Maximizing Social Media: Strategizing for the Masses

June 3, 2013
by Joyce Thian, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire Canada
Joyce Thian

Joyce Thian

Earlier this month, the who’s who of the Canadian newspaper industry came together at the annual INK+BEYOND conference and trade show, hosted by Newspapers Canada and the Canadian Association of Journalists. For two full days, delegates representing news publications from across the country heard from distinguished industry leaders, learned about the latest innovations in news media, and had the chance to connect and network with peers and other partners in the heart of downtown Ottawa, Canada.

Within a fully packed program that strove to cover every aspect of the newspaper business, one of the stand-out sessions of the conference was a breakout social media workshop led by Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media.

OttawaAlthough Jenkins was speaking specifically to newspaper publishers, editors, and journalists looking to better connect with their readers online, her advice on how to “maximize your social media” would be well incorporated into any brand’s social media strategy.

(If at this time you’re thinking to yourself that you still don’t quite believe in the practical power or perhaps measureable usefulness of social media within the context of your company’s PR, marketing, or customer service efforts, do consider some of the many illuminating stats supporting user-brand engagement vis-à-vis social media. As Jenkins puts it, “All of us need to keep social media in mind. [Social media] has changed the way our audience does everything.”).

Mandy Jenkins - Maximizing Your Social Media

So without further ado, here are 13 dos and don’ts for brands looking to leverage social media, as inspired by Mandy Jenkins’ workshop at INK+BEYOND 2013:

  1. DO start with research. Have a look at what your peers or competitors are doing. What do you see that you like, or don’t like? This will help you get a better idea of what you want to do with your own social media usage.
  2. DON’T be afraid to show a little personality. Brands can have distinct personas and personalities, so why shouldn’t these carry over into your social media efforts?
  3. DO think about your voice. Jenkins recommended asking yourself these questions to help define what type of voice you might want to adopt: “How conversational should I be? What tone is right for my content? What tone is right for my audience? Am I a friend, authority, or something in between?”
  4. DON’T just broadcast. “You are not an RSS feed,” Jenkins told delegates in attendance. This applies as much to brands as it does to news organizations. Don’t waste your 140 characters just regurgitating “a headline and a link”; streams should have replies and retweets, resembling real conversations.
  5. DO focus on your audience. There’s a reason social media is called social media. “Follow the people you are interacting with, people who reply and share your stories,” Jenkins said. “These are the movers and shakers in your community.”
  6. DON’T get into fights. This one should be self explanatory.
  7. DO share your audience’s joy. Retweet happy followers, Like your fans’ posts, Storify positive feedback—these are all invaluable social interactions.
  8. DON’T be afraid of social advertising but do be upfront when identifying sponsored tweets and updates.
  9. DO go where the people are. Tap into existing communities, instead of trying to build one out of thin air, and compliment and contribute to what is already out there.
  10. DO encourage sharing. Make it as easy and intuitive as possible for your followers to share your content, such as product news or event announcements, with their peers. Here at Business Wire, we put social media buttons in highly visible spots and incorporate share icons into all press releases and individual multimedia assets.
  11. DON’T try to hide your mistakes. When (not if) you make an honest mistake—because who hasn’t—be open and transparent about it and quickly follow up with a correction. Don’t try to pretend it didn’t happen. “The cover up is worse than the crime,” Jenkins advises.
  12. DO get your (social media) priorities straight. You can’t be everywhere all at once and you don’t have to be, Jenkins says. “It’s great to experiment but there are a lot of places you can be dividing your time. See what works for your brand and your audience and be good at it.”
  13. DON’T sell yourself short. Sometimes, a small audience of highly involved and well-invested users is much better than a big audience that only cares half as much. “Quality of engagement is what really matters.”

In the end, whether you decide to follow all or just some of these guidelines, there is at least one more caveat worth bearing in mind: When it comes to social media, you can’t just “set it and forget it.” At best, such a strategy (or lack thereof) would render your efforts (or lack thereof) completely pointless.  At worst, you could be maximizing your social media missteps instead. And now you know. Good hunting.


Event recap: Boston’s Most Influential Online Journalists & Bloggers

May 16, 2013
by Molly Pappas, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Boston

Last week, Business Wire/Boston hosted a media panel breakfast event with some of the leading online journalists and bloggers in the area to discuss the latest trends in online media.  Among the topics discussed were the evolution of online media, tactics of coverage and how an online journalist’s job has changed.

Our media discussion revolved around six of the area’s established names in online media:

Moderator –

Shane O’Neill, Assistant Managing Editor of CIO.com (@smoneill)

Panelists

Paul Roberts, Editor-in-Chief/Founder of The Security Ledger (@paulfroberts)
Tiffany Campbell, Managing Editor of Digital at WBUR.org (@tiffanycampbell)
Galen Moore, Web Editor at Boston Business Journal (@galenmoore)
Angela Nelson, News Editor of Boston.com (@bostonangela)
Jamie Wallace, Editor-in-Chief of Fans of Being a Mom blog (@suddenlyjamie)

L-R: Angela Nelson, Jamie Wallace, Shane O’Neill, Paul Roberts, Galen Moore, Tiffany Campbell

L-R: Angela Nelson, Jamie Wallace, Shane O’Neill, Paul Roberts, Galen Moore, Tiffany Campbell


Check out the links below for some Storify compilations of tweets from attendees and panelists!

On the evolution of online media:

  1. ‘iPhone has changed my life as a reporter’- @tiffanycampbell on benefits of new tech #BWCHAT
  2. Getting so much feedback via blogs and Twitter is double-edged sword because of + & – comments, must be prepared says@suddenlyjamie #bwchat
  3. #bwchat panelists honest about balancing metrics w/delivering content that should be reported & engaging with audience. Refreshing.
  4. RT @metiscomm: Monitoring #socialmedia is like having #kids – you have to add 5-10 minutes to everything you do: @GalenMoore#BWchat
  5. Nice to hear that cultivating relationships is still important in PR…and that tweet pitching is not really valued #bwchat
  6. Paul Roberts/The Security Ledger: “Stories that do the best are the ones that have real news.” #bwchat
  7. Its an antiquated conception that print gets more views than online, plus it has a longer shelf life @bostonangela of @BostonDotCom#bwchat
  8. Online stories get more eyeballs and have longer shelf vs print says@BostonAngela #bwchat

On the tactics of coverage:

  1. RT @jensaragosa: Visuals are key-send me your photos, your videos and we’ll get them on our site says @BostonAngela #BWChat
  2. Online newsrooms v. important MT @V2comms@GalenMoore“…please remember this – put your press release on your website”#BWChat
    MetisComm
  3. If you don’t put up something with a striking visual, it might as well be invisible- @suddenlyjamie #BWchat
  4. RT @bkguilfoy: “My email has 99 problems but your attached image aint one” #bwchat
  5. Prep story for instant repurposing via visual/social/online mediums & your story will be gold to the media @suddenlyjamie #bwchat

On how the job has changed:

  1. #bwchat @galenmoore “voicemail is where things go to die.” Ha – so true!! Even for PR people.
  2. Pitching diff now than 20 yrs ago? #bwchat panelists say no, but impt to now add pictures so journos can make packages for social channels
  3. Pitching press is still about relationships, knowing publication, good content. But need to present it for visual and social media#BWCHAT
  4. Yes! MT @amyshanler#bwchat reporters/pr pros are all real people. Let’s not lose sight of that when focusing on our work, or our numbers.

Our full house had nothing but praise for the panelists and discussion.

  1. Fabulous panel MT @GalenMoore: Tx @BostonAngela,@paulfroberts@tiffanycampbell,@suddenlyjamie, & @smoneill for a lively panel #bwchat
  2. Morning well spent at #BWCHAT with area media, good Q&A, content. Thanks BusinessWire
  3. At BusinessWire “Meet the Media” pgm in Waltham. Full house. Awesome panelists. Love learning! #bwchat

Thank you to our amazing moderator and panelists for a great, informative discussion!

For upcoming local Business Wire events or our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


Event Recap: Meet the Washington, DC Tech Media

May 12, 2013
by Simon Ogus, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Washington, DC
Simon Ogus

Simon Ogus

Business Wire/ Washington, DC recently hosted a technology media panel with some of the leading journalists in the area to discuss the latest trends in the world of technology reporting. Among the topics discussed were how reporters utilize social media, how to most effectively organize a pitch and the best ways to get a reporter’s attention in this fast-paced news cycle.

It was an honor to moderate the panel, which included five established names in the Washington, DC technology reporting industry:

Paul Sherman, Editor and Publisher of Potomac Tech Wire (@PaulRSherman)

Bill Flook, Reporter, Washington Business Journal (@TechFlashWBJ)

Rob Pegoraro, Freelancer, previously with The Washington Post (@RobPegoraro)

Nick Wakeman, Editor-In-Chief, Washington Technology (@Nick_Wakeman)

Andrew Feinberg, Freelancer, previously with The Hill  (@agfhome)

On Social Media: Twitter and LinkedIn

Business Wire tech media event panel

L-R: Andrew Feinberg, Bill Flook, Nick Wakeman, Rob Pegoraro, Paul Sherman, Simon Ogus (standing)

The panelists, all active on Twitter, agreed that social media outlets allow them to read and follow news and trends in a timely manner while also enabling them to connect and communicate with many individuals through a common platform. One downside to communicating through Twitter, they noted, is the overwhelming amount of information they must sort through to find those topics they can actually write about. Feinberg made the analogy that Twitter is like “attempting to take a drink of water out of a fire hose” – a sentiment that was unanimously agreed to.

That isn’t to say that news can’t be shared on Twitter between public relations professionals and reporters, only that the task has become a bit more difficult in the last couple years. As Sherman explained, “The big news breaks fast on Twitter, but often times the small news can’t get through the noise.” This has led reporters to seek out information on other platforms. The panelists considered LinkedIn as another valuable social media resource, as it provides the reporter more background than a Twitter profile might about who is messaging them. Overall, however, the panel finds Twitter to be very useful, but is primarily best for fast and short conversations.

On capturing a journalist’s interest

The panelists agreed that the content of the press releases is always king to attract those reporters most interested in a particular topic. And, because these panelists are all based in the greater Washington, DC area, they are always on the lookout for news that will uncover the latest Washington, DC story. They stressed how local news content is always the best for them in a news release/pitch and suggested focusing on transactions that are happening in this area.

Wakeman suggested that the best way to catch his eye is to “have your story align with trends, specifically economic trends.” For Pegoraro, the releases he said he finds most appealing describe “companies and individuals solving long-running problems through technology.” He stressed that buzzwords don’t provide much of an impact on the news releases and recommended producing copy that enhances your release with a strong descriptive headline.

Tailor your pitch for a mobile device

Pegoraro also noted that because reporters are more often checking their emails on the go, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the readability of a news release or pitch on a smart phone. He suggested first testing the email pitch on a personal smart phone and also including the more important pieces of information at the top of the email.

Consider the reporter’s deadlines

The panelists preferred being contacted during their business hours. Understanding each reporter’s deadlines is also important. For example, Flook described how the early hours of his workday are devoted to sending the “TechFlash” email and so he may not be responsive to emails or calls at that time.

Don’t just pitch events as news, pitch something about the event

The panelists agreed that there are too many events and not enough resources to cover them. They recommended that news about an event include something that occurred or was discussed at an event. They felt this could also help save a lot of effort on the public relations side to promote something specific within an event that would be relevant to the reporter instead of a general release about the event itself.

Incorporating newswire distribution

The Q&A session revealed that all five panelists currently receive Business Wire’s technology copy and provided insight as to the importance placed on copy received in this manner. Sherman told the audience he “checks Business Wire’s copy every day” and Wakeman said he has “relied on Business Wire for years.” In addition to the releases being easy-to-view, other requirements in place for wire-distributed copy are a bonus to journalists. Pegoraro mentioned that he has often been interested in a release submitted directly by a company, but has found it frustrating when he’s unable to locate a point of contact in order to follow up. He said that when releases come through a newswire service, these types of omissions are rare.

Thank you panelists!

We’d like to thank our panelists again for their valuable insights to public relations professionals and communicators.

For upcoming local Business Wire events or our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


How to get Bloomberg’s Attention: PR Tips from the Bloomberg Financial Services Media Breakfast

May 1, 2013
By: Joyce Thian, Zara McAlister and Ciaran Ryan/ BW Toronto

Business Wire Canada partnered with Bloomberg Canada to connect corporate communications professionals within the financial services community with Bloomberg reporters at its Toronto bureau on Friday, Apr. 26.

The view from Bloomberg’s 43rd floor Toronto office is definitely something to write home about. Flanked by city skyscrapers and Lake Ontario glistening in the background, one gets the sense that Bloomberg is doing well. David Scanlan, managing editor for Canada, confirmed this sentiment in his opening remarks at the Bloomberg Financial Services Media Breakfast.

In front of an audience of communications professionals within the financial services industry, Scanlan spoke about Bloomberg Canada’s growth in turbulent times. While many traditional media are downsizing, Bloomberg has been ramping up expansion efforts in major cities across the country — opening a new bureau in Calgary, expanding the newsroom in Montreal, and adding reporters in Toronto and Winnipeg.

“Canada is an interesting story. More and more people around the world are interested in what’s going on in Canada,” said Scanlan.

Canada media breakfast

The conference room before guests and speakers arrived.

With so many eyes and ears in the financial world following Bloomberg’s news, it’s important for your business to be on its radar. Scanlan, along with Toronto bureau chief  Jacqueline Thorpe, and financial services reporters Doug Alexander and Katia Dmitrieva, shared their insights on how PR pros in the financial services industry can ensure their stories resonate with the media.

Scanlan: What makes news?

Bloomberg never suffers from a lack of story ideas.

“We are bombarded every day with hundreds if not thousands of things we could write about,” Scanlan said.

If you want to catch Bloomberg’s eye, keep these questions in mind when pitching a story:

-          Has it got the surprise element? “If you’re a bank opening a new branch at Yonge and Finch, it’s not going to do a lot for us. If you’re opening a branch in a tent in Tripoli, that’s different, that’s surprising. [We’d want to know] what’s going on there.”

-          Is it different? “We’re always looking for ideas from really smart people that other people want to hear from.”

-          Big names?—“We want to know who’s moving on the street, or even who’s fired.”

-          Where’s the money? — “Events, deals, companies that are bigger and have more money at stake are going to be of more interest to us [and our readers around the world].”

 

Thorpe: Top five PR sins

Jacqueline Thorpe, Toronto bureau chief, shared her PR pet peeves:

-          Not knowing what a reporter covers—Know what’s trending and who covers which beat.

-          Flowery press releases—Avoid canned quotations and unnecessary exclamation marks!!! Stick to the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why).

-          Not enough information in press releases—Make sure contact info is accurate and complete.

-          Burying bad news—Always better to be upfront about it.

-          Not being availableBloomberg reporters are needy.” Don’t go on vacation right after issuing a press release.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Alexander and Dmitrieva: How to get (and keep) a Bloomberg reporter’s attention

Doug Alexander and Katia Dmitrieva, both financial services reporters who cover a wide range of sectors, stated their preferences when receiving story ideas.

Alexander prefers an email over a cold call, especially if the pitch ends up being irrelevant. He also stressed the importance of ensuring all important news is included in the first few paragraphs. A heads up on a big story is always appreciatedeven if it’s early in the morning.

For Dmitrieva, it’s all about frequent communication. She’s always open to hashing out story ideas over coffee and developing relationships.  Bloomberg also hosts informal lunches which provide an opportunity to meet with the reporters at the bureau.

And once you’ve made it into the office be sure to check out the view.


Meet the Hispanic Market’s Most Influential Bloggers

April 8, 2013
by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Supervisor, Business Wire/Miami

At LatinoWire’s recent webinar “Meet the Hispanic Market’s Most Influential Bloggers,” bloggers from The Wise Latina Club, HispanaGlobal.com, Mamiverse.com, and Hispanicize 2013 shared their formula of success, how they built their blog, projects they are working on, how to effectively reach the Hispanic community and much more.

Below are some highlights from the webinar:

viviana_hurtadoViviana Hurtado, Ph.D – The Wise Latina Club

thewiselatinaclub@gmail.com @vivianahurtado @wiselatinaclub

  • Know your vision, listen to your community and stick to that.
  • There’s a lot of noise and clutter wanting you to be something you’re not, don’t listen.
  • Define who you are and stay in your lane.
  • Think outside the box, I may not be the expert you’re looking for, doesn’t mean we can’t work together, think partnership.

jeannette_kaplunJeannette Kaplun- HispanaGlobal.com jkaplun@hispanaglobal.com @jeannettekaplun

  • Latina women have so many different layers and dimensions.
  • Many question if there’s a market for women, yes!
  • Having a big blogging space and competition makes everyone better.
  • If you ignore your community, there’s nowhere to grow.
  • You need to listen, see the reaction of your audience, and comment.
  • Provide good, helpful content. If readers don’t like what they see/read they won’t come back to your site.
  • Nothing beats interaction, it’s a two-way intersection.
  • Online relationships are like regular relationships, you need to listen!

 

LorraineLaddishLorraine C. Ladish-  Mamiverse.com

lorraine.ladish@mamiverse.com @lorrainecladish @mamiverse

  • Empower and address the mother as a whole – Latina, Mother, bilingual, bicultural, etc.
  • I love the direct connection with the reader.
  • Initiate a conversation, it’s the biggest success you can have.
  • Social media cuts down the barriers, no longer talking to an audience without a face, instead it’s more personal, one-on-one interaction with the reader.
  • Always respect, even the “little people,” you’ll never know how big/successful they’ll be in the future.
  • Be yourself, life is too short.

 

mannyRuizManny Ruiz Hispanicize 2013

manny@hispanicize.com @MannyRuiz @Hispanicize

  • Social media has upped the ante
  • Journalists can now make a living off their own work, all you need is some entrepreneurial skills
  • Hispanicize is the SXSW for Latinos, we’re building entrepreneur opportunities for bloggers.
  • Everyone should learn & understand “content marketing” — it’s here to stay
  • There’s a strong (and growing) community of Spanish language bloggers that are jumping into the fray.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • You’ll break your teeth, make mistakes doing it. It’s ok. If not, you weren’t riding the bike in the first place.
  • Just do it!

If you missed the LatinoWire expert webinar series, a recording is available. For more information on future LatinoWire expert webinars go to www.businesswire.com.

LatinoWire reaches influential Hispanic bloggers, decision-makers and more than 1,200 US-Hispanic newsrooms in both Spanish and English. Click here for more information on LatinoWire and media reach. And don’t forget to visit us at Booth #14 at Hispanicize 2013!


PRNews #DigitalPR Speakers Share Simple Social Media Strategies That Work

March 11, 2013
by Chris Metinko, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/ San Francisco
Chris Metinko

Chris Metinko

While the advent of social media may seem to have just added another element to the hectic world of public relations, it also can be an invaluable tool in helping build relationships with journalists and prepare for a crisis.

“Journalists use Twitter as research,” said Josh Karpf, director of digital media for PepsiCo at PR News’ Digital PR Next Practices Summit, held last week in San Francisco and sponsored by Business Wire. “Reporters are following you. They are scouring for stories.”

digital_summit-sf20131

Karpf said because journalists already are on social channels, it is a perfect place to connect with them and build relationships. It also is mandatory to closely follow what is being said about your brand on social media and defend your company’s reputation. He said every company should have a social media management tool — like HootSuite or TweetDeck — to follow those conversations.

“You must track your brand,” Karpf said. “If you’re not, you’re already behind.”

David Sommers, director of public affairs for Los Angeles County, agreed. He said organizations must embrace social media as a way to get their message across. Sommers said he understands this well, since it was only four years ago no L.A. County employee was allowed social media access at work.

“We have, historically, not been good at communications,” Sommers laughed.

Sommers said for an effective social media crisis strategy, an organization must:

  • Have a social media management tool in place.
  • Have a pre-made media list of reporters who cover them.
  • Make hashtags for possible crises in advance.
  • Have a plan if the organization’s website goes down.

Sommers added that it’s also important, when using social media, to look for spots where you can jump into a conversation.

“And be relevant,” Karpf added.

While building a social media strategy may be more doable for some brands than for others — PepsiCo has a whole team that follows its brand’s mentions on Twitter — Jake Gasaway, co-founder of Stitch Labs, said it is imperative to be smart with a company’s limited resources when using social channels.

Gasaway said it is important to identify what works best for your company — which turned out to be LinkedIn for Stitch Labs — and go from there. He added social channels also allow a chance to build a real rapport with reporters and use a human touch.

“Don’t forget to say ‘Thank You.’” Gasaway reminded the crowd.


A Timely Tribute to The Titans of The Public Relations Industry

February 4, 2013
by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media/Business Wire
Neil Hershberg

Neil Hershberg, SVP – Global Media

They are part of what television journalist Tom Brokaw famously called “The Greatest Generation,” whose foresight and fortitude helped create an industry whose importance and influence continues to experience unbridled growth.

These pioneers of the public relations industry — Daniel J. Edelman, Lorry Lokey, and David Steinberg — shared much in common: deep journalistic roots that strongly influenced how they approached their professional careers; personal values that didn’t fluctuate with financial success; and bold visionary outlooks that helped transform modern communications.

Edelman’s recent passing provided pundits and practitioners alike the opportunity to reflect on his enormous contributions to an industry that he helped define. His legacy, Edelman, is today the world’s largest independent public relations agency, with 4,600 employees in 63 countries, and revenues of $660 million annually. Its scope and impact continue to expand exponentially, building upon the solid foundation that Edelman cast in 1952.

Daniel J. Edelman

Daniel J. Edelman

Edelman, along with such other industry trailblazers as Harold Burson, Al Golin, and David Finn, collectively laid the conceptual cornerstones for contemporary corporate communications, which today encompasses everything from marketing communications, to government relations, to investor outreach.

Many of the tributes written by Edelman’s colleagues and competitors paid particular homage to his strong sense of ethics, creativity, ambition, humility, and independence.

These timeless traits also characterized two other industry legends, both of whom I’ve had the privilege of working with: Lorry Lokey, the founder of Business Wire, and David Steinberg, the long-time president of PR Newswire.

While Edelman focused on refining and expanding the principles of public relations, Lokey and Steinberg are best known for building the platforms that provided the framework of today’s expansive global communications networks, or “newswires,” as they are commonly referred.

Like Edelman, Lokey and Steinberg also were accomplished journalists, with Steinberg winning the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism in 1958 as a young reporter with The New York Herald Tribune. But they will primarily be remembered for creating the information pathways that integrally linked companies, the news media, and the financial markets. They helped set the stage for what eventually evolved into the SEC’s Regulation Fair Disclosure, which today ensures that all market participants have equal, simultaneous, and unrestricted access to market-moving information that may influence their investment decisions.

Business Wire’s CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz, who worked for Lokey for 26 years, often says that her former boss — and mentor — taught her many valuable lessons about the important role that newswires play in facilitating the news cycle, and the absolute importance of embracing new technologies to ensure effective communications.

“We function as the conduit between the company, the media, and the investment community,” said Tamraz. “It is therefore vital that we get our clients’ news out when they want and where they want it, and that our networks remain on the ‘bleeding edge’ technologically, reaching all market participants at the same time.”

“Lorry taught me to take this role very seriously, 24/7, 365 days a year,” Tamraz added. “We handle routine earnings and product launches, as well as obituaries, crises and just about any type of news that can and will move the markets.”

If the PR profession were to ever create a pantheon of industry icons, then Edelman, Lokey and Steinberg — along with fellow industry stalwarts Burson, Golin and Finn — should be enshrined as charter members.

Fueled primarily by passion and principle, these legends helped set the standards for an industry that has come to impact virtually every aspect, sector and geographic region of the world we live in.

While the public relations industry will always be in a state of perpetual evolution, it is important that we all take an occasional step back and recognize the enterprising men and women who had the courage and ability to turn their dreams into reality, and in the process helped create an industry of truly infinite possibilities.


BW Media Spotlight: The Security Ledger Launches in 2013

January 29, 2013
by Molly Pappas, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Boston
Molly Pappas

Molly Pappas

Paul Roberts, editor and founder of the recently launched security news Web site, The Security Ledger, is part of an emerging trend in journalism:  reporters shying away from traditional media to branch out on their own.  He left his job as an editor at Threatpost.com, Kaspersky Lab’s security news Web site, to launch and work on his own blog last August.

Roberts doesn’t consider himself a pioneer in the field, however.

“I’m not a trailblazer. I looked at Brian Krebs’s site, KrebsOnSecurity.com, and knew I couldn’t do exactly what he did.  But I thought, ‘I am a good reporter and can make this work.’”

He doesn’t believe every journalist can branch out on their own like this, though there are few obstacles to keep them from doing so. To be successful, you need a delicate combination of things – real expertise in a specific subject area where there is an audience for it and for-profit organizations interested in talking about and promoting the content.

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts, editor/founder of The Security Ledger

So, with two sponsors already in place, security firms Qualsy Inc. and Veracode, Roberts and The Security Ledger are now ready for “world domination.”

“Just kidding,” he laughed. “But seriously, [my] goals are really around growing the audience and the exposure of Security Ledger.” With one million page views and 200,000 unique visitors in the first full quarter of operation alone, it seems like Roberts is well on his way.

“I think page views are great, but at the end of the day Security Ledger will rise or fall based on how well we do engaging with and building a community around a very tech-savvy and knowledgeable readership,” he said.

Compared with the capital-intensive publishing industry from 20 years ago, online publishing is a frictionless market and the tools of publishing and distribution have been democratized, through the Internet, blogging and social media, Roberts explained.  With the constant evolution of technology, expensive publishing equipment and paper and ink distribution are no longer necessary tools for having your voice heard.  And because blogging is a nearly-free publishing tool, he clarified, you don’t need “the talent card” to blog. “It’s both amazing and terrifying,” Roberts said.  He, however, is not worried.  This is why credibility in your chosen field is key.

“I think what people want is good, reliable information that is well-reported. In other words, ‘Do your job as a reporter!’” he said.  Reporters are responsible for reaching out to people, getting firsthand information, and then helping to organize and understand it for their readers. “Get the news out there and make it accurate,” Roberts said.  Nowadays, because there seems to be a race among the media to be the first to break a story, readers are beginning to see a drop in accuracy of the news – the initial Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reports and the early false announcement of Joe Paterno’s death last year both come to mind.  “Many of the gate-keeper or filter functions of the media have atrophied,” Roberts stated.

Readers, Roberts said, are also starting to see an increase in stories, filtered off from news distribution lists and social media, ending up on the front page of major newspapers, like The New York Times. “Most likely, they didn’t break that story. They’re just shooting into the same channels that others are. As a security reporter, who’s written and covered this topic for a while, you see stories eventually bubbling up to the mainstream media, months or more after bloggers have written about it,” he added.

So what does Roberts do to make sure he is bringing accurate, credible and newsworthy information to his readers? “I get up early and go online – social media, various Web sites I follow – to see what’s happened while I was sleeping,” he said. “Depending on what’s going on, it can dictate if I drop everything to write this big story. I follow security researchers, public policy people, the private sector, academia, and so on. I have contacts that will let me know the stuff they’re working on, if it’s not public, but will be soon.” Roberts also cites a big reliance on traditional source development. “I just always have my spidey-sense on.”

If you want to work towards becoming one of Roberts’s go-to source contacts, here’s a few different ways to reach him: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.


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.”


Press Freedom in Europe and North America, Part 3

January 18, 2013
by Kai Prager, Media Relations Specialist – Frankfurt
Kai Prager

Kai Prager, Media Relations Specialist, BW Frankfurt

After looking at the situation of press freedom in Europe in Part 1 and North America in Part 2 , we spoke with Jean-Paul Marthoz of the Committee to Protect Journalists again to find out more about some specific issues journalists are facing :

Business Wire – Taking a look at the member states of the European Union, it is noticeable that press freedom plays a bigger role in some countries than in others. Why are there so many differences?   What do some countries do right and others do wrong?

Jean-Paul Marthoz – There are historical reasons behind this two-tier Europe. Press freedom is a reflection of society and of its institutions as a whole. Blasphemy laws for instance are still in the books in some European countries reflecting the varying status of religion and the various degrees of secularization on the continent. 

There will always be differences among member states regarding the nature and forms of journalism but the fundamentals of freedom of expression, rule of law, media pluralism, etc. should be shared and respected by all member states in order to really create a common and equal “freedom space” across the EU for all EU citizens.

The key point therefore is to review the role that the EU should play in order to assure that each member state respects the European Charter of Human Rights and the other Treaties and conventions ruling the Union, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, which unequivocally defends freedom of expression and press freedom.

BW – The work of the press is usually restricted by governments, but also by companies. Which are the main problems and are there tendencies to a better or worse situation?

JPM – Private companies may exert their influence through the placing of advertising or media ownership, especially in a time characterized by declining circulation or audiences and increased multimedia competition. Although it is often difficult to document cases of direct corporate interference on the media’s reporting or editorial decisions the increased concentration of ownership and the purchase of major media companies by corporations close to the political Establishment are worrisome trends across Europe since they risk limiting the plurality of views and of fostering self-censorship in the coverage of major issues of public interest, especially in the crucial fields of financial and economic issues.

On the legal front some companies have also vigorously used libel laws or injunctions in order to discourage the reporting of their activities. 

For an interesting take on this see our recent blog on the Spanish media and controls there:

The long shadow of Spanish politics over public media

BW – The journalist has the control function in a democratic state and therefore plays an important part. What does it mean when this role is cut down?

JPM – In many EU countries the media still have the capacity and the space to act as watchdogs, as illustrated by the British media’s exposé of the members of Parliament’s abusive expenses of public money as well as the hacking scandal vigorously reported on by the Guardian (UK) as well as by the French media’s dogged investigations of alleged political influence-peddling under President Sarkozy.

Journalism is in crisis indeed due to economic, technological and societal factors but also as a result of the rise of citizen journalists that question its role and legitimacy. There is a growing awareness however that European society needs, to paraphrase Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, “an uninhibited, robust, and wide-open free press for a new century”, especially in the context of the deep economic and ontological crisis that Europe is going through.

BW – What kind of influence has the sinking media circulation and the move to digital media (Internet, mobile devices, social media, etc.) on press freedom?

JPM – The financial crisis facing legacy media has been weakening their power to effectively provide critical coverage of public and private institutions. In some countries like France, Germany or in Scandinavia the public service channels have been able to provide a counter-weight to these trends but their reach has been fragmented and diminished by a profusion of other media voices. The alternative provided by online media and bloggers is still in its infancy but many media analysts and journalists are confident that new models will emerge that will confirm the role of journalism, even if newly defined, as a key pillar of democratic societies. 


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