Tablet Takeover: Five Reasons the Devices May Change Journalism and PR as We Know Them

October 25, 2011
by Shawnee Cohn,Media Relations Specialist

MRTIt is difficult to dispute the notion that tablets have revolutionized the way we consume media. Recent research estimates that 28 million people in the US own tablets. It has been found that tablet owners spend 40% more time online daily than those who do not own tablets.

We know tablet owners are using these devices to get news, in fact Business Wire recently launched our very own iPad news application in response to the popularity of this mobile platform.  Increased usage of tablets for news consumption raises the question: What are the implications of this new trend for PR professionals and journalists?

In a recent post on the PRNewser blog, Carm Lyman of Lyman PR discusses the benefits that tablet placement offers PR professionals. Lyman states that when pitching tablet features, multimedia is a necessity, as well as an excellent opportunity to increase brand awareness and reader engagement.

Many communications professionals agree that while print journalism sometimes limits the ability to tell a story by only offering text and/or photos, the tablet can improve your brand inclusion by giving readers a powerful multimedia experience.

Some journalists believe that tablets require a new approach to journalism – one that leaves behind the linear model for a story and incorporates video, audio, and other interactive graphics that heighten the reader’s experience.

For an insider’s perspective on how tablets have affected journalism and PR, I spoke with George Jones, editor of TabTimes. Launching this fall, TabTimes will cover tablet news and be exclusively distributed on the iPad. Having previously served as editor in chief of Maximum PC magazine, Jones has extensive experience with both print and digital platforms. He offered five key reasons why tablets are a major part of the futures of PR and journalism:

On how storytelling has changed with the switch from print to digital: The core approach has not changed much; Jones still draws inspiration from all angles (publicists, reader submissions, etc). He feels that tablets meld the best of the print and digital worlds. Tablet journalism takes print and “activates it,” with the added ability to embed images, videos, polls, and other interactive elements.

On the benefits of tablets for PR professionals: Jones believes that tablets offer more opportunities for features news. Stories can be published that consist mostly of images and other multimedia. He estimates that about 60% of TabTimes content will include features on how businesses are using tablets.

On whether PR pros need to pitch an interactive element: Personally, he believes multimedia is not a necessity. Jones maintains that “a good story is a good story” and he is willing to “hear any pitch.”

On how to get your story on TabTimes:  The editorial team is currently focusing on how tablets are being deployed in the workplace. They want to hear about “interesting apps that allow people to do interesting things.” Jones notes he is also interested in preview coverage of the tablet industry, in other words, “what’s coming as opposed to what’s out.”

On what’s next for the tablet news industry: The tablet industry is “exploding, in a good way,” according to Jones. While the iPad is clearly dominant, he says that the Lenovo, RIM, and Cisco tablets do have a shot at becoming more prevalent in the future.

Additional information can be found at www.tabtimes.com or via @TabTimes on Twitter. You can also get the latest consumer electronics and tablet industry news by registering at www.businesswire.com.


BW50: Without You, There is No Us

October 24, 2011
by Gregg Castano, President, Business Wire

Gregg Castano, President, Business Wire

As part of Business Wire’s 50th anniversary celebration, Business Wire held a cocktail reception in San Francisco, the city of our founding in 1961, at the Palace Hotel in downtown SF on Thursday, October 13.

I had the honor of delivering brief remarks to the assembled throng of about 200 or so clients, partners, friends and colleagues.  Since we couldn’t invite all of you to this event, I wanted to share the substance of those remarks via this posting, because the sentiments expressed there apply to all Business Wire offices, clients, partners, friends and colleagues worldwide:

Business Wire is really a story of the local kid who made good.  On October 2, 1961, in San Francisco, Business Wire was founded by Lorry I. Lokey, a former journalist and PR professional, and a man with vision, perseverance and a firm belief in an IDEA.  While Lorry may be unfamiliar to many of you of a certain generation and outside of the Bay Area, after the sale of Business Wire to Berkshire Hathaway in 2006, he has gone on to become one of the world’s leading philanthropists and a significant participant in the Warren Buffett-Bill Gates “Giving Pledge” campaign.

Business Wire President Gregg Castano

Gregg Castano addresses attendees of Business Wire's 50th Anniversary event in San Francisco

While we have held similar celebrations across the United States this month in honor of our 50th anniversary, including ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 30th with Warren Buffett, the simple fact that this celebration was being held in San Francisco made it a unique and poignant event for us – because this is where it all began. In fact, in another indication of our deep San Francisco roots, our current CEO, Cathy Baron Tamraz, began her Business Wire career as an editor in our San Francisco office more years ago than she will permit me to divulge.  And though based in New York, Cathy still maintains an oft-visited office in our co-Headquarters on Montgomery Street in the SF financial district. As the icing on the cake, in recognition of those humble SF beginnings and what ensued over the next half century, the Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, officially proclaimed Oct 2 to be Business Wire Day in that city.

So how did we get from there – October 2, 1961 – to here?

Without embarking on a Business Wire 101 history lesson, let’s just say that from Day 1, Business Wire was imbued with the spirit with which we were founded. One that enabled us to defy long odds to grow from a tiny local Bay Area experiment to a global leader in the communications industry, which became so accomplished that it attracted the attention of the world’s most respected investor, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett.

Throughout the years, that spirit has driven us to be disruptors (the good kind), first movers and innovators in a highly competitive environment in which change is rapid, unforgiving and inexorable.

Here are just a few examples of this:

  • Business Wire was the first newswire to transmit releases via satellite, rather than teletype, which at the time was revolutionary.
  • While, unlike Al Gore, we didn’t actually invent the Internet, we did figure out some pretty good uses for it. Such as:
  1. We were the first wire with its own website.
  2. We were the first wire to send news simultaneously to both the media and the investment community in the wake of Reg FD.
  3. We were the first – and only – wire to be awarded both a US and Canadian patent for our Internet-based news delivery platform – N/X.
  4. And for good measure, we also were recently awarded a patent for our Search Engine Optimization technology.

While technology is at the heart of Business Wire, we’ve always recognized that its soul is our people.  We know that people are the keys to success and the ones who establish and perpetuate any company’s reputation. So we take great care in selecting people who represent the values we most cherish – knowledgeable and people-oriented men and women who possess an abundance of honesty, integrity, professionalism and a customer-first attitude.

When you combine folks with those characteristics with our technological prowess and a passion for breaking new ground, you get success.  You get – Business Wire.

However, there is an additional, essential piece to this puzzle.  It’s YOU, our customers and business partners.  We know that without you, there is no Us.

So the recent celebration in San Francisco, and elsewhere, wasn’t just the marking of a milestone in the passage of time, but was also a commemoration of a tremendously successful, 50 year long partnership between Business Wire, its customers and its business partners.

We thank you all for being part of this fabulous 50 year ride – and we hope you will be with us for the next 50!


XBRL Update: U.S. XBRL Initiative Begins to Move Beyond SEC Reporting

October 21, 2011
by Nicholas Messing, Junior XBRL Accountant/Business Wire
Nicholas Messing

Nicholas Messing

A recent piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama has caused a flurry of excitement in the XBRL community. The Child and Family Services Innovation and Improvement Act (H.R. 2883) might at first glance appear to be unrelated to the financial data coding world of XBRL, since the bulk of the bill is devoted to extending child and family welfare programs from the Social Security Act through the year 2016.

The key section for XBRL, however, is Sec. 105, Data Standardization for Improved Data Matching. This section explains a new requirement for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to designate common data elements and reporting standards for state-submitted reports on federal child welfare funds. Here, XBRL makes a surprise appearance: “The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, incorporate existing non-proprietary standards, such as the eXtensible Business Reporting Language.”

Needless to say, this “shout-out”  to XBRL in federal legislation has not been taken lightly; and XBRL US, the nonprofit consortium for XBRL standards, has been vocal in their support. Campbell Pryde, President and CEO of XBRL US, issued the following statement: “Data and technology standards are critical to ensuring accurate, timely and consistent reporting of information. The application of XBRL as outlined in H.R. 2883 would significantly improve communication between the States and social services programs. We commend the President and the leaders in Congress responsible for this Act which help the Department of Health and Human Services administer its child welfare programs and better serve children who need help.”

On October 12, XBRL US held a Town Hall conference call to discuss the new and pending XBRL-related legislation. Since the passage of H.R. 2883, the next bill up to bat for XBRL in the House and Senate may be the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. The DATA Act would further extend the reach of XBRL by requiring federal agencies to adopt financial data standards such as XBRL in order to better monitor federal spending.

Hudson Hollister, Counsel at House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke in favor of the DATA Act by saying, “XBRL pretty much occupies the field when it comes to organizing financial data and disseminating it… The adoption of XBRL for federal spending information would have very beneficial long-term effects on the federal government’s ability to analyze and disseminate, in a transparent fashion, its own spending information.”  Amy Edwards, Performance Budgeting Specialist for the Senate Budget Committee, discussed her work toward building support for the DATA Act in the Senate, and Diana Deem of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants described the AICPA’s grassroots campaign, which includes letters of support for the DATA Act and meetings to educate members of Congress on XBRL.

Echoing this sentiment, Brad Monterio, on behalf of The Institute of Management Accountants voiced the IMA’s support for both pieces of legislation in a press release which recently crossed our wire: “We urge members of Congress to pass the DATA Act and use XBRL as a tool to create transparency and accountability for government, much in the same way it did for The Child and Family Services Act.”

It is clearly significant that US lawmakers have begun to recognize the value of XBRL as a universal data reporting standard. These legislative developments suggest that future applications of XBRL are very likely to extend beyond the realm of SEC filings as the functionality of XBRL continues to expand and advance.


Editor’s Corner: PR Disasters! Why a Crisis Comm Plan is Critical

October 20, 2011
by Fawzy Zablah, Editor, Business Wire/Florida

by Fawzy Zablah, Editor, BW Florida

Ever since “the father of modern public relations,” Ivy Lee, sent out what most consider the first press release following the 1906 Atlantic City train wreck, companies, individuals, governments and news agencies have participated in an unofficial competition to win what I call “the best told story contest.” It’s a race that is not won by the “best story” per se, but the victor is usually either the first to get there, truth-tellers, or the best re-arranger of reality. It’s a race that must be run whether you own a newly opened restaurant or a tech company.

Let’s travel to more modern times, and take as an example the most recent Blackberry outage issues which have turned out to be a PR nightmare for Research in Motion (RIM). During a crisis, a company should never have a slow response because it shows a lack of control over the situation. And even if the situation is not under control, your PR assault should always confidently be the first to storm the beach.

These days, companies need to be aware of how critical it is to have a quick line of communication with customers, whether through issuing press releases regarding recent events or via direct statements to the press. A company always has to appear like it’s in control as far as good PR is concerned, even if it isn’t. Ivy Lee knew that as soon as word got out of the Atlantic City train wreck, rumors would swirl, the story would grow legs of its own and it would no longer be his client’s story. That’s why the first rule of crisis management is to communicate. The beginning of the crisis is the most critical period, and it sets the tone for the rest of the incident.

So let’s finish this crisis management lesson with thoughts Ivy Lee espoused so long ago, and which are now a golden rule of PR: “Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find out anyway. And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what people want.”

With 31 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.


PRSAIcon 2011 Recap: Eight Key Takeaways, From Storytelling to Link Tracking

October 19, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Business Wire at PRSAIcon 2011This week, Business Wire was once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at the 2011 PRSA International Conference, aka #PRSAIcon. Our conference team had a great time meeting so many of our amazing clients in person and learning the latest about the always changing PR industry. We tweeted updates on our @businesswire feed throughout the conference of interesting lessons from many of the keynotes and sessions. Here are eight key takeaways:

  1. PR is about storytelling. It was only appropriate in Orlando, home to the most magical place on earth, that the unofficial theme of the conference was storytelling. Opening keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien of CNN talked about storytelling being more than a statistic. You have to find the character behind the statistic & tell the story with their passion. The closing keynote speaker, Joe Rohde from Disney, talked about compelling stories coming from the interruptions in expected patterns. “We don’t have time for things we think we already know.”
  2. Video and visuals make for compelling storytelling. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world behind Google. Video makes for great content and is not as expensive as it’s perceived to be. (After all, every phone is a camera.) It’s also a good idea to get your executives on video talking about your brand . . . it helps qualify them as spokespeople for journalists.
  3. Customer service is the new black. Like it or not, part of PR is now customer service. In fact, thanks to social media, PR people are often the first to hear about the problems. There is still a level of awe right now if you just reply when your customers try to talk to you.
  4. Media training is not just a C-suite sport anymore. Keynote speaker Chris Brogan talked about how everyone is on some kind of media these days, so everyone should be trained. Soledad O’Brien discussed media training from a journalist’s perspective, saying passion and emotion can’t be trained. Ultimately, what people relate to is the authenticity and passion behind the messaging points.
  5. You can’t ignore Google+. Chris Brogan pointed out that you have to care about Google+, if only because it’s the only social network currently being indexed on the top two search engines in the world. Every PR professional should at least be conversational about it. Additionally, Google+ profiles can help with personal online presence since it ranks so highly on Google. Optimize your title and introduction and include links to all your other sites and networks, as those appear in your search results.
  6. Empower your employees on social media. If you’re terrified to give control to others in your organization, you will not be successful in social media. Train them and have a social media policy so you can be. Your policy should be short and understandable without legal assistance and should be in every new hire’s packet when they start.
  7. If it can be searched for, it can be optimized. Keyword optimize your blog posts, landing pages, press releases, online newsrooms, multimedia and social content. In press releases, optimize in the headline and subhead, include links and a call-to-action. For photos and other multimedia, optimize the file name of the file you are uploading, include alt text and captions.
  8. We are all fighting for budgets. PR should get credit for the leads it generates. Set goals before your campaign so you can track conversions with tools like Google Analytics. Track traffic with tools like Google URL builder, which tags your URLs so you know where your link clicks are coming from (press release versus AdWords versus Facebook ads, etc).

At the conference, we also announced our new partnership with Critical Mention, which will provide clients with access to Critical Mention’s real-time television and radio monitoring platform. As an introductory promotion, Business Wire clients who subscribe with Critical Mention for 2012 will receive the remainder of 2011 at no charge.

We’d also like to congratulate Elizabeth Rowland at Strat-igence, who was the winner of our iPad Giveaway. And thanks again to PRSA, the speakers and all the attendees for a great conference!


Info Plus Data Equals Credibility: Toronto Star Editors on How to Pitch

October 18, 2011

by Rishika Luthra, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Canada

Rishika Luthra

Rishika Luthra

Ever wondered why your press release didn’t get the traction you felt it deserved? Or why a specific newspaper ignored your announcement? The answer is simple: the best way to “be heard” is to first know the publications you’re pitching.

Andrew Phillips

Andrew Phillips, Toronto Star -- photo by Richard Arless

In a candid discussion with Business Wire Canada, Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca; and Andrew Phillips, Editorial Page Editor at The Toronto Star; shared some useful tips on  do’s and don’ts for pitching their publications.

According to Brandie, five key points to consider while targeting top Canadian newspapers are:

1) Dovetail your press release with market trends

The Toronto Star might not run a company profile or a news story just about what your company is doing. Try to consider your promotional needs in the context of broader issues and news. For instance, suggest a story that examines what your company or organization is doing in the context of a trend, market need or societal issue.

2)  Beef up your credibility

Make sources besides your own company contacts available. Ensure that your contacts are well-prepped with relevant talking points. If possible, try to get an outside source for an unbiased perspective.

3) Be media wise and stay ahead of the game

Research the types of articles run by the publication you are pitching. For example, if you pitch a pure product story and the publication does not have a product-related section or history of running that kind of story, your press release won’t get lucky. Tailor your pitch to the sections they DO have and the article types they favour. Browse the publication’s website to learn more about the news sections.

Brandie Weikle

Brandie Weikle, Editor for healthzone.ca and parentcentral.ca

4) Relevance is directly proportional to pick-up!

Suggest your ideas in the context of ongoing coverage of stories that are already being developed. If your idea can further the story in some way, and you can show that you have been reading our coverage closely, your chances of success are greater.

5) Information combined with data: A winning duo

Lastly, websites do very well with headlines that have numbers in them — for instance: “7 things you need to know about XXXXX,” “5 secrets to XXXXX,” and so on. If suitable, consider structuring your pitch to provide these kinds of winning lists that readers enjoy.

As a final word to the wise, Andrew has this suggestion: “In an industry characterized by continuous change, the most essential attribute for any news content is relevance. Sometimes it is a prestige issue for companies; however, they need to understand the importance of getting their message out by leveraging social media and bypassing the bigger media. For example, announcements about management changes within companies, unless they involve corporations such as RIM or Apple Inc, do not qualify as being newsworthy for our publication.”


Business Wire Gives Back: Texas Butterfly Fan Uses Social Media as Monarch Butterfly Ambassador

October 17, 2011

I’m lucky that my job as Vice President of New Media for Business Wire has allowed me to apply the useful skills  learned in my professional life to a passion for butterflies.   For the past several years I’ve blogged about butterflies at www.texasbutterflyranch.com, provided updates on the Monarch butterfly migration as

Tagged Monarch Butterfly, September 2011

Tagged Monarch Butterfly, September 2011

@butterflybeat on Twitter, and used my Powerpoint prowess to share the daily miracle of metamorphosis with children, gardeners, seniors and others.  I’ve also raised caterpillars (butterflies-to-be) in my kitchen and brought them to work when they’re about to “go chrysalis” on me, much to my colleagues’ amusement.

Recently I had another amazing opportunity to spread the butterfly gospel, thanks to Business Wire’s generous BW Gives Back program.  Organizers of the Amazing Butterflies Exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT) invited me to lead a butterfly hunt, demonstrate how to tag a Monarch butterfly, and share the beloved insects’ remarkable migration story.

SABOT’s educational exhibit, which runs through January 8, leads participants through a garden maze in which they can simulate life as a caterpillar, then a butterfly, gaining insight about the life cycle along the way.

About 30 nature lovers attended the talk, admiring Monarch eggs and caterpillars collected along the Llano River in the Texas Hill Country.  Prior, we netted a Monarch butterfly in SABOT’s lovely butterfly garden and finished up the presentation with a tagging demonstration.

Monika Maeckle at San Antonio Botanical Gardens

At the San Antonio Botanical Garden: Let's go tag some Monarch Butterflies! --photo by Mary Fisher

For those unaware, Monarch butterflies make an amazing migratory journey from  Michoacan, Mexico each year, starting in April and flying north to Canada.  Over the course of multiple generations, the resilient creatures traverse the eastern United States to Canada in the Spring, their great great grandchildren returning in the Fall to their ancestral winter roosts in Mexico.  April and October are primetime for Monarch butterfly fans in Texas, which is the “funnel” for all Monarch traffic, north and southbound.

Metamorphosis, mediamorphisis–when you think about it, the two have much in common: constant change, endless fascination, reflections of ourselves.    Thanks to Business Wire for allowing me the opportunity to marry the two passions that most consume my time at work and after hours.


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