Business Wire Roundtable: Mixing with Chicago Media

April 28, 2015

By Whitney Cowit and Courtney Saltzman, Business Wire Chicago

On Wednesday, April 22, Business Wire Chicago held its first Media Roundtable and Speed Networking event featuring journalists and editors from across the print, TV and radio industry. Organized in 15-minute Q&A sessions, attendees met with reporters to discuss topics such as their role in the news cycle, how they find content and what information is most valuable to them.

Media participants included some of the biggest outlets in the industry, with contributions from:

The Business Wire Chicago team had an opportunity to participate in the sessions and share back key learnings. Below is a sampling of what they heard.

What is the best form of outreach for pitching stories?

  • Carrie Walker of ABC Chicago 7 is open to texts, calls or emails. If it’s breaking news, she wants to know about it. Additionally, she indicates that you can pitch news anchors directly. They often have influence over the stories they broadcast.
  • Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz of the Chicago Tribune recommends email. She mentions if you don’t hear back, follow up with a phone call and eventually she will get back to you.
  • Kathy Chaney of WBEZ 91.5 states she prefers email for pitches or via social media channels. Please don’t fax!
  • Mary Wisniewski with Thomson Reuters says no phone calls, as emails are always preferred.
  • Natalie Perez with Univision requests that you contact her assignment desk directly via email or phone. They also have their own social channels for outreach.

NUVI Chicago

What are some of the best ways to develop relationships with media?

  • Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) says no gifts. She would rather have an in-person meeting over coffee or lunch so she can hear your story idea and ask questions.
  • Walker (ABC Chicago 7) emphasizes that developing strong relationships with media is key. In her words, everyone has a job to do and if a PR person can deliver quality content he/she will make a good impression.

What information should PR communicators include in their subject line?

  • Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) says including the word “Exclusive” always helps. Additionally, make sure stories are relevant to the reporter’s beat. Further, if you were referred to her via another media point, include this in the subject line.
  • Walker (ABC Chicago 7) recommends including the words “Current” or “Today” as a way for her to denote pressing news from tomorrow’s stories.
  • Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) prefers content that relates to national trends, top stories and legislation ‘hot topics.’ Be sure to include these keywords in the subject line of your email pitch.
  • Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) suggests you never be vague in a subject line. The more detail you can provide the more inclined she’ll be to open your pitch.

What information should PR communicators include in their email pitches?

  • Walker (ABC Chicago 7) loves to see multimedia accompanying a pitch since it shapes the story. She also looks for expert sources that are relevant to her beat and the stories she is covering. Finally, she suggests always leaving out one important detail. It will give her a reason to call.
  • When pitching an expert source, Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) recommends including other places your source has been quoted or recent appearances within broadcast coverage. Additionally, she suggests you include unique angles to stories that may have previously been thought of as commonplace.
  • Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) recommends being as straight-forward and concise in your emails as possible. Avoiding irrelevant details helps her quickly assess the news angle to see if it’s relevant to her publication.
  • Perez (Univision) prefers storylines that offer a human element and appeal to emotions.

What details should PR communicators avoid in their email pitches?

  • Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) does not believe surveys are a good source of information. Pitches that include these are typically ignored.
  • Walker (ABC Chicago 7) asks that PR people do not send b-roll footage or videos as ABC 7 Chicago will usually obtain their own for broadcasting. Additionally, satellite media tours no longer provide useful content for their coverage.
  • Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) says not to include any attachments with your pitch. She also suggests avoiding repeat pitching and redundant emails since she will follow up on stories she’s interested in covering.

How do media measure the success of their stories?

  • Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) utilizes social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Sound Cloud for metrics.
  • Elejalde-Ruiz (Chicago Tribune) relies on headline clicks as a form of measurement.
  • Walker (ABC Chicago 7) receives daily reporting on her ratings.

Reporter Metrics

Where do media find most of their story ideas and leads?

  • Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) states that press releases are her number one source for news and information. In addition, she utilizes the AP Daybook each day, but often finds the need for supplemental information as the Daybook does not offer a complete overview. She also believes that journalists cannot do their job unless they are on social media.
  • Similarly, Perez (Univision) uses press releases as her primary source of information. She states that press releases that include multimedia (photos, videos, images) are a bonus. As a secondary resource, she often utilizes social media, Facebook in particular, to find exclusive stories.
  • Wisniewski (Thomson Reuters) utilizes social media as a source for news since it’s the quickest and most up-to-date resource available.


What else do PR professionals need to know?

  • According to Walker (ABC Chicago 7), in-studio guest appearances need to be booked at least 4 weeks in advance. Weekends are often a good opportunity for “feel good” stories. When pitching this type of content, keep that in mind. She also enjoys great visuals and finding a unique approach to each story. For example, rather than merely covering a large event, Walker often follows an individual attending the event (or one affected by the cause) to gain an inside perspective and depict how the outcome of this event will impact this individual’s life moving forward.
  • Chaney (WBEZ 91.5) says that journalists want PR professionals who will advance their story and give them something that you haven’t given to other media outlets. Media are always hungry for an exclusive.
  • All of our media guests stated that whether or not news is relevant to their beat, they will often pass it along and share with colleagues to whom it would be relevant.

Reporters Prefer Business Wire

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A picture’s worth a thousand words – but how much for the caption?

April 24, 2015

By Hannah Kelly, Business Wire Paris

Here at Business Wire, we know that over half of journalists and media professionals are more likely to review a press release that includes multimedia, and that images/photographs are one of the top content types for the online newsroom, but in order to truly launch effective multimedia, we must remember one very important detail – the caption.

When looking for the first time at a news release, readers’ attention immediately goes to the caption, and then the added image. This creates the ideal opportunity for you.  With up to twice as many people reading captions than body copy, captions provide an excellent opportunity to attract the reader’s attention. This short but sweet accompanying paragraph is your key to unlocking the image – it is the who, what, where, when, why and how, all rolled into one short sentence.

Small Town Big Fish Caption

Immediately after reading the caption, the reader will flick back to the image, and view it, usually, from a different perspective. This is more commonly known as the loop, and is essential to engaging the reader. The photo and the caption complement each other, building suspense and satisfying curiosity.

But it is not only that captions define images, captions put images into context. In many instances, the caption and image can result in coverage when an article is not possible. Business Wire captions can be up to 100 words each, more than enough space to create a connection between image and story.

ServiceNow Caption Example

Given the importance of captions, and their role in not only increasing coverage but building connections between your product and your customer, what are the best practices for writing one?

  • Use prepositional phrases, interesting adjectives and action verbs
    The caption should focus on action, and help the article to progress, while providing as much information as possible as to the relevancy of the multimedia to the news you are sharing
  • Use phrases that have been cut out of the main narrative
    This is the ideal time to retrieve phrases that were cut out for length reasons, but that are still pertinent to the text and work well with the release
  • Do not repeat body copy
    For the simple reason that nobody likes déjà vu, whatever they’re reading!
  • Provide information that’s not available by simply looking at the photo
    A reader will look at the caption to learn more, not for reinforcement of already formed ideas. Captions allow you, the brand, to define the image and those captured in it, properly.
  • And, finally, do not use the phrases “above” or “pictured here”.
    These phrases are of little use to reporters who may choose to use your image and caption instead of the entire press release.

Tony Romo Caption

Multimedia is more important than ever within the news creation and sharing process. The caption serves as a reference, increases the impact of the image and adds to the credibility of the piece.  Don’t overlook it, instead take advantage of this space and use it to not only increase coverage of your news, but conversions as well.

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[SURVEY] Best Practices for Promoting Crowdfunding Campaigns

April 17, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire


Many people are interested in launching crowdfunding campaigns to bridge their idea to reality but aren’t certain how to execute such a campaign successfully. To help answer this question, we created a survey about the best steps PR professionals can take to develop and execute a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Take our 2 minute survey now:

This survey will be open until April 24th and then we will share the resulting best practices for successful crowdfunding promotion.

Tell your friends about this survey:

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Top 5 Things Journalists Look for in a News Release

April 6, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

Journalists and media professionals get bombarded daily with emails and news releases. Those same journalists and media professionals also don’t have a lot of time. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to grab their attention by giving them exactly what they’re looking for. What are they looking for?

Who are you?

Before you write your news release, you have to answer one big question.  What is the name of a great The Who song, the theme song to a CSI spin-off, and the question that every news release must answer?

Who are you?


News is an industry of trust, so always ask yourself, why should journalists trust me? Treat a press release like a self-endorsement when trying to arrange a blind date. What are your best features and why would you (or your news release) be a perfect match for someone? It’s also good to have a trusted mutual friend, such as a newswire service, to make the introduction to your desired media outlet. Remember, you must woo a journalist with your release.

A key tip is to include a well-written boilerplate  at the bottom of your release. A boilerplate is a mini-bio of your company that lets the reader know exactly what you do.

A Headline Comes First
Before a journalist reads your release, they first see the headline. The headline is like a trailer to a movie, one that is well made will garner the interest of the audience. A bad headline, however, is the last thing that gets read before a journalist moves on to their next email.

A good tip for putting together a strong headline is to remember what the reader is looking for: information. Avoid using click-bait tactics because media pros have developed a keen sense of what to look out for. There are good reads online about the difference between click-bait and a well-made news releases, so make sure to be on the lookout.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

There is even an online headline analyzer by CoSchedule to help you craft the perfect headline that hooks the reader in and doesn’t let go.

The Ws
Journalists aren’t looking to read Moby Dick when opening your news release. Today’s reporters are looking for two key 5 Wselements.  They want to know the facts, and they want to know the story behind the facts – the one that tells why the product was made, who it impacts, what that impact was and why it would impact the publication’s core audience.  This is when you turn to your “W”s!

Who, what, where, when, and why is an exercise taught in elementary schools so that students can get a grasp of how to break down a story to its most basic and relevant elements. Use this same exercise when drafting your release because journalists don’t want to go looking for key story elements. By reducing the amount of work needed for a third party to tell your story you will find a much higher likelihood of coverage and engagement with your news.

Social Sharing

Social Media is Honey – Use It
Every news release is designed to attract readers. In the digital age, social media has become a swap meet where information is traded free of charge. Including social media links to your news release gives people the opportunity to easily distribute your news, the very same news you want covered by journalists. The name of the game is reach so make it easier for people to distribute and redistribute your release.

Cavemen didn’t write paragraphs about the beauty of horses. They made drawings on cave walls that are easy to understand even today! Believe it or not, that was the earliest form of multimedia.

Thanks to technical and mobile device advancements and penetration, humans are creating and consuming multimedia at unheard of rates. When thinking about crafting your press release, you must understand that multimedia supplements are no longer optional. Reporters and consumers use multimedia to create emotional connections and to showcase the real “why” behind your news.

In a 2014 Business Wire study of more than 300 journalists and media professionals, more than half (54%) are more likely to review a press release that includes multimedia than one that does not. The preferred media are photographs, by a staggering 73% of those participating in the survey.


But even multimedia is changing. With more than 63% of the world being visual and interactive learners, static multimedia is being replaced with interactive assets such as the Business Wire News and Picture Capsules that create engagement opportunities for newsreaders. These capsules are so engaging that the average viewer is now spending between 4-10 minutes per Capsule, just consuming the related content they host. Check out the one Six Flags used to announce one of their famous roller coasters would be running backwards for a limited time.


Hundreds of news releases are sent out each day, make sure that your next one stands out. Follow these steps to grab the reader and make sure that they’re getting, and sharing your message.

5 Tips for Building Brand Believers

March 20, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

Bernadette Morris, CEO and President of Black PR Wire, and Raschanda Hall, Director of Global Media Relations at Business Wire, cohosted a conference spotlighting the best practices in multicultural marketing. Hall explained that it was important to understand how to tap into the Black market because “according to Target Market News, the Black American economy already represents the 20th largest market in the world.” The event was initially described as a webinar on how to best reach the Black market, however, what resulted was a fantastic discussion that applied to all developing campaigns, reflecting how connected society has become in a digital world.

  1. Multicultural Markets are more Connected than Ever Before

Communications professional Danyele L.C. Davis, Vice President of Flowers Communications Group, explained that multicultural markets are more connected than ever before.

“The one thing I really want to dispel is that total market is not general market.”

Flowers Communication Group has successfully implemented the Cultural Fusion Model: Assess, Embrace, and Customize. Targeting minority markets the way they were targeted in the past is outdated and destined to alienate your target audience. Millennials see themselves completely differently and the best way to reach them is to assess cultural nuances.

  1. Who Influences Your Target Market?

Courtney Cunningham, Esq., Co-Founder and Managing Director of Commonground/MGS, explained that minorities, like all people, are influenced by region, religion, and upbringing. He referenced a series of commercials in which a Black male is shown failing at many attempts to use household products to do some basic cleaning. This example showcases how a target market is not being effectively reached because the people behind the advertising campaign have a misconception that minority males do not know how to take care of a household. He compared his reaction when watching the commercials to that of a professional lawyer watching a highly dramatized courtroom drama. The result is that you know what you are watching is fake, a stereotype.

  1. Don’t Just Target Your Market, Go to Them!

Danyele L.C. Davis brings up the example of technology and faith. The accepted idea was that cell phones had no place in church. It was considered a big “no-no.” That notion has since changed and the only way to know that is to be immersed in the community. The result was a newfound knowledge that Bible apps and selfies are regularly being used as a mode to connect in church and are quickly becoming integral to the faith community. It was the authenticity behind her attempts to understand this community that led her to identify current trends and make an impact with the #inspiredmobility campaign.

  1. Employees Must Be Brand Ambassadors

Alicia R. Alston, Vice President of Global Communications at Prudential Financial, Inc., stressed the importance of authenticity when attempting to build a connection with a market. She expressed that creating a legitimate and lasting connection with a market can only occur when the people responsible for implementing a campaign have a clear understanding of both the target market and their respective community. Alston makes the point that “employees be brand ambassadors for us” in regards to how employees should represent their respective companies.

  1. There’s More Than One Type of Marketing

Amber Bullock, Executive VP, Community & Youth Engagement for American Legacy Foundation, has been engaged in what is called counter marketing. American Legacy Foundation has been behind the easily recognized Truth anti-tobacco campaign, aimed at educating and influencing the public by exposing the dangers of using tobacco products. Bullock believes that to be successful in today’s world of communication, the emphasis must be placed on people and not the product.

The hour-long conference was followed by half an hour of question and answer. There was a clear consent amongst the group that the communication landscape is changing and it is important to understand what those changes are in order to connect with any target market. The millennial generation is not only forcing the industry to rethink the concept of multicultural marketing, but marketing in a much broader sense. Ultimately, all marketing is target marketing because the idea of a general market is one that is at best misconceived.

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7 Leading CEOs Discuss the Future of Company Communications [Free Webinar]

February 26, 2015

The strategic communication landscape is evolving at an ever-increasing pace.  We’ve seen the move from plain text releases to an era of activation through rich, multimedia storytelling.  Now, more than ever, growing your skill set is critical to keep up with the changing demands of clients and the media. It’s a “learn or get left behind” world.

On March 3 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time, seven of the nation’s leading communication CEOs will come together to discuss the changes and innovations changing the way organizations communicate with media, analysts and consumers.

CommPro CEO Leadership Discussion

On March 3, join 7 of the nation’s leading CEOs for an discussion on the future of communications.

Hosted by Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairwoman and CEO of Business Wire, this conversation will provide attendees of all levels with best practices that will directly impact communications programming for 2015 and beyond.  Discussion topics will include:

  • Where the PR/Communication industry is headed
  • Instilling and showcasing a spirit of innovation in the workplace
  • The role of collaboration in the creative environment
  • How to create a sense of purpose in your organization
  • The value of mentorship and training
  • Mastering the work-life balance

Participants include…

Register for this free webinar now:

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Studies Show Reporters Rely on Press Releases — Are You Providing Them With What They Need?

February 21, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

In this day and age, there really should be no question on how to garner media coverage. Yet, day after day, organizations distribute news releases that lack the information needed for the reporter to initiate coverage.  In this PR Week article, Jahana Hayes, from Business Wire Atlanta, shares six ways to make sure your press releases hit, and activate, your target audience.

Read the entire piece at PR Week:



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