Don’t Ask the Barber if You Need A Haircut and other Press Release Wisdom from Warren Buffett

May 26, 2009

Last week, HubSpot’s provocatively titled webinar “How to Be Smarter than your PR Agency” took a stab at analyzing the effectiveness of press releases.   We applaud their efforts and will chime in here with some footnotes based on 48 years in the press release biz.photo from Times Picayune

But first, thanks to HubSpot for tackling this topic.  We’re delighted to see an inbound marketing software firm like HubSpot acknowledge how well press releases can perform in linkbuilding and organic search. 

Among HubSpot’s findings:

  • “Traditional” press releases are “syndicated” 20% more frequently than “social media press releases”  — meaning they are republished in full on major portals like Google and Yahoo! and authority websites.
  • “Traditional” press releases drive 14% more traffic to your website than “social media releases.” 

We’ve known this for years–but as every PR pro is aware, third-party endorsements breed credibility.  Thanks again, HubSpot!

Wire services “push” content

Presenters Rebecca Corliss and Michael Volpe explained that services like Business Wire have media relations teams that work directly with portals, to whom we “push” content based on need.  At Business Wire, we have 30 full-time media relations professionals worldwide.

HubSpot gives full credit to “the wires” for being able to “push” content better than anyone but bemoan we can be “pricey.”

Here’s where we disagree.   Starting at $210, we believe the press release is a multi-tasking bargain with its ability to work NOT ONLY as an SEO/linkbuilding tool but as  direct marketing.  

Treat your press release like its own interactive web page and it works as a tipsheet for reporters, a mini website, a brand ambassador.  Awareness raised by the well-done press release is hard to beat, because NOT ONLY does it contribute to SEO, it markets your message directly, ESPECIALLY when  pushed out to other authority sites, or “syndicated” as Hubspot calls it.

HubSpot discouraged the use of multimedia and XHTML formatting–bullets, boldface, italics, white space–in press releases.  Again, we disagree.

Attractively presented content gets read

Sure you want traffic to your site, but you also want people to READ what you WRITE.  That’s much more likely when content is attractively presented.   Our metrics show press releases with graphics get two to three times more clicks.

When HubSpot introduced the “the inbound marketing press release” to join the H-release, the social media release, the SMNR, SMPR, it was hard not to wonder:  Do we really need another template?    

Thanks to investments in NewsML by Business Wire like our patented NX technology, real world applications exist NOW for virtually any template or format you choose.  Every press release can include multimedia or not, can be shared or searched, include anchortext and/or lengthy URLs–it just depends on how you build it, having something to say, and your goals. 

Good content, well written, appropriately distributed

Our press release mantra:  Good content, well written, appropriately distributed.  No need for your press release to serve as SEO link builder OR a direct marketing tool–it can do both.  

And here’s where we quote our boss, Warren Buffett:  Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut. 

HubSpot is a software company, so naturally they will encourage the use of  software and website solutions for online marketing success.   More power to ‘em.

Those beating the drum for the social media news release are often in the business of profiting from its acceptance–frequently by carving a consulting biz out of a very crowded social media echo chamber.  It makes sense these folks would promote various templates’ alleged strengths.   Are they ”tech agency execs push(ing) faux ‘innovation’ for the sake of making names for themselves”? as one HubSpot blog commenter posted?  That’s for the reader to decide.

We, meanwhile, remain in the press release business and believe that well-done press releases address myriad online marketing challenges and at a reasonable price. 

The movie business began with silent movies, which became ”talkies,”  and later, color motion pictures.  Today we call them movies.  So it is with press releases.  They’ll continue to evolve and at Business Wire we embrace the evolution because in the end, they’re all press releases.

photo: Chuck Cook / The Times-Picayune


Disclosure Experts To Discuss Surviving IR’s Brave New World in New York Next Week

May 19, 2009

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Each year, Business Wire experts in your area bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to the SEC’s new XBRL mandate. Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Here is today’s featured upcoming local Business Wire event:

An Investor Relations Survival Guide: IR Strategies for the New Age of Corporate Transparency and Accountability

Hosted by Business Wire New York

Today’s financial crisis is certain to lead to greater corporate disclosure and accountability standards. Ironically, the definition of transparency itself has become muddied as a result of considerable — and often deliberate — misinformation in the marketplace.

Join Business Wire New York for the first in our national Spring Investor Relations Conference Series, as we bring together a distinguished panel of disclosure experts and thought leaders from diverse perspectives, including legal, corporate, agency and financial media. This free event will feature a discussion on the changing regulatory environment, the role of technology in investor outreach, revisiting Regulation FD and the compliance challenges ahead.

Neil Stewart, Executive Editor of IR Magazine, will moderate the panel, including:

Wednesday, May 27 at 8:30am ET
The Westin New York at Times Square
Third floor ballroom
270 West 43rd Street, New York City, NY 10036
212.201.2700

To register: Please RSVP to Marlie Massena at Marlie.Massena@BusinessWire.com or call 212-752-9600 x1310 by Monday, May 25.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.


Sacramento Media Discuss Industry Trends, Give Tips for PR Pros

May 15, 2009

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Business Wire Sacramento hosted a panel discussion last week with four distinguished Sacramento area journalists who discussed methods of reporting technology, business and real estate stories in the region and on a national level.

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The panelists (from left to right) were:

The panelists discussed some of the trends in their industries, including:

  • Mr. Barr says CPR has recently been doing “incidental business coverage,” as the economy and housing are of major importance to their listeners. CPR is interested in how individuals are being affected by the economy.
  • Mr. Veen notes that, despite being a monthly publication, Government Technology is constantly looking for stories to print online as a complement to their print edition. Because of these online opportunities, they are becoming more diversified. They are interested in how city, county or state agencies are trying to run more efficiently to better serve their constituents. They are also interested in where stimulus money is being spent.
  • Ms. Turner says the SBJ is interested in topics like how companies are cutting costs and how business is changing with the aging population.
  • Mr. Wasserman says one major focus with the Bee recently is “greentech,” which includes solar power, venture capital behind green tech, green construction, green fuels and green transportation.

When asked “How can PR professionals make your job easier?,” some of the responses included:

  1. Ask “Is this really news worthy?”  Distinguish between internal news that your company would find of interest versus general news that appeals to a greater audience.
  2. Put reporters in direct touch with someone at the company.
  3. Video!  Panelists all agreed that video can really enhance a story.
  4. Finding the human angle, particularly how one person is being affected by something.

All the panelists noted that they usually need at least two people to verify a tip. They prefer pitches via email, versus fax or phone, and they are all also on Twitter Facebook and write active blogs for their outlets.

Local Business Wire offices host several events each year on PR, IR and media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.


How to Build Your Online Newsstand with RSS

May 14, 2009

Some day, RSS will be to our online life what catalytic converters are to cars and no one will care what it is or how it works–we’ll just be glad it does.

But that day of understanding and acceptance has not arrived–yet.rss2  At our presentations and webinars, “What is RSS?”  continues to be a frequently asked question.

That’s why Business Wire account executive Malcolm Atherton out of our Phoenix office, and San Antonio-based Joseph Miller, our EON: Enhanced Online News Product Manager, have assembled an 11-minute video on How to Build Your Personal Newsstand with RSS (Really Simple Syndication).

As always, the approach is accessible and easy-to-understand.  Please take a look.  And if you want Business Wire or EON content as part of your online newsstand, please sign up for one of our customized feeds.


Business Wire PR Peeps Poll: More Than a Third Optimize Press Releases for Search Engines

May 7, 2009

Do you optimize your press releases for search engines? 

That was Business Wire’s 1-question poll for April, and we’re pleased to announce promising results:   34% of PR peeps polled say they optimize their press releases for search engines. 

Bravo!  That’s more than we expected.

Right behind the enlightened third, an almost equal 33% say they do NOT optimize press releases for search.  Twenty percent said they optimize “sometimes” and 12% “don’t know what it means” to optimize a press release for search engines.

Those of us catering to the public relations industry find these results heartening.  Press Release Optimization is a new concept and our educational webinars  suggest that the level of understanding is often shockingly remedial.  

As we said in a previous post, our clients tell us  they “don’t have time” to optimize their press releases for search engines.  That’s a shame.  One of the biggest pay-offs for doing so is better online traction through increased search engine results and sharing.

If you need help optimizing your press releases, check out the archived webinar on exactly that topic by Business Wire search pros Maria Van Wambeke and Michael Toner.  Watch for another Press Release Optimization webinar by our dynamic duo this summer.

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To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  And how about helping with the next one?  What do you value more when measuring press release traction?

Business Wire PR Peeps Poll for April 2009:

Do you optimize your press release for search engines? 
 
                     207  Yes 34%
                     202   No 33%
                     123    Sometimes 20%
                       75      I don’t know what optimize your press release for search engines means 12%
607 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted April 1 – May 5, 2009.

Charlotte-Area Communications Professionals Discuss Marketing in Challenging Times

May 7, 2009

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Business Wire Charlotte hosted a lunch on April 28th to discuss “Effective Communications Strategies in Challenging Times.” The discussion, led by Charlotte-area PR, IR and media professionals, revolved around the best practices for getting your good news out in a struggling economy.

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The panel of speakers (left to right in the above photo) included:

Brandon Uttley (far right), President of Web Business Freedom as well as the Charlotte chapter of PRSA, moderated the event to over 40 communications professionals.

Some notes from the discussion:

  • Whenever possible, offer full access to your company’s CEO. A reporter will rarely turn down the opportunity to meet with a C-level executive no matter what the topic is.
  • Since the economy is struggling, steer your angle towards ways to help people (ie. ways to reduce spending, create jobs, etc.) to guarantee media coverage.
  • Don’t just rely on Twitter or blogging to communicate your company news. Keep a relationship with your local media to get real coverage.
  • After you send out a release, tweet about it to get conversations going about it.
  • If you don’t have big news to announce, get creative and find ways to keep your company’s name in the media through feature-type articles.
  • Monitor what people are saying about you in blogs.

For more information on local Business Wire events in your area and what’s coming up on our award-winning webinar series, be sure to check out upcoming Business Wire events.


Postcard from a “Hired Hand” at the Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting

May 6, 2009

A few days later, my head is still spinning from attending the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting last weekend.

As announced here last week, eight Business Wire staffers joined CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz in Omaha. Playing off the western theme, “Warren and Charlie’s Wild West Show” us “hired hands” sold playful collectable posters with Buffett on horseback, Munger slinging a lasso and Cathy riding the range with Buffett.  All proceeds benefit CASA of Douglas County, Neb., Court Appointed Special Advocates, a charitable organization that provides a voice for abused and neglected children within the court system, and were matched by Business Wire. CASA: your check is en route.

hiredhands2We were lucky to score front row seats at the Qwest Center for the Q & A and shareholders’ meeting.  I guess it pays to be a “hired hand.”  For an excellent recap of the  Q & A, check out the “play-by-play” by Omaha World-Herald reporter Joe Ruff.  Joe:  Well done. 

Meanwhile, we made our own headlines with Cathy, one of only four female Berkshire CEOs, being interviewed by Fox News as well as the BBC for a future documentary.  Cathy suggested in a CNBC segment that Buffett would “calm everybody down”–and that’s what happened.  Buffett and Charlie Munger were both optimisitic about the future.  All my bosses make me proud!

Live tweeting from the meeting and our “follow @businesswire” Twitter contest was a successful experiment, with hundreds of new, targeted followers joining our Twitter bandwagon over the few days it ran.  Leigh Fatzinger of Seattle won the poster set and provided us an interesting case study on Twitter, which we’ll share with you at a future webinar.  Leigh:  your posters are en route (after we find a tube to send them in).  Read more about Twitter lessons learned in a separate post.

For more on the Business Wire/Berkshire Hathaway Tweeting, take a look at our Twitpic feed. Please excuse any typos committed along the way.  That happens.  And thanks to our staff, shareholders and all of you for joining us.


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