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


Upcoming Business Wire Events – June 11 Edition

June 11, 2010

Upcoming Business Wire Events

Join Business Wire experts in your area for media breakfasts, panel discussions and other insightful events. We bring local media members and industry thought leaders to your market to discuss today’s most relevant topics, from writing for SEO to marketing with social media. Best of all, Business Wire events are usually free of charge. Check out some of our upcoming events in your area:

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Durham Event]

Join Business Wire in Durham for lunch and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Valerie Aguirre, CBC New Media Group; Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz; and Scott Sharpe, The News & Observer. This event is free for all attendees.

Wednesday, June 16 at 11:30 a.m. ET
Sheraton Imperial Hotel
4700 Emperor Blvd., Durham, NC 27703
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Charlotte [Charlotte Event]

Join Business Wire Charlotte for breakfast and a panel discussion on using video to maximize your marketing communication efforts. Learn how integrating video into your marketing and public relations plans can enhance your SEO reach and provide real results. Panelists include: Joe Carleo, Advanced Language & Media Services; Corrie Harding, WCNC-TV; Jason Silverstein, ACBJ/Bizjournals.com; and Rachel Toole, MEDIAmobz. This event is free for all attendees.

Thursday, June 17 at 7:30 a.m. ET
Maggiano’s
4400 Sharon Rd., Charlotte, NC 28211
To register: Please RSVP to Angela Haysworth at 704-347-1590 or email angela.hayworth@businesswire.com

Adding Video to Maximize Your Reach, Exposure & Pick-Up

Hosted by Business Wire Florida

Looking for new ways to reach and engage your audience?  Would you like to add value to your news & generate interest for your campaigns? Join us as our experts discuss the power of video & the benefits of including a visual element to your press releases. Speakers include Rachel Toole, Sales & Marketing Consultant for MEDIAMobz, Rick Christie, Breaking News Editor for the Palm Beach Post and Doug Perry, Executive Producer for Digital Content for WPBF-TV. This event is free for all attendees.

Tuesday, June 22 at 11:30 a.m. ET
JM Family Enterprises, Inc.
111 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
To register: Please RSVP to Claudia Perez-Bonilla at 954-474-8833 or email claudia.perez@businesswire.com

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Once Again, the Press Release

May 4, 2010

- by Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist

Todd Defren of PR Squared tweets about a blog entry at The Practitioner by Steve McAbee of Wunderkind Public Relations, called “Social Media: Breathing New Life Into the Press Release.”  McAbee discusses ways to use the traditional press release in conjunction with social media, by using links to attract online readers to your company’s social media newsroom on your website, as well as to content on Flickr, YouTube and other sites.  This is a notion that we’ve been pushing for years  — since launching our own site in 1995, we’ve always tried to stay ahead of technology and urge our users to do the same. We describe press releases as search engine optimized platforms for connecting with your audiences, including the media; not having appropriate links to content just won’t work.  Whether you use Todd’s SMPR template or continue to write your releases the traditional way, appropriate multimedia and link content is a must.

(Steve does briefly praise Google’s use of using a wire release to link back to their own newsroom, but in the contest of their recent earnings notice-and-access release, which Neil Hershberg discussed here yesterday.)

I do have to take issue with one thing, though:  Steve also links to a piece at Fast Company by Wendy Marx, “B2B PR: New Uses for Press Releases.”  In that article, Marx notes that “The social media release came of age in 2006 when wire services like PR newswire didn’t include multimedia components in releases.”  While I’m not going to defend the competition, Business Wire has had multimedia components in press releases for more than a decade now.

We launched our multimedia Smart News Release back in 1997, with photos and video available right from the get-go. At first, they were linked to from a thumbnail or link within the release. Today, they’re embedded in the release, with multiple resolutions and bandwidths available with a single click; and in many cases, they display at the downstream sites, too.  We made both hyperlinks and embedded logos available by 2001.

We believe in making the tools available to our users to have implement the best PR strategy possible. It’s nice to see our notions of using the press release as a pathway to other content taking root in the PR community.


Editor’s Corner – January Edition

January 7, 2010

With 30 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

BW LA Senior Editor Roger Johnson

Years ago, teaching English composition at the University of Arkansas, I gave a half-joking, half-serious commandment to my students the first day of class: don’t bore me.

I didn’t mean that a tiger had to leap out at me in every sentence, or that each paragraph should end with someone hanging from a cliff. I meant that their prose should be vigorous –clear and concise, filled with specific detail.

In my past 13 years as an editor at Business Wire, I’ve discovered that readers of your news releases want the same thing. They’re not looking for pouncing tigers – just clear, concise, detailed information that keeps them reading. And keeps them using your releases — in their newspaper, television broadcast, blog or online database.

We all know “the rules” by now: omit needless words, clearly attribute speakers in quotes, use nouns and strong verbs, etc. (Pick up a style guide for a refresher course. From the fussy Elements of Style to the practical and sturdy AP Stylebook, there’s a million of ‘em out there.)

Writing a tight, detailed release definitely will get your news noticed. But an even better way to attract media attention is to include a multimedia element with your release — something you can do by ordering a Smart News Release (SNR).

Press releases about new hires or promotions will definitely attract more eyes if you include photos. Open up any newspaper’s business section, which is filled with executive headshots, and you’ll see how valuable these are to editors – and thus to your company.

That old adage about “a picture being worth a thousand words” endures because it’s true. Many times I’ve worked on an SNR one day and then seen the same image in the pages of USA Today or the Los Angeles Times the next morning. And I’ve seen videos SNRs I’ve worked on in the morning on that evening’s local news broadcast.

Some things to keep in mind when you send in a photo as part of your SNR:

  • Send it in .jpg format. (Other graphics files like .tif, .gif, .bmp, and .png are usable, too.)
  • Send images of at least 2400 pixels on the longest side. (Although we can run any size as an SNR, print media won’t use smaller images.)
  • Always include a caption with your photo.

Some things to keep in mind when sending us video files:

  • Send original digitized files (MPG, MP4, AVI, WMV and MOV files, for example) rather than files already converted to a streaming format.
  • Make the video for a window of at least 320×240 pixels (a 4:3 aspect ratio).
  • The frame rate should be at least 15 fps (frames per second) or higher.
  • Most web viewers say they prefer videos of five minutes or less.

Along with photos and videos, you can supplement your news releases with Excel spreadsheets and charts; PowerPoint slide shows; PDF documents; Word documents; or Flash animations.

Finally, include your company logo with your photo or video. This will help brand your company news and help complete your multimedia package.

-Roger Johnson, Senior Editor, Business Wire Los Angeles


Number One Without a Bullet

October 5, 2009

Via Twitter, Dominic Litten of Fathom SEO points to a great item at SearchEngineWatch written by SEO/SEM wizard and past Business Wire event speaker Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR.

The article, cleverly titled “Social Media Press Release Blown Away in Hail of Bullets,” takes a look at what kind of press release is more effective at getting indexed by Google News:  The bullet-heavy Social Media Press Release, or a traditional narrative release.  Greg’s results help reinforce that not only is content important, how you present that content can be equally important.  Click through and read the whole thing for an important lesson on just what it is that both search engines and readers are looking for in your press release, and how to make that work for you.


Business Wire PR Peeps Poll: News Release or Press Release?

July 1, 2009

News release or press release?  Results are in for this month’s Business Wire PR Peeps Poll:  56% of 370 polled preferred “press release” while 44% chose “news release.”

Discussion has surfaced lately regarding the preferred usage of these two seemingly interchangeable phrases.  “Press” release has history on its side, with its tenure as one of the most basic public relations tools on the planet–not to mention being written into the constitution as freedom of the “press.”    Also, don’t forget that the press release celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, with nostalgic tributes to Ivy Lee, PT Barnum and others.

As for “news release,” an implied superiority abounds for its usage–as if “the press” in the age of user generated content is an institution to be dismissed.

Junepollchart

Funny that we at Business Wire for years adamantly touted ourselves as a “news release wire service” but when we started to do search engine marketing noted that “press release” is searched ten times more frequently, on average, than the the phrase “news release.”  Now we are as likely to use press release as news release in marketing, presentations and elsewhere.

Old habits die hard, I suppose. Even those who propose to “reinvent” the already interactive press release of today as the “social media press release” seem to prefer “press” to “news.”  Would love to hear what psychologists, linguists and behavioral marketers think about what all this means.

Here’s the details from our 370 respondents, culled from Twitter and our weekly webinar polls.

Business Wire PR Peeps Poll for June 2009: News Release or Press Release, which do you choose?

  • 163 preferred news release-44.05%
  • 207 preferred press release-55.95%

To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  How about helping with the Business Wire PR Peeps July poll? Advertising Equivalencies — do you or have you used them to justify PR efforts?

370 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted  June 1 – 30, 2009.


Don’t Ask the Barber if You Need A Haircut and other Press Release Wisdom from Warren Buffett

May 26, 2009

Last week, HubSpot’s provocatively titled webinar “How to Be Smarter than your PR Agency” took a stab at analyzing the effectiveness of press releases.   We applaud their efforts and will chime in here with some footnotes based on 48 years in the press release biz.photo from Times Picayune

But first, thanks to HubSpot for tackling this topic.  We’re delighted to see an inbound marketing software firm like HubSpot acknowledge how well press releases can perform in linkbuilding and organic search. 

Among HubSpot’s findings:

  • “Traditional” press releases are “syndicated” 20% more frequently than “social media press releases”  — meaning they are republished in full on major portals like Google and Yahoo! and authority websites.
  • “Traditional” press releases drive 14% more traffic to your website than “social media releases.” 

We’ve known this for years–but as every PR pro is aware, third-party endorsements breed credibility.  Thanks again, HubSpot!

Wire services “push” content

Presenters Rebecca Corliss and Michael Volpe explained that services like Business Wire have media relations teams that work directly with portals, to whom we “push” content based on need.  At Business Wire, we have 30 full-time media relations professionals worldwide.

HubSpot gives full credit to “the wires” for being able to “push” content better than anyone but bemoan we can be “pricey.”

Here’s where we disagree.   Starting at $210, we believe the press release is a multi-tasking bargain with its ability to work NOT ONLY as an SEO/linkbuilding tool but as  direct marketing.  

Treat your press release like its own interactive web page and it works as a tipsheet for reporters, a mini website, a brand ambassador.  Awareness raised by the well-done press release is hard to beat, because NOT ONLY does it contribute to SEO, it markets your message directly, ESPECIALLY when  pushed out to other authority sites, or “syndicated” as Hubspot calls it.

HubSpot discouraged the use of multimedia and XHTML formatting–bullets, boldface, italics, white space–in press releases.  Again, we disagree.

Attractively presented content gets read

Sure you want traffic to your site, but you also want people to READ what you WRITE.  That’s much more likely when content is attractively presented.   Our metrics show press releases with graphics get two to three times more clicks.

When HubSpot introduced the “the inbound marketing press release” to join the H-release, the social media release, the SMNR, SMPR, it was hard not to wonder:  Do we really need another template?    

Thanks to investments in NewsML by Business Wire like our patented NX technology, real world applications exist NOW for virtually any template or format you choose.  Every press release can include multimedia or not, can be shared or searched, include anchortext and/or lengthy URLs–it just depends on how you build it, having something to say, and your goals. 

Good content, well written, appropriately distributed

Our press release mantra:  Good content, well written, appropriately distributed.  No need for your press release to serve as SEO link builder OR a direct marketing tool–it can do both.  

And here’s where we quote our boss, Warren Buffett:  Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut. 

HubSpot is a software company, so naturally they will encourage the use of  software and website solutions for online marketing success.   More power to ‘em.

Those beating the drum for the social media news release are often in the business of profiting from its acceptance–frequently by carving a consulting biz out of a very crowded social media echo chamber.  It makes sense these folks would promote various templates’ alleged strengths.   Are they ”tech agency execs push(ing) faux ‘innovation’ for the sake of making names for themselves”? as one HubSpot blog commenter posted?  That’s for the reader to decide.

We, meanwhile, remain in the press release business and believe that well-done press releases address myriad online marketing challenges and at a reasonable price. 

The movie business began with silent movies, which became ”talkies,”  and later, color motion pictures.  Today we call them movies.  So it is with press releases.  They’ll continue to evolve and at Business Wire we embrace the evolution because in the end, they’re all press releases.

photo: Chuck Cook / The Times-Picayune


Business Wire PR Peeps Poll: More Than a Third Optimize Press Releases for Search Engines

May 7, 2009

Do you optimize your press releases for search engines? 

That was Business Wire’s 1-question poll for April, and we’re pleased to announce promising results:   34% of PR peeps polled say they optimize their press releases for search engines. 

Bravo!  That’s more than we expected.

Right behind the enlightened third, an almost equal 33% say they do NOT optimize press releases for search.  Twenty percent said they optimize “sometimes” and 12% “don’t know what it means” to optimize a press release for search engines.

Those of us catering to the public relations industry find these results heartening.  Press Release Optimization is a new concept and our educational webinars  suggest that the level of understanding is often shockingly remedial.  

As we said in a previous post, our clients tell us  they “don’t have time” to optimize their press releases for search engines.  That’s a shame.  One of the biggest pay-offs for doing so is better online traction through increased search engine results and sharing.

If you need help optimizing your press releases, check out the archived webinar on exactly that topic by Business Wire search pros Maria Van Wambeke and Michael Toner.  Watch for another Press Release Optimization webinar by our dynamic duo this summer.

aprilchart

To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  And how about helping with the next one?  What do you value more when measuring press release traction?

Business Wire PR Peeps Poll for April 2009:

Do you optimize your press release for search engines? 
 
                     207  Yes 34%
                     202   No 33%
                     123    Sometimes 20%
                       75      I don’t know what optimize your press release for search engines means 12%
607 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted April 1 – May 5, 2009.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Press Release? “Several days,” said half of those polled

March 30, 2009

Polling results are in for Business Wire’s occasional 1-question poll and to those of us in the press release business, the results are no surprise.  My sense is that PR professionals may want to use these results to justify billable hours spent on press release creation, too.  Here’s a summary:

Almost half of 277 respondents said it takes “several days” to write and get approval for a press release.     Only 3%–nine of the total–were lucky enough to churn out a press release in “an hour.”  About 37%  said they spend “half a day” or “a day” to get press releases together while those poor PR souls who need “weeks” constituted an unenviable 11%.   Details below.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Press Release

Several of you wondered why we didn’t make our poll into two questions–since writing a release and getting approvals are such distinct steps in the process.  The reason: we wanted to find out the total time investment in the release BEFORE it arrives at Business Wire.  We also wanted to keep the poll to one question to encourage participation.

So what are we getting at?  Press Release Optimization.

Anecdotally, clients tell us that they “don’t have time” to optimize their press releases.  Or they don’t know how.  That’s why we built a free tool, Press Release Builder, that walks you through the optimization process.   Thing is, clients aren’t using it because it takes an extra few minutes.   Huh?  

Why would you NOT spend an extra 30 – 45 minutes optimizing your press release for search given that you’ve already invested “several days” getting it to the one-yard line?   Business Wire couldn’t help but wonder.

One obstacle is that clients are not managing press release optimization into their workflow.  Frequently press releases are written and approved, and by the time they arrive at Business Wire, their creators have no no interest in tweaking keywords or rearranging paragraphs that might change the copy and require a return to the meat grinder for more time-consuming approvals.

We understand.  That’s why we encourage you to factor press release optimization into your budget BEFORE you come to Business Wire for distribution.  Even if you work with a digital PR firm or a search engine specialist, it will take time.   You can play around with Press Release Builder at your leisure, FOR FREE, when you’re not on deadline.   Talk to your account executive.  It’s worth the investment.

To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  And how about helping with the next one?  Do you optimize your press release for search engines?

Business Wire Occasional 1-Question Poll:

How long does it take to write and get approval for a press release?

an hour–3.2% (9 respondents)
half a day–20.21% (56 respondents)
a day–16.96% (47 respondents)
several days–48.73% (135 respondents)
weeks–10.83% (30 respondents)
 
277 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted March, 2009.

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