Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Shannon McGreal-Miller

August 31, 2011

It’s been said in order to see the future, you must look into the past.  Our next finalist for the Business Wire college video contest just did that.  Shannon McGreal-Miller, a junior from Michigan State University studying Marketing, used examples from Abraham Lincoln’s campaign where Mathew Brady took a photo of Mr. Lincoln to communicate with voters that Mr. Lincoln was not the wild man he was being portrayed as. It ultimately changed his image allowing him to win the election.  As a top ten finalist, Shannon may win a chance to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View her video here (7th video).


When asked why she wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, Shannon answered “If I was able to meet Mr. Buffett I would be honored to hear any advice he had for a determined, college-student who wants to make an impact on the world! Meeting Mr. Buffett would be like Mufasa showing Simba Pride Rock in Lion King: Epic!!”

Shannon has a real passion for her hometown, which is also her college town, and considers herself a Spartan fan to the core. She credits this to the wonderful people including Val Berryman, curator of history at the MSU Museum.  Shannon shares that prior to Mr. Berryman’s help she was planning on using spray paint and cardboard and is thankful to have Mr. Berryman as a resource.  She has received numerous emails from her MSU professors, including the chairman of her department, and even received a Lincoln mug from a fan.  Read her article in the MSU paper here.


Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWSHANNON.


How to Write Good Quotes: Keeping it Real Makes Your Press Release More Effective

August 30, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Our friends over at Ragan wrote an enviable dispatch recently, 4 Ways to Improve Quotes in Press Releases.  Wish we had authored this one.

Quotes are a tradition in press releases and inject a human voice into the text.  The challenge of balancing executives’ bloated claims in quotation marks with saying something meaningful continues for writes of press releases.   Quotes riddled with jargon and buzzwords lose their meaning and leave the reader wondering, “Huh?”

Good QuotesRagan cited this bad example of a quote from  President and CEO John Johnson:

“I plan to continue this legacy of providing innovative products and services to our customers. With over 30 competing companies for our customers to choose from, we have some challenges ahead. I am confident that we can meet those challenges successfully. And the first step is the release of our new app.”

In such cases, better to paraphrase like this:

“President and CEO John Johnson believes the release of the new app will provide customers with the communications tools they need, setting XYZ Company apart from more than 30 competitors. “

Our own Andrew Guinn wrote about the grammar of quotation marks in press releases a few weeks ago–don’t you sometimes wonder where punctuation belongs?  We also touched on making your quotes more notable in a recent Press Release Basics webinar last week.

Apart from injecting humanity into a press release, quotes are often featured as a “pull quote” drawing even more attention to their effectiveness–or lack of it.  Best to craft them carefully.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Haley Lesavoy and “Bob”

August 30, 2011

Our next finalist for the Business Wire college video contest knew she wanted to go into broadcast news when she anchored for her middle school’s morning announcement show Serendipity Live.  Haley Lesavoy is a senior studying Journalism and Mass Communications at The George Washington University.   She created one of our top ten selected videos, where the winner will meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View Haley and Bob’s video here (2nd one).

When asked why Haley wants to meet Mr. Buffett, she answered “He is a figure who has been able to achieve success while maintaining an honest, humble and well respected reputation. Most importantly, he is someone who emphasizes the importance of passion and doing what you love.”

As a lover of broadcasting, Haley does what she loves.  Haley has worked for the school newspaper, television and radio stations and currently serves as Director of Productions for GWTV.  In addition, she is host of her own music countdown show, Select Seven. She is a two-time Gracie Award Winner, recipient of the Loreen Arbus Award at the 2010 College Emmy’s, has worked as a freelancer for Bloomberg News in New York, and this past year produced and served as an on-camera reporter for the Washington Post website.  Haley is currently contributing to the homeland security, terrorism, consumer safety, and aviation units at ABC News in Washington, D.C.  She hopes to one day host her own entertainment show.  You can view her work on her vimeo page including her college contest video outtakes.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWHALEY.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Jenna James

August 29, 2011

Next up is our signature artist Jenna James, a senior from Ball State University studying Telecommunications. With an assortment of sharpies and some loose pages of construction paper, Jenna brought to life her vision for the future of public relations and communications.  As one of our top ten finalists in the Business Wire college video contest, Jenna is one step closer  possibly winning a trip to New York city to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. View her video  (4th video).

Jenna is no amateur to creating innovative videos.  Each year, the NAB Education Foundation holds a PSA contest asking students to highlight the importance of freedome of speech and this year Jenna was named first place in the television category.  View her PSA here.  Jenna enjoys making these type of videos because she loves sharing her opinions and inspiring others.

When asked why she wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, Jenna answered, “I would be honored to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Buffett—to get to know the man behind the empire and better understand his character. His generosity and humble nature are inspiring.”

A main goal in Jenna’s life is always being creative.  Whether it’s photography, film, painting or dance, she sees the importance for having an outlet for self expression.  In addition to art, Jenna loves to travel and considers one of the best times in her life when she studied abroad in London.  Two of her prized possessions are her ukulele Layla and her camera Eleanor.

Jenna’s favorite quote comes from Woodrow Wilson, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” She hopes to always remember this responsibility.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWJENNA.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Jessica Funcannon or Lady Gaga?

August 25, 2011

Jessica Funcannon, a senior at Illinois State University studying Public Relations, is a living example of the future of communications.  How did she hear about Business Wire’s college contest?  By following and seeing a post on the contest by CEO of Lawrence Ragan Communications and one of the leading figures in the public relations industry Mark Ragan on Twitter (Thanks Mark Ragan!).   She is now one of the top ten finalists for Business Wire’s college video contest where the winner will meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. Students answered the question “What is the future of public relations and communications?” See Jessica’ video by clicking here (5th one).

With a passion for public relations, Jessica is currently on her fourth internship and an active member is her school’s PRSSA organization.  Last year, as a member of PRSSA’s Bateman team, she helped design and implement a campaign in support of the 2010 census and received Illinois State University’s Civic Engagement Award.  She was also featured in her local newspaper The Pantagraph for the contest.

When asked why she would likes to meet Mr. Buffett, Jessica answered, “What really intrigues me is that it he is so diversified in his abilities. Not only can he run numbers and invest wisely, but he can write and communicate in such a way that few people can. I would love to be able to have the opportunity to meet such an inspiring and clever man.”

Beyond being a self proclaimed “social media nerd”, Jessica loves anything creative or adventurous – sewing, fashion, photography, writing, motorcycle riding, and dressing up like Lady Gaga? Indeed. With her admitted similarities to the musical icon, Jessica became Lady Gaga for the day on the streets of Chicago, stopping traffic on Michigan Avenue.  View the video here, created by Jessica’ s friend Sean Hagwell.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWJESSICA.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Zixiang “Max”Chen

August 24, 2011

Zixiang Chen or “Max” as his friends call him is one of the top ten finalists for Business Wire’s college video contest with the winner to receive a trip to New York city to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30th, 2011. Students were asked to answer the question “What is the future of public relations and communications?”  Max is a sophomore at The George Washington University studying Business Administration.  View his colorful video by clicking below (10th video).


Max has studied both in America and China… and Greensburg, Kansas?  Yes, it’s true.  While other college kids were sunbathing on the beach, Max Chen spent his spring break learning about Greensburg, a town that was completely wiped out by a tornado in 2007 and rebuilt to become one of the greenest towns in America. Max taught himself how to film, interview and edit footage he took of the town and created a mini documentary that was featured on PBS Nightly Business Report this past June with the help from Planet Forward where he currently is an Online Communications Intern.

When asked why Max wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, it was no surprise his desire stemmed from a shared philanthropic outlook, “Despite his wealth, Mr. Buffett is someone whose motivations do not derive solely from monetary profit. His generous dedication to philanthropy and his vision of the future combine to illustrate the importance of positive change in the world. In the future, will everyone conduct business with this lens?”

It’s hard to say what the future will hold, but one thing is certain – Max Chen’s entrepreneurial dreams will surely lead him to a business that is both profitable and socially aware as he believes this is the best way for a company to sustain itself internally to better the world externally. His philosophy on life is “If you don’t have anything good to do, don’t do anything at all”.

When Max isn’t coming up with new ways to save the world, you can find him in his favorite place – the back of the Lincoln Memorial where he watches the sun set across the Potomac River.  You may even catch him reading his favorite book series Curious George because it reminds him that the key to learning is curiosity and open-mindedness.

Show your support to all the top video finalists on our Facebook page and let our executive judging committee including Business Wire’s chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and President Gregg Castano your favorites by commenting and “liking” them. You can also show your support on Twitter using hashtag #BWZIXIANG.


Denver-Area Journalists Discuss Newsroom Cutbacks, Pitching Tips

August 23, 2011

by JoAnne Hirsch, Senior Client Services Representative, Business Wire Denver

Business Wire Denver recently hosted a media breakfast, “Who’s Covering You Now: What Newsroom Cutbacks Mean to Your Company and How to Pitch Stories to a Shrinking Newsroom.”  The media panel discussed the changing landscape, best practices for pitching and the impact of  mobile.


David Sloan
, Account Executive for Business Wire Denver, moderated the panel, which included (L-R):

  • Gil Asakawa, Manager of Student Media, Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Colorado
  • Greg Nieto, News Reporter, FOX31 and KWGN, Channel 2
  • Patrick Doyle, Senior Editor, 5280 Publishing, Inc.

Tight budgets, shrinking newsrooms

Nieto responded to seemingly endless media consolidation by finding a silver lining.  “I have a lot more leeway to bring stories to the table,” he said. “When we have editorial meetings they used to ask for five or six story ideas and that number has probably grown to about 10.”  

Asakawa added that in recent years the Denver Post has shrunk drastically, resulting in reporters  juggling multiple kinds of stories.  One of the biggest changes, he said, has been the PR community’s outreach to social media and individual bloggers.

Know your audience, do your homework

The panel was unanimous in the sage-old advice to PR pros:  despite technology, it’s all about the relationship. “Watch some of the program on TV and see where your topic might fit in,” counseled Nieto.   Doyle requested no attachments in email pitches and Asakawa advised: “Find new hooks and plan new hooks every year so you have something to go to the media with.”

Nieto offered a lesson in selling reporters on your story:  “When I pitch a story I’m already thinking about the hook. What’s going to be the tease? A pitch should be multi-layered.  The more ammunition I have, the better opportunity it’s going to stick and someone in the editorial meeting is going to assign your story.”

Regarding timing, the journalists recommended keeping production schedules and editorial calendars in mind.  A monthly magazine works far in advance, with editorial calendars set a year out. Newspapers have a more timely window.  “You need to know that to get in the Friday section it’s done at most papers by Tuesday,”  said Asakawa.

Mobile technologies a game changer

The panel agreed that mobile is here and the future is uncertain.   “If I’m out on a story they have me shoot a little tease with my Droid that we’ll send to our website,” said Nieto. “Over the past three years there’s been a huge push to write our Web script. I find more and more I get feedback from people who read my scripts from across the country who haven’t viewed the broadcast.  That’s fascinating to me.”

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwevents.

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