Connect to National Media? Use a Personal Touch

A Case Study about Making National News through Thought Leadership Public Relations

Our Chicago PR agency team wants our clients to be known as national thought leaders. So we apply a smart PR strategy and the right media relations tactics to expand clients’ reach, influence and impact. 

In this PR case study, we will share exactly how we do it! Read on and you’ll learn about our exhilarating thought leadership adventure with the International Housewares Association (IHA). This PR campaign led to an extremely valuable placement that appeared on the front page of The New York Times online, as well as in print on February 10, 2023. And even better, the long tail of this  story is still capturing attention from major network and national outlets.

A Simple Casual Encounter Leads to a Fruitful Introduction

In October 2022, an email that Michelle wrote to a New York Times real estate reporter led to an in-person meeting at the Times’ Manhattan’s headquarters and a first-time collaboration with the IHA.  

It wasn’t a lengthy or complicated pitch — it never should be!  Remember, KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid! is the rule in media relations! 

Michelle’s email commented on one of the reporter’s recent stories, and praised how her story appeared as a syndicated piece in the Sunday Real Estate section in the Chicago Tribune. The reporter responded with a thank you. She mentioned never seeing how her stories look in local market newspapers.  She thanked Michelle for taking the time to send the note and an iPhone photo of her report in the Sunday Tribune.

It was a simple gesture. And yet, that email demonstrated what matters most in developing media relationships:

  1. Showing that you care and acting like a human.  Wouldn’t you want to know how your work is presented to readers around the world? Reporters are human, too. Plus, they probably don’t get much praise from editors or colleagues. So why not shower them with love when they deserve it? Also, they often have no idea where their stories appear, because at most independent news outlets, there’s a big wall between the editorial side and the business side of a news operation. 
  2. Not asking for a thing. Michelle’s email was a short, personable introduction. It wasn’t a pitch. She didn’t ask the reporter to write a story about our client. It was a pleasant, cordial back and forth email conversation —  pure and simple. It’s disarming to get a compliment that doesn’t come with an ask. And the reporter obviously enjoyed it or she wouldn’t have replied.
  3. Contacting the right journalist. Michelle took the time to the research and VET it! That meant reading several of the reporter’s stories in syndication and elsewhere, before reaching out. The number one rule of contacting a reporter is making sure you have something relevant to his or her beat.

The email conversations made the reporter aware that IHA has the resources to help with her future stories. As a result, we were invited to the New York Times headquarters in Manhattan for a meeting. As we explored potential topics, we sparked interest in a unique research project. The International Housewares Association offered to use its research prowess as The Home Authority  to launch a nationwide survey asking happily married or cohabitating adults how frequently they sleep separately from their partners.

The IHA’s collaboration included working with the reporter to refine and expand the research questions. Next, the IHA commissioned its own research firm to survey 2,200 people in January 2023.  We quickly returned the results of the IHA study in time for the reporter to cite the IHA data throughout a story that appeared just in time for Valentine’s Day.  You can read the full report here

The New York Times Spotlight:

Getting the IHA’s data generously sprinkled throughout the pages of the New York Times marked a significant milestone, taking the Housewares Association’s exposure and thought leadership to new heights. The Times promoted the piece on various social platforms.  

Online the story reached a potential audience of 141 million. The story has elicited comments to the NYT website from more than 1,600 readers. It enjoyed and is still enjoying a meteoric number of likes and shares. 

On The New York Times’ Facebook profile, the story has received more than 2,500 likes, more than 600 comments and more than  230 shares from the Times’ 19 million Facebook followers!


On the Time’s Instagram page, the story has been liked more than 320,000 times, as of this writing!

IHA Sleep Study Data featured on NY Times Instagram Feed

Expanding Reach and Influence:

IHA wrote its own press release after the story first appeared in the Times.  


In Name of Good Sleep, More Couples Opt for Separate Bedrooms


We distributed it to our media list of hundreds of media outlets, including local and network TV, morning shows, as well as the magazines and websites that focus on home and lifestyles. The collaboration caught the attention from numerous  media outlets, leading to additional major national coverage. You can read the press release here.  

The IHA’s flurry of national news occurred just a few weeks ahead of The Inspired Home Show 2023 –   the International Housewares Association’s massive annual marketplace in Chicago.  The new data was the topic of breakout sessions during the March show, and it had members and attendees buzzing about the products that align with the trends of couples who sleep in separate bedrooms!

Expanding Reach and Influence:

The collaboration sparked interest from other media outlets, leading to additional major National coverage. Placements in CBS Sunday Mornings, Oprah Daily, Yahoo!, Essence, Brides, and more further solidified IHA’s reputation and expanded its reach in ways beyond our wildest dreams.

  • Our  national PR success  with the International Housewares Association and the New York Times pointed to the value of collaboration.
  • It showed how important it is for a nonprofit to stay fresh and on top of trends that matter most to its stakeholders.
  • It demonstrated the value of teamwork, coordination, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to put your client in the best light ever.
  • And it proved once again that national media, just like the rest of us, respond well with a simple, personal touchpoint.

If you like this case study or if you found it helpful, we hope you’ll share it! And if you’d like a deeper dive conversation about how teamwork with the IHA made this happen, I’d love to have a conversation.

And if you’re a home products manufacturer, and you aren’t a member of the International Housewares Association, become a member! You will be so glad to receive their valuable industry insights and benefits!

Finally, whether you’re aiming for prestigious publications like the New York Times or seeking local media exposure, our team is here to help. 

Just contact me and let’s have a chat about amplifying your thought leadership.




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