Less Transparency = Less $$$?

April 12, 2010

We’ve written a lot at Business Wired on the subjects of disclosure and transparency, including the causal relationship between increased communication and capital market benefits.  Looks like there’s even more evidence for transparency being good for companies’ bottom lines — and for lack of transparency hurting them:

After 11 years of publishing a list of the best corporate citizens, Corporate Responsibility Magazine plans to introduce in its April-May issue, out this week, its first-ever “black list” of the worst companies, or those that are the least transparent.

Transparency, as the magazine defines it, means making information about practices like employee benefits, climate-change policies or philanthropic efforts publicly available.

Dirk Olin, editor in chief of Corporate Responsibility Magazine, notes that, when compiling data for the article, they were able to find 30 corporations with no relevant data at all on those topics available publicly.  That group includes such corporations as clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch and weight loss specialists Weight Watchers.

And what does that mean for shareholders of those companies?

The best corporate citizens list . . . had a total return on shareholder value of 2.37 percent over three years. But the 30 worst had a negative 7.38 percent return.

“Our aggregate analyses,” Mr. Olin said, “make a strong argument for the business case for transparency.”

Corporate Responsibility’s full “Black List” will be published next Wednesday, April 24.


PR Peeps Poll: 18% haven’t downloaded any apps to their SmartPhone

April 12, 2010

The periodic PR Peeps Poll results are in and suggest  that of those PR folks  who own SmartPhones, 18% have yet to download any apps.

What does that mean?   Perhaps the ultimate app, the web browser, already comes pre-installed on every phone and covers most people’s basic browsing needs.

Of the 82% of SmartPhone owners who HAVE downloaded apps onto their mobile devices,  the largest group–53, or 36%–have added “5-10″ apps to their device.   Another 31 folks, or 20%, have downloaded “10-20″ apps, while 39, or 26%, have installed “more than 20″ apps onto their SmartPhones.

Interestingly, the largest percentage of those who took the poll–79 out of 228–did NOT even own a SmartPhone.   We especially appreciate their participation.

Here’s the details of the March Poll:

How many apps do you have on your SmartPhone?*
  • 26, or 18%, said  “Haven’t installed any yet.”
  • 53, or 36%, said “5 – 10″
  • 31, or 20%, said “10 – 20″
  • 39, or 26%, said “More than 20″

*We removed 79 of those polled who said they did not have a SmartPhone.

To those who participated, thank you–-and how about helping with our next PR Peeps Poll:   Do you insert hyperlinks into your press releases? Please let us know.
And:  Speaking of apps, download Business Wire’s app, then enter into our 3x a week drawing for a Best Buy gift card.

228 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted March 1 – April  8 2010.


Do special characters in press release headlines matter?

April 9, 2010

seotipjar-header-v11

Judging from my recent experiment, they do.

For years, conventional wisdom suggested  avoiding special symbols such as ® (registered trademark) and ™ (trademark) in press release headlines.  The assumption has been that search engines and downstream sites to which releases are pushed have difficulty digesting words with symbols attached and your release may be misconstrued.

With that idea in mind, I conducted a small experiment to see the present state of how search engines are actually interpreting releases with symbols in headlines.

Results suggest that search engines are getting smarter about handling symbols and it’s still best to leave symbols out of your headlines whenever possible.  Instead, focus on including keywords in your headlines and properly formatting your release for Google News.

For my experiment I chose the two most common symbols, ® (registered trademark) and ™ (trademark), selecting ten releases including each symbol in the headline.  For each release, I conducted two searches on Google, Yahoo and Bing based on headline content–one with the symbol and one without.  Since it’s safe to assume most searchers are not including the symbols unless copy-pasting, this would tell me if the search engines treated the queries differently and how “searchable” these types of releases are.  I also performed searches with ten releases from the same period with headlines that didn’t include special symbols to serve as a control group.

Here’s what I found.  This chart shows whether the search engine provided the same results whether or not symbols were included in the search.  For example, searching for Acme™ versus searching for Acme.

Identical Search Results Returned With and Without Special Characters

You can see that Google does the best job overall.  Even the single instance when Google’s results were not the same, there was only a very minor difference that could be attributed to Google experimenting with different search result presentation.  Bing is not far behind, doing even better than Google with TM symbol searches.  Yahoo is the real outlier here.  Yahoo actually showed zero results on 7 out of the 10 searches with TM symbols, just a handful of results on two searches, and was the same only once.  That’s not to say that releases with TM symbols were not found; the lesson here is that Yahoo cannot handle people including the TM symbols in their searches.

Another way to confirm this strange behavior is by searching each search engine for the symbol alone.

Google Trademark Symbol Search

Bing Trademark Symbol Search

Google and Bing ignore the symbol, but Yahoo seems to interpret it as the letters TM and has many disparate results on the first page.

Yahoo Trademark Symbol Search

The chart below shows the “success” of each search.  I defined success as finding the release content within the first page of search results when searching for headline terms.

Search "Success" for Press Releases

You can see that every search engine does an admirable job finding the releases, especially when a TM symbol or no symbols are in the headline.  However, if you are concerned about performing as well as possible in Yahoo and Bing, the safest thing is still to exclude symbols if possible.


Congratulations to our First Mobile Madness Winners!

April 9, 2010

The first week of our Mobile Madness sweepstakes has come to a close, and our first group of winners should be receiving their $25 Best Buy gift cards!  Congratulations to:

  • Jeannette Liang, GolinHarris
  • Chrissy Eckert, Campbell Soup Co.
  • Sarah Biggerstaff, Richmond Public Relations
  • Tracy Sullivan, Forrester Research
  • Lori Austin, Motorola

If you haven’t already entered to win a gift card, visit our contest page and enter today.  Then stop by the iTunes App Store and download the new, free, Business Wire Mobile app!



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