PRSAIcon 2011 Recap: Eight Key Takeaways, From Storytelling to Link Tracking

October 19, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Business Wire at PRSAIcon 2011This week, Business Wire was once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at the 2011 PRSA International Conference, aka #PRSAIcon. Our conference team had a great time meeting so many of our amazing clients in person and learning the latest about the always changing PR industry. We tweeted updates on our @businesswire feed throughout the conference of interesting lessons from many of the keynotes and sessions. Here are eight key takeaways:

  1. PR is about storytelling. It was only appropriate in Orlando, home to the most magical place on earth, that the unofficial theme of the conference was storytelling. Opening keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien of CNN talked about storytelling being more than a statistic. You have to find the character behind the statistic & tell the story with their passion. The closing keynote speaker, Joe Rohde from Disney, talked about compelling stories coming from the interruptions in expected patterns. “We don’t have time for things we think we already know.”
  2. Video and visuals make for compelling storytelling. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world behind Google. Video makes for great content and is not as expensive as it’s perceived to be. (After all, every phone is a camera.) It’s also a good idea to get your executives on video talking about your brand . . . it helps qualify them as spokespeople for journalists.
  3. Customer service is the new black. Like it or not, part of PR is now customer service. In fact, thanks to social media, PR people are often the first to hear about the problems. There is still a level of awe right now if you just reply when your customers try to talk to you.
  4. Media training is not just a C-suite sport anymore. Keynote speaker Chris Brogan talked about how everyone is on some kind of media these days, so everyone should be trained. Soledad O’Brien discussed media training from a journalist’s perspective, saying passion and emotion can’t be trained. Ultimately, what people relate to is the authenticity and passion behind the messaging points.
  5. You can’t ignore Google+. Chris Brogan pointed out that you have to care about Google+, if only because it’s the only social network currently being indexed on the top two search engines in the world. Every PR professional should at least be conversational about it. Additionally, Google+ profiles can help with personal online presence since it ranks so highly on Google. Optimize your title and introduction and include links to all your other sites and networks, as those appear in your search results.
  6. Empower your employees on social media. If you’re terrified to give control to others in your organization, you will not be successful in social media. Train them and have a social media policy so you can be. Your policy should be short and understandable without legal assistance and should be in every new hire’s packet when they start.
  7. If it can be searched for, it can be optimized. Keyword optimize your blog posts, landing pages, press releases, online newsrooms, multimedia and social content. In press releases, optimize in the headline and subhead, include links and a call-to-action. For photos and other multimedia, optimize the file name of the file you are uploading, include alt text and captions.
  8. We are all fighting for budgets. PR should get credit for the leads it generates. Set goals before your campaign so you can track conversions with tools like Google Analytics. Track traffic with tools like Google URL builder, which tags your URLs so you know where your link clicks are coming from (press release versus AdWords versus Facebook ads, etc).

At the conference, we also announced our new partnership with Critical Mention, which will provide clients with access to Critical Mention’s real-time television and radio monitoring platform. As an introductory promotion, Business Wire clients who subscribe with Critical Mention for 2012 will receive the remainder of 2011 at no charge.

We’d also like to congratulate Elizabeth Rowland at Strat-igence, who was the winner of our iPad Giveaway. And thanks again to PRSA, the speakers and all the attendees for a great conference!


PR Peeps Poll: Press Release Views are Most Valued Press Release Metric

June 21, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Seeing is believing, apparently, when it comes to press release metrics.   According to our most recent PR Peeps Poll, communications professionals believe press release views are the most valued metric in judging a press release.

Of 179 polled, almost 53% (94)  cited release views as most important.   Hyperlink clicks rated second in importance with 16% of the vote (29).  Traffic driven garnered 12% of the votes cast (21) while times shared took 11% (19) and headline impressions 9% (16).

 With all the talk of the importance of social media sharing and engagement, we were slightly surprised by the findings.  Counting press release views is an older concept and online marketers continue to explore the intersections of  visibility and influence.   We figure influence must start somewhere–like having your carefully crafted messages being seen in the first place.Here’s the details:

Which press release metric do you most value?

  • 94, or 52%      Release views
  • 29, or 16%      Hyperlink clicks
  • 21, or 12%      Traffic driven
  • 19, or 11%       Times shared
  • 16, or  9%        Headline impressions

To those who participated, thank you for voting.  How about helping us out with our next PR Peeps Poll on minding your mobile manners:  What’s your digital etiquette pet peeve?  Please let us know and thank you.

 179 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  conducted May -  June 10 2011.

PR Peeps Poll: Two-thirds say Press Releases Play Significant Role in Branding

May 25, 2011

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

As branding and SEO continue their convergence, two-thirds of those responding to a recent PR Peeps poll said that press releases play a “significant role” in their branding efforts.

Out of 228 polled, 66% categorized the role press releases play in their branding efforts as “significant.”  Twenty-five percent said press releases play a “minor” role in branding efforts, while 9% said they don’t use press releases in branding efforts.

PR Peeps Poll:  How do press releases fit into your branding efforts?

“Press releases are part of an overall strategy for my company and customers,” noted one PR pro in the comments section of the survey.   “Brand positioning plays and should play a major role not only in press releases, but also in any piece of info or PR writing [that comes] out of the organization,” said another respondent.

Judging from these results, one could argue that press releases belong in the marketing department–in addition to communications, of course.

Here’s the findings:

    • 150, or 66%    Press Releases play a significant role
    • 57,  or 25%     Press releases play a minor role
    • 21, or 9%          Don’t use press relases for branding

To all those who participated, thank you very much!  How about helping us out with our next PR Peeps Poll:  Which press release metric do you most value?

228 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  conducted April – May 2011.


PR Peeps Poll: Most PR Pros Practice Good Headline Habits

April 7, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

Congratulations, PR Peeps!  The vast majority of you practice good headline habits.

The March PR Peeps Poll with 191 participants, shows 143 (76%) utilize keywords in headlines while 119 of you (62%) take the extra minute or two to customize headers for email, social networks and Twitter.

PR Peeps Poll:   Headline Habits

Conventional wisdom assumes that 80% of readers don’t jump past the headline, so focusing on keywords and concepts and taking that extra time to customize for context is extremely important.   With so much competition for our attention, you may not have a chance beyond the headline to get your message across.

While 33 out of 191 (17%) said they do not emphasize keywords in headlines, 13 (about 7%) of you don’t know what keywords are.   Several  chimed in with comments such as, ” Headlines need to cause an editor to say ‘people will click to read this!’ ” and  “Non PR savvy executives push for headlines that are always too long.”  Yes.  We feel your pain.

How's your Headline Habits?

How’s your Headline Habits?

Do you emphasize keywords in the headlines of your press releases?

                                                  Yes–143,  or 76%

                                                  No–33, or 17%

                                                 What are keywords?–13, or 7%

 Do you rewrite/customize press release headlines for email, social networks and/or Twitter? 

                                                  Yes–119, or 62%

                                                   No–72, or 38%

To all those who participated, thank you very much!  Out next PR Peeps Poll asks, How do press releases fit into your branding efforts?

191 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  conducted February – March 2011.


Photo, Good Headline, and Newsworthiness Will Get Your Press Release Noticed

March 29, 2011
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist
Sandy Malloy

Sandy Malloy

When comparing measurement reports from different releases, clients often ask why one news release received more views than another.  The question arose recently in the context of a release that proved to be far more popular than another despite the client’s perception that the latter was more “important” news and the release was more widely distributed.

I won’t explore the rationale for choosing one distribution over another, but I WILL comment on factors that can make a press release popular.  In this particular case, the more popular release had a photo. 

As we’ve noted before, releases with multimedia receive 1.7 times more reads than those without.  This release was no exception.  Multimedia not only attracts viewers who want to see or  download the photo or play the video, photos and videos attract more viewers, period.  The visual Web loves multimedia, which grabs attention.

A second trait of popular releases is a good headline.   It’s such an important component of an effective news release that we’ve presented webinars on this topic.  The more popular release in this case had a succinct headline that clearly stated what the release was about and why it should be of interest to the reader.  Remember that although search-friendly keywords in your release are very important, many people will see your headline on our site, on their mobile devices, in RSS feeds or email and decide whether or not to click through.  Headlines make that first impression, and just as you don’t get a second chance to impress in the real world, nor does your press release.

Finally, make sure the release is truly newsworthy.  This list of news release-writing tips from PRSA’s blog is typical in making newsworthiness Tip #1.


Friday Fast Links: March Madness, Wire Service SEO and More

March 18, 2011

What do you know about your wire service’s SEO practices?

How big are the opportunities for brands and social media during March Madness? (A Google search for “March Madness” + “social media” returns nearly 2 million results.)

On the off chance you missed Rebecca Black blowing up the internet this week, you missed a great lesson on how to turn bad PR into good PR.

Eight tips for writing press releases that journalists will read. I think they’re just about in the right order, too.

The Canadian Investor Relations Institute reinforces the widely disseminated press release as the anchor of successful IR. Are they ahead of the US in setting standards?

If you need help building your online newsroom, register for our free webinar.

Do you or your company have a blog? A recent Minnesota court case has some interesting free speech implications for bloggers.

There are a lot of ways to sell jeans. Is this one of them? Takes edgy ads to a whole new level.

Have a great weekend!


Google Algorithm Changes Reward Best Practice SEO and Pay Off for Press Release Visibility

March 15, 2011
Matt Albers, Director of Web Services

by Matt Albers, Director of Software Engineering, Web Services

In an effort to find more high quality sites for its many users, during the week of Feb. 24th, Google rolled out their Panda update (aka Farmer).

This update was said to touch nearly 12 percent of all Google search results in an attempt to weed out or de-value content farms and “low quality” sites.  Wired.com offers more in depth coverage with Google engineers Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal weighing in on specifics about the change.  If you’re an engineer like me, you’d already heard complaints in the tech sector for a while now.

So how did this change affect the visibility of your press releases?  We’re glad you asked, because in the case of Business Wire, we’ve noticed a positive change.  That’s correct: since Google tweaked their indexing algorithm, Business Wire has seen an increase in traffic, and higher rankings for our client’s press releases.

Meanwhile, according to Sistrix, a German search research company, our competitors have not fared as well, some losing nearly 70% of their keyword rankings.  In addition, our rival says they lost 20% in traffic, showing a Hitwise graph of search clicks.  But look closely and you’ll see the only site on that graph trending UP is Business Wire.  Yes, quality rises to the top.

We don’t know specifically why some press release services were dinged.  We can only confirm that Business Wire was not affected negatively by the Panda update based on our analytics analysis.  Why the difference?  I suspect it’s because we’ve been following “best practice”, “white hat” SEO for years.

Business Wire has been known for excellence and customer service for 50 years now, and we have deliberately avoided SEO gaming, allowing our highly vetted content to speak for itself.  As an engineer and Director of Web Services, you can bet I place a high value on technology, but good decisions and people behind them are what really make a difference in the quality our clients enjoy at Business Wire.  It turns out taking the high road and considering long term over short term success results in excellent SEO outcomes for us and our clients.


Friday Fast Links

February 25, 2011


 


PR Peeps Poll: Generating Clips Still Most Important in Measuring Press Release Success

February 22, 2011
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media 

Our first PR Peeps Poll for 2011 suggests that while generating clips is still the number one marker for  press release success, general branding/visibility and traffic-driving capabilities of the press release come in not far behind. 

Of  280 PR Peeps polled, 88 said the most important measure of press release success was generating earned media and clips.   Branding and general awareness-raising came in second with 79 votes, while driving traffic to websites came in third with 73.   Getting link clicks only garnered 20 votes, the same amount as “other.”

In comments attached to the survey, PR pros chimed in with their own ideas on what constitutes press release success. “Getting the phone to ring!”  “developing direct business leads,” and “a smiling client when they see the ROI,” were among the remarks.   We couldn’t agree more with this comment from one PR Peep:  “…distributing a release is only one step in a five- or six-step process (including follow-up pitching, an engaging photo, etc.)” 

The poll was conducted in January and February  through Twitter, Facebook, email and Business Wire’s webinars.   Details below:

What’s most important in measuring press release success?

73, or 26%–Driving traffic to our website

20, or 7%–Getting link clicks

88, or 32%–Generating earned media/clips

79, or 28%–General branding/awareness

20, or 7%   — Other

To those who participated, thanks for taking the PR Peeps Poll.  Now we need your help on our February survey: How Good Are Your Headline Habits?

Thanks for the help.

280 respondents via Twitter, email, Facebook and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  January 3 – February 18, 2011.


PR Peeps Poll: Twitter the Favored Social Media Tool, Facebook Not Far Behind

January 5, 2011
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media
PR Peeps let us know their favorite social media tool in December.  The winner?   Twitter.
A full third of 277 PR Peeps polled chose Twitter as their social media tool of choice in 2010, followed closely by Facebook, with 29% of the vote.   The results amplify a similar poll we conducted in November of 2009, in which more than 41% said they tweet but don’t blog.

No doubt the commitment required from running a company blog has many PR folks turning to link sharing of existing content on social networking sites.  Even hardcore investor relations officers we’ve consulted say they prefer Twitter over a company blog because they don’t have to commit to churning out time-consuming blog posts.

The poll was conducted in November and December  through Twitter, Facebook, email and Business Wire’s webinars.   Details below:

What is your company’s preferred form of social media outreach?

33, or 11%–Company blog

81, or 29%–Facebook

91, or 33%–Twitter

22, or 8%–LinkedIn

13, or 5%   — Other

39, or 14% — We do none of the above

To those who participated, thanks for taking the PR Peeps Poll.   Our January poll needs your input.  What’s most important in measuring press release success?

Thanks for the help.

277 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  November 3 – December 31, 2010.


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