The 50-40-10 Rule of Optimizing Press Releases

January 28, 2011

The 50-40-10 Rule of Optimizing Press Releases

Have you ever wondered how much energy you should put towards optimizing your press releases?  If so, please consider adopting my 50-40-10 optimization technique for your next press release (it’s great for blog posts too, by the way!).

So what does 50-40-10 mean?  50-40-10 is a technique for allocating your time and energies efficiently when optimizing releases.  Take a look at the graphic below for a visual breakdown.

Here’s how it works:

Spend about 50% of your time optimizing your headline. These days, we are inundated with information and being compelling from the outset is often crucial to getting your message heard by an audience of journalists, bloggers and newsreaders that have no shortage of articles to read at any time. Your headline is also the most important element in your release from an SEO perspective as it serves double duty as your Title tag and headline in search results.

Dig deep to craft a headline that incorporates important keywords while also conveying your key points and hopefully even grabs the reader’s attention from the start.  Here are a few recent release headlines I love that also performed quite well:

LinkedIn Says Most Overused Buzzwords Are “Extensive Experience, Innovative and Motivated”

NBA Bans Basketball Shoes by Athletic Propulsion Labs Based on League Rule against “Undue Competitive Advantage” That Increases a Player’s Vertical Leap

With your headline written, now spend the next 40% of your time optimizing the body of your release. While ensuring that your release continues to deliver on the promise of the headline, repeat your most important keywords or related words multiple times.  Also be sure to link to key webpages using relevant anchor text closely matched to the content of the destination page.  Use your body optimization time to find the balance of readability and optimization.

Finally, use your last 10% to optimize your multimedia elements. I recommend allocating a significantly smaller amount of time for this because there are no headlines, links or body copy to deal with here.  Simply write unique and compelling descriptions of each attached photo or video multimedia element.  Incorporate relevant keywords into each description, give each element a unique file name and you are done.

Give this technique a try next time you optimize your press release and let us know how it goes.


Editor’s Corner – January Edition

January 26, 2011

With 31 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.

 

by Joe O'Brien, Business Wire Boston

How to Avoid Getting Lost in Translations

If your business is booming in Europe or your CEO is giving the keynote at a conference in Tokyo, you’re probably planning to issue your company’s news internationally. But efforts to identify a target market and choose an appropriate release time can be all for naught if you’re unprepared to communicate in the local language. That’s why it is vital to ensure that your translations are ready when you are. Follow these tips and you’ll never get lost:

Finalize Your Release First

While last-minute edits are sometimes unavoidable, always try to provide the final version of your press release. Implementing changes to in-progress translations can become complex and might potentially result in additional fees. In fact, as a safeguard the Boston newsroom’s standard practice is to begin the translation process only after the English release has been approved for distribution.

Your Translation Takes Time

When planning for translations, a good rule of thumb is to allow at least 24 to 48 hours for completion. Most translations can be returned within this time frame depending on:

  • The type of translation – More commonly requested languages, like French or German, can be processed more quickly than a less commonly requested language, like Russian or Thai.
  • The length of the release – This one is self-explanatory: the longer a release, the more time required to translate it. On a related note, consider the content of your release. A release with multiple instances of technical or product-specific terminology may require some research and more time to properly translate.
  • The timing of the request – Translation turnaround estimates are based on when the vendor receives the order, not when it is sent. Most of our vendors are located overseas and are only open during local business hours. Also, most are closed during the weekend. Keep this in mind for translation requests sent near the end of the business day or at the end of the week.

Take Advantage of Your Translation

If pressed for time, you may be tempted to forgo translations. Resist that temptation! Not only will your release reach fewer readers, but the translation service is included in the cost of many of Business Wire’s international circuits. Take advantage of it.

-Joe O’Brien, Senior Editor, Business Wire Boston

PS: For more tips for issuing releases internationally, don’t forget to check out our white paper on engaging global audiences.


Disclosure for Dummies: Notice-and-Access Press Releases Compared to U.S. Mail Service

January 19, 2011
by Steve Messick, Chief Information Officer, Business Wire

I always respond to a staff newbie when he or she comes into my office asking a question with, “Did you read the manual first?”  I actually prefer to use a more famous acronym but, in the interest of political correctness, will not elaborate.

But that is an important starting point of understanding any technology.  You have to read and research it.  If you still need clarification, then seek out the true experts and ask questions. If you don’t do your due diligence, then you won’t be well-informed, and will not understand the value proposition that technology brings to the table.  So, let’s get educated and talk about the real technology at work here, and examine the competing value propositions of Business Wire versus the “Notice-and-Access” model when it comes to fair disclosure.

Warren Buffett defines value as not what you pay, but what you get for your money. This is so true with applied technology.  We can all relate to the earbud example.  You pay more for a Bose earbud than a lesser brand. But have you ever sat on a noisy subway, jet, or busy freeway and tried to listen to music or talk to someone on your phone with cheap earbuds?  Forget it.  The value proposition of Bose technology is that you pay more, but you get something that actually works, meets your needs, and delivers real value. That is priceless.  When you use Business Wire, you benefit from the value of 50 years of experience and technology.

So let’s get specific here about web technology and its role in fair disclosure.  The operative word is “fair,” which is the key deliverable. Fair disclosure involves three main components: simultaneity, synchronization, and security.   Technology plays a major role in all three.

Simultaneity means that everyone has access to public company information at the same time.  No one gets a head start in acting on the news; it is simultaneous whether you are in Sydney or San Francisco.  Some folks consider posting a news release on a corporate website as simultaneous, and “fair” disclosure.  Yes, I agree that posting a document on a web site means it is available for access by everyone (at least everyone with access to the internet).   But is it “fair” access?  Absolutely not, if you understand the underlying technology.

A simple example: your local post office.   Does everyone in your town go to the same post office at the same time to get their mail?  If they did,  you would have long lines, extended waits, traffic jams,  and the person who shows up late may get their mail a day later. A single web-site has the same problem: extreme competition for access.  If thousands — or perhaps even millions — of investors go to a corporate website at the same time (at the moment of access cited in an advisory alert) to view an earnings release or other material news announcement, it is impossible to get the information in a fair and simultaneous manner.   The site is going to slow down; some investors will get the news later than others.   If the company has not invested heavily in its website infrastructure, the site may crash, or become so slow that your browser will give up.  Not fair, not simultaneous, and ultimately a low technology value proposition.

Synchronization involves the seamless linking of technical systems worldwide to deliver market-moving news to the global investment community. The moment your news release is simultaneously distributed worldwide, billions of dollars in technology at companies and institutions around the globe are synchronized to provide the information to the investor universe — instantly. That is the behind-the-scenes disclosure synchronization that powers the global financial markets. That is the value of Business Wire technology working in synchronization with the investment industry, financial information systems, and major consumer portals for the collective benefit of institutional and individual investors.  The integrated, multi-tiered pipeline that regulatory information flows through generates opinion, analysis and recommendations, all of which build value for the investor.  Independent analysis and expertise is essential for retail investors working at home, as well as the trading desks at large institutional firms.  And it all happens as a result of Business Wire feeding the pipeline.  Simultaneity drives synchronization, which drives value.  Priceless.

Conversely, Notice-and-Access (single web-site posting)  advisories impede the information pipeline and disrupt the synchronization process.    Why does UPS bring your inventory to your door? The answer is so that your business can function flawlessly, as you designed it.   If you had to jump in your truck every day and drive to UPS, then head over to Fed Ex,  and then to the Post Office  for your business inventory, is that value to you?  Your business is synchronized by the predictable flow of inventory into your manufacturing plant.  So is the global information pipeline.

The seamless synchronization of financial information is crucial for fair disclosure. If every investor has to go to UPS (your corporate website, via notice-and-access ) to get the latest news, and then go to the individual web sites of companies releasing information at the same time, it will derail the work flow process. leading to delays and confusion. Fair and efficient markets will cease to exist.

Completing the value proposition of fair disclosure is security.   Value is in knowing that your information is secure and safe until the appropriate time to share with others. Reg FD is all about keeping information secure and private, and then simultaneously providing everyone with equal access.  Any breach in this process can lead to market volatility, investor uncertainty, and potential lawsuits. Is that value?

Keeping your information safe until public disclosure is a complex technology puzzle.   Business Wire’s 50-year track record in secured technology systems means that your information is safe and protected. Posting on a corporate website can be very risky unless the company has invested significant resources in security safeguards. Business Wire’s systems and networks are subject to rigorous annual audits to ensure that your information is secure. Security is at the heart of what we do, and a major element of Business Wire’s core value proposition.

There is a de facto manual for full and fair disclosure, based on real-world applications. Business Wire is proud to be a major contributor to the pragmatic, best-practices model that serves as the backbone of full and fair disclosure in financial centers throughout North America and the European Union. Not only did we read the manual, we helped write it.


PR Peeps Poll: Twitter the Favored Social Media Tool, Facebook Not Far Behind

January 5, 2011
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media
PR Peeps let us know their favorite social media tool in December.  The winner?   Twitter.
A full third of 277 PR Peeps polled chose Twitter as their social media tool of choice in 2010, followed closely by Facebook, with 29% of the vote.   The results amplify a similar poll we conducted in November of 2009, in which more than 41% said they tweet but don’t blog.

No doubt the commitment required from running a company blog has many PR folks turning to link sharing of existing content on social networking sites.  Even hardcore investor relations officers we’ve consulted say they prefer Twitter over a company blog because they don’t have to commit to churning out time-consuming blog posts.

The poll was conducted in November and December  through Twitter, Facebook, email and Business Wire’s webinars.   Details below:

What is your company’s preferred form of social media outreach?

33, or 11%–Company blog

81, or 29%–Facebook

91, or 33%–Twitter

22, or 8%–LinkedIn

13, or 5%   — Other

39, or 14% — We do none of the above

To those who participated, thanks for taking the PR Peeps Poll.   Our January poll needs your input.  What’s most important in measuring press release success?

Thanks for the help.

277 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  November 3 – December 31, 2010.


Upcoming Event: Best Practices for Online Press Releases

January 3, 2011

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Start the new year right — sign up for our upcoming webinar, “A Successful Online Press Release: From Start to Finish.”

Join Market Motive Online PR Professor Greg Jarboe and Business Wire Product Manager Joseph Miller to learn cutting-edge practices for the modern optimized press release. This workshop will cover current best practices of the online PR process: creation, distribution, and measurement. You’ll learn headline creation techniques, SEO, strategy, and multimedia best practices. Then you’ll be shown step-by step wire distribution processes and timing, and finally explore how you can measure success of your online PR campaigns. Online press releases are a powerful and often-misunderstood marketing channel for getting the word out and the links in. Join us on January 11th to learn more and keep your skills up to date.

The hourlong webinar will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 11am ET/8am PT. Go here to register.

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.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


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