Understanding the Role of the Press Release and the Modern Marketing Mix

January 15, 2014
by Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

For many years, communication programs did not utilize input from every department in the company before launching. Thankfully, this has changed.

Today’s most successful communication programs run across many different divisions to maximize even the smallest program’s potential success.  In addition to increasing the potential for success, cross-department programs provide deeper insights necessary for future programs.  Below, we breakdown how marketing and PR support the impact of the press release.

When it comes to increasing the impact of a marketing program, for more than 50 years, one method continues to be most effective way to distribute your news – a commercial newswire service.

Press releases containing photos and/or videos and easy to find social sharing buttons, issued over a commercial wire service continue to be the most cost-effective way to reach journalists, bloggers, analysts, online and offline media, social networks, customers, and prospects.  Press releases are measured by quality of coverage, its impact on the company’s reputation and brand goals, action taken by readers and the amount of sharing across social networks.

The new tactics you must employ now to support your press releases and measure their impact include:

  1. Sharing social media messaging with brand fans and influencers, including a link back to your website, each tailored to the news’ target audience. Social actions taken related to your news are measured by overall shares, shares by influencers, link clicks and, most importantly, the quality of inbound traffic.
  2. Posting and directing journalists to blog posts that directly answer the questions you know journalists will ask you.  This increases the likelihood of company message adoption and decrease real or perceived anxiety by journalists and consumers about your message, brand or organization.
  3. Advertising on key industry media, highlighting the benefits of your product or brand is a terrific way to decrease the amount of time it takes a user to make a decision. Advertising success is measured by desired action taken, clicks, impressions, downloads etc.
  4. Utilizing online media syndication services like dlvr.it and Outbrain which can help increase visibility of valuable coverage and is best measured by impressions, views and quality of inbound traffic
  5. Creating social channel messages for colleagues, customers and partners to share across their own social channels.  Use a unique URL to more easily track shares, inbound traffic and the quality of that traffic
  6. Implement paid and non-paid influencer program to decrease sales consideration time.  This can have an impact on an increase in discussion, message adoption, social reach, quality of inbound traffic leads and amount of time before desired action taken.

These six steps increase the impact of your press release, as well as provide you with the valuable insights needed to revise messaging for future programs.  Which message resonated best with your various audiences? What asset or platform provided the best ROI?

The press release & the modern marketing mix – 6 #prtips by @serena http://ow.ly/sC4NY



Editor’s Corner: Putting Faces with Names: Getting The Most Out Of Personnel Announcements

January 7, 2014

By Dara Khan, Business Wire Editor

 When you submit a personnel announcement to Business Wire, our editors are the first eyes on your staffing news. Our talented and experienced newsroom team reviews hundreds of news items per week, and we have developed a pretty good sense of what elements make them successful. Here’s one editor’s take on putting together a winning press release for announcing hires, promotions, or other staffing changes in your organization.

Natalie

The best piece of advice I can give is to include multimedia with your press release.

When you meet people for the first time, you remember them by both their names and faces. This is true in press releases as well; by including a photo of the person, you make it easy for reporters, analysts and others to put face to the name. We editors know from experience that releases with a photo—whether of a new executive hire or a retiring founder—instantly capture readers’ attention, and our research has shown that releases with photos or other multimedia generate five to ten times more pickup than those without them. That is just from adding a photo or video to your news release!

However, there are other ways to increase your press release’s visibility.Broader distribution of press releases allows for reporters and other brand fans to find and share your news.  But why not consider adding a targeted specialty circuit to increase visibility within highly specific target markets? If you’ve made a prominent minority hire, consider the Asian-American Media, African-American Media or LatinoWire circuits, which all heavily target media in markets that can be difficult to reach through broader channels. If your release is about someone who has made significant contributions through nonprofit and charity work, consider the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) circuit. If you’re running a cutting-edge startup and just added a big name to your team, congrats! Now is the perfect time to take advantage of BW’s new partnership with VentureBeat.  Each of these distributions reaches a highly targeted list of reporters and media outlets, all viewing and sharing these kinds of announcements on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, the foundation of a good personnel announcement is a concise and well-written press release. This may seem like a very basic tip, but it is surprising how often we see releases that are unnecessarily long, overly wordy, or lack quotations from or about the personnel in question. That last part is especially important.  Why? Because including quotes is another great way to capture the human element—and the attention of readers. These quotes are so frequently sought after that Business Wire’s system actually automatically generates highlighted pull quotes from those sections!  These pull quotes appear on the businesswire.com version for your release (as well as via our PressPass media news service), so be sure to use that to your advantage by making them shine.

Lastly, do not hesitate to call your local Business Wire newsroom or account executive to discuss more ways to get the most out of your personnel announcements. One thing that sets BW apart is the degree of hands-on, personalized service from our 24 local news bureaus. As the only commercial newswire with this many editorial offices, Business Wire has editors and a sales team who are always ready to help you send your press release out to the biggest possible audience. We always look forward to hearing from you!


Password Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know for a Safe Secure 2014

December 26, 2013
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire

Many large businesses, including Business Wire, mandate password changes on a regular basis to ensure corporate security, a practice that has yet to catch on with the average internet user. In fact, not only do most people NOT change their passwords on a regular basis, they use the same password for all of their online portals, leaving them and their accounts in a vulnerable position.  So what can you do to protect your password and what do you do once your account has been compromised? What is the proper password etiquette going into 2014?

silver-padlock-security-icon

The latest line of defense against hacking used by sites like Apple, Google and Twitter include password authentication systems too sophisticated for hackers to infiltrate using encryption software. While Twitter and Google send passwords directly to the users’ cell phone via text, Apple is introducing two additional ways to utilize passwords.  The first protection is a password generating system that creates a sophisticated password stored in the cloud that auto fills when the user is prompted for a password. The second protection layer Apple introduced was fingerprint technology for mobile phones. Other systems are using USB password devices that unlock the authentication process by using a key.  Each of these processes were designed to increase security without increasing work on the customer’s end.

Of course, all of the new technologies have some issues. One of the problems with Apple’s icloud system is that you cannot access your passwords unless you are connected to the cloud network and the passwords the system creates are too complex for memorization. USB keys can be stolen and there have been reports of iPhone users not being able to set up the fingerprint reader properly on their phone. So what are some simple tricks that you can use to create a complex password without purchasing a new technology?

Ideally you want to have a variety of complex passwords that can’t be hacked. Many people have weak passwords that contain readable words that can be figured out once the hacker deciphers the first few letters. Instead design a system that is easy to remember yet creates very complex passwords. One method that is very useful for creating passwords is to use acronyms from a simple phrase. For example, if the simple phrase is “I drive a red Toyota at work” the password becomes IdarT@w. Another idea is to use symbols and numbers to add to the complexity of your password. Some people will create passwords in another language to add yet another layer of protection. Taking preventative measures like changing your password often will pay you back in the future.

What if you lose your password?  Every company has a way of recovery if you have been compromised. This is where Gmail and Twitter’s two factor authentication becomes important. Update your security profile with a phone number or secure email address on file so that the provider can contact you in case of emergency before you are compromised. If email is not a safe option, have a text sent to you on your phone. Second, once you are aware of suspicious activity or if your account has been compromised, know how to quickly recover from a problem.

Here are some guidelines for some of the more often hacked social platforms:
Twitter

  • If you believe your Twitter account has been compromised change your password in the password tab in settings. Use the guidelines above for selecting a strong password. If you are unable to reset your password use Twitter’s Password Reset Form. If you feel your email has been compromised contact Twitter using Support Request and choose the option “hacked account.”  Make sure to revoke all connections to third-party applications; to do this, after you have created a new password and logged in, visit “Apps” in your settings and revoke access.  If you keep trusted third-party apps connected, don’t forget to update your password settings on each platform. Once you have regained full control of your account make sure to go back and delete any unwanted Tweets.  

Facebook

  • Very similar to Twitter, start with the basics; change the compromised password to a strong password. If you are unable to change your password or feel your email has been compromised use the Secure It Here Link. Take steps to revoke third-party applications until you feel the situation is secure. Delete any questionable photos or use the hide from timeline option for photos not posted by you.

All Google Accounts including email

  • Google has a network of sites that all tie in to the same password from email, analytics to social media and as a precaution Google lets you set an option in how you want to be contacted in case your account has been compromised. Make sure to keep this accurate and up to date. Google also provides a link to help you recover from a hack called Google Account Recover. Another resource is to go to the Google Apps Documentation and Support for recovering and resetting passwords.

When hackers compromise your email or social media their objective is almost always to gain bank account details. Sometimes accounts have been compromised and yet no action is taken for many months later due to the “lying in wait” attitude criminals have when stealing information. Here are some guidelines for bank and credit cards.

Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

  • All the same recovery rules apply for your bank accounts and credit cards with one major exception; if your money was compromised there is a good chance your full identity has been as well. If you want to know how to steal from your account do this simple test; call the bank and ask them what they need to access your account so you can check your account balance. In most cases they need your name, address, date of birth, email address and the account number. These items are usually found with little effort on the internet. Many times the account number from debit cards can be compromised by knowing all of your personal information and contacting 3rd party vendors like restaurants, hotels, rent a car vendors, etc. for information. This is why protecting a simple thing like a social media site is so important. The more information a thief has about you the easier it is to steal from your bank account. If your bank account has been compromised it may become a police matter and is a federal offense.

Of course, before changing passwords, scan your computer for viruses and malware and update all the latest security patches for your computer. A proactive stance in password security is always a good thing but make sure to have a plan in case your password is compromised.

Have questions about Business Wire’s commitment to security or how you can create a secure password? Let us know in the comments below.


Using the Holidays as Inspiration for a Press Release / Social Media Campaign

December 20, 2013
by Carl Dispoto, Senior Editor

The final days leading up to Christmas can be overwhelming for brands and marketers. The options of what to promote, when to promote and how to promote are seemingly endless. But inspiration can be drawn from some common holiday traditions to help structure a campaign built around press releases and social media.

GiftCounting down is part of the holiday season. Around the world, people count down the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar, which reveals a different featured item each day. Even more well-known is the popular carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which highlights a series of gifts given on each of the 12 days, with a new present being revealed in each verse.

It’s pretty clear that the gradual reveal of new surprises is an integral part of the holidays, so why not follow that pattern to highlight what products and features are the most important for potential customers?

This strategy can be effectively employed through a succession of Business Wire press releases and corresponding social media distribution.

Imagine struggling to find a way to feature the dozen or so products that you want to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue? How can you possibly maximize exposure and focus the attention of potential customers on multiple ideas?

The initial task is to choose the subject matter of your campaign, which can be either a series of products and services or varying features of the same product or service. Once the focus is decided, you can reveal a different product or feature each day leading up to Christmas.

As each new product or feature is revealed, you provide links to the previous products and features that have been unveiled. Pair each release with associated actions on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and you are building an integrated network of links to boost the visibility of each post.

Using this method, each product or feature is getting promoted multiple times across various networks, continually funneling readers – and potential customers – throughout your chosen list of topics.

And while the countdown to Christmas is most common, this plan of action can be successful for the buildup to any holiday or event, especially those that have a specified number of days such as Hanukah, Lent, Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, the Olympics and the World Cup!


Involving Reddit in your PR campaign

December 18, 2013
by Paul J.F. Bowman, Senior Editor

Reddit.com, the self-styled “front page of the internet,” is a social bookmarking site currently ranked #80 in the world and #31 in the United States in terms of traffic. The site is a diverse and vibrant global community.Reddit

To get a simple sense of Reddit, visit /r/awww or /r/cute. “/r/” dictates a “subreddit,” a section of Reddit devoted to a specific topic. Two popular subreddits are /r/IAmA (I am a…) and /r/AMA (ask me anything). Admittedly, /r/IAmA and /r/AMA are very similar; Reddit describes their main difference as the number of subscribers (AMA currently has around 53,000 readers while IAmA has over 4 million).

Essentially, both IAmA and AMA are crowdsourced interviews; any Reddit user (“Redditors”) can ask questions of the person/organization submitting themselves for an interview. It’s easily comparable to an online press conference. For example, a well-known skateboarder recently posted an IAmA/AMA:  “Geoff Rowley – Professional Skateboarder. Co-owner of Flip Skateboards and Founder of Civilware Service Corporation.”

As questions were submitted, Rowley chose those he would answer while ignoring questions deemed irrelevant, information sensitive, difficult to answer in time allotted, too personal, etc. By simply answering questions, Rowley was able to promote his skateboarding company, his outdoor supply company as well as an appearance on a video Web series. Redditors asked questions varying from skateboards and shoes to hunting and running a company.

For your next public relations campaign, you might consider a similar IAmA/AMA appearance. The trickiest part is to make sure that you do not violate one of the primary rules: “Obvious nonsense or advertising will be removed – this is up to the discretion of the moderators.” Reddit also asks that you phrase your post in terms of “something uncommon that plays a central role in your life” (ex: “IAmA founder of a non-profit dog grooming organization. AMA!”) or “a truly interesting and unique event” (ex: “I invited the Los Angeles Lakers to my fundraiser and 20 of them attended! AMA!”). Many PR campaign topics fit into these categories; it should be easy to find something unique to focus the post around.

Many notable people have submitted themselves for AMAs; Barack Obama and Bill Gates are among the most successful and publicized. Redditors may also submit requests for people they would like to see participate in an AMA. Actors, authors, comedians, inventors, musicians and scientists are common IAmAs/AMAs.

All of the information to begin an IAmA/AMA is at www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/wiki/. Here are the basic steps after you’ve created a Reddit account:

  1. Decide which community is best for your post.
    Assuming that you’re looking for the most exposure, IAmA is the best place to post. The major downside of the large IAmA audience is that your scheduled time may be overshadowed by a well-known celebrity. Make sure to check the “Upcoming AMAs” schedule in the right margin to find the least-populated timeslot.
  2. Choose a way to prove your identity.
    Options for proof include a work ID, business card, paystub or contract (make sure any sensitive information is blocked out). Posting a note regarding the IAmA/AMA on an official website and/or Twitter account is both allowed and encouraged. The mention should dictate which Reddit username will be used and a link to the AMA once it has been posted to the website.
  3. Request a spot on the “Upcoming AMAs” calendar.
    This is purely a request to the moderators to have the AMA added to their official calendar. Schedule for the daytime of your expected geographic audience. Add the title of your AMA, date/time requested, the description of the person/organization, the username that will be used and the proof gathered from step 2.
  4. Fill out the thread and submit.
    The title should grab people’s attention with the most interesting/intriguing part of the IAmA/AMA. Use the information entered in the Upcoming AMAs request from the previous step.
    Example title: “I am the founder and editor of the first website dedicated exclusively to fire ants, fireanthill.com. AMA!”
    In the next field, write a short biography. Keep in mind that the more relevant information that is provided, the more the Reddit community will be able to engage and ask questions. At the bottom of this field is where you place the verification/proof of identity mentioned in step 2.
    Example text: “I’ve worked as editor of other publications such as LIFE, People and Cat Fancy. Before I started fireanthill.com, the fire ant websites only included research but did not aggregate the many fascinating aspects of fire ants. I’ve been interested in fire ants for 20 years, AMA! Here is a photo of me at home: [LINK], a link to my bio on the website: [LINK], and me in front of a giant fire ant hill: [LINK]“
  5. Make sure the posting worked by visiting reddit.com/r/IAmA/new.
  6. Publicize the link of your IAmA/AMA to websites and social media accounts with the time questions will be answered.
  7. Answer the questions asked of you with genuine interest and passion.
    Many Reddit users can sense when something is purely for publicity. Do not repeatedly focus your answers on the campaign. Genuine responses will garner genuine interest in your company. The majority of self-promotion should be placed in the text of step 4. If the response is lackluster, the post can still be an interesting addition to an “About Us” or “Biography” page.

There have been a number of controversies surrounding the website. Like any other public Internet forum or social media, Redditors can frustrate and antagonize people posting on IAmA or AMA. Woody Harrelson is the most disparaged AMA as he was only willing to answer questions about Rampart, the movie he was promoting at the time. Morgan Freeman (posting under username “OblivionMovie”) had a similar downfall; Redditors deemed his short and canned responses as a PR agency paraphrasing or posting for him rather than Freeman himself.

Remember, there is no guarantee of a successful IAmA/AMA post. However, the more you interact on Reddit (specifically the AMA and IAmA pages), the more you’ll have an understanding of the site and which posts draw people in. This wide-ranging and interesting worldwide community is a great tool for promotion but recognizing what drives its visitors will be key to your success on the site.


Learning Content Marketing From The Scarecrow

October 31, 2013
by Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

They say content is king.

If that’s the case, then the story is the castle. It’s the framework, the supporting component of any good campaign.

As such, it’s the story that advertisers, marketers and PR people need to sell, and all the other pieces (press releases, photos, videos, infographics, etc.) must work together to enhance that message and drive it home.

Nowhere is this concept more apparent than with Chipotle’s latest marketing push designed to jump-start a conversation about their brand by key constituents. Titled “The Scarecrow,” this campaign has received an immense amount of buzz not only for the sheer creativity of its content, but for the way in which it conveys the company’s story. (Disclosure: Chipotle is a Business Wire client)

The campaign consists of an arcade-style game for the iPhone and iPad supported with an animated film by Oscar-winning company, Moonbot Studios. The video features a disillusioned scarecrow who encounters a world replete of fresh, sustainable foods, only to discover that he has the power to choose how his food is created. Despite the stunning graphics and the use of a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of Willy Wonka’s “Pure Imagination,” the video would not have garnered more than 7 million views, shares and commentary without a story that resonates across audiences.

Scarecrow

What is the takeaway for those tasked with writing press releases, editing pitches, creating content and sharing on social media? Very simply that the primary focus, and time, should be on creating a story arc that resonates with and engages your audience to the point that they want to be your brand advocates, sharing your content with their core and secondary audiences. This includes:

  • Identifying the goals you want to accomplish. Are you trying to drive awareness and brand building, content sharing, inbound traffic or purchase?
  • Understanding your target audience and the types of content that compels them to engage and share, while maintaining your brand voice
  • Thinking about how and where your audience will discover and share your story in order to tell it in a way that will drive conversations
  • Crafting your message and  ensuring it stays front and center throughout the campaign
  • Building tension with the storyline to deepen the connection between your content and the intended audience. Any reporter will tell you they want to cover an issue that has two—or even three—sides
  • Ensuring you have the right people lined up to speak about your topic. This could range from a mascot to the CEO depending on the audience and message you want to share
  • Amplifying your story once it is launched and creating a consistent cadence of communications activities (e.g. speaking opportunities, bylines, etc.) to ensure it is heard

And of course, as with any thought provoking content, “The Scarecrow” has sparked a debate. With that, cheers to Chipotle for achieving the goal of igniting a conversation.

For more information about the use of storytelling in jump-starting awareness, engagement and purchase intent, please contact us!


Tips, tricks and advice for today’s PR, IR and Marketing Professionals

October 19, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

What a week!  There were so many great news pieces, platform changes, tips and more that we had to commit an entire blog to sharing them with you.

Below please find this week’s top stories for public relations, corporate communications, investor relations and marketing communication professionals.

Social Platform + Search Engine Updates

Media + Research

Tips, Tricks and Best Practices

Did you find this list useful?  Did we miss anything?  If so, please share below, we are always looking for compelling information we can share with our audience!


Understanding the True Risks of Utilizing Social Media for Financial Disclosure

October 8, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

Last week, Twitter announced to the world it was filing its S-1 via its own social media platform.   While a few vendors in the IR + social media space praise the recent decision by the SEC to allow public companies to disclose material news via social channels, most realize this method is far from a best practice.

What is disclosure via social networks? 

In April 2013, the SEC announced that public companies could utilize social media networks as material disclosure distribution outlets, if they first let investors know which networks they were going to use.  This announcement came with a wide range of support and backlash. Those in favor believe this decision is forward-thinking and a solid fit for the way people communicate today.  Many others believe that this decision will lead to uneven access to content and the sharing of misinformation, ultimately creating a more volatile stock price.

Why are social networks bad platforms for disclosure? 

Before we start, let me reiterate, I am obsessed with social media.  I love Twitter.  I love Facebook.  I’m a wizard at G+, and yet I strongly believe social networks are terrible platforms for disclosure as they simply do not provide immediate, broad access to the news.  Below are several of the road blocks facing this practice that should be considered by every public company before considering this step.

  • Does the news fit the platform?:  Each social network has its own personality and fulfills different end user needs and desires, most of which are not aligned with most companies’ investor profiles.  Facebook, for example, is an excellent recommendation engine.  Pinterest is an aspirational website and Twitter is a continually updating information sharing tool.  None of these sites are being utilized by the average user as legitimate investment forums.  It is important to note that while platforms like StockTwits do bring the discussion of stocks onto Twitter, it is not reflective of Twitter’s overall market use.
  • Lack of visibility of Tweets and social updates:  As noted in this infographic, many company updates are simply not seen by page friends and fans. In fact, 84% of Facebook newsfeed stories are never seen and 71% of tweets are ignored.  This lack of visibility directly affects the success of social network disclosure posts.
  • Manipulated news visibility:  Every social network has the technology and ability to change the visibility of tweets and posts.  Twitter, Facebook, and other networks are monetized by advertising.  Paid tweets, sponsored posts and trends and more increase visibility of “popular” news and take valuable visibility away from non-paid status updates and posts.
  • Potential platform volatility:  Let’s face it, social networks sometimes go offline. Whether it is for system maintenance, too much volume or a DOS attack, when you choose to disclose over a social network, you put yourself at the mercy of a network only a handful of years old.
  • The old game of telephone:  When news is shared out across social networks, people frequently include their own opinion before resharing.   This leads to the possibility of message alteration (on Twitter, these changes are frequently noted with an MT which stands for modified tweet), which could directly impact perception of both the company and the news issued.  Rumors spread quickly on social networks and once misinformation is shared, the company must focus on message correction or risk stock instability.
  • Lack of access to social networks:  In 2011, a study of corporate CIOs shows that 31% of companies did not allow access to social networks during work hours, directly limiting access to real-time breaking news.  As the New York Times noted in 2012, financial institutions continue to struggle with providing traders and analysts with access to these channels.
  • Lack of immediate access to full-text:  The other issue with social networks is that they do not allow for very much text.  This means a company must state the impact of their news in as little as 140 characters and include a link to the full text article.  This 2-step process decreases potential visibility of the full story, and delays access to the news for end users.
  • The impact of delayed access to news:  One of the big discussions this summer in relation to the investment community was the financial impact of Thomson Reuter’s product that provides elite traders access to key information milliseconds before the rest of the financial community.  This service allows traders to buy and sell before the rest of the financial community. Every second counts on Wall Street. CNBC notes that within 10 seconds, hundreds of millions of dollars in trades can be completed.  Social networks are unable to confirm equal visibility of news and tweets, making it very easy for trades to be made before the news has fully been disseminated.
  • The security issue:  While somewhat rare, every social network, every website, faces potential security attacks and risks. Even the AP’s Twitter account was recently hacked, causing  widespread sharing of a false report of a shooting at the White House.  How are consumers supposed to know if your update is legitimate or not?  How quickly can a stock price be halted if false news impacts trading?
  • By the way, who actually uses social networks?:  While many buy-side analysts praise the use of social networks as research tools for reporting (a practice we highly recommend), most social site demographics are not aligned with investor audiences. Pew Internet notes that only 16% of Americans who utilize social networks have a Twitter account while 67% use Facebook.

Did we mention that we love social networks?!  So what should you be doing if you want to socialize your news, increasing overall awareness and engagement with your organization?  Business Wire continues to recommend a mix of tools including:

  • Use broad distribution via a commercial newswire to guarantee your full-text press release is simultaneously put in front of reporters, analysts and interested online parties.
  • Include multimedia to enhance your news – analysts love multimedia, especially video from senior team members.  Not only does multimedia increase viewership and news sharing, it has been proven to both drive deeper company-to-consumer relationships and also humanizes the brand.
  • Blog about it:  One of the best uses for corporate blogs is the ability to provide additional context for corporate news.  These are perfect vehicles to showcase the “why” of your story. And blogs that answer expected media and analyst questions help reporters provide better news coverage, ensuring further approved message permeation, decreasing message confusion and stock volatility.
  • Sharing news socially is a great idea!  Once your news has been posted to your website, share it out across your social channels.  Include Tweet this links inside your release copy to make it easy for your readers to share your highlights.
  • Live tweet:  One of the best ways to use social networks to share out news is to live tweet major events or news.  Draft tweets based on key elements of your press release and tweet them out with links back to your news. Include created multimedia to drive even higher engagement and sharing.
  • Utilize video chats: Create a video version of your blog and share each video’s embed links with key reporters and analysts. Today’s news outlets crave video content, as it both engages readers and increases the time the reader spends on their website. Analysts like the opportunity to see as well as hear from senior management. And of course, just like the blog, this content continues to drive message permeation.
  • Monitor the Conversation:  This is the number one way analysts today use social media.  They use it to see what people are saying about you, your product, your reputation and company.  The best way for organizations to utilize social media for disclosure is to listen.  What are people saying about your company, what misconceptions need to be clarified, what message points are resonating and which ones are not? Through listening you can not only find where conversations are occurring about your brand, but major themes, providing you with a roadmap for future discussion points.

There is a real, legitimate place for social media tools and platforms in the news distribution process, just not for material disclosure.

What do you think? Do social media platforms meet the requirement for consistent broad disclosure? We would love to hear your thoughts below!

Have questions about the role social media plays in the news distribution process? Let us know!


Editor’s Corner: A Heads up on Headlines: 4 Rules for Maximizing News Visibility

October 7, 2013

Guest Post: Zara McAlister & Ciaran Ryan/Toronto newsroom

Headlines are like first dates. If you don’t peak your suitor’s interest early, he or she might take a fake phone call in the middle of dinner and claim their house is on fire. It takes time and effort to keep your date interested. The same goes for headline writing. A title should grab your audience’s attention and give an idea of what’s to come.

Follow these four tips to make your headline count:

Make it Short

The best way to appeal to a journalist is to write like one. Journalistic headlines are short and punchy, around five to six words and no more than 10. Columbia School of Journalism advises its budding journalists to use action verbs.  Humour is fine, but avoid clichés like the plague. That’s a good rule of thumb. Slang is also a no no.

Keeping a headline short isn’t just about looking good. Databases such as Yahoo! will cut off lengthy headlines. Your Business Wire editors will accept four lines of a headline or 264 characters.

Put Your Name on it for Google’s Sake

A headline that includes a company name helps to ground a news release in search engines and adds traction. A release with the headline, “Lab Develops Time Machine” is vague and misleading. What lab is it? Instead of leaving your reader hanging off a cliff of suspense, drop your company name in the headline. Something like “ABC Lab Develops Time Machine,” gives credit where credit is due. This release is more likely to pop up when a journalist or investor plugs in your company name to a search engine.

According to a 2010 PRWeek Media Survey, 95% of journalists use search engines to research a story. Google recently launched a new search algorithm dubbed Hummingbird. Hummingbird looks at your search query as a complete phrase and not as a collection of individual keywords. Having a detailed headline will make your release more searchable.

Think Before you Link

Hyperlinks belong in the body of the release, not the headline. Google’s algorithm searches for blocks of text that look like a typical headline. So headlines that contain hyperlinks to a company’s website for instance may confuse the algorithm into thinking it’s a random block of text, preventing the headline from being included in Google News. Same goes for Yahoo! and CBS Marketwatch which may not recognize hyperlinks in headlines.

Follow the Rules

Punctuation and grammar matter. If you don’t believe us, take a look at any online forum, newspaper comment field, or a friend’s Facebook status. You will likely find someone correcting someone else’s grammar.  Journalistic writing is simple, straightforward and grammatically sound. Do the same. Avoid flowery, jargon laden headlines.  And watch out for common mistakes, such as unnecessary periods at the end of headlines.

Style is also important. Your company’s news may be so exciting that you want to scream it from the mountain tops. But please, step away from the caps lock button. IT’S NOT YOUR FRIEND!!! All caps conveys an aggressive tone, much like shouting at your audience. That’s a big faux pas to avoid.  Your headline should not have anything in common with the social media musings of a teenager on the subject of Justin Bieber’s present fall from grace. So keep your headline title cased. Associated Press (AP) style dictates capitalizing principal words and prepositions that are longer than four letters, and maybe think twice about adding that exclamation mark.

These are four simple rules every writer should follow to ensure the best news visibility and engagement possible.  Have any other tips to share?  Let us know!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 590 other followers

%d bloggers like this: