The 5 Definitive Rules to Media Relations in 2014

August 13, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

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

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

Media Moving Online

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

Reporter Metrics

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

bizwirepressreleaseprefs

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

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

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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.


Frankie Flack Explains Why Newsrooms are Using Press Releases More Than Ever

July 17, 2014

By Neil Hershberg, Sr. Vice President, Global Media, Business Wire

Not only are press releases alive and well but, according to an industry insider, their role in today’s editorial ecosystem is more important than ever. They have emerged as the “exclusive information source” for many corporate developments, most of which fail to generate independent coverage.

Frankie Flack, a pseudonym for a New York-based public relations professional, authored a column for “Talking Biz News” explaining the shifting dynamics of financial news coverage in a challenging media environment. “Talking Biz News” is a popular web site that enables business journalists to track the latest media trends, developments, and personnel moves.

You can read the article here: http://talkingbiznews.com/2/frankie-flack-why-my-press-releases-are-the-new-newswire

According to Flack, a confluence of factors have contributed to the press release’s resurgent popularity, and its de facto dominance as a primary news source.

Newsroom cutbacks have sharply curtailed the resources dedicated to breaking news other than major announcements, in Flack’s view.

Beat reporters are committed to churning out “thumb-sucker” stories focusing on Big Ideas, as opposed to the nuts-and-bolts stories that news organizations were noted for in the past.

Even the larger market-moving news services have become dependent on news releases to provide context to their headlines, often in the absence of insights from analysts and academics who were relied on for perspective in the past. According to Flack, press releases enable issuers to “control the narrative.”

Flack also cites the ubiquity of press releases on the web, pointing to such popular sites as Yahoo! where releases far out number wire stories.

The middling stories that represented the bulk of a news service’s daily output have all but disappeared, Flack notes, making press releases the “exclusive information source” for most corporate events. In the absence of coverage of record, press releases have become the default archive that investors, journalists, consumers, and others will rely on in the future.

Clearly, press releases are more vital than ever, playing an ever more robust role in determining the daily news agenda, and influencing user consumption.


Social Media, Wall Street, and the Big Questions Still Being Asked

July 10, 2014

By M. Joe Curro, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire

Show me something innovative, not just new. I have a wide range of interests, but one thing that really gets me going is finding a creative approach, a new way of presenting what I’ve seen before. A triple-A game studio released yet another first-person military simulation? Meh. Astoria is getting another fusion restaurant? Yawn. Netflix is suggesting another season of Star Trek… OK, bad example. How do they know me so well?

I had the opportunity to witness a creative approach last Thursday at PRSA-NY’s inaugural #SocialWallStreet Meetup. Held at the Museum of American Finance, the event featured a discussion of how to address the questions facing Wall Street’s use of social media. New regulations have been passed, but few companies seem eager to embrace the opportunity. The decision to frame the event as an “unconference” was more than the cheerful adoption of an undefined buzzword. It was brilliant.

prsa socialwallstreetBusiness Wire has been a part of this debate for years, encouraging our clients to use social media channels as part of a well-rounded communications strategy for both PR and IR. While there are plenty of risks to keep in mind, social media has the potential to be incredibly valuable. I was glad to see that Business Wire’s message has clearly been getting out there. As a refresher, check here for a white paper on the risks and rewards of social media for regulated companies.

David Rosen, SVP of Digital Corporate & Public Affairs at Edelman, ably played MC to a group of about 50 participants from agencies, financial companies and others. David got the ball rolling by laying the framework for the day — namely, that we were not there to debate whether or not permission had been granted from a regulatory standpoint for companies to use social media. We were working from the assumption that it had, and the question we needed to answer was: Now what?

The event started with brief presentations and a free-form Q&A session with David’s experts, Joyce Sullivan, VP of Social Business Programs at Socialware, and Tom Chernaik, CEO and Co-Founder of CommandPost/CMP.LY.  We then brainstormed in groups of five or six, while David, Joyce and Tom circulated among us, and came up with the most immediate concerns preventing a company from embracing social media as part of its communications strategy.  Once we had around two dozen questions, we voted to determine the top six that we felt needed the most urgent attention. Each group took one question and proposed specific answers that could be implemented to address the concerns of cautious social media adopters.

The groups considered:

  1. How to convince senior management that social media isn’t just for teenagers
  2. How to make the business case for social media
  3. How to create compliant content
  4. How to help people realize that social media is more than just Twitter
  5. How to do real-time response
  6. How to respond if your social channels are hacked

We arrived at some clever answers and heard a broad range of ideas. But the part I like best is that we’re not done. The #SocialWallStreet event was not intended to be a one-off experiment. It was a seed to get a conversation growing in our industry. There will be future Meetups (and I look forward to them), but we should be talking about this constantly.

The answers proposed by the attendees of Thursday’s event can be seen here. I invite anyone and everyone to join the conversation, and if you’ve got an idea to share, let us know.  Post a comment to the event summary. Start a debate within your own company. Heck, send me your idea! This is just going to get more interesting, and I want to see how it turns out.

Joyce captured the attitude of the event perfectly as she wrapped up her opening remarks: “The regulations are in place, but you’re all waiting for someone to give you permission. OK, fine. I give you permission. Now get to it.”  Sounds good to me.


PRWeek asks: What is the Impact of Panda 4.0 on Today’s Press Release?

July 2, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, PRWeek tackled a topic on the minds of communication professionals around the globe – the impact of Google’s Panda updates on the press release.

logoSmallIn this piece, they ask experts from newswires and agencies alike whether this change will kill or enhance the press release.  Every respondent agreed – the press release is not dead.  In fact, thanks to this change, which effectively removed low quality content from mingling with high-level content, PR professionals have a terrific opportunity to reach and activate key audiences.  Today’s PR pros are in fact seeing greater success and visibility within key audiences with highly targeted, well-written, multimedia enhanced news.

Read more about Panda 4.0: Good news for content, bad news for link-stuffing at PR Week.  Curious on the best ways to craft a release in 2014?  Check out our free guide.


Eight Reasons the Media Hate You (And How You Can Fix It)

June 4, 2014
By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New York

If you’re like most public relations professionals, you have a list for everything – a to-do list, a client list and, of course, a media outreach list. When time gets tight, you may occasionally succumb to the temptation to send out a blanket pitch to your entire press list, and then cross your fingers while hoping that all your clients’ dreams come true. A word of advice: don’t. The key to garnering coverage in 2014 is by helping reporters help you. Otherwise you risk landing in the junk folder – permanently.

8 Reasons the Media Hates You (And How You Can Fix it) By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New YorkTo help you connect with the press who really do need your input, we compiled comments from editors, outlining the top eight reasons why reporters occasionally hate you – and how to make them love you.

1)      You Didn’t Tailor Your Pitch: “It’s hard work, but work worth doing: tailor your pitch to me. Know who I am and what I cover and exactly what might interest me about your product/person/idea other than just ‘IT EXISTS!'”  says Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, and freelance journalist for NY Times and other publications.

In other words, make sure you’ve at least looked at the publication and understand its audience and news stance. Are you pitching a local publication about a product launch and including a general press release and product sheet? Fine, but find an authentic local hook – don’t just say “people chew gum in New York, so your New York publication should cover our national launch of chewing gum.” There needs to be an honest connection with the reporter’s readers, and the issues covered by the media outlet – find that connection, and use it as your lede.

 

2)      Your Headline is a Snooze and Your Lede is MIA: “If the subject line of your email pitch isn’t interesting and concise, you will get deleted before you’re read. Same goes for your press release headline: if you leave the meaty stuff at the bottom, it will never get read,” says Nicole Bode, Deputy Editor of News, DNAInfo New York.

It may seem self-explanatory that brevity is the soul of wit, but we dare you to review your last few press releases or press pitches. Could you read the headline or subject aloud without the need to gasp for air? Are the most crucial details easily found within the headline/sub-head or first paragraph? If not, get cracking – and revising. Same goes for voicemails, elevator pitches and topics for short meetings.

3)      You Had Truly Bad Timing: “Not understanding a publication’s production schedule is a problem. If a magazine goes to print on Tuesday, Monday night is not the time to say ‘Ok, we’re ready to go on the record now!’” and think that you’ll make it into that issue. There are always exceptions, but they are not made with ease. Get to know the publishing schedule of a media outlet you hope to do lots of work with. It’s not an excuse to say that you waited to the last minute because you were afraid it would get out before an agreed upon date. If you think a writer or editor is that unprofessional, you shouldn’t work with them anyway,”says Xania Woodman, Senior Editor, Vegas Seven Magazine.

If you don’t know your key outlets’ timetables, start gathering them now, and act accordingly. No sending press info about a Super Bowl-related product two days before the game: No editor will have time to review and your client will be shortchanged. Similarly, unless it’s breaking news or you specifically know the editor or reporter is working that day, don’t pitch press on a major holiday. Take a break yourself – the media will respect you more if you’re not emailing them while they’re BBQing for Memorial Day or July 4th.

 

4)      You Were Too Chummy: “Among my pet peeves are publicists who address me as Mr., and others who write to me as if we know each other, when we have never before spoken or met (e.g. ‘Hi Jamie! Hope you’ve been having a great week…’ How about just ‘Dear Jamie, I represent Tazo Teas, and I would love to get to know you. I have a new product that I thought might be an excellent fit for your publication…’” says Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, Editor-in-Chief of CarleyK.com.

A simple LinkedIn search would reveal that Ms. Kiffel-Alcheh is in fact, female, and yes, sometimes the simplest declarative introductions can be best. Does your client watch its channel’s daily segment on XYZ, and you think the client is a perfect fit for this reason? Say it clearly and professionally, and you may be surprised at the very pleasant response.

5)      You Ignored the Media’s Main Requests: “In business journalism, some publications require that I find out the revenues of a company–or they won’t accept a story from me about that firm. Every once in a while, a publicist will, after hearing this, go around me to see if they can persuade an editor at the publication to bend that rule, which will usually annoy the editor. Or they will set me up on an interview with a business owner who clearly has no intention of sharing financials, even though we’ve agreed ahead of time that this info will be part of the interview. It’s not always the publicist’s fault, but it ends up being a waste of time for all concerned, since I can’t use the interview in the end,” says Elaine Pofeldt, a contributing editor at Crain’s and a contributor to Money, Fortune and Inc. 

Reporters get frustrated when people set up follow-up interviews without all the information at the ready – so unless you are prepared to burn a bridge, don’t offer a brick wall. Pre-plan and know what information you can offer and to whom. Even if you have limited resources, come up with a Plan B. If the editor says it’s super important, believe it and get that info, or simply decline and come back another time when you have everything he or she needs to build the story. If you build a good rapport, you may wind up quoted in a trend feature or commenting on another company in print. But don’t ignore their original must-haves.

6)      You Sent a Wall of Text: “I might be different than lots of publications. I don’t want to copy/paste/print your release. I want the mechanics to find my own angle. That means links, bullets, bites. I could care less that ‘We are pleased’ was quoted by this or that important person. I agree deeply with David Meerman Scott’s jargon buzzword bingo opinion, where it seems that every solution is ‘next generation, world class, scalable, blah blah blah.’ Skip the adjectives and save me some time in finding my own angle into the story,” says Chris Brogan, Publisher of Owner Magazine, and New York Times best-selling author of six books, including The Impact Equation (with Julien Smith).

Stop calling your client “ground-breaking,” and please do take care in how you set up a press release or a pitch, with easy-to-grasp formatting, so the reporter can review it and figure out if it’s a good match. Business Wire releases are distributed in XHTML, so use bullets to focus on key points, send your release with boldface and italics to highlight issues, and make sure you include multiple relevant and easy-to-access hyperlinks. It’s not just for consumers to engage and generate click-through data for your client (although that’s a plus), but for reporters who need to know very quickly how to reach you, your client, or get more information about the product/event/issue you’re promoting. Adding a photo to your release also helps paint the clearest picture – just make sure to include a proper caption in case it’s used.

7)      You Gave Way Too MUCH information:   “You’re likely not to get any coverage if you send over so much stuff that it won’t download, or if you send a giant press release that’s too long. Simplicity works best for me. Instead of a huge file, I’d click through to see media at a link,” says Tara Cox, Managing Editor, Men’s Journal.

 

While each editor and reporter will have different needs and timetables, crashing someone’s computer with your pitch is never a good idea. Whether you’re sending a well-crafted email blast or a wire press release with well-chosen multimedia, use these digital missives to clearly show your assets and pique interest. Video, images, and multimedia are great, but make sure the links work and files are easy to open.      

 

8)      You Were Boring: “Journalists are busy and some get hundreds of press releases a day (I know I do!), so use a bit of humor in your email to me and include a story with some passion so it can really stand out. A press release can be more than a collection of data. Make me truly excited about what you’re trying to promote. If you were a reader, what story would capture YOUR attention?” says Katherine Brodsky, freelance writer for publications like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend, Mashable, and MovieMaker Magazine.

 

Media professionals face tight deadlines and tough demands, but the ones you hope to reach for coverage are people, not robots- they do respond to genuine feeling. Don’t forget what the R in Public Relations means and try relating and connecting for a change, and yes, add some style and interest where you can. If you can use that to establish trust and connection, and deliver on your promises, anything can happen.

 


Cutting Clickbait – How to Write a Compelling Headline

March 31, 2014
Matt Bio Pic By Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

Greg Rasa has worked at the Seattle Times for 27 years. Suffice it to say, he’s seen a lot of headlines. He’s also written a lot of them … thousands of them. At a recent talk he was giving on writing clickable headlines, I asked the long time news editor if he could recall the very first headline he ever wrote. “I can’t,” he said, “but I bet no one clicked on it.”

The headline is … arguably … more important now than it has ever been in the news and PR industries. Ads, paywalls, enticing paying customers, and attracting attention to important issues depend heavily on lassoing some incredibly short attention spans. People may last only a few seconds on your page or your story or your press release before fluttering away, but it behooves you to at least get them there.

But how do you write a compelling, clickable headline without always depending on the age-old use of yellow journalism/clickbait? Mr. Rasa, The Times’ news editor, offered up numerous solutions during his hour plus seminar, but these were some of my favorites.
headlines(click to enlarge)

USE ACTION VERBS – Honk, Fizzle, Careen, Blast, Chew, etc. … Action verbs are known attention grabbers.

  •          Have some fun with the English language (or whatever language you use).

FRONT LOAD BEST STUFF – Google crawls content from the top down, first to last, and that includes headlines.

  •          Use Google Trends to locate relevant keywords based on specific criteria.
  •          If you’re writing a press release, always get your company name into the headline when applicable.

BE CONVERSATIONAL – Write headlines like the way people talk … use natural words and syntax. An example:

Bad Headline = Jobs Report Pressures Obama Re-election Outlook

Would you ever say, “Hey, you’re pressuring my outlook?”

Good Headline = Lingering Joblessness an Election Problem for Obama

BE SPECIFIC AND CLEAR – Don’t be too general and/or vague. It’s OK to tease the reader a bit, but try to be as straightforward as possible.

Vague Headline = NYC Looks to Stop Spreading Bedbug Infestations

Specific Headline = Bedbugs: 1 in 15 New Yorkers Had Them Last Year

BEFORE YOU SEND, LOOK AGAIN – Take a moment to put yourself in the readers shoes.

  •          Does the headline you wrote make sense to someone who has no idea what the story is about?

More tidbits and thoughts on Mr. Rasa’s presentation can be found here and here. And if you ever get the opportunity to see Mr. Rasa speak, I cannot recommend doing so enough. Headlines are important … go learn a thing or two about them.


Which Publications Inform Today’s Leading Communicators?

March 18, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this year we asked blog readers to share their top daily reads.  We wanted to see which publications are considered must-reads among today’s communications experts.  Do communicators rely on mainstream media to keep them up to date through mainstream media, like The New York Times?  Industry trade magazines such as Mashable?  Or social networks including Twitter and LinkedIN?

The results were somewhat surprising.  With 152 respondents to date, our survey shows:

  • Just 20% of respondents said they read mainstream media such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today on a daily basis, yet these publications continue to be the top-desired coverage targets for small and big B2B and B2C companies alike.
  • Only 9% of those who replied use LinkedIn as a news source, yet LinkedIn continues as a top conversion platform for many businesses.
  • 17% noted Twitter as their primary news source, the highest of any social network, with one communicator smartly pointing out that Twitter’s speed makes  tools such as Google Alerts less valuable.
  • 14% relied on PR industry trades suggesting that these outlets, while valuable, may not produce content frequently enough to warrant a daily read.
  • A mere 2-11% read highly targeted social, digital or SEO-oriented blogs and articles. While this may be because these topics are heavily covered  in other industry publications, we were still surprised by such a low number.

What do you think?  Which publications are you reading every day?  Take two minutes to fill out this survey yourself, and we will continue to share updates as the data change.

Business Wire Reader Survey

Business Wire Reader Survey

You can find the survey here:  http://blog.businesswire.com/2014/02/27/what-publications-to-top-marketers-read-business-wire/


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