Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Trex Leverages Influencer Dream Deck to Garner Consumer Coverage Amidst COVID-19

We work with our client, Trex Company, to fill the media pipeline with relevant and inspiring outdoor living content throughout the year. Keeping the brand top-of-mind among homeowners, while reinforcing the brand’s position as a leader among trade professionals, our PR program equips media with outdoor living ideas, approachable DIY tips and aspirational imagery.

An integral component of our program is partnering with established influencers, entrusting them to confidently amplify and adapt Trex’s brand messaging into approachable content for their followers. One such influencer, Evette Rios, has provided unparalleled value to our program. A proud Latina, TV personality, DIYer and lifestyle expert, her public persona and relationship with home and lifestyle media directly aligned with Trex’s consumer initiatives.

To launch our partnership, we collaborated with Evette to build the deck of her dreams – a modern addition to her vacation home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Complete with an outdoor kitchen, firepit, swim spa and dining area, Evette envisioned a space where she and her family could make the most of an extended outdoor living season, from early spring to late fall. Partnering with TrexPro Garloff Carpentry, Evette detailed the design and build process on her YouTube, social media and blog, providing her followers with candid insights (and plenty of laughs!) along the way.

The completion of Evette’s deck coincided with the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, as people reimaged how they spend time and interact with their outdoor living spaces. Given her deck’s expansive spaces for relaxing, cooking and socializing, we pitched Evette’s deck to consumer media as the ultimate COVID-19 oasis, perfect for an outdoor office (featured on TODAY), recess for her sons, and al fresco cooking and dining for her family.

In addition to TODAY, proactive media outreach garnered the attention of other national media outlets, including HouseBeautiful.com, which called her deck renovation, “the ultimate quarantine project,” highlighted Trex decking and Trex Outdoor Kitchens and reinforced Evette’s synergy with the brand as being based in a passion for sustainability – a critical message for Trex and eco-conscious consumers. Most recently, Evette’s deck was featured in an 8-page spread in the Winter/Spring 2021 issue of Rachael Ray in Season (available now in print). Showcasing the deck as an elevated, “treehouse” space, Evette positioned Trex decking as a weather-resistant, low-maintenance “game-changer,” while humorously noting that her indoor wooden floors are often more problematic than her composite deck.

Our partnership with Evette has delivered a considerable ROI for Trex, having secured print, digital, social and television placements throughout the build process – from design to completion. We look forward to cultivating relationships with more influencers, both domestically and internationally, to expose Trex to a wider audience and further solidify the brand as the undisputed leader in high performance, low maintenance outdoor living products.

Friday, February 12, 2021

PR + Podcasts – A New Media Frontier

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Statista, 55% of Americans state that they have listened to a podcast. Furthermore, 15% of Americans actively listen to one or more podcasts a month. Clearly, the platform of podcasts has become the auditory medium of choice for many. Able to be accessed on-the-go, podcasts offer the same value proposition as many streaming serv
ices and, in most cases, are free. As consumers choose what, when, where and how they listen, the podcast medium provides unsurpassed engagement and listener loyalty – as PR professionals, we’re taking note.

The medium of podcasts was invented by Dave Winer in 2004. Dubbing it, “RSS-to-iPod internet radio,” users could download episodes of his blog to their devices for later listening. Noticing the platform’s pickup, Apple launched a “Podcasts” portal in iTunes in 2005, becoming the dominant distributor of podcasts – a title it keeps to this day. Today, Spotify, Apple and Stitcher have evolved to become the “Big Three” distributors of over 34 million podcast episodes in over 100 languages.

There’s no doubt about it - podcasts are doing something right. The success of the podcast platform is centered around integration. Podcasts integrate sponsorship segments into the natural flow of the episode:

  • The host of the podcast often delivers the sponsored segment, without a jarring transition to a commercial break (think radio, TV)
  • The host vets the products to ensure that they are relevant to listeners
  • Ads are sold in quick-hit :30 and :60 second timeslots

Podcast integration with music streaming services provide many touchpoints, conducive to listenership loyalty:

  • Phone notification
  • E-mail notification
  • Lock screen notification
  • In-app notification

The numbers speak for themselves. According to eMarketer, listeners report greater trust in podcast advertisements (18%) than radio (10%), higher brand and message recall in podcasts (18%) than radio (11%) and greater enjoyment in podcasts (20%) than radio (11%).

Furthermore, podcasts are able to provide potential sponsors with vast listenership data, making possible a new frontier of niche content. For example, consider welding. A pitch for a radio show based on welding would not be successful – why would welding-specific advertisers back a show on FM radio? On the other hand, a welding podcast can approach prospective sponsors with concrete listenership and demographic numbers, demonstrating measurable ROI while providing relevant content to the welding community.

Podcasts continually seek thought leadership from both for-profit companies and non-profit organizations to fuel content creation. While it can be hard to source podcast opportunities, we’ve enjoyed exploring PodcastClout, a Cision-like software that’s perfect to start outlining a podcast PR strategy. In addition, Facebook Groups, long known to be an influencer-sourcing platform, are now abuzz with podcast opportunities, both seeking guests and looking to be placed.

The golden age of podcasts is here – and we can further fuel it. As public relations professionals, it is critical that we be the bridge between our clients and such opportunities, and further integrate podcasts into the larger PR strategy. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Celebrities Give the Gift of Outdoor Living to Deserving Friends

It’s never too early to begin planning for outdoor living season and our client, Trex Company, is on the radar of many after being featured in two star-studded episodes of HGTV’s “Celebrity IOU.” Fans of the Property Brothers, actor Justin Hartley of “This is Us,” and Rainn Wilson, better known as Dwight Schrute from “The Office,” tuned in recently to see their favorite stars renovate homes for their loved ones, complete with outdoor oases.

By providing their famous low-maintenance, high-performance composite decking for the episodes, Trex was able to gain major exposure on multiple media platforms, which is crucial at a time when outdoor living is skyrocketing. Both episodes had a combined audience of more than 6.2 million people who learned about the benefits of composite decking and saw the beauty it can add to an outdoor space.

But Trex’s exposure wasn’t done there. For the viewer’s convenience, “Celeb IOU” publishes a Resource Guide on the Property Brothers’ website which includes product details for each episode, making it easy for viewers to replicate the beautiful spaces in their own homes. The Trex decking used in both the Justin Hartley and Rainn Wilson episodes was featured in the respective Resource Guides, giving the brand some extra love for supplying the decking.

The cherries on top of this partnership were two social media posts (see here & here) that appeared on the Property Brothers’ Instagram page, reaching an additional 1.8 million people!

Overall, this high-profile collaboration delivered tremendous ROI by  garnering valuable third-party endorsements and helping Trex to reach new audiences. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Benefits of Social Listening Tools

As you’ve likely observed, social listening is a growing trend. And, it’s here to stay. Why? Because we’re capable of learning more than ever by tracking consumers’ behavior online. By listening to the online universe, brands can obtain insights from consumer conversations and collect data on themes, trends and behaviors to accomplish a number of objectives.

“Social listening” is the practice of tracking for online mentions of your brand and topics important to your brand (via campaign hashtags or industry keywords, for example), and then analyzing those comments and conversations for insights to identify opportunities to act.


To help with this process, there are a number of social listening tools that have been introduced to the market. The biggest advantage of using these tools is their ability to capture posts and comments that mention a brand without directly tagging it. According to Brandwatch, 96% of conversations about brands happen outside official brand channels and without tagging the brand in question. Without tagging, these kinds of mentions will not be identified by standard monitoring tools.

Here are a few other key reasons you should consider employing social listening tools:

Brand Sentiment

Social listening tools collate online chatter and provide an analysis – sometimes called opinion mining – by digging into word choice and context, primarily through algorithms or filters. Most tools group the search results into positive, negative or neutral categories, and many will go further by providing audience segmentation. 

As you monitor online conversations over time, such as investigating spikes in positive or negative sentiment, you will gain insights into how your messaging can influence the way followers feel about and interact with the brand or product.

Let’s say, for example, that you track overall positive social sentiment about the technical specifications of a new product, but users often share negative comments in feeds about the look of the product. This insight can be shared with R&D to help revamp the design. Social listening can even help you understand how moves you’re making offline are resonating in the social media sphere. For instance, consumers may respond on Twitter to a TV ad (especially during big events like the Super Bowl or Oscars), or post on Facebook about customer service received at a brick-and-mortar location.

Competitor Analysis

Beyond consumers, you can also learn what your competitors are up to in real-time. Creating alerts to monitor competitors allows you to measure sentiment for them the same way you would measure for your own brand(s). You can, for example, keep an eye out for positive mentions to find inspiration and negative mentions to generate sales leads.

This is an area where different social listening tools can really stand out depending on what your goals are. Are you focused on particular platforms? Are you more concerned with social share of voice or who has better SEO? Is your priority product development? Do you want to track advertising campaigns?

With most tools, you can analyze competitors’ profiles on social platforms via metrics such as engagement, growth of fans, interactions, popular hashtags and more. Downloadable, and sometimes customizable, reports provide detailed charts and graphs to compare performance. From an SEO standpoint, there are even tools that allow you to determine competitors’ website referral traffic, backlinks and targeted keywords.

User-generated Content

Leveraging user-generated content (UGC) is an affordable and effective approach that could mean less money spent on stock photos or asset creation, and more budget for PR and marketing tactics. One key benefit of social listening tools is that they make it easier to find customer photos, videos and testimonials.

Several tools allow you to easily invite your customers to share their experiences with your products and brands, display that UGC on your website and social channels, and even track performance metrics across all channels. If you are seeking assets for use beyond the web in perpetuity, some tools will auto-generate direct messages to request usage rights and notify you when the content creator confirms.

Even more, some social listening tools have advanced image recognition technology, offering the ability to identify brand logos or other visual cues. Up to 80% of images don’t mention the brand in captions or other text, so these AI capabilities provide a great way to capture posted photos you may have otherwise missed. Keep in mind that your product must have a strong visual component, such as a brand logo that is front and center, like on a Starbucks cup. While these features come with a bigger price tag, it can be worth the investment if amassing quality visuals is important for your brand initiatives.

Influencer Engagement

Social listening tools can help identify the users with clout and audience followings in a given topic area and provide engagement features to help turn them into brand ambassadors.

But note, social listening tools are best for finding nano- and micro-influencers. If you are looking for professional social media personalities with a niche focus, there are alternative tools that focus specifically on influencer vetting and management. When it comes to social media listening, you are looking for brand mentions (tagged or untagged), and it’s rare to find professional influencers mentioning a brand without a sponsorship.

What you will find via social listening tools are organic brand advocates – i.e. people who already love your brand and are saying great things about you on social media. Basically, social listening tools allow you to accelerate native searches. By setting up filters in advance, hashtag search results are better organized and scalable to allow you to spend more time on influencer engagement instead of searching.

These four benefits only scratch the surface on the many advantages that social listening tools can bring to a PR or marketing campaign. The best tool for your brand ultimately depends on your goals. Once you define your key objectives, you can determine the best tool for the job.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

AASM Outlines the Impact of the Night Cap

Find yourself pouring a nightcap to help you fall asleep? You’re not alone – in fact, a recent
survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that 68% of Americans have lost sleep due to drinking alcohol past bedtime.

As the holidays tend to be a time when alcohol consumption rises, LCWA helped the AASM drive attention to this timely statistic in a pitch which outlined the consequences of alcohol consumption upon sleep, which include:

  • The triggering of new sleep disorders or exacerbation of existing ones, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Excessive relaxation of the muscles in the head, neck and throat, which may interfere with normal breathing during sleep
  • Frequent need to get up and go to the bathroom, especially disruptive during the second half of the night
  • Increased risk for parasomnias including sleep walking and sleep eating

To support these findings and encourage the public to kick off the New Year right, the pitch also included tips to minimize alcohol’s effect on sleep:

  • Allow three to four hours between drinking and bedtime: If you have a nightcap right before bed, you may not sleep very deeply because as alcohol starts to metabolize, the sedative effect wears off.
  • Stay hydrated and drink water: Try and drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink. This will help your system flush out the alcohol.
  • Avoid bubbly drinks: Bubbles can cause bloating and gas, so consider avoiding fizzy and carbonated drinks.
  • Eat a light snack before bed: Food delays how quickly you absorb alcohol, which can help lower your blood alcohol content (BAC).

LCWA distributed the pitch via Newswise and pitched directly to national consumer and health media. As a result of our outreach, coverage garnered over 22 million impressions with notable placements in Doctor’s Lounge, Medical Xpress, HealthNewsDigest, U.S. News & World Report, HealthDay and The Empire-Tribune. These results, compounded with alcohol’s increased usage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, suggest that alcohol’s relationship with sleep is a topic of interest for the media and American public.