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

March 18, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend!


Dos and Don’ts of Pitching a Features Editor

March 8, 2011
by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire’s Features National circuit and Feature Topic Series can help distribute your press releases, but how do you create an effective story that will appeal to a features editor? I reached out to Katie Aberbach of the Washington Post Express and Katy De Luca of the Washington Examiner to find out the dos and don’ts of pitching a feature editor.

Katie Aberbach

Katie Aberbach is a feature editor for the Washington Post Express‘ Lookout, Weekend Pass and Digs sections. According to Aberbach, a good feature is “a human interest story, something the average reader can relate to.” The best feature stories are when you become invested in what you’re reading or when you can tell that the reporter truly enjoys what he or she is writing about. When it comes to getting ideas for feature stories, “press releases do help out a lot because there is no way you can know everything new that’s coming out,” she said. “Tell me about your new product, television show and book and offer a source to comment on it.”

When it comes to writing your press release, she suggests the following:

  • Do break up the story and summarize key information into bullet points.
  • Do include links to other trend stories and think of what visuals would work for your story.
  • Don’t forget the hook. Even though you’re pitching a feature story, a hard news hook is still valuable. Say why I should care right away. Naming the names is really important.

Katy De Luca

Katy De Luca is the features editor of the Washington Examiner. For De Luca, the best feature stories are ones that appeal to the Examiner audience. “I look at all pitches and think about what will be most interesting to our readers. I think about what they would want to read and what is the best way to get the information to them,” she said. Most of the story ideas come from the writers De Luca works with. She also reads a variety of media and if a topic grabs her attention, she’ll forward the lead to one of her freelancers.

When pitching a feature reporter or editor, De Luca recommends these points:

  • Do include as much information as possible in the subject line and personalize your pitch. Provide all basic details. Simple is better.
  • Do periodically ask the person you are pitching to what sort of things they are looking for. Communication is a key part of the process.
  • Don’t send long-winded e-mails with attachments.

For more suggestions on how to help get your feature news noticed by the media, check out these Features News Tips. You can also contact our features department at features@businesswire.com for additional writing tips and story suggestions.


Boston PR Groups Suggest Social Media Strategies for Success

February 17, 2011
by Liz Koch, Media Relations Representative, Business Wire/Boston

Liz Koch

Social Media Club Boston and Publicity Club of New England co-presented an evening panel discussion on social media campaign successes using Facebook, Twitter and blogging. The Social Media Club Boston chapter hosts programs that promote and educate anyone interested in learning more about social media literacy and best practices for social networking. The Publicity Club of New England promotes and encourages the profession of public relations by holding monthly educational programs, maintaining a job bank, and hosting the annual Bell Ringer Awards.

The discussion, hosted by Constant Contact, was shaped by a dynamic panel of speakers and led by moderator Julie Hall (@juliehall) of Schneider Associates (of the Tweet Me Sweethearts campaign). Panelists included Amy Kenly of Kalypso (thought leadership and “thoughtware”), Tyson Goodridge of Dialogue, Evan Falchuk of Best Doctors, Josh Mendelsohn of Constant Contact, Joselin Mane of 451 Marketing (and @BostonTweetUp founder) and Mike Proulx of Hill Holliday.

Photo credit: Todd Van Hoosear (@vanhoosear on Twitter)

Some of the practical social media strategies shared included:

  • The quantity of fans/followers your organization has is less important than how effective that same group is in promoting you to others. You have to be sure you are giving them the right tools to market for you. For example, if offering a discount for checking in with FourSquare at a restaurant garners 10 new patrons for a lunch special, this is more valuable than 100 followers who don’t ever visit the restaurant. Joselin Mane used Turner Fisheries as an example: The restaurant went from not being open for lunch to serving 40 plates regularly.
  • Visitors to your website or brick/mortar business that came from an existing social network were more than three times as likely to share your message than those who happened upon it. For example, Mike Proulx of Hill Holliday described a campaign for which Marshall’s engaged in producing “haul videos,” a social media format which already had credibility with teen shoppers.
  • Don’t get hung up on “the next big thing” – this adds extra distance to the social media learning curve. Instead, utilize the current available networking strategies!
  • Use a URL shortener (in your tweets, press releases, etc.) that provides analytic data like clicks, traffic, and sources. Bit.ly offers free analytics for any link as well as a host of other tools.

For additional insights from the program check out related tweets under the event hashtags #PubClubofNE and #SMCBoston.


Breaking News: Press Release STILL Not Dead

September 28, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

Will the death wish for the press release never cease?  Something about the approach of Day of the Dead each Fall seems to provoke fantasies of its demise.

A recent article in AdAge is a case in point.  Media columnist Simon Dumenco suggested that Twitter has made press releases obsolete.  “The long-suffering, much maligned press release, I’d argue, finally died this summer,” he wrote.    Dumenco pointed to Kanye West and other celebs as models of  how Twitter can replace press releases.

This just in: Press release still not dead

But then PR  people  (including yours truly)  chimed in, vigorously  rising to the press release’s defense.          

Among the comments:

 

            

“Dead?! Oh, Mr. Dumenco, I disagree.” –nravlin,    Burlington, VT

“There will always be a need for someone to encapsulate that great story, that feature, in a form which has shape and rationale and the emotional appeal which is what resonates with people’s fundamental needs.”–JustWrite, Los Angeles, CA

“Press releases aren’t dead, so let’s try to be a bit less argumentative and bit more informed, shall we?”–cameronb129, Baltimore, MD

“Yes, my industry has changed. I used to type news releases on an IBM Selectric. Now I compose them in a word processor, and embed hotlinks and keywords….the purpose of the news release itself hasn’t changed. And, luckily for my clients, neither have my results when it comes to writing and distributing news releases.”–Kathleen Hanover, Las Vegas

The discussion has churned for years.   Silicon Valley blogger Tom Foremski stirred up the nondebate back in 2006 with a now infamous rant, Die Press Release! Die! Die! Die!  I wrote about it right here almost exactly two years ago.  A Google search of the phrase “death of the press release” returns more than 19 million results.  And the AdAge article referenced above provoked more than 20 comments, a slew of blogposts, and an active discussion in the PRSA group on LinkedIn.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, press releases are here to stay.  They continue to serve as one of the most  useful, cost effective, enduring and yes–ubiquitous–tools in the marketing and communications arsenal. We can legitimately debate what to call them:  press releases, news releases, h-releases, social media releases, social media news releases.  But that’s another blogpost.     

For more on the State of the Press Release, check out our White Paper.


Business Wire Opens Office in Austin, Texas

September 10, 2010

by Monika Maeckle

Business Wire opened its doors in Austin, Texas this week, planting its flag just south of Ladybird Lake at 510 South Congress and Riverside. 

A team of four veteran Business Wire staffers are delighted to have a foot in the Live Music Capitol of the World, a city we have been working from our San Antonio location for more than 10 years. 

Christye Weld, Austin-San Antonio Sales Manager for Business Wire

“It’s about time we planted the flag in Austin, too,” said Christye Weld, Austin-San Antonio sales manager.

Business Wire Austin staff is looking forward to lunchtime bike rides around Ladybird Lake, foraging the food court at Whole Foods Market headquarters, bonding with our Austin clients, and generally doing what we can to “keep Austin weird.”

For full details on our move, see the press release that ran on our favorite wire service.


Get Better Tradeshow Coverage with EventTrak by Business Wire

July 21, 2010

by Leon Harbar, Vice President, Global Tradeshows & Events, Business Wire Los Angeles

It may seem obvious, but many companies often go into an important tradeshow sending hundreds of generic emails to the registered media list and hoping for the best: A meeting with any journalist or blogger. Unfortunately, the result is a series of awkward meetings that result in very little targeted coverage.

A more efficient process would be to actually know before the show which influential attending journalists and/or bloggers are actually covering your target market, then putting special emphasis on setting up meetings with those people before your competitors do.

EventTrak by Business Wire is the solution to enable you to set up smarter meetings before your important tech tradeshow.          EventTrak logo

For each specific show, EventTrak provides your public relations team with a “pre-show” report up to 2 months prior to show start detailing media/blogger coverage of the prior year’s show. The report includes publication name, author, date published and a direct link to the article. Users may search within this data, download and export contacts and review “hot themes” for the upcoming show. Approximately two weeks after the show ends, the user will receive a post-show report in the same format with updated coverage data.

For an overview on EventTrak, click here.

For a listing of tradeshows where EventTrak is available, click here.

Business Wire is the official wire for hundreds of events worldwide and when that’s the case, our Online Press Center is integrated within the media area of that event’s website. In addition, we continue to provide free distribution of 100-word profiles to exhibitors/sponsors/presenters of certain events.

If you have any questions on distributing news for a specific event, adding your event to TradeshowNews.com or just need advice, please email tradeshow@businesswire.com.

Follow TradeshowNews.com on Twitter @TradeshowNews or become a fan of us on Facebook!


White Paper on The State of the Press Release Offers Tips for Maximizing their Success

July 13, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

As  a company that makes its living from press releases, we don’t pretend to be objective about their relevance and importance.  That said, we are REALLY TIRED of inflammatory and inaccurate headlines pronouncing the press release dead.   To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of (its) death have been greatly exaggerated.

We’re not alone in our view that the press release is alive and well.  And the data backs us up.

Here’s some facts from our recent white paper on the subject:

  • Just at Business Wire, we issue an average 1,000 press releases each work day (not that many on Saturdays and Sundays).
  • One study suggests 1.7 BILLION press releases are sent out via email each year.  That doesn’t include the millions sent on paid and unpaid services like Business Wire.
  • A decade ago, a press release would sit at the altar of journalists, hoping to be “picked up,” rewritten and published.  Today, it’s likely to skip gatekeepers altogether and jump straight to the screens of consumers. 
  • A recent survey suggested 92% of journalists get their ideas from press releases.

For more info and insights on the State of the Press Release, and tips on how to maximize their success, please check out our White Paper:  The State of the Press Release.   We invite you back here to share your comments. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 


Press Release Case Study: From Press Release to Dr. Phil Show

June 22, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

A well-written press release, a heartfelt story, and a timely news hook  landed self-published author Jodi Bean on the Dr. Phil Show to promote her book and her cause.   How much did it cost?  Only $300.

Bean, of Alpine, Utah,  issued a press release on Business Wire’s Utah circuit on April 14  about her challenges raising a difficult adopted child from Belarus.   The story was especially compelling in the wake of the media furor over a Nashville mom who was vilified for sending her troubled adopted son back to Russia six months after his arrival because of violent behavior and psychological problems.

With help from online PR pro Janet Thaeler, Bean’s press release resulted in an April 30 story on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune with the headline “Preventing failed adoptions: Prospective parents need more info on childhood trauma.”   Bean’s book, Love Lessons and her Finding Hope Foundation,  were founded specifically to address those needs.

Shortly after the front page placement, and following an email follow-up, the Dr. Phil Show called.  By June 10 Jodi Bean was being interviewed on national television. 

” The important thing was to link to the book, her other appearances and to her foundation. These built trust and gave her credibility,” says Thaeler, author of the book I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What??.   Thaeler inserted useful, relevant links throughout the press release.  She also detailed the press release case study in a recent blogpost.

Apart from great media placements, Bean relayed that she went from selling two-three books a week, to two-three books a day. 

“It was my first press release and it was really successful,” says Bean.  “I’m going to do another one.”  

We’re glad to hear it.   Do you have an impressive press release case study that involves Business Wire services? Email monika.maeckle@businesswire.com


How to Pitch an Association Publication

May 25, 2010

- by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/Washington, DC

Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist

At a recent event held by the PRSA National Capital Chapter in Washington, DC, Jessica Sidman, association & nonprofit reporter for Bisnow, and Ed Dalere, Managing Editor of Association TRENDS, offered advice on how to pitch a great story for your association or nonprofit.

The discussion revealed that pitching is not an exact science, even when it comes to the nonprofit world.  Every journalist has unique preferences and it is important for public relations professionals to take this into consideration when providing news tips.  For example, Jessica would rather be contacted via e-mail, while Ed prefers phone calls.

A common theme, however, was the importance of creating an interesting story that captures the attention of a reporter.  According to Jessica, a story is great when it is interesting to people in industries other than your own.  Think about the universal appeal of your story and remember those features when writing your release.  Is your organization engaging members in new ways?  How are you addressing the top challenges that your association is currently facing?

For Ed, a great story is one that goes beyond the press release.  Make sure there are contacts on your release that are ready to provide information and to engage in conversation.  Media contacts should not only be knowledgeable about the subject of the release, but should also remember that journalists are looking for something to make their story unique.  Ed is not going to use a quote if he knows it is a generic response given to multiple publications.

Bisnow’s Association & Nonprofit news reaches more than 10,000 association professionals nationally.  It provides analysis of issues in association management, profiles on nonprofit leaders and news about various organizations through a free subscription based e-newsletter.

Association TRENDS is often called ‘the bible of the association community.’ It is a subscription-based, online weekly read by association executives, managers and nonprofit experts throughout the United States. TRENDS sponsors an annual media contest for associations and selects the national ‘Association Executive of the Year.’

For more tips on writing and sending your press releases, visit the “Support and Education” section at BusinessWire.com.


Viva the Press Release! Social Media Diehard Hails “Traditional” Press Release and Paid Wire Services

May 19, 2010

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

“I think now, more than ever, traditional press releases matter and that wire services like Business Wire are worth the expense – or rather – the investment.”–Alan Weinkrantz

We don’t pretend to be objective about press releases, and indeed a quote from our boss Warren Buffett, seems appropriate here:  “Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut.”

That said, it’s refreshing to see a PR practitioner who’s been  embracing social media for five years laud the attributes of  the “traditional” press release as well as those of the “paid wire services”–in this case, yours truly: Business Wire.

Alan Weinkrantz, a high tech PR consultant in San Antonio, is a contributing business columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and a peripatetic poster on Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, LinkedIn, Flickr, his own blog and elsewhere.  I often wonder if the guy ever sleeps.   As he details in a blog post , Alan used Business Wire to issue this press release for his client, DenimGroup, a San Antonio-based IT consultancy and security software firm.

Typically Alan pitches stories via email to a targeted list of media, bloggers and industry analysts and points to the release on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook after it’s been disseminated by Business Wire.

“Business Wire is our core distribution platform for reaching journalists, analysts and bloggers who search for key words in their area of interest.  We also use social sites to supplement our efforts and hashtags on Twitter so we can be found this way,” says Alan.  “Business Wire provides confidence that we’re  helping the client populate the Internet, major search engines and industry sites that we can’t reach on our own, no matter how many pitches and phone calls we make.”

Alan’s Business Wire distribution hit a homerun for his client with an application story in RFID Journal.

He’s quick to point out that the release itself did not carry the story.  “It led to the opportunity,” he said, adding that when the lead came in,  he followed up to coordinate story development with the client and the PR teams involved. “It was a great story that brought attention to an industry looking for innovative and secure ways to integrate RFID.”

And that’s how it can work.  Thanks for sharing the story,  Alan.  We agree with you:  “Long live the press release. Viva wire services (paid ones I might add) like Business Wire.”

 


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