How to Pitch a Story: Think Like a News Director

July 8, 2013
by Joyce Thian, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Canada
Joyce Thian

Joyce Thian

If you want to know as a PR pro exactly how to get your stories “on the air,” news directors should be your go-to people. But it’s not every day that you get to sit down and chat with a news director—they’re busy people, after all, running entire news rooms and news departments on a day-to-day basis.

Luckily, this year’s RTDNA national conference (June 13-15) featured a lineup of back-to-basics workshops, one of which was a stellar “Making the Pitch” session with Dave Trafford, news director at Global News Toronto.

Dave Trafford

Dave Trafford

Trafford, an award-winning journalist and bona fide news veteran, took the time to share his tips on story pitches with a roomful of PR pros, freelance journalists, reporters, and producers. His insights into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pitching offered that rare glimpse into the mind of a news director:

  1. Your idea has to be better than mine. Get me interested because if I’m interested, an audience will be too.
  2. If you’re going to pitch anything, it has to be about me. A good pitch will be about the person you are pitching to, no matter who they are. Make them care and relate it to them personally.
  3. Some of the best pitches are the ones that have left me mad afterwards. If the pitch provokes a reaction, I might want to see that story.
  4. Don’t confuse an idea with a pitch and don’t pitch by asking questions or listing some qualities. The pitch is essentially the first part of telling a great story.
  5. Good pitches land in the strike zone. Make a narrow pitch—be specific and focused enough that you can pitch your story in as short a time as it will be on the air. (Interested in more baseball-inspired PR tips? Check out this blog post from our global media relations director, Raschanda Hall!)
  6. Don’t overlook the things you find obviously entertaining or interesting; great characters can make great pitches or stories.

Business Wire Gives Back with Contribution to Journalism Scholarship

June 24, 2013
by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor
Matthew Allinson

Matt Allinson

At the 2013 Western Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist’s annual awards gala, Pacific Lutheran University journalism student Leah Traxel picked up a scholarship and recognition as an up-and-comer in the world of journalism. Business Wire was there and was honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the scholarship awarded to Ms. Traxel.

Ms. Traxel, a third year student, currently works part-time for The News Tribune (Tacoma) and is also the Journalism Team Leader for MediaLab, an on-campus multimedia agency and applied internship program. Upon completion of her degree at PLU, Ms. Traxel hopes to pursue post-graduate studies in digital media and would one day like to teach.

I had a chance to catch up with Ms. Traxel after the event and she was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us.

International Media Relations Supervisor Matt Allinson and scholarship winner Leah Traxel

International Media Relations Supervisor Matt Allinson and scholarship winner Leah Traxel

1) Who or what inspired you to study journalism and pursue it as a career?

I had no idea I wanted to be a journalist until I took a class from Robert Wells, a former journalist who saw my writing and asked if I had considered the field. I hadn’t, but I’ve always been a successful writer, and I knew I didn’t want to get stuck doing one thing over and over again as a career, so journalism seemed like a good option. Rob hooked me up with a couple of local weekly papers, and I started freelancing the fall of my sophomore year.

2) How can you and your generation help the journalism industry successfully transition into the digital world?

I really believe Marc Prensky hit the mark with his comparison of digital “natives” and “immigrants”. My generation is definitely one of natives, and as with any skill, it’s our responsibility to share it with previous generations. 

I think my generation can help journalism transition by working as an example of how citizens and journalists can work together to produce the best coverage. Citizen journalists on their own can be irresponsible, but journalists on their own are slowly becoming obsolete. I think the best course of action would be to utilize the strengths of both practices, and create relevant, accurate, and useful content for the public.

3) What will you be doing this summer?

This summer I am interning at The News Tribune and at PLU’s University Communications.

4) Where would you like to be seven years from now?

Seven years from now, I would like to be reporting on technology, and maybe using my background in math and computer science to do some technical writing.

5) If you were somehow able to capture the first verified photo of a Sasquatch while on a hike, where would you publish it first?

If I had the first photo of Sasquatch, I would probably publish it in National Geographic. However, I would only do that if it was determined that s/he could be a threat to public safety or if publication could prevent him/her from coming to harm. If s/he has gone to that much trouble to stay hidden for this long, it wouldn’t feel right to exploit him/her for personal gain or notoriety.

We wish Ms. Traxel the very best in her future endeavors and feel confident, with people like her in the profession, that journalism is in good hands moving forward.


Is Content Marketing + Social Media the New PR?

June 18, 2013
by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Supervisor, Business Wire/Florida
Pilar Portela

Pilar Portela, West Media Relations Supervisor, Ethnic Media Circuits

Content marketing and social media marketing are on the minds of everyone in PR, marketing and connected industries these days. They’ve changed the rules for everyone, including public and media relations practitioners.

Beginning June 27, Webdirexion will be hosting a series of live panels where you can listen to industry experts discuss social media strategies and ask them questions. The first session, “Content Marketing + Social Media Marketing = The New PR?” will cover how PR tactics are changing and how reaching journalists has become a whole new ballgame. The panelists for this session are:

  • Carri Bugby, Founder – Big Deal PR, and Social Media Consultant
  • Lori Weaver, Owner – Lexington Business Media
  • Pilar Portela,  Media Relations Supervisor for Business Wire

Each panelist will share their content and social media marketing tips, and discuss tactics to reach and influence the media. This free session will be live streamed . For more information and to register go to: http://webdirexion.com/webdxsocial

The other free Webdirexion “Social Strategies” sessions will be held on the last Thursdays in July and August, 2013 at 10am PST/1pm PST. The sessions will be available via a streamed Google+ Hangout; and Webdirexion will award prizes to participants who ask the best questions of each panel.


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.


Baseball and Press Releases: Pitching Strategies to Improve Your PR Game

March 28, 2013

by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago

Raschanda Hall

Opening day is nearly here, and for me that means more press releases, PR strategies and finding a way to get excited about baseball season, at least until the Rose of basketball season starts to bloom this spring.

I started thinking about press release pitching strategies that connect lovers of one of America’s favorite pastimes and today’s PR practitioners.

Just as in baseball, what many of us could use is a pitching coach.  The goal of any pitching coach is to help the pitcher understand the process, improve mechanics, and provide the tools needed to compete.

If you replace the word “ball” with “pitch,” you’ll see how to improve your PR (and even baseball) game.  Just remember that in the PR game, pitching a no-hitter is no good.  Instead, as a pitcher, you want to give batting bloggers and reporters something they can send soaring.

PR_Pitch_Perfect

Fastball – Get to the point. Share your pitch in 30-45 seconds.  Want them to really knock it out the park? Make that pitch high and inside, just like I like ‘em.  Meaning, give the reporter a well put together pitch that speaks directly to their specific audience and has potential to go far, drawing clicks and re-shares online.

Curveball – Most often a strikeout pitch, this is much slower than the fastball. It takes a long time to get to home plate (the point).  Reporters aren’t hitting this and in PR baseball that’s no good. This is like trying to pitch a story where maybe there is some connection to the publication or readers but it’s not strong. Many players are taught not to swing at a curveball until they’ve got two strikes – a slow news day and a pressing producer.  That said, curveball pitches are great for slow news days .

Knuckleball – Very little or no spin. The story is what it is.  These are often the stories that surprise editors when they go viral.  The reporter has little expectation for it because they just don’t know where the story is going to take them but they know they have to swing anyway.  Think Octomom, or Reuters’s  Oddly Enough.

Change up – This one looks like a fastball and a homer to the reporter and then quickly the pitch breaks. You get the reporter or blogger’s name right. You even show you’re familiar with their work. Then you pitch:  “Hi Ms. Blogger, I really enjoyed your recent piece on the increasing age of automobiles on the road and how consumers can save money on auto repairs.  Since you cover these consumer issues I thought you might like to hear about our family vacation destination ideas this summer. Our resorts provide the cheapest option for a family of four.”  In your mind that sounded like a logical pitch, but to this automotive blogger, your change up looks like an ad and doesn’t even deserve a swing or a referral to the right section.

Slider – Think of the slider pitch as a great sidebar story.  The pitch must be very closely related to a trending story but breaks enough from the original story that it is viewed as supportive and not repetitive.  Think about the sequester:

  • The fastball pitches are direct cuts your city will experience.
  • Slider pitches are support services, suppliers and people impacted by the direct sequester cuts.
  • Alternatively a curveball pitch might be a new trend emerging as a result in changes from the supply services impacted by the sequester cuts.  Still a story but it takes a long time to get back to home plate, in this case, the sequester cut’s impact on the community.

Go ahead,  assume the mound and get to pitching.


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.


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+.


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