With press release editing, catch erors befor they hapen

December 1, 2014

By Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire Boston

We’ve heard it many times here at Business Wire: We catch a typo in a press release, let the client know, then the voice on the other end of the phone stalls, then sighs, “You don’t know how many people have looked at this thing, and that wasn’t caught.”

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That exasperation can be and should be avoided – especially before the release hits the wire and Web. Mistakes, alas, are inevitable, but it’s important to guard against them before they happen. After sending out a press release, the focus should be on promoting your news, not fixing it.

The editing process of any document can be cluttered at times with too many cooks in the kitchen, too many rewrites, and tracked changes simply can be confounding. Plus, don’t edit just for the sake of editing. Sometimes the writer has it right.

At newspapers or websites, editors generally read stories three times and three different ways – have you tried these yet?

  1. Breeze through it initially to get a sense of the story – it’s helpful to literally sit on your hands during this process so you’re not tempted to edit.
  2. The heavy lifting: Rewrite, rework and restructure the story as necessary.
  3. Fine-tune: Polish the prose and clean up typos.

The step between 1 and 2 can be tricky – you need to know how the story needs to be reworked, but that usually comes with practice and experience. This blog, however, is more focused on step 3 – finding those minute mistakes before they become major mistakes.

Eradicating Errors

So how do you sidestep slip ups while editing press releases? Most editors anticipate problems before they occur, know where things could go wrong before they do, ask where things could go wrong and think of the consequences of their editing actions. Yet sometimes it just comes down to having an eagle eye.

yay-3433113-digitalAlso, be mindful that the absence of one lone letter or the transposition of a couple letters changes the meaning of a word, and spellcheck won’t necessarily pick it up.

For example, heath vs. health: A heath is one thing, and health is something different. United vs. untied – these two words clearly have very different meanings. Other common press release examples include: manager vs. manger, complimentary vs. complementary, premiere vs. premier, chief vs. chef and through vs. though.

And be sure to check your spellcheck carefully; don’t just breeze through it because the document may be teeming with tech or biotech words. Often, Spellcheck will flag a word it does not recognize, yet the word is spelled correctly. Then later in the document, Spellcheck will flag a similarly spelled word, but it’s off by one letter. If an editor is on Spellcheck “Ignore All” autopilot, then the misspelled word will fly under the radar.

These spelling discrepancies are especially problematic in business press releases with mismatching company and product names.

‘Confident paranoia’

Many press releases simply could use a healthy dose of preventative medicine – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

yay-1578342-digitalIn my local newsroom, we track the time spent on each correction issued by our clients. In my office, we average about 12 client corrections a month. During high-volume times, that correction total can spike. The corrections can be costly to our clients and counterproductive for everyone.

Some press release corrections are more significant and easily avoidable than others. Some common culprits include: incorrect event dates in releases; incorrect media contact information, especially phone numbers; incorrect titles for people; incorrect press release submitted; and not getting the proper approvals from all the companies involved in the release. But perhaps the most frequent offender is a broken or incorrect embedded hyperlink.

At Business Wire Boston, we preach the idea of “confident paranoia.” Be confident in your editing abilities, but, like a good carpenter, measure twice and cut once.

Luke O’Neill, formerly a newspaper reporter and copy editor, is a senior editor at Business Wire Boston. He has nearly 15 years of communications experience and a master’s degree in journalism.


Business Wire 2014 Media Survey Wins Top MarCom Award

November 17, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Last week, the winners of the 2014 International MarCom Awards were announced on http://marcomawards.com. Business Wire is pleased to announce receipt of the Platinum-level selection in the Writing/White Paper category for the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Results.

The MarCom Awards are a creative competition for marketing and communication professionals, organized by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP), http://amcpros.com. Entries are gathered from corporations, advertising agencies, public relations firms, design agencies and individual freelancers.

Business Wire 2014 Media Survey

The 21-page document, written by Business Wire’s VP of Web Communications Services, Ibrey Woodall, outlines best practices in media relations, press release distribution and online newsroom management for leading communicators. The contents of the white paper are based on results from Business Wire’s media survey of over 300 North American editors, reporters, and bloggers, and how they engage with corporate news and websites.

“This recognition emphasizes the importance of this paper to all levels of communications professionals, as well as evidence of Business Wire’s close connection to the media,” said Woodall.
The award-winning paper, selected from over 6,500 global entries, reflects on how today’s reporters continue to rely on press releases distributed by newswires, as well as company online newsrooms for supporting information and press materials.

Click here to download a copy of the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Results white paper: http://go.businesswire.com/business-wire-media-survey-results

Click here to read more about how to implement best practices in media relations and online newsroom development:


Media Speed Dating in the City of Roses

November 3, 2014

By Matt Allinson, International Media Relations SupervisorMatt 1

The weather in and around Portland, OR, was anything but tranquil on Thursday, October 24. The dark sky chirped and clapped with wind, hail, thunder and rain. But, try as it might, it could not drown out the roaring chatter coming from inside the Bridgeport Brewery, where six of Portland’s finest journalists and over 50 of Portland’s finest PR professionals gathered to laugh, learn and get to know more about each other.

Matt 2

The luncheon was broken down into four 15-minute sessions. While the media members stayed seated, guests moved from table to table to talk with the four editors/reporters to whom they were most interested in speaking.  Representing the Portland media were: Nick Mokey (Managing Editor of Digital Trends); Sarah Rothenfluch (Executive Editor of News at Oregon Public Broadcasting); Erik Siemers (Managing Editor at the Portland Business Journal); Tim Steele (Digital Managing Editor at KOIN 6); Kristi Turnquist (Entertainment Reporter at The Oregonian); and Bruce Williams (Senior Assignment Manager at KGW). The event was expertly moderated by Becky Engel (Director of Client Services at Grady Britton).

The rules were minimal: no pitching. Everything else (within the law) was allowed. Great networking followed and a few tips from the media came forth:

  • Networking is key to getting reporters to cover a story … make the effort to meet us in person. We get hit with a lot of stories daily and we’re much more likely to run your story if we have a relationship with you (and the story is innovative/relevant). –Nick Mokey
  • It’s good to form relationships with reporters. They’re not going to take every pitch, but if you stay in contact and stay persistent, there will come a day when they’ll need to talk to you. –Tim Steele
  • Staying ahead of an emerging trend will get you to be considered an expert on the subject. –Sarah Rothenfluch
  • Visual content plays a role so be sure to include multimedia in your pitch. –Kristi Turnquist

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  • I get between 800-900 emails per day, so make sure your pitch is targeted, has a unique subject line and includes photos/video. – Bruce Williams
  • If you’re making a pitch, you have to think of it in terms of what would interest you if you were to receive what you’re pitching. Why would we be interested in it if you’re not? –Tim Steele
  • We love exclusives … bring us something exclusive and there’s a much better chance that it’s going to get run. We’re greedy that way. –Erik Siemers

Matt 4

  • The news cycle is constant. Is your story a tweet? Some stories are. Or is your story a big, in-depth conversation that would take a month to plan? Or is it somewhere in between? If you can figure out where your story is on this spectrum before pitching, it’s extremely helpful. –Sarah Rothenfluch
  • If you have a good story, don’t be afraid to reach out … but know who you’re pitching and what they do. Email’s probably the best way to pitch … but please don’t send a blast. Target your pitches. And don’t be afraid to follow up. – Erik Siemers

When it Comes to Online Newsrooms, Give the Media What They Want

October 27, 2014

By Sarah Drake Boerkircher, Assistant Director, News & Communications, Wake Forest Universitysdboerkircher

At the PRSA 2014 International Conference in Washington, D.C., I participated in the public relations professional development workshop “Content, Social Strategies and Online Newsrooms: Managing Communications in Higher Education.” As a PR professional for a university’s news and communication team, I was eager to hear how journalists were interacting with online newsrooms. These are the takeaways that I found to be most helpful:

So… what do media really want in a newsroom?

  • First and foremost, an online newsroom must be mobile-friendly. If a newsroom isn’t responsive, this will only cause annoyance, causing the reporter to leave your site as soon as possible.
  • Press releases, which are categorized and easy to search.
    • Experts with biographies and up-to-date information.
    • Media contacts that include email addresses, phone numbers, mobile numbers and Twitter handles.
    • Fact sheet(s). Note: a fact sheet is not the university’s history.
    • Images, photo galleries, infographics and videos.
    • In the News” section, which includes the most current university coverage.
    • An archive. Up to five years of information can be included, but must be easy to search. Major university milestones that fall outside of the five-year window can also be included.
  • Finding an answer should be easy. When media visits a university homepage, more than 80 percent are looking for the newsroom. Reporters do not want to spend hours (let alone minutes) searching a university site for an answer, so make the newsroom reporter-friendly by easing the search features and incorporating the content outlined above.
  • Content needs to be searchable. Often public relations professionals use corporate / university speak that is not easily searchable, which prevents a press release or story from gaining traction. Use language that people will most likely use when they conduct a search. This is as simple as calling a spade a spade.
  • Use a story in multiple ways, so impact can be measured. Storytelling is key in public relations, so being able to measure the impact of a story is important. Repurposing content through a blog post, tweet, video, infographic, photo or Instagram post, increases the chances of a story to be shared. Once content is shared, which is often easiest to do so across social media, a story’s reach and spread become measurable.
  • There is always room for improvement. After major or minor changes to a newsroom, do not be afraid to ask media to take a look at your site. Feedback can help to make the newsroom that much more efficient and only help get media the content that they want when they need it.

Case Study: Press Releases Increase Awareness, Sales of Lakemaid Beer

October 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier this month, Business Wire launched the first in a series of case studies showcasing how clients are utilizing press releases to increase awareness, message permeation and, ultimately, sales.

In this CommPro piece, we speak with Pocket Hercules to find out how one press release, video and image resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in media coverage, views and ultimately, sales for Lakemaid Beer.  This program is one that many PR professionals can duplicate to support a wide range of products, services and more.

Click here to read the entire article and then ask yourself, how are you utilizing traditional PR tools to support your organization?


Case Study: Utilizing Press Releases to Reach Canadian Media and Consumers

October 14, 2014

Earlier this month, Business Wire spoke with HOOPP, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan about their use of press releases.  In this CommPro podcast, Martin Biefer, the Director of Public Affairs at HOOPP to discuss HOOPP’s press release success story and his opinions on how to rise above the news clutter.

In just 8 minutes, learn how a single press release caught the attention of an entire country.  Click here to read the article http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/media-relations/wire/ or watch the video below.


Time It Right: The Importance of Financial Calendars

September 25, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Business Wire Paris

What is a financial calendar?

A financial calendar (also referred to as an economic calendar) is used by traders, shareholders and the media alike, in order to track the important events of the economy. The majority of the time, this is to check for market-moving events, such as monthly jobless claims, factory orders and debt auctions which are all found in the economic calendar. Several high-profile sites such as Bloomberg and Forex publish release dates for forthcoming economic reports each week.

Bloomberg Editorial Calendar

Each audience segment utilizes this information in a different fashion. A trader for instance, may implement a specific strategy based on the proposed outcome of a report, while a newsroom will adjust their coverage and focus, based on that same report.

Why is the calendar important for public companies?

Companies use the economic calendar in order to avoid scheduling conflicts with their conference calls, investor days, and other important events. The calendar is vital in anticipating workload, keeping to a schedule and keeping everyone up-to-date and informed.

However, in addition to following the economic calendar, companies should also be aware of the dates and times of companies within their respective industry – you wouldn’t want a top analyst to have to choose between your company and your top competitor. Best practice is to try and schedule the event close enough but not so close that an analyst or reporter cannot cover both.

How should the calendar be used as a tool when a company is setting up their next event?

Press releases:  Many traded companies choose to note key dates in certain press releases, which works excellently. Those who read your first quarter results will likely be reading the next quarter, so why not quickly mention their publication date?

Investor HQ:  Here at Business Wire, we offer InvestorHQ, a web-based content management system that allows clients to manage a search-engine optimized online newsroom. Since InvestorHQ  is a CMS (content management system), events can be posted simply by entering the date, time and location. Audio and visuals can be also be added to the calendar, and email invitations can be sent with a link to the Event page, through which investors can register and receive reminders for that particular event.

No more excuses – no matter how big or small your company is, the financial calendar should play an essential role in scheduling your next event!


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