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.


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.”


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+.

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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