Follow the Top Unique Leading Leader

August 25, 2010

– by Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist

It’s a topic we’ve addressed before — buzzwords and jargon in press releases — but Mark McClennan at Schwartz Communications has come at it from a unique way. He took Adam Sherk’s list of the most overused words and phrases in press releases, and made a word cloud out of it. (If you’re unfamiliar with word clouds or tag clouds, they provide a visual representation, usually via size, of how frequently various words are used on a site or in a piece of text.) Seeing McClennan’s word cloud  really drives home how often some of these words are used:

most overused words

(Click for larger image)

Well, not much more to say, is there? It seems like, much as in Lake Wobegon, everyone’s a leader.

Twitter Tips Result from our What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release Webinar

August 20, 2010

We often post a recap of our webinars, hoping to offer the wisdom shared to those who couldn’t make it.  On Wednesday,  we staged What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release, and explored the ups and downs of using Twitter to supplement press release efforts.

Then we got lucky.  Our friends over at 451 Marketing in Boston did a fantasic recap of the webinar in their blogpost, Tips for Promoting Your News Via Twitter.   For that, we say thank you, Team 451, you saved us some work!

For those who want to access the webinar in its entirety or check out a PDF of the presentation, both are available in our webinar archive.

Recap: Asian American Journalists Association National Convention

August 19, 2010

— by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire Media Relations Specialists Luis Guillen (LA) and Cecile Oreste (DC) attended the Asian American Journalists Association’s 21st Annual National Convention August 4-7 in Los Angeles.  More than 800 journalists and media professionals gathered at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel to network and learn from leaders in the industry.

The four day convention, titled “Back to the Future” started off Wednesday, August 4th with an opening reception sponsored by Yahoo! at The Highlands Hollywood.  The event celebrated the founders of AAJA and other pioneers who paved the way for Asian American journalists.  One of the highlights of the night included an appearance by network television anchor Connie Chung.

According to Washington Post summer intern Machiko Yasuda, the opening reception was her favorite part of the convention.  “With the crazed atmosphere in most newsrooms right now dealing with budget cuts and layoffs, it can be hard to boost morale – but hearing about and talking to the Asian American reporters, photographers and editors around the country after WWII and beyond gave me a renewed sense of mission and community,” she said.

Thursday, August 5th and Friday, August 6th were filled with educational workshops covering various topics including the state of journalism, diversifying your coverage and digital know-how.  A career fair also offered attendees the opportunity to meet with editors and human resource executives from Gannett, the New York Times, CBS News and Google, among other media outlets.

Thomas Huang

Thomas Huang moderates a workshop at the AAJA convention

Melisa Goh, Weekend Online Producer for NPR and presenter for Friday’s session “Broadcast Meets Web,” found the workshops and convention in general extremely valuable as it gave her the opportunity to discuss the latest innovations and developments in journalism.  Sometimes you get lost in whatever today’s story is, but the convention gives you a chance to uproot from the daily grind, look at the big picture and come away with new ideas, she said.

Also on Friday, the Los Angeles Times, along with Union Bank, sponsored an off-site Media Access Workshop at the newspaper’s headquarters to discuss how to pitch stories.  The workshop presented a panel of journalists from around the country with Thomas Huang, Sunday and Enterprise Editor of The Dallas Morning News and Ethics and Diversity Fellow at The Poynter Institute, as moderator.

Many of the panelists, including San Diego 6 anchor Jenny Hamel, broadcast journalist Linda Takahashi and Los Angeles Times reporter My-Thuan Tran, talked about the importance of pitching a story that appeals to the consumer’s emotions.  They suggested creating a pitch that has a broader appeal, but can be told through the eyes of one person.

Victor Hernandez, Director of Domestic News Gathering for CNN, added that social media tools have provided a sense of empowerment for viewers and public relations professionals alike.  He gave the example of shooting video of an event and posting it on  “We take notice of things that generate buzz,” he said.  “And we’ll jump on the bandwagon too.”


Panelists at the AAJA media access workshop

The convention concluded Saturday, August 7th with a gala scholarship and awards banquet with Laura Ling and Euna Lee as keynote speakers.  The two journalists made news last year when they were detained at the China-North Korea border while reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women.

Overall, the convention was both an inspiring and educational experience.  It not only provided an opportunity to network with fellow journalists, but also created a forum to discuss issues affecting Asian Americans in the industry.  According to Goh, it’s easy to forget that we belong to a smaller community with a voice that needs to be heard, but AAJA reminds us of this.  It helps establish a community outside of the workplace and explain our heritage to others, she said.

Next year’s annual convention is scheduled to take place in Detroit, Michigan.  For more information about the Asian American Journalists Association, please visit

Dallas News Radio Staff Talk Best Practices, FM Simulcast at Morning Event

August 19, 2010

by Andy Kehoe, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Dallas

Rick Hadley

Rick Hadley, News Director, WBAP

The Texas Public Relations Association sponsored a “Meet the Media” event on Aug. 17 at the studios of WBAP News/Talk 820AM & 96.7FM in Arlington, Texas. The featured speakers were Rick Hadley, news director, and Tyler Cox, operations manager. WBAP broadcasts a local morning news show, followed by a local talk show (The Mark Davis Show) and syndicated talk shows in the afternoon. In March, WBAP became the first news/talk station in North Texas to have an FM simulcast (on 96.7 FM). Here are some comments from the morning’s discussion:

  • When pitching a story idea, it’s important that the story will somehow relate directly to the station’s listeners, Hadley said. If it’s a national story, there needs to be a way to localize it for the listeners.
  • It helps to do some research on the station and its programs. If you are pitching interview subjects, don’t offer to send the author of a new “love advice” book to be a guest on the station’s political talk show.
  • If you have a story idea that is not time-sensitive, pitch it on a Thursday. This way, the story can hold until the weekend newscast when there’s more time for it to air.
  • When it comes to business news, they’re not as interested in things like earnings and product announcements as they are in stories that will directly affect listeners. “If American Airlines is building a new park in a depressed part of town, of if they make an announcement about having more legroom on flights, that is something we would probably cover,” Hadley said.
  • WBAP hardly ever runs PSAs. Instead, they prefer to incorporate that kind of content into their other weekly programs.
  • The station’s new FM simulcast was launched to attract a younger, more female demographic. “Most people only listen to FM radio. If you ask the average 20- or 30-year-old today, a lot of them won’t even know what AM radio is,” said Cox.

Land Your Features Story in the New York Post

August 18, 2010

Tips from Daily Features Editor Mackenzie Dawson

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

Mackenzie Dawson

Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor, New York Post

I recently had a chance to talk with Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor of the New York Post. Having worked in the PR industry, Dawson fully understands the challenges publicists face when it comes to working with the media. She has offered up some great tips on public relations best practices and shares some essential tactics to use in your next media relations campaign.

According to Dawson, developing relationships with reporters is one of the most important strategies in public relations. “With publicists, it should really be about targeted relationship building instead of cold calling. My ideal publicist is one who has really gotten to know me over time and has a good idea of the kind of news I cover.”  Dawson says the best way to start building a relationship is to send good, thoughtful pitches that are cleverly written and concise. Once a relationship has developed, a trust factor can be built up and she will respond favorably to your pitches.

“A good publicist might send me a pitch six times a year instead of every week, but their batting average is higher,” Dawson continues. “They’re not sending me stories that are not relevant to what I cover.” She covers human interest stories, so sending a business story is definitely not going to work. It is also not a very good idea to pitch a story that has already been covered in another publication.

Dawson’s experience in the PR world has taught her a lot about the “dual client system.” Public relations practitioners have their clients they have to please, as well as the journalists they are trying to woo. When she worked in public relations, one of the things that bothered her the most was when her manager would always tell her to make as many phone calls to as many different media outlets as possible. Now that Dawson is on the other side of the fence, she realizes that technique just doesn’t work; all you end up doing is frustrating the journalists. Be sure to put more emphasis on quality, not quantity.

To put it briefly, Dawson compares working with the media to dating. She’s like the person you are trying to date; if you are interesting, then she’ll get back to you!

For more tips on how to put together a great feature news story, check out the Feature Writing Tips at

Event Recap: Chicago-area New Media Opportunities

August 16, 2010

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire/Chicago

Abbie Sullivan

Abbie Sullivan, Client Services Representative

Successful media relations in Chicago over the last several years has meant both strengthening your news eye to find and pitch the most relevant stories, and finding new places, people and forms of media in which you can get those stories picked up.

While some news holes seems to be shrinking in and around Chicago, many new print and online opportunities have emerged.  These sites are empowering the community to share and own the news.
On Wednesday, August 4th, Business Wire hosted a media breakfast with the editorial management staff behind some of Chicago’s newest media outlets.


Moderator: Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire


L-R: Raschanda Hall, Tracy Schmidt, Kyle Leonard, Tara Tesimu

Triblocal/Kyle Leonard, Managing Editor

Triblocal is your spot on the Web to find out about local news and events. The site encourages everyone to become contributors by writing stories, posting events to community calendars and posting photos. All contributions will be posted on the site; however, many are chosen for the weekly print edition and even the Chicago Tribune. Key Takeaways for Communications Professionals:

  • All stories must have a local tie to them.
  • You can post stories, photos and videos.
  • Everyone loves looking at videos on YouTube – hyperlink to your YouTube channel.
  • Leonard prefers you post your story or event to the site first, then email him directly if you think your posting would be a good fit for the print version. He also suggests you follow up via phone.
  • Chicago Tribune editors read Triblocal, and some stories found on Triblocal will make it to the Tribune pages.
  • Pitches should be publicists telling a good news story. Every organization has a “Locks of Love type story,” tell them yours.
  • With events, publicize the event two weeks out, but then further publicize the event after it takes place. Send photo galleries and event highlights, especially if there’s a fundraising goal. Many people will see the event after it takes place and still want to donate to or learn more about your cause Schmidt, Editorial Director is an online community of Chicago bloggers covering a variety of subjects including Chicago politics, fashion, sports, food, music and events. The site was created by the Chicago Tribune Media group but is run by its own full-time staff. Key takeaways for communication professionals:

  • ChicagoNow wants their bloggers to become part of their communities by writing opinions and information about a specific community. Bloggers are also expected to write as often as possible – which means they need content.
  • When pitching bloggers remember:
    • Keep it relevant to their beat.
    • Including photo galleries is extremely desirable as bloggers love having multiple photo options.
    • Follow the blogger on Twitter and friend them on Facebook.
    • Bloggers have to abide by FTC guidelines, so if you gift a blogger, they will have to disclose that information.
    • Sponsored Posts (or “pay to play”) will be noted as such.
  • ChicagoNow’s bloggers regularly speak on ChicagoNow’s radio show, which airs on WGN on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Follow ChicagoNow on Twitter (@ChicagoNow) and learn about regular River North Tweetups where you can mingle and meet the bloggers.
  • ChicagoNow is always looking for bloggers. They are especially looking for someone who can blog about the Public Relations/Adverting industry and what life is like inside the agency walls.
  • If your client is an expert at something (medicine, finance, real estate, etc.) having them become a blogger is a great way to get publicity and expand customer base.

Patch/ Tara Tesimu, Regional Editor

Patch is an AOL-owned hyperlocal site now covering the Chicagoland areas of La Grange and Skokie (more than 48 additional communities are expected to launch shortly). Patch’s focus is community engagement, and they ask readers to submit their own announcements, photos and reviews. All professional editors, writers, photographers and videographers live in or near the communities they serve. Key takeaways for communication professionals:

  • If you have an event in a Patch community, post it – all calendar events go right up on the site. Two weeks is a good lead time.
  • Provide photo galleries and videos, as they will also be included and are highly encouraged.
  • Reach out to editors via the Patch Facebook sites.
  • All businesses in Patch communities have a profile in the Patch directory, so be sure to fill yours out, and add photos, too.
  • Will cover a business or person outside the community if that person has a community tie.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents

SEO 103: Advanced Press Release SEO Questions From Our Webinars

August 12, 2010

Welcome to the third edition of our webinar Q&A series.  If you missed the first two posts, please take a moment to read SEO 101 and SEO 102 so you’ll be prepared for the final exam at the end of SEO 104.

Ready?  Here’s the third selection of questions straight from attendees of our press release optimization webinars.

Since your broad company keywords are not always the same as specific keywords for a particular press release (such as a product release) – which should you include?

Like many strategic questions, there’s really no right answer for this.  Every organization or agency crafting press releases or any other content on the web needs to weigh short term  vs. long term goals to determine their ideal mix.  If the short term campaign is the main focus, I’d recommend focusing keywords in the headline and top of release, while optimizing your company boilerplate to ensure your long term keywords are always present in your releases.

SEO is more a marathon than a sprint. Commitment is key if you want to win in the long term.

Is it possible for optimized releases to rank higher than another company or website that is currently “buying” a specific keyword through Google AdWords?

Sadly, it’s a common and strangely persistent misconception that advertising on Google AdWords has an effect on “organic” SEO rankings.  It’s simply not true.  Here’s a direct quote from a high level Google employee dispelling this myth.

“The most common misconception is that you have to pay Google to get listed in the organic listings.  Not true.  Google crawls web sites for free.  Another misconception is that the [AdWords] listings will help your organic search engine rankings.  Not true.  PPC has no affect on your “editorial search results.””

-Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google, speaking with USA Today.

How do subheads factor into releases? Are they seen as headlines or body text?

Subheads are not included in the title tag and are thus seen more as body text within the release. That said, they are a great location to incorporate keyword phrases you can’t squeeze into your headline.

Do embedded images help with SEO?

Absolutely.  Optimizing images is a great opportunity to increase the reach of your news release.  Google Images receives a massive amount of traffic and users typically dig deeper into results to find what they are looking for, since image results can often be much more subjective than standard search results.

To optimize an image, make sure it has a clear file name which accurately describes the image and  incorporates a keyword as well.  Add a unique description for your image as well.  For more information, here’s a video from a Google Product Manager discussing some Image SEO best practices.

We currently host our press releases as PDF files. Is this bad strategy for search engine performance?

Without a doubt, I would recommend never hosting press releases solely as PDF files on your website.  While search engines are usually able to digest the text within PDF files, they typically rank very poorly in search results.  I believe that this is because search engines are constantly trying to provide the best experience and most useful information to all users, and different browsers and operating systems all handle PDF files in different ways.  That is confusing for the end user.  For instance, Internet Explorer may show PDFs in the browser, while Firefox might open up Acrobat, and Chrome might download it.

If you are required to provide PDFs of your press releases, please host a text version of your release as well or link to the wire version.  If you use our services, you can link to the EON hosted press release and know it will be online for the long term.

That wraps up SEO 103.  I hope you’ve been taking notes, because there will be a test at the end of the next post.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email or Twitter.


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