Lift Every Voice
Laura Van Zeyl

The American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Bi-National Advertising and PR program was launched 15 years ago with a budget of $324,000 and a goal to create 68 million consumer impressions with a targeted PR effort to mainsteam media outlets, a sophisticated national advertising campaign and corresponding materials that showrooms could use in their local markets. Today, it’s a $873,000 effort that delivers 225 million impressions. Consumer inquiries as a result of the campaign have built a database of 100,000 names to receive ALA’s monthly Bright Ideas e-newsletter that keeps lighting top of mind.

A partnership with Meredith Corp.’s Special Interest Publications has enabled a high-quality consumer magazine, Lighting, distributed on newsstands and via participating lighting showrooms each spring. This year, ALA increased the quantity of this publication to 300,000 and reports that newsstand sales were up 10 percent.

In 2012, ALA also created a video series featuring former “Trading Spaces” designer Laurie Smith. The videos are featured on ALA’s website and on YouTube, and showrooms can use them for in-store displays or link to them from e-newsletter campaigns.

 Next year, ALA Bi-National participants will be included in a new mobile-enabled Lighting Idea Center reader service program from Meredith. And the organization will include a new Better Lighting segment during its “Better” TV show, syndicated in 150 markets.

ALA now has a dozen ready-to-use feature stories and contacts for 5,000 print and online publications throughout North America. Savvy retailers can also customize these stories with quotes from showroom personnel. ALA has gotten placements in 6,365 publications and exposure to almost 110 million unique readers.

Every lighting retailer and manufacturer benefits from these accomplishments, whether they are ALA members and support the Bi-National program ... or not. If you’ve been riding on the coattails of others, I ask you to step up and do your part.

At its recent Conference, ALA asked members to increase their contribution to the Bi-National program from 0.0015 percent of annual revenue to 0.002 percent next year and 0.0025 percent the following year. Philips Professional Luminaires North America CEO Zia Eftekhar explained why now is the time to make this investment in our industry: to take advantage of the economic rebound, to defend against the commoditization of lighting (particularly LED) and expand our overall business size with a “strong collective voice.” If we all contribute to that voice, we will have a much greater chance of being heard.          

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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