS proved an ideal platform to set the stage for the year ahead. Trex unveiled a new, experiential booth complete with scenes, settings, sounds – and scents – that evoked the sensations and enjoyment of outdoor living. The impressive exhibit showcased the company’s robust portfolio, including three new collections, and offered a virtual product playground for attending dealers, as well as representatives from 42 different media outlets who accepted our invitation to stop by during IBS to tour the Trex booth.

Through proactive pre-show outreach and long-standing personal relationships, our team booked a record-number of appointments with media that cover outdoor living products and design. Already, these meetings have resulted in coverage by leading trade publications, such as Building Design + Construction, Casual Living, HBS Dealer, LBM Journal and ProSales

We also attracted the largest turnout of editors ever from high-profile consumer media ranging from Architectural Digest and Better Homes & Gardens to Veranda and Wirecutter. We even converted popular DIY blogger (and former composite skeptic), PrettyHandyGirl, into a Trex believer! Additionally, several outlets, including A&E Network, DIY’s “I Want That,” “Today’s Homeowner” and Professional Builder, shot video footage in the booth that will run in the coming weeks and months as we head into outdoor living season.

Beyond attracting a steady flow of influential media and camera crews, LCWA also arranged for Alison Victoria, host of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab,” to make a special appearance in the Trex booth during IBS to greet fans, take photos and sign autographs. A long-time Trex devotee, Alison regularly specifies Trex products for the outdoor projects she designs. Be sure to check out Season 2 of “Windy City Rehab” later this spring to see Alison – and Trex – in action.

All in all, it was an exciting and productive couple of days in the Gambling Capital of the World. With the deck now strategically stacked in our favor, it’s a safe bet that what happened in Vegas will deliver a big payout for Trex in the form of valuable media coverage throughout 2020.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

How Mentorship Impacts Work Culture

Work culture can be a key aspect for enjoying your job. Joining a culture that fits your needs can make or break how easy it is to get up in the morning and head off to another day at the office. Everyone’s “must have” list when it comes to office culture may look a little different, but as a young professional, mentorship is at the top of my list.

During my internship at LCWA, I discovered that I thrive in an atmosphere that places a high significance on mentorship. Knowing who to go to for advice on setting personal goals or feedback on my performance–and having that set structure in place–is essential for my professional development and personal growth.

At LCWA, our mentorship program is central to the culture of our office, and I would argue a major factor in the uncommonly high retention rate of our team members. Here are a few ways I witnessed it benefit our company since joining the team five months ago:
  • Creates a smooth onboarding process – On-boarding is a critical part of attracting and retaining top talent. Studies show that new employees who experience a well-structured on-boarding are 82% more likely to remain at a company. Including mentorship as part of the on-boarding process gives the mentee access to a supportive relationship from day one, making them feel like a part of the team right off the bat.
  • Forms a culture of learning – Mentors help you set reasonable goals and guide you in reaching them. They offer objective and constructive advice, and can use their experiences, mistakes and lessons learned to help better your own career path and enhance your personal growth.
  • Decreases work-related stress and anxiety – When an issue at work arises, half of the stress can be determining the best way to go about solving it. Should I talk to someone? Should I try to figure it out on my own? These are the kinds of questions that young professionals who are still learning the ins and outs of workplace culture ask themselves. Personally, I have found these types of questions far more stressful than the issue or concern at hand. A mentorship program gives the mentee a protocol for navigating any issues, giving them a go-to person dedicated to guiding them, and significantly reducing the stress and anxiety that can come with any job
  • Promotes high employee retention – Having a great mentor is a key factor when it comes to employee satisfaction and retention. According to Forbes, those planning on staying with their current employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%), and 81% of those planning to stay are happy with their mentor.
Hopefully all companies start to see mentorship as a “need to have” rather than a “nice to have.” If you do have a great mentor at work, make sure to say an extra thank you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Highlighting Client Expertise with Bylined Articles


At LCWA, we're all about providing superior client service — so, of course, we're not satisfied until our clients are rightfully positioned and maintained as industry leaders. We’re also always looking for effective ways to increase brand awareness among their target audiences, One of the most effective ways to do this is by securing opportunities for clients, whether B2B or B2C, to contribute bylined articles in publications that reach those audiences.

Bylined articles, usually attributed to clients' expert spokespersons or brand ambassadors, establish thought leadership and go beyond a simple product or brand mention in terms of enhancing credibility and reputations by providing helpful content to their audiences while also their goods or services. By representing the brand through the insights of an expert in the field, placing bylined articles is one of the more organic ways to promote clients. Additionally, with many media outlets short-staffed, providing quality editorial content is often welcomed by editors.

Recently, LCWA placed a bylined thought leadership article on behalf of client Staging Concepts — a leader in custom modular staging — in an issue of Productions Magazine. Productions, which is a trade magazine reaching show choir professionals and enthusiasts, was an ideal outlet in which to highlight Staging Concepts' unique projects and top products. Perhaps more notably, we had the opportunity to develop the article in conjunction with one of the company’s expert team members — who is just one of Staging Concepts’ talented employees who worked "in the field" in the performing arts industry before joining the company.

Productions readers, including those in charge of staging purchases, were exposed to a breadth and depth of knowledge about the keys to maximizing staging functionality and flexibility and undoubtedly came away with the conclusion that the team behind Staging Concepts’ designs and customer support genuinely know their stuff and care about being the best in the industry.

Another example of a successful byline was a piece we developed on behalf of LCWA client Trex Commercial Products for inclusion in Construction Specifier Magazine. Construction Specifier targets professionals who select, recommend and influence buying decisions in the construction industry, so this was a perfect opportunity to position Trex Commercial Products as a go-to resource when it comes to specifying architectural railing systems. For this particular byline, we worked with the VP of Engineering at Trex Commercial Products to discuss how to specify for windscreen railing systems designed for commercial exterior use. The timing was also strategic as Trex Commercial Products had just launched its own innovative windscreen product.

These are just a couple of examples of LCWA’s emphasis on incorporating thought leadership as part of well-rounded client programming. For more information and insight on effective thought leadership strategies, we encourage you to check out LCWA team member Ben Arens’ post on the "Keys to Establishing Effective Thought Leadership."


Thursday, January 23, 2020

PFF Position Becomes Front-Page News

Last year, our client, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), issued a position statement warning patients and providers against the dangers of unregulated stem cell therapies that often promise miraculous results but come with significant health risks. We pitched the statement to national media, and were happy to connect PFF’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, with a Washington Post reporter investigating the topic. Several months and conversations later, a front-page Washington Post article ran to educate readers of the hazards of unproven stem cell therapies, alongside an investigation into one organization offering these dangerous treatments.

While some stem cell treatments have been approved for other disease states, we hope this high-profile placement will drive awareness of the potential dangers of stem cell therapies for PF that are not part of regulated clinical trials.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

First Alert Assists Departments in Community Risk Reduction Efforts

Community risk reduction (CRR) is an important part of fire safety education from the fire service. The inaugural Community Risk Reduction Week, occurring January 20-26, 2020, allows departments across the country to improve their community’s safety.

In honor of this event, First Alert and LCWA held a week-long alarm giveaway for departments participating in these efforts. As a result of industry relationships, LCWA received nearly 800 entries from across the country. Out of the hundreds who entered, five lucky fire departments were randomly chosen to each receive 50 carbon monoxide alarms.

The winning fire departments represent a wide array of entries from both career and volunteer departments across the country:

  • Elmwood Park Fire Department (Elmwood Park, Ill.)
  • Fillmore Fire Department (Fillmore, Wis.)
  • Flint Fire Department (Flint, Mich.)
  • New Boston Volunteer Fire Department (New Boston, Texas)
  • Plympton Fire Department (Plympton, Mass.)
First Alert’s support to improve carbon monoxide safety comes at a crucial time. The risk for CO poisoning significantly increases during the winter months, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50,000 emergency room visits and over 430 deaths are attributed to CO poisoning in the U.S. each year, making it the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the country.

To learn more about CO safety and how to keep your loved ones safe, visit FirstAlert.com.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bold and Beautiful: The Right Celebrity Cache Can Catapult Your Story

Celebrities are the ultimate influencers and can play an impactful role in a brand’s marketing strategy, elevating messages and reaching new audiences. But like Cinderella’s glass slipper, the right celebrity fit is vital to the story and there are many considerations as you develop the partnership:

  • Time and Placement. First, outline all the potential services you’d like to use the celebrity for and how you’d like to amplify them. Do you want to shoot a video or six? Host an event? Turn a production day into multiple videos and images to be used across your broadcast and digital marketing plan.
  • Multiple Personalities: Celebrities take on the personas of their characters, so make sure to vet the storyline of their character(s), as well as their personal behavior to avoid any embarrassing controversies.
  • Script Permissions. As far in advance as possible, map out even basic key messages, location and scripting. This will come in handy during negotiations and will highlight any content that may need to be approved in advance by their studio. 
  • Amplify. Amplify. Amplify. Celebrities are pricey, so incorporate as much amplification as possible in order to get the most out of your budget.
From crafting DIY content for Trex with Kate Campbell to delivering fire safety messages for First Alert with Taylor Kinney, our focus is on maximizing the potential of these influencers to tell the best brand story to as many people as possible.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

AASM Highlights Prevalence of Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is a serious public health concern. Each year in the U.S., drowsy driving causes an average of 328,000 motor vehicle accidents, including 6,400 fatal crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) conducted a consumer survey to determine the prevalence of drowsy driving among adults. The new survey found that 45% of adults have struggled to stay awake while driving.

In light of the survey results, LCWA conducted media outreach highlight the prevalence of drowsy driving and sharing tips from the AASM on how to prevent it.

LCWA secured drowsy driving coverage with numerous outlets, including The Washington Post, Seattle Times, SFGate, WebMD, HealthDay and U.S. News & World Report. Overall, this outreach increased awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving among consumers nationwide and earned more than 32.9 million impressions.