Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Robert Brown

August 23, 2011

It’s too bad we’re not having a contest for the most nicknames because our next finalist Robert Brown would take the prize. Robert Brown, also known as Bob, Bobby, Bobert, Beebs, and Bawb is one of our top ten college video finalists for Business Wire’s college video contest. In celebration for our 50th anniversary, one student will win 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?” Check out Robert’s video below.

Robert is a junior studying advertising at the Universityof Georgia, but his real passion is theatre which he has grown up doing in his hometown of Savannah.  He has been in a number of plays including Pirates of Penzance, Seussical the Musical, and Beauty and the Beast.  When he isn’t acting, he is practicing guitar, painting, writing music, watching the “best baseball team in the world” the Atlanta Braves and blogging on his personal blog: boblessordinary.blogspot.com

When asked why he wanted to meet Mr. Buffett, Robert answered, “Anybody who has been able to accomplish half as much as he has would find it hard not to scoff at the good natured but often naïve decisions of youth in the business.  Mr. Buffet’s consistent character and sense of humility ring true with what I believe is an admirable business practice and ultimately inspire me to pursue the same values in my own business practices.”

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 #BWROBERT.


Business Wire’s 50th Anniversary College Contest Highlight: Scott Berman

August 22, 2011

In less than six weeks, one lucky student 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.  Business Wire’s college video contest invited students to answer the question “What is the future of public relations and communications?” We’ve managed to narrow our search down to the top 10 videos and in the next couple weeks, we’ll be sharing a little bit more about each of our top finalists.

To start it off meet Scott Berman, a songbird and pianist attending school at the University of Minnesota– Twin Cities.  Scott is not only looking to meet Mr. Buffett, but also looking to get back to his native state New York where he was born and raised until two years ago when he left to pursue his degree in Professional Strategic Communications.

We asked Scott why he wanted to meet Mr. Buffett and he answered, “He tells really funny jokes. Plus, I would like to learn from his wisdom, knowledge and sense of humanity which wield akin to that of a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris. I’m hoping he’ll take me aside and whisper the meaning of life into my ear.”

We’re not sure how about Mr. Buffett’s roundhouse kick, but we agree with Scott that we have a pretty generous and smart boss.  Scott has also been inspired by Mr. Buffett’s interviews and dedicates his strengths both personally and professionally to his advice.  When Scott isn’t singing about the future of public relations and communication, he is dreaming about a career in rock stardom or investor relations for healthcare and environmental companies.

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 #BWSCOTT.


Global Financial Crisis Strains Greek Media, Poses Opportunity for Newsworthy Press Releases

August 18, 2011
by Kai Prager, Media Relations Representative, Business Wire/Frankfurt

As Greece grapples with its economic crisis, the fallout of uncertainty impacts not only its financial markets but the media outlets that cover them.

Freelance journalist Thimios Kotronias says Greek  media’s  biggest problem is financial shortfall. “Greek media struggle to survive,” said Kotronias.  “The majority are owned by businessmen whose main activities are irrelevant to the media industry. They use profits from their main activities to support financially the media they own.”   With the Greek economy in shambles, profits are down across all sectors and thus resources for media outlets are shrinking.

Add to that decreasing sales and lack of advertising revenues at the properties, and you have a difficult position, said Kotronias.

Many believe the quality of news coverage has suffered.  A writer for Lambrakis Press, who did not wish to be identified, remarked that “When a country is in a crisis, the first thing the government does is try to lower the quality of information so that people don’t take matters into (their own) hands. And because of the dramatic drop in advertising revenues, journalists have to keep advertisers satisfied. In some cases, advertisers actually decide the content of the articles.”

--Associated Press Photo

Others, like Costis Stambolis, the managing editor of Energia.gr and a contributing editor to the Financial Mirror, disagree.

“So far the quality of content has not been affected in the major media but there is a lot of emphasis on the coverage of financial-political issues to the exclusion of other topics,” noted Stambolis.

Aris Chatzistefanou, who has worked for a number of major Greek publications, believes that tightening media budgets results in a lack of research.

“Many TV stations had to stop all travel abroad while they are more often using tools like Skype for their live broadcasting,” Chatzistefanou said.

But the main problem relates to the decision by many media organizations to rely on inexperienced young journalists who work without insurance, benefits and for little pay, said Chatzistefanou.

Greek journalists face a PR challenge as public opinion has shifted, leaving mainstream media as the second most hated group of people in Greece–after politicians, said Chatzistefanou.

“During big demonstrations in Athens, people shout slogans at the media or even specific news anchormen and anchorwomen,” Chatzistefanou recounted. “Just a few weeks ago a famous journalist from SKAI television was attacked by citizens.”   Some journalists are said to use bodyguards in their public appearances and are characterized as “parrots of the government,” he said.

In such an environment, the newsworthy, well-written press release is appreciated, said Stambolis, and can provide valuable source material for overworked  journalists.

“A well-written press release is always welcome,” he said, “especially if it has news content which is unique and not easily accessible from here (Greece). Most journalists take note of the press release and search further on the story and other times they just publish it ‘as is’ if it fits with the rest of the media content.”

Costis Stambolis is the managing editor of Energia.gr, contributor to the Financial Mirror in Cyprus and executive director of the Institute of Energy for SE Europe.    Thimios Kotronias is a freelance journalist and writer for EJC Online Magazine and for the Dutch I Am Expat website.  Aris Chatzistefanou is journalist, author of three books, editor in Chief of The Press Project and co-creator of Debtocracy.
 
More information can be found on his web site.

Beyond Email and Phone: Tips for Using Form Fields, LinkedIn, Facebook for Pitching Tech Writers

August 16, 2011

 By Travis Van, Founder, ITDatabase

In the late 90’s, tech PR pros pitched almost exclusively via email and phone. We considered it a big win that the fax was finally phased out as a media relations tool.

Today, tech PR pros still conduct the majority of pitches via email, but phone “follow-up” is in danger of following the fax. Most tech writers these days are bloggers, and most intentionally withhold their phone numbers because they’re not interested in fielding calls. Even tech trades– who formerly supplied direct phone numbers to their writer roster–have a staff of mercenaries who are always in flux. Mastheads are tiny or nonexistent. Where individual phone numbers were once publicly available, today they must be earned through establishing relationships that usually begins with email. Strike out on your outreach to a writer, and you may blow your chance to connect by phone. Chalk it up to years of pushy calls from PR pros.

Increasingly, writers have no public email address but may be contacted exclusively via Twitter, or a form field, or a LinkedIn profile. How do PR pros utilize these various contact methods?

Yesterday I pinged a former tech PR colleague who I respect. He’s done countless outreach over the last 10 years for tons of tech PR startup launches and product announcements. He shared a few insights about his experiences with the spectrum of contact methods that he uses on a daily basis.

Email

“Subject lines need to be short and attention-grabbing. The entire pitch should be no more than one-two short paragraphs, and it’s much better to provide links to more info than paste them into the release. Excessively long pitches will not get read. I find it most effective to reference something that the author has written before and to create a hook that makes them feel that I am respectful of what they are trying to bring to the table for their unique audience, and not just trying to cram some announcement down their throat.”

LinkedIn

“LinkedIn keeps getting better. So many tech authors are on it and actively maintaining their resume there. Sometimes I’ve used InMail to contact those whose email I can’t find elsewhere. It was unclear to me in the beginning whether this was acceptable, or would rub them the wrong way. But I have yet to have anyone complain about it, and it’s worked a number of times.”

Twitter

“There’s a perception that tech PR pros are actively pitching via Twitter Direct Messages. I have not met a single PR pro who is actually doing this as their primary outreach method. First of all, you can’t direct message someone on Twitter unless you are mutual followers (unless you use a work-around, which is not advised). For most of the tech authors that follow me back on Twitter, I usually have their email address and pitch them that way. The best value I get out of Twitter is being able to follow what those tech contacts are saying, reweet their posts to show them we are actively following their content, and to detect when they are jumping into new subject matter.”

Form Fields

“Many PR pros suspect that form field submissions don’t get answered, that their submissions disappear into the ether. But I’ve had equal success with form fields as with email addresses. And when you get a response, you have their email address.”

Facebook

“I still don’t consider Facebook to be a serious tool for media outreach. What, I’m going to friend a writer on Facebook, then contact them that way? I’ve had some great client efforts where a lot of target customers ‘liked’ us and the effort really helped us with audience building. But Facebook never really comes into play in my outreach to actual tech writers.”

Comments

“There are a ton of tech PR pros writing drippy, insincere comments to kowtow to tech authors. I don’t believe that sycophancy is an effective media relations weapon. What has worked for me in the past is if I detect an article that is just dead on with a client’s focus and they have something provocative, I’ll encourage the client to comment with either something inflammatory or a sidebar that genuinely advances the discussion. Sometimes that comment will lead to a connection with the author, or be something that I can reference in a future correspondence to the author.”

Phone

“This is my ultimate goal. My best relationships are writers I can call and give a quick verbal pitch. For others that don’t respond to my email pitch, I will sometimes call them as well. It’s a bit uncomfortable to try to break through to an author via phone, but it’s amazing how many other PR pros you leapfrog, because they were too timid to call.”

Whatever your personal successes / failures with each of these contact methods, keep in mind that the further in advance of your announcement that you recognize available contact options, the more opportunity you have to figure out your best angle. The idea that you’re flying blind unless you know a writer’s “pitching preferences” is a strawman by media directory services trying to sell you their interpretations. Contact preferences are obviously the contact info supplied publicly, and preferred pitches are those that tie directly to what writers are actually writing about and what’s relevant to their readership. There are more breadcrumbs than ever to learn about your targets before engaging them.

Travis Van is the founder of ITDatabase.com, an online media database of technology journalists and Business Wire partner company.

BW Gives Back: LA’s Melinda and Jill Rosenzwieg Serve as Butterfly Docents

August 11, 2011

by Melinda Rosenzweig, Marketing Supervisor, Business Wire

My six-year-old daughter, Jill, loves butterflies. In fact, she’s a ‘butterfly expert.’   She knows male from female, how many legs a butterfly has, and what happens when a butterfly undergoes change before becoming an adult.

For the past few months, Jill and I have been learning about the world of butterflies by serving as Butterfly House Docents at the Environmental Nature Center, home to the only native butterfly house in OrangeCounty.  The ‘OC’ is located just 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The ENC provides quality education through hands-on experience with nature.

 

VIDEO: Jill Rosenzweig, age 6, plays with a Red Admiral butterfly at the Environmental Nature Center, home to several butterfly species native to Orange County, CA.

As part of the volunteer program, Jill and I planted 45 host and nectar plants for the native OC butterflies that live within the Butterfly House. The plants have matured, and their leaves provide caterpillars with host food while their flowers offer nectar to mature butterflies. Inside the House is a “nursery” where guests can witness the birth of butterflies as they emerge from their chrysalises.

One of the ways Business Wire is celebrating its 50th anniversary is by giving employees paid time off this year to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice.   Read more about what other BW employees are doing to give back.

Happy 50th Anniversary Business Wire!


To Register or Not to Register? For Press Release Measurement, a Tough Question

August 9, 2011

by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

In a column on ClickZ entitled “5 Traits of the Analytically Empowered Organization,” Neil Mason offers basic guidelines on how to get the most out of measurement and analysis.  Mason addresses website analytics but his guidelines can also apply to interpreting press release measurement data collected in Business Wire’s complimentary Newstrak reports.

“In an ideal world, data is integrated around known users but this may not always be appropriate or possible,” wrote Mason. “Some internal data may be on a customer level, but digital data is often based on cookie level data.”   

In other words, if you know with whom you are dealing (your own customers, or website visitors about whom you have specific information that they provided upon registration) you can record accurate information about those people.  If not, you have to gather information using less direct, and therefore less accurate, methods.

So, although ideally you would like in-depth, accurate data about each visitor to your site, or viewer of your press releases, realistically you might not be able to gather this data without compelling that person to register.  But compulsory registration can cause someone to leave a website.  A recent study found that 75% of consumers take issue with being asked to register on a website and will change their behavior as a result.

The Business Wire site stopped requiring registration as a prerequisite to reading full press releases because we wanted visitors to stay on our site longer and read more of our clients’ releases.  The trade-off is missing visitor-supplied information about their geographic location, industry, job title, and other facts from registration forms. 

We can still report upon each visitor’s “location” but that information actually corresponds to the IP address of the visitor.  Sometimes that’s the same as where the visitor is located.  In other cases, it only reflects where the internet service provider is located. 

We’re not alone in swapping broad access and happy website visitors for information that we have to then find indirectly (or selectively,  from the relative few who don’t mind registering). 

For instance, I’ve seen demos of social media analysis products that have geographic and demographic sections.   When I have pressed the salesperson for how these data were derived, I learned they used IP addresses–exactly as we do–and reported demographics for users who include that information in their profiles.  In other words, indirect, or selective; or even very, very selective, information.

None of this means that their reports, or our reports, are useless.  On the contrary, they can be extremely useful but, as is the case with any statistical report, you must know what you’re viewing.

Here are some tips on how to use statistical reports with these constraints in mind:

  • Don’t accept any numbers at face value.  Understand the context in which they exist and how they fit in with one another as well as with any statistics you might be gathering internally.
  • Make sure you are indeed gathering those internal statistics.  Don’t rely on third party reports to tell you the whole story about what you are trying to measure–the “known users” referred to above are YOUR users, and you can leverage those relationships to gather a lot of information.
  • Especially if you are purchasing a measurement product, don’t be so lulled by the sexiness of the presentation that you fail to ask the vendor, “How do you find this information?”  Prod for  specifics so you’ll know what numbers to rely upon and which should be taken with that proverbial grain of salt.

Business Wire’s Danny Selnick Books Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for National Press Club Event

August 4, 2011

What’s it like to sit on the dais with Minnesota Congresswoman and candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Michele Bachmann?

Ask Business Wire’s VP of Public Policy Danny Selnick, who was Bachmann’s lunch partner onstage at a recent National Press Club luncheon.    Selnick serves on the NPC’s Luncheon Speakers’ Committee and booked Congresswoman Bachmann as a speaker.

About 300 attended the Press Club event, hosted by NPC President Mark Hamrick. In addition to the Congresswoman and her guests, some of the most well-known print and broadcast reporters in journalism today–including Christine Amanpour and representatives from Fox News, Time and CNN–were seated at the head table.

Here’s Selnick’s take on the controversial Congresswoman from the vantage point of the head table.

“As the event organizer I sat next to the Congresswoman during the lunch portion of the event and had an opportunity to get to know her a bit. Politics aside, she is an incredibly warm and friendly woman who seemed to take a genuine interest in what I said about my family, job and magic as my hobby.  (I promised to spare her and everyone in the room any tricks).

“Congresswoman Bachmann talked about her values, her campaign platform and  her steadfast opposition to any debt-limit plan that failed to revamp federal spending.

In the end, she thanked me and the National Press Club for the invitation and seemed eager to face the dozens of cameras representing all the news networks, as well as print and radio journalists also in attendance.

“Later on that evening, my wife and two girls watched the webcast and my 10-year old commented how unimpressed she was seeing me up at the head table.  ‘Dad, what did you do, but sit there?’

” But I could tell she really was proud of me when I got a big hug right afterwards.”

Nice work, Danny!


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