The 5 Definitive Rules to Media Relations in 2014

August 13, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

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

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

Media Moving Online

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

Reporter Metrics

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

bizwirepressreleaseprefs

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

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

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4. Your website is their top research tool When it comes to doing research for a story, journalists overwhelmingly turn to company websites and company online newsrooms for background information.

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When was the last time you took a critical look at the information on your website or within your company online newsroom from the perspective of a reporter on a deadline?  Is your information easy to find?  Can reporters download or embed assets instantly? Is your site impeding your coverage? Did you know that 88 percent of reporters asked said press releases were their most desired type of content in an online newsroom? Do an audit of your website and, specifically your online newsroom. Refresh this important asset to increase usability.

5. Which newswire do today’s reporters prefer? When provided with an array of choices, 71 percent of journalists and media outlets responding to this survey selected Business Wire as their top choice for news releases.

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With more than 50 years of leadership experience in the news distribution industry, while we are proud of this statistic, we are not surprised.  Every day we are a conduit between media outlets, reporters, bloggers, analysts, brand fans, organizations, corporations, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and more to ensure timely distribution and receipt of the world’s leading corporate and organizational news.

Learn additional tips and tricks on how to work with today’s media outlets by downloading the complete 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Guidance Report now. Get a copy of the infographic containing the images in this blog post here, or use the below code to embed the infographic into your website:

21st Century Journalism & Public Relations

 

Copy and paste the following to embed this infographic within your site:
<a href=”http://blog.businesswire.com/2014/08/13/the-5-definitive-rules-to-media-relations-in-2014/”><img title=”The 2014 Business Wire Media Survey Infographic” class=”aligncenter” alt=”21st Century Journalism &amp; Public Relations” src=”http://storage.pardot.com/19392/87712/BW_media_survey_infographic.jpg&#8221;
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To learn more about crafting and distributing content that activate your media targets, drop us a line.  We’d love to talk.To learn more about Business Wire’s media services click here.


Updating Your Earnings Release: How to Maximise the Readability of Earnings Press Releases

August 12, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Editor, Business Wire Paris

With the earnings period once again upon us, investor and public relations professionals are coming together to publish what is often considered the most important release of the quarter: the earnings release.

Quarterly earnings releases are a reflection of the financial health of an organization and are most frequently read by the financial community, shareholders, customers and employees.

Earnings releases, which must succinctly showcase this extremely important information, are often a cause of stress and anxiety, particularly in terms of readability.  Today the average news consumer reads only around 20% of provided text, leaving today’s communicators asking how they can optimize the impact of their press releases.

  1. Write your company name in the headline
    Including your company name in your press release headline is the quickest and easiest way to associate your company with its earnings release, and yet it is overlooked time and time again. Furthermore, the inclusion of the company name often leads to a higher SEO ranking – ideal for your annual results!earnings
  2. Ensure the most important information is at the top of your release
    Readers spend 80% of their time reading information found above the fold[1] , so this is where your most important information should be. An operating highlights summary in the form of a bulleted list, positioned just after the first sentence of the release, can greatly improve adoption and understanding of your news.
  3. Include financial tables in your release

    The importance of including complete financial tables within your press release cannot be stressed enough. Financial tables serve as a visual, simplifying wordy paragraphs and allowing quick and relatable comprehension of a company’s situation. In addition, many analysts utilize models to predict company health. Financial tables provide all the detail needed to update these models. And of course, don’t forget to include the reporting currency.

  4. Quote a company executive
    Ideally, the quote accompanying your earnings release will be provided by the company’s CEO[2]. A comment, no matter how long or short, goes a long way toward the personalization of your company and presentation of your key message. This comment can provide a justification, explanation oract as a written pat on the back. Either way, a comment from an executive provides true context of the quarter’s financials – particularly useful given that a large majority of readers of this release will be your shareholders.
  5. Subtitle your sections
    Earnings releases are notoriously difficult to read and comprehend, making subheadings the perfect solution. Included just below the press release headline, sub heads should indicate the type of information to follow, allowing the reader to easily navigate the different categories of information.
  6. Group together similar information
    When possible, similar content should be written consecutively, or as close together in the release as possible. This keeps repetition to a limit, and again, allows the reader to navigate your release more easily.
  7. Be succinct
    There is an unavoidable need to include certain information, for regulatory reasons, but this doesn’t mean that your whole release should follow a lengthy, wordy pattern. Be as concise as you can be[3], but take care to include all the necessary information.
  8. Keep historical information towards the end of the release
    Readers look for the most current and important information first. This goes back to readers spending most of their time above the fold. Historical information, although useful, is not the most relevant in these types of releases. If it is essential – for example, year-on-year comparisons – this ideally should be included within the financial tables or near the end of the press release, below the fold.
  9. Enhance your earnings release with multimediaAce Hardware
    The fastest way to increase effectiveness of news consumption is to include additional visual content. An infographic of your financials, such as the one created and distributed by Ace Hardware, is an easy way to represent your quarterly results.  Or use  video from your CEO or division head, like ARC Resources’ Myron’s Minute, to explain, in plain language, the story behind the data.
  10. Use numbered footnotes – and group them together!
    There is nothing worse than having to match up symbols, and to guess where they are inside the release. A nice, neat, numbered footnote list, found at the very bottom of the release, makes everyone’s life easier. In addition, consider hyperlinking to footnoted information to provide easy access when needed.

The combination of these techniques will improve your earnings release’s readability and ensure that the most important information is found and read by the majority of desired readers. In addition to increased comprehension of your financials by your core audience, you may just get more coverage as your target reporters and shareholders find it easier to digest the news.

How to Write a Compelling Earnings Release

With regard to the information that should be included in terms of structure and content, companies will inevitably vary in the type of information provided, but should try to keep to consistent and complete information in plain English. Here are a few helpful guidelines[4]:

Structure:

  • The date of release and city and state of headquarters should be at the beginning of the release
  • The most important news should be summarised in the first paragraph
  • Subheadings should be used to further clarify and highlight important corporate developments
  • The last paragraph should include a business description, with the company’s complete name, ticker symbol and equity market
  • Media contact information and a website address should always appear at the end of the release

sample_snr_ENContent:

  • Changes in disclosure from quarter to quarter, or year to year, should be specified and explained (sales, revenues, net income, diluted earnings per share and percentage change for each section)
  • Observations should be made only between comparable periods – for example, it is better to compare a third quarter of year N to the third quarter of year N-1, rather than year N’s second quarter
  • Key value drivers and other important line items should be clearly noted
  • Charges/gains/losses should be included if they contribute to the results, and it is advisable to explain how and why they have had an effect (eg. extraordinary gains, losses, equity losses and accounting changes)
  • A consistent format should be used throughout the press release (this is particularly important when reconciling GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures)
  • It is prudent to mention key events and changes, such as government practices and changes to the Board of Directors, plus any steps being taken to address these changes
  • Information on gross profit and margin (plus percentage change), cash flow, share repurchase activity and other measures of performance (capital expenditures, R&D expense and nonfinancial measures) should be included where appropriate
  • Provide forward-looking insights when possible, for the next quarter and/or year, and how the previous forecast has measured up to the current results

Financial statements should always be labeled as audited or unaudited, and can include: complete income statement (with current and year-ago quarter numbers, current year-to-date and year-ago year-to-date comparable period numbers, outstanding shares – both fully diluted and basic), balance sheet (current quarter numbers and end of prior-year numbers), plus cash flow tables, current quarter numbers and year-to-date.

Interested in learning more about increasing the impact of your financial press releases?  Let us know! With more than 50 years of news distribution experience, we have quite a few tips and tricks to share.

[1] http://www.nngroup.com/articles/scrolling-and-attention/

[2] http://www.whitecase.com/files/Publication/60516433-ff3f-444c-8e7d-a5cdcdc84c82/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/be3b92fd-aa2d-45f2-8c4b-ae6486778b0b/article_Earnings_Releases_and_Earnings_Calls.pdf

[3] http://irwebreport.com/20020513/preparing-earnings-releases-for-the-web/

[4] Standards of Practice for Investor Relations, Earnings Release Content (NIRI, page 7)


Business Wire Shares 4 Tips for Taking Better Photos

July 23, 2014

4 tips for taking better photosWith more than 8.3 billion photos uploaded and shared every day, more and more PR pros are learning how to take fantastic, but also useful, photos.

In our recent CommPro.biz article, Ciaran Ryan interviews two leading photographers who shared their top 4 tips to taking the perfect photo.  You can read the entire piece here.  Have some tips of your own you would like to share?  Add them below in the comments section of this blog.


10 Public Relations Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2014 Technology Trends Report

May 29, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, a coworker swung by my office to alert me that KPCB’s Mary Meeker’s Technology Trend Report of 2014 was finally out.

Christmas, my data loving friends, has arrived early! For those unfamiliar, this report outlines global and United States-specific mobile, internet and technology trends that impact corporate decision making in a wide range of industries.

At first glance, this report is a fascinating look at how mobile, internet, and human behavior trends have all collided in 2014.  However, as you read further, you start to see that these trends tell a very interesting story for today’s communicator.  Today’s news consumers are moving away from traditional text only news, and consuming more than ever, a blend of text and multimedia to tell a story. While this report has a wide number of very interesting data points, we pulled out the 10 key trends directly relevant to public relations, investor relations, marketing and communications professionals.

1.  Customized internet-based learning opportunities continue to grow, allowing people who learn in different ways to find the one that fits for them.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As noted earlier this year, more than 63% of the world’s population are visual learners, making traditional text only press releases cumbersome to digest. Press releases that integrate images and/or video allow the reader to digest in their own way.  (What a great way to build fans!)

2.  Mobile phones and mobile internet are here to stay, with mobile data traffic increasing a whopping 81 percent!  The biggest use of that mobile data is consuming video. 

PR IMPLICATION:  Mobile video consumption is at an all time high.  When your audience reads your news, are you including a video clip?  Why not?

3.   Mobile ad growth is seen as an almost $30B opportunity while print advertising is over-indexed by 5%. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  As news consumption continues to move online, include images and videos with your press releases to increase the potential and decrease the turnaround time of online news coverage.

4. A massive increase in the global messaging ecosystem continues with a strong increase in sharing within smaller groups.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  More and more tools are launching to aid communications. This increase in peer-to-peer communication tools makes word of mouth recommendations more important than ever.  Provide your fans with short  news bites and smaller multimedia clips so they can easily talk about your brand, and these messaging tools will help them share it with others.

5.  Multimedia sharing is rising rapidly.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Today’s consumers are not only creating and sharing their own images and video, they watch and share third-party content.  Are you providing compelling content they need to effectively engage and share out your multimedia?

6.  Social media traffic referrals continue to grow with the sharing cycle for social media articles averaging 6.5 hours on Twitter and 9 hours on Facebook.  Buzzfeed continues to receive the honor of content most shared on Facebook, while the BBC holds the top spot on Twitter. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Meeker’s chart (which lists the top 10 content sources on both social networks) is a reflection of what piques the interest of consumers on each platform.  This provides a strong media list for you if you are looking to grow engagement on one or the other.  In addition, the stories these outlets publish provide valuable insight on the images they use and their writing style. Adapt your press releases accordingly.

7.  2014 is the year of the Internet Trifecta:  Critical mass of content + community to give it context + commerce.

PR IMPLICATION:  Skip writing vague press releases and start writing for your core audience. As more and more content continues to be upload (1.8B photos uploaded and shared PER DAY globally), the best chance you have to stand out, and drive ROI is to activate core audiences.  Include calls to actions, like Click to Tweet, to move people through you sales funnel.

8.  13ZB (that Is Zeta bytes) of content will be created and consumed this year.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  To stand out from the noise, you need good writing and compelling assets. Arm your brand fans with your news to increase word of mouth sharing.

9.  Re-Imagining User Interfaces (UI):  R.I.P. Bad User Interfaces; today’s consumers are much more willing to leave companies for their competitors due to bad web or mobile interfaces.

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Company news pages have changed drastically in the last few years. Have you updated yours?  Today’s sites include social interfaces, access usable multimedia, and historical information and are readable from any device. Is your company news page keeping pace?

10.  Massive increase in video views, long and short form. 

PR IMPLICATIONS:  Create videos!  Not sure where to start?  How about a video showcasing a key decision point in the development or launch of your product or initiative? Or ask us! We’ve been distributing multimedia for years.

By providing your news in both a textual and image/video format, you are effectively giving the consumer the choice to read your news in the format they prefer.  By meeting their consumption needs, you create a higher likelihood of news sharing, or word of mouth marketing.  And nothing is more effective than that!

Want to learn more about how you can adapt your press release process to meet these new technology and behavioral changes?  Let’s set up a time to talk.


The Impact of Press Releases on the Sales Funnel

May 14, 2014

By Billy Russell, Customer Service Representative, Business Wire Phoenix

In 2014, as demographics in the workforce shift, so does the marketing and sales cycle. What used to take a handful of “touches” to sell, now takes much more time and effort by both the company and the purchaser.

So why is this change so relevant to PR and why is PR so important to today’s sales and marketing funnel? PR is the most efficient and time-trusted way to generate the enormous number of interactions required to sell your organization, your products or philosophy. After all, you can create and launch a wide range of marketing materials, product videos and social programs on your own platforms, but to get the level of visibility and adoption needed to drive true impact, you need PR to promote them.

Learn more about how PR can impact and assist in moving customers in and through today’s elongated sales funnel at CommPro.biz: http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/support-pr-driving-sales/


How to Measure the ROI or Impact of a Press Release in 2014

May 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Almost every day, clients ask our teams how to determine the return of investment when it comes to news distribution services.  Thanks to better monitoring and tracking services, tracking the true ROI of a press release has never been easier. Not every press release may be accountable for immediate conversion or sales, but there is no denying its impact in the promotion of the news and content relevant to each organization’s core audiences.

Defining ROI: ROI is simply one’s return on investment or the overall cost of the creation and distribution of your press release vs the financial impact of this outreach within the company’s goals.

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

Press releases are documents written to activate audiences.  These audiences, defined by PR, IR, marketing and management teams, include customers, prospects, stockholders, employees, brand fans, industry experts and other stakeholders.

Smart teams build customer journey maps for each audience that outline the desired outcome for each step of the decision process. Many take it a step further by assigning a dollar value to each customer (referred to as the customer’s lifetime value or LTV).  Journey maps help communicators identify content positioning, while distribution vehicles and assets maximize each piece of content’s overall impact.

Distributing Your Content: Before determining content and news distribution options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the goal of the news you are sharing out?  Are you alerting media to new products, or showcasing thought leadership with white papers and infographics?
  • What is the expected outcome of this news or content?
  • What audience can share this news out to drive the highest impact on your goals?
  • What audience reactions affect this outcome?
  • What assets are you including to increase ROI?
  • Increasing awareness with coverage?
  • Driving action with inbound traffic?
  • Driving advocacy with social sharing?
  • What distribution options provide both highly targeted and wide visibility?
  • What sharing options do I need to include to increase impact?
  • How can I track ROI

How it Works: Let’s assume the news you are sharing promotes a white paper, video or other piece of content to increase awareness within core audiences and move them into and through your marketing and sales funnel.  How would you distribute this content in a holistic manner that drives meaningful action?

The Path of the Press Release

The Path of the Press Release

Writing Your Release: The first step is to write a well written release. There are many great examples of how to do this, such as this: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/sample-press-release/. Once written, make sure your release is fully optimized for usage by media as well as for reading by today’s search engines.

Using Your OWN Channels: Every company already has brand fans!  Alerting these existing audiences of new content is a terrific way to increase impact.  Place your press release and assets within your corporate newsroom, on your blog and across social channels. Distribute the news directly through email mailing lists, including social share buttons to jump start social sharing.

The Power of Paid: While placing your content on your own channels is a no brainer, this tactic alone most likely will not provide the visibility needed to reach your goals.  This is the time to consider paid promotion.  For years, PR professionals have been leveraging paid channels to increase impact and visibility of all kinds of news. And for good reason. To this day, even now in 2014, commercial newswires provide the best ROI when it comes to news distribution. To ensure the highest possible return on investment for your press release, take a close look at your news distribution options.

  • First, determine what geographic region does your news impact? Where are your decision makers located? Are they in specific parts of the country or world?
  • Next, get granular with industry and vertical market reach. Did you write the press release to inform investors, impact IT decision makers, or activate today’s increasingly powerful Hispanic purchasers?
  • Then, understand that to drive meaningful impact, today’s press releases and content must include multimedia. With thousands of news, stories distributed each day, and fewer reporters than ever, the inclusion of an asset may be the key differentiator separating your news from that of your competitors.

visual world

  • Finally, consider promoting your content with paid advertising.  One popular way PR pros are increasing the impact of coverage is by placing them within native advertising blocs such as dlvr.it (included in your Business Wire distribution) and Outbrain.

EARNED Media Increases Results Significantly: Even the most interesting stories may never reach interested readers and reporters without outreach. Once your news is live and your content is available, reach out to leading reporters and identified industry influencers to discuss coverage focus that engages their audiences and yours. Repeated studies show that coverage has a direct impact on moving audiences into marketing and sales funnels.

To increase the success of your outreach efforts, focus your pitch on the impact your content will have on their readers, and do not forget to reference or include multimedia assets.  Today’s most successful online stories include supplemental photo essays and statistical videos.

SHARING Your Coverage: Nothing moves audiences in and through the marketing funnel better  than recommendations, referrals or shares of smart, interesting news by friends and family.  Not only should you share out coverage you receive, you should make it easy for your audiences to share your information as well.  Include calls to actions directly within your press release (see here for an example) to simplify sharing by content readers.

MEASURING Your Success: There are several ways to measure the success of this kind of PR program.  One of the easiest things you can do is look at the metrics reports created by each distribution platform.  Most press release measurement metrics, such as the ones below, focus on overall views and generated actions.

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Coverage: The first and oldest metric of PR has been the amount of coverage your news and content generated, the placement (and its impact on core audiences), length of article, assets included, message permeation and more.

Visibility: The second step in measuring the impact of the press release is wide awareness of news.  How broadly was the news shared, who shared it and which audiences impacted the marketing funnel the most–was it editorial coverage?  Influencer shares of that coverage?  Did employee sharing increase word-of-mouth marketing? Did the multimedia assets you included increase impact?

Geo-Impact: Another terrific metric available to PR professionals is the ability to see what regions, locally and globally, the news resonated within.  This data can be acted upon immediately by continuing the discussion with paid advertising or a concentrated sales effort, allowing sales teams to strike while the conversational iron is hot!

Social Shares: When tracking social impact, first look at the number of influencers talking about your news, and the number of overall news shares.  Social sharing analysis should also look at message adoption and associated hashtags usage.

Inbound Traffic: Measuring inbound traffic is easy!  Simply add a URL Builder or extension to any URL within your press release that drives traffic back to your website (create this as a hyperlink).  Then, once someone clicks those links, you can track their actions within your website.

Of course, not all media outlets will include hyperlinks to your website, so it is key to note that this will only be a snapshot of the traffic driven in. It is key to look at all increases in followers, or inbound traffic that occurs during the news cycle to get a more accurate look at the traffic you generated.

Owned Channel Registrations: Include links to join your other owned channels including following social channels or signing up for a newsletter.  This enables interested parties to take the first step in creating a relationship with your organization.

As you can see from the above, there is a very real place for the press release, and press release distribution platforms in today’s news and content distribution services. Now, with a few easy additions, communication professionals can highlight their significance quickly and easily.

So what do you think? Do you agree with this program? Is this something you could and would implement?


Why Multimedia is Required in Today’s Press Releases

April 30, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

visuals-bw2Earlier today, CommPro published a summary piece highlighting the importance of multimedia within press releases. We discuss this topic at great length with our customers.

The truth is, reporters are no longer interested in writing stories based on text only press release. And for good reason, study after study has shown that whenever images are inserted into the communication, the impact increases.

Still on the fence about adding photos, videos, gifs, images and more to your press releases?  We highly encourage you to read this piece.  Have questions about the creation or distribution of multimedia within the PR process?  Let us know!


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