NIRI Chapter Award Winners Share Secrets to Success

July 1, 2013
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire/Los Angeles

Awards were recently given out to a different type of Hollywood crowd, as the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) announced its annual Individual Leadership Award winners at the international conference in Hollywood, Florida. Among the award recipients were Dennis Walsh, Vice President and Director of Social Media, Sharon Merrill (Boston chapter); Sarah Jager, Regional Manager, Business Wire Dallas (Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter); Emily Riley, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, Radian Group (Philadelphia chapter); and Bernadette McCormick, Regional Manager, Business Wire Minneapolis (Twin Cities chapter).  All received accolades for exemplary leadership contributed to their NIRI chapters, but achieved success in different ways. Dennis Walsh

Dennis Walsh is going into his second year as a board member for the Boston chapter; it is one of the largest and oldest chapters of NIRI and presents a host of challenges.  Walsh recognizes that his branch demographics are composed of 80 percent corporate affiliates with 54 percent of the members having 10 or more years of experience.  The chapter leverages this member experience to help get speakers, services, and sponsors while also creating an atmosphere for more seasoned members to give advice to newer members.  When putting together events, speakers need to be chosen carefully to include relevant issue topics for all members. Walsh says, “We put together a panel of speakers of different professions that give different perspectives. This will create a mix for everyone from the seasoned pro to the beginner.”

Some of the big changes made by Walsh include leading an initiative to redesign the chapter website, adding resources like SEO enhancements, social media integration, including communication channels like LinkedIn Groups and Twitter, and recaps of monthly events in a blog-style format. All the changes added interactivity to the chapter. “If someone is looking for an event or to just ask questions we now have open communication. Last year we only had 12 Twitter followers but this year we have 150 and growing. This really shows how IR views have changed toward social media. What once was considered a platform only for teens is now considered an effective communications tool to use as an extension of an organizations outreach program. Today, people choose how they consume information, so organizations can either join in on the conversation online or be left out.”

Boston is not the only city to embrace change.

Sarah Jager In Dallas/Ft Worth, Sarah Jager surveyed the local chapter to find out member preferences for meetings. By reaching out she was able to increase meeting attendance. Just like Walsh from the Boston chapter, Jager used members from the Dallas Chapter to help get resources.  Jager says, “We were able to get a highly influential CFO from AT&T to speak on a guest panel.  AT&T even let us use their headquarters to meet. This is a resource every NIRI chapter can leverage.” Social media and networking is also a large part of the success for the Dallas/Ft Worth chapter.

Jager uses LinkedIn groups and other social media platforms but also has members reach out to other members or potential speakers by forming a calling tree. A program that was very successful for her chapter was the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses offered by her branch. Members were able to network with peers and also get the CPE credit needed by the state. Emily Riley

Emily Riley keeps members engaged in Philadelphia by finding hot topics that are of interest to the chapter like the use of social media and compliance, proxy battles, and ways IR professionals can be more efficient. Just like the other NIRI members interviewed, Riley utilizes member resources for mentoring junior staff, finding the right people to speak to the group, or simply to share knowledge. Riley says, “Unlike some of the bigger metropolitan areas, Philadelphia only has so many public companies.  We are a tight-knit group that helps each other out by sharing resources. My mentor encouraged me to be part of NIRI and it has helped me in my profession.” The positive sentiment created by Riley helps her chapter to be more involved and efficient.

Bernadette McCormick is a big part of her chapter NIRI Twin Cities. Bernadette McCormickHer attitude is to take on any job needed to help the organization. A 17-year veteran of the NIRI Twin Cities Board of Directors, Bernadette has served in several capacities: as President, VP of Membership, Programs, and VP of Sponsorship. Her contributions to the chapter includes the creation and facilitation of “NIRI Twin Cities Large Cap Senior Circle” which provides a private forum each quarter for IROs from local top large cap companies to peer counsel confidentially.   When asked what her key to success was for the chapter McCormick beams, “I try to put fun back into the chapter. Getting things done in the world of IR professionals is very stressful and to recruit, engage, plan, and make commitments can be drudging work. I put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction. I believe a successful chapter should enjoy the meetings because we are humans first and IR professionals second.”  Her compelling work attitude keeps everyone in the chapter in a good mood, and McCormick likes to keep meetings short and to the point. All the winners have a unique style of contributing to their local chapter, but all of them share a passion to provide convenient local education, networking, and leadership opportunities for the IR community.


The Women of Berkshire Hathaway: BW CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz Interviewed by Bloomberg TV

May 8, 2013

During Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Shareholders meeting on Saturday May 4th, 2013, Bloomberg TV’s “In The Loop” host Betty Liu interviewed three female CEOs from Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary companies; Cathy Baron Tamraz, CEO of Business Wire, Mary Rhinehart, CEO of Johns Manville, and Susan Jacques, CEO of Borsheims. The three women speak out about the role of females in business and the vast opportunities now available for women.

When Liu commented that, to someone looking in, five female CEOs is not an impressive number for Berkshire Hathaway, Business Wire’s Cathy Baron Tamraz said, “Change comes slowly. [Warren Buffett] didn’t buy these other businesses because there were men running them . . . He is always looking for the best person for the job.” Watch the full interview to hear more from the women of Berkshire Hathaway.


The Silicon Florist Shares Some Secrets of Growing Good Relationships with Bloggers

January 24, 2013
by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor, Business Wire
Matt Allinson

Matt Allinson

Legend has it that Rick Turoczy sat up in bed at 2 a.m. one morning in 2007 and decided to start a blog. The blog, called Silicon Florist, would be the place to go for interesting technology startup news from Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding area, known as the “Silicon Forest.” Suffice to say, that moment of insomnia has been a dream come true. Since that fateful morning, Turoczy’s advised the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission, chatted with The Oregonian, appeared on local television and radio, made a brief appearance on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, written for leading tech blog ReadWriteWeb, garnered multiple bylines in The New York Times, wound up speaking at a number of conferences, been selected for the Portland Business Journal‘s “40 under 40,” and named to the board of the Software Association of Oregon (SAO).

Rick Turoczy

Rick Turoczy

Before starting Silicon Florist, Turoczy had spent the majority of his career in the marketing/communications industry. His transition to writing has therefore given him great perspective —  he knows very well both the art of the pitch and the art of being pitched. During a recent Business Wire Media event in Portland, OR, Turoczy shared numerous pearls of wisdom regarding the latter. Below are some that are relevant to those of you in the PR world looking to connect with today’s bloggers. On Bloggers Being Held to the Same Standards as Journalists “I’m not a terribly objective journalist . . . I’m not even a journalist. It’s my personal blog, a lot of people happen to read it and I’m thankful for that but when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing objective in that blog. It’s about my opinions on what was occurring. And I tend to like to use this pulpit for cheerleading. It’s not that I don’t see the blemishes of companies, it’s just that I know what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, I know what it’s like to be in a start-up and constantly having to defend why you left a well-paying job to go pursue something crazy . . . you’re defending yourself to your family, you’re defending yourself to your friends . . . you get beat up a lot. You don’t need to get beat up by the media. That’s not my job. My job is to say, ‘I like this aspect of what you’re doing, let’s tell more people that you’re doing that.’ And maybe, just maybe, by getting that out there, let’s find some more people who are equally interested or want to work for your company.” On Working with the Media/Bloggers “One thing I’ve been coaching everyone on is don’t ever come to any of these folks (media & bloggers) with some kind of pitch as if you don’t have any competition. If you come to me saying you don’t have any competition, I’m immediately going to go look and find your competition and figure out why you don’t want to mention them. If you say you do have competition, I’m going to take that as you being more open and honest and I’m probably going to come to you for quotes or I’m going to look to you as my source. I’ll trust you as a source time and time again. When people say they have no competition that tells me two things: 1) They’re hiding something or 2) There’s no market there. There’s no such thing as a market of one company. Competition is a good thing. It proves there are other people besides you who are just as crazy to chase whatever that thing is. And from a journalist’s perspective, it immediately helps me get my head around the situation thematically. Journalists and bloggers can smell desperation better than most people so don’t approach them just when you need something, because it will not be well received. It’s important to spend the time building relationships with us so that when you do need something, we’ll know who you are.” On the Role of Communications and How He Likes to be Pitched “For a long time we were taught that our role in communications was, for the lack of a better term, how to lie. Lie about what the company wants out there. Now it’s more about how do you tell a compelling story about your company. I’m really looking for a concise pitch that tells me thematically why your company matters right now.”


MEDIAmobz Interviews Tom Becktold and Laura Sturaitis on PR/Marketing Challenges

October 30, 2012

Earlier this month at the PRSA International Conference, our partner MEDIAmobz conducted a series of video interviews with thought leaders, in which they asked them to comment on some of the challenges facing PR and marketing practitioners today.

In one entry of their PRSA Thought Leadership Series, MEDIAmobz asked several people including Tom Becktold, SVP-Marketing for Business Wire, “Does your company’s multimedia content ambition outpace your available resources?”

In another entry, Tom and Laura Sturaitis, EVP-Media Services & Product Strategy, were asked, “What are some issues that people are faced with in the communications industry today?”

Click over to each to watch Tom’s and Laura’s answers along with those of other PR professionals.

 


The Daily Dog Interviews Marketing SVP Tom Becktold on PR’s Role in the Marketing Process

October 25, 2012

The Daily Dog, as part of their “Exhibitor Insights” video series from this month’s PRSA International Conference, spoke with Tom Becktold, our SVP Marketing, about how PR pros are in a perfect position to drive companies’ greater marketing messages, how social media has given PR a bigger presence in C-suite decision making, and how PR should be guiding marketing and advertising. Check out Tom’s interview with Richard Carufel below:


Tablet Takeover: Five Reasons the Devices May Change Journalism and PR as We Know Them

October 25, 2011
by Shawnee Cohn,Media Relations Specialist

MRTIt is difficult to dispute the notion that tablets have revolutionized the way we consume media. Recent research estimates that 28 million people in the US own tablets. It has been found that tablet owners spend 40% more time online daily than those who do not own tablets.

We know tablet owners are using these devices to get news, in fact Business Wire recently launched our very own iPad news application in response to the popularity of this mobile platform.  Increased usage of tablets for news consumption raises the question: What are the implications of this new trend for PR professionals and journalists?

In a recent post on the PRNewser blog, Carm Lyman of Lyman PR discusses the benefits that tablet placement offers PR professionals. Lyman states that when pitching tablet features, multimedia is a necessity, as well as an excellent opportunity to increase brand awareness and reader engagement.

Many communications professionals agree that while print journalism sometimes limits the ability to tell a story by only offering text and/or photos, the tablet can improve your brand inclusion by giving readers a powerful multimedia experience.

Some journalists believe that tablets require a new approach to journalism – one that leaves behind the linear model for a story and incorporates video, audio, and other interactive graphics that heighten the reader’s experience.

For an insider’s perspective on how tablets have affected journalism and PR, I spoke with George Jones, editor of TabTimes. Launching this fall, TabTimes will cover tablet news and be exclusively distributed on the iPad. Having previously served as editor in chief of Maximum PC magazine, Jones has extensive experience with both print and digital platforms. He offered five key reasons why tablets are a major part of the futures of PR and journalism:

On how storytelling has changed with the switch from print to digital: The core approach has not changed much; Jones still draws inspiration from all angles (publicists, reader submissions, etc). He feels that tablets meld the best of the print and digital worlds. Tablet journalism takes print and “activates it,” with the added ability to embed images, videos, polls, and other interactive elements.

On the benefits of tablets for PR professionals: Jones believes that tablets offer more opportunities for features news. Stories can be published that consist mostly of images and other multimedia. He estimates that about 60% of TabTimes content will include features on how businesses are using tablets.

On whether PR pros need to pitch an interactive element: Personally, he believes multimedia is not a necessity. Jones maintains that “a good story is a good story” and he is willing to “hear any pitch.”

On how to get your story on TabTimes:  The editorial team is currently focusing on how tablets are being deployed in the workplace. They want to hear about “interesting apps that allow people to do interesting things.” Jones notes he is also interested in preview coverage of the tablet industry, in other words, “what’s coming as opposed to what’s out.”

On what’s next for the tablet news industry: The tablet industry is “exploding, in a good way,” according to Jones. While the iPad is clearly dominant, he says that the Lenovo, RIM, and Cisco tablets do have a shot at becoming more prevalent in the future.

Additional information can be found at www.tabtimes.com or via @TabTimes on Twitter. You can also get the latest consumer electronics and tablet industry news by registering at www.businesswire.com.


Dos and Don’ts of Pitching a Features Editor

March 8, 2011
by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire’s Features National circuit and Feature Topic Series can help distribute your press releases, but how do you create an effective story that will appeal to a features editor? I reached out to Katie Aberbach of the Washington Post Express and Katy De Luca of the Washington Examiner to find out the dos and don’ts of pitching a feature editor.

Katie Aberbach

Katie Aberbach is a feature editor for the Washington Post Express‘ Lookout, Weekend Pass and Digs sections. According to Aberbach, a good feature is “a human interest story, something the average reader can relate to.” The best feature stories are when you become invested in what you’re reading or when you can tell that the reporter truly enjoys what he or she is writing about. When it comes to getting ideas for feature stories, “press releases do help out a lot because there is no way you can know everything new that’s coming out,” she said. “Tell me about your new product, television show and book and offer a source to comment on it.”

When it comes to writing your press release, she suggests the following:

  • Do break up the story and summarize key information into bullet points.
  • Do include links to other trend stories and think of what visuals would work for your story.
  • Don’t forget the hook. Even though you’re pitching a feature story, a hard news hook is still valuable. Say why I should care right away. Naming the names is really important.

Katy De Luca

Katy De Luca is the features editor of the Washington Examiner. For De Luca, the best feature stories are ones that appeal to the Examiner audience. “I look at all pitches and think about what will be most interesting to our readers. I think about what they would want to read and what is the best way to get the information to them,” she said. Most of the story ideas come from the writers De Luca works with. She also reads a variety of media and if a topic grabs her attention, she’ll forward the lead to one of her freelancers.

When pitching a feature reporter or editor, De Luca recommends these points:

  • Do include as much information as possible in the subject line and personalize your pitch. Provide all basic details. Simple is better.
  • Do periodically ask the person you are pitching to what sort of things they are looking for. Communication is a key part of the process.
  • Don’t send long-winded e-mails with attachments.

For more suggestions on how to help get your feature news noticed by the media, check out these Features News Tips. You can also contact our features department at features@businesswire.com for additional writing tips and story suggestions.


Land Your Features Story in the New York Post

August 18, 2010

Tips from Daily Features Editor Mackenzie Dawson

by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York

Mackenzie Dawson

Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor, New York Post

I recently had a chance to talk with Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor of the New York Post. Having worked in the PR industry, Dawson fully understands the challenges publicists face when it comes to working with the media. She has offered up some great tips on public relations best practices and shares some essential tactics to use in your next media relations campaign.

According to Dawson, developing relationships with reporters is one of the most important strategies in public relations. “With publicists, it should really be about targeted relationship building instead of cold calling. My ideal publicist is one who has really gotten to know me over time and has a good idea of the kind of news I cover.”  Dawson says the best way to start building a relationship is to send good, thoughtful pitches that are cleverly written and concise. Once a relationship has developed, a trust factor can be built up and she will respond favorably to your pitches.

“A good publicist might send me a pitch six times a year instead of every week, but their batting average is higher,” Dawson continues. “They’re not sending me stories that are not relevant to what I cover.” She covers human interest stories, so sending a business story is definitely not going to work. It is also not a very good idea to pitch a story that has already been covered in another publication.

Dawson’s experience in the PR world has taught her a lot about the “dual client system.” Public relations practitioners have their clients they have to please, as well as the journalists they are trying to woo. When she worked in public relations, one of the things that bothered her the most was when her manager would always tell her to make as many phone calls to as many different media outlets as possible. Now that Dawson is on the other side of the fence, she realizes that technique just doesn’t work; all you end up doing is frustrating the journalists. Be sure to put more emphasis on quality, not quantity.

To put it briefly, Dawson compares working with the media to dating. She’s like the person you are trying to date; if you are interesting, then she’ll get back to you!


For more tips on how to put together a great feature news story, check out the Feature Writing Tips at BusinessWire.com.


Business Wire Founder Lorry Lokey Rises to the Billionaire Challenge

August 10, 2010

Lorry Lokey, who founded Business Wire in 1962, has always been a believer in the virtues of charity and philanthropy. Over the years, he’s given hundreds of millions of dollars, primarily to secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, and he’s frequently appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as both an interview subject and one of America’s Top Donors.

So it’s no surprise that Lorry has risen to the challenge — the Billionaire Challenge, posed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to America’s richest people, to give half of their wealth to good causes. Lorry is one of the 38 people (so far) on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans to make such a commitment.

Lorry recently appeared on CNN’s “American Morning” to discuss his signing on to the pledge, and his thoughts about philanthropy and giving. Watch the interview here or read a transcript here.


Interview: Cathy Baron Tamraz on “2 Minutes & More”

August 5, 2010

Business Wire CEO & Chairman Cathy Baron Tamraz recently sat down for a few minutes with Renee White Fraser and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, hosts of 2Minutes&More, an hourlong business program that airs Sunday afternoons on KFWB-AM in Los Angeles. Both of the hosts are successful business owners who each week share their own tips for success and interview others to inspire success and entrepreneurship.

Cathy Baron Tamraz

BW Chairman & CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz

Cathy’s fifteen minute segment covers topics ranging from how Business Wire helps its clients by being a credible, trusted source of news:

“When a release runs over Business Wire, Dow Jones, Reuters and Bloomberg, as examples of financial wires, they don’t check the source, because they know that, coming from Business Wire, we’ve done that. The release will go out a lot faster, it will be automatically posted to their constituencies. Everybody has faith that when it comes out through Business Wire, it’s real.”

. . . to how our formatting and distribution models help our users with their SEM and SEO efforts, to our acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway and our own successful corporate culture:

“We’re a real homegrown kind of company. We’re close with each other, we run it very entrepreneurial, but we’re serious about what we do. [I've] been there 31 years, and I like to know everybody’s names, and their families and what’s going on in their lives, and I really think that builds loyalty and good morale. We’re all about the longer you stay with us, and continue to do a great job for us and take care of the company, the more we want to take care of you.”

Cathy’s interview was part of a program on “Public Relations & Earned Media”; listen to her segment here. And be sure to listen to the rest of the program, which includes interviews with Business Wire users Susan M. Tellem, CEO of Tellem Worldwide, and Rebekah Illiff, owner of Smart Girls Consulting.


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