Tips to Give Your Best Media Pitch in Under 45 Seconds from the NABJ Convention

November 17, 2011
by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago
Media pitching is indeed an art form.  Vying for the attention of busy journalists who must fill news holes with limited resources requires precision.  PR practitioners and freelancers had less than a minute to pitch a panel of top editors and reporters from leading national news outlets during the “Pitch Me with Your Best Shot” workshop at this year’s recent National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) convention in Philadelphia.

ABC Good Morning America, The Huffington Post, People and Essence Magazine staff were all part of the panel.  American Idol style, they critiqued those who seized the opportunity to stand in-front of more than 75 workshop attendees which included PR pros and journalists and deliver their impromptu 45-second pitch.

Here are a few practical tips you can use to cut out the fluff when you craft your next pitch.

Trymaine Lee, senior reporter at The Huffington Post, Catherine “Cat” McKenzie, senior producer at ABC’s Good Morning America, Tatsha Robertson, senior editor at People and Bob Meadows, deputy editor at Essence take questions at NABJ annual conference

Have a tie-in and know your media – 45 seconds is fast. Lead with the specific area related to your pitch: What segment would it fall under, what monthly column focuses on your topic or what time of the year is best for your story (ex. Black History Month)?  Show those you’re pitching you follow their media outlet and understand their audience and what they are seeking.  Don’t pitch the producers of The Wendy Williams Show your awesome chef and cookbook.  They don’t do cooking segments.

Embrace the nerd in us and give statistics.  Everyone’s got a little nerd in them.  Statistics can help sell a story.  Journalists want to feel like they’ve taught the audience something new.

Numbers are great but people are better.  Can you provide the reporter or producer access to someone impacted by your organization, get them an interview with the founder of the non-profit or offer a celebrity who has close ties to your issue?  Be sure to let them know if  they can be available immediately.

Show a little passion.  Enthusiasm can be faked but it’s no substitute for passion.  Passion infects and when combined with authenticity, it shows.  One of the publicists in attendance pitched a story on the number of missing and abused African-American women and children who get only minimal news coverage everyday. Her pitch evoked a standing ovation from the crowd and nearly brought members of the panel to tears–probably not her goal, but impressive nonetheless.  Passion moves people to take action.  When you’re crafting your pitch don’t cut out the passion.

Raschanda Hall


Monika Maeckle: New Media Career Exemplified by Change Morphs to the Next Stage

November 15, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

Today my career at Business Wire comes to an end and my first thought is that I will miss you, our clients, colleagues, webinar attendees and readers of the Business Wired blog.   I leave you in the able hands of our talented marketing team, who just picked up a fourth award from the Society of New Communications Research.

Change has been the only constant in my combined 16 years here.   When I joined the company the first time, in New York City in 1987, we considered the fax machine “new media” and the Internet was in its infancy, relegated to use by universities and computer geeks.   That was the year the domain www.apple.com came online, Microsoft gave us Works, and Compuserve (remember them?) introduced the GIF standard for images.  

Back then, Cathy Baron Tamraz managed the New York Region for Business Wire, Gregg Castano, who recruited me, served as New York City sales manager, and Phyllis Dantuono  was my fellow account executive.    This talented triumvirate now serves as Business Wire’s CEO, President and COO.    

We were the East Coast pioneers of Business Wire, planting the flag in Manhattan for founder Lorry Lokey’s budding California wire service empire.  I was sad to leave two years later, but family called me home to Texas in 1989.

Eight years later I reconnected with the New York crew when I read in Texas Monthly Magazine that the wire services were opening in Texas.   I called Cathy, and with the foresight worthy of a Berkshire Hathaway CEO, she dispatched the affable Tom Mulgrew (now Vice President of Agency Relations) to recruit me from the boutique PR agency I was running at the time.  Tom and I hit it off, and soon we opened an office in San Antonio.  Dallas and Houston followed shortly, and the rest is Business Wire history.
 
What a fun ride we’ve shared: opening offices in Texas and abroad, yanking marquis accounts from the grasp of our rivals, learning and launching new tools and technologies too numerous to name.   I’ll never forget staging a luncheon in San Antonio in the late 90s, encouraging clients to “join the webolution” and explaining “Spam, it’s not just a meat product anymore.”  And then there was that major deal we did with Warren Buffett.  Berkshire Hathaway bought the company in 2005 and owns it to this day. 
 
The landscape keeps changing, and yet Business Wire remains constant, always out front.   
 
While it’s tempting to focus on the frustrations of the daily grind in this tough economy, I leave Business Wire proud to have been part of a team that in spite of any challenge, continues to set the pace, lead the way, and stage the industry for what comes next–whatever that is.  
 
For me, that will mean launching a strategic consulting and communications firm in 2012 with my talented former newspaper editor husband, Robert Rivard.  In the meantime, you’ll find me at the Texas Butterfly Ranch–a blog about the life cycle we all share.  Please stay in touch and feel free to subscribe.
 
Until we meet again, I wish each of you the best.
 

Business Wire Gives Back: Charlotte Staffers Support Library through Rock & Read 5K Run

November 15, 2011

Established in 1982, the Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, its collections, programs and services. Recent budget difficulties have highlighted the need for the community to come together in assisting local government to maintain traditional levels of service throughout the library system.

The Friends’ mission is to support the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as a vocal advocate before elected officials, community leaders and citizens at large and to raise funds to help achieve a level of excellence. The Friends’ 2nd Annual Rock & Read 5K Run/Walk is a fun community initiative to help raise awareness and funds for the community libraries. Katie McKiever, new (and former) CH editor, is on the Friends of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library board and was co-chair on the planning committee for the 5K.

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This year’s event had 300 runners and raised $20,000 that will be used specifically towards supplementing the library’s book collections. The Rock & Read 5K utilized dozens of volunteers from the area who were vital in helping make the event a success.

Cedric Tillman, CH newsroom supervisor, was one of those volunteers. The event was fun for all ages. The race started and finished in front of Charlotte’s Scaleybark library branch. Rufus, the Charlotte Bobcats NBA mascot, and Chubby, the Charlotte Checkers Hockey team mascot were in attendance along with a number of food vendors and the U.S. National Whitewater Rafting Center.

Find out more: http://cmlibraryfriends.org/

Photos courtesy of Bryan Bazemore Photography (http://bryanbazemorephotography.blogspot.com/)


The European Commission’s Stealth Decision on Transparency:

November 9, 2011
For publicly listed companies, transparency is not an option — it is an obligation.
by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media

Neil HershbergThe European Commission said as much when it implemented its harmonized pan-European disclosure standards for the 27-member European Union in January 2007. The compliance guidelines were aptly titled:  the Transparency Obligations Directive ["TOD"].

Therefore, the European Commission’s puzzling proposal to make interim management statements and quarterly reports voluntary for all EU issuers is beyond baffling. And given the global market machinations attributable to the roiling European debt crisis, the timing of the Commission’s diffused disclosure requirements couldn’t be worse.

Perhaps most upsetting of all, the Commission’s decision to truncate its transparency criteria for all EU issuers was apparently arrived at in a stealth manner.

In the way of background, the European Commission held public consultations on its plans to “modernize” the four-year-old TOD in the spring of 2010.

A key focal point of the discussions was the desire by SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) for relief from “the administrative burden” associated with trading on regulated markets.

Large-cap companies quickly capitalized on the opportunity,  arguing that they too were overwhelmed by the statutory requirements and lobbied to be similarly exempt from quarterly financial filings.

Most market observers dismissed the outcry by large-cap companies as simply an attempt to latch on to a market reform movement that was gaining momentum. Few, however, believed that large-cap companies would be included in any revamped reporting requirements.

Some 16 months after the original consultation period, and without any further debate or notice of its intentions, the European Commission announced its surprise retrenchment proposal, abolishing the requirement that public companies publish quarterly financial information.

The Commission did the unthinkable, effectively waiving the need for all listed companies, regardless of size, to issue quarterly reports. Under the revised landscape, companies are only obligated to file half-year and annual results.

In retrospect, the Commission took the easy way out. Faced with the challenge of identifying qualifying SMEs, particularly with fluctuating market valuations, was too daunting a task. The Commission decided to take the path of least resistance: throw out the transparency thresholds for all issuers in the name of cost-efficiency.

The reality of the situation is that cost of regulatory compliance is extremely reasonable, especially when weighed against its capital market benefits. These include greater visibility and liquidity, less volatility, and higher trading volumes, all of which are likely to contribute to a lower cost of capital.

Services such as Business Wire offer flat rate annual packages that are very competitively priced, enabling issuers to effectively control costs, while ensuring broad, simultaneous distribution to the full range of market participants.

Under the Commission’s proposal, companies can still file quarterly reports and interim management statements at their own discretion. There is no longer a mandate for companies to do so. The investment community, and the financial markets, will be ill-served by the Commission’s short-sighted decision.

Ironically, many observers think that the majority of companies will continue to update the marketplace on a regular basis. Most companies recognize that to limit market communication to semi-annual updates simply doesn’t make sense. The value of an effective investor relations program that, by definition, includes regular updates on corporate developments, has been well documented by independent academic studies.

So while many market professionals anticipate minimal consequences from the Commission’s decision, it clearly sends the wrong message to the marketplace.

The global markets remain as fragile as ever, with investor confidence teetering as the world holds its breath waiting to see how the European debt crisis plays itself out.

A major lesson learned from the 2008 financial markets meltdown has unfortunately been quickly forgotten by some market regulators.

Information is the lifeblood of our financial markets. Stanching its flow, in the name of relieving the “administrative burden” on listed companies, is a tremendous disservice to the investment community, and needlessly substitutes risk for reassurance.

With the European Union seemingly on the brink, the European Commission’s proposal to dial back on disclosure sets a dangerous precedent that desperately needs to be reversed.


PR Peeps Poll: More than Half Say Twitter More Effective as Broadcast Tool Today than A Year Ago

November 8, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

In the wake of 250 million tweets per day, professional communicators continue to embrace Twitter with 55 % of those polled citing it as “more effective” than it was a year ago for messaging, a recent PR Peeps Poll found.

Of 161 public relations professionals who responded to our survey, 88, or 55%, found Twitter “more effective” as a communications/broadcast messaging tool than it was 12 months ago;  65, or 40%, found it “less effective.”

Twitter as a search tool seemed less improved in the past 12 months.  Almost half of communicators labeled it “about the same” in its effectiveness for search compared to last year, while a third (33%) said it was “more effective.”

Interestingly,  communicators are 3.5 times as likely to use Twitter primarily for messaging as they do for search–125, or 78% vs. 36, or 22%.  Details below.

Compared to a year ago, how effective is Twitter as a communications/broadcast messaging tool for you?

More effective     88, or 65%
Less effective       6, or 4%

Same                       65, or 41%

More effective     53, or 33%
Less effective      34, or 21%
Same                        74,   or 46%

As messaging tool     125, or 78%
As search tool                 36, or 22%

How else do communicators utilize Twitter?  Survey comments included PR professionals lauding the real time info network’s myriad abilities, including:  “creating connections with target audiences,” “efficient information gathering,” “as a pitch tool” and “shameless self promotion!”

We’ve executed several PR Peeps polls on Twitter, if you’re interested:  What’s your company’s favorite tool for social media outreach?, and Do you tweet the links to your press releases?

To those who participated, thank you for responding to our PR Peeps Poll.   If you’re not already, why not follow us on Twitter?  We are @businesswire.

161 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted conducted September – October 2011.


BWELA 2011: 7 Key Takeaways from BlogWorld Expo 2011

November 7, 2011

By Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

BlogWorld LA 2011BlogWorld Expo is a daunting place to be. There are more than 150 sessions featuring more than 250 speakers over three days, not to mention the fact that the whole place is basically teeming with really smart people with really interesting ideas about absolutely everything. So, trying to sum up all the takeaways from the conference is a pretty ridiculous task. Seriously, try reading all the great tweets under the #BWELA official hashtag, which has attracted more than 36,000 tweets and more than 280 million impressions thus far.

Nonetheless, keeping in mind that the following does not even begin to cover all the great information and insights from the conference (& is in fact limited to the sessions I was personally able to attend), I wanted to share some of the takeaways I got from the show:

  1. This is the era for inquisitors. More than anything, BlogWorld was about reminding this audience of communicators of the important role they play during this changing time for business. Keynote speaker Amber Naslund talked about this not being the “era of experts,” but rather the “era of inquisitors, of people who ask questions, who are willing to be curious.”
  2. Time to drink the Google+ Kool-Aid. Although business or brand pages aren’t available—yet—speakers Chris Brogan & Guy Kawasaki say you can still be using the platform professionally now, by representing your business using your personal page and developing relationships. Use tools like Find People on Plus to find people with similar passions & use Circles to control what messages you’re sending to what groups. Chris Brogan’s #1 piece of advice for Google+ is to improve your About profile, using a good picture and including links to your website, blog and other social profiles. Finally, remember the all-important fact that Google+ remains the only social network currently being indexed by Google.
  3. Mobilize your website for user experience. By 2013, half of all web traffic will be from a mobile device. Your priority when it comes to mobile should be a mobile website, which should be a much more condensed, simplified version of your desktop site. Focus on what your customer really needs to be able to access on the go. Keep navigation simple and make sure to cross-platform test across different phones and test phones several years back, as people are still carrying those. Load time needs to be fast for people access information on their phones.
  4. Blogger relations remain a largely untapped opportunity for brands. According to Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere study, two-thirds of bloggers surveyed say they blog about brands. Less than half classified their interactions with brands as favorable or very favorable. Less than a quarter say brands provide value or are knowledgeable about their blog. 60 percent say they feel bloggers are treated less professionally by brand representatives than are traditional media. Meanwhile, blogs continue to outpace other social media as well as traditional media in terms of generating consumer recommendations and purchasing. Blogger relations thus represents a major opportunity for brands.
  5. Quality content is more important than ever in a post-Panda world. Speaker Shane Ketterman described “quality” content as content so compelling, it engages you in a topic you weren’t even interested in. Following Google’s Panda updates in 2011, having quality content & putting your content on a quality site is more important than ever. Design elements—from ad radio to breadcrumbs to optimized images—are also more important in a post-Panda world. Ketterman also recommended an interesting SEOMoz article presenting a theory that Google assigns value to passion, emotion and authenticity in content.
  6. Facebook engagement is more important than ever in a post-EdgeRank world. The fact is, brands rarely show up in Facebook users’ newsfeeds…unless they’ve engaged with brand. Speaker Dennis Yu recommended brands respond to every post on their page, whether they are asking a question or not. Responding indicates a two-way relationship to Facebook, which increases your EdgeRank. He also pointed out that most brands advertising on Facebook link to an external site, but that eliminates the all-important social aspect of the ad (where your friends can see that you’ve liked the ad or a brand in their ad).
  7. Have a plan to capitalize on success. Everybody knows to have a back-up plan in case everything goes wrong, but several speakers talked about having a plan in case everything goes right. Make sure you are able to capitalize on unplanned visibility: have your branding, contact information and links already in place on content.

Daylight Saving Time: Keep it in Mind When Sending Press Releases this Weekend

November 3, 2011
 
Most areas of the United States “fall back” an hour at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, November 6.   In fact, about 70 countries utilize Daylight Saving Time around the world.  Japan, India, and China are the only major industrialized countries that don’t observe some form of daylight saving. 

Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday

 
Those sending press  releases this weekend should keep the time change in mind when sending out their news.
 
Here’s a great reference to see which geographic locations change when.  For those sending press releases to Business Wire, no worries.   The time zones in Business Wire Connect, our secure, client interface, update automatically to reflect appropriate time zone changes on Sunday.
 
Daylight saving time has already ended in Europe.  The European Union and United Kingdom turned the clocks back an hour at 1 a.m. on October 30.   As of last Sunday, London will once again be five hours ahead of eastern standard time and Paris will be six hours ahead.
 
For those who enjoy sleeping in on Sunday mornings, here’s your chance for the rare 25-hour day.
 

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