Inside the Newsroom:  What Reporters Like About Newswires

August 26, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Editor, Business Wire Paris

Commercial news distribution services (aka Newswires) have been in existence for over fifty years, their durability proving their utility. Business Wire’s latest mission was to investigate the ‘why’ behind the popularity of newswires, particularly as far as reporters are concerned, and here’s what the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey concluded…

Why do reporters continue to use newswires?
Simply put, newswires make reporters’ lives easier. An overwhelming 68.2% of reporters surveyed stated that their job would be harder if newswire-distributed press releases were no longer available. (Tweet this!) Newswires make for reliable news sources providing reporters with ongoing, instantly accessible information on a wide variety of news subjects, from technology to pharmaceuticals.

How often do reporters use newswires?
An astonishing 89% of responding reporters referred to newswire copy within the last week.  (Tweet this!) 3.3% of reporters surveyed use newswire content once a day or more, with 21.5% using it several times a day. Newswires publish information directly from the source, making them the go-to for the most up-to-date (and accurate!) corporate news.

bizwirepressreleaseprefs

What types of news do reporters want to receive?
When it came to top types of story information a reporter prefers, 77% of surveyed reporters look for breaking news, a key feature of newswire content, followed by company-provided data, unique story angles, quotes, backgrounders and more. (Tweet this!)

Why pitch your story via press release?
28% of journalists prefer to receive organizational news via press releases, whereas blog posting, social media outreach and telephone calls were all amongst the least favourable methods (less than 4% for each), and some reporters prefer not to be pitched at all! (Tweet this!)

Reporters Prefer Business Wire

So why use Business Wire?
Business Wire is the top newswire used by the reporters surveyed, checking in at 70.8%, followed at a distance by PR Newswire (66.4%), and with other newswires almost 45% behind. With over fifty years in the industry, incomparable expertise, uncontested editorial product offering and unmatched customer service, why would you go anywhere else? (Tweet this)


Seven Reasons for Publicly-traded Companies to Proactively Consider a CSR Program

August 19, 2014

By Matt Van Tassel, Business Wire

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has transformed from business movement to business process.

Individual and institutional investors not only want to know that your company is profitable; they also want to know that a company is operating responsibly.  Global stock exchanges and regulators are also taking a harder look at how companies operate within the context of society.

The changes resulting from the CSR movement could not be any clearer: corporate social responsibility is here to stay, and by beginning to implement components of sustainability into business practices, companies can benefit from risk management and competitive advantage perspective.

Don’t believe us?  Below are several relevant points showcasing the significance of CSR and how having a well-promoted CSR program in place will not only benefit your company’s brand, but potentially your company’s bottom line too.

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  1. Sustainability is going mainstream and investors do

PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed a mix of institutional investors to see how sustainability enters into their investment decisions. The key takeaways: first, companies that have sustainability efforts in place are looked upon as investments with a lower risk profile.  Second, there is a lack of information, specifically in the U.S., regarding sustainability reporting, and therefore those who do report have a unique opportunity to stand out. To view the survey, click here.

  1. Stock exchanges are weighing in as well.

Ceres, one of the leading advocates for sustainability business practices, put together a proposed listing standard, based on feedback from both institutional investors and stock exchanges.  The proposal is a three-part rule: 1) Assess CSR factors material to the company’s business, 2) Provide disclosures on ten CSR issues (such as environmental impact, diversity and human rights), and 3) Supply a link to where the company’s CSR data resides on its Web site. To see the proposal, click here.

  1. SEC checks in on Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting.

Davis Polk’s Betty Moy Huber, co-head of their Environmental Group, crafted a memo on the SEC’s willingness and interest to integrate CSR reporting into its disclosure requirements. As the SEC is working toward revamping Regulation S-K disclosure requirements, this would be an excellent opportunity to formalize CSR requirements for public companies. To view her memo, click here.

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility is a global concept, and Europe is leading the pack.

Many consider Europe to be at the forefront of mandates for CSR reporting. This last April, the European Parliament adopted the Directive on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies. This directive will require EU companies to report on environmental, social and other CSR matters as well as how their business model is affected by these policies. To view links to the directive, click here.

  1. But don’t investors only care about short-term results? Technically yes, but they can be swayed.

While short-term investing is prevalent in today’s markets (and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future), Global Compact LEAD and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) have built a roadmap to turn the tide. One of the true keys to solving this puzzle is identifying and effectively communicating the benefits of CSR strategies for both short-term and long-term investors. To view their joint report, click here.

  1. Investors are recognizing returns on socially responsible companies.

More and more investors are looking beyond balance sheets when deciding where to place their assets. With one out of eight professionally managed U.S. dollars invested in socially responsible funds, you can be assured there is a benefit in becoming increasingly socially responsible. To view alternative energy investment company Mosaic’s article, click here.

  1. Companies must take a long-term approach and properly communicate CSR efforts.

Once your company has decided to make CSR reporting a greater priority, getting the initiative started takes some consideration. Dix & Eaton’s Stephanie Harig offers some excellent tips on communicating your company’s CSR efforts, like identifying which department will own this initiative and finding the social responsibility issues that are material to your company’s business model. To view the article, click here.

Investors not only want to know that your company is profitable — they want to know your company is doing good. By being proactive and implementing a CSR policy, you can help solidify your company as a standard bearer in your respective industry. And what better way to get the word out than a press release?  Marketing your CSR-related initiatives via a branded press release is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to promote your company’s best practices.

Next Steps:

Want to learn how you can initiate a communication program designed to highlight your CSR program?  Drop us a line — we would love to talk.  We work with many companies to successfully promote CSR programs to a wide range of relevant audiences such as SRI fund managers, NGOs, academics,  CSR-focused journalists and like-minded company decision makers.


The 5 Definitive Rules to Media Relations in 2014

August 13, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this year, Business Wire released their 2014 Media Survey in which we asked 300 reporters, journalists, editors, bloggers and freelancers a wide range of questions related to how they cover company news.  Their answers provide a very clear road map to media relations best practices in 2014.  In this post, we look at the top five questions that make up the new rules for media relations in 2014.

1. Reporters have to meet metrics too With 44 percent of media survey respondents now writing for online publications, the metrics in which the success of an article is based upon have changed. Thanks to unprecedented speed and reach of news enjoyed by the world today, story views have replaced print sales, social shares replacing water cooler discussions.

Media Moving Online

Tweet this statistic now!

As we have discussed many times, one of the easiest ways to increase the visibility of coverage of your organization is to share it out. Utilize social media to increase the chance of likeminded individuals and influencers finding out about your news, while assisting journalists in meeting the overall story’s own success metrics.

Reporter Metrics

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2. What types of news interest reporters? With so much news occurring every day, what is the best way to capture a reporter’s attention?  What types of news do reporters want to see in a press release?

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The next press release you write should not only focus on the breaking news you are sharing, but include facts, angles, quotes and other assets to increase usefulness to reporters.  

3. Your Multimedia Asset or Theirs? 73 percent of reporters in this survey said photographs were their most favored supplemental asset communicators could provide them. Almost every online and print article today includes multimedia.  When you provide interesting, usable photos, graphics, infographics, video and more, not only are you helping the media outlet, you are also telling your own story, in your own voice.

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4. Your website is their top research tool When it comes to doing research for a story, journalists overwhelmingly turn to company websites and company online newsrooms for background information.

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When was the last time you took a critical look at the information on your website or within your company online newsroom from the perspective of a reporter on a deadline?  Is your information easy to find?  Can reporters download or embed assets instantly? Is your site impeding your coverage? Did you know that 88 percent of reporters asked said press releases were their most desired type of content in an online newsroom? Do an audit of your website and, specifically your online newsroom. Refresh this important asset to increase usability.

5. Which newswire do today’s reporters prefer? When provided with an array of choices, 71 percent of journalists and media outlets responding to this survey selected Business Wire as their top choice for news releases.

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With more than 50 years of leadership experience in the news distribution industry, while we are proud of this statistic, we are not surprised.  Every day we are a conduit between media outlets, reporters, bloggers, analysts, brand fans, organizations, corporations, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and more to ensure timely distribution and receipt of the world’s leading corporate and organizational news.

Learn additional tips and tricks on how to work with today’s media outlets by downloading the complete 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Guidance Report now. Get a copy of the infographic containing the images in this blog post here, or use the below code to embed the infographic into your website:

21st Century Journalism & Public Relations

 

Copy and paste the following to embed this infographic within your site:
<a href=”http://blog.businesswire.com/2014/08/13/the-5-definitive-rules-to-media-relations-in-2014/”><img title=”The 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Infographic” class=”aligncenter” alt=”21st Century Journalism &amp; Public Relations” src=”http://storage.pardot.com/19392/87712/BW_media_survey_infographic.jpg&#8221;
width=”800″></a>

To learn more about crafting and distributing content that activate your media targets, drop us a line.  We’d love to talk.To learn more about Business Wire’s media services click here.


Updating Your Earnings Release: How to Maximise the Readability of Earnings Press Releases

August 12, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Editor, Business Wire Paris

With the earnings period once again upon us, investor and public relations professionals are coming together to publish what is often considered the most important release of the quarter: the earnings release.

Quarterly earnings releases are a reflection of the financial health of an organization and are most frequently read by the financial community, shareholders, customers and employees.

Earnings releases, which must succinctly showcase this extremely important information, are often a cause of stress and anxiety, particularly in terms of readability.  Today the average news consumer reads only around 20% of provided text, leaving today’s communicators asking how they can optimize the impact of their press releases.

  1. Write your company name in the headline
    Including your company name in your press release headline is the quickest and easiest way to associate your company with its earnings release, and yet it is overlooked time and time again. Furthermore, the inclusion of the company name often leads to a higher SEO ranking – ideal for your annual results!earnings
  2. Ensure the most important information is at the top of your release
    Readers spend 80% of their time reading information found above the fold[1] , so this is where your most important information should be. An operating highlights summary in the form of a bulleted list, positioned just after the first sentence of the release, can greatly improve adoption and understanding of your news.
  3. Include financial tables in your release

    The importance of including complete financial tables within your press release cannot be stressed enough. Financial tables serve as a visual, simplifying wordy paragraphs and allowing quick and relatable comprehension of a company’s situation. In addition, many analysts utilize models to predict company health. Financial tables provide all the detail needed to update these models. And of course, don’t forget to include the reporting currency.

  4. Quote a company executive
    Ideally, the quote accompanying your earnings release will be provided by the company’s CEO[2]. A comment, no matter how long or short, goes a long way toward the personalization of your company and presentation of your key message. This comment can provide a justification, explanation oract as a written pat on the back. Either way, a comment from an executive provides true context of the quarter’s financials – particularly useful given that a large majority of readers of this release will be your shareholders.
  5. Subtitle your sections
    Earnings releases are notoriously difficult to read and comprehend, making subheadings the perfect solution. Included just below the press release headline, sub heads should indicate the type of information to follow, allowing the reader to easily navigate the different categories of information.
  6. Group together similar information
    When possible, similar content should be written consecutively, or as close together in the release as possible. This keeps repetition to a limit, and again, allows the reader to navigate your release more easily.
  7. Be succinct
    There is an unavoidable need to include certain information, for regulatory reasons, but this doesn’t mean that your whole release should follow a lengthy, wordy pattern. Be as concise as you can be[3], but take care to include all the necessary information.
  8. Keep historical information towards the end of the release
    Readers look for the most current and important information first. This goes back to readers spending most of their time above the fold. Historical information, although useful, is not the most relevant in these types of releases. If it is essential – for example, year-on-year comparisons – this ideally should be included within the financial tables or near the end of the press release, below the fold.
  9. Enhance your earnings release with multimediaAce Hardware
    The fastest way to increase effectiveness of news consumption is to include additional visual content. An infographic of your financials, such as the one created and distributed by Ace Hardware, is an easy way to represent your quarterly results.  Or use  video from your CEO or division head, like ARC Resources’ Myron’s Minute, to explain, in plain language, the story behind the data.
  10. Use numbered footnotes – and group them together!
    There is nothing worse than having to match up symbols, and to guess where they are inside the release. A nice, neat, numbered footnote list, found at the very bottom of the release, makes everyone’s life easier. In addition, consider hyperlinking to footnoted information to provide easy access when needed.

The combination of these techniques will improve your earnings release’s readability and ensure that the most important information is found and read by the majority of desired readers. In addition to increased comprehension of your financials by your core audience, you may just get more coverage as your target reporters and shareholders find it easier to digest the news.

How to Write a Compelling Earnings Release

With regard to the information that should be included in terms of structure and content, companies will inevitably vary in the type of information provided, but should try to keep to consistent and complete information in plain English. Here are a few helpful guidelines[4]:

Structure:

  • The date of release and city and state of headquarters should be at the beginning of the release
  • The most important news should be summarised in the first paragraph
  • Subheadings should be used to further clarify and highlight important corporate developments
  • The last paragraph should include a business description, with the company’s complete name, ticker symbol and equity market
  • Media contact information and a website address should always appear at the end of the release

sample_snr_ENContent:

  • Changes in disclosure from quarter to quarter, or year to year, should be specified and explained (sales, revenues, net income, diluted earnings per share and percentage change for each section)
  • Observations should be made only between comparable periods – for example, it is better to compare a third quarter of year N to the third quarter of year N-1, rather than year N’s second quarter
  • Key value drivers and other important line items should be clearly noted
  • Charges/gains/losses should be included if they contribute to the results, and it is advisable to explain how and why they have had an effect (eg. extraordinary gains, losses, equity losses and accounting changes)
  • A consistent format should be used throughout the press release (this is particularly important when reconciling GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures)
  • It is prudent to mention key events and changes, such as government practices and changes to the Board of Directors, plus any steps being taken to address these changes
  • Information on gross profit and margin (plus percentage change), cash flow, share repurchase activity and other measures of performance (capital expenditures, R&D expense and nonfinancial measures) should be included where appropriate
  • Provide forward-looking insights when possible, for the next quarter and/or year, and how the previous forecast has measured up to the current results

Financial statements should always be labeled as audited or unaudited, and can include: complete income statement (with current and year-ago quarter numbers, current year-to-date and year-ago year-to-date comparable period numbers, outstanding shares – both fully diluted and basic), balance sheet (current quarter numbers and end of prior-year numbers), plus cash flow tables, current quarter numbers and year-to-date.

Interested in learning more about increasing the impact of your financial press releases?  Let us know! With more than 50 years of news distribution experience, we have quite a few tips and tricks to share.

[1] http://www.nngroup.com/articles/scrolling-and-attention/

[2] http://www.whitecase.com/files/Publication/60516433-ff3f-444c-8e7d-a5cdcdc84c82/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/be3b92fd-aa2d-45f2-8c4b-ae6486778b0b/article_Earnings_Releases_and_Earnings_Calls.pdf

[3] http://irwebreport.com/20020513/preparing-earnings-releases-for-the-web/

[4] Standards of Practice for Investor Relations, Earnings Release Content (NIRI, page 7)


Business Wire Spotlight: Meet Zara McAlister!

August 11, 2014

For today’s Friday spotlight, we once again head north to interview Zara McAlister,  our Canadian media relations specialist.

Meet Zara McAlisterZara, thank you for speaking with us!  Tell us about yourself, where are you from?
I was born and raised in Port Perry, Ontario, a small town north of Toronto. As a country girl, I’ve had to adjust to big city living in Toronto. It’s getting easier every day.  

When did you start working for Business Wire?
After completing my MA degree in Journalism from Western University in the spring of 2012, I took on the position of newsroom editor at Business Wire’s Toronto office the following November.    

You first started at Business Wire as an editor, tell us more about your roles within the company.
Although I enjoyed the editorial and client relations side at Business Wire when I worked in our Toronto newsroom, I was excited about pursuing new opportunities as a media relations specialist for our Canadian territory. This role enabled me to put on my journalistic thinking cap and collaborate with the thousands of journalists in the country. I’ve been working in this role for the past five months – and I love doing it!

Tell us more about your role as our Canadian media relations expert?
As a media relations specialist, I develop and maintain relationships with Canadian journalists, form partnerships with media points by exploring content license opportunities, co-manage our @BusinesswireCA Twitter account and I work on keeping our expansive database of media contacts up-to-date. Apart from my primary responsibilities, I also enjoy writing content for our blog and other public and investor relations publications.

What do you enjoy about your job?
The best part about my role in media relations is the opportunity to meet new journalists every day. Even though I’m not always interacting with journalists face-to-face (more often than not we connect via social media), I get to learn about our Canadian media landscape, what our journalists deem newsworthy and how Business Wire can facilitate their needs. I think working with our journalists is so important given how unstable their industry is at this time, so we want to be able to help our reporters and editors as they are taking on massive changes.

What do you like about Business Wire?
All of my colleagues, from Seattle to Tokyo, have always been friendly and encouraging. Our global team is ready to land a hand when needed, despite operating on different time zones. Our courtesy with each other definitely extends to our customers and our media partners, so they can always expect outstanding and punctual customer service.

What are some of your favorite contributions to Business Wire?
I was able to hone my copy editing skills when I worked in our Toronto newsroom, so I always felt a rush of adrenaline every time I was able to catch misplaced quotation marks, dangling modifiers, and misspelled names.  I prided myself on spotting those pesky little “It’s” vs. “Its” errors, which actually happens quite frequently.  

I’ve been able to employ my journalistic skills by writing content marketing pieces to help increase our brand awareness in Canada. I’m not afraid to try out new ways of marketing ourselves.

Tell us about yourself!
I’m a self-professed lover of chick lit and all things related to the Bachelor/Bachelorette reality TV show. For those two hour episodes every Monday evening, my eyes are glued to the TV watching impossibly romantic dates and heart wrenching breakups. When it’s not a Monday evening (and this show airs pretty much all of the time), you can find me enjoying Toronto’s summer patio scene or hitting around a birdie with my badminton racquet.

I’m also a globe trotter, having travelled across North and South America, and much of Europe.

What drives you to do what you do every day at Business Wire?

As soon as I step into my office, I’m ready to offer valuable content to our Canadian journalists so that they can share important news with their readers or investors. Newsrooms will never have to worry about a lack of content when they decide to work with Business Wire.

What is your favorite thing about living in Canada?
That we are generally well-liked by people around the world. Because the stereotype that Canadians are polite, friendly and outgoing people is actually accurate—look no further than our Toronto office team. Also, I think I look fairly stylish in a snowsuit.  

Why do you recommend Canadian companies work with Business Wire?
Business Wire has formed long-lasting and solid partnerships with many of the major media points around the world. That means that your news will always be viewed and shared by the editors, reporters and producers that make up global newsrooms.


Brand Journalism and the Evolution of Online Newsrooms

August 6, 2014

In the August 2014 issue of PRSA Tactics, Business Wire’s VP of Web Communications Ibrey Woodall reflects on how the online newsroom has matured from a basic press release archive to a central communications headquarters complete with brand articles. Although a very few journalists (only 7 percent) still believe that company-written articles do not belong in the news center, results from the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey illustrate that more than 60 percent of reporters are receptive to brand journalism.

Brand Article Types of Interest to ReportersRead the article “Online Newsrooms and Brand Journalism: Survey Shows Media Acceptance of Corporate Storytelling in Press Centers” to learn more about how organizations can create special content sections within their online newsroom. Content that helps relay a company’s history and industry focus, enhancing both brand loyalty and search engine optimization.


The Hive – The Buzz and Business of Blogging in Europe

July 31, 2014

By Kai Prager – Senior International Media Relations Specialist

The Hive – The Buzz and Business of Blogging in Europe

Picture provided by Elisabetta Rizzato, Italian Bark (http://www.er-interiordesign.com/)

Two stops from Copenhagen Main Station I stepped off the local train. I looked around and had the feeling I was in a different city:  No historic buildings, no boats … just a few apartment buildings and a modern structure in the background. I took to the street with my little map and tried to decide which direction to go.  I saw two women leaving the station as well and asked them for directions. They pointed toward the modern structure. They were also on their way to the conference, and five minutes later we entered The Hive together, like three eager bees.

The Hive styles itself as “The European Blog Conference.” Visitors came to Denmark from all over Europe, from Iceland to Italy and from Hungary to the Netherlands, to attend. Some of the participants even crossed the Atlantic to take part in the conference, taking the scope as far as the U.S.

Attending the keynote I noticed a main theme that appeared in one form or another throughout the event: Authenticity.

Katie Treggiden, Confessions of a Geek Designer

Katie Treggiden, Confessions of a Geek Designer

Katie Treggiden, who runs the blog Confessions of a Geek Designer, gave an engaging speech about finding –and writing in — one’s own voice and theme. She said this is essential to attracting a core audience who visit the blog regularly. Broadly styled writings, on the other hand, don’t aggravate anyone.

The next speaker, who showcases authenticity with every post, is the charming Anne Faber.  She discussed how Anne’s Kitchen  turned from a blog to both a book and a TV show. The secret to her success is her love of food and cooking which she convincingly applied to her blog and later adopted for publishing efforts and a career as a television presenter.

The Hive hosted a wide range of keynotes and workshops showcasing helpful tools for bloggers, from social media and SEO to storytelling and photography. There were helpful tips for those who want to turn their blog into a business, such as including ads, tying in a shop or offering other services. But it was also stated that all efforts to gain revenue should fit the overall concept of the blog; otherwise, the authenticity of the blog would be damaged.

After two days at the conference, and talking to bloggers from all over Europe and beyond, I left with the realization that blogging transcends borders and connects people all over the world. Blogging provides the possibility to look closely into a special subject that can attract readers everywhere. It permits the use of a wide array of media like text, film, audio and images. But most important, a blog should be authentic and true to its theme and style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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