Business Wire Los Angeles: Why 2015 Will Be the Year of PR

December 17, 2014

By Sean Markham, Account Executive, Business Wire Los Angeles

As we wrap up 2014 and head into 2015, the media landscape has changed dramatically. But there remains this constant: news is the top shared content across all channels. How to generate editorial coverage, the role of the press release, social media and WOM in the marketing funnel were just some of the topics covered at a recent breakfast event hosted by Business Wire. Held on Thursday, December 11 at The Olympic Collection Banquet and Conference Center, a diverse group of Los Angeles-area PR professionals gathered to listen to Business Wire’s very own Director of Social and Evolving Media Serena Ehrlich (@Serena) discuss the myriad challenges and opportunities for communications practitioners.

If news and editorial coverage is the most shared content, who creates this content? “You guys do. All of you in this room,” Ehrlich emphasized to the engaged audience.

Infographic provided by MediaLeaders

Among the many important takeaways from this event is the crucial role multimedia plays in standing out in the crowded field of news. Releases with images or video receive 3X more impressions and engagement than their plain text counterparts.

During her comprehensive discussion, Ehrlich also shared insights on several social media tools to use in your PR efforts, including ClickToTweet, TweetReach, the LinkedIn Long-Form Blog Service as well as Google URL builder.

Here is a recap of Ehrlich’s presentation, which will help prepare all PR pros for the year ahead:

Media Has Changed

  • The role of the news release: Today the press release = action document that jumpstarts action within all target audiences
  • News releases align to the marketing and sales funnel and increase: Awareness, Discovery, Brand Reputation, Message Adoption, Conversations, Inbound Traffic, Intent and Conversions
  • Releases should not: Act as a stand-alone sales tool, replace customer service, be text only, work in a vacuum and work without support
  • News doesn’t go viral just by being issued. PR professionals will need to do work (social sharing, etc.) to make news releases go viral.
  • Journalists are held to three core metrics:  inbound traffic, social shares, time on site
    • Tip: Socially share out any coverage you receive to help reach these metrics
    • Tip:  Video is the perfect access to increase time on site
  • Many adults are now getting their news from social media networks

Social Media Has Changed

  • Every single major social network is showcasing news articles, reputable content and multimedia, perfect for PR
  • Tweets that include a photo or video receive 3 to 4x higher engagement
  • Tweets including multimedia uploaded via Twitter receive 150% more RTs
  • Facebook photos receive 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more CTRs on links
  • Facebook shares your updates based on the assets your audiences likes best. Meaning if you are not a video person (a rarity these days since 63% of the world are visual learners and rely on video for information) then FB will not populate many, if any, videos on your News Feed.
    • Tip: Text which kind of audience follows your fan page. Post a video, then post a link, and, finally, just post a photo and see which posting gets more impressions and engagement
  • LinkedIn is top B2B platform
    • Tip: Use the LinkedIN long form content blog service to increase reach within this platform
  • Millions of videos are watched on YouTube every day; 33% of YouTube searches are news related

Multimedia is the #1 Way to Increase Press Release ROI

  • Almost 65% of the world’s population are visual learners. Text-only press releases no longer work with this highly visual audience.
  • Releases with images or videos get 3x more engagement and impressions than plain text news
  • 1 minutes of video = 1.8 million words
  • Photographs do not need to be translated

Press Release Tips

  • Write for your highly targeted audience
  • Post a blog answering all the questions your release will generate to ensure message adoption
  • Photos and videos are no longer optional when looking for coverage
  • Use Google Tools!
  • Search bar – helps determine key phrases used most by searchers
  • Use URL trackers to track actions taken by readers on your website
  • Drive social sharing with Click to Tweet
  • Hashtags should be specific (use hashtag.org to see volume)

Read more about this event and all Business Wire events by following the #BWChat hashtag.

Like this post?  Click on this link to tweet it out: http://ctt.ec/Iad8e


5 Things to Stop Doing to Your Press Releases in 2014

March 14, 2014

By Luke O’Neill, Business Wire Editor

In the fast-paced, deadline-driven world of public relations it’s easy to rely on tired, ineffective practices merely to churn out press release after press release. But you’re better than that, right? Folks, the time to adapt and innovate is here. Empower your clients and yourself to be better, and think outside the press release template box. In this age of bite-sized “content” and short attention spans, it is vital to relay your message as efficiently as possible in order to activate as many brand fans as possible. 5 things to STOP going to your press release in 2014 stop sign After all, the press release is no longer a staid form of communication. Today’s press releases are professional yet also personable and conversational. Today’s releases are designed to educate and activate core and secondary audiences. Are yours? Not sure? Check out the list below. Here are the top five things today’s PR professionals must stop doing in press releases in order to be successful in 2014:

1. Stop writing long headlines. Today’s press release headline needs to be accurate and concise. The headline, above all, should catch the attention of intended audiences, and get them to read your release. Headlines particularly need strong verbs and should be devoid of adjectives. Instead, try writing a shorter headline – we suggest about 70 characters long. Don’t forget to include the company names in your headline. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to issue news and leave your name out of the most visible part of the release.

2. Stop over-stylizing. Too many bolds, italics, underlines, super and subscripts and even too many hyperlinks can turn a press release into an eyesore. Too many styles are hard on the eyes; they simply make your release more difficult to read. Use these styles sparingly and usually for emphasis, and watch the readability index for your release increase.

3. Stop overloading releases with keywords. Once upon a time, it was important to cram “relevant” keywords into a press release to appease the search engine optimization gods. Now? Not so much. Search engine algorithms have changed to reward good writing made for human consumption while also satisfying the technical side of web visibility. Business Wire issued a very helpful guide this year on press release optimization (download it here: http://go.businesswire.com/guide-to-press-release-optimization). This guide includes 10 steps to create a better release in 2014.

4. Stop using only embedded links. Press releases should incorporate a mix of spelled-out URLs and embedded links. Spelled-out URLs travel further, i.e. they can be read if you print out the story or seen in an email if there’s no HTML setup. When it comes to links, you want to be strategic. Use links sparingly, and of course don’t forget to test them before distributing your story.

5. Stop writing so much text. News releases, like actual news articles, ought to get to the point quickly. Stop writing long passive sentences and long-winded quotes and focus on shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, bullets and images to make your point.  Writing press releases is an art form all unto itself. The fastest way to master the art of crafting an actionable, successful press release is to focus on clear, succinct writing and smart imagery. Try it and see for yourself!


Tips to Give Your Best Media Pitch in Under 45 Seconds from the NABJ Convention

November 17, 2011
by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago
Media pitching is indeed an art form.  Vying for the attention of busy journalists who must fill news holes with limited resources requires precision.  PR practitioners and freelancers had less than a minute to pitch a panel of top editors and reporters from leading national news outlets during the “Pitch Me with Your Best Shot” workshop at this year’s recent National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) convention in Philadelphia.

ABC Good Morning America, The Huffington Post, People and Essence Magazine staff were all part of the panel.  American Idol style, they critiqued those who seized the opportunity to stand in-front of more than 75 workshop attendees which included PR pros and journalists and deliver their impromptu 45-second pitch.

Here are a few practical tips you can use to cut out the fluff when you craft your next pitch.

Trymaine Lee, senior reporter at The Huffington Post, Catherine “Cat” McKenzie, senior producer at ABC’s Good Morning America, Tatsha Robertson, senior editor at People and Bob Meadows, deputy editor at Essence take questions at NABJ annual conference

Have a tie-in and know your media – 45 seconds is fast. Lead with the specific area related to your pitch: What segment would it fall under, what monthly column focuses on your topic or what time of the year is best for your story (ex. Black History Month)?  Show those you’re pitching you follow their media outlet and understand their audience and what they are seeking.  Don’t pitch the producers of The Wendy Williams Show your awesome chef and cookbook.  They don’t do cooking segments.

Embrace the nerd in us and give statistics.  Everyone’s got a little nerd in them.  Statistics can help sell a story.  Journalists want to feel like they’ve taught the audience something new.

Numbers are great but people are better.  Can you provide the reporter or producer access to someone impacted by your organization, get them an interview with the founder of the non-profit or offer a celebrity who has close ties to your issue?  Be sure to let them know if  they can be available immediately.

Show a little passion.  Enthusiasm can be faked but it’s no substitute for passion.  Passion infects and when combined with authenticity, it shows.  One of the publicists in attendance pitched a story on the number of missing and abused African-American women and children who get only minimal news coverage everyday. Her pitch evoked a standing ovation from the crowd and nearly brought members of the panel to tears–probably not her goal, but impressive nonetheless.  Passion moves people to take action.  When you’re crafting your pitch don’t cut out the passion.

Raschanda Hall


Press Release Issuers Can Target Influencers via Business Wire’s SmartBrief Partnership

October 12, 2011

The broad brush, and the single strategic stroke: when it comes to press releases, you need to do both.

Business Wire recently deepened its four-year partnership with SmartBrief, a custom publisher of targeted industry email newsletters.  The new agreement expands from 12 to 80 the number of targeted industry trade email publications to which Business Wire clients will have access when sending their press releases around town or around the globe.

The expanded access straddles a broad spectrum of industry and association email newsletters-from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners to the Culinary Institute of America to the New York Society of Security Analysts and everything in between.

Each SmartBrief newsletter is co-branded with a leading trade association or professional society and provided free of charge to subscribers. Those interested, may sign up at SmartBrief.  Business Wire clients can add SmartBrief distribution to the targeted industry audience of their choice in conjunction with their Business Wire geographic circuit by adding the newsletter choice in the Special Instructions area of Business Wire Connect when uploading their press release.

Click-throughs and metrics are incorporated into Business Wire’s comprehensive Newstrak reports, allowing clients to monitor the reach of the extra visibility.

You can view the list of SmartBrief newsletters available in which to feature your Business Wire release for an additional fee or contact your  local Business Wire office to get more information on how to target SmartBrief subscribers directly with your news.


How to Write Good Quotes: Keeping it Real Makes Your Press Release More Effective

August 30, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Our friends over at Ragan wrote an enviable dispatch recently, 4 Ways to Improve Quotes in Press Releases.  Wish we had authored this one.

Quotes are a tradition in press releases and inject a human voice into the text.  The challenge of balancing executives’ bloated claims in quotation marks with saying something meaningful continues for writes of press releases.   Quotes riddled with jargon and buzzwords lose their meaning and leave the reader wondering, “Huh?”

Good QuotesRagan cited this bad example of a quote from  President and CEO John Johnson:

“I plan to continue this legacy of providing innovative products and services to our customers. With over 30 competing companies for our customers to choose from, we have some challenges ahead. I am confident that we can meet those challenges successfully. And the first step is the release of our new app.”

In such cases, better to paraphrase like this:

“President and CEO John Johnson believes the release of the new app will provide customers with the communications tools they need, setting XYZ Company apart from more than 30 competitors. “

Our own Andrew Guinn wrote about the grammar of quotation marks in press releases a few weeks ago–don’t you sometimes wonder where punctuation belongs?  We also touched on making your quotes more notable in a recent Press Release Basics webinar last week.

Apart from injecting humanity into a press release, quotes are often featured as a “pull quote” drawing even more attention to their effectiveness–or lack of it.  Best to craft them carefully.


Advertising Value Equivalencies: The Mostly Meaningless Metric with Nine Lives

July 7, 2011

by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

Sandy Malloy, Senior Information SpecialistLucky seven.  Unlucky thirteen.  Three strikes.  The Top 100 movies of all time.  We love numbers, don’t we?  Rankings, ratings, scores, anything to tell us some kind of truth in a simple way.  My favorite wine retailer told a joke about the guy who comes into the shop: “This wine you sold me last week is awful!”  he tells the proprietior, who responds, “Parker gave it a 92.”  The customer exclaims, “I’ll take a case!”

Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) is the magic number that won’t die despite repeated attempts by the Insitute for Public Relations and well-known measurement mavens to kill it.  Yet another article on the dubious value of AVE appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week.

Why is AVE the Godzilla of measurement?  Probably because it’s simple.  It’s easy to research advertising rates, multiply by column inches or air time, and tack on an “earned media” factor (three is common).  Voila!  You have a magic number that purports to justify the effort.

A poll of 400 respondents on this very blog a couple of years ago found that a third did use AVE but about a quarter didn’t even know the meaning of the phrase.  So, while even more people either didn’t use it or didn’t know about it, a large group of those who responded either:

  • Didn’t know of another way to measure, or;
  • Reported to a client or manager who  demanded a simple number even though the result being measured (message dissemination and influence) is complex.

The WSJ article acknowledges no “simple alternative” to AVE exists, and most PR pros would agree that measuring public relations efforts  depends entirely on the goal of publicity (something I have blogged about in this space.)  As Ketchum’s Dr. David Rockland has said, “AVEs get replaced by a series of metrics that are dependent on what exactly you are trying to do.”

Here are a just a few basic examples of outcome-oriented goals and corresponding measurement methods:

 GOAL:  Create interest in a contest you are promoting, gather sales leads

  • MEASURES:  Track the sources of leads, which might be a combination of ads, press releases and social media mentions.  Record link clicks in press releases and combine with internal Web analytics for a landing page on your site with contest details and entry form.   Create a matrix that compares the effectiveness of each approach with the cost.

 GOAL:  Educate employees about new health benefits

  • MEASURES:  Set a benchmark of desirable awareness level. Poll employees about knowledge of the benefits before and after campaign.

GOAL:  Defuse a crisis.

  • MEASURES:  Track mainstream and social media coverage, noting whether the media is reporting the messages you are trying to convey and the tone of the coverage.  In this case, negative publicity is far worse than no publicity.

Brave, Rude World: Intrusive Technologies Beg Etiquette Questions for PR Folks trying to Mind their Mobile Manners

June 28, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

Is it ever OK to politely suggest someone not text in your presence?  What about tweeting during meetings and  conferences?

These and other frequently asked questions regarding the brave–some would say rude–world of mobile technologies were explored at a recent Business Wire webinar, Minding your Mobile Manners:  Etiquette Tips for the Digital Age.  The event featured author and etiquette expert Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute.

Cellphone etiquette dominated the discussion with polite pleas for direction on what is/isn’t acceptable in today’s constantly connected universe. Post cited a Feb. 2011 Intel survey which found that 75% of those polled say mobile manners are worse than just a year ago.  Our attending group of professional communicators are obviously not alone in their need for guidance.

Mobile Manners in Austin, Texas:  Seen at the Whip-InABOVE:  Mobile Manners in Austin, Texas: Seen at the Whip-In

Some may think the answers to the questions above are obvious but as Anna Post pointed out, “It depends.  Each situation is different and it entirely depends on the context.”

Asking someone to not text in your presence–and how to frame such a request–depends entirely on the relationship between the people involved.  If in a professional situation a simple, “Monika, I really need your full attention here” might be appropriate.   Some companies have implemented a policy of having people drop their  iPhones and Blackberries at the door as they enter a conference room.  “If your attention is really not that important at the meeting, perhaps you shouldn’t attend,” she noted.

And Twitter at conferences and meetings?

Post recommends that when live tweeting a small event like a local PRSA meeting, you should informally advise the organizer or speaker to avoid hurt feelings and the appearance you don’t care about the presentation.

As for large conferences like SXSW, or the National NIRI or PRSA gatherings, ubiquitous technologies are pervasive and even expected.  Many speakers appreciate the visibility afforded when the audience shares their talking points in online communities, resulting in more book sales, speaking gigs, or qualified business leads for the speaker.   No need to stop tweeting or even to advise the speaker in this situation.

Email etiquette was another hot topic.   Post recommends always using a salutation with the person’s name, rather than diving straight into the message.  Avoid emoticons and text-message speak at all times in any type of business communications, she advises.  It appears juvenile.

As communications professionals, we’re especially obliged to know how to get our messages across even as the tools and techniques for doing so change as fast as the weather.  Good mobile manners–like good grammar and spelling–increase the likelihood of successfully communicating.

If you missed our webinar, feel free to catch the replay on the Business Wire events page.    Also, we hope you’ll take our one-question PR Peeps Poll on minding your mobile manners: What’s your biggest digital pet peeve?

Please and thank you.


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