Sending News to the Middle East? Q&A with News Services Group’s Tony AbiHanna

February 6, 2014

Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

I recently had the good pleasure of speaking with Tony AbiHanna, a Managing Director at News Services Group (NSG) in Dubai. NSG is a leading news service provider in the Middle East and North Africa and a distribution partner of Business Wire.  With more and more client news going to the Middle East, I was curious to know if he had any tips for conducting business in the region. During a short question and answer session, Mr. AbiHanna touched on the proper timing of a press release, what social media are popular in the region and whether sandstorms whipped up by shamal (wind) ever impact business.

Q: What is the single biggest thing to keep in mind when trying to successfully distribute news in the Middle East? Is it timing? Is it the headline? Is it the tone?

A: Normally media outlets across the Middle East tend to publish news related to the region.  So it would be best if clients can highlight a relation (if any) to the Middle East, a country in the region, or the name of a company based here in the headline of a press release. Otherwise, the news release most probably will end up in the international news page (if there is still space for it).

And timing plays a big role if the client is targeting print media.  Any release distributed after 3:00pm or 4:00pm (at the latest) has less of a chance of being picked up by the print media.

Q: What is the best day of the week and the best time of  day to send out a press release in the UAE (or the region – if there’s an agreed-upon standard)?

A: We advise avoiding distribution on Sundays (the first day of the week here) and Mondays.  Otherwise, all other days are fine.  Keep in mind, however, that Saturday is an off day and therefore an easy day news-wise.

Q: Are there any meeting customs/traditions unique to the Middle East that outsiders coming to conduct business should be aware of? For instance, in Japan, they have the “kamiza” seat and the exchanging of business cards. Does anything like this exist where you are?

A: There is a tradition of drinking Arabic coffee (which is the white coffee), and it can be considered an offense if the visitor doesn’t drink it as it is part of Arab hospitality. Plus, the professional classic and conservative outfits (especially for females) are advisable.

Q: From your point of view, what social media sites are most popular in the UAE and Middle East? What sites would be best utilized to complement the distribution of a news release?

Twitter is very influential and on top of the list and then Facebook and Instagram, respectively.

Q: Do sandstorms/shamal ever severely affect business in Dubai or elsewhere in the region?

Sand Storm

A: The UAE, Abu Dhabi and Dubai roads and business centers are highly equipped with the latest infrastructure, so sand storms don’t affect business here. However, if the visitor is traveling by car between Abu Dhabi and Dubai or any other Emirate for example, he needs to allow more time as traffic slows down on highways during such storms.


The Press Release Then and Now: How We Arrived At Where We Are Today

January 27, 2014

By: Hannah Kelly, Business Wire, Paris

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important milestones in the history of public relations – Ivy Lee’s management of the 1913-1914 Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.

The term ‘Public Relations’ first appeared in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature, and the original press release, which we can credit to Ivy Lee, was published in 1906 – following the tragic loss of 50 lives in the Pennsylvanian Railroad Crash.

Equally, Lee’s Declaration of Principles, also released in 1906, was a turning point for public relations, as it communicated the responsibility of those working in PR, not only to the client but also to the public. This declaration ensured that Lee’s work was subsequently accepted not in the form of advertising, but as news, as accurate information, as matter “of value and interest to the public”. This was, and still is, the founding principle of wire services such as Business Wire, Associated Press, AFP and more.

So with all of these important events taking place before 1914, what exactly was it about the Colorado Coal Strike that is now so crucial to the history of public relations?

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Firstly, the strike needed publicity management due to its hotly controversial nature – on-strike miners and their families were killed by state militia, and the mining union blamed the Rockefeller family and their coal mining business for the deaths.

Lee used, to his advantage, the establishment and acceptance of his Declaration of Principles as the basis for the management of the Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.  He drafted and mailed an array of bulletins to media outlets and workers alike, addressing the issue with candor (as well as successfully keeping the Rockefeller name free from reputational damage). This has become known as one of the most successful and influential PR campaigns – an experience that demonstrated, for the first time, the importance of publicity and public relations to the American nation.

It should be noted that doubts do exist regarding the authenticity of this campaign, whether certain facts were distorted, and if this was the case, as to whether this was intentional or not. However, despite any uncertainties, we must concede that this campaign achieved its goals : to promote the facts of the event and to share news with the public, whilst recognising its responsibility to both the public and the client, the Rockefeller’s.

Many years later, the standard of PR established in Lee’s Declaration of Principles has evolved significantly. It is now so well integrated into modern society that we no longer even question it. PR is an essential part of business life – and it would be unthinkable to run a company nowadays without openness and honesty to the public. It is for this reason that Business Wire works so hard to ensure the authenticity of all press releases, and adheres to such stringent security regulations. We agree with Lee’s rules: “Accuracy, Authenticity, and Interest”.


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


Critical Content for an IR Site: Press Releases Most Viewed Within Investor Centers

January 13, 2014
Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

We’ve heard from naysayers for years now that the press release is dead, especially within the financial industry. The statistical truth, however, is that the press release is, by far, the most accessed type of content within an investor relations center, or IR site.

At Business Wire, we work with thousands of publicly traded companies to disseminate press releases containing important financial data. Many of those organizations have also partnered with Business Wire to host their IR site. As we monitored these sites, we noted that the most popular content ranked as follows for 2013:

  1. Press Releases
  2. Events and presentations
  3. Executive biographies
  4. Annual reports and other financial documents
  5. Analyst coverage

With hundreds of thousands of views, the press release reigns supreme as it is viewed almost seven times more than events and presentations, the second most preferred content type. Views for all content types increased from 2012 to 2013. Interestingly enough, executive biographies grew over 300 percent, passing annual reports by a level.

I’ve always championed the frequently asked questions or FAQ section, particularly for the IR site, and it is next in line after the top five content types above. Financial communications can be complex at times, and investors, analysts and financial reporters have a lot of questions they need answered quickly. It makes it straightforward for all parties if the most common questions are provided with the most current answers.

Due to the demand for press releases, it is vital that they post simultaneously and directly to the IR site as they are distributed via the newswire. Categorizing releases not only by date, but also by subject matter, will make them easier to review and manage.


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!


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!


Greater Fort Lauderdale PRSA Sunshine Conference 2013 Making Waves: PR in a Sea of Change

August 19, 2013
by Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Miami
and Janice Essick, Regional Manager, Business Wire/Miami

Business Wire was recently a top sponsor of this informative annual event held Friday, August 2nd at Fort Lauderdale Beach’s beautiful W hotel; and the opening speaker, Ron Magill, Communications Director of ZooMiami, did not disappoint. He gave an incredible and moving presentation regarding his experiences over his 30 year career with the Zoo. The highlights from his presentation are numerous, but here is an abridged list of what he thinks has made District_Logohim so successful in PR:

  • Believe in what you’re doing.
  • It’s all about relationships you have.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Appeal to your audience; don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • When negative things happen, be proactive as soon as possible – do not wait.
  • Partnerships.

Choosing which breakout session to attend was not easy, but selecting “Visual Storytelling and the New Reality of Content Marketing,” presented by speaker Mike Bako, Marketing Manager and Broadcast Journalist of DS Simon, was very interesting and some takeaways are shared below:

  • 95% of TV stations are using outside video.
  • Media points are using social media networks more and more to find leads on content to cover:
    • 85% of TV stations
    • 76% of radio stations
    • 74% of magazines
  • Creating branded, expert-specific videos is an extremely good idea in today’s market.
  • YouTube is an extremely important tool for media; now it’s not just for sharing funny cat videos or someone falling off a skateboard.
  • Examples of using the right spokesperson for your brand, even when it’s an unlikely connection:
    • Deion Branch (professional football player) for Lactaid
    • Newscaster and his son for Legoland USA
    • Mommy blogger for Nintendo
  • Video use on Instagram and Vine for companies to create Brand Recognition:
    • Lowe’s is a brand who has been able to successfully use Vine.
    • Brands are trying to leverage the new apps targeting teens because in a few years they will have the buying power.
  • Video can also be used for internal communications  as well.

Lainey Garcia, Manager of External Communications for McDonald’s Corporation, spoke on “How McDonald’s Approaches Social Media in a Changing PR Climate.” She opened the session with a great story about a tweet sent out by “Millennial Mom” regarding her very unhappy 8-year old son who received the girl’s toy in his happy meal instead of the boy’s toy. The McDonald’s Twitter Team immediately saw this tweet and contacted the mom, rectifying the error by sending the correct toy. This particular mom was a very well-known mommy blogger; had this not been seen and dealt with swiftly, Lainey suggests the consequences of not reacting quickly could have included the viral effect from the Millennial Mom’s social network.  Here are some other helpful tips from this session:

  • Food is the single most talked about item on social media.
  • Using another brand to capture positive social media exposure that will be shared with thousands to millions of followers – illustrated by the Mindy Kaling birthday situation:
    •  Mindy tweeted a picture to McDonald’s of a birthday gift she received from Wendy’s.
    •  The McDonald’s Twitter team saw the tweet, quickly researched what Mindy liked and had a package of gourmet cupcakes sent to her.
    • The Twitter team was able to initiate and execute all of this within 7 hours of seeing the tweet.
    • Mindy followed up with a tweet saying: “Best day-after-birthday ever. Nice move McDonalds.  WE’RE lovin’ it.”

The keynote speaker, Mickey Nall, Chairman and CEO of PRSA, gave some great insights on working with millennials and gave us an overview of the changes and progression within the PR industry:

  • Working with Millennials – 4 Big Opportunities
  1. Focus on Reputation
    1. We are brand ambassadors; that is why it is important to work for a company that you admire and has a good CSR effort.
    2. Reputation matters – we own the reputation (not the brand).
  2. Create your own Content
    1. Content is really just another word for writing.
    2. Call it a media release, NOT a press release.
  3. Become a Story Teller
    1. The ‘Showing’ and ‘Telling’ in creating effective narratives.
    2. Get to the heart of the story.
    3. Make the abstract concrete so the audience gets it.
    4. Graphics are more effective to deliver a message.
  4. Employees Become Advocates
    1. Best Buy is a brand that strongly encourages its employees to tweet during their work day.

Laura Stephens, Public Relations Specialist, and Joshua Glanzer, Director of Public Relations for Lynn University, discussed during the final general session their hosting of a Presidential Debate.   Some highlights include the following:

  • Two part strategy for hosting a Presidential Debate
  • PR campaign (1 year)
    • Never assume or say it’s just two candidates.
    • Lynn made t-shirts that had the slogan “We’ve never heard of you either,” poking fun at the fact that most people hadn’t heard of the very small private university.
  • Managing the event (4-5 days)
    • Valuable experience for the university’s international students (Lynn is ranked as #4 for international students) because it provided a front row seat to American democracy at work.
    • Google provided an online street view when they were coordinating where stages were going to be built for big name TV stations like CNN.
    • Over 4,000 journalists attended the event.
    • Google “Hangouts” were held and Google promoted them for the University.
    • A social media lounge was created and the 15 student story teller volunteers went there and shared their stories via their personally preferred platforms.
    • Twitter and Google came to hang out in the lounge as well.
  • Total Cost $4.9 million (actual capital outlay was $2.7 million) = $63 million in ad equivalency.
  • Over 33,000 news stories were written:
    • Facebook impressions jumped from 86,579 to over 934,000.
    • Lynn became a trending topic, which isn’t something that can ever be paid for.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Focus and simplify.
    • Always tell your story.

Opening the second day at the conference was Virgil Scudder, President of Virgil Scudder & Associates, a 35+ year PR expert:  Lessons from the Trenches

Virgil Scudder Book Signing PRSA FL 2013_1

Key points to remember:

  • “Communication is not what you say or know, it’s what the other side takes away.”
  • 4 C’s = clear, concise, credible, confident.
  • Never use a big word when a small one will do.
  • Create positive interview capabilities.
  • Draft a checklist for what might be needed to handle an immediate crisis.
  • Have and share ideas.
  • Be nice, humble and a good listener.
  • Share credit and accept blame.
  • Outwork your competitor.

Listening to the last speakers of the conference was insightful and entertaining, while delivering two unique perspectives on reaching a Latin American audience with extremely different budgets:

Bea Garcia, Director of Media Relations, Deutsche Post /DHL

DHL handles all international transport except domestic here in the U.S.?  Their corporate communications strategy between a 3-person team consists of the following:

  • Sharing Globally; Adapted Regionally; Executed Locally
  • Partnering with SMEs (small/medium enterprises) to reach Latin American market, she grants one-on-one interviews with their CEO and shares studies of success stories with SMEs that use DHL in those markets.

Miguel Angel Oliva, VP for Public Relations & Corporate Affairs/HBO Latin America

Miguel talks about his unlimited budget and independence of marketing department to report directly to President and talks about his goal of achieving “critically acclaimed” using his PR / corporate communications strategy.  Large press tours using Latin American venues and sharing a slide show of the 2011 – 43 press tours.  77 tours in 2012, 83 expected in 2013 assist in achieving their corporate communications annual initiatives.

It was another informative PRSA Sunshine District conference that we are proud to support!


PRWeek 2013: PESO Principles – Register for Less!

August 7, 2013

250x180peso13-spons_368016Business Wire is proud to be a sponsor and exhibitor for the upcoming 2013 PRWeek conference. This year’s theme is PESO, the fast-evolving mix of Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media that is driving an increasingly integrated and convergent communications landscape. The old definitions of marketing and PR are being torn up as clients build their reputations through storytelling, content, and sharing.

Event details

When: Tuesday, September 17
Where: Convene (formerly The Sentry Centers), 730 3rd Avenue, New York, 10017
Time: 8.15am – 6.30pm (6.30pm-9.00pm is the 40 Under 40 Dinner)

Featured Speakers

Jeff Jones, CMO of Target; Simon Sproule, head of global marcomms at Nissan; and News Corporation strategy guru Raju Narisetti head a stellar lineup of C-suite executives and agency thought leaders to lead a conversation about paid, earned, shared, and owned media and how to maximize this mix to supercharge your brand, corporation, or organization. You will hear from cutting-edge experts, immerse yourself in best practice, and make vital connections in a program that mixes practical workshops, interactivity, blitz talks, onsite social media, and networking with thought-provoking keynotes and panel discussions.

Interested in attending? You can save $200 off the $795 conference registration price by registering today, and using the promo code BW200 at checkout. To register, visit https://www.etouches.com/ereg/newreg.php?eventid=61096 .

We look forward to seeing you there!


Business Wire Phoenix and Keith Yaskin Show How to Tell Your Story with Video

March 7, 2013
by Billy Russell, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Phoenix

At Business Wire’s February 27 workshop, “How to Dynamically Tell Your Company’s Story With Video,” Keith Yaskin, who moderated the event, had an opportunity to provide his own insight into the creative process of crafting a video to tell a company’s story.

Three teams were each assigned to produce a video for a specific company Keith had outlined, and were asked how they would tell their story and what visuals would be highlighted. Two teams were given the task of creating a video for a mining company in order to boost its image to gain public support for a land swap.  One team was given a small, local dentist’s office who specialized in kids’ dentistry.  Both industries may have a difficult time portraying a positive image for different reasons:  Mining companies can receive public backlash for environmental reasons, and a dentist’s office is a classic phobia for many people.  So, how to tackle these issues?

According to Keith, there is absolutely no ONE right way to tell a story.  There may be ten, twenty, a hundred different ways to tell a story, all of which can be equally effective.  The two teams provided with the task of the mining company had different ideas, ranging from who to interview, to where to shoot the interview.  Should it be outside on a sunny day?  Who would be interviewed?  The town’s mayor?  An environmentalist professional?  Everyone had their own ideas, none of them wrong, but all greatly different in achieving the goals.

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Event photos by Billy Russell, Business Wire

Keith then shared a video he had personally produced for a mining company in the same situation. His was shot almost entirely within the mine, about 70% of it being with the workers and interviewing them, and 30% within the town.  He explained to the workshop attendees that he wanted to highlight the hard work that the employees handle within the mine in order to boost the company’s public image.  When it comes to interviews, he told us, he much preferred working with non-actors in order to get a more naturalistic demeanor from them.  With actors, he said, sometimes they come off TOO good, too polished and confident.  He told the groups that he preferred the reactions and statements of everyday people as their conversations come across more warmly.

The second team was asked to create a video for a pediatric dentist’s office to portray the professional positively and warmly; themes were discussed on what would be covered and who would be interviewed.  Some ideas were to interview the child coming to visit and asking how they liked coming to the dentist’s office, making sure to get great, big smiles on camera to highlight his/her happiness with the visit and the professional work on their teeth.  Other members of the team thought it would be a good idea to spend some time talking about the equipment used, to show how state-of-the-art their techniques for dentistry are, to ease potential clients’ minds about what to expect.

After the discussion, Keith shared another video he had produced to demonstrate how he handled the same task.  He allowed the dentist to speak freely about how he comforts his clients coming in for checkups and building rapport with them.  Keith noted one of his techniques to filming is to, after an interview is conducted, have the dentist continue to wear his microphone and to shoot video of him going about his business so that he can get some off-the-cuff moments and the children visiting his office that looks and feel entirely real and unrehearsed.

The workshop closed with a Q&A session where our attendees had a chance to clarify any questions that they had about the creative process and how to work within reasonable budgetary restrictions.


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