Brand Journalism and the Evolution of Online Newsrooms

August 6, 2014

In the August 2014 issue of PRSA Tactics, Business Wire’s VP of Web Communications Ibrey Woodall reflects on how the online newsroom has matured from a basic press release archive to a central communications headquarters complete with brand articles. Although a very few journalists (only 7 percent) still believe that company-written articles do not belong in the news center, results from the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey illustrate that more than 60 percent of reporters are receptive to brand journalism.

Brand Article Types of Interest to ReportersRead the article “Online Newsrooms and Brand Journalism: Survey Shows Media Acceptance of Corporate Storytelling in Press Centers” to learn more about how organizations can create special content sections within their online newsroom. Content that helps relay a company’s history and industry focus, enhancing both brand loyalty and search engine optimization.


How to Measure the ROI or Impact of a Press Release in 2014

May 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Almost every day, clients ask our teams how to determine the return of investment when it comes to news distribution services.  Thanks to better monitoring and tracking services, tracking the true ROI of a press release has never been easier.

Not every press release may be accountable for immediate conversion or sales, but there is no denying its impact in the promotion of the news and content relevant to each organization’s core audiences.

Defining ROI

ROI is simply one’s return on investment or the overall cost of the creation and distribution of your press release vs the impact of this outreach within the company’s goals.

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

Press releases are documents written to activate audiences.  These audiences, defined by PR, IR, marketing and management teams, include customers, prospects, stockholders, employees, brand fans, industry experts and other stakeholders.

Smart teams build customer journey maps for each audience that outline the desired outcome for each step of the decision process. Many take it a step further by assigning a dollar value to each customer (referred to as the customer’s lifetime value or LTV).  Journey maps help communicators identify content positioning while distribution vehicles and assets maximize each piece of content’s overall impact.

Distributing Your Content

Before determining content and news distribution options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the goal of the news you are sharing out?  Are you alerting media to new products, or showcasing thought leadership with white papers and infographics?
  • What is the expected outcome of this news or content?
  • What audience can share this news out to drive the highest impact on your goals?
  • What audience reactions affect this outcome?
  • What assets are you including to increase ROI?
  • Increasing awareness with coverage?
  • Driving action with inbound traffic?
  • Driving advocacy with social sharing?
  • What distribution options provide both highly targeted and wide visibility?
  • What sharing options do I need to include to increase impact?
  • How can I track ROI

How it Works:

Let’s assume the news you are sharing promotes a white paper, video or other piece of content to increase awareness within core audiences and move them into and through your marketing and sales funnel.  How would you distribute this content in a holistic manner that drives meaningful action?

The Path of the Press Release

The Path of the Press Release

Writing Your Release

The first step is to write a well written release. There are many great examples of how to do this, such as this: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/sample-press-release/. Once written, make sure your release is fully optimized for usage by media as well as for reading by today’s search engines.

Using Your OWN Channels

Every company already has brand fans!  Alerting these existing audiences of new content is a terrific way to increase impact.  Place your press release and assets within your corporate newsroom, on your blog and across social channels. Distribute the news directly through email mailing lists, including social share buttons to jump start social sharing.

The Power of Paid

While placing your content on your own channels is a no brainer, this tactic alone most likely will not provide the visibility needed to reach your goals.  This is the time to consider paid promotion.  For years, PR professionals have been leveraging paid channels to increase impact and visibility of all kinds of news. And for good reason. To this day, even now in 2014, commercial newswires provide the best ROI when it comes to news distribution.

To ensure the highest possible return on investment for your press release, take a close look at your news distribution options.

  • First, determine what geographic region does your news impact? Where are your decision makers located? Are they in specific parts of the country or world?
  • Next, get granular with industry and vertical market reach. Did you write the press release to inform investors, impact IT decision makers, or activate today’s increasingly powerful Hispanic purchasers?
  • Then, understand that to drive meaningful impact, today’s press releases and content must include multimedia. With thousands of news, stories distributed each day, and fewer reporters than ever, the inclusion of an asset may be the key differentiator separating your news from that of your competitors.visual world
  • Finally, consider promoting your content with paid advertising.  One popular way PR pros are increasing the impact of coverage is by placing them within native advertising blocs such as dlvr.it (included in your Business Wire distribution) and Outbrain.

EARNED Media Increases Results Significantly

Even the most interesting stories may never reach interested readers and reporters without outreach. Once your news is live and your content is available, reach out to leading reporters and identified industry influencers to discuss coverage focus that engages their audiences and yours..

Repeated studies show that coverage has a direct impact on moving audiences into marketing and sales funnels.

To increase the success of your outreach efforts, focus your pitch on the impact your content will have on their readers, and do not forget to reference or include multimedia assets.  Today’s most successful online stories include supplemental photo essays and statistical videos.

SHARING Your Coverage

Nothing moves audiences in and through the marketing funnel better  than recommendations, referrals or shares of smart, interesting news by friends and family.  Not only should you share out coverage you receive, you should make it easy for your audiences to share your information as well.  Include calls to actions directly within your press release (see here for an example) to simplify sharing by content readers.

MEASURING Your Success

There are several ways to measure the success of this kind of PR program.  One of the easiest things you can do is look at the metrics reports created by each distribution platform.  Most press release measurement metrics, such as the ones below, focus on overall views and generated actions.

Picture2

Coverage

The first and oldest metric of PR has been the amount of coverage your news and content generated, the placement (and its impact on core audiences), length of article, assets included, message permeation and more.

Visibility

The second step in measuring the impact of the press release is wide awareness of news.  How broadly was the news shared, who shared it and which audiences impacted the marketing funnel the most–was it editorial coverage?  Influencer shares of that coverage?  Did employee sharing increase word-of-mouth marketing? Did the multimedia assets you included increase impact?

Geo-Impact

Another terrific metric available to PR professionals is the ability to see what regions, locally and globally, the news resonated within.  This data can be acted upon immediately by continuing the discussion with paid advertising or a concentrated sales effort, allowing sales teams to strike while the conversational iron is hot!

Social Shares

When tracking social impact, first look at the number of influencers talking about your news, and the number of overall news shares.  Social sharing analysis should also look at message adoption and associated hashtags usage.

Inbound Traffic

Measuring inbound traffic is easy!  Simply add a URL Builder or extension to any URL within your press release that drives traffic back to your website (create this as a hyperlink).  Then, once someone clicks those links, you can track their actions within your website.  Of course, not all media outlets will include hyperlinks to your website, so it is key to note that this will only be a snapshot of the traffic driven in. It is key to look at all increases in followers, or inbound traffic that occurs during the news cycle to get a more accurate look at the traffic you generated.

Owned Channel Registrations

Include links to join your other owned channels including following social channels or signing up for a newsletter.  This enables interested parties to take the first step in creating a relationship with your organization.

As you can see from the above, there is a very real place for the press release, and press release distribution platforms in today’s news and content distribution services. Now, with a few easy additions, communication professionals can highlight their significance quickly and easily.

So what do you think? Do you agree with this program? Is this something you could and would implement?


Why Multimedia is Required in Today’s Press Releases

April 30, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

visuals-bw2Earlier today, CommPro published a summary piece highlighting the importance of multimedia within press releases. We discuss this topic at great length with our customers.

The truth is, reporters are no longer interested in writing stories based on text only press release. And for good reason, study after study has shown that whenever images are inserted into the communication, the impact increases.

Still on the fence about adding photos, videos, gifs, images and more to your press releases?  We highly encourage you to read this piece.  Have questions about the creation or distribution of multimedia within the PR process?  Let us know!


Introducing Facebook’s FBNewswire, A New Resource for Journalists

April 28, 2014

FB Newswire Today in CommPro.Biz, Business Wire’s Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Tom Becktold discusses Facebook’s latest offering, FBNewswire. This new offering  is “a resource for journalists that aggregates newsworthy content shared publicly on Facebook by individuals and organizations.”

FBNewswire aggregates highly shared news content into one place, allowing media outlets to quickly see the news resonating, in real-time by Facebook’s users.

Read more about this offering now:  http://bit.ly/WhatsFBNewswire

Like this blog post? Share it out in just two simple clicks: http://ctt.ec/0rZJ5


The Role of PR in Multicultural Outreach: Has Your Program Adapted?

April 9, 2014

This week, Business Wire Paris’ Hannah Kelly’s article on The Role of PR in Multicultural Outreach is featured in CommPro.biz.

With the globalization of the communications industry, and the ever-changing demographics of the United States, multicultural outreach has never been so important. Currently, the combined buying power of the Hispanic, Black, Asian and Native American communities combined is over $1.5 trillion, with Hispanics opening small businesses three times faster than the national averageAs these key audiences gain influence, organizations must customize and adapt their programs to meet the unique needs of each.

Read the full story at http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/role-pr-multicultural-outreach/

Learn more about Business Wire’s multicultural PR services: https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/demographic-targeting/

Tweet this post: http://ctt.ec/e64Ai


Increasing Tweets of Your Press Release: ClickToTweet 101

February 17, 2014

By Julie Nastri, Business Wire

It is common knowledge in the media industry that there’s a science behind effective use of Twitter.  From organically growing quality followers, to devising a salient tweet, or selecting the appropriate tool to manage Twitter presence, almost every decision one makes is based on data. While it’s true that keeping abreast of the dynamic Twittersphere can sometimes be daunting, there are free Twitter tools, such as  ClickToTweet, that eliminate some of the drudgery from bolstering Twitter presence and publicizing content.

In a nutshell
ClickToTweet can be accessed through its website or by downloading a browser plug-in. Users visit the site, create a custom tweet, and the site generates an embeddable link which users then share by including it in press releases or blog copy. When a reader clicks on the ClickToTweet link, they are taken to a pre-populated Twitter status update and prompted to tweet it. Voila! ClickToTweet ramps up tweetability without requiring much effort from either side. By prepopulating the tweet, ClickToTweet decreases the barrier to entry, making sharing quick and easy.

Step-by-step
Creating a ClickToTweet link is as easy as sending one out. Access ClickToTweet by visiting www.clicktotweet.com. The first thing visitors to the site will see is the following 3-step guide:

Although these steps are pretty clear, there are a few important points for both newbies and seasoned tweeters to keep in mind.

Make the most of your content.
Let’s say the content you’d like to share is a press release about an upcoming conference presentation. You’ve already created a compelling press release announcing the event and relaying the specifics.  Now, it’s time to decide what you’d like to ask your audience to “click to tweet.”  When crafting your tweet, think of it much like a (tasteful) one liner. Concise, yet catchy. This is your chance to pique public interest in your topic and to lead interested parties back to your press release, promoting the event and your company or brand. And, if you’re on top of your game and your news is compelling and relevant to them, they’ll also tweet your ClickToTweet link, thereby calling their followers to check out—and possibly share—your content. This kicks off an entire sharing cycle, with each influencer driving their  followers into and through your marketing and sales funnel.

Not sure what to feature in your tweet? First determine who your audience is – the average press release contains elements relevant to each buyer persona. Distributing tweets customized by readers is a great way to kick off social sharing. In addition, consider the potential highlights of your press release. Is there a new product being released that’s been getting a lot of buzz? Is a major personnel announcement expected? Is the company rebranding? These are details you can feature to hook followers. Multiple ClickToTweet links may be included in a press release, allowing readers to share each compelling bullet point, but be careful not to overdo it. Although two or three are ok, remember that just one ClickToTweet link has the potential to start a promising chain reaction, if well formulated. Think quality.

Draft the ClickToTweet link

  • Try to come up with something more compelling than the press release headline. This will ensure the best success (retweets and link clicks) of your tweet.
  • Include a link to the release itself, as well as any relevant hashtags.
  • Remember that Twitter has a 140-character limit. Maximize your Twitter real estate by using a URL shortener like bitly.com to shorten the link to your blog or press release.  (ClickToTweet will automatically shorten links, but this can get messy if the URL and tweet are close to 140 characters before you even begin.)
  • Leave room (20-30 characters) for retweeters to add their own comments.
  • Mention your twitter handle so that you can track your retweets. However, avoid beginning your tweet with the @ symbol, as it will limit visibility.
  • When embedding the ClickToTweet link in your press release, be strategic. Make it stand out, but keep it near relevant content. You can change the anchor text so that its message is something other than “ClickToTweet”… but coming up with something better may prove to be more challenging than expected.

Enjoy the perks.
After drafting and embedding your link in your final press release, blog post, or email, sit back and leave the rest of the work up to your audience. Watch as the retweets keep your Twitter feed active and use the analytic tools on the ClickToTweet website to track and map click activity. Remember:  Content can only be so effective without successful, strategic integration with the right combo of social media presence and tools.

* Basic links are free and unlimited, but tracking and stats are not provided. Users are also allowed a limited number of free, trackable links, but after that, they must either pay to upgrade, or delete old links to make room for new links (and therefore lose all their tracking information and stats).


Introducing The Underdogs of the Social Media World

January 23, 2014

By: Ciaran Ryan & Zara McAlister , Business Wire Toronto Editors

The odds are forever stacked against them, and yet we can’t help but cheer them on. They may not be as big or as strong as their rivals, but they all hold the potential for greatness. They are underdogs. They’re the stuff of sport’s Cinderella stories, history’s conflicts, and Hollywood’s scripts. If you look hard enough you can always find the underdog. Even in the social media landscape, dozens of underused platforms are waiting for brands to try them on for size.

Facebook and Twitter may be the current top dogs, but other platforms boast their own unique strengths that could be beneficial for your brand. We’ve paired these platforms with notable underdogs of the past for entertainment value.

G+ & Rocky Balboa

rocky

Image source: IMDB

Google + is a lot like Rocky Balboa, the “Italian Stallion” from the Rocky movie series. On paper the diminutive boxer stood no chance against powerful fighters like the Soviet Union’s Ivan Drago. But the manly Rocky persevered when few believed in him, save his trainer Mickey and his love interest Adrian.

G+ has more supporters than Rocky ever did, with 540 million users. This social networking platform may not have Facebook’s numbers, but it’s quickly gaining ground. About 70% of its users are manly men, like Rocky. Typical users are in their mid-twenties to early thirties with technical interests such as engineering and modern technology. If this fits your brand’s target demographic, then appeal to these users by using G+ Hangouts to connect directly with them in a video chat environment. G+ is also useful for sharing learning-based content, hosting product demos and Q&A sessions. Sidneyeve Matrix, media professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario suggests making use of your brand’s evergreen content (not time sensitive) on G+ or posting information exclusive to your G+ circle.

If you need another reason to try G+, it’s no surprise this social network is the number one driver of Google SEO.

Pinterest & Danica Patrick

Few people thought Danica Patrick, a high school dropout, would succeed in the male-dominated sport of auto racing. Yet she defied the odds in 2008 to become the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Patrick’s underdog status and photogenic appeal have made her a household name.

Pinterest has also made a name for itself with 70 million users worldwide. The photo sharing community-based platform has a predominately female user base that works well for consumer brands. Pinterest ranks higher than Twitter for driving SEO on Google according to Search Metrics. What’s more, a recent study by GIGYA found Pinterest generates more e-commerce traffic than Facebook. And Pinterest’s industry leading 85% click through rate means more visitors following advertised links to get additional information about your brand. Ms. Matrix thinks Pinterest works best for brands that are rich in original content. “Think outside the box. You’re not always trying to sell. Sometimes you’re just trying to inspire,” she says. If your company fits the Pinterest bill, add a pin tool to your social sharing buttons, create targeted boards and consider running contests to get your customers more involved.

monet

Image source: Wikipedia

Vimeo & Monet

Two years ago Monet’s “Water Lilies” painting sold for over $43 million USD. Not bad for an artist whose work was initially panned by critics in France. Monet was an artistic underdog because most 19th century art critics didn’t know what to make of his Impressionist style. Eventually the Impressionist movement flourished and Monet became one of the most celebrated painters of his time.

Much like Monet is his early years, video sharing site Vimeo flies under the radar. Its 100 million unique monthly victors are a drop in the bucket compared to YouTube’s 1 billion. But for what Vimeo lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of its content. Vimeo is a hotbed for indie filmmaking. You may not find tributes to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” or music videos about what foxes are really trying to say to us, but you will likely stumble upon something like this emotional ad produced by Google.

Vimeo is well categorized and less cluttered then other video sharing platforms. It’s not necessarily the right network for launching viral videos, but if your brand is interested in showcasing high quality content to a creative audience, then this is the place to do it. Last year Vimeo started the Brand Creative Fund, which helps to connect brands with Vimeo registered filmmakers, to create branded content that the community will appreciate.

These social media platforms are only a sample of the ones out there that encourage creative content and “out of the box” thinking. Always keep your target market in mind when considering what platforms will work best for your brand. Can you think of any other social media underdogs? Share your thoughts with us.


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