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.


BW Fun Fact: Business Wire Has Been Adding Multimedia to Press Releases for More Than a Decade

March 14, 2011

In 1997, Business Wire introduced the Smart News Release (SNR), which allowed users to embed photos, audio, video and other multimedia into press releases. Not only does multimedia help a press release stand out to reporters or readers, but it also increases the reach of a release in search engines. Although often overlooked, Google Images receives a huge amount of search traffic and can actually drive readers back to your release. Our research has found that releases with multimedia receive 1.7 times more reads than those without.

Back when we first introduced SNRs, clients would often provide us with hard-copy photos, which were then scanned by Business Wire editors to be made available in high resolution to media and web viewers. Today, we distribute hundreds of releases with multimedia every week.

Check out what some of our experienced editors have to say about how best to submit multimedia and best practices for writing photo captions.


Daylight Saving Time And Other Timing Tips for Your Press Releases

March 10, 2011
by Rebecca Rose, Business Wire Editor, Atlanta

If you’re sending a press release in the next couple of days, please factor Daylight Saving Time into your plans.

Rebecca Rose, Editor, BW/Atlanta

Daylight Saving Time was first enacted in the U.S. in 1918 and in classic “spring forward”  fashion, it begins Sunday, March 13, this year.  Clocks will jump forward an hour at 2 a.m. local time in most areas. The time shift will also occur in other parts of North America, including Mexico and most of Canada.  The European Union (EU) won’t change their clocks until the last Sunday in March.

Exceptions to Daylight Saving Time include the entire state of Arizona, northwest Indiana and the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.  We recommend verifying the local time in your targeted distribution area.   And, if you’re at all unsure about the correct time zone, contact your local newsroom – we’re always here to help!

The most common goof we see on news releases during time change season is communicators failing to note event timing announcements in the current timing scenario.  For example, a press conference taking place at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York City will be noted as starting at 8 AM EST versus 8 AM EDT.   Our editors are on the look out for such errors.

Here’s a good reference to see which locales change when.  Below we’ve assembled a few extra timing tips to get you through the night as that extra hour gets shelved until autumn.  On November 6, we’ll “fall back” and get those 60 minutes back.
  • When writing and scheduling your press release, be sure to consider the time zone of your desired geographic circuit. If you’re located in Atlanta, but are targeting media points in California, sending your release out at 8 a.m. ET (5 a.m. PT) probably isn’t going to get you the most bang for your buck.
  • Templates are frequently used when crafting press releases, so be sure to double-check that time zone abbreviations are updated and correct.
  • A simple, albeit effective, strategy for boosting pickup is to release your news slightly past the hour. For example, rather than scheduling your release to cross the wire at 8 a.m., try scheduling it for 8:01 a.m. or 8:06 a.m. This will set your news apart from the rush of releases scheduled to go out on-the-hour.

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.


Dos and Don’ts of Pitching a Features Editor

March 8, 2011
by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire’s Features National circuit and Feature Topic Series can help distribute your press releases, but how do you create an effective story that will appeal to a features editor? I reached out to Katie Aberbach of the Washington Post Express and Katy De Luca of the Washington Examiner to find out the dos and don’ts of pitching a feature editor.

Katie Aberbach

Katie Aberbach is a feature editor for the Washington Post Express‘ Lookout, Weekend Pass and Digs sections. According to Aberbach, a good feature is “a human interest story, something the average reader can relate to.” The best feature stories are when you become invested in what you’re reading or when you can tell that the reporter truly enjoys what he or she is writing about. When it comes to getting ideas for feature stories, “press releases do help out a lot because there is no way you can know everything new that’s coming out,” she said. “Tell me about your new product, television show and book and offer a source to comment on it.”

When it comes to writing your press release, she suggests the following:

  • Do break up the story and summarize key information into bullet points.
  • Do include links to other trend stories and think of what visuals would work for your story.
  • Don’t forget the hook. Even though you’re pitching a feature story, a hard news hook is still valuable. Say why I should care right away. Naming the names is really important.

Katy De Luca

Katy De Luca is the features editor of the Washington Examiner. For De Luca, the best feature stories are ones that appeal to the Examiner audience. “I look at all pitches and think about what will be most interesting to our readers. I think about what they would want to read and what is the best way to get the information to them,” she said. Most of the story ideas come from the writers De Luca works with. She also reads a variety of media and if a topic grabs her attention, she’ll forward the lead to one of her freelancers.

When pitching a feature reporter or editor, De Luca recommends these points:

  • Do include as much information as possible in the subject line and personalize your pitch. Provide all basic details. Simple is better.
  • Do periodically ask the person you are pitching to what sort of things they are looking for. Communication is a key part of the process.
  • Don’t send long-winded e-mails with attachments.

For more suggestions on how to help get your feature news noticed by the media, check out these Features News Tips. You can also contact our features department at features@businesswire.com for additional writing tips and story suggestions.


March Mobile Madness: Win an Amazon Gift Card!

March 7, 2011

March is Mobile Madness Month at Business Wire! We’ll be giving away free prizes all month long and reminding you to download our free mobile apps for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. Business Wire press releases also automatically post to leading mobile news apps, including AP Mobile, AFP Mobile and Postmedia Network Mobile. We also just updated Business Wire Mobile, our platform designed for mobile viewing. Check it out today by visiting BusinessWire.com on your phone to view full-text press releases and set up your personal page to receive customized news.

To celebrate Mobile Madness, we’re raffling off $25 Amazon Gift Cards, just for checking out one of our free apps or creating a free personal page on our mobile site. Visit our Mobile Madness site to enter the drawing and check out more information about our mobile distribution.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39,160 other followers

%d bloggers like this: