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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Copy and paste the following to embed this infographic within your site:
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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.


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.

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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?


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!


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).


Editor’s Corner: Putting Faces with Names: Getting The Most Out Of Personnel Announcements

January 7, 2014

By Dara Khan, Business Wire Editor

 When you submit a personnel announcement to Business Wire, our editors are the first eyes on your staffing news. Our talented and experienced newsroom team reviews hundreds of news items per week, and we have developed a pretty good sense of what elements make them successful. Here’s one editor’s take on putting together a winning press release for announcing hires, promotions, or other staffing changes in your organization.

Natalie

The best piece of advice I can give is to include multimedia with your press release.

When you meet people for the first time, you remember them by both their names and faces. This is true in press releases as well; by including a photo of the person, you make it easy for reporters, analysts and others to put face to the name. We editors know from experience that releases with a photo—whether of a new executive hire or a retiring founder—instantly capture readers’ attention, and our research has shown that releases with photos or other multimedia generate five to ten times more pickup than those without them. That is just from adding a photo or video to your news release!

However, there are other ways to increase your press release’s visibility.Broader distribution of press releases allows for reporters and other brand fans to find and share your news.  But why not consider adding a targeted specialty circuit to increase visibility within highly specific target markets? If you’ve made a prominent minority hire, consider the Asian-American Media, African-American Media or LatinoWire circuits, which all heavily target media in markets that can be difficult to reach through broader channels. If your release is about someone who has made significant contributions through nonprofit and charity work, consider the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) circuit. If you’re running a cutting-edge startup and just added a big name to your team, congrats! Now is the perfect time to take advantage of BW’s new partnership with VentureBeat.  Each of these distributions reaches a highly targeted list of reporters and media outlets, all viewing and sharing these kinds of announcements on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, the foundation of a good personnel announcement is a concise and well-written press release. This may seem like a very basic tip, but it is surprising how often we see releases that are unnecessarily long, overly wordy, or lack quotations from or about the personnel in question. That last part is especially important.  Why? Because including quotes is another great way to capture the human element—and the attention of readers. These quotes are so frequently sought after that Business Wire’s system actually automatically generates highlighted pull quotes from those sections!  These pull quotes appear on the businesswire.com version for your release (as well as via our PressPass media news service), so be sure to use that to your advantage by making them shine.

Lastly, do not hesitate to call your local Business Wire newsroom or account executive to discuss more ways to get the most out of your personnel announcements. One thing that sets BW apart is the degree of hands-on, personalized service from our 24 local news bureaus. As the only commercial newswire with this many editorial offices, Business Wire has editors and a sales team who are always ready to help you send your press release out to the biggest possible audience. We always look forward to hearing from you!


Decoding the Media: National Journalists Divulge Best Way to Build Relationships

November 12, 2013

By Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

What does it take to land a signature placement? You know, the media placement that positions your company as an industry-leader with the smartest executive team and best products? According to speakers on PRSA Chicago’s recent panel, a heck of a lot more than it used to.

Business Wire team members recently attended “National Media in Chicago: Who’s Here and What Do They Cover?” featuring journalists from top national media outlets including:

  • Diane Eastabrook, Correspondent, Al Jazeera America (@AJAM)
  • Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal (@JasonRDean)
  • Flynn McRoberts, Chicago Bureau Chief and Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News (@FlynnMcRoberts)
  • Neil Munshi, Chicago and Midwest Correspondent, Financial Times (@NeilMunshi)

During this discussion the speakers divulged best pitch practices for PR professionals. In each case, each journalist reiterated the exact same advice – all good PR professionals must do their research before reaching out. This, they told us, is the number one way to create strong relationships and build trust in your company.

In this case, research does not mean referencing their latest article, post or tweet. In PR, researching the reporter means understanding both what they write about and who their audience is.  In today’s world, general pitches only slightly on target with the reporter’s beat and readership are unacceptable. It is better to write highly targeted press releases, with a highly specific audience. Not only will this support your internal business goals, you will provide better content to your beat  reporters.

A few other themes were addressed to give insight into their news process:

Newsrooms embrace social media…to an extent.

In April 2013 Bloomberg News introduced corporate and CEO Twitter feeds to their terminals, a huge step for highly-regulated industries that may not have access to social news at work

  • Business Wire Tip: If you delete a tweet archived in the Bloomberg terminal, you must call Bloomberg to have them manually remove it.  These tweets are not automatically deleted.

While social media is expanding, many journalists are still cautious.  Financial Times’ Neil Munshi was quick to point out that when a big story hits he shuts off Twitter so he can focus on uncovering facts vs. reading potentially false reports.

  • Business Wire Tip: For any communications, especially in times of crisis, it is important for companies to be transparent and provide as much information about the situation as possible in order to control the conversation.  Considering issuing a press release or utilizing your corporate blog to ensure the words used to describe your news are your own.

Content other than photos are rarely re-purposed verbatim; however these elements have huge value in showcasing the larger story to the reporter and brand fans.

In the age of videos and infographics, companies should include content elements that tell the brand’s larger story.  Video works well as it provides a face to the story, while images drive deeper emotional connections.

  • Business Wire Tip: Content marketing and distribution is an effective way to gain attention and influence key constituents; however, it’s important to ensure the story is relevant and timely to drive conversations. Check out on our recent post on this topic.

Press releases remain relevant to news gatherers.

The resounding feedback from speakers is “press releases are alive and well.” According to Jason Dean of the Wall Street Journal press releases remain one of the best ways share company news as it provides reporters accurate information, with links to supporting information, making it easier to do their jobs.

  • Business Wire Tip: If you’re looking to spice up the traditional release think about adding bullets highlighting “Just the Facts” and “Key Quotes,” which may catch the viewers’ attention. Consider adding a Click to Tweet in your sub-headline like this PRSA Austin story.  Or take it one step further like this Amazon release entirely comprised of Tweets each crafted with a different audience in mind.

These are just a few of the tips from leading journalists, but we have many more. Keep following the BusinessWired blog or contact us directly to learn more.


Tips, tricks and advice for today’s PR, IR and Marketing Professionals

October 19, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

What a week!  There were so many great news pieces, platform changes, tips and more that we had to commit an entire blog to sharing them with you.

Below please find this week’s top stories for public relations, corporate communications, investor relations and marketing communication professionals.

Social Platform + Search Engine Updates

Media + Research

Tips, Tricks and Best Practices

Did you find this list useful?  Did we miss anything?  If so, please share below, we are always looking for compelling information we can share with our audience!


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