Justine F

Media Relations Campaign of the Year – Over $50k

Hill+Knowlton Strategies had strong insights into what it would take to get Aflac’s survey story placed: interesting angles, targeted pitches and the credibility that accrues to a third-party spokesperson. Its success has earned the Grand Prize in the “Campaign Over $50,000” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The Aflac survey addressed public attitudes about open enrollment for employee benefits. By ensuring they were involved from the start, the team was able to inject some questions into the survey that would be guaranteed to produce results that editors and reporters would notice—for example, what undesirable activity, like walking on hot coals or holding a screaming baby, would you rather engage in than researching your benefits options?

The team dove into the survey results looking for outlier data and anomalies that would attract reporters’ attention and found it with the fact that a majority of consumers have a false sense of confidence when it comes to benefits enrollment.

Hill+Knowlton put together a textbook approach to earning coverage for the survey: press releases; consumer confusion and other intriguing results; matte releases and infographics; articles; social media; and distribution of content through broker and agent channels.

As a result, what could have been a tough sell earned 79 placements, including the survey’s first appearance in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Between earned and paid media, the survey produced more than 1 billion impressions, coverage that correlates to an all-time Aflac record for premium sales at the height of the campaign, a sales increase of 6.7 percent—the ultimate goal of any PR effort.

Congratulations to the team at Hill+Knowlton.

Justine F

Media Relations Campaign of the Year – Under $50k

Challenges abounded when March Communications was brought on board to help generate media coverage for Continuum’s three-day user conference in Las Vegas. Continuum is a provider of services and solutions to MSPs with a much narrower focus and smaller footprint than the likes of Adobe or Salesforce, which easily draw press to their user conferences. March met the challenge—and has won first place in the “Campaign Under $50,000” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

Only a handful of top-tier reporters cover the sector, and Continuum’s media budget wasn’t huge. Nevertheless, the organization wanted to attract three reporters to attend the event—up from the two who were onsite in 2016. They also wanted to improve coverage of the event.

March developed a three-pronged approach: pitching news related to the event, sharing thought leadership content from the organization and working with partners who sponsored the event to generate additional interest in reporting on Continuum’s Vegas show.

March developed media sponsorship packages along with other interactive ways journalists could be involved (for example, they could moderate a business leadership roundtable and watch livestreams of the event). The team convinced four journalists to attend, in addition to another who moderated a panel.

March arranged 23 press briefings and secured 39 articles from the event, improving coverage over the 2016 show by a staggering 1,850 percent. It also raised Continuum’s share of voice to second place among its competitors.

It’s worth noting that March stepped in to lead the communications effort for Continuum in the aftermath of the Route 91 shooting, which took place the morning of the conference, a situation the team handled ably.

Congratulations to the team of Meredith L. Eaton, Alex Jafarzadeh, Rebecca Ferrick and Meredith Krim.

Justine F

Media Relations Campaign of the Year – Under $10k

Until the end of 2017, Entercom was a mid-sized radio broadcaster operating in local markets. Then, Entercom acquired CBS Radio for $2.4 billion, catapulting it to the second largest radio broadcaster in the U.S. and the nation’s unrivaled leader in news and sports radio: Entercom now reaches more than 112 million people monthly through more than 235 radio stations, digital platforms and live events. Suddenly a powerhouse media company, Entercom knew it needed to establish its new identity. Its success has earned it first place in the “Campaigns under $10,000” category in PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The organization undertook a communications campaign to achieve several crucial goals: Rebrand radio as a relevant and innovative medium, position Entercom as a national player and drive a narrative for the CBS Radio acquisition, positioning the deal as an investment opportunity. Even more challenging: Entercom had no in-house communications and PR function; one was assembled concurrent with the acquisition.

The team’s results as a nascent department with a limited budget were remarkable. It obtained high-profile coverage in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Ad Age, Variety, Forbes and more, including an eight-minute segment on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” with host Jim Cramer proclaiming, “As long as there are cars with human drivers, there will be radio, and Entercom could be the best way for institutional investors to profit from that longevity.”

The communications team has proven itself, becoming a core part of the organization and managing numerous crises in addition to executing 83 local PR initiatives.

Congratulations to the team of Esther-Mireya Tejeda, Jennifer Morales and Natasha Pinero.

Justine F

Social Media Campaign

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted to play a significant role in the 2017 Earth Hour, that one-hour window during which individuals and institutions turn off their lights in a symbolic show of solidarity for action on climate change. Its success has earned first place in the “Social Media Campaign” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The WWF’s goals were noble: Rally supporters to participate, demonstrate how action against climate change can be taken without the Trump administration’s support, and build relationships with stakeholders. With a limited budget, the team undertook research into the audiences it was trying to reach and then came up with its big idea: Asking bands (famous and not) to play one-hour acoustic concerts over Facebook Live during the dark hour. They even crafted a “How To” guide for participating artists.

The event was pitched to news media and was at the heart of a concerted social media effort. Here are just a few highlights of the results:

More than 3,000 news stories (from CNN, USA Today, Reuters, CBS Sunday Morning and more); 40 influencers and celebrities posting, including the band Maroon 5, actor/musician Jared Leto, Chelsea Clinton and William Shatner; solid performance on Twitter; and an unusual example of outreach on Instagram (to yogis and photographers) that supplemented its usual Instagram outreach.

All of this led to more than 3,100 global landmarks and nearly 200 major landmarks across the United States turning their lights off for the hour.

Congratulations to the team of Bex Young, Susan McCarthy, Alexandra Rosenberg, Jennafer Bonello, Megan Chinsky, Monica Echeverria, Sarah Fogel, Melanie Gade, Evan Levent, Katy Fenn and many others.

Justine F

Social Influencer Campaign

Samsonite didn’t have a dedicated influencer budget for a campaign meant to introduce luggage from its recently-acquired French brand Lipault Paris. It contracted with The Hollywood Agency, and the resulting campaign has won first place in the “Social Influencer Campaigns” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The Hollywood Agency knew that it could earn a lot of coverage by putting Lipault Paris’s product into the hands of influencers followed by the target market: fashion-forward millennial women (aged 18-34). The team researched influencers and understood that they couldn’t settle for one area of focus. It found fashion bloggers, mommy bloggers, travel bloggers and others with more than 20,000 followers, and offered them products in exchange for coverage.

The team connected with these influencers at optimal times (like spring break) and with suggested angles (runway trends, how to accessorize for work, etc.). To make these influencers feel exclusive, they provided first looks of products not yet released to the public.

The campaign resulted in 144 original posts from 50 influencers, which translated into more than 13.5 million impressions. Even influencers who normally charge to post on behalf of a brand continued to participate in the program, such was the affinity for the Lipault Paris products.

Of the campaign, Samsonite says, “Not only do we now have a group of loyal brand ambassadors, but we have a library of on-brand imagery that helps us to connect with our target demographic.” That’s how to get the most out of influencers with a limited budget.

Congratulations to The Hollywood Agency team of Jackie Dunn and Courtney Curzi.

Justine F

Use of Celebrity or Personality

While he was in school, Rodney Smith Jr. began mowing lawns at no cost for the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans. That activity gave birth to the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, an organization that “keeps youth on a positive path while learning and understanding their value in society.” These young people now provide free lawn care to the same groups of people. Smith’s work has won PR agency Lindsay, Stone & Briggs first place in the “Use of a Celebrity or Personality” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

To raise awareness of his organization, Smith undertook an effort to mow 50 lawns in 50 states over 39 days. At the same time, Briggs & Stratton, a manufacturer of small engines, was looking for a way to get consumers to pay attention to its products. Lindsay, Stone & Briggs saw the connection and hitched Smith’s 50-state tour to the Briggs & Stratton brand.

The agency managed the media relations effort in each market while also bringing Smith’s initiative to the attention of the national press. It also ensured Smith gave a shoutout to Briggs & Stratton, thanking the organization for its support of his mission.

The team pulled out all the stops when Smith visited Milwaukee, where Briggs & Stratton is headquartered. More than 50 employee volunteers joined Smith to mow more than 70 lawns in one afternoon. A microsite made information about the tour and the relationship available at a click.

The campaign attracted 267 stories, including national coverage from NBC Nightly News, ABC News, People.com, and more. Social media drew nearly a quarter of a million likes and 12,000 positive comments.

Congratulations to the team of Amy Rohn, Jake Miller and Camille Sanzi.

Justine F

Stunt or Special Event

Highland Titles never had much trouble getting broadcast coverage of its unique offering, but the worlds of online and social media proved a tougher nut to crack. PR agency BML Public Relations created an innovative and attention-getting scheme to overcome that challenge, and in so doing has won first place in the “Stunt or Special Event” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

Launched to preserve the land on the Glencoe Wood Nature Reserve in Scotland, Highland Titles lets anybody buy a plot of the Reserve’s land—from 1 square foot (for $46) to 1,000 square feet (which goes for $770). The purchase gets you a gift pack that includes the title certificate, and a title—you can call yourself a Lord, Laird or Lady of Glencoe. The purchase ensures the land remains protected.

With a kilt-wearing spokesperson, broadcast coverage was easy to obtain, but Highland Titles wanted to break into social media. BMLPR found a town in Connecticut called Scotland and worked with the local government to gift each of its 1,694 residents a plot of Glencoe land during the holiday season, complete with the title that goes with it.

The story of a town full of lairds and ladies was an easy pitch to features, lifestyle and seasonal writers from the top 100 designated market areas. By targeting writers at national outlets that covered hyperlocal beats, BMLPR secured an article on APNews.com, which was shared by more than 125 outlets throughout the country, including FOXBusiness.com, ABCNews.go.com, CNBC.com, NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com and more.

Ultimately, the stunt delivered 268 media placements and close to 1 billion impressions, along with a holiday sales increase of 34 percent. It’s a great example of taking a typical holiday gift guide pitch to a new level.

Congratulations to the team of Brian Lowe, Michelle LoGuercio and Kelsey Moran.

Justine F

Press Event or Media Tour

Consumer electronics organization LG had a new line of home audio products to introduce in 2017. Of course, so did every other manufacturer of home audio products, so earning news and influencer coverage would be a challenge. PR agency Ogilvy was up to the task—and it’s won first place in the “Press Tour or Event” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

Ogilvy envisioned a must-attend event that would draw lifestyle journalists and social media influencers to come take a look—and a listen. The enticement came by way of food. The team partnered with chef Dale Talde, formerly of Top Chef, to host an event in the Flatiron Penthouse in New York City.

Talde prepared small-bite plates paired with music that would be played over LG gear. The food and audio equipment was spread out through four of the penthouse rooms, each decorated to reflect the music style that would be played there. Before each item was served, Talde explained how music inspired the recipe; LG, meanwhile, paired each item with a different product.

Talde promoted the event across his well-subscribed social media channels while Ogilvy undertook the pitching. The 40-plus guests for the evening were greeted with a map of the venue and product locations along with the menu. Among the guests were lifestyle journalists for Billboard, Food & Wine, Essence, O, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and more.

Ultimately the event sparked more than 300 placements and close to 250 million impressions.

Congratulations to the team of Will Tsang, Nick Iverson, Jen Langione, Re Kleinbard (from Ogilvy) and Chris DeMaria (from LG).

Justine F

Pitch

There is nothing original about conducting a survey to generate news coverage. The Hill & Knowlton team assigned to the Aflac account undoubtedly knew that. Still, their efforts got results—and also won first place in the “Pitch” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The survey addressed public attitudes about open enrollment for employee benefits. The team knew what it would take to get the story placed: interesting angles, targeted pitches and the credibility that accrues to a third-party spokesperson.

By ensuring it was involved from the start, the team was able to inject some questions into the survey that would be guaranteed to produce results that editors and reporters would notice—for example, what undesirable activity, like walking on hot coals or holding a screaming baby, would you rather engage in than researching your benefits options?

The team dove into the survey results looking for outlier data and anomalies that would attract media attention, and they found it with the fact that a majority of consumers have a false sense of confidence when it comes to benefits enrollment.

Hill & Knowlton put together a textbook approach to earning coverage for the survey: press releases; targeted pitches that looked at millennial and Gen Z attitudes, consumer confusion and other intriguing results; matte releases and infographics; articles; social media; and distribution of content through broker and agent channels.

As a result, what could have been just another survey story drove 79 placements, including the survey’s first placements in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Between earned and paid media, the survey produced more than 1 billion impressions, coverage that correlates to an all-time Aflac record for premium sales at the height of the campaign, an increase of 6.7 percent. That’s the kind of result that leads organizations to renew contracts with agencies.

Justine F

Thought Leadership Campaign

Craig Poulton, CEO of Utah-based insurance company Poulton Associates, has become extremely well versed in everything there is to know about flood insurance—and he wants to see change. His efforts to raise awareness of the issues have won first place in the “Thought Leadership Campaign” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Poulton argues, is flawed, in debt and operates as a monopoly, leading mortgage lenders to give the program preferential treatment and making it hard for private programs—like Poulton’s Natural Catastrophe Insurance Program (NCIP)—to operate on an even playing field despite offering more comprehensive products at better rates.

Poulton contracted Kimball Hughes PR to help create greater awareness of the issue and promote the benefits of private versus federal flood insurance. Kimball Hughes PR opted to focus on Poulton himself and his vast knowledge of the issue. The team conducted extensive interviews with Poulton to identify specific themes they could pitch to different news outlets, starting with insurance trade publications, then extending to op-eds in publications D.C. lawmakers and their staffs read.

Poulton, as a result, has become a primary resource for journalists seeking input for articles, news segments, conference panels and even a Twitter Chat. The agency also executed a broader flood insurance awareness campaign, with Poulton’s articles boosting interest.

The coverage has assisted in securing Poulton meetings with key Congressional leaders, while Congress continues to mull a more permanent reauthorization of the NFIP that hopefully includes these reforms.

The campaign also secured coverage in multiple publications—including the front page of The New York Times—with social media users sharing these articles more than 11,000 times.

Congratulations to the Kimball Hughes PR team of Eileen Coyne, Samantha Kimball, Ryan Stephen, Rod Hughes and Gary Kimball.

Justine F

Product or Service Launch

The product itself is impressive: The Electron Wheel replaces the front wheel of a bicycle to provide power to the bike, turning it into an e-bike. Differentiating it from competitors, the wheel also connects to Google Assistant, providing hands-free interaction with the device. The launch would attract attention if done right. Fortunately, it came off without a hitch—and earned PR agency Diffusion first place in the “Product Launch” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the ideal venue for introducing the product. Unfortunately, the Electron Gen2 Wheel was only available for pre-order and wouldn’t be available to consumers until two months after CES. Diffusion devised a brilliant scheme to draw attention: It engaged a cyclist to ride a bike equipped with the Wheel across the country, arriving at CES on its third day after a 10-day journey beginning in New York.

The logistics for the ride were complex. For example, the Wheel holds a charge that would last about 50 miles, so a chase vehicle had to follow the cyclist to replace the Wheel on a regular basis (in addition to providing support and capturing photos and videos of the journey). Diffusion helped Electron Wheel secure a partnership with Google, which was excited about the device’s connection to Google Assistant.

Among Diffusion’s goals was increasing website traffic by 50 percent and pre-orders by 15 percent. The effort (along with Diffusion’s presence at the event) resulted in more than 60 briefings and placements in top-tier press, including TechCrunch (which had an exclusive to announce the launch and kick off the ride), Fox News, Reuters and USA Today. Website traffic increased more than 450 percent and pre-orders grew by 37 percent, far exceeding the project’s goals.

Congratulations to the team of Kate Ryan, Megan Hartwick, Lauren Curlett, Rachel Wyncoop and Colin Lester.

Justine F

Media Relations Video

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Topgolf posted two videos to its YouTube channel and intranet designed to acknowledge its associates’ volunteer work in the Houston area helping victims of the hurricane recover while also calling attention to the 1,000 associates who were personally affected by the disaster. Those videos have won Topgolf first place in the “Video” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The goals for the two videos—which were part of an ongoing “In Focus” series of documentary shorts that tell inspiring stories from the communities the organization serves—were altruistic: Mobilize resources to assist in the recovery, engage associates and customers in a giving campaign and raise $100,000 for victims.

The videos featured calls to action aimed at donations to Feeding America, the charity Topgolf selected after a brief but intensive research effort to find an organization that supported families in times of disaster. (Topgolf’s fundraising also supported two Texas organizations that benefited from a partnership with Feeding America.)

The organization’s media team traveled to Houston (where the organization has three venues) less than a week after Harvey made landfall. The team “captured footage of Topgolf associates voluntarily working together to clean up homes soon after the storm,” according to Topgolf. “Associates shared the impact the storm had on their families and discussed their hopes for the community moving forward.”

That video was edited, with English and Spanish subtitles applied, in less than a week. The second video was shot three months later, chronicling the progress of the recovery effort.

The two videos achieved 1.2 million YouTube views, the fastest to reach 1 million views in the organization’s history. Its performance on other social networks was equally impressive. More important, the videos sparked donations well in excess of the $100,000 goal.

Congratulations to Brian Radics, Chad Nelson, Nik Kleverov, Natalie Acevedo, Chad Copeland, Libby Godlove and Adrienne Chance.

Justine F

Integrated Marketing Communications

The marketing agency BODEN was given a job by McDonald’s: Drive purchases of the burger chain’s “$1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu” items among Hispanic consumers while building brand reputation in that community. Its success has won BODEN first place in the “Integrated Marketing Communications” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

BODEN’s research revealed important insights about the segment, notably that Hispanics seek value without compromising quality. In fact, when McDonald’s suspended its value menu, Hispanic consumers found alternatives at competitor restaurants rather than pay for pricier items on the McDonald’s menu.

Research also found that value menus weren’t faring well in some places while they were performing well in others, like Houston, which led BODEN to target Houston—where half the population is Hispanic—as the benchmark for the campaign’s success.

A beloved character from Hispanic media, El Chapulín Colorado, became the cornerstone of the campaign’s identity, designed to aid in generating excitement around the new “$1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu,” build brand affinity and showcase the restaurant chain’s commitment to the Hispanic community—and also drive comparable sales and guest count in Houston-area locations.

BODEN teased the campaign on social media with a brief animated video that appeared on the McDonald’s Latino Facebook page, followed by a video revealing the character’s involvement in the campaign. Social media was used to invite consumers to come try the menu and participate in in-restaurant events featuring El Chapulín Colorado. A grassroots activity involved costumed ambassadors spreading the word in a targeted neighborhood.

Media outreach produced 77 placements with 85 percent message pull-through. Social media resulted in 90 influencer posts, and owned media generated nearly 380,000 impressions. Most importantly, the campaign produced a 10.7 percent lift in comparable guest counts and a 2.7 percent lift in comparable sales.

Congratulations to BODEN for its work and results.

Justine F

Innovation in Media Relations

With only three full-time staff members dedicated to PR on behalf of its nearly 20 health care IT clients, Agency Ten22 has taken an innovative approach to producing media placements for clients—an approach that has earned the agency first place in the “Innovation in Media Relations” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.

The agency hosts a biannual media tour targeting editors, bloggers and podcasters that delivers a 90 percent hit rate while saving thousands of hours that would normally be spent plugging away at pitches. Agency Ten22 introduced the tour in 2005 and has built upon it since then, refining the steps required to achieve those impressive results.

It begins with outreach three months before the tour to confirm availability. Account managers meet with client to brainstorm story ideas, subject matter experts and sources, ultimately deciding on about five topics. The Agency Ten22 team then meets to review each story and topic, determining which editors, bloggers and podcasters should be targeted for each one. Appointments are then set for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in-office meetings.

The agency creates briefing documents for each editor, association or outlet. The team takes copious notes during the meetings, where relationships are built and placements are confirmed. With the kind of results this effort achieves, it’s a wonder that more agencies haven’t adopted Ten22’s approach.

Congratulations to Agency Ten22 and Beth Friedman.

Justine F

Governmental or Public Affairs Media Relations

Most Americans are well aware of the strong desire by the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress to overturn the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). The American Medical Association (AMA)—which advocates for as many insured Americans as possible—was an early supporter of Obamacare. Its campaign against legislation that would weaken the ACA has won first place in the “Governmental or Public Affairs Media Relations” category of PR Daily’s 2018 Media Relations Awards.
When the ACA was threatened, the AMA and its communication team stepped to the plate to wield as much influence as possible, ensuring the views of the community of medical professionals played a part in the debate. The AMA’s key goal was to articulate its principles so they would become the benchmark against which legislative proposals would be measured.

The media relations strategy brought to bear in support of this goal was designed to build public awareness of the AMA’s position and encourage patients and physicians to contact their representatives and voice their opposition to legislation that would erode the gains Obamacare had made in making coverage available to more Americans.

An advocacy website, PatientsBeforePolitics.org, was at the heart of the campaign, conveying the AMA’s philosophy and nine underlying principles. Throughout the year Obamacare “reform” was on the table, the AMA distributed 31 press releases in response to replacement plans in addition to releases on poll results, placed seven op-eds drafted by AMA leadership in battleground states, conducted seven media trainings with AMA leaders to maintain message consistency, participated in six media briefings and pitched dozens of interviews (and handled requests for many more), securing coverage on all top-tier networks and news media outlets.

Ultimately, the AMA’s outreach produced 33.5 billion impressions through 40,197 broadcast, print and online media stories. With all the conversation around the issue, the AMA earned a whopping 50 percent share of voice. The steady stream of AMA messaging found its way into late-night talk shows and top-tier media editorializing as well.

Congratulations to the communications team at the American Medical Association for its work.