Small Businesses Take Heed: Social Media Basics Bring Big Business Opportunities!

February 29, 2012
by Rishika Luthra, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Toronto
Rishika Luthra

Rishika Luthra

In a very short span of time, the social media landscape has undergone a sea-change.  For example, Twitter — a platform which was, until recently, attracting audiences who wanted to know what their favourite celebrities are doing in real-time — now boasts of an eclectic community of enthusiasts who are more aware, involved and engaged. What’s more, we even witnessed Canada’s first “social media election” in 2011!

There have been inevitable changes on the economic front as well. Canada’s growth in 2012 will be slightly below average, according to Deputy Chief Economist Doug Porter, BMO. That said, there is no denying that, at present, Canada is a relative safe haven compared to other economies, running the lowest inflation rates internationally.

So how do you accelerate small business growth in our economic times? The first question you need to ask yourself as a small business is which area of your business do you want to be successful in? Is it lead-generation and sales? Or is it customer service? Doing a goal-definition up front is crucial because social media may be free, but your resources and time are not!

In short, defining success is the key point of measuring it, suggests a panel of social media experts who recently participated in a Social Media Week Toronto 2012 session, hosted by BMO (Bank of Montreal), in a room teeming with Canadian entrepreneurs.

Start with your customers

“Being able to identify your key customer helps determine where your message will resonate best,” suggests Julie Howlett, Account Director of Global Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn Canada.

Chris Eben, a partner at The Working Group,  believes in starting small, connecting with customers and doing it in a real, genuine way.

Set social media policy and guidelines

Liz Strauss, Founder of Inside-Out Thinking, strongly suggests looking to build a social media policy, regardless of the size of your business.

Identifying who is going to respond to the information you share is just as essential.

“Using Social Media platforms sans specific guidelines is another way of ensuring that things could go well out of control,” warns Chris Eben.

One of the best examples of a small business that gets social media right is two-year-old Toronto-based Sprouter, a company that provides entrepreneurs everywhere with a platform to connect and engage for commentaries on small business issues, emerging technology trends and startup-related enquiries. Erin Bury, Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter, recently participated in a Social Media Week Breakfast session hosted by Business Wire Canada.

Mitigate negative publicity by being open to feedback

If you are social, you’ve got to be open to feedback, which could be positive or negative. Lack of answering or being “present” within your community is going to be harmful.

Remember that negative comments come from someone who wants to argue or someone who wants to be heard. The idea is to disengage with the former while genuinely engaging with the latter. The power to turn negative into positive rests in your hands.

Social media is all about engagement and the coolest tip for you is to attend events like Startup Weekend, one of the best examples of validating an idea with a relevant customer base, according to Chris.

Now that you have the mantra to bring your business up to speed, remember that being good at social media does not guarantee success. Being good at service does!


Upcoming Business Wire Events: Katie Paine in South Florida, Meet the Media in Charlotte

February 27, 2012

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Measurement, Engagement and Influence with Katie Paine- Moving from Theoretical to Tactical

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Join Business Wire Florida for breakfast and a session with measurement maven, Katie Paine.  Paine’s most recent book, Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships, was released last March and will provide a foundation for her presentation.  “Measurement isn’t just a buzzword on everyone’s to do list anymore,” says Paine. “With tight budgets and a growing proliferation of tools and techniques to get your messages out there, PR pros are increasingly faced with tough decisions on where to put their resources. Only by figuring out what really matters and then developing specific metrics to measure the programs, can the right choices be made.” This event is FREE for all attendees.

Tuesday, March 6 at 8:30 am EST
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue Carl DeSantis Building, 3rd floor Sales Institute, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33314

To register: RSVP to Julia.Sotelo@businesswire.com by Friday, March 2.

Meet the Media

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte

A panel of media experts will discuss topics including what’s a good story and current trends in journalism, as well as give tips on effective pitching. Panelists include: Rick Martinez, News Director, NewsRadio 680 WPTF; Rick Smith, Business and Technology Manager, WRAL-TV; and David Bracken, Assistant Business Editor, The News & Observer. This event is FREE for all attendees.

Thursday, March 15 at 11:30 am EDT
Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center
4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC, 27703
To register: Please RSVP by March 9 to Penny Sowards at penny.sowards@businesswire.com

Business Wire holds dozens of local events every year. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from trends in today’s newsrooms to writing for SEO. Events are usually free of charge to members. For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit BusinessWire.com. Follow live updates from Business Wire events on Twitter: hash tag #bwchat


Communicating Effectively to U.S. Spanish-Language Media & the Hispanic Community: More Than Sending Your News in Spanish

February 24, 2012

by Danny Selnick, Vice President of Public Policy & LatinoWire Services, Business Wire DC

by Danny Selnick, VP, LatinoWire Services

Communicators that may have only the occasional need to engage with the Hispanic media and community about an issue, product or some other topic, should take note of a few useful tips for their targeted communications outreach or run the risk of failure.

  • First, the Hispanic community is not monolithic.  They come to the United States from all corners of the Americas, and there are cultural and language differences that need to be addressed, especially when crafting the message and then writing the news release.   While I’m not suggesting communicators write many versions of the same release to fit all the various communities, I am saying that the message has to be general enough that Hispanic media and their audiences can equally relate to the message.
  • Second, simply translating releases into Spanish can be dangerousdestroying the message or even worse – a loss of reputation, as an extreme example.  Spanish is a language that is culturally rich and anyone doing translations needs to completely understand the interaction between words and culture to ensure the message is well-received and understood.  Gerald Erichsen wrote an article in About.com listing several well-known (true and not-so-true) Spanish translation/cultural blunders.  Nevertheless, the point is clear: Don’t use an automated program to translate your news from English into Spanish … and if you need to translate, make sure the person is a native speaker.  Oh, and also remember that Spanish doesn’t come in one flavor.  Words used in one country might mean something very different in another.  Use generally accepted and grammatically correct Spanish.
  •  Third, while many recent immigrants or older Hispanics may only speak Spanish and rely on traditional Spanish-language print and broadcast media for news and information, younger Hispanics tend to be bilingual and look for and read news also in English – both in print and online.  And much like other American in their 20′s and 30′s, younger Hispanics are increasingly online, using smart devices with mobile news and social media apps to be informed and stay connected.  That also means communicators should include social media strategies while employing the latest technologies in search engine optimization and add multimedia when appropriate.  Make your news release powerful and visible.
  • Last (but not no less important), which Spanish-language media should you consider reaching out to?  Just like any other communications campaign to media, you should target your message to Hispanic media appropriately.  Is your story national, regional, local?  Researching and finding sources of up-to-date listings of Spanish-language newsrooms is not as easy as finding general consumer newspapers by circulation from E&P.  Using Google or other search engines may offer a number of links – but they’re not likely to be accurate.  Some even at the top of the search (like Echo Media) are more than seven years old.  You can go to Business Wire’s LatinoWire page for some 1,200 listings organized by media type and geography.  Also keep in mind that there are really only abut 30 Spanish-language dailies in the United States.  Most print publications are weeklies, so be mindful of their deadlines.  Reaching bloggers and social media feeds takes a bit more work too.  You have to find appropriate writers, communities and feeds — and then build connections.  See who is following whom and ask if they’re appropriate for your own network.  If so, link-in, befriend and follow them.  Your network will also grow.

So what’s the end result?  Issue your news with care, in Spanish and in English, to traditional Hispanic and general media, but also include reach to the online world by keeping up with and using new the mediums of communications used your audiences.

Danny Selnick, a 25-year veteran of the newswire business, is Business Wire’s vice president for LatinoWire and Public Policy.  He is based in Washington, D.C.


BW Power User Tip: Your Logo on Your Press Release

February 17, 2012

by Laura Sturaitis, Executive Vice President, Media Services & Product Strategy

Did you know that you can add your logo to every Business Wire release using LogoLink?

This is a free benefit of Business Wire membership and offers instant online branding of your news release with a link to the key URL for that logo, which drives traffic to your website.

Here’s how you get started:

  • Upload the logo to include with each of your releases on the Business Wire Connect order screen under “Logos Added”.
  • For best results, send logos in .gif, .jpg, .png or .tiff format; resolution between 72 and 300 dpi; and size (in pixels) not smaller than 220 x 220 and not larger than 720 x 720.
  • Your original logo will be scaled down to a thumbnail size of 120 pixels wide by 70 pixels high and appear within this rectangular dimension on your news releases. Larger logos work better, as they scale down well. Logos which are much taller than wide will look smaller because they will be scaled down to 70 pixels high, so if you have both a horizontal and a vertical logo, the horizontal is preferred.
  • Logos should be web-ready. RGB is one web-ready color format. CMYK is a print-ready color format not intended for the web.
  • The thumbnail shown on your Connect order under “Logos Added” is the actual size of the logo as it will appear on your release on www.BusinessWire.com.
  • Provide a URL link under “Edit Details” and we will link the logo displayed with that URL from the Business Wire site.

The "Add Logos" section in Business Wire Connect

Your logo appears at the top of your press release on BusinessWire.com


Stuart Zatkow Appointed to XBRL US Committee Post

February 16, 2012
by Nicholas Messing, XBRL Accountant

Congratulations are in order for Stuart Zatkow, Senior XBRL Financial Reporting Specialist at Business Wire, who joined the XBRL US Domain Steering Committee in January 2012. This committee oversees the development of XBRL taxonomies, relying upon a blend of accounting and financial knowledge and technical proficiency. With more than 40 years of financial reporting experience in both the public and private sectors, Stuart (or “Stu,” as his colleagues know him) is looking forward to contributing his XBRL expertise to serve the community as a committee member.

As Zatkow explains, “I hope that [the Domain Steering Committee] can foster development of additional taxonomies for purposes of applying interactive data to more areas of reporting than the basic financial statements, notes and mutual fund prospectus summary information, especially those that would greatly benefit downstream consumption of XBRL data.” Zatkow added that he believes his relationships formed as a member of the US GAAP taxonomy team from 2007 to 2009 and through his XBRL consulting engagements will be helpful in achieving the committee’s objectives.


80% of Press Release Headlines Too Long for Google, According to New Study

February 14, 2012

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Dallas

Are you optimizing your press release headlines? For the second straight year, our friends at Schwartz MSL Research Group have put together a study on the SEO of press release headlines using data from Business Wire releases. As we’ve previously noted, Google only displays roughly 65 characters in their search results and therefore releases with headlines 70 characters or under are best optimized for SEO.

For this year’s study, Schwartz looked at the headlines of more than 16,000 Business Wire press releases from 2011. Of those, only 19.5% of all releases had headlines with 65 characters or fewer and just 23.7% were at 70 characters or fewer. This suggests that the great majority of press releases do not have headlines fully optimized for search.

The average headline length is 123 characters, which is the same as last year’s results. The study also looked at buzzword usage and completed a geographic headline face-off to determine which cities hosted the SEO-savviest press release headline writers. You can download the full report here.

Check out more press release optimization tips here. You can also read up on why your press releases might not make it into Google News.


Engagement: Buzzword Bingo Term, or Something More?

February 1, 2012
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire/SF
Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

I had two experiences recently that started me thinking more deeply about one of the 21st century’s hot topics, “engagement.”  One was a webinar on the topic.  The other, which I found more compelling, was a blog post about how the Veterans Administration launched Facebook pages for all 152 of its medical centers.  (I was not biased toward this story just because its genesis was a Business Wire release, by the way.)

There is nothing wrong with measuring engagement and, in fact, it’s a critical part of a proper measurement program.  Communicators should be concerned not only with who might have seen their messages but how many cared enough to take some kind of action.  That’s really the simple definition of engagement: It’s active, not passive.

But some of the articles, blog posts and presentations I am seeing make me wonder whether some of these communicators are going far enough when they say they want to promote engagement.  Engagement isn’t just a buzzword, nor is it simply getting people to like (or “Like”) your company enough to buy something, although that CAN be your objective.

The reason I was impressed by the VA initiative is that they had a clear goal in setting up their social media accounts.  Said Secretary Eric Shinsheki:

“Veterans and their families told us from the beginning that they want to engage and they want relevant information delivered at the local level. By leveraging Facebook, the Department continues to expand access to VA, and embrace transparency and two-way conversation.”

This statement encompasses two goals:  “relevant information delivered at the local level” and “two-way conversation.”  In addition to Facebook, the VA produced 64 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page and a blog, all with the aim of helping veterans understand their benefits and “receive the health care their service has earned them.”

With the goal established, it becomes possible for the VA to measure results.  Are veterans receiving the information they need, and is their care improved?  Are they communicating with their local VA office?  In short, are they taking the actions the Department set out to promote when they established their social media program?

A goal can be as detailed as what the VA outlined, or as simple as increasing visibility for a brand.  Either way, though, measuring “engagement” is not an end.  Measuring engagement in the service of [fill in the blank] is a much more meaningful exercise.


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