Celebrating HSG Summer Successes




Over the past few months, our team continued building upon lasting client relationships while fostering new ones. We garnered impressive earned media coverage for our clients, delivered social and digital media advertising campaigns, and offered around-the-clock support to our clients as we continued navigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are grateful for all the opportunities we have had and look forward to working alongside our clients to cultivate real and measurable results. Please read below some of our success stories over the last few months.




Helping Reopen North America’s Largest Convention Center


In 2019, McCormick Place, owned by our client, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), held 289 events on its campus. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused all operations and events to halt immediately. At a standstill, the campus began operating as an alternative care facility for the City of Chicago. Hawthorne provided communications support in several areas, including customer communications, media relations, on-site support, and helped launch Healthy Meetings Chicago.


As the situation unfolded, we provided ongoing updates to our clients and supported the sales and event teams with information to answer questions. As the pandemic continued, we maintained regular contact providing updates on health and safety protocols as well as reopening plans. We handled hundreds of calls from media around the world about the impact of the pandemic and McCormick Place's response. McCormick Place was transformed into a temporary alternate care facility for COVID patients during the pandemic. We were on the ground to provide communications support, including five press conferences during a six-week period, including the Mayor, Governor, and Secretary of the Army. Hawthorne worked with MPEA and Choose Chicago to build and launch Healthy Meetings Chicago. This virtual experience was a first-of-its-kind digital illustration of the steps taken to ensure the health of the employees and guests on campus.


Finally, in May 2021, after over a year of being completely closed, McCormick Place announced it would reopen in June 2021 with a robust schedule of events over the next 18 months that would have a regional estimated economic impact of $2.35 billion. We led the public reopening by gaining large-scale media coverage and communicating with employees, partners, and MPEA clients.





Working with the Women’s Business Development Center to Spread Awareness for the State of Illinois COVID-19 Back2Business Grant Program


An advocate for the economic advancement of women- and minority-owned small businesses, the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) worked with the State of Illinois to aid in the Back to Business grant application process and provided tactical assistance to business owners throughout Cook County and the greater Aurora region. The program targeted those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing relief and support to help Illinois small businesses battle the effects of the pandemic and begin to recover.


Hawthorne, in partnership with our partners, created a bilingual campaign, launching print, digital, and radio advertisements and securing earned media placements in less than two weeks. We placed print and digital advertisements in La Raza, Negocios Now, and Patch.com. These efforts were in tandem with an earned media campaign for both Cook County and the Aurora region. Additionally, we partnered with Justin Ellis, Founder and CEO of Legato Digital, to create a dynamic digital advertising campaign. We also partnered with Susan Conroy McLeod, President of Conroy Media Ltd to secure targeted radio and Pandora advertisements that would specifically target Cook County and Aurora entrepreneurs.


The Facebook ads that ran for Cook County received over 300,000 impressions and 2,500 clicks, while the Google ads had more than 24,500 impressions and nearly 500 clicks. The radio ads for the Aurora region were placed in approximately 791 spots with roughly 533,000 impressions on local stations and Pandora. The print ads for La Raza had a readership of 102,500 individuals with 41,000 copies printed; Negocios Now has a readership of 500,000 and printed 10,000 copies; and Patch.com had roughly 500,000 impressions and nearly 500 clicks. Through our media efforts, we successfully secured placements in both The Daily Herald and the Chicago Defender.




Increasing the Volume on Chicago’s Redistricting Conversation


Our client, the Chinese American Service League (CASL), and their allies have fought for equity in representation on the Chicago City Council for over twenty years. During the nearly 200 year history of the Chicago City Council, only one alderman has ever identified as Asian American even though the AAPI population is the fastest-growing population in the City of Chicago and the nation.


Our team worked closely with CASL's CEO to develop an action plan to raise the volume on the call for Chinatown to have its own ward. Our team drafted and sent an op-ed on the CASL CEO's behalf to Chicago's major news outlets, landing the op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chinatown Deserves Its Own Ward.


While securing the op-ed was an important step, the follow-up was just as impactful.

The op-ed caught attention and even elicited published responses and opened up the conversation. In the following weeks and months, with support from the community and AAPI leaders within and beyond CASL, the call for elected officials to draw a 'Chinatown ward' grew louder. The op-ed placed in the Chicago Sun-Times resulted in a drumbeat of coverage on the topic spreading the conversation across Chicagoland, thanks to coverage from notable outlets, such as the WBEZ, ABC Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business, and AP News.