Philadelphia Media Members and Communication Professionals Provide Practical Tips for Media Relations

May 27, 2010

On Wednesday, May 12th, Business Wire Philadelphia hosted “Media Relations Boot Camp,” a breakfast and panel discussion about media relations best practices.  The event, held at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia, brought over 50 PR practitioners, industry professionals and business executives looking to learn from leaders in the media and communications industries.

Moderator Michael Smith, LaSalle University

The panel discussion was moderated by Michael Smith, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication at La Salle University and featured the following speakers:

Below are some of the key points from each of our panelists:

Mike Armstong, Philadelphia Inquirer

  • When asked what he looks for in a story, Mike said “the key word is interesting.  If you’re going to reach out to the media, it better be interesting and it better be important.”  He also added that pitches should be short, to the point and preferably delivered by e-mail – not over the phone or via fax.
  • If you’re going to call Mike at the Inquirer, he suggests doing your research.  Flowery language doesn’t work for him.  A better approach is to read his articles and find a connection between your pitch and what he covers.  He added that “the brutal truth is that just because you exist, doesn’t mean you’re a story.”  To be successful, organizations need to recognize trends and find how you fit into these bigger stories.
  • Despite being the editor for the PhillyInc Blog, Mike does not heavily rely on social media for news tips.  There is no must-read blog for him at the moment.  Although he keeps a list of blogs to follow, he only checks them about once a month.

Bernard Dagenais, Philadelphia Business Journal

  • For Bernie and the Philadelphia Business Journal, a good story is about a lot of money and/or a lot of jobs.  Journalists bring their independent judgment to the newsroom when it comes to determining whether or not something is newsworthy, but for the most part a good story is one that will be interesting to the entire business community – not just your specific industry.
  • When sending an e-mail to an editor or reporter, the subject line is very important.  It is a PR professional’s job to get the attention of the media and a subject line is one way to do that.  If a story is really good, it is not a bad idea to call the reporter and resend the e-mail once you’re on the phone so the reporter doesn’t have to search for what you’re talking about.  When calling Bernie with a pitch, a fact-driven approach works best.  He wants to get his job done as efficiently and effectively as possible so provide the information he needs up front.
  • Make sure you are sending quality e-mails when you contact reporters.  Bernie actually set up a junk filter for people who have sent too many useless e-mails in the past.  According to Bernie, “why would I want to contact them?  They don’t get what it is that we do.”

Alex Hillman, DangerouslyAwesome.com and Indy Hall

  • Organizations should remember that sometimes less is more.  Not everything an organization does is newsworthy so there is no reason to constantly broadcast announcements if they are not important.  “If everything is a hot story, then nothing is a hot story,” he said.  “Shut up and listen before you shout and hope someone listens.”
  • Alex referenced Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow, encouraging the audience to do something interesting and to be remarkable.  “Be worth remarking about.  You’ll keep hitting the same walls [with the media] if you continue to do the same thing.”
  • When it comes to using social media and new technology, he recommends taking a quality over quantity approach.  Consistently putting out quality posts and being thoughtful about your social media strategy is more effective than high volume.  Social media tools like blogs allow people to express judgment in what they are sharing, and organizations should recognize this important aspect when creating content.  In regards to negative comments on blogs, Alex recommends not deleting them but instead viewing them as an opportunity to engage.

Panelist Michael Wood, PPL Corporation

Michael Wood, PPL Corporation

  • Although more and more organizations are incorporating social media into their communication strategies, it is still important to use outlets like the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Business Journal.  “You need to consider all media to reach your audience.  You need to integrate your message into a number of different vehicles and traditional media is part of that plan,” he said.
  • According to Michael, “credibility means everything to someone working in media relations.”  Know what makes a good story for the media outlet you are pitching and know what information they need to do their job.  Be selective when reaching out to the media so they are more likely to pay attention when you pitch.
  • When writing a press release, make it more about the story and less about the organization.  Revise your headline to be about the current trend you want to discuss and have your company serve as one of several sources within the release.

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

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


How to Pitch an Association Publication

May 25, 2010

- by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Washington, DC

Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist

At a recent event held by the PRSA National Capital Chapter in Washington, DC, Jessica Sidman, association & nonprofit reporter for Bisnow, and Ed Dalere, Managing Editor of Association TRENDS, offered advice on how to pitch a great story for your association or nonprofit.

The discussion revealed that pitching is not an exact science, even when it comes to the nonprofit world.  Every journalist has unique preferences and it is important for public relations professionals to take this into consideration when providing news tips.  For example, Jessica would rather be contacted via e-mail, while Ed prefers phone calls.

A common theme, however, was the importance of creating an interesting story that captures the attention of a reporter.  According to Jessica, a story is great when it is interesting to people in industries other than your own.  Think about the universal appeal of your story and remember those features when writing your release.  Is your organization engaging members in new ways?  How are you addressing the top challenges that your association is currently facing?

For Ed, a great story is one that goes beyond the press release.  Make sure there are contacts on your release that are ready to provide information and to engage in conversation.  Media contacts should not only be knowledgeable about the subject of the release, but should also remember that journalists are looking for something to make their story unique.  Ed is not going to use a quote if he knows it is a generic response given to multiple publications.

Bisnow’s Association & Nonprofit news reaches more than 10,000 association professionals nationally.  It provides analysis of issues in association management, profiles on nonprofit leaders and news about various organizations through a free subscription based e-newsletter.

Association TRENDS is often called ‘the bible of the association community.’ It is a subscription-based, online weekly read by association executives, managers and nonprofit experts throughout the United States. TRENDS sponsors an annual media contest for associations and selects the national ‘Association Executive of the Year.’

For more tips on writing and sending your press releases, visit the “Support and Education” section at BusinessWire.com.


Engaging Your Audience Using Video

May 24, 2010

by Rachel Gould, Client Services Representative, Business Wire Boston

Business Wire Boston recently joined forces with video production partner MEDIAmobz and VisibleGains to bring together a panel of specialists in the fields of public relations, new media, conversion marketing and video production to address innovative new ways to engage your target audience and generate buzz.  The original April 27 session was entitled, “Combining SEO and Video to Drive Awareness and Lead Generation Online.”

Check out this interactive video application for some highlights, or to watch the full session.  A 40-second video clip, highlighted at the start of the presentation, offers some guidance on integrating video with press releases.  Also featured are interviews with the panelists, including a segment on tips for creating engaging video.


The discussion was moderated by Cliff Pollan, President & CEO of VisibleGains, and panelists included:

Some key points that came out of the session:

  • Using video in marketing and public relations can expand your audience. Joe Chernov, Global Director of Communications & Social Media at Eloqua, noted that he receives 500% more views on a press release with a video than just plain text content.  Video content can be an important component of a well-rounded and effective lead-generation program.
  • Video can engage media and consumers and generate interest for your campaign. Tim Bradbury, President New Media at American City Business Journals, explained that his news outlets look for content to which they can easily drive web traffic.  He said that video, which can be played with the click of a finger, often translates better than text content to new portable devices such as the tablet or the iPad.
  • Video adds value – both for the target audience and for search engine optimization. Judy Gern, Director of Conversion Marketing at Constant Contact, stressed the importance of giving potential leads value through video, mentioning that including video in outreach reduces opt-outs by 75 percent.  Cliff Pollan, Founder and CEO of VisibleGains, cited a Forrester survey that showed content with video was 50 times more likely to end up on the first page of Google search engine results.

Having trouble accessing the video?  Go directly to the event page at http://bizwire.pr/seovideoevent.

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

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Viva the Press Release! Social Media Diehard Hails “Traditional” Press Release and Paid Wire Services

May 19, 2010

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

“I think now, more than ever, traditional press releases matter and that wire services like Business Wire are worth the expense – or rather – the investment.”–Alan Weinkrantz

We don’t pretend to be objective about press releases, and indeed a quote from our boss Warren Buffett, seems appropriate here:  “Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut.”

That said, it’s refreshing to see a PR practitioner who’s been  embracing social media for five years laud the attributes of  the “traditional” press release as well as those of the “paid wire services”–in this case, yours truly: Business Wire.

Alan Weinkrantz, a high tech PR consultant in San Antonio, is a contributing business columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and a peripatetic poster on Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, LinkedIn, Flickr, his own blog and elsewhere.  I often wonder if the guy ever sleeps.   As he details in a blog post , Alan used Business Wire to issue this press release for his client, DenimGroup, a San Antonio-based IT consultancy and security software firm.

Typically Alan pitches stories via email to a targeted list of media, bloggers and industry analysts and points to the release on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook after it’s been disseminated by Business Wire.

“Business Wire is our core distribution platform for reaching journalists, analysts and bloggers who search for key words in their area of interest.  We also use social sites to supplement our efforts and hashtags on Twitter so we can be found this way,” says Alan.  “Business Wire provides confidence that we’re  helping the client populate the Internet, major search engines and industry sites that we can’t reach on our own, no matter how many pitches and phone calls we make.”

Alan’s Business Wire distribution hit a homerun for his client with an application story in RFID Journal.

He’s quick to point out that the release itself did not carry the story.  “It led to the opportunity,” he said, adding that when the lead came in,  he followed up to coordinate story development with the client and the PR teams involved. “It was a great story that brought attention to an industry looking for innovative and secure ways to integrate RFID.”

And that’s how it can work.  Thanks for sharing the story,  Alan.  We agree with you:  “Long live the press release. Viva wire services (paid ones I might add) like Business Wire.”

 


Editor’s Corner – May Edition

May 18, 2010

With 30 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

BW Charlotte Newsroom Supervisor Penny Sowards

I have been here at Business Wire for 23 years and, although the PR industry has undergone dramatic technological changes during that time,  the basic rules are still pretty much the same when it comes to getting the most out of a press release.  Here a few things to consider.

One of most important things to think about when writing a press release is its “readability,” making sure the focus is clear and concise.  Lead sentence should of course convey the main idea of what your press release is about. Sentences should be clear and to the point, avoiding lengthy and confusing terminology.

Bullet points can be a handy tool if you’re listing events, locations, etc. Breaking information out in this manner makes it easier to reference data quickly.  I have noticed more of a trend toward this style of press release writing in recent years, and I think it works well.

Quotes are an extremely important component to include in a press release.  It gives  information in the release validation and support.  Press releases take on more of a personal and credible tone with well-worded quotes placed in strategic locations. Break out quotes change on our site each time a press release is pulled up, so it’s important to have several compelling citations to inspire readers to read more.

Consider running a photo with your press release. Whenever I am editing a press release, I always enjoy the ones that include photos.  Photos, or for that matter, videos, make the release more effective because it is genuinely more interesting. A colorful, multimedia effect is more appealing than black-and-white words on a screen.  Technology has made this dynamic supplement to press releases increasingly simpler to achieve.

Lastly, and this probably goes without saying, always be available when a member of the media should have questions for you. The press release will contain plenty of information, but reporters on deadline will most likely have more in-depth questions that only the PR or Communications person can answer.

-Penny Sowards, Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Charlotte


How are My Trade Show and Conference News Releases Promoted via Business Wire?

May 17, 2010

by Leon Harbar, Vice President, Global Trade Shows & Events, Business Wire Los Angeles

BW VP of Global Trade Shows & Events Leon Harbar

Business Wire’s dedicated Global Event Services Group works year-round to get your event-oriented news releases in front of as many journalists, bloggers, consumers, investors, etc as possible. How do we do this? Through TradeShowNews.com and our Online Press Centers.

Every day, the Global Event Services Team creates Online Press Centers for events important to our clients which are all listed at TradeShowNews.com and made available for one year. Online Press Centers are created not only for trade shows but also numerous financial conferences.

Each Online Press Center is optimized for easy access to your news releases, Online Press Kit and multimedia via Business Wire’s Smart News Release. In addition, we have included a direct link to set up an RSS feed of that event’s news along with several links to well known social media sites to allow sharing. Any logo/multimedia that you include with your release is placed in a thumbnail on the right side of the release headline for quick viewing.

For the majority of the events listed, Business Wire includes a direct link to that event’s Online Press Center within an advisory which we issue each Monday. Each advisory contains a listing and link to events taking place over the next eight weeks. This would mean that the direct link to most of our Online Press Centers are publicized eight times. In addition, for all of the more prominent events we issue a standalone advisory specifically publicizing the Online Press Center for that event.

So how do you get your event news to these archives? It’s very simple. First, make sure you mention the event in your news release. It’s obvious but many companies forget to do so. Second, if your release is about a non-financial conference or trade show, select one of Business Wire’s “Trade Show” circuits. If it is for a financial conference, just select a regular Business Wire circuit. What’s the additional cost? Zero.

Last week, we were excited to add the Online Press Kit by Business Wire to our suite of trade show and event news services. This service which starts at $295, allows you to create a visually appealing and fully interactive Online Press Kit which includes its own wire advisory and is made available directly through our Online Press Centers. With our easy-to-use self-service interface, you can add, change or delete content from your Online Press Kit at any time, giving you greater control over your presentation.

Business Wire is the official wire for numerous events worldwide and when that’s the case, our Online Press Center is integrated within the media area of that event’s website. In addition, we continue to provide free distribution of 100-word profiles to exhibitors/sponsors/presenters of certain events.

If you have any questions on distributing news for a specific event, adding your event to TradeShowNews.com or just need advice, please email tradeshow@businesswire.com.

Follow TradeShowNews.com on Twitter @TradeShowNews or become a fan of us on Facebook!


Social Media ROI in Cincinnati

May 14, 2010

On Wednesday, May 12, PR and marketing professionals from the Greater Cincinnati area attended our event, “Social Media ROI: Being Seen Is Not Enough.”  Our expert panel consisted of:

The panel addressed an audience of around 36 people who came to The Phoenix on a rainy morning to hear them discuss topics related to the adoption, uses, benefits and pitfalls of social media. Moderator Michael DeAloia got the ball rolling with a short PowerPoint presentation, then asked the panel to define social media and took off from there.  Each of the panelists was asked if there was a key metric they would consider for measuring ROI for social media.  Daniel Lally feels that it depends on what your strategy and goals are, while Krista Neher takes a different approach:

Later, the panel was asked to explain what they felt was the business rationalization for the use of social media. After James Pilcher discussed using it to confront business/branding problems, using the infamous “Comcast Technician Sleeping on my Couch” video as an example, an audience member asked whether stories like Comcast’s were why some companies are reluctant to start using social media:

There’s a genuine upside to getting into the social media sphere, as Pilcher demonstrated with a story about how Procter & Gamble is using social media strategies to combat negative stories, and their customers are helping:

The panel covered other topics, ranging from whether Google is still the most important outlet on the internet (a unanimous “YES”) to how social media is changing journalism to whether social media is here to stay.

The entire event, with all the questions and answers, will be available for download on Monday. Check back here or on our Twitter feed for updates.

Be sure to look for upcoming Business Wire events both in your area and online, and follow the #bwevents hashtag on Twitter for live updates from our events and webinars.


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