Social Media ROI – It’s all about $$$

November 17, 2009

How do you know if your organization’s social media participation is producing a good return on your investment (ROI)?

According to a panel of Cleveland social media experts, it’s all about converting your tweets, Facebook status updates, blog posts, etc. into dollars in the bank.

Panelists at The City Club of Cleveland on November 12 included (in picture below seated from left to right):

Cleveland Social Media Panel

The panelists, moderated by “Tech Czar” Michael DeAloia, LNE Group (at lectern in picture above), explored the definition of ROI as it applies to social media and provided tips to the audience of about 80 guests for getting the most out of their social media participation.

Michael kicked off the discussion by asking the panel why so many organizations are disappointed in social media the first time they try it.

According to Jason, organizations are often disappointed in the results because they didn’t set clear goals from the beginning. The key to measuring ROI for social media is determining ahead of time what you want to get out of your social media participation and how you’re going to measure it.

John says your goal should be to measure the financial gains that result from your social media participation. Whether you want to generate increased revenue from Twitter followers who buy your products, or decrease costs by managing customer service issues from your blog, the bottom line is that true social media ROI comes in the form of more money for your organization.

Sentiment also comes into play when talking about social media measurement, which can make determining total ROI a bit difficult, says George. Intangibles such as the tone of the comments about your organization posted online contribute to the success of your social media participation but are not as easily quantified.

Dominic advises organizations to monitor what is being said about them online and get involved in the conversations. Responding promptly to both positive and negative feedback can create more positive sentiment toward your organization, which could in turn result in more people willing to do business with you.  All of this social interaction is searchable, so how you engage with people online will affect interactions later on.

Monitoring what is said about your organization online can also give you an idea of where you should concentrate your social media efforts. The people who are talking about you will determine where you will need to be, added Dominic. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time so you can engage the people who are most interested in your organization.

That doesn’t mean you should bombard your social media audience with a sales pitch. The panelists each stressed that social media should be used for building relationships and creating positive sentiment toward your organization online.

“Social media includes the word social for a reason,” said John. It’s important to spend the time to create quality content that will draw people to you and want to engage in conversation with you. Sales pitches will likely turn people off.

George pointed out that you can start to identify “brand ambassadors” online who spread good news about your organization and draw more people in. Your brand ambassadors will soon become your best salespeople. As Jason described it, “social media is word of mouth published.”

Bottom line, before jumping into social media it’s important to set clear goals and to understand that it takes time to build up good relationships with your audience. When you choose to invest the time it takes to engage your audience and connect with them personally, your return on that investment will be significant.

Panelist John Heaney has made video of the entire session available, which you can watch via the embed below or visit http://www.viddler.com/explore/orangeenvelopes/videos/7/.

For more information about social media ROI, the panel recommends that you visit http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com.


Takin’ It To The Streets – Your Brand, That Is

March 19, 2009

As if they anticipated my earlier post on the Pew Project report and its implications for PR and marketing, SmartBlog on Social Media (which is written by our partner SmartBrief), talks about a panel at last week’s SXSWi, in which three Fortune 500 brands discussed their own engagement with social media.  Three companies in three very different business segments have shown major success by leveraging Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other tools. 

These companies — H&R Block, Carnival Cruise Lines and JC Penney — have always been major spenders in television and print advertising.  Now they’re finding new ways to succeed by going straight to consumers.  And as TV and newspaper numbers shrink, and corresponding ad dollars get redirected, that’s what a lot of other companies are going to find themselves doing, too.

(JC Penney’s campaign, I should note, included a traditional press release and a social-media-friendly followup release which resulted in nearly 400 click-throughs to their microsite just from the BusinessWire.com page alone.)


“PR vs. SEO” vs. “PR + SEO” vs. “PR is SEO”

February 26, 2009

There’s an interesting blog conversation going on right now, which grew out of a recent Twitter discussion on the value of PR vs. SEO.  UK PR pro Stuart Bruce kicked things off by trying to define just what PR is for, and how SEO alone can’t accomplish PR’s goals.  The Holistic Search blog responds with discussion of getting PR and SEO teams to work towards a common goal.  Marshall Manson at Edelman Digital then talks about how, ultimately, good PR is good SEO.

Click through and read them all  for valuable discussion and great comments.  I’d like to particularly point out one of Manson’s comments:

My own view is that SEO, literally defined as an effort to improve performance in organic searches for a defined set of key words is far too often nothing more than an organized attempt to trick search engines. Too many SEO firms are selling solutions that involve solutions like paid “link building” and other dubious tactics . . . On the other hand, good online PR is about helping clients connect with audiences on the basis of a shared interest. A key aspect is ensuring that the content of the conversation is real, meaningful, and interesting. Transparency is also vital.

For Business Wire’s part, Manson is right on here.  While we offer a suite of SEO tools, including our Press Release Builder and its keyword analysis and placement functions, all of our tools and advice are in the service of the well-written, properly distributed press release.  All the keywords in the world can’t substitute for good content — if they could, press releases would just consist of a list of keywords and a company name!  (Not that “black hat” SEO/SEM firms haven’t tried things like this.)  Your SEO efforts on press releases need to be part of an engaging story about your company and its news.

And your press releases should be part of an ongoing strategy which includes publishing your news on your own website, properly targeting your news, and building relationships with journalists, bloggers and consumers.  All of these things will help, as one commenter puts it, to make sure your name and your brand are in the right place at the right time when people are looking for them.


Multimedia Upgrades on BusinessWire.com: New Layout, Navigation, and Video Options

February 15, 2008

After discussing our overall website redesign in an earlier post, in this post we’ll focus on our new multimedia features on BusinessWire.com.

If you work in PR, Advertising, Marketing, or any kind of function that has to do with communicating with audiences, you’ve probably noticed already how important online multimedia has become in organizations’ new communications mix. At Business Wire we’ve had front row seats to see how a lot of companies started changing their online multimedia strategies in recent years. As a result we’ve been continuously updating our own offerings to best assist professional communicators and make sure we help them reach the audiences they look for in the best possible ways.

As part of our efforts, earlier this week we announced three new features that make multimedia a lot more visible on our site, allow our various user groups to easily find the kind of multimedia they need, and improve the user experience, sharing options, and measurement around video.

New Multimedia Gallery on the Press Release Page:

The first change we announced is placing the entire multimedia gallery on the press release page. While traditionally in our industry multimedia was often considered a separate part of the press release — placed in specific sections of websites where users needed to navigate to especially — we at Business Wire have shown the first two multimedia assets on the press release page itself, and then linked those to the full multimedia gallery. However, experience has taught us that internet users are busy and overburdened with information. Unless users absolutely need something, they often won’t go out of their way to look for it. Also, when forced to navigate several levels deep on a website, some users may drop out in the process. Therefore we decided to bring multimedia directly to the user and make sure all the multimedia associated with a press release is immediately visible to all, without having to navigate away from the press release page.

New press release page layout with full multimedia gallery

The screenshot above shows how our full multimedia gallery is now an inseparable part of our clients’ press releases. Whether a release goes out with just one or two multimedia assets, or with a full set of photos, videos, audio files, logos, or pdfs, all those assets from now on are immediately visible to anyone looking at our client’s release, from the first moment they land on the page. This leads to much greater exposure to each asset, that ultimately can increase media and blogger pick-up.

New Web2.0-style navigation:

Showing all multimedia was just the first step though: as many of our clients know, Business Wire serves multiple constituents. We serve journalists, who often need high quality multimedia to download and repurpose for their stories. We have increasing usage by bloggers, who want to embed multimedia on their blogs and link to other sites; we have end-users who simply want to see an image or play a video without saving any files; and then there are also analysts, traders, industry executives, and so on.

Our goal at Business Wire is to be able to serve all of these audiences in the right way so they are able to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. So in order to give our users all the variants they need: hi resolution, low resolution, thumbnail, etc. or various video and audio variants, while minimizing the amount of navigation layers on our site, we’ve introduced new web2.0-style navigation menus for multimedia.

So now, when a user hovers on the thumbnail of a multimedia asset, they get all the options in a new menu that opens right there and then, whatever it is they’re looking for. Journalists can easily access high resolution downloadable multimedia files, bloggers can quickly find embeddable and linkable media, and end-users enjoy immediate viewing options. And the best part is that all these options are now only one click away from any press release, improving the user experience, helping drive more traffic to our clients’ multimedia, and once again, increasing the likelihood of gaining more pick-up.

New hover menus on Business Wire's multimedia thumbnails

New Video Player:

Finally, let’s focus on video: for several years Business Wire has been publishing videos using popular download formats such as Quicktime, Windows Media, and Real Media in several file sizes for users who needed to save and repurpose full files. We’ve also made all videos available on sharing sites such as YouTube, MySpace Video, Google Video, and Blip.tv, which is a great consumer-facing benefit, but is still a separate part of our site, and therefore provides a different kind of usage environment, and no unified measurement. So we decided to introduce our own branded video player that quickly and easily plays content from our site to end-users, can be embedded by bloggers on their own sites, and provides our clients with additional measurement in the reports we generate. And of course, we continue to make all videos available on leading video sharing sites. So now any user can easily play content distributed via Business Wire in the destination and format of their choosing, whether it is on YouTube or on BusinessWire.com, and whether by playing directly or downloading for other purposes. And the data from our own video player and downloadable files is easily shown in the measurement reports we provide clients.

So for example, here is where users can find all of Business Wire’s multimedia for a specific press release on our own site.

And here’s is how a You Tube embed would look like from the Business Wire Channel:


 

And finally, here is an example blog showing how the Business Wire embedded player would look like on another blog:

Example blog post with Business Wire Video

With a full multimedia gallery on the press release page, new web2.0 navigation menus offering 1-click access to all multimedia, and our new branded video player, we’re putting multimedia in the forefront so our clients can take full advantage of these benefits. We encourage you to check out the new features, and as always, feel free to let us know what you think. If you have questions on the best ways to utilize multimedia for your next release, don’t hesitate to drop us a line or call your local Business Wire representative.


Lost in MySpace? Our free webinar series offers tips and hints to help you navigate the maze

January 22, 2008

Lost in MySpace cartoon

We have just posted the dates and times in January and February so you can register for our free webinar series which you can find on the Business Wire Events section of the Business Wire website.

This popular webinar series has provided thousands of Business Wire members with tips and hints on how to use the wire and EON: Enhanced Online News to morph the press release from a straight-up media relations tool to a well-integrated web page which is widely available online and which can be found by search engines and viewed directly by consumers and investors in addition to reaching journalists and bloggers. 

In our January and February 2008 webinar series, we continue our ongoing webinar called Optimizing Your Press Release for Search Engines: Demo of EON: Enhanced Online News Optimization Tool powered by Newsforce showing you how to conduct keyword analysis and research and then write those search terms and links into your press release.  

We have also scheduled new dates for our very popular webinar EON: Enhanced Online News – The Importance of SEO and Social Media for Press Releases which shows you how to use the press release that you send on the wire or on our EON: Enhanced Online News platform powered by PR Web, to put the public  back in your public relations efforts by extending the reach and relevancy of your press release online. 

Our brand new webinar series is called Lost in MySpace? It was created to answer the most frequently asked questions from our EON: Enhanced Online News webinar. We demystify the jargon associated with SEO and Social Media and start from the beginning clearly explaining the various tools, technologies in plain English and tour you through the sites that are most often referenced showing you how you can get involved with them quickly and painlessly.  

Register for one or all of these free webinars and in an hour, you will have learned a new trick or two to expand the reach of your news to reach new audiences online.


New Surveys and Rankings Show Business Wire’s Strong Presence in Both Traditional and New Media

November 15, 2007

Arketi Survey 

As the blogsphere establishes itself as a meaningful and reliable source of information -- with some tech, media, and political blogs wielding as much influence as, if not more than, some traditional media outlets in certain areas -- we at Business Wire are happy to see that we are still able to continually serve both worlds well.  

A recent journalist survey by the Arketi Group found that news releases are used by 90% of business journalists as sources for story ideas, sharing the top spot with industry sources. 54% of journalists mentioned they currently use blogs for story ideas, while 84% said they may report on stories that originated from blogs.  

A larger survey with a slightly different focus, conducted by PR industry news site Bulldog Reporter and online newsroom provider TEKGroup (fair disclosure: all the above mentioned companies have ties with Business Wire), shows that 69% of journalists follow at least one blog regularly, 44% visit social media sites at least monthly, 37% are subscribed to at least one RSS feed, and 20% actively seek multimedia content from companies at least once a month. (this survey also shows some different data on commercial wire services. Michael Tangeman of Media Mindshare makes a few interesting observations on methodology and findings).

Finally, the recently published Techmeme Leaderboard, which ranks websites based on how frequently their stories appear on Techmeme’s increasingly popular technology news application, places Business Wire as its 24th highest source for news (as of the writing of this post), with similar ranking to traditional news organizations as the Wall Street Journal and the BBC, and blogs such as Search Engine Land and PaidContent.org.  

Techmeme Leaderboard snapshot

In recent years Business Wire has put substantial effort into enhancing our multimedia capabilities for video, audio, and photo distribution; enabling our EON: Enhanced Online News search-optimized platform; introducing social media sharing features; reaching new-media sites and platforms; and creating robust RSS offerings. These initiatives are intended to help our clients reach end-consumers directly, interact with the blogsphere, and reach the young and young-at-heart generations of journalists who use new technologies and new media as tools and resources for their work.  We are thrilled to see that these efforts are paying off with both new and traditional media, as indicated by the Arketi and Bulldog Reporter/TEKGroup surveys and Techmeme’s Leaderboard. 

Malcolm Atherton, our eloquent and new-media-savvy account executive, who is one of the strong proponents of our digital media offerings, provides some great info in an interview with podcast site Rocky Mountain Voices during the recent Blogging for Business conference in Salt Lake City. Malcolm sums it all up fantastically. Check it out:

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/11/PID_012978/Podtech_BusinessWire_SocialMedia.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/4524/new-media-helped-by-traditional-news-distributors&totalTime=420000&breadcrumb=38b0ffcfc3294db2bec05fb60c682b0d]

Posted by Ken Zamkow, Director of Product Development, Business Wire


Consumer & Lifestyle Media Panel Recap

November 6, 2007

We recently hosted a live media panel in New York for PR professionals lBusiness Wire Featuresooking to connect with high-profile consumer and lifestyle editors in the industry. Listen to the archived event and find out the latest on what top consumer media editors are covering

The panelists included Darcy Jacobs, articles editor, Family Circle; Kristine Kennedy, east coast editor, Better Homes and Gardens; Susan Avery, senior editor, Grandparents.com; Jenifer Braun, weekend entertainment and consumer lifestyle editor, The Star-Ledger; Sharon King Hoge, editor, Verdant; and Tracy Saelinger, lifestyle editor, Every Day with Rachael Ray.

The event covered an array of topics that proved to be insightful and very candid. The panelists addressed some of their own personal stories and offered details on how they prepare for upcoming sections, the latest trends they are monitoring and tips on how to pitch a story for better placement.

PR Week also covered the event (post one) (post two) and offered some handy tips discussed by the panelists.


Google Comments Offers New Opportunities for Communicators

October 30, 2007

 Google News 

One of the goals of our Business Wired blog is to provide readers with better tools for communicating their messages in the ever-changing media landscape. Today we are happy to highlight a service we’ve been following with much interest that we and our friends in Google News thought would be of value to Business Wire clients.  

Earlier this year Google News launched a comments feature that allows individuals or organizations that are mentioned in news articles to add their own comments. Comments are then served up alongside those articles on Google News.  

Josh Cohen, Google News’ Product Manager explains: “Google News has always tried to present as many sources as possible to give our users a wide spectrum of views on the news.  Comments is an experimental feature that we believe will continue this goal by letting readers see exactly what people in a story think about current news.  We think this will help us increase the number of diverse and meaningful points of view on the news.”  

So how is this different from any comment section or discussion board? Well, on Google News only persons or organizations who are specifically mentioned in the story can comment. Google News then contacts the person submitting the comment or others in their organization to verify their identity. As a result, each story is expected to have only a handful of highly relevant comments that give readers a more in-depth look at topics in the news. Cohen adds: “their insight will both help readers understand the news, and cover views that may not be well-published or well-understood within the current coverage”. 

For PR professionals and marketers, this is an excellent opportunity to provide greater detail or clarifications when their press releases receive media pick-up. Also, it creates a new channel to follow-up on a press release with updates, success stories, or links to other relevant stories. Finally, it is another form of reaching out to your audience and participating in the conversation. While these comments differ from commenting on blogs or engaging in social networks, they can be a valuable part of the new communications mix.  

So how can you comment on a story that is relevant to your company or client?  According to the instructions on Google News you should send an email to news-comments@google.com containing the following information:

  1. Your comment (hyperlinks allowed, but no attachments)
  2. A link to the story you are commenting on
  3. Your contact details: name, title, and organization
  4. A way to verify your email address

Verification is one of the central components of Google’s comments feature. Therefore it is highly recommended to provide as much information that Google News staff can use (for example adding contact details of persons who can verify your credentials, or, if you are submitting a comment on behalf of a client, demonstrating that you are indeed authorized to speak for them). Keep in mind that Google News will not edit comments once the sender is verified, so they will be posted exactly as you emailed them. 

So the next time your press release or related articles are shown on Google News and you feel you have more valuable input to share, this can be a great new outlet. Please look at the Google Comments instructions page for more details. 

As usual, we’re happy to hear what you think. If you’ve already used Google Comments or would like to share your own thoughts about it, feel free to comment below.


The Press Release 2.0: A Users Guide

September 20, 2007

Since 1996 when we first posted press releases on the Internet, we’ve been encouraging clients to write them with an eye to both journalists and consumers and to include photos and interactive elements. We thought we’d share the real-world application of what you can do today with the Business Wire platform.

Check out this sample press release from Business Wire that we put together for an author’s upcoming book on PR. You’ll notice that we enable you to present your press release using many of the style guidelines you build into your original document, including bold, underlines, bulleted text and hyperlinked keywords. All of these can help enhance the search engine visibility of your press release, not to mention improve the readiblity and interactivity of your communications.

We provide easy access to your photos and multimedia, translated versions of your press release, a company information center, your contact information, social media icons, measurement reports and more. Earnings tables are also more attractive and readable. And, these style elements are pushed out over our network to recipients via XHTML and RSS on our patented NX distribution platform.


Reach Industry Opinion Leaders – SmartBrief Alliance

August 22, 2007

We’ve just announced a partnership with SmartBrief that we think is a great alliance. SmartBrief is well-known in producing influential vertical newsletters in partnership with top industry associations and organizations such as the Consumer Electronics Association, the Wireless Association (CTIA), National Retail Federation, eHealth, and others.Business Wire Content in SmartBrief Newsletters

Now our members can include press releases in any of 12 targeted newsletters reaching key opinion-leaders, and also get reports on how many executives viewed their release, including position titles. It’s all part of our ongoing quest at Business Wire to get news to influencers via the many sources they turn to. Here’s the press release. We’d love to get your feedback.


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