Involving Reddit in your PR campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What We’ve Learned: A Round-Up of Tips, Tricks and Tools from Some of the Top Public Relations and Marketing Conferences

November 20, 2013
by Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

Curious about SEO in the new age of Google Penguin and Hummingbird? Interested in the very latest content marketing best practices?

We were too, which is why Business Wire recently attended a wave of industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, AdTech and the Internet Summit, all to uncover the latest and greatest tools, tips and techniques for public relations and marketing professionals to meet their business goals.

And even though we learned a lot, there was one discussion on the top of everyone’s mind – how social media engagement impacts SEO. The number one point reiterated at every conference is that while an individual piece of content may no longer generate increased SEO, social media interactions can impact the ease in which content is found. The better the content, the more engagement it receives, the easier it is to be found. The lower the quality of the content, the fewer interactions it receives, the harder it is to be found. It’s that simple.

Below is a cheat sheet we created to help you navigate Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  We also pulled together supporting articles that provide additional insights and tactics you can use.

Facebook

Your target audience should no longer be thought of as “consumers”. Instead, think of them as “participants” in your brand conversation. Courtesy of Daina Middleton http://tinyurl.com/lmtr4m7

Developing brand personas are increasingly popular for marketers who want to better understand their target audience. We love these simple steps from marketing expert Heidi Cohen http://tinyurl.com/nxw6je6

If you’re doing Facebook advertising, focus on the newsfeed ads vs. those on the right-hand rail. These tend to get more click-thrus and engagement. Note: They are more expensive as well, but the pay-off may be worth it for your brand.

With Facebook’s recent algorithum changes users will be introduced to content based on their activities. For example, users who view more photos will be presented with more photos in their newsfeeds. Smart marketers should test different format types to determine which resonate best for their audience.

When adding links to press releases it’s important to practice SEO co-citation, or linking to relevant sites other than your own. This helps your news gain authority as a meaningful resource for more information.

Testing your website? According to Jakob Nelson, just five users can uncover 85% of usability issues http://tinyurl.com/mhr8emm

Twitter

Think visually! @Twitter introduces pictures and videos to the newsfeed http://tinyurl.com/nuzfgyt #contentmarketing #prtips

Journalist can’t cover your story? Send them a pre-scripted Tweet instead! #prtips

Follow weekly #trends on #Twitter to see how your company can participate and engage in the conversation

#Retargeting is important for today’s search-driven society, but ensure you have the right goals in mind http://tinyurl.com/kq76z4j

Marketing on @Twitter? Be sure to check out new lead generation cards to drive users to YOU http://tinyurl.com/qafwzjc

Companies using Twitter will continue to be indexed by search engines, a great plus for gaining more #visibility and #SEO

Good #stat: 50% of retweets occur in first 18 minutes of being published so make sure content is attention-grabbing @MarinSoftware

Google +

Companies who use Google+ will get indexed faster by Google than other social media sites such as Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/p7fhq6g

Adding multimedia to Google+ is a great way to boost visibility and search optimization for content.

YouTube now requires all commenters to have a public Google+ account, weeding out some posters on the popular site and boosting Google+ membership. http://tinyurl.com/kstylq7

Google+ is an inexpensive way to host conversations among audiences and can be recorded for later use.

Even with Google’s recent algorithum changes, press releases can still drive meaningful traffic to a company’s website, blog or social media sites and boost viewership across these channels.

Check out this cool infographic from @Brafton media on how to combat the Google Penguin http://tinyurl.com/qxzpyuw

What do you think of this list?  Was it useful to you? As always, you can contact us directly to learn more about any of these topics, and stay tuned to the BusinessWired blog for other interesting updates.


Learning Content Marketing From The Scarecrow

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

They say content is king.

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

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

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

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

Scarecrow

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

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

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

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


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

October 19, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

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

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

Social Platform + Search Engine Updates

Media + Research

Tips, Tricks and Best Practices

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


Understanding the True Risks of Utilizing Social Media for Financial Disclosure

October 8, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

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

What is disclosure via social networks? 

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

Why are social networks bad platforms for disclosure? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


New Social Tool Alert: Pinterest Launches Article Pins for Publishers

October 2, 2013

Ask any travel fan, bride-to-be, home cook or mom what social network they spend the most time on and you might be surprised to find it is not Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, but rather the image-based discovery site, Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?  Considered an aspirational social network, Pinterest is a website that allows users to upload and share a wide range of web-hosted images, sorted by categories or boards.  Users “pin” images they find on the web to “boards,” which the user has organized by theme.  For users and publishers alike, this is a highly utilized social network, with a heavy emphasis on content discovery and sharing.  What makes Pinterest so successful is that the pinned images include links back to hosting websites, allowing interested parties to click through to the original website for additional action.

This week, Pinterest revamped how they present pinned articles.  Previously, one could pin an article, and the image would appear but the pin would be missing necessary information to make the pin relevant and compelling for search and discovery.  But no longer!  This week, Pinterest released its new article pinning service.  Now, when a user pins an article, additional information such as the headline, author, story description and article link appears. This is highly beneficial for both the pinner and the reader.  For the reader, this provides clearer context of the pin, and for the pinner, it is a perfect way to bookmark a great read.

ImageImage courtesy of Pinterest

Pinning articles was a natural next step for Pinterest.  With more than 5M articles pinned every day, this new feature provides a better experience for those interested in pinning news as well as those discovering them.  And it is a boon for publishers as well. As YieldBot notes from its recent publisher referral traffic survey, Pinterest (85%) dramatically outweighs Facebook (8.3%), Twitter (0.5%), Tumblr (0.1%) and more for desktop inbound referral traffic.  Imagine if you could increase the inbound traffic from your social shares by 80% simply by using a new platform!

So how should public relations professionals implement Pinterest’s latest tool?  First, download the new pin tool and add it to your company website’s existing social sharing buttons. This will allow site visitors to pin your news releases, images, articles and content to their own boards, kicking off viral sharing.

Next?  Make sure your website images are tagged properly to help you be found within Pinterest’s own search engine.  This, too, is easy, it just requires a slight adjustment to your image tags.

From here, the rest is about context.  Pinterest is an image-based social network so of course, you must have image-based content.  Then ask yourself, who is this image relevant to?  Technologists?  Scientists?  Brides?  Cowboys? Search Pinterest and determine the level of interest by its members for your type of news or product and pay attention to the terms being used by your audience.  Every brand has brand fans, and every brand has a fan on Pinterest.  The trick for reaching and being found by these fans is in images you share, the name of your boards and the caption you create.  Consider creating highly niche boards to reach highly specific audiences, and more general boards when featuring industry specific industries.  Looking for other ideas on how to maximize your Pinterest presence?  We love this piece by Gini Dietrich, “16 ways to use Pinterest for PR.”

So where is Pinterest going next?  While it is still too soon to know, this new service will allow Pinterest to track article uploads and reads to build out its own internal user “interest graph” data set providing additional customization and monetization options down the road.

What do you think about this new Pinterest feature? Do you plan on implementing it on your sites? If you are using it now, what do you think? We would love to hear how you are using this tool to increase the overall awareness of, and click through traffic to, your company, products or news.


NextWorks CEO Tim Bahr on Content Capsules and the Growth of Content Marketing

September 10, 2013

Tim Bahr is CEO of NextWorks, which recently launched the Content Capsule interactive content marketing platform. Business Wire and NextWorks have partnered to create the Business Wire News Capsule and Picture Capsule, two new products that will turn press releases into self-contained, integrated content marketing tools. Business Wire and NextWorks are demonstrating the Content Capsule platform at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, September 10 through 12.

Tim Bahr

Tim Bahr, CEO, NextWorks

Tim answered some questions for us about the growth of content marketing and how these new products help marketers achieve their goals.

Why do you think marketers are showing such strong interest in content marketing?

Smart marketers realize that consumers are not interested in ads and promotional material; especially when they are online or on mobile devices.  A .01% click-through rate on display ads pretty much tells that story. Online and mobile consumers, who are in a buying mode, are most often seeking information to help them make a buying decision.  Marketers now recognize this as a huge opportunity to provide valuable and relevant information on their products and services that can help people buy their products.  That’s exactly why content marketing is the top priority for most marketers today, and why many believe it will be the most important area of marketing in the future.

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

I think the move toward content marketing is a very significant advance in marketing and the entire business/customer relationship.   We are finally starting to recognize the intelligence of our audiences.  We can’t just talk at them anymore with promotional messages that they have not requested and have no interest in.  They can just simply turn those messages off.

To successfully deliver a message to an audience in the digital world, where the user controls the receipt of messages, the message must be informative, relevant and provide value.  That outcome of this new means of communicating will be greater engagement and stronger customer relationships.

What do you think is key to successfully delivering content to an audience?

First, you should know what the audience wants.  Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.  Then you need a distribution platform that can deliver content to the audience wherever and whenever that want to receive it in an engaging and interactive manner.  Finally, you must be able to monitor all interactions with the content so you have metrics that can help you continually update and alter content to meet the specific needs of your audience and ensure you remain timely and relevant.

How does the Content Capsule platform deliver this type of audience engagement and measurement?

The capsule platform is an interactive canvas that allows marketers to tell complete stories with videos, images, presentations, links and transactions in one self-contained, branded and highly sharable unit.  An audience can be taken on a journey from assessment through engagement to conversion without ever leaving a company’s content.  Capsules allow marketers to easily launch content campaigns across owned, earned, shared and paid media on all devices.  And, because every piece of content within a capsule is monitored and measured, a marketer can respond in real time to audience interactions and update content while a capsule is in distribution.  When content is updated, capsules embedded and shared across the digital ecosystem all update.  This creates an opportunity for ongoing programming of relevant content to multiple audiences across all platforms.

If you’re at Content Marketing World, stop by booth #4 in the exhibit hall to meet Tim and learn more about Content Capsules.


Discovery, Not Link Building, is the Objective of Your Press Release

August 1, 2013
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire/LA
and John Leung, SEO/SEM Specialist, Business Wire/SF

Although it may seem like PR101, it should be clearly stated that a press release is an effective way of engaging targeted audiences by having influential media outlets, social advocates and consumers discover your story. It is after the discovery process that you gain what is referred to as “earned media”– meaning publicity is attained, not purchased, from promotional efforts rather than advertising.

This point was recently brought up in response to Google taking a hard stance against embedding anchor text in press releases in order to gain PageRank. How they relate to press releases are as follows:

  • Press releases will be treated as a paid placement by Google.
  • Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution will be considered “unnatural” and will not pass PageRank in Google search results.

What this means is that Google is stopping unnatural link building from press release distribution. The search engine leader is attempting to give the user the best experience possible and the latest algorithm update will look for “link schemes” used to manipulate search results. John Mueller, one of Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analysts, talked in a recent video hangout about the way Google will look at press releases. Mueller said, “When [press release issuers create a link to] themselves we do not consider that natural. Promoting is perfectly fine but it is not considered a natural link. We are looking for an external person to say, ‘I am recommending this website or article.’”

Press Release Links Misunderstood

Press releases can generate natural links that can help add ranking to your company, but there is a misconception on how this is achieved. A poorly written press release that is blindly spammed to the masses does not have any authority to garner any links and will be ignored. In contrast, a well-conceived release that has a unique voice can get coverage from news organizations, can be shared over social outlets, and can generate plenty of links that are third-party votes of confidence that the message was newsworthy. In other words, it is not only the press release distribution system that is generating the links, but the results of your PR efforts.

For example, if the Associated Press picked up your press release and did a national story, you would not gain links simply from having your story on AP, but from the subsequent results of that story. The benefit happens when millions of readers discover your story and engage with your company or brand. They may choose to link to you or share that information on their social networks.

The true value in distributing a targeted release via the wire is not simply to gain links, but the influence, brand awareness and reputation you gain when you distribute your press release so widely that it is found and shared in various media or social outlets worldwide.

What is Business Wire Doing About the Latest Algorithm Change?

Google Webmaster Tools says that to prevent PageRank from passing on anchor links within a press release you can do one of the following:

  • Add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag.
  • Redirect the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file.

When you use Business Wire, we do all of this on your behalf to ensure that your releases get the most online visibility and ranking benefit from our vast distribution network worldwide.

Business Wire uses the “Google-approved” method for carrying links when we activate what we refer to as “smartlinks” in a customer’s press release. By redirecting the anchor links in all press releases carried on our network, and by adhering to Google best practices when distributing a press release to news outlets, financial markets, disclosure systems, investors, information web sites, databases, social influencers and other audiences, we represent authority as a reputable service that has been distributing press releases since 1961. We simply will not publish press releases that are not in accordance with Business Wire’s policies and procedures.

When considering the latest and constantly evolving changes from Google, it is always good practice to simply focus on writing a thought-provoking newsworthy press release which incorporates meaningful, relevant links. This will ensure that your release will create genuine interest and attract influential media outlets and influencers to engage with your content. Don’t overthink the SEO aspect, but rather concentrate on original, engaging, shareable content using the best distribution possible to reach your audience.


Turning Your News into Powerful Digital Content

June 28, 2013

Business Wire and NextWorks  sponsored a June 26 panel at the National Press Club in Washington that was all about turning your news into engaging and powerful digital content. Danny Selnick, Vice President for Public Policy and LatinoWire news distribution services for Business Wire, moderated the morning panel of digital content experts:

  • David Henry, Vice President of Content Marketing for NextWorks (@realdavidhenry)
  • Christian Clymer, Deputy Vice President for Public Affairs, PhRMA (@CCatPhRMA)
  • Kieran Fagan, Group Director, WCG (@kieranfagan)

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David spoke first  to the packed room, emphasizing that so much of what the public wants from an online experience has a video component , and that it must be powerful, engaging and short — not more than 90 seconds. He went on to suggest that the opportunity for organizations and companies is to expand the written news release into a visually compelling communications and marketing tool — and distribute it across all platforms, targeting media and bloggers — reaching out to millions of consumers. David went over the elements of telling a great story via video including:

  • Describe the issue or product
  • Demonstrating the product
  • Educate the viewer
  • Offer testimonials
  • Offer up organizational experts (and company/organization CEOs)
  • Offer FAQs

Christian went on to play captivating video that showed the human face of PhRMA and what its members offer the world — research, progress and hope. Effective advocacy video should include what he calls “snack-ables” offering quick, but important bites of content. He also talked about how PhRMA brought production in-house using two Apple computers and an editor — organizations no longer have to spend lots of money on production. Another important take-away that Christian mentioned is to reach the right 1,000 people, not the wrong one million people. Knowing who and how to reach youraudience is critical.

Kieran went on to say that getting visibility for whatever your doing is one thing, but getting people to “act” on the message is what is really important. Keep in mind the 1/9/90 rule — 1% of the online audience creates content, 9% will comment, rate and share content, while 90% watches. So again, it’s important to reach influencers. Keep the end goal in mind.

To read all the tweets coming from the event: click here and select “All Tweets.” To get a copy of the presentations from this panel, please contact Danny Selnick.


The Push and Pull of Social Media for Investor Relations

June 20, 2013
by Eric M. Bushkin, Senior Account Executive, Business Wire/Florida

There’s a popular old saying: “Save the best for last.” For me, that held true at this year’s NIRI National Conference at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL.

As many of our publicly traded partners know, the NIRI National Conference is THE event of the year for IROs to get together, network, learn about what’s new in the world of disclosure and meet companies that provide tools to help make the disclosure world a bit simpler.

It was an honor to be able to be a part of the Business Wire team at this year’s conference and as I looked over this year’s agenda, one particular event stood out in my mind: The last one. And it was all about social media.  The panel consisted of IR practitioners and investment professionals, and provided practical advice on using social media as an additive method of engagement.

The role of social media as a primary disclosure channel wasn’t really in debate – the group felt social media is not appropriate to break material news, but has many uses to help further engage and reach interested constituents.

Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director, Social Media for Sharon Merrill Associates, did an excellent job on keeping the interactivity lively during the session, titled “Take the Wheel and Drive: Your Company’s Social Media Strategy”

As we learned very early on during this session, not many of us in investor relations are using social media at all as part of our day-to-day communications efforts.  If you’re saying, “I sure do not use social media” you certainly are not alone. In fact, according to a just-released NIRI survey, 72% of us working in investor relations have not even dipped our toes in the social media waters and remain on the side of the pool.

According to the survey, there are several reasons that IROs avoid social media:

  • Lack of investor demand
  •  Management doesn’t see value
  • Inability to control message
  • Lack of understanding on how to best utilize social media

For the minority of us that are engaging in social media, Twitter remains the most-utilized platform.  RJ Jones, investor relations officer at Zillow, provided an innovative and medium-appropriate approach to using social media and the impact it had on earnings questions fielded.  The Zillow team determines in advance which data they want to share via social media, and then creates short info-graphic like images to post during their earnings call.  They don’t live tweet their executive comments, but rather stick to pre-determined messages.  They field questions via their webcast as well as social media.  They pick up additional questions with their follow-up blog post.  A set of practical, manageable and measurable approaches to social media for investor relations amplifies their engagement.

At Business Wire, we’ve long provided a wide range of industry- and topic-specific Twitter channels that auto-tweet client news to financial bloggers, reporters and investors.  We also provide a wide range of channel-specific social media sharing tools on press releases and each piece of multimedia content.  We encourage IROs to understand the keywords, cashtags ($tickersymbol) and platforms that are most used by investors in your stock and industry.  Listening and sentiment tools are a good first start.  (Business Wire’s Social Media Landscape reports can be ordered as one-offs when you issue an earnings report to get a sense of the social impact of your material news.)  In addition, we encourage you to point to your official IR social media channels and step out how you use them – to field questions during calls, to tweet links to press releases and filings, etc.  Remember, consistency is crucial in any communications channel you adopt: Treat news – good or bad – equally in your communications efforts.

What other ways can IROs become more comfortable in getting our message out to the financial community through social channels? It may be a good idea to take a walk down your hall for a visit with your company’s public relations and marketing folks. Those departments have been utilizing social media with regularity for a very long time and certainly can convey some knowledge to help you make an impact and engage your specific audience.

This way, you can collaborate with those members of your communications team to ensure message continuity for all audiences. You’ll also learn ways to both push and pull information:

  • Pull by constantly monitoring a variety of social channels to see what conversations are happening around your company.
  • Push by having a regular program of output into those channels; both your own content and that of your investors and customers, by optimizing your news for search and by making it easy for readers to share your content.

Issuing a press release over Business Wire not only fulfills your disclosure requirements, but pushes your press release out to mainstream media and financial portals, as well as putting your news out on the web, so folks can search for your company and ultimately pull your information from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Releasing your news to these two important — yet distinctively different – audiences is vital, since most of us are no longer at our offices in front of a desk for the majority of our work day. Mobile’s share of total pageviews is growing every day, and most analysts believe mobile devices are set to overtake desktop PCs as a dominant internet access platform. So we must be able to access news and be able to deliver our message any time of the day, regardless of where we are.

Once you become more and more comfortable using social media you will be able to implement this as part of your IR strategy. After all, 66% of companies already have a social media policy currently in place and it’s imperative that the IR team is adhering to it.

Judging by the attendance at the NIRI session, we have a strong desire to learn more about how best to apply social media in meaningful and compliant ways to investor relations. Always feel free to reach out to your local office at Business Wire so we can teach you some tips and best practices as it pertains to your financial news being released to the masses.

Follow Eric on Twitter for more of his insights on PR, IR and other topics.


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