BWELA 2011: 7 Key Takeaways from BlogWorld Expo 2011

November 7, 2011

By Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

BlogWorld LA 2011BlogWorld Expo is a daunting place to be. There are more than 150 sessions featuring more than 250 speakers over three days, not to mention the fact that the whole place is basically teeming with really smart people with really interesting ideas about absolutely everything. So, trying to sum up all the takeaways from the conference is a pretty ridiculous task. Seriously, try reading all the great tweets under the #BWELA official hashtag, which has attracted more than 36,000 tweets and more than 280 million impressions thus far.

Nonetheless, keeping in mind that the following does not even begin to cover all the great information and insights from the conference (& is in fact limited to the sessions I was personally able to attend), I wanted to share some of the takeaways I got from the show:

  1. This is the era for inquisitors. More than anything, BlogWorld was about reminding this audience of communicators of the important role they play during this changing time for business. Keynote speaker Amber Naslund talked about this not being the “era of experts,” but rather the “era of inquisitors, of people who ask questions, who are willing to be curious.”
  2. Time to drink the Google+ Kool-Aid. Although business or brand pages aren’t available—yet—speakers Chris Brogan & Guy Kawasaki say you can still be using the platform professionally now, by representing your business using your personal page and developing relationships. Use tools like Find People on Plus to find people with similar passions & use Circles to control what messages you’re sending to what groups. Chris Brogan’s #1 piece of advice for Google+ is to improve your About profile, using a good picture and including links to your website, blog and other social profiles. Finally, remember the all-important fact that Google+ remains the only social network currently being indexed by Google.
  3. Mobilize your website for user experience. By 2013, half of all web traffic will be from a mobile device. Your priority when it comes to mobile should be a mobile website, which should be a much more condensed, simplified version of your desktop site. Focus on what your customer really needs to be able to access on the go. Keep navigation simple and make sure to cross-platform test across different phones and test phones several years back, as people are still carrying those. Load time needs to be fast for people access information on their phones.
  4. Blogger relations remain a largely untapped opportunity for brands. According to Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere study, two-thirds of bloggers surveyed say they blog about brands. Less than half classified their interactions with brands as favorable or very favorable. Less than a quarter say brands provide value or are knowledgeable about their blog. 60 percent say they feel bloggers are treated less professionally by brand representatives than are traditional media. Meanwhile, blogs continue to outpace other social media as well as traditional media in terms of generating consumer recommendations and purchasing. Blogger relations thus represents a major opportunity for brands.
  5. Quality content is more important than ever in a post-Panda world. Speaker Shane Ketterman described “quality” content as content so compelling, it engages you in a topic you weren’t even interested in. Following Google’s Panda updates in 2011, having quality content & putting your content on a quality site is more important than ever. Design elements—from ad radio to breadcrumbs to optimized images—are also more important in a post-Panda world. Ketterman also recommended an interesting SEOMoz article presenting a theory that Google assigns value to passion, emotion and authenticity in content.
  6. Facebook engagement is more important than ever in a post-EdgeRank world. The fact is, brands rarely show up in Facebook users’ newsfeeds…unless they’ve engaged with brand. Speaker Dennis Yu recommended brands respond to every post on their page, whether they are asking a question or not. Responding indicates a two-way relationship to Facebook, which increases your EdgeRank. He also pointed out that most brands advertising on Facebook link to an external site, but that eliminates the all-important social aspect of the ad (where your friends can see that you’ve liked the ad or a brand in their ad).
  7. Have a plan to capitalize on success. Everybody knows to have a back-up plan in case everything goes wrong, but several speakers talked about having a plan in case everything goes right. Make sure you are able to capitalize on unplanned visibility: have your branding, contact information and links already in place on content.

Tech PR Peeps Poll: 80.4% Say Twitter Overrated As Tool for Pitching Authors

October 25, 2010

This is a guest post from Travis Van.  Travis is the founder of Business Wire partner ITDatabase, a research platform for tech industry PR.

Social media fever runs so high these days that it’s tough for tech PR pros to distinguish real opportunities from the useless fluff regularly offered up by pundits.

Particularly unclear is to what extent the tech PR community is actually getting results with their social media efforts.  Anecdotally, we all know that social media can engage customers in unique ways. But what about the big picture? Are intensive social media campaigns consistently productive, or are they wild goose chases punctuated with an occasional success story? Has social media really become a staple of tech PR pros’ everyday interaction with journalists and bloggers?

ITDatabase recently polled tech PR pros to share their experiences with what’s working (and what’s not), and focused our questions on these most popular social networking channels. While the sample only really scratches the surface (230 tech PR pro respondents, of which 30.4% were in house at a tech company and 69.6% were on the agency side), some of the results may surprise you.

Here are some of the key findings:

Presence of Journalists / Bloggers on Social Media

As a pretext for the survey, we did our own research and found that of the 5,000 most active tech journalists and bloggers:

61% are on LinkedIn
56% are on Twitter
28% are on Facebook
27% do NOT publish email addresses as a method for contacting them

Email
Despite the social media hype, pitching by email is still the norm. 97.8% of respondents still pitch either exclusively or primarily by email, with only 2.2% claiming to pitch “primarily” via social media channels. 50% said tech authors are less responsive to email pitches than they used to be, and only 15.2% said they were more receptive. 89.1% were either “mildly” or “very” concerned that their email pitches were sometimes zapped by authors’ spam filters and never read.

Twitter
Tech PR reps are indeed using Twitter heavily, but more for research than for outreach. Only 4.3% said they “frequently” pitch authors via Twitter. 26.1% have never pitched an author via Twitter. 54.3% think the media relations results they’ve gotten out of Twitter have justified the time investment. 80.4% think that Twitter is “overrated” as a tool for pitching authors.

LinkedIn
More than one quarter of tech PR reps use LinkedIn to reach authors. 28.3% have pitched someone using LinkedIn InMail.

Facebook
Out of the Big Three (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), Facebook draws the most skepticism from the tech PR community. Only 10.9% connect with tech journalists and bloggers on Facebook “often”. And 80.4% believed that Facebook has the least practical use for tech PR (compared to LinkedIn and Twitter).

Check out the full findings here:  http://memos.itdatabase.com/index.php?report=sm


What can Public Relations Professionals Learn from TBD.com?

August 9, 2010

by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

TBD.com, which launched today, is taking a unique approach to providing hyperlocal news.  Unlike AOL’s recently launched Patch.com, which hired reporters to cover local communities in California, New York and other states, TBD.com will partner with more than a hundred community blogs to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the DC Metro area.

TBD.com Homepage

TBD.com, a hyperlocal news site which launched today in Washington, DC

That’s not to say that TBD.com won’t have a reporting staff of its own.  The TBD.com editorial team is comprised of several journalists from a number of traditional media, including The Washington Post, as well as new media platforms like local blog DCist.com.  What makes TBD.com different from other competitors that are also looking to provide news down to the ZIP code is its willingness to admit that no one news outlet can cover it all.

“Aggregation will play an important role.  We’re not just producing content, but will be linking to traditional media outlets and our community of blogs when they have content we’re not covering,” said Jeff Sonderman, Senior Community Host of TBD.com. “We’re taking an approach that is almost the opposite of legacy media by not keeping the traffic all to ourselves.”

In addition, TBD.com plans to use an editorial style that mirrors the format of its community blogs, which cover news about a variety of topics including neighborhood issues, food, sports and entertainment.  “Our reporters will have more of a blogger mindset.  They’ll be focused on talking to a community of users, creating short dispatches, constantly updating stories and linking to other sources,” Sonderman said.

According to Sonderman, there are a number of reasons why the blog movement has developed as much as it has.  Blogs tend to engage readers with a more personal perspective versus traditional media which adhere to a specific formula.  Blogs are also infinitely customizable and can appeal to even the smallest group of readers.

Sonderman gave the example of Allergy Life in Loudoun – a blog about child food allergy issues, written by a mother raising a daughter with life-threatening allergies.  “You’re never going to find a reporter who covers allergies in Loudoun County,” he said.  “But there happens to be a blog for that niche audience.”

What can public relations professionals learn from TBD.com’s approach to hyperlocal news?  First, we take a lesson from TBD.com’s model of aggregation.  Although you can provide journalists with valuable information, you don’t have all the answers.  Providing resources or additional credible contacts can help build relationships with journalists.

Second, engage your reader.  Press releases don’t always have to follow the same format.  Write with voice, humor, wit and get a journalist’s attention by breaking through the clutter.

Finally, find your audience – even if it’s a community interested in a girl living with allergies.  Identify who you’re trying to reach and go where they are even if it’s a small publication or local blog.


BW Florida Event Presents Views From All Sides of the Press Release Spectrum

April 22, 2010

On April 13, Business Florida hosted a media breakfast that brought together panelists from all sides of the “press release spectrum”:  a traditional journalist, a blogger, an SEO expert & a multimedia business reporter.

The audience remained engaged as our moderator, Business Wire Executive Vice President of Media Services & Product Strategy Laura Sturaitis, asked the speakers to share tips on how to get press releases noticed & how to maximize exposure leveraging today’s new social media tools.

Margie Schneider, VP of Operations for Internet Marketing Consultancy firm Ten Golden Rules:

  • Stressed the importance of posting your news/content on an assortment of platforms.  You use the wire for the press release, but also post that news on your own website + your blog + share with your social online community.
  • By maintaining content on an assortment of platforms, you increase the likelihood one of your pages will move to the top of search engine results. Blogs are very good for this, if they are frequently updated, because Google (and other search engines) like content that is frequently refreshed in its databases.
  • Socialmention.com will search social media sites for mentions of your brand. It’s a great way to prove to clients that people are talking about them, regardless of whether they enter the conversation.

Our guru blogger & freelance writer, Maria de los Angeles, continued the topic of blogs & bloggers by providing insight into a bloggers audience:

  • Bloggers or tweeters with a smaller social media following may have higher quality users because those users may be more discerning, influential, or well informed than more “popular” but generic citizen journalists
  • Research and follow the media you want to contact before you ask them to do something for you.  If you just search and spam bloggers on your particular subject, you cheapen what you’re trying to promote.

Niala Boodhoo, The Miami Herald’s Business Multimedia Reporter:

  • Shared how for reporters timing is everything…Send your news too early, and media will forget about it. Too late, and they don’t have time to do anything with it.
  • Including links to your videos/pictures in your press releases can be useful for piquing media interest, or, for example, demonstrating why a speaker from your company would be a good interview subject.

Finally, Cindy Kent from the Sun Sentinel’s Business News Desk:

  • Reinforced that the manner in which you interact with media has not changed, but the tools you use to do so have.
  • She advised to use links in your releases so media don’t have to cut your information to fit a sometimes limited frame. It’s much easier to tweet a link to your content than to try to summarize it in 140 characters…plus, you get the internet traffic directed to your site.
  • Kent told the audience, “Ask yourself, ‘How many clicks am I asking you to make to get where I want you to go? If it’s too many, people won’t follow.’”

Local Business Wire offices host several events each year on PR, IR, SEO & media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


Social and Mainstream Media Must Learn to Live Together

October 27, 2009

Business Wire/Phoenix account executive Malcolm Atherton recently attended Blog World, and had some observations about the interaction between mainstream and social media:

After spending three days at the 2009 Blog World & New Media Expo, I got the feeling that social media and mainstream media have some issues to work out.

 This was clearly illustrated when Don Lemon of CNN took part in a keynote panel titled “The Death & Rebirth of Social Media”.

 Don noted his positive and negative social media experiences, how he thinks social media and mainstream media can help one another and how social media “made me up my game [at CNN] – I have to be more accurate.” However, as JD Lasica wrote on SocialMedia.biz, when Don was asked “’Why should bloggers want to work with CNN?’ Lemon should have more artfully worded his reply — ‘The plain truth is that my platform is bigger than your platform.’”

 Perhaps that statement is part of the problem – mainstream media likes social media but doesn’t give it equal billing.

 On the flip side, during the same Q&A, one feisty blogger angrily stated that he would never share an information source with CNN or any other mainstream media outlet because “mainstream media is not interesting to me anymore.”

 Sigh.

Later that day, during a panel titled “How Social Media is Changing the Definition of News,” social media maven, journalism degree-holder, and panelist Robert Scoble stated that old school journalism doesn’t like that they have to publish in real time and do all fact checking later to stay competitive. Animated discussion ensued between panelists and the audience.  (And with good reason – mainstream media were slow to break the news earlier this year of Michael Jackson’s death, which had already broken on Twitter and various entertainment blogs; while other recent events have shown that with running with a story before fact checking comes the possibility of getting your fingers burned.)

As legacy media find themselves increasingly dependent on and successful with blogs, Twitter and other real-time publishing outlets, they’re going to have to learn to live with some different standards and protocols; social media, on the other hand, needs to account for the reputation, reach and impact of large corporate media outlets.  Bulldog Reporter shows how more journalists are dipping into the social media pool; while Search Engine Watch discusses how big players can earn respect in social media.

Follow Malcolm on Twitter at @MalcolmAtherton.


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