The 5 Definitive Rules to Media Relations in 2014

August 13, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this year, Business Wire released their 2014 Media Survey in which we asked 300 reporters, journalists, editors, bloggers and freelancers a wide range of questions related to how they cover company news.  Their answers provide a very clear road map to media relations best practices in 2014.  In this post, we look at the top five questions that make up the new rules for media relations in 2014.

1. Reporters have to meet metrics too With 44 percent of media survey respondents now writing for online publications, the metrics in which the success of an article is based upon have changed. Thanks to unprecedented speed and reach of news enjoyed by the world today, story views have replaced print sales, social shares replacing water cooler discussions.

Media Moving Online

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As we have discussed many times, one of the easiest ways to increase the visibility of coverage of your organization is to share it out. Utilize social media to increase the chance of likeminded individuals and influencers finding out about your news, while assisting journalists in meeting the overall story’s own success metrics.

Reporter Metrics

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2. What types of news interest reporters? With so much news occurring every day, what is the best way to capture a reporter’s attention?  What types of news do reporters want to see in a press release?

bizwirepressreleaseprefs

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The next press release you write should not only focus on the breaking news you are sharing, but include facts, angles, quotes and other assets to increase usefulness to reporters.  

3. Your Multimedia Asset or Theirs? 73 percent of reporters in this survey said photographs were their most favored supplemental asset communicators could provide them. Almost every online and print article today includes multimedia.  When you provide interesting, usable photos, graphics, infographics, video and more, not only are you helping the media outlet, you are also telling your own story, in your own voice.

bizwiremultimedia

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4. Your website is their top research tool When it comes to doing research for a story, journalists overwhelmingly turn to company websites and company online newsrooms for background information.

bizwireresearch

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When was the last time you took a critical look at the information on your website or within your company online newsroom from the perspective of a reporter on a deadline?  Is your information easy to find?  Can reporters download or embed assets instantly? Is your site impeding your coverage? Did you know that 88 percent of reporters asked said press releases were their most desired type of content in an online newsroom? Do an audit of your website and, specifically your online newsroom. Refresh this important asset to increase usability.

5. Which newswire do today’s reporters prefer? When provided with an array of choices, 71 percent of journalists and media outlets responding to this survey selected Business Wire as their top choice for news releases.

bizwirewires

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With more than 50 years of leadership experience in the news distribution industry, while we are proud of this statistic, we are not surprised.  Every day we are a conduit between media outlets, reporters, bloggers, analysts, brand fans, organizations, corporations, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and more to ensure timely distribution and receipt of the world’s leading corporate and organizational news.

Learn additional tips and tricks on how to work with today’s media outlets by downloading the complete 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Guidance Report now. Get a copy of the infographic containing the images in this blog post here, or use the below code to embed the infographic into your website:

21st Century Journalism & Public Relations

 

Copy and paste the following to embed this infographic within your site:
<a href=”http://blog.businesswire.com/2014/08/13/the-5-definitive-rules-to-media-relations-in-2014/”><img title=”The 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Infographic” class=”aligncenter” alt=”21st Century Journalism &amp; Public Relations” src=”http://storage.pardot.com/19392/87712/BW_media_survey_infographic.jpg&#8221;
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To learn more about crafting and distributing content that activate your media targets, drop us a line.  We’d love to talk.To learn more about Business Wire’s media services click here.


Updating Your Earnings Release: How to Maximise the Readability of Earnings Press Releases

August 12, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Editor, Business Wire Paris

With the earnings period once again upon us, investor and public relations professionals are coming together to publish what is often considered the most important release of the quarter: the earnings release.

Quarterly earnings releases are a reflection of the financial health of an organization and are most frequently read by the financial community, shareholders, customers and employees.

Earnings releases, which must succinctly showcase this extremely important information, are often a cause of stress and anxiety, particularly in terms of readability.  Today the average news consumer reads only around 20% of provided text, leaving today’s communicators asking how they can optimize the impact of their press releases.

  1. Write your company name in the headline
    Including your company name in your press release headline is the quickest and easiest way to associate your company with its earnings release, and yet it is overlooked time and time again. Furthermore, the inclusion of the company name often leads to a higher SEO ranking – ideal for your annual results!earnings
  2. Ensure the most important information is at the top of your release
    Readers spend 80% of their time reading information found above the fold[1] , so this is where your most important information should be. An operating highlights summary in the form of a bulleted list, positioned just after the first sentence of the release, can greatly improve adoption and understanding of your news.
  3. Include financial tables in your release

    The importance of including complete financial tables within your press release cannot be stressed enough. Financial tables serve as a visual, simplifying wordy paragraphs and allowing quick and relatable comprehension of a company’s situation. In addition, many analysts utilize models to predict company health. Financial tables provide all the detail needed to update these models. And of course, don’t forget to include the reporting currency.

  4. Quote a company executive
    Ideally, the quote accompanying your earnings release will be provided by the company’s CEO[2]. A comment, no matter how long or short, goes a long way toward the personalization of your company and presentation of your key message. This comment can provide a justification, explanation oract as a written pat on the back. Either way, a comment from an executive provides true context of the quarter’s financials – particularly useful given that a large majority of readers of this release will be your shareholders.
  5. Subtitle your sections
    Earnings releases are notoriously difficult to read and comprehend, making subheadings the perfect solution. Included just below the press release headline, sub heads should indicate the type of information to follow, allowing the reader to easily navigate the different categories of information.
  6. Group together similar information
    When possible, similar content should be written consecutively, or as close together in the release as possible. This keeps repetition to a limit, and again, allows the reader to navigate your release more easily.
  7. Be succinct
    There is an unavoidable need to include certain information, for regulatory reasons, but this doesn’t mean that your whole release should follow a lengthy, wordy pattern. Be as concise as you can be[3], but take care to include all the necessary information.
  8. Keep historical information towards the end of the release
    Readers look for the most current and important information first. This goes back to readers spending most of their time above the fold. Historical information, although useful, is not the most relevant in these types of releases. If it is essential – for example, year-on-year comparisons – this ideally should be included within the financial tables or near the end of the press release, below the fold.
  9. Enhance your earnings release with multimediaAce Hardware
    The fastest way to increase effectiveness of news consumption is to include additional visual content. An infographic of your financials, such as the one created and distributed by Ace Hardware, is an easy way to represent your quarterly results.  Or use  video from your CEO or division head, like ARC Resources’ Myron’s Minute, to explain, in plain language, the story behind the data.
  10. Use numbered footnotes – and group them together!
    There is nothing worse than having to match up symbols, and to guess where they are inside the release. A nice, neat, numbered footnote list, found at the very bottom of the release, makes everyone’s life easier. In addition, consider hyperlinking to footnoted information to provide easy access when needed.

The combination of these techniques will improve your earnings release’s readability and ensure that the most important information is found and read by the majority of desired readers. In addition to increased comprehension of your financials by your core audience, you may just get more coverage as your target reporters and shareholders find it easier to digest the news.

How to Write a Compelling Earnings Release

With regard to the information that should be included in terms of structure and content, companies will inevitably vary in the type of information provided, but should try to keep to consistent and complete information in plain English. Here are a few helpful guidelines[4]:

Structure:

  • The date of release and city and state of headquarters should be at the beginning of the release
  • The most important news should be summarised in the first paragraph
  • Subheadings should be used to further clarify and highlight important corporate developments
  • The last paragraph should include a business description, with the company’s complete name, ticker symbol and equity market
  • Media contact information and a website address should always appear at the end of the release

sample_snr_ENContent:

  • Changes in disclosure from quarter to quarter, or year to year, should be specified and explained (sales, revenues, net income, diluted earnings per share and percentage change for each section)
  • Observations should be made only between comparable periods – for example, it is better to compare a third quarter of year N to the third quarter of year N-1, rather than year N’s second quarter
  • Key value drivers and other important line items should be clearly noted
  • Charges/gains/losses should be included if they contribute to the results, and it is advisable to explain how and why they have had an effect (eg. extraordinary gains, losses, equity losses and accounting changes)
  • A consistent format should be used throughout the press release (this is particularly important when reconciling GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures)
  • It is prudent to mention key events and changes, such as government practices and changes to the Board of Directors, plus any steps being taken to address these changes
  • Information on gross profit and margin (plus percentage change), cash flow, share repurchase activity and other measures of performance (capital expenditures, R&D expense and nonfinancial measures) should be included where appropriate
  • Provide forward-looking insights when possible, for the next quarter and/or year, and how the previous forecast has measured up to the current results

Financial statements should always be labeled as audited or unaudited, and can include: complete income statement (with current and year-ago quarter numbers, current year-to-date and year-ago year-to-date comparable period numbers, outstanding shares – both fully diluted and basic), balance sheet (current quarter numbers and end of prior-year numbers), plus cash flow tables, current quarter numbers and year-to-date.

Interested in learning more about increasing the impact of your financial press releases?  Let us know! With more than 50 years of news distribution experience, we have quite a few tips and tricks to share.

[1] http://www.nngroup.com/articles/scrolling-and-attention/

[2] http://www.whitecase.com/files/Publication/60516433-ff3f-444c-8e7d-a5cdcdc84c82/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/be3b92fd-aa2d-45f2-8c4b-ae6486778b0b/article_Earnings_Releases_and_Earnings_Calls.pdf

[3] http://irwebreport.com/20020513/preparing-earnings-releases-for-the-web/

[4] Standards of Practice for Investor Relations, Earnings Release Content (NIRI, page 7)


Business Wire Spotlight: Meet Rishika Jha

July 21, 2014

Ever wonder what it is like to work for Business Wire?  In today’s employee spotlight, we talk with Rishika Jha, an account executive from our Canadian team about herself, her job and her vision for Business Wire.

Rishika, where are you from?photo
India, originally. Now a permanent resident of Canada.

When did you start working for Business Wire?
May, 2010.

What is your background?
I had a brief stint as a television news youth reporter with CNN-IBN before venturing into Public Relations. Having worked with some of the largest global agencies like Text 100 and Burson-Marstellar in India, I was already familiar with newswires and used Business Wire’s services loyally throughout my tenure at the agency. No points for guessing how delighted I was, when the opportunity to be a part of the Business Wire Toronto team presented itself!

This is not your first role at Business Wire.  What did you do before becoming an AE?
I started at Business Wire as the Media Relations Specialist for Canada and two years later, assumed the role of an Account Executive.

What do you do for Business Wire?
My primary responsibility at Business Wire is to focus on new business development to grow our presence in the Canadian market.

What do you enjoy about your job?
Meeting people, learning new things and consulting on all things press releases are the top three aspects of my role at Business Wire that I enjoy most.

What do you like about Business Wire?
Our work culture is phenomenal. We are a great team and all of us work with trust and transparency while engaging effectively with each other and our clients.

What are some of your favorite Business Wire projects?
As a Media Relations Specialist for Canada, I successfully leveraged social media to engage with journalists and resultantly increase the availability of news that crossed the wire. I am also proud to have established and fortified our agency partnerships within Canada, since becoming an account executive and helping public and private corporations meet their external communications goals.

What is your goal as a Business Wire account executive?
Be it disclosure or marketing communications, we have the right solution catering to a company’s specific communications needs. I hope to partner in the continued success of our operations in Canada and share our story with companies to help them understand what differentiates us in the market.

Horse Shoe Lake - OntarioTell us about yourself.
A nature lover, I live in Toronto’s most amazing neighbourhood – High Park! When I am not working, I can be found trying out a new restaurant with friends, running/biking in the park or enjoying the sun’s golden glow by our outdoor swimming pool (of course, only during summer months. Frost bites are for real). I also enjoy backcountry camping, which has led me to discover some amazing lakes in Ontario in the past five years that I have lived here. Given my eclectic taste in music, I am open to most genres, however Yann Tiersen is my favourite. When it comes to books, I love reading Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Leo Tolstoy, but at the same time enjoy historical novels.

What drives you to do what you do every day at Business Wire?
My passion for communication and once again, our company culture.

What is your favorite thing about living in Canada?
For someone who enjoys the outdoors, loves to travel and learn about different cultures, I could not have ended up in a better place. My favourite thing to do during summer months is going camping and fishing and in doing so, I have seen some of the most beautiful places tucked away in the Great White North.

What do you think about Business Wire Canada?
Business Wire’s distribution is a great fit for Canadian corporations because we go above and beyond as a wire, to ensure that our clients’ news releases are discovered easily by key investors/stakeholders. Our exclusive distribution agreements with leading Canadian media, exceptional turnaround time and outstanding monitoring reports invariably garner a better ROI for clients. It is because of these competitive advantages, that we continue to experince accelerated growth within the Canadian market.

What is the top reason companies should work with Business Wire?
It would have to be the quality of people who work at Business Wire and the level of service we strive to continually provide to our clients.


10 Public Relations Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2014 Technology Trends Report

May 29, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, a coworker swung by my office to alert me that KPCB’s Mary Meeker’s Technology Trend Report of 2014 was finally out.

Christmas, my data loving friends, has arrived early! For those unfamiliar, this report outlines global and United States-specific mobile, internet and technology trends that impact corporate decision making in a wide range of industries.

At first glance, this report is a fascinating look at how mobile, internet, and human behavior trends have all collided in 2014.  However, as you read further, you start to see that these trends tell a very interesting story for today’s communicator.  Today’s news consumers are moving away from traditional text only news, and consuming more than ever, a blend of text and multimedia to tell a story. While this report has a wide number of very interesting data points, we pulled out the 10 key trends directly relevant to public relations, investor relations, marketing and communications professionals.

1.  Customized internet-based learning opportunities continue to grow, allowing people who learn in different ways to find the one that fits for them.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As noted earlier this year, more than 63% of the world’s population are visual learners, making traditional text only press releases cumbersome to digest. Press releases that integrate images and/or video allow the reader to digest in their own way.  (What a great way to build fans!)

2.  Mobile phones and mobile internet are here to stay, with mobile data traffic increasing a whopping 81 percent!  The biggest use of that mobile data is consuming video. 

PR IMPLICATION:  Mobile video consumption is at an all time high.  When your audience reads your news, are you including a video clip?  Why not?

3.   Mobile ad growth is seen as an almost $30B opportunity while print advertising is over-indexed by 5%. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As news consumption continues to move online, include images and videos with your press releases to increase the potential and decrease the turnaround time of online news coverage.

4. A massive increase in the global messaging ecosystem continues with a strong increase in sharing within smaller groups.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  More and more tools are launching to aid communications. This increase in peer-to-peer communication tools makes word of mouth recommendations more important than ever.  Provide your fans with short  news bites and smaller multimedia clips so they can easily talk about your brand, and these messaging tools will help them share it with others.

5.  Multimedia sharing is rising rapidly.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Today’s consumers are not only creating and sharing their own images and video, they watch and share third-party content.  Are you providing compelling content they need to effectively engage and share out your multimedia?

6.  Social media traffic referrals continue to grow with the sharing cycle for social media articles averaging 6.5 hours on Twitter and 9 hours on Facebook.  Buzzfeed continues to receive the honor of content most shared on Facebook, while the BBC holds the top spot on Twitter. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Meeker’s chart (which lists the top 10 content sources on both social networks) is a reflection of what piques the interest of consumers on each platform.  This provides a strong media list for you if you are looking to grow engagement on one or the other.  In addition, the stories these outlets publish provide valuable insight on the images they use and their writing style. Adapt your press releases accordingly.

7.  2014 is the year of the Internet Trifecta:  Critical mass of content + community to give it context + commerce.

PR IMPLICATION:  Skip writing vague press releases and start writing for your core audience. As more and more content continues to be upload (1.8B photos uploaded and shared PER DAY globally), the best chance you have to stand out, and drive ROI is to activate core audiences.  Include calls to actions, like Click to Tweet, to move people through you sales funnel.

8.  13ZB (that Is Zeta bytes) of content will be created and consumed this year.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  To stand out from the noise, you need good writing and compelling assets. Arm your brand fans with your news to increase word of mouth sharing.

9.  Re-Imagining User Interfaces (UI):  R.I.P. Bad User Interfaces; today’s consumers are much more willing to leave companies for their competitors due to bad web or mobile interfaces.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Company news pages have changed drastically in the last few years. Have you updated yours?  Today’s sites include social interfaces, access usable multimedia, and historical information and are readable from any device. Is your company news page keeping pace?

10.  Massive increase in video views, long and short form. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Create videos!  Not sure where to start?  How about a video showcasing a key decision point in the development or launch of your product or initiative? Or ask us! We’ve been distributing multimedia for years.

By providing your news in both a textual and image/video format, you are effectively giving the consumer the choice to read your news in the format they prefer.  By meeting their consumption needs, you create a higher likelihood of news sharing, or word of mouth marketing.  And nothing is more effective than that!

Want to learn more about how you can adapt your press release process to meet these new technology and behavioral changes?  Let’s set up a time to talk.


The Impact of Press Releases on the Sales Funnel

May 14, 2014

By Billy Russell, Customer Service Representative, Business Wire Phoenix

In 2014, as demographics in the workforce shift, so does the marketing and sales cycle. What used to take a handful of “touches” to sell, now takes much more time and effort by both the company and the purchaser.

So why is this change so relevant to PR and why is PR so important to today’s sales and marketing funnel? PR is the most efficient and time-trusted way to generate the enormous number of interactions required to sell your organization, your products or philosophy. After all, you can create and launch a wide range of marketing materials, product videos and social programs on your own platforms, but to get the level of visibility and adoption needed to drive true impact, you need PR to promote them.

Learn more about how PR can impact and assist in moving customers in and through today’s elongated sales funnel at CommPro.biz: http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/support-pr-driving-sales/


BW Miami: PR in 2014: How Social, WOM and More Fit Into Your PR Program

April 21, 2014

By Julia Sotelo, Business Wire Client Services Representative for Florida and Latin America

What was the recurring theme for this event? CHANGE! Human behavior, search, social media, media and coverage have all changed.  As communicators, to stay relevant in the business world we must adapt to these changes. These adaptations were the focus of a luncheon discussion on Thursday, April 10, 2014 in Coral Gables, FL, at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center, hosted by Business Wire. Here, over 85 PR professionals gathered to listen to our very own Director of Social and Evolving Media, Serena Ehrlich (@Serena shared her expert opinion and tips on how to implement these changes head-on in today’s communications landscape.

UM Sebastian with Business Wire Miami Team & Serena Ehrlich#BWChat is also the official hashtag (and heavily promoted) for BW events.  We were very happy to see the clever tweets and pictures shared throughout the event. Make sure to check out our published Storify with all the tweets.

Now for the moment you were waiting for, here are the key facts and tips Serena provided  Miami/South Florida’s leading communicators: Search Has Changed (The Google Zoo: Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird)

  • Effective as of October, only 1-2 copies of your release will show up in search results
  • Google changed search because they were losing market share due to searchers not getting what they wanted
  • NO newswire is immune to this change
  • The only way to increase SEO of news releases now is to include a photo
  • Rejoice! SEO is now off your back.

Social Media Has Changed

  • Every single major social network is showcasing news articles, reputable content and multimedia, perfect for PR
  • Tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4x higher engagement
  • Tweets including multimedia uploaded via Twitter receive 150% more RTs
  • Facebook photos receive 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more CTRs on links
  • Facebook shares your updates based on the assets your audiences likes best. Meaning if you are not a video person (FYI, 63% of the world are video watchers) then FB will not populate many, if any, videos on your News Feed.
  •  Tip: Post a video, then post a link, and, finally, just post a photo and see which posting gets more engagement
  • LinkedIn is top B2B platform
  • 33% of YouTube searches are news related
  • Pinterest boasts a high CTR

 Media Has Changed

  • The Role of the Press Release
  •  Releases can increase: Awareness, Discovery, Brand Reputation, Message Adoption, Conversations, Inbound Traffic, Intent and Conversions
  • Releases do not: Act as a stand-alone sales tool , replace customer service, be text only, go viral, work in a vacuum and work without support
  • Journalists are held to three core metrics:  inbound traffic, social shares, time on site
  • Tip: Socially share out any coverage you receive to help reach these metrics
  • Tip:  Video is the perfect access to increase time on site
  • Many adults are now getting their news from social media networks

 Multimedia is the #1 way to increase press release ROI

  • Releases with images or videos get 3x more engagement and impressions than plain text news
  • Humans process visuals 60,000x faster than text.
  • 1 minutes of video = 1.8 million words
  • Photographs do not need to be translated

Press release tips!

  • Write for your highly targeted audience
  • Post a blog answering all the questions your release will generate to ensure message adoption
  • Photos and videos are no longer optional when looking for coverage
  • Use Google Tools!
  • Search bar – helps determine key phrases used most by searchers
  • Use URL trackers to track actions taken by readers on your website
  • Drive social sharing with Click to Tweet
  • Hashtags should be specific (use hashtag.org to see volume)

Whether you’re a communications, marketing or PR novice or seasoned professional, keeping up with the latest news and trends is a must. Business Wire works hard to share relevant information and keep clients informed. To keep up to date on all the changes that affect your press release ROI, sign up to read our the Business Wire Newsroom and read the BusinessWired Blog. Like this post?  Click on this link to tweet it out: http://ctt.ec/Ib6Og


5 Things to Stop Doing to Your Press Releases in 2014

March 14, 2014

By Luke O’Neill, Business Wire Editor

In the fast-paced, deadline-driven world of public relations it’s easy to rely on tired, ineffective practices merely to churn out press release after press release. But you’re better than that, right? Folks, the time to adapt and innovate is here. Empower your clients and yourself to be better, and think outside the press release template box. In this age of bite-sized “content” and short attention spans, it is vital to relay your message as efficiently as possible in order to activate as many brand fans as possible. 5 things to STOP going to your press release in 2014 stop sign After all, the press release is no longer a staid form of communication. Today’s press releases are professional yet also personable and conversational. Today’s releases are designed to educate and activate core and secondary audiences. Are yours? Not sure? Check out the list below. Here are the top five things today’s PR professionals must stop doing in press releases in order to be successful in 2014:

1. Stop writing long headlines. Today’s press release headline needs to be accurate and concise. The headline, above all, should catch the attention of intended audiences, and get them to read your release. Headlines particularly need strong verbs and should be devoid of adjectives. Instead, try writing a shorter headline – we suggest about 70 characters long. Don’t forget to include the company names in your headline. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to issue news and leave your name out of the most visible part of the release.

2. Stop over-stylizing. Too many bolds, italics, underlines, super and subscripts and even too many hyperlinks can turn a press release into an eyesore. Too many styles are hard on the eyes; they simply make your release more difficult to read. Use these styles sparingly and usually for emphasis, and watch the readability index for your release increase.

3. Stop overloading releases with keywords. Once upon a time, it was important to cram “relevant” keywords into a press release to appease the search engine optimization gods. Now? Not so much. Search engine algorithms have changed to reward good writing made for human consumption while also satisfying the technical side of web visibility. Business Wire issued a very helpful guide this year on press release optimization (download it here: http://go.businesswire.com/guide-to-press-release-optimization). This guide includes 10 steps to create a better release in 2014.

4. Stop using only embedded links. Press releases should incorporate a mix of spelled-out URLs and embedded links. Spelled-out URLs travel further, i.e. they can be read if you print out the story or seen in an email if there’s no HTML setup. When it comes to links, you want to be strategic. Use links sparingly, and of course don’t forget to test them before distributing your story.

5. Stop writing so much text. News releases, like actual news articles, ought to get to the point quickly. Stop writing long passive sentences and long-winded quotes and focus on shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, bullets and images to make your point.  Writing press releases is an art form all unto itself. The fastest way to master the art of crafting an actionable, successful press release is to focus on clear, succinct writing and smart imagery. Try it and see for yourself!


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