The No. 1 PR Resolution for 2015: Measuring Your Results

January 2, 2015

By Meghann Johnson, Regional Manager, Business Wire Chicago

As 2014 winds down, the question on top of everyone’s mind is “what can I do differently in 2015?” From tackling new projects to finishing the old, New Year’s resolutions allow us to refocus, reset and rethink our approach, hopefully inspiring some positive change along the way.

rulerSo, as PR professionals, what should be our biggest resolution in 2015? Very simply: make measurement the No. 1 priority! Below Business Wire outlines six measurement resolutions that EVERY communicator should adopt, and stick to, throughout the new year.

Set objectives…and be OK with missing them: The idea of setting specific, measurable objectives can strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned PR professionals. As communicators, our programs can often be difficult to track, especially when considering the dramatic impact that WOM (word of mouth), social media and digital has had on our industry. But without setting benchmarks and working toward them, PR practitioners can be left with only a handful of data points, or worse yet, find themselves scrambling at year-end to account for their progress. Even by falling short of your intended objectives, continuously measuring throughout the year will provide chances to adjust your programs and offer insightful ways to improve in the following year.

Break down the silos: Savvy PR professionals tie their communication program metrics to their company’s own key performance indicators (KPIs). This approach is important as it aligns PR with developing direct, benchmarked results for the company. For example, if your organization is running a corporate initiative that’s intended to: 1) drive sales 2) raise brand awareness 3) position corporate spokespeople, it’s best to understand what your organization’s objectives are first and then showcase how PR drives towards them. One way to align with corporate KPIs is to compile the anticipated takeaways from a PR announcement and then rate each article/placement on a scale (1, 2, 3) of how well the piece reflected these three key takeaways. Note: This type of system works best when initiated across all PR efforts for consistency.

under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertisingThink beyond the “pickup”: There’s no denying that editorial coverage is a highly sought after component of every PR program. But, with 84% of audiences making decisions based on WOM, building brand awareness and activating the right audiences can be just as beneficial as landing that coveted Wall Street Journal placement. Additionally, audiences are seeking content in new places, whether that be a company’s own social channels or website; therefore, it’s important to connect with your web teams or online community managers before, during and after an announcement or campaign launch in order to measure how traffic and views have been influenced by your efforts.

Be the journalists’ publicist: When thinking about your PR efforts, remember, media measure too! Journalists are rated on the number of views to their article and time on site, so if your organization gets covered, be sure to promote the news…and then promote it again. Ultimately, the more traffic your team can generate by sharing the piece, the more likely a journalist is to write on you again. Think of it as recycling content and reusing it to your benefit.

Reporter Metrics


Let data be your guide: At the recent PR News Measurement Conference in November, David Rockland, Managing Director of Global Research at Ketchum, said about PR, “We are a data rich industry, but analytics poor.”

While there are countless ways to measure PR functions, the hardest part is to contextualize the metrics to make them make sense. One question we often receive at Business Wire pertains to our own NewsTrak reports. For example, what is the significance of press release views or link clicks? Truly, this metric can vary in significance depending on the goal of your program. Did you issue a release to garner media coverage? If so, how many journalists covered it? Or, were you trying to gain visibility and followers to your twitter feed by adding a hyperlink in your release? If yes, check how many people clicked on that link (provided within Business Wire’s report) to see if there is a correlation to the release and an uptick in followers. These seemingly arbitrary numbers can offer far greater insight if there are clear objectives established beforehand or if the PR team is gathering information across various channels.

Use the right tools: There are countless free and paid tools available to help with any measurement program so be sure to use them! Google Analytics is a great place to start. More and more companies use this platform the measure their efforts across Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned (PESO) channels. One simple way to effectively measure press release impact is to add a Google URL tracker to any hyperlinks within the text, which will subsequently track every time someone clicks on the link. Similarly, your team can monitor which information/link generated the most click-thrus and then promote that same info across other channels.

What’s your number one PR resolution in 2015? Share it via the BusinessWired blog or tweet us directly @BusinessWire. And as always, you can contact us directly to learn more about any of these topics.

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PR Debate: Google vs. Facebook: Which Platform Should You Really Care About?

December 22, 2014

By Hannah Kelly, Business Wire Paris

The changing face of the news coverage and visibility scene

It’s the hottest debate in 2014: SEO for discovery or social sharing for impact?

2014 started off innocently enough.  First Google Hummingbird made major changes regarding news release visibility.  Then midway through the year Facebook launched FB Newswire, to increase the visibility of news.  Suddenly it was clear.  Facebook and Google were directly competing to see which service was more effective at surfacing a story and driving action because of it.
google vs facebook
Fact:  Both Google and Facebook are hungry for your news.

Recently, investigated data from around 8 billion page views of approximately 200 news sites with the results that 38% of referrals were generated by Google and 26% by Facebook.  While this statistic may not help Google overtake Facebook in the race to win the visibility war, it does providing an interesting opportunity for communicators.  If your published news piece can generate visibility on both Google and Facebook, you can generate more than 50% of your inbound traffic with (relatively) little effort.

However, the type of news that is sought after by these sites is slowly shifting. In both cases, Google and Facebook first relied on algorithms to determine which news to surface.  Unfortunately, this caused a plethora of misleading articles by less trustworthy “media outlets” to rise to the top.   These algorithms were adjusted greatly on both platforms this summer when Google and Facebook users revealed that they crave “real news” vs. click bait.

In an effort to continually refine results, these algorithms are continuously updated to reward authenticity and engagement. Google’s most recent changes to  Google Penguin, Penguin 3.0, on October 17, 2014, focused solely on overcoming link schemes that manipulate the ranking of a webpage (and the news story hosted there).

So what does this mean for your news?
As more and more refinement is done to ensure only high quality news is surfaced when searched on Google or on social networks, there are a few things today’s communicators can do to make sure their news is not only seen, but shared.

  1. Be descriptive in your headline

The more descriptive the title of your article, the more likely people are to read it, visit your page, and thereby increase your page ranking. News releases are known for their relatively long ‘uninteresting’ titles – but now the tables have turned. Readers know exactly what to expect from your release, which comes as a great relief after having spent significant time browsing through articles only to discover that they are not quite what was promised with the first click.

  1. Write a concise, accurate article

Now that your title has drawn readers in, the idea is to hold their interest. Long rambling paragraphs will not do this. Keep your information as succinct and on point as possible – engage the audience through a direct approach. To give you an idea, the ideal length for a news release is no longer than an A4 page.

  1. Contact information

This is crucial. If the reader has any further questions, they will want to contact you. The worst possible thing to happen at this stage is to struggle to find any method of contact. Include your Twitter, your Facebook, your Google+ – all and any possible ways of getting in contact. Not only does this ease contact between your company and the reader, but it also allows your news to be shared back with direct links.

News releases, especially those distributed by a commercial newswire such as Business Wire can help your distribution reach, and engage and activate audiences on both Google and Facebook platforms. Every news release jumpstarts a range of actions from coverage to sharing, each that directly impacts visibility within both Google and Facebook.  Business Wire’s wide distribution circuits, unique journalist lists and most of all, our “share” tools allow you to publish and share your articles within seconds. With over 50 years in the industry, we can help you tailor your distribution effectively, thus greatly increasing your traffic growth.

How to Increase YouTube Video Views in 3 Easy Steps

December 10, 2014

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

Earlier this month I attended a Digital Hollywood panel devoted to building audiences and awareness on YouTube.

This is a very common topic here in Los Angeles.  With film making, celebrities and the history of Hollywood permeating every corner of the city, we were the first region to truly embrace YouTube for what the platform could be – a way to entertain, educate, delight and shock audiences with amazing visual content.

So if this is a common topic, something Hollywood content creators and the marketers they work with should know inherently, why is it still on the Digital Hollywood agenda?  Because no matter how great your content is, it means nothing if your content is not seen.

Almost the entire panel discussion, fueled by questions from the audience, focused on how to generate views of the variety of videos being uploaded every single day.  There are hundreds of thousands of beautifully shot, high quality videos on YouTube that no one has ever seen. Why is that?  Because the concept of if you place it here, the audience will come is antiquated and completely misleading, even for producers creating content featuring famous celebrities.  The simple truth still stands, there is no such thing as great content, only seen content.

YouTube Image

So how do YouTube video stars get their visibility?  What makes one video go viral, while another video fails?  Just like every other marketing and communications program, video programs need to be supported with paid, earned, owned and shared marketing programming.

In this session, the three top ways to ensure views of your YouTube videos are:

  1. Create relevant content – This may seem obvious but there are still a huge number of marketers creating aspirational content, or content meant to activate new fans, versus content meant to create actual audiences. In reality, content should be made for every touch point in the customer journey, but if you are on a limited budget or time, focus on creating content for the most active of your prospects and customers.  Create content that these existing brand fans will enjoy and share with their friends and reap not only views of evangelism.
  2. Tag your content for search – When it comes to placing your content on YouTube, the description and keywords you use are just as important as the content itself. Utilize titles and descriptions to entice audiences to view your video.  Include relevant keywords and well as real-time keywords, and while you don’t want to use an incorrect headline, writing a compelling, interesting headline will increase views dramatically.
  3. Pay to promote your video – If you spent money to create content, you have to use money to promote it. Videos should be promoted via earned, paid, owned and through partnerships. Smart brands are increasing impact of their content by increasing potential audiences.
    1. Paid promotion: To promote your YouTube videos there are two successful kinds of paid promotion that you can do.  First, consider paid advertising across active social channels and via Google AdWords to help relevant audiences find you via search and social.  Secondly, issue a press release to alert media outlets, bloggers and more that your video or video channels exist.  Include a short summary of the types of content you include and, if possible, frequency of updates, to generate views
    2. Earned outreach: Don’t forget to alert your PR contacts of your new content marketing program.  Media outlets are always looking for visual content to accompany industry pieces; let them know your channel may contain the content relevant to their readers.
    3. Owned channels: You have to tell people about your video; how else will they know your program exists? Promote your new YouTube content on your website, social channels, email signatures and intranets to increase views and shares of your content.
    4. Initiate partnerships: The single fastest way to increase the views of your YouTube videos is to ask likeminded, more famous YouTube personalities to share it for you. Yes, this may require an exchange of money but it works.

Leading marketers know that video is one of the top tools in today’s marketing arsenal. Not only are desktop and mobile video consumption rates through the roof, the medium is so impactful that within seconds it can build, and deepen the relationships between a brand and its customer. But first you have to distribute it.

What other ways are you finding success in promoting video content?  Please let us know in the comments below.

How PR Pros Create News Content That Generates Action

November 28, 2014

“Think like a movie producer”

Every day, PR professionals utilize storytelling to engage key audiences. In this piece, Phil Dennison, senior marketing specialist at Business Wire, discusses the ways PR professionals can strengthen their storytelling prowess by thinking like a movie producer.

These tips include:

  • Build suspense and create anxiety
  • Foster aspirations
  • Drive empathy
  • Harness emotion

Learn more about implementing creative thinking by reading the entire piece here:

Case Study! Increase Sales by Using Press Release to Promote Branded Content

November 16, 2014

Many of our clients are using press releases to not only promote breaking company news, but also to promote breaking company content.  In this case study, we speak with Jerry Goldstein, VP of William Mills Agency, to discuss how they used one press release to promote a white paper with spectacular success.  Results include WSJ coverage, social sharing, inbound traffic, and downloads by the company’s top prospects.

Are you using press releases to promote your content?  If not, read this piece today.  It will change the way you think of content distribution.

Communications Week Recap: The Role of Paid, Earned and Owned in Public Relations

October 24, 2014

By Joe Curro, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire

This past Monday, Business Wire’s New York team was proud to partner with Communications Week 2014 for our State of the Union: Living in Times of Media Disruption breakfast panel.  Attendees joined us at Thomson Reuters’ beautiful conference space overlooking Times Square to hear from an elite panel of communications professionals: Chanel Cathey (Director of Corporate Communications, Viacom), Ben Trounson (Director of North American Communications, Tata Consultancy Services), Jordan Fischler (SVP Technology and Digital Media, Allison+Partners), Nelson Freitas (Chief Strategy Officer, Wunderman), and our moderator, Steve Rubel (Chief Content Strategist, Edelman).

Panelist 1

(Panelists left to right: Chanel Cathey, Nelson Freitas, Jordan Fischler, Steve Rubel, Ben Trounson)

Built as an active and lively conversation between the participants, the event provided insight into a wide range of topics from the balance between owned, earned, and paid media, to navigating the opportunities and pitfalls of real-time communications, to the questions on the horizon that we’ll all be talking about in the coming months.

Here are a few of the insights that were shared:

Rethinking measurement?
The volume of available measurement data is overwhelming.  How do communications teams make good decisions based on the available data?  How do you decide what data is relevant?  The goal of your data collection should not be the quantity of information gathered, and decisions should not be made on numbers in a vacuum.  The data you collect may be the response to a question, but it’s not the end of the conversation.  Talk about your findings, use the data to inform how you interact with your influencers, and keep them engaged and giving their feedback.

Risks of paid content?
There is an eternal danger to relying on paid content – of damaging the trust you’ve established with your consumers – so how do brands make the most of this amplification option?  By always staying active in the communities that are discussing the brand.  Paid content, for all its dangers, allows for a greater degree of control.  The more control you have over your message, the more responsive you can be to anything unexpected.

Managing the flood of content?
Consumers are bombarded by a constant flow of content.  We have access to immeasurably more content than we’ll ever be able to consume.  So how do brands compete for valuable attention?  By being a curator of its own content, a brand can keep conversations on topic.  Engage with your audiences, and commit to creating original content of your own.

Real-time responses?
Perhaps one of the most terrifying prospects to communicators is the real-time fumble.  With great risk comes great reward, right?  But while the successes are some of the industry’s holy grails (Oreo in the dark, Arby’s and the hat, etc.), the failures can make anyone shy away from the very idea.  So what’s the answer?  Trust and an honest voice.  Traditional publications are competing with individual creators for the public’s attention, but your brand can empower its own creators with solid and responsible training, multiple voices participating, and open lines of communication between all parts of the team.

Panelist 2(Panelists left to right: Nelson Freitas, Jordan Fischler, Ben Trounson, Chanel Cathey, Steve Rubel)

As you can see from the above, the answers to the questions on communicators’ minds are increasingly interrelated – useful data leads to relevant content leads to managing your voice leads to learning from an engaged audience.  With the goal of activating and influencing audience behavior, this feedback loop supports an increasing trend towards more innovation and more connection between creators and consumers.

Ease of content creation, enhancements and new tools for targeted distribution are on the rise.  Available reaction times are falling, and smaller teams are being tasked with greater and greater responsibilities.  Each of our amazing panelists touched on solutions for the future.  The ultimate answer, as our Moderator Steve Rubel said, is making “constellations – not just putting stars in the sky, but connecting them.”  When all parts of the communications team are working together toward a clear goal, the combined whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Panelist 3(Moderator, Steve Rubel, Chief Content Strategist, Edelman)

Photo credits: Ingrid Ramos/Triangle Below Canal

11 Things Marketers Should Know from the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

October 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Last month hundreds of marketers, communicators and social media experts met in Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit to discuss the latest trends in all aspects of marketing and best practices for increasing engagement, sales and ROI.

In this piece, we will look at the top 11 marketing predictions for 2015, including the rise of the social CMO, a movement away from real-time marketing to right time marketing and the increased importance of the online newsroom.

  1. The rise of the CSMO (chief social media officer): Social media has evolved from short form messaging communication tool to a program that directly affects every part of a business.  As the real-time customer engagement platform, data generated can directly impact the future of one’s organization.  This role will be a hybrid between creative and analysis.  Those social media teams focusing only on outbound communications, ignoring the data available will not succeed.
  1. Multimedia is here to stay: More and more studies are showing that multimedia is now considered a mandatory element when looking to increase the response rate of any communications program. In addition, we will see a huge increase in mobile video investment as mobile device penetration continues to skyrocket
  1. Paying to engage with your social audiences: As Facebook, Twitter and other platforms mature, their business models are moving quickly into revenue generation and profit.  Look for these platforms to continue to roll out paid opportunities such as geographic and demographic targeting to increase the ability for a brand to reach their brand fans.
  1. A refocus from real-time marketing to right time marketing: Thanks to the meme that the Oreo Superbowl ad was created on the spot and thus is real-time marketing (completely false by the way, the ad was created months in advance), there became a push in 2014 for brands to jump into real time marketing.  Instead thinking about “real-time” organizations in 2015 will move towards “right-time” which involves the use of data to determine how and when to distribute each piece of created content – from social updates to press releases – to maximize the result.
  1. The rise online newsroom: As it becomes harder to get media’s attention, more and more organizations are building branded newsrooms – or including within their existing newsroom a section for brand-created content.  This content allows brands to tell their story, utilizing their own voice.  However it is important to remember that the only good branded content is seen branded content, many of these organizations are not only setting budgets aside to build these newsrooms and create this content, they are putting budget aside to distribute the content as well via press releases, coverage amplification services and more.
  1. A breakdown of internal siloes: As more and more data is becomes available through various marketing channels, it is imperative that marketing work with more and more internal teams to improve processes, define customer expectations, provide stronger customer service, increase sales, build corporate reputation and more.
  1. A better understanding of the ROI of a communications program: Marketers are moving away from “last click” attribution to multi-touch point attribution, allows brands to track customers through their entire journey ensuring that every touch point along the way is credited.
  1. A big shift from content creation to content distribution: As content marketing becomes a staple for most marketing programs, more and more marketers are turning to paid tools including press releases and amplification tools to ensure their created content is seen content. After all, there is no reason to pay for content to be created, if you aren’t paying for it to be distributed.
  1. The growing importance of social customer service as more than 50% of customer service interactions begin on the computer, well before the customer has engaged the brand.
  1. Look to smart devices and wearables to change news consumption from tweets to bursts. How can you increase the impact of your news as you decrease the amount of space needed to tell it!
  1. Sharing corporate sustainability responsibility news will continue to increase in 2015 as more and more consumers are choosing to align with brands and organizations that reflect their own beliefs. Organizations of all sizes from Nike to Honest Teas have connected with customers and build entire brands by focusing and staying true to their CSR message.

This year’s speakers shared so many wonderful thoughts but it was these 11 that resonated with me the most.  Which of these surprises you?  Which does not?


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