Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Using Links in Press Releases

March 21, 2012

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

With the advent of XHTML, additional knowledge is only a click away. Embedded hyperlinks turn ordinary text into doorways of information. Business Wire tracks link click-throughs, showing the link text, URL, which version of the release and how many total clicks it has received.

As an editor, I’ve seen releases with no links at all, making it difficult for readers to easily find more information. I’ve also seen releases so full of links it was impossible to determine what information was important. Finding a balance and knowing how to optimize link usage is vital for press release writers.

When considering hyperlinks in text, the writer has two options: the URL and anchor text.

A URL in the text is like this: www.businesswire.com, which works well for short URLs and at the end of boilers, linking to company home pages. Though most of the internet is XHTML compatible, there are a few sites that still post in plain-text. In these instances, a link will not be active in the body unless it is written out. Instead of saying, “Click here,” say, “Visit www.businesswire.com.” Full URL links are also useful when linking to social media sites: http://facebook.com/businesswire and http://twitter.com/businesswire. Readers see your handle and can type it in if they already have those web sites open. Registration URLs for conference calls, webcasts and trade shows help a reader easily keep the link for future use or send to colleagues.

Sometimes URLs for frequently shared pages can be really long and should be hidden from readers. These cases call for anchor text, like Business Wire, instead of writing out the URL. These links are like the icing in your release; leading your reader to more information. For names in releases, an anchor text link to the person’s biography – which commonly includes a photo – works perfectly. You also can use anchor text in product announcements, referencing a page with videos, photos, reviews or purchasing information. Anchor text links also boost SEO for your release. For example, if you wanted your release to rank on Google for the keyword “Business Wire,” you would make sure that phrase appears in the headline, first paragraph and as anchor text, Business Wire.

Make hyperlinks work for you. Lead your reader to places beyond your release, to further the understanding of your product, personnel and company. Also keep in mind that not everything needs a hyperlink; too many and your release can look like spam and discourage readers. The link is yours.

With 31 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.


Communicating Effectively to U.S. Spanish-Language Media & the Hispanic Community: More Than Sending Your News in Spanish

February 24, 2012

by Danny Selnick, Vice President of Public Policy & LatinoWire Services, Business Wire DC

by Danny Selnick, VP, LatinoWire Services

Communicators that may have only the occasional need to engage with the Hispanic media and community about an issue, product or some other topic, should take note of a few useful tips for their targeted communications outreach or run the risk of failure.

  • First, the Hispanic community is not monolithic.  They come to the United States from all corners of the Americas, and there are cultural and language differences that need to be addressed, especially when crafting the message and then writing the news release.   While I’m not suggesting communicators write many versions of the same release to fit all the various communities, I am saying that the message has to be general enough that Hispanic media and their audiences can equally relate to the message.
  • Second, simply translating releases into Spanish can be dangerousdestroying the message or even worse – a loss of reputation, as an extreme example.  Spanish is a language that is culturally rich and anyone doing translations needs to completely understand the interaction between words and culture to ensure the message is well-received and understood.  Gerald Erichsen wrote an article in About.com listing several well-known (true and not-so-true) Spanish translation/cultural blunders.  Nevertheless, the point is clear: Don’t use an automated program to translate your news from English into Spanish … and if you need to translate, make sure the person is a native speaker.  Oh, and also remember that Spanish doesn’t come in one flavor.  Words used in one country might mean something very different in another.  Use generally accepted and grammatically correct Spanish.
  •  Third, while many recent immigrants or older Hispanics may only speak Spanish and rely on traditional Spanish-language print and broadcast media for news and information, younger Hispanics tend to be bilingual and look for and read news also in English – both in print and online.  And much like other American in their 20’s and 30’s, younger Hispanics are increasingly online, using smart devices with mobile news and social media apps to be informed and stay connected.  That also means communicators should include social media strategies while employing the latest technologies in search engine optimization and add multimedia when appropriate.  Make your news release powerful and visible.
  • Last (but not no less important), which Spanish-language media should you consider reaching out to?  Just like any other communications campaign to media, you should target your message to Hispanic media appropriately.  Is your story national, regional, local?  Researching and finding sources of up-to-date listings of Spanish-language newsrooms is not as easy as finding general consumer newspapers by circulation from E&P.  Using Google or other search engines may offer a number of links – but they’re not likely to be accurate.  Some even at the top of the search (like Echo Media) are more than seven years old.  You can go to Business Wire’s LatinoWire page for some 1,200 listings organized by media type and geography.  Also keep in mind that there are really only abut 30 Spanish-language dailies in the United States.  Most print publications are weeklies, so be mindful of their deadlines.  Reaching bloggers and social media feeds takes a bit more work too.  You have to find appropriate writers, communities and feeds — and then build connections.  See who is following whom and ask if they’re appropriate for your own network.  If so, link-in, befriend and follow them.  Your network will also grow.

So what’s the end result?  Issue your news with care, in Spanish and in English, to traditional Hispanic and general media, but also include reach to the online world by keeping up with and using new the mediums of communications used your audiences.

Danny Selnick, a 25-year veteran of the newswire business, is Business Wire’s vice president for LatinoWire and Public Policy.  He is based in Washington, D.C.


Don’t Forget Who is Also Interested in Your News — Congress and Wall Street

January 30, 2012
by Danny Selnick, Vice President, Public Policy Services, Business Wire DC

by Danny Selnick, VP, Public Policy Services

Did you ever think that your earnings or hiring news might really be of interest to members of Congress?  Well they are.  When a company has positive earnings or announces expansion plans,  it may tie into job stability and growth — not just at the company, but across the particular states where the company has operations.  Members of Congress want to know about news back home — what’s affecting their constituents.  After all, they’re voters.

But staffers on the Hill aren’t personally reading through the massive amounts of news coming into their information services.  Instead, they are more likely to have filters with keywords that automatically pull out stories of interest.  So, make sure you consider how your news is likely to be searched by public affairs audiences when crafting content.  Keywords typically used by elected officials in tracking news include his or her name, the district (city) they represent, or a particular issues they’re involved with.

So if a news item mentions  Cleveland, OH, for example, it’s a good bet that Dennis Kucinich’s office (and others representing Cleveland) will see the story.  It could even become part of their news summary or daily news briefing.  Same for the Senate as well.  Because not all news releases contain good news, Hill staff need to know about that too … who knows how they might be able to help?  And now with the economy all about jobs and the hope it will improve, these news items are more important than ever.

What about news from advocacy organizations?  Did you ever think your issues based news would be of importance to industry analysts on Wall Street?  Your news can play a role in the ratings of companies and industries analysts follow.  Analysts do more than go over financials, read news releases, visit plants and hold conference calls and meeting with corporate leaders.  They’re looking for news that will have an affect on companies and industries they cover.  Issues-focused news from advocacy organizations can have an impact — if the issue is big enough.

Like members on the Hill, analysts have a plethora of news feeds to keep abreast of what’s happening.  So if you’re trying to make a point about some legislation, don’t forget to get your news to those covering Wall Street.

Whether you’re an advocacy group, association, non-profit, union, government agency or corporation, if you have important issues-focused news, Business Wire’s Public Policy Wire can help you deliver it to the decision-makers, influencers and media you need to reach most.


Editor’s Corner: PR Disasters! Why a Crisis Comm Plan is Critical

October 20, 2011
by Fawzy Zablah, Editor, Business Wire/Florida

by Fawzy Zablah, Editor, BW Florida

Ever since “the father of modern public relations,” Ivy Lee, sent out what most consider the first press release following the 1906 Atlantic City train wreck, companies, individuals, governments and news agencies have participated in an unofficial competition to win what I call “the best told story contest.” It’s a race that is not won by the “best story” per se, but the victor is usually either the first to get there, truth-tellers, or the best re-arranger of reality. It’s a race that must be run whether you own a newly opened restaurant or a tech company.

Let’s travel to more modern times, and take as an example the most recent Blackberry outage issues which have turned out to be a PR nightmare for Research in Motion (RIM). During a crisis, a company should never have a slow response because it shows a lack of control over the situation. And even if the situation is not under control, your PR assault should always confidently be the first to storm the beach.

These days, companies need to be aware of how critical it is to have a quick line of communication with customers, whether through issuing press releases regarding recent events or via direct statements to the press. A company always has to appear like it’s in control as far as good PR is concerned, even if it isn’t. Ivy Lee knew that as soon as word got out of the Atlantic City train wreck, rumors would swirl, the story would grow legs of its own and it would no longer be his client’s story. That’s why the first rule of crisis management is to communicate. The beginning of the crisis is the most critical period, and it sets the tone for the rest of the incident.

So let’s finish this crisis management lesson with thoughts Ivy Lee espoused so long ago, and which are now a golden rule of PR: “Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find out anyway. And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what people want.”

With 31 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.


Editor’s Corner: Grammar Snob Alert! Who vs. Whom Demonstrates Usage in Transition

September 13, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Who vs. whom, which is it? 

 “Look it up.”

This was my fellow university newspaper staffers’ reply to a grammar question, accompanied by an AP Manual flying toward my head.  I’m far from an expert, so, when confronted with the question of who or whom, I looked it up… and found confusion.

Why?  Apparently we’ve changed how particular we are about the correct usage and now find whom awkward in some instances – mostly when our misuse is corrected.  

In a typical press release, the sentence structure is simple and doesn’t call for complication.  The characters you write about are usually getting hired or promoted, maybe sued, so the trick for determining which usage is correct revolves around this: Who is a subject and whom is an object.  Or, who does stuff while stuff happens to whom

 Who came up with this idea?  We, they, he or she came up with this idea.

 We can’t tell for whom the package is.  Awkward, isn’t it?  But correct useage tell us the package is for them, us, her or him.

If the people being replaced in your sentence are committing the action, they are replaced with who.  If they’re just there, near the action, replace them with whom.

 Give this to someone who knows how to use it.  Even if it’s not an actual action.

 Without an address, we didn’t know to whom the package belonged.  Guess it’s for us.

 Whoever and whomever work in the same manner.

 Whoever finds the keys gets a reward.  If he or she finds the keys.

 We will look for the keys in the pockets of whomever we meet.  We meet them.

Some of these feel strange to say.  If you saw a birthday cake in your break room, would you ask, “For whom is this cake?”  Or, would you ask, “Who’s the cake for?” 

Will there be a “grammar snob” around who is still willing to correct us?  I wouldn’t count on it.  But, why wait on someone else when you can do it yourself?

With 31 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.


Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Presenting Quotes in Press Releases

July 20, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Writing for an audience of business journalists can be tedious.  You want your story to catch their eye, but the language of business news ties your hands and holds you to a monotonous retelling of the latest bond offering or board meeting.  You want to make the release personal and add some zing, but your boss (or client) doesn’t want you to editorialize for them… so, why not let them do it for you?  By asking the right questions, you can build a palette of quotations to break up the rhythm of business speak and breathe a little life into your release.

As the narrator of business news, you convey the facts and answer the “5 W’s.”  Anything you say which attempts to judge these facts without attribution will lead to the dreaded question: “Says who?”  With quotations, not only can you tell the reader how your company feels about its news, you can relay how you think they should feel about it.  You also provide business journalists with the tools necessary to make their story about your news seem as though it resulted from an actual interview, not just a press release.

Once you have the quotes you need, you should present them in the proper manner.  To demonstrate, I’ll quote myself during the rest of this entry.  (I wouldn’t try this at home, unless you’re your own boss.)

“A standard, run-of-the-mill quote starts out like this,” said Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire Nashville.  “Simply take the first full idea the speaker said and follow it with the attribution.  The first mention of the speaker should give their full name, title and company.”

For simple quotes like this, the punctuation should always be placed inside the quotation marks.  Since the attribution is complex, the verb should come first so it is not tacked on to the end like an afterthought.  (“This is an example of what not to do,” Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire, said.)  On further references to a speaker who has already been mentioned, only their last name is necessary.

“In hard news, the preferred verb for an attribution is ‘said,’” Guinn said.  “Words like ‘commented,’ ‘stated’ and ‘says’ are fine for fluffy features, but, since most hard news is written in the past tense, quotes should be finite – the speaker said these words.

“Notice I left the quotation mark off the end of the last paragraph.  If the statement you’re quoting continues into a new paragraph spoken by the same person, you can use a continuing quote like this and not need to add another attribution.  You can carry on in this manner for as long as you need, but, if you change speakers, you’ll need to start a new paragraph and a new quote.”

If you need to introduce the quote, but don’t want to use an entire paragraph or sentence to do it, “you can use a partial quote,” Guinn said.  “This is especially helpful if the idea you’re trying to convey is based on this person’s opinion, if your speaker wasn’t concise or if you simply need to establish context not provided in the quote.”

These are the three most common types of quotations you’ll encounter writing a standard press release.  For further information, the Associated Press Stylebook is considered by many to be the “journalist’s bible.”  Of course, you can always feel free to contact your local Business Wire office and speak with an editor who will be more than happy to assist you.

With 31 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.


Editor’s Corner: Avoid Press Release Buzzkill with George Orwell’s Writing Tips

May 24, 2011

By Rebecca Bennett, Editor, Business Wire Seattle

by Rebecca Bennett, Editor, BW Seattle

While there’s plenty a PR pro can do to draw attention to press releases – solid SEO terms, attractive multimedia, for example –  simple language should not be underestimated. 

Straightforward language in the body of a release can be a big asset in establishing credibility and gaining traction.  Those writing press releases should avoid buzzwords and industry jargon that work against clear messaging, opting for brevity and conciseness.

In 2010, PR strategist Adam Sherk compiled a list of the most common buzzwords in press releases to demonstrate how a company’s perceived innovation may serve as a buzzkiller when it provokes eyerolls from editors and journalists who read dozens of press releases daily. 

Writers of press releases are wise to consider George Orwell’s Five Rules of Good Writing (actually six rules) included in his famous 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.

Here they are:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Rules two and five are especially relevant to press release writers.  Keeping it brief can help your budget, since press release distribution costs are based on word count.  Avoiding jargon and obtuse language clearly communicates your message.

Business Wire’s website has plenty of press release pointersPRFilter.com is a great aggregator of press releases–useful for a PR professional to compare frequency of words across industries. 

Also, don’t hesitate to contact your local newsroom and/or account executive for feedback.

With 31 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.

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