Photo, Good Headline, and Newsworthiness Will Get Your Press Release Noticed

March 29, 2011
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist
Sandy Malloy

Sandy Malloy

When comparing measurement reports from different releases, clients often ask why one news release received more views than another.  The question arose recently in the context of a release that proved to be far more popular than another despite the client’s perception that the latter was more “important” news and the release was more widely distributed.

I won’t explore the rationale for choosing one distribution over another, but I WILL comment on factors that can make a press release popular.  In this particular case, the more popular release had a photo. 

As we’ve noted before, releases with multimedia receive 1.7 times more reads than those without.  This release was no exception.  Multimedia not only attracts viewers who want to see or  download the photo or play the video, photos and videos attract more viewers, period.  The visual Web loves multimedia, which grabs attention.

A second trait of popular releases is a good headline.   It’s such an important component of an effective news release that we’ve presented webinars on this topic.  The more popular release in this case had a succinct headline that clearly stated what the release was about and why it should be of interest to the reader.  Remember that although search-friendly keywords in your release are very important, many people will see your headline on our site, on their mobile devices, in RSS feeds or email and decide whether or not to click through.  Headlines make that first impression, and just as you don’t get a second chance to impress in the real world, nor does your press release.

Finally, make sure the release is truly newsworthy.  This list of news release-writing tips from PRSA’s blog is typical in making newsworthiness Tip #1.


Media Pitching Tips from Top Business Magazines

March 28, 2011
by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/NY
NIkelle Feimster

Nikelle Feimster

The Publicity Club of New York (PCNY) recently held a business media briefing at 3 West Club in New York City. The event, moderated by Peter Himler, Founder and Principal of Flatiron Communications LL, included a panel of guests from top business magazines. The speakers were: Michael Santoli, Senior Editor & “Streetwise” Columnist, Barron’s; Jeff Chu, Articles Editor, Fast Company; Steve Bertoni, Reporter, Forbes; Nadine Heintz, Senior Editor, Inc. Magazine; Russell Pearlman, Senior Markets Editor, SmartMoney Magazine.

Here are a few techniques offered by the panelists on how PR professionals can increase their chances of getting media coverage:

 Make your pitch challenging. According to Steve Bertoni, Forbes is always known as the “drama critics of capitalism”. He said that for the magazine, stories need to have challenge or conflict so be sure there is drama or a lesson in your pitch.

Take time to build relationships. Russell Pearlman of SmartMoney Magazine advised PR pros to invest in long term relationships with journalists. He is willing to contact companies for information, but only after he has developed a relationship with them first. It’s also helpful to provide him with a client list that explains what each client can talk about.

Make sure your pitch fits the publication. According to Nadine Heintz of Inc. Magazine, you should know and read the magazine. “Show that you understand it and how your story would be a good fit,” she said.  When pitching Fast Company, Jeff Chu said to check out the magazine issue covering the world’s most fifty innovative companies to get a good sense of the companies they cover.

 Small companies, small industry you can still get big coverage. Inc. Magazine only covers privately held companies. Heintz will focus on how people start their own business and what makes them successful. Also, Barron’s writers are not bound by a beat assignment so “everything is pretty much fair game,” said Michael Santoli.

The panelists provided additional tips for pitching, like:

  • Don’t continue to call without leaving a voice message.
  • Spell the writer’s name correctly.
  • Stay away from jargon.
  • Put the news in the headline and subhead of the email.

PCNY has monthly “Meet the Media” luncheons that include a panel of guests from leading print, broadcast and online news organizations. For more information on upcoming events, visit http://www.publicityclub.org.


Friday Fast Links: LinkedIn Tips, Social CMOs, Measurement and more

March 25, 2011


Business Wire Gives Back: BW Staff Goes Back to School to Help Students Find Success

March 24, 2011

Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary celebration this year features the BW Gives Back volunteer program, which affords employees the opportunity to “go to work” in their communities for the educational or charitable organizations that mean the most to them.

Laura Sturaitis addresses the Job Search Boot Camp at St. Thomas University, Miami, FL

Executive Vice President Laura Sturaitis spent last Thursday sharing her time and expertise with job seekers among the students, alumnae and members of the general public at her alma mater St. Thomas University in Miami, FL.  Sturaitis served as a panelist at St. Thomas’s Job Search Boot Camp.  Her presentation, “Developing and Managing Your Professional Online Brand,” sparked a lively discussion.

Business Wire Executive Vice President Laura Sturaitis

Many Business Wire staff, including Laura, regularly speak to college PR and Communications students as guest lecturers on a variety of industry topics from Writing for the Web to What is the Wire?  These talks help students prepare for and excel in our quickly changing industry.

“I try to impart the fact that it’s necessary to apply their wizardry using new technologies and social media to the old-school communication skills they are learning in class – good writing and grammar, identifying and building audiences through meaningful professional relationships and networking, determining the right channels for their well-crafted message and the ability to evaluate the results of their efforts in order to make adjustments,” says Sturaitis. “We always have a lot to talk about and share in class.”

Raschanda Hall, Business Wire’s Chicago-based Global Media Relations Manager, is another staff member who regularly takes her experience and skills back to school. She recently spent the afternoon with a class of Chicago State students.

Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager

Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager

“I love the opportunity to talk to college students studying my craft, ” says Hall.  “Getting just a glimpse of what life is like in the working world of public relations is something these kids can’t get from books….When I’m asked to talk to a local college class about PR, I jump at the chance. I end up getting as much out of it as the students because I’m inspired by the next generation.”

With a company wide goal of 5,000 hours of community service in honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire supports employees’ efforts to volunteer by providing up to 10 hours of paid time off in 2011.


Richmond Media Discuss Role of Press Releases and Offer Timing and Pitching Tips

March 23, 2011

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

Business Wire hosted a Meet the Richmond Media event recently at the Ramada Plaza West in Richmond, Va. More than 50 public relations and communications professionals were in attendance to hear from a media panel discussion moderated by Business Wire client Jon Newman of The Hodges Partnership. The panel included:

-         Scott Bass, News Editor at Style Weekly

-         Rachel DePompa, Richmond Reporter at NBC12

-         Gregory Gilligan, Business Editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

-         Susan Winiecki, Editor in Chief and Associate Publisher of Richmond Magazine

Photo by Michael Toner/Business Wire

In addition to talking about news gathering techniques and tools, the panel discussed the role of press releases in the news industry, new technologies and how they have affected journalism, and current topics of interest in Richmond. Here are some tips and takeaways from the discussion:

1)      Personalize your pitch – According to Scott Bass of Style Weekly, e-mails that include “For Immediate Release” are immediately deleted. Tailor your pitch to help cut through the clutter. A great way to engage a reporter is to reference a previous article. He also recommends including contact names, phone numbers and availability for multiple sources in your press release.

2)      Be cognizant of deadlines – Reporters are filing stories at the end of the day so don’t call late in the afternoon, said Gregory Gilligan of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He suggests trying them early morning and also including bullet points of key information in your press release.

3)      Develop a relationship – According to Susan Winiecki of Richmond Magazine, press releases are only the start of the conversation. Schedule meetings to learn about the publication and its editorial calendar, and also to inform reporters about your clients.

4)      Think about the visuals – Broadcast reporters need time to create visuals for their stories, said Rachel DePompa of NBC12. Give at least a day’s notice for events if you want to be covered. Also leave time after press conferences for reporters to conduct interviews. They need original sound bites for their coverage.

Business Wire Senior Account Executive Michael Toner also compiled a recap of the event that includes audience and panelist tweets. To see the story, click here.

Business Wire holds dozens of local events every year. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from trends in today’s newsrooms to writing for SEO. Events are usually free of charge to members. For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit BusinessWire.com. Follow live updates from Business Wire events on Twitter: hash tag #bwevents


Editor’s Corner: How to Bring Social Media into Your Press Release

March 22, 2011

by John Benutty, Senior Editor, Business Wire San Francisco

by John Benutty, Sr Editor, Business Wire San Francisco

The secret is out – if you want to get noticed, your company must tap into the social media consciousness of our time.Consider the fact that we twenty- and early thirty-somethings – now an intricate part of the business and media fields – were in college when Facebook began, and we know the value of social media as if its playbook were written on our forearms. Young professionals tweet, post to walls, like, digg, bing, ping, blog, Google and forward more than anyone else, leaving the heartbeat of your news at the tips of our mouse-clicking fingers.

So how does your company tap into the ever-expanding atmosphere of social media? Is it possible to use it to your advantage within your Business Wire press release? Most certainly.

Step 1: Build your fan-base by adding social media links to your release

The easiest way to bridge the gap between social media and your news is to always include links to the places online where your company has a presence. In addition to including a link to your company’s home page, include the URLs to your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. Links provide easy access for those who receive your news to keep track of more than just your press releases – they’ll fan your Facebook page, follow your Twitter feed and subscribe to your YouTube channel to stay up on all your latest announcements.

Here are a few places where these social media links make the most sense:

  • as part of your boilerplate along with your company URL
  • in a bulleted list (i.e., “Find Us Online”) with a link to each site where your company has a media presence
  • alongside your media/investor relations phone numbers and email addresses

Step 2: Keep your fan-base informed by re-posting and re-tweeting your release from BusinessWire.com

One of the many great things about distributing your news through Business Wire is the “Sharing” toolbar on your press release page. To the immediate left of every press release on BusinessWire.com is a list of social media links encouraging viewers to share the press release with their own friends, fans and followers. Seize this opportunity and share your news directly with your newly acquired fan-base. It goes without saying that the people you care most about reaching are the friends of your friends, so re-post and re-tweet your release to your fans, and let them share their excitement about your news with the people they know – from there, the distance your news can travel is boundless, so give it that first little tweet and let the diggs, bings and pings fall where they may.

With 32 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.


Upcoming Business Wire Events: Powerful Pitches in Cleveland, Crisis Comm in Florida, Meet the Tech Media in LA

March 21, 2011

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Powerful Pitches

Hosted by Business Wire Cleveland

Just about everything in a communications professional’s life involves some form of pitching. A successful pitch involves a great deal of persuasion and creativity. Join Business Wire Cleveland for a breakfast seminar featuring Jim Kukral, web entrepreneur, blogger, professional speaker, educator and author of two books – Attention! This Book Will Make You Money and The Ultimate Pitch. Jim will draw from his years of experience counseling major corporations, entrepreneurs and small businesses to provide you with the tools and inspiration to prepare powerful pitches that will grab attention and help you accomplish your goals. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, March 24 at 8:00 a.m. ET
The City Club of Cleveland
850 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114

To register: Please RSVP to Melissa Chambers at melissa.chambers@businesswire.com

CRISIS! Expect the Unexpected: Plan, Manage, & Respond

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Join Business Wire Florida & JM Family Enterprises, Inc. for this in-depth panel discussion with South Florida media and crisis communications experts. Amy Wagner, former SVP of Investor Relations and Global Communications of Burger King Corp hosts the panel, which includes Laura Vann, Public Relations Specialist, Lynn University Marketing and Communication; Don Silver, Chief Operating Officer, Boardroom Communications; Elianne Gonzalez, Hispanic Press Officer, Insurance Information Institute; and Wayne K. Roustan, General Assignment Reporter, South Florida Sun Sentinel. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, March 30 at 11:30 a.m. ET
JM Family Enterprises Inc.

111 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

To register: Please RSVP by Friday, March 25 to Julia Sotelo at Julia.Sotelo@businesswire.com or call 954-474-8833.

Meet the Media: LA-area Technology Journalists Discuss Reporting Trends and how to Pitch Tech Media

Hosted by Business Wire LA

Join Business Wire LA for breakfast and a panel discussion featuring technology journalists as they share their thoughts on what makes a good story and learn how your organization can increase its chances of being covered by the media. Panelists include: Natalie Jarvey, Reporter (Technology), Los Angeles Business Journal; Kevin Kelly, Features Editor, G4tv.com; and Brian Deagon, Business and Technology Journalist, Investor’s Business Daily. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, March 31 at 8:00 a.m. PT
The Olympic Collection
11301 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

To register: Please RSVP by March 29 to Garrett Henricksen or Heather Hardge at (310) 820-9473 or email larsvp@businesswire.com.


Business Wire holds dozens of local events every year. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from trends in today’s newsrooms to writing for SEO. Events are usually free of charge to members. For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit BusinessWire.com. Follow live updates from Business Wire events on Twitter: hash tag
#bwevents


Friday Fast Links: March Madness, Wire Service SEO and More

March 18, 2011

What do you know about your wire service’s SEO practices?

How big are the opportunities for brands and social media during March Madness? (A Google search for “March Madness” + “social media” returns nearly 2 million results.)

On the off chance you missed Rebecca Black blowing up the internet this week, you missed a great lesson on how to turn bad PR into good PR.

Eight tips for writing press releases that journalists will read. I think they’re just about in the right order, too.

The Canadian Investor Relations Institute reinforces the widely disseminated press release as the anchor of successful IR. Are they ahead of the US in setting standards?

If you need help building your online newsroom, register for our free webinar.

Do you or your company have a blog? A recent Minnesota court case has some interesting free speech implications for bloggers.

There are a lot of ways to sell jeans. Is this one of them? Takes edgy ads to a whole new level.

Have a great weekend!


Canada Gets it Right on Fair Disclosure — Again

March 18, 2011
by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media

Neil HershbergThe United States is often thought of as the global disclosure leader, but the truth is that there is a lot we can learn from our next-door neighbor: Canada.

In Canada’s typically unassuming way, the Canadian regulatory model has been adopted as the de facto prototype for the disclosure regime that has taken root in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

I’ll elaborate on the background as to how this all came about shortly. What’s important, however, is to spotlight the reasons why global regulators have come to recognize Canada’s disclosure framework as a world-class model worth emulating.

The Canadian Investor Relations Institute [CIRI], a widely respected association of industry professionals, has just updated its “Standards and Guidance for Disclosure and Model Disclosure Policy,” to reflect the regulatory and accounting changes, social media, and other factors that have transformed the investor relations landscape since its guidelines were last modified in 2006.

CIRI’s authoritative “Best Practices” resource for reporting issuers and industry professionals reinforces the central role of a simultaneous, broadly disseminated news release in achieving full and fair disclosure.

Unlike the United States, where the term “disclosure standards” is rapidly becoming an oxymoron, Canadians are crystal clear in what constitutes fair disclosure.

According to the timely disclosure policies of the TSX Exchanges and the CNSX, a full-text news release disseminated via a sanctioned news service is the only acceptable way to disclose material information. No ambiguity here. While the U.S. trumpets full and fair disclosure in principle, Canada practices it daily as a matter of regulatory policy. The result is that the entire investment community benefits from a level playing field. (Note: Business Wire is one of several approved news dissemination services in the Canadian marketplace.)

CIRI’s guidelines take a pragmatic approach to the arsenal of available investor relations tools that greatly facilitate investor outreach.

The CIRI report specifically notes that standalone web postings, conference calls, and other complementary communications channels do NOT meet Canadian disclosure requirements. Issuers, however, are encouraged to use additional delivery platforms to supplement a simultaneous, widely disseminated news release.

“As material information should be released in a manner designed to reach the widest public audience possible, including individual investors, companies are encouraged to use various technologies to supplement the news release. Some of the most obvious technologies include conference calls, webcasts, email, fax, video conferences, company websites, and more recently, corporate blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, and social networking sites. While new technologies are important and useful ways to disseminate information, they are not substitutes for a broadly disseminated news release.” [CIRI Standards and Guidance for Disclosure, Page 18]

Talking about disclosure, Business Wire is the sponsor of  CIRI’s ‘Standards and Guidance for Disclosure and Model Disclosure Policy.”  To be clear, however, our involvement in the project came after CIRI completed its revisions; we in no way influenced CIRI’s research or conclusions. Business Wire is proud to support the activities of CIRI, NIRI, and other investor relations organizations worldwide that promote professional development of IR practitioners, and the ideal of effective disclosure.

Now, back to our story.

The London Stock Exchange went public in 2001, a decision that forced the LSE to relinquish its monopoly on regulatory news dissemination via its subsidiary, The Regulatory News Service [RNS].

The Financial Services Authority, the UK equivalent of the SEC, used the opportunity to rethink its approach to regulatory disclosure.

The FSA formed the Information Dissemination Advisory Group (“IDAG”), a committee of industry participants and outside experts to study various models and scenarios. IDAG was charged with making its recommendation to the FSA as to the UK’s future regulatory structure.

FSA officials also crossed the pond to North America, where they conducted extensive interviews with a wide range of market participants in the United States and Canada, as well as to conduct their own  observations, research and analysis.

After completing its due diligence, the FSA ultimately embraced a competitive disclosure regime whose nucleus closely mirrors the key tenets of the Canadian regulatory system.

Soon after the UK model went live in 2002, the European Union began a similar exercise — and not surprisingly, concluded with virtually identical results.

The Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR) exhaustively evaluated a range of disclosure options over several years. CESR’s final assessment, memorialized in the Transparency Obligations Directive that took effect in January 2007, once again ratified the core Canadian/UK disclosure model as the best of all possible worlds.

With its characteristic low-key style, Canada deserves to finally be recognized as a  regulatory role model whose commitment to full and fair disclosure sets the standard for leading global financial markets.


Google Algorithm Changes Reward Best Practice SEO and Pay Off for Press Release Visibility

March 15, 2011
Matt Albers, Director of Web Services

by Matt Albers, Director of Software Engineering, Web Services

In an effort to find more high quality sites for its many users, during the week of Feb. 24th, Google rolled out their Panda update (aka Farmer).

This update was said to touch nearly 12 percent of all Google search results in an attempt to weed out or de-value content farms and “low quality” sites.  Wired.com offers more in depth coverage with Google engineers Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal weighing in on specifics about the change.  If you’re an engineer like me, you’d already heard complaints in the tech sector for a while now.

So how did this change affect the visibility of your press releases?  We’re glad you asked, because in the case of Business Wire, we’ve noticed a positive change.  That’s correct: since Google tweaked their indexing algorithm, Business Wire has seen an increase in traffic, and higher rankings for our client’s press releases.

Meanwhile, according to Sistrix, a German search research company, our competitors have not fared as well, some losing nearly 70% of their keyword rankings.  In addition, our rival says they lost 20% in traffic, showing a Hitwise graph of search clicks.  But look closely and you’ll see the only site on that graph trending UP is Business Wire.  Yes, quality rises to the top.

We don’t know specifically why some press release services were dinged.  We can only confirm that Business Wire was not affected negatively by the Panda update based on our analytics analysis.  Why the difference?  I suspect it’s because we’ve been following “best practice”, “white hat” SEO for years.

Business Wire has been known for excellence and customer service for 50 years now, and we have deliberately avoided SEO gaming, allowing our highly vetted content to speak for itself.  As an engineer and Director of Web Services, you can bet I place a high value on technology, but good decisions and people behind them are what really make a difference in the quality our clients enjoy at Business Wire.  It turns out taking the high road and considering long term over short term success results in excellent SEO outcomes for us and our clients.


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