Press Release 2.0: Writing and Content Matter More than Tech Tricks

February 20, 2008

Tactics, the newsletter of the Public Relations Society of America , devoted its February issue to writing, and that’s good news.

PRSA Public Relations Society of AmericaWhy? Because in the contest to appear more-social-media-savvy-than-thou, some industry pros are losing sight of what matters most when it comes to press releases: good writing and valuable content. After that, appropriate delivery gets your message heard.

Judging from the roiling conversation around the “social media release,” you might think that press release results are all about the technology–that sharing chicklets, trackbacks, multimedia and tags are a PR panacea.

We at Business Wire and EON: Enhanced Online News don’t buy that. We believe a well-written story, distributed through appropriate channels, gets your message across.

That DOES NOT MEAN press release content shoved inappropriately into social media networks and two-way conversations. Crashing the party and interrupting conversations has never worked for me in the past…how ’bout you?

In our webinars, we educate attendees on how new media tools apply to press releases, reminding them that tapping into social networks requires time, energy and understanding. That’s why it’s called “networking,” which applies online just as it does in person.

At a PRSA meeting, you wouldn’t barge into a group of people you don’t know, shouting “Have you seen our new product?!? It’s really great! You should buy it!”

You wouldn’t.

Rather, you’d listen, find common ground, start a conversation, develop rapport, cultivate a relationship…and maybe, just maybe…hours, days or weeks later, propose some sort of contact.

Making releases more web friendly can increase a release’s Web traction, no doubt about it. And surely you won’t be surprised to learn that IMHO Business Wire and EON: Enhanced Online News offer the best tools on the planet for delivering press releases to their appropriate audiences.

That said, even OUR superior technology is incidental to the content and the writing.


Multimedia Upgrades on BusinessWire.com: New Layout, Navigation, and Video Options

February 15, 2008

After discussing our overall website redesign in an earlier post, in this post we’ll focus on our new multimedia features on BusinessWire.com.

If you work in PR, Advertising, Marketing, or any kind of function that has to do with communicating with audiences, you’ve probably noticed already how important online multimedia has become in organizations’ new communications mix. At Business Wire we’ve had front row seats to see how a lot of companies started changing their online multimedia strategies in recent years. As a result we’ve been continuously updating our own offerings to best assist professional communicators and make sure we help them reach the audiences they look for in the best possible ways.

As part of our efforts, earlier this week we announced three new features that make multimedia a lot more visible on our site, allow our various user groups to easily find the kind of multimedia they need, and improve the user experience, sharing options, and measurement around video.

New Multimedia Gallery on the Press Release Page:

The first change we announced is placing the entire multimedia gallery on the press release page. While traditionally in our industry multimedia was often considered a separate part of the press release — placed in specific sections of websites where users needed to navigate to especially — we at Business Wire have shown the first two multimedia assets on the press release page itself, and then linked those to the full multimedia gallery. However, experience has taught us that internet users are busy and overburdened with information. Unless users absolutely need something, they often won’t go out of their way to look for it. Also, when forced to navigate several levels deep on a website, some users may drop out in the process. Therefore we decided to bring multimedia directly to the user and make sure all the multimedia associated with a press release is immediately visible to all, without having to navigate away from the press release page.

New press release page layout with full multimedia gallery

The screenshot above shows how our full multimedia gallery is now an inseparable part of our clients’ press releases. Whether a release goes out with just one or two multimedia assets, or with a full set of photos, videos, audio files, logos, or pdfs, all those assets from now on are immediately visible to anyone looking at our client’s release, from the first moment they land on the page. This leads to much greater exposure to each asset, that ultimately can increase media and blogger pick-up.

New Web2.0-style navigation:

Showing all multimedia was just the first step though: as many of our clients know, Business Wire serves multiple constituents. We serve journalists, who often need high quality multimedia to download and repurpose for their stories. We have increasing usage by bloggers, who want to embed multimedia on their blogs and link to other sites; we have end-users who simply want to see an image or play a video without saving any files; and then there are also analysts, traders, industry executives, and so on.

Our goal at Business Wire is to be able to serve all of these audiences in the right way so they are able to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. So in order to give our users all the variants they need: hi resolution, low resolution, thumbnail, etc. or various video and audio variants, while minimizing the amount of navigation layers on our site, we’ve introduced new web2.0-style navigation menus for multimedia.

So now, when a user hovers on the thumbnail of a multimedia asset, they get all the options in a new menu that opens right there and then, whatever it is they’re looking for. Journalists can easily access high resolution downloadable multimedia files, bloggers can quickly find embeddable and linkable media, and end-users enjoy immediate viewing options. And the best part is that all these options are now only one click away from any press release, improving the user experience, helping drive more traffic to our clients’ multimedia, and once again, increasing the likelihood of gaining more pick-up.

New hover menus on Business Wire's multimedia thumbnails

New Video Player:

Finally, let’s focus on video: for several years Business Wire has been publishing videos using popular download formats such as Quicktime, Windows Media, and Real Media in several file sizes for users who needed to save and repurpose full files. We’ve also made all videos available on sharing sites such as YouTube, MySpace Video, Google Video, and Blip.tv, which is a great consumer-facing benefit, but is still a separate part of our site, and therefore provides a different kind of usage environment, and no unified measurement. So we decided to introduce our own branded video player that quickly and easily plays content from our site to end-users, can be embedded by bloggers on their own sites, and provides our clients with additional measurement in the reports we generate. And of course, we continue to make all videos available on leading video sharing sites. So now any user can easily play content distributed via Business Wire in the destination and format of their choosing, whether it is on YouTube or on BusinessWire.com, and whether by playing directly or downloading for other purposes. And the data from our own video player and downloadable files is easily shown in the measurement reports we provide clients.

So for example, here is where users can find all of Business Wire’s multimedia for a specific press release on our own site.

And here’s is how a You Tube embed would look like from the Business Wire Channel:


 

And finally, here is an example blog showing how the Business Wire embedded player would look like on another blog:

Example blog post with Business Wire Video

With a full multimedia gallery on the press release page, new web2.0 navigation menus offering 1-click access to all multimedia, and our new branded video player, we’re putting multimedia in the forefront so our clients can take full advantage of these benefits. We encourage you to check out the new features, and as always, feel free to let us know what you think. If you have questions on the best ways to utilize multimedia for your next release, don’t hesitate to drop us a line or call your local Business Wire representative.


O Canada! Business Wire’s 31st office opens in Toronto

February 14, 2008

Canadian flagWhen you are new in town, sometimes you opt for Warren Buffett at Business Wire Canada's Opening Event in Torontothe low key ‘get to know us’ approach and sometimes you pull out all the stops and throw the bash that lets everyone know you have arrived.

Business Wire’s opening of our office in Toronto definitely falls into the latter category.Senior BW staff with Warren BuffettSenior BW staff with Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett with Business Wire Senior ManagementOur Toronto staff, lead by Country Manager, Roland Acheampong, and representatives from our distribution partners CanWest joined senior managers at Business Wire to host “A Conversation with Warren Buffett” moderated by our President and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz.

The Canadian press and financial community have been an important component of Business Wire’s delivery for decades. We have served Canadian clients and public relations professionals there for years and we are gratified now to be officially part of the community.


Business Wire Announces New Website Design, SEO, and Multimedia Features

February 11, 2008

  

Following a successful soft launch in December, we are glad to officially announce our new website upgrade. Over the next few blog posts we’ll discuss the changes we made on our site. The overarching theme of all these updates is making the content we distribute on behalf of our clients as accessible as possible to all the different user groups who look for it, and in the ways they look for it. First, our new and improved website design and accessibility. 

So how is the new website design different and better now? Here’s what we did:

Redesign: 

After successfully introducing a few new international websites in 2007, we were ready to shower our main website with some additional attention as well. So in order to make the site look more up-to-date we decided to make it a bit cleaner, less cluttered, and make more effective use of white space. We’ve also reorganized some of our pages in a way that makes important content visible to those looking for it, and in a way that fits the ways in which they look for it. Below is a screen grab of the new homepage design:

  

BusinessWire.com homepage

    

In addition to the improved look-and-feel, the new homepage structure strikes a good balance between offering news content and highlighting Business Wire’s key products and services. It highlights various important products such as our PR, IR, and Media services, while still displaying our news feed in a visible place on the page. It also highlights more clearly many important features such as our RSS links, tradeshow news, Business Wire’s own news, and more. This updated look and structure extends to our internal pages as well. Here is a screenshot of our new Products and Services section: 

 

Business Wire Products and Services 

Search and User Visibility: 

On the accessibility front, we’ve updated our website code to include improved labeling and tagging of different parts of our pages, in order to make it easier for search engines to spider our content; made it simpler and leaner under the hood so that pages load faster; optimized the site for some newer versions of web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari; and switched to a unified URL structure that also makes our content more search friendly and enables more accurate traffic measurement. All these increase the likelihood of our clients’ press releases showing up higher in search results, and of users being able to more easily and quickly access our clients’ releases.

Search Engine Optimization is a moving target, and there are no silver bullets. However, we continuously enhance our SEO efforts. Examples of this include offering our EON: Enhanced Online News search and social-media-ready platform; continuously providing our clients with tips and best practices on how to better communicate in the new media landscape and make their content as web-friendly as possible; and helping clients understand how to combine SEO efforts across press releases, new online services, and their own websites. Our continuous upgrades, like the one we’ve announced today, is another example of how keep making our content as accessible as possible.  We encourage you to check out our new site design, and as usual, feel free to let us know what you think.

The official press release is here. Stay tuned for more on our multimedia and sharing updates.


Knock, knock. Who’s there? Is it Mandatory XBRL?!

February 11, 2008

XBRLThe SEC Advisory Committee on Improvement to Financial Reporting (CIFiR), in a Draft Decision Memo and at its January 11th meeting, recommended the SEC transition to mandatory XBRL for all companies. CIFiR recommended the SEC phase-in XBRL as follows:

  • The largest 500 domestic public reporting companies should be required to “furnish” XBRL tagged face financial statements and “block tagged” footnotes;
  • One year later, all domestic “large accelerated filers” (~2,000 Companies) should be required to “furnish” XBRL tagged face financial statements and “block tagged” footnotes to the SEC.
  • During the phase-in period, the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) should seek input from companies, investors, and other market participants as to the experience of such persons in preparing and using XBRL tagged financial statements using the U.S. GAAP taxonomies, and related costs. The SEC should consider conducting or commissioning a study of the rate of errors by companies in using the appropriate XBRL tags in comparison to the financial statement items. At the end of the phase-in period described above, and as promptly as practicable after the preconditions to full implementation discussed above are met, the SEC should evaluate the results from the phase-in period to determine whether and when to move from furnishing to official filing of XBRL tagged financial statements for domestic large accelerated filers, as well as the inclusion of all other reporting companies.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 590 other followers

%d bloggers like this: