Editor’s Corner: Tips for Writing Great Photo Captions

February 28, 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.

Captions: Get Your Photo Ready For Its Close-Up

by Lori Brown, Business Wire Phoenix

Adding a photo to your press release is always a smart idea. Photos grab the attention of readers, making your news stand out from the crowd. When you send a Smart News Release through Business Wire, your photo not only reaches major web portal sites like Yahoo! and Google, but also hits the desks of photo editors who want eye-catching, interesting content for their publications. And the first thing those editors look for is a good caption.

Photo editors with the Associated Press or other agencies won’t look at a photo without a caption; they need to know context and details. Your caption should answer, in a couple of sentences, questions like:

  • Who or what is it? Identify everyone and everything of interest in the photo. If it’s a product shot, give the full name of the product. If it’s a group photo, list the names and titles of everyone in the shot.
  • Why is it important? What’s the occasion for the photo? Maybe your company rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange or unveiled a new, faster, more powerful version of your product. Include a brief summary of the story behind the photo, so that readers understand the significance of what they’re seeing.

Your caption should also be able to stand on its own, without being accompanied by the press release. Photo editors are often looking for “standalones,” photos and captions that can tell a story by themselves. If you’ve got a compelling photo and an informative caption, it’s a great chance to get some extra visibility for your news.

Remember, having a good caption is just as important as having a good photo. Your picture may be worth a thousand words, but with another sentence or two, you can turn it into something that will really shine.

-Lori Brown, Senior Editor, Business Wire Phoenix


Friday Fast Links

February 25, 2011


 


BW Fun Fact: Business Wire was First to Launch Press Release Wire Service Website in 1995

February 25, 2011

We’ve come a long way since launching the first wire service industry website in 1995.    

The wayback machine provides the screenshot below, grabbed on Christmas Eve, 1996 .  At the time, this represented the pinnacle of web design with frame-based navigation and a whopping 48-hours of search.   Absent was flashing text, known in geek circles as a “blink tag.”

Today Business Wire’s distribution system and website manages thousands of press releases daily and syndication to countless partners in real time.  We boast a five-year search window.   Our patented N/X servers make it all possible.


How to Keep Your Press Releases From Getting Rejected by Google News

February 24, 2011

For this edition of SEO Tip Jar I revisited the data sources from my popular post about getting rejected from Google News in order to see if anything had changed in the past year or if I could possibly discover any more tips for ensuring your releases are compliant with Google News’ automated system.  It turns out that there are still things to learn from Google News if you look at the data.

The most interesting departure from past conventional wisdom is that it appears that repeating keywords from the headline in your links in seemingly works against you in Google News.   (See #1, below.)  Until now, we’ve understood that redundancy has a positive impact;  apparently too much works against you.

For my study, I looked at reports we receive directly from Google News over a period of two weeks in January of this year.   This first post will look at releases rejected due to structure or contents of their headlines.  Google currently reports this error as “Title Not Allowed” or “Title Not Found” in their recently revised and expanded list of news rejection reasons, with the explanations of “The title that we extracted from the HTML page suggests that it is not a news article” and “We were unable to extract a title for the article from the HTML page” respectively.

Google goes into further detail and provides the following reasons which apply to your press releases distributed on a wire service such as ours (I’ve omitted those that are irrelevant):

  1. In your article page, avoid using the article title, or a substring of the title, as an active hyperlink.
  2. Don’t include a date or time in your article title.
  3. Ensure that your article title includes at least ten characters and is between two and 22 words.

Previously, Google’s only explicit condition was that headlines be between two and 22 words, so it’s nice to see the rules laid out in more detail.  However, do Google’s rules match reality? Let’s take a look.

Over the two-week period, our reports show 141 releases rejected due to “Title Not Allowed” or “Title Not Found”.    Of these,  88% (124) had headlines with 23+ words, violating rule #3 up above.  An additional  5% (seven) headlines included dates or times and 2% (three) did not appear to run afoul of any of Google News’ stated guidelines.

However, my most interesting finding came from looking at the remaining seven releases.  Granted, seven of 141 releases is a very small sample size, but all of these releases included anchor text links in the release body which used between 25% and 56% of the keywords from the release headline.

This would lead me to tentatively recommend optimizing releases to focus only on top one or two keywords within their headlines and use longer headlines as well.   Additionally, it’s probably a good idea to ensure your anchor text links within the body or your releases use less than 25% of the words in your headline.

Confused?  Here’s an example of this recommendation in action.

Headline (15 Words): AcmeCo Announces New Version of Widget Which Improves Factory Production Efficiency by up to 300%

Links in Body: AcmeCo , New Widget , Improves Efficiency

Outcome: Probably not good.  Links in the release body use 33% of the keywords in the release headline.

Recommendation: Eliminate two headline keywords from the body links or add five-six words to the release headline.


Press Release Measurement: When You Don’t Know Your Goal, Any Tool Will Do

February 23, 2011
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire

A common question I get as one of the Info Divas at Business Wire is “How’s my press release doing compared to others in my industry?” 

I understand the desire for benchmarks, but politely suggest that’s the wrong question.  Better would be: “How well did this press release help me satisfy my goals in sending it out?” 

You can’t measure without goal-setting–just as you can’t say whether your fitness program is successful if you don’t know whether your goal is to drop 20 pounds, bench press 250 or simply show up at the gym three times a week.

While our recent  PR Peeps poll  reflects what pr professionals say constitutes press release success, too may of them fail to set goals before asking the “how are we doing” question. A recent post by Todd Defren of PR Squared and many who commented on it, echoed this sentiment.  

Starting with a goal in mind–whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating traffic, scoring link clicks, or any other specific, measurable objective–provides context for the numbers you do gather.  And articulating your press release objective allows for a more complete picture by supplementing press release metrics with other meaningful statistics (e.g., number of Likes on Facebook, sales leads generated, etc.)

Here are a few guidelines on setting measurable press release objectives:

1.  Tie your goals to those of the organization, and identify what piece of the puzzle you represent.  You might not be able to correlate a press release with increased sales, but you can set a goal of increasing sales leads and then measure traffic to a landing page on your website.

2.  When you talk about the ROI of a press release you are measuring means, not ends. A press release, the means, is a strategy.  Your objective is the end — what do you want people to do as the result of the release appearing?

3.  In addition to your desired outcome, include your target audience.  This phase of measurement will involve steps to take after the release goes out.  If you want to measure brand awareness among the under-20-somethings who buy your video games, for instance, you might have to just track social media mentions; whereas setting up focus groups could be more appropriate if your target audience comprises pharmaceutical executives.

4.  Set a time frame for achieving the objective.

The Institute for Public Relations is a good resource for more information on public relations measurement.


PR Peeps Poll: Generating Clips Still Most Important in Measuring Press Release Success

February 22, 2011
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media 

Our first PR Peeps Poll for 2011 suggests that while generating clips is still the number one marker for  press release success, general branding/visibility and traffic-driving capabilities of the press release come in not far behind. 

Of  280 PR Peeps polled, 88 said the most important measure of press release success was generating earned media and clips.   Branding and general awareness-raising came in second with 79 votes, while driving traffic to websites came in third with 73.   Getting link clicks only garnered 20 votes, the same amount as “other.”

In comments attached to the survey, PR pros chimed in with their own ideas on what constitutes press release success. “Getting the phone to ring!”  “developing direct business leads,” and “a smiling client when they see the ROI,” were among the remarks.   We couldn’t agree more with this comment from one PR Peep:  “…distributing a release is only one step in a five- or six-step process (including follow-up pitching, an engaging photo, etc.)” 

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

What’s most important in measuring press release success?

73, or 26%–Driving traffic to our website

20, or 7%–Getting link clicks

88, or 32%–Generating earned media/clips

79, or 28%–General branding/awareness

20, or 7%   — Other

To those who participated, thanks for taking the PR Peeps Poll.  Now we need your help on our February survey: How Good Are Your Headline Habits?

Thanks for the help.

280 respondents via Twitter, email, Facebook and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  January 3 – February 18, 2011.


BW Fun Fact: Business Wire’s Employee Matching Grants Channel Big Bucks to Charities

February 18, 2011

Business Wire’s charitable match program has channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last decade to worthy nonprofit organizations of its employees’ choosing.

Yep, we are mighty proud that in keeping with the traditions of our parent company’s Chairman, Warren Buffett, and our founder, Lorry Lokey, generosity is part of the company culture.

Our benefits program has Business Wire matching employees’ donations to charitable causes anywhere from 50% to 100% over the years.

The tradition continues with the Business Wire Gives Back 2011 program, which launched this week in celebration of our 50th Anniversary.


Boston PR Groups Suggest Social Media Strategies for Success

February 17, 2011
by Liz Koch, Media Relations Representative, Business Wire/Boston

Liz Koch

Social Media Club Boston and Publicity Club of New England co-presented an evening panel discussion on social media campaign successes using Facebook, Twitter and blogging. The Social Media Club Boston chapter hosts programs that promote and educate anyone interested in learning more about social media literacy and best practices for social networking. The Publicity Club of New England promotes and encourages the profession of public relations by holding monthly educational programs, maintaining a job bank, and hosting the annual Bell Ringer Awards.

The discussion, hosted by Constant Contact, was shaped by a dynamic panel of speakers and led by moderator Julie Hall (@juliehall) of Schneider Associates (of the Tweet Me Sweethearts campaign). Panelists included Amy Kenly of Kalypso (thought leadership and “thoughtware”), Tyson Goodridge of Dialogue, Evan Falchuk of Best Doctors, Josh Mendelsohn of Constant Contact, Joselin Mane of 451 Marketing (and @BostonTweetUp founder) and Mike Proulx of Hill Holliday.

Photo credit: Todd Van Hoosear (@vanhoosear on Twitter)

Some of the practical social media strategies shared included:

  • The quantity of fans/followers your organization has is less important than how effective that same group is in promoting you to others. You have to be sure you are giving them the right tools to market for you. For example, if offering a discount for checking in with FourSquare at a restaurant garners 10 new patrons for a lunch special, this is more valuable than 100 followers who don’t ever visit the restaurant. Joselin Mane used Turner Fisheries as an example: The restaurant went from not being open for lunch to serving 40 plates regularly.
  • Visitors to your website or brick/mortar business that came from an existing social network were more than three times as likely to share your message than those who happened upon it. For example, Mike Proulx of Hill Holliday described a campaign for which Marshall’s engaged in producing “haul videos,” a social media format which already had credibility with teen shoppers.
  • Don’t get hung up on “the next big thing” – this adds extra distance to the social media learning curve. Instead, utilize the current available networking strategies!
  • Use a URL shortener (in your tweets, press releases, etc.) that provides analytic data like clicks, traffic, and sources. Bit.ly offers free analytics for any link as well as a host of other tools.

For additional insights from the program check out related tweets under the event hashtags #PubClubofNE and #SMCBoston.


Business Wire Gives Back for 50th Anniversary

February 15, 2011

In the grand tradition of our founder, Lorry Lokey, & of course, Warren Buffett, chairman of our parent company Berkshire Hathaway, this year, Business Wire is giving back to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

We are setting a goal of 5,000 hours of community service for our 500+ employees in 2011. Each employee will given up to 12 hours of paid time off to volunteer at the nonprofit of their choice, with the goal that together, we can give back at least 5,000 hours to the communities in all 32 markets where we have local bureaus. In addition, Business Wire will continue to match charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations, as it has done for more than 10 years.

We are proud to be following in the footsteps of Warren Buffett, who is a founder of The Giving Pledge, along with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Founded in 2010, The Giving Pledge encourages wealthy individuals worldwide to give the majority of their fortunes back to society. Our founder, Lorry Lokey, is also part of The Giving Pledge, and has already demonstrated a tradition of giving, particularly to education.

All of us here at Business Wire hope to uphold their example as we celebrate our 50 years of service to the communications industry this year. Be sure to check back here and at our Facebook page for updates throughout the year on our progress toward 5,000 hours given back!


Marketing Professionals Go in Depth on Engagement at Social Media Masters

February 15, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire LA

Last week, Business Wire was proud to be a sponsor of Social Media Club’s Social Media Masters workshop, a one-day program in San Diego offering advanced social media training in a unique format. Brian Solis, author of Engage, was the keynote speaker for the event, which also featured dedicated workshops for Facebook (led by Murray Izenwasser), LinkedIn (Chuck Hester & Neal Schaffer), Twitter (Carri Bugbee) & social media monitoring (Paul Dyer & Kelly Feller).

Here are some highlights from Brian Solis’s keynote and the closing panel discussion on integrated marketing:

  • Social media is an earned privilege. A ‘tweet this’ or ‘like us’ button on its own doesn’t mean anything. Ask yourself why audience should care. You have to compete for every ‘like’ by being compelling.
  • Influence is not popularity. A large number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes doesn’t necessarily equate to the capacity to change behavior or perception.
  • What used to be an audience is now an audience with audiences. An average Facebook user has 130 friends. An average Twitter user has 140 followers. Everyone is now their own distribution channel.
  • Context, not content, is now king. People want to feel that the great content they are seeing was created for them specifically, on the network that they are on. Don’t blast your message identically on every network, customize it to the platform.
  • Social media marketing should not be done in silos. Tactics like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc should be integrated and linked with traditional marketing channels. Don’t focus so much on the tools, just focus on what you want to do, then find the right distribution point for your message.

Speaker Chuck Hester talks about LinkedIn

Here are some tips & insights from Chuck Hester & Neal Schaffer’s session on LinkedIn:

  • A LinkedIn profile is not an online resume. It’s an online portfolio. LinkedIn is not just for job seekers.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile for search by putting keywords in your headline & summary. Don’t leave your headline as your current title; use the terms people are likely to search for.
  • When adding people to your network, don’t send the generic “I’d like to add you” message. Personalize your invitation & ask what you can do for the connection.
  • Include up to three URLs in your profile. Besides your website, one good one to include is the URL for your media center or online newsroom.
  • Users can follow & recommend companies on LinkedIn. Company pages have a section where you can highlight specific products & services.
  • LinkedIn groups are a good way to promote best practices & position subject matter experts. Leave your group open to ensure discussions get indexed. Be descriptive in the titles of your groups: use keywords you want to come up in search.
  • Consider creating subgroups to enhance the SEO of your LinkedIn groups. Each subgroup & main group gets indexed separately, so you can target keywords in your descriptions to different audiences. For example, a subgroup for “LA tech jobs” under the main group “tech jobs” further targets by geography & would show up under a search for “LA jobs” when the main group might not.
  • Include your LinkedIn, Twitter & other social media profiles in your press release contact blocks.
  • Treat your connections on LinkedIn & other networks like they are physically in front of you.

For more tips on LinkedIn, see Guy Kawasaki’s classic blog post, 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn. You can also find Business Wire on LinkedIn.

See more live updates from this event on Twitter: hash tag #smm11


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