Talking Turkey and International Media Relations: Pitching Turkish Media

February 14, 2011
by Kai Prager, Media Relations Representative, Business Wire/Frankfurt

Turkey is a country that has seen increasing interest in recent months and we’ve experienced more queries recently on how to pitch Turkish media. Perhaps a more stable government and the “stellar growth” of the Turkish economy accounts for this interest.

The Turkish press is rich and diverse, with about 40 national newspapers selling 4.5 – 5 million copies per day. The most popular include Zaman, Posta, Hürriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Türkiye, Cumhuriyet and Vatan, and represent the scope of Turkish society from traditional and conservative to liberal and socialist.

About 900 local and weekly papers flourish throughout Turkey, in Kurdish languages, Greek, Armenian, Arab and Hebrew. The big national papers such as Zaman are printed in Turkish but also produce English versions, Daily News and Today’s Zaman.

As the official language, Turkish is the language of choice when pitching local media. We find that most publishing houses employ journalists who speak English, or even German, but releases delivered in the native languages will get more attention. If you don’t send your story in Turkish, make sure you send it to writers that speak your language.

Most newspaper web sites list the staff writers, the articles they’ve written, and ways to contact them. Don’t forget to do your homework and peruse the clips before contacting journalists.  As elsewhere in the world, Turkish media appreciate your familiarity with their work and dislike irrelevant pitches.

We advise a follow-up phone call to make sure a story gets noticed after sending. And, as always, having a relationship with the reporter helps.  Visuals can give you an advantage in capturing attention as well — photos, graphics, logos, anything that makes it easier for time-strapped reporters to assemble a story.  Just like reporters around the world, members of the Turkish media appreciate the entire story package, not just the text.

It’s worth noting that just as in the United States, press freedom is part of the constitution, even though Turkish law allows for some restrictions.   Article 301 of the penal code makes it a punishable offense to “insult Turkishness.”

When the writer and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted under that Article for a speech given during an awards ceremony in which  he criticized the government, it became an international incident.  Be advised also that insulting the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is punishable by law and has lead to the blocking of some websites like YouTube.

PR professionals can effectively target Turkish media by familiarizing themselves with journalist preferences, crafting a newsworthy release, including multimedia and following up.  By doing so, your press release is likely to get the attention it deserves.


Shrinking International News Output of UK Papers Creates Opportunity for PR Pros

February 7, 2011
by Michel Rubini, European Media Relations Team

A recent report titled “Shrinking World” published by the Media Standards Trust suggests that the loss of international news coverage by UK newspapers is a gain for public relations pros.

The report, written by Martin Moore and published in November 2010, details how international reporting in UK newspapers has decreased in the last 30 years by nearly 40%. The report compared international reporting output for one week in 1979 with 2009 from four national papers, The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Mirror. The conclusion: international news coverage has diminished dramatically.

Counting all the foreign news stories in the four newspapers in the same week over a period of 30 years, the total number decreased from 502 in 1979 to 308 in 2009 (see graph below).

The reasons for the decrease are multiple. Original foreign reporting is expensive. A foreign bureau costs $200-300,000 a year, based on a 2007 analysis by Jill Carroll for the Harvard Shorenstein Center.  As a result, UK newspapers have reduced the number of journalists based abroad, replacing them with freelancers.

The end of the Cold War in 1989 factors into the decrease in foreign reporting as well. The Cold War provided a clear framework and rationale for covering international affairs which a domestic audience relied upon.  Also contributing to the decline is the rise of more specialised media, such as locally based satellite TV, or online local editions of foreign newspapers, and even social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

In such a setting, it’s no surprise that UK-based correspondents rely on news sources from the country of origin as well as newswire content like that provided by Business Wire to fill in the gaps, turning the loss of foreign correspondents in UK newspapers into a gain for PR professionals and their clients.


Why the Deck is Stacked Against Retail Investors

February 3, 2011
by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media
Neil Hershberg

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media

The classic Cole Porter musical, “Anything Goes,” is returning to Broadway this spring.

Retail investors won’t have to wait that long. In practice, “Anything Goes” has become the unofficial mantra of Wall Street, the Digital Age’s equivalent of ‘The Wild West” when it comes to disclosure.

Unfortunately for individual investors, who invariably get the short end of the stick, the folks in a position to end today’s information free-for-all have yet to take action.

At the risk of sounding like the Cassandra of capitalism, here’s why retail investors are swimming upstream:

1. Reg FD’s “level playing field” has become the regulatory equivalent of an ecological disaster area; it is eroding faster than many storm-swept East Coast beaches.

Mega-cap companies with huge investor followings have, for reasons best known to themselves, opted for micro-disclosure, dispensing with broadly disseminated news releases in favor of standalone web postings or similar truncated practices.

Rather than providing simultaneous, real-time information access to all interested investors, these best-practice contrarians have essentially decided to ladle access on a sequential basis to anxious  investors clamoring for corporate updates.

Over the past few decades, we’ve regressed from “trickle down economics” to “trickle down disclosure.”  Unfortunately, retail investors are the ones getting hosed.

Ironically, technology trend-setters are among the most flagrant abusers of acknowledged best-practice disclosure practices. These industry leaders should know better than anyone the inherent technical limitations of the Internet, and why the web’s architecture makes it impossible to meet the complex challenge of simultaneity.

2. Retail investors also are unknowingly getting eaten alive by spiders; these automated creepy crawlers have become a hidden epidemic.

While Bloomberg recently generated headlines when it published Disney and NetApps earnings results in advance of their official release, the real concern for retail investors should be the stealth spidering tactics of traders deliberately seeking to stay under the radar.

The spiders unleashed by Bloomberg and Selerity likely have plenty of company. In all probability, armies of incognito spiders are clandestinely retrieving troves of actionable, non-public data for their trading masters.

Even if these spiders fail to uncover non-public material information, their very use provides an unfair edge if publicly traded companies do not broadly disseminate their news via a service such as Business Wire.

The reason is that spiders are faster than the RSS readers that retail investors rely on for news alerts when disclosure is limited to a standalone web posting. Whereas Business Wire distributes market-moving news simultaneously and in real-time to financial information systems, portals, and media platforms worldwide, standalone web postings create a feeding frenzy for these rapacious spiders.

Retail investors have a legitimate reason to be suffering from arachnophobia; they are at a distinct disadvantage to market players that control these powerful technology termites.

3. There is a well-known saying that in life, “timing is everything.” That is certainly the case on Wall Street, where latency and milliseconds rule the day.

Winning on Wall Street is largely contingent on the ability to access and act on information faster than anyone else.

Institutional investors clearly have the necessary resources and technology at their disposal to triumph in today’s trading environment.

Notice-and-access and web disclosure disproportionately favor the professional investor, who can read – and react (perhaps even robotically) – far more quickly than the average retail investor.

The trading activity following Netflix’s recent web posting of its earnings (January 26 at 4:05 pm/ET) illustrates the high stakes involved.

More than one-third of Netflix’s total share volume for the day, or just over three million shares, traded after Netflix posted its earnings.

In after hours trading, Netflix’s shares were up $19.16 (10.47 percent).

Although individual investors now have the opportunity to trade in the after-hours market, they are being steamrolled by institutional traders, who clearly have the capability to react with more immediacy.

Retail investors are forced to play a bad hand. A recent blog post by Jack Campbell at 24/7 Wall Street, “Ten Ways Wall Street Crushes Retail Investors,” elaborates on many of these same themes: http://247wallst.com/2011/01/26/ten-ways-wall-street-crushes-retail-investors/

The common denominator linking all these examples is access to material information.

Regulation Fair Disclosure, in its original iteration, is clear on this point: all investors should have equal access to information at the same time.

The answer to the disclosure dilemma is obvious: the integrity of Regulation Fair Disclosure must be restored if retail investors are to be equal market participants.

Simultaneous, real-time access to disclosure news is the only solution that will put an end to the emerging two-tier access system that is slowly taking root.

It’s time for retail investors to get the fair shake they deserve.


Importance of Writing Good Headlines Magnified as Attention Spans and Space Decrease

February 3, 2011
Free “How to Write A Good Headline” Webinar to Offer Headline Writing Tips
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Gawker rolled out its redesign this week, provoking an echo chamber of speculation on what it means for blogs, Twitter and new media in general, and the blogosphere in particular.

One theme was constant in the online nattering:  headlines have never been more important.

With our miniscule attention spans, a firehose of content, and search engines that systematically weigh the first 70 characters of any content page, headlines today carry an unprecedented burden to deliver readers.   And with Twitter and Facebook referring so many pageviews, we no longer enjoy the luxury of the lead paragraph to tell our stories.

The headline stands alone.

“Headlines on websites—particularly those found on news websites with content heavy homepages—carry a very heavy load,” wrote Jake Brooks, Chief Strategist and Project Director of Hazan+Company, in a February 1 blogpost. “For these types of sites, the difference between 10,000 pageviews can rest entirely on the quality of the headline and how well it sells a story.”

No kidding.  And when it comes to press releases, a great headline can make the difference between your carefully crafted news release flying high or detouring to the delete heap.

If you can use some help with headline writing, please join us February 16 for a FREE educational webinar on How to Write  a Good HeadlineRegistration is free.

We’ll look at headlines from both sides of the aisle–from the perspectives of readers and robots.   Our guests will be veteran journalist Terry Scott Bertling, niche/products editor at the San Antonio Express-News; and SEO-meister  Greg Jarboe, President of SEO-PR.

Hope to “see” you there.

How to Write A Good Headline
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
10 AM Pacific/ Noon Central/ 1 PM Eastern
FREE
Register Now

 

 


Happy Chinese New Year! And Make Sure Your International Target Audience is not on Vacation

February 2, 2011
by Matthew Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

Matt Allinson, Business Wire International Media Relations SupervisorThe wisdom of sending a news release to a country that’s on holiday is a frequent question at our news desk.  Our response?

Unwise.  And when the news is sent anyway, our clients wonder about the lackluster  pick-up by media.

A better question is why would you spend your company’s hard-earned dollars/euros/pounds/yen sending out a news release that virtually no one is going to read because they’re taking a day—or a week–off?

The practice of forcing news during holidays is predominantly an American one.  The U.S. penchant for a 24/7/365 go-go-go news cycle has made us believe everyone else in the world operates likewise.

Yet most countries and cultures work at a much more leisurely pace, often enjoying twice the vacation time as the American worker.  With the exception of New Zealand, Americans work more every year than any other industrialized nation.

What this means is that if you’re responsible for sending news overseas, be aware of what’s taking place in your target countries or regions so that your news doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Here’s what David Lore, the bureau chief at Interfax Shanghai, had to say about doing business in China during a holiday:

When it comes to doing business in China, there are a host of “dos and don’ts” that can make or break a deal. You don’t embarrass your Chinese partner in front of his subordinates, and you do take major holidays into consideration when preparing press releases. Especially the week-long Chinese New Year holiday (CNY), also known as Spring Festival. Without question the single most important holiday on the Lunar Calendar, CNY is a time when tens of millions of Chinese are on the move, returning to hometowns to reunite with family and friends.

On a business level, top decision-makers and opinion-shapers usually depart on extended vacations that often encompass the week before and the week after CNY. For all intents and purposes, China’s economy (with a few exceptions, like retail) goes into a kind of hibernation from Feb 2 – Feb 8.

The best resource we’ve found to monitor holidays all over the world is bank-holidays.com.  This site provides information on when banks and stock exchanges are closed for public or religious holidays. Other major events (elections, planned strikes, festivals, etc.) are also listed which can help when determining the proper timing of a news release.

Other, less detailed resources include Onada, Who is on Holiday and Wikipedia.


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