Sending News to the Middle East? Q&A with News Services Group’s Tony AbiHanna

February 6, 2014

Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

I recently had the good pleasure of speaking with Tony AbiHanna, a Managing Director at News Services Group (NSG) in Dubai. NSG is a leading news service provider in the Middle East and North Africa and a distribution partner of Business Wire.  With more and more client news going to the Middle East, I was curious to know if he had any tips for conducting business in the region. During a short question and answer session, Mr. AbiHanna touched on the proper timing of a press release, what social media are popular in the region and whether sandstorms whipped up by shamal (wind) ever impact business.

Q: What is the single biggest thing to keep in mind when trying to successfully distribute news in the Middle East? Is it timing? Is it the headline? Is it the tone?

A: Normally media outlets across the Middle East tend to publish news related to the region.  So it would be best if clients can highlight a relation (if any) to the Middle East, a country in the region, or the name of a company based here in the headline of a press release. Otherwise, the news release most probably will end up in the international news page (if there is still space for it).

And timing plays a big role if the client is targeting print media.  Any release distributed after 3:00pm or 4:00pm (at the latest) has less of a chance of being picked up by the print media.

Q: What is the best day of the week and the best time of  day to send out a press release in the UAE (or the region – if there’s an agreed-upon standard)?

A: We advise avoiding distribution on Sundays (the first day of the week here) and Mondays.  Otherwise, all other days are fine.  Keep in mind, however, that Saturday is an off day and therefore an easy day news-wise.

Q: Are there any meeting customs/traditions unique to the Middle East that outsiders coming to conduct business should be aware of? For instance, in Japan, they have the “kamiza” seat and the exchanging of business cards. Does anything like this exist where you are?

A: There is a tradition of drinking Arabic coffee (which is the white coffee), and it can be considered an offense if the visitor doesn’t drink it as it is part of Arab hospitality. Plus, the professional classic and conservative outfits (especially for females) are advisable.

Q: From your point of view, what social media sites are most popular in the UAE and Middle East? What sites would be best utilized to complement the distribution of a news release?

Twitter is very influential and on top of the list and then Facebook and Instagram, respectively.

Q: Do sandstorms/shamal ever severely affect business in Dubai or elsewhere in the region?

Sand Storm

A: The UAE, Abu Dhabi and Dubai roads and business centers are highly equipped with the latest infrastructure, so sand storms don’t affect business here. However, if the visitor is traveling by car between Abu Dhabi and Dubai or any other Emirate for example, he needs to allow more time as traffic slows down on highways during such storms.


The Press Release Then and Now: How We Arrived At Where We Are Today

January 27, 2014

By: Hannah Kelly, Business Wire, Paris

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important milestones in the history of public relations – Ivy Lee’s management of the 1913-1914 Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.

The term ‘Public Relations’ first appeared in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature, and the original press release, which we can credit to Ivy Lee, was published in 1906 – following the tragic loss of 50 lives in the Pennsylvanian Railroad Crash.

Equally, Lee’s Declaration of Principles, also released in 1906, was a turning point for public relations, as it communicated the responsibility of those working in PR, not only to the client but also to the public. This declaration ensured that Lee’s work was subsequently accepted not in the form of advertising, but as news, as accurate information, as matter “of value and interest to the public”. This was, and still is, the founding principle of wire services such as Business Wire, Associated Press, AFP and more.

So with all of these important events taking place before 1914, what exactly was it about the Colorado Coal Strike that is now so crucial to the history of public relations?

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Firstly, the strike needed publicity management due to its hotly controversial nature – on-strike miners and their families were killed by state militia, and the mining union blamed the Rockefeller family and their coal mining business for the deaths.

Lee used, to his advantage, the establishment and acceptance of his Declaration of Principles as the basis for the management of the Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.  He drafted and mailed an array of bulletins to media outlets and workers alike, addressing the issue with candor (as well as successfully keeping the Rockefeller name free from reputational damage). This has become known as one of the most successful and influential PR campaigns – an experience that demonstrated, for the first time, the importance of publicity and public relations to the American nation.

It should be noted that doubts do exist regarding the authenticity of this campaign, whether certain facts were distorted, and if this was the case, as to whether this was intentional or not. However, despite any uncertainties, we must concede that this campaign achieved its goals : to promote the facts of the event and to share news with the public, whilst recognising its responsibility to both the public and the client, the Rockefeller’s.

Many years later, the standard of PR established in Lee’s Declaration of Principles has evolved significantly. It is now so well integrated into modern society that we no longer even question it. PR is an essential part of business life – and it would be unthinkable to run a company nowadays without openness and honesty to the public. It is for this reason that Business Wire works so hard to ensure the authenticity of all press releases, and adheres to such stringent security regulations. We agree with Lee’s rules: “Accuracy, Authenticity, and Interest”.


Introducing The Underdogs of the Social Media World

January 23, 2014

By: Ciaran Ryan & Zara McAlister , Business Wire Toronto Editors

The odds are forever stacked against them, and yet we can’t help but cheer them on. They may not be as big or as strong as their rivals, but they all hold the potential for greatness. They are underdogs. They’re the stuff of sport’s Cinderella stories, history’s conflicts, and Hollywood’s scripts. If you look hard enough you can always find the underdog. Even in the social media landscape, dozens of underused platforms are waiting for brands to try them on for size.

Facebook and Twitter may be the current top dogs, but other platforms boast their own unique strengths that could be beneficial for your brand. We’ve paired these platforms with notable underdogs of the past for entertainment value.

G+ & Rocky Balboa

rocky

Image source: IMDB

Google + is a lot like Rocky Balboa, the “Italian Stallion” from the Rocky movie series. On paper the diminutive boxer stood no chance against powerful fighters like the Soviet Union’s Ivan Drago. But the manly Rocky persevered when few believed in him, save his trainer Mickey and his love interest Adrian.

G+ has more supporters than Rocky ever did, with 540 million users. This social networking platform may not have Facebook’s numbers, but it’s quickly gaining ground. About 70% of its users are manly men, like Rocky. Typical users are in their mid-twenties to early thirties with technical interests such as engineering and modern technology. If this fits your brand’s target demographic, then appeal to these users by using G+ Hangouts to connect directly with them in a video chat environment. G+ is also useful for sharing learning-based content, hosting product demos and Q&A sessions. Sidneyeve Matrix, media professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario suggests making use of your brand’s evergreen content (not time sensitive) on G+ or posting information exclusive to your G+ circle.

If you need another reason to try G+, it’s no surprise this social network is the number one driver of Google SEO.

Pinterest & Danica Patrick

Few people thought Danica Patrick, a high school dropout, would succeed in the male-dominated sport of auto racing. Yet she defied the odds in 2008 to become the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Patrick’s underdog status and photogenic appeal have made her a household name.

Pinterest has also made a name for itself with 70 million users worldwide. The photo sharing community-based platform has a predominately female user base that works well for consumer brands. Pinterest ranks higher than Twitter for driving SEO on Google according to Search Metrics. What’s more, a recent study by GIGYA found Pinterest generates more e-commerce traffic than Facebook. And Pinterest’s industry leading 85% click through rate means more visitors following advertised links to get additional information about your brand. Ms. Matrix thinks Pinterest works best for brands that are rich in original content. “Think outside the box. You’re not always trying to sell. Sometimes you’re just trying to inspire,” she says. If your company fits the Pinterest bill, add a pin tool to your social sharing buttons, create targeted boards and consider running contests to get your customers more involved.

monet

Image source: Wikipedia

Vimeo & Monet

Two years ago Monet’s “Water Lilies” painting sold for over $43 million USD. Not bad for an artist whose work was initially panned by critics in France. Monet was an artistic underdog because most 19th century art critics didn’t know what to make of his Impressionist style. Eventually the Impressionist movement flourished and Monet became one of the most celebrated painters of his time.

Much like Monet is his early years, video sharing site Vimeo flies under the radar. Its 100 million unique monthly victors are a drop in the bucket compared to YouTube’s 1 billion. But for what Vimeo lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of its content. Vimeo is a hotbed for indie filmmaking. You may not find tributes to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” or music videos about what foxes are really trying to say to us, but you will likely stumble upon something like this emotional ad produced by Google.

Vimeo is well categorized and less cluttered then other video sharing platforms. It’s not necessarily the right network for launching viral videos, but if your brand is interested in showcasing high quality content to a creative audience, then this is the place to do it. Last year Vimeo started the Brand Creative Fund, which helps to connect brands with Vimeo registered filmmakers, to create branded content that the community will appreciate.

These social media platforms are only a sample of the ones out there that encourage creative content and “out of the box” thinking. Always keep your target market in mind when considering what platforms will work best for your brand. Can you think of any other social media underdogs? Share your thoughts with us.


Understanding the Role of the Press Release and the Modern Marketing Mix

January 15, 2014
by Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

For many years, communication programs did not utilize input from every department in the company before launching. Thankfully, this has changed.

Today’s most successful communication programs run across many different divisions to maximize even the smallest program’s potential success.  In addition to increasing the potential for success, cross-department programs provide deeper insights necessary for future programs.  Below, we breakdown how marketing and PR support the impact of the press release.

When it comes to increasing the impact of a marketing program, for more than 50 years, one method continues to be most effective way to distribute your news – a commercial newswire service.

Press releases containing photos and/or videos and easy to find social sharing buttons, issued over a commercial wire service continue to be the most cost-effective way to reach journalists, bloggers, analysts, online and offline media, social networks, customers, and prospects.  Press releases are measured by quality of coverage, its impact on the company’s reputation and brand goals, action taken by readers and the amount of sharing across social networks.

The new tactics you must employ now to support your press releases and measure their impact include:

  1. Sharing social media messaging with brand fans and influencers, including a link back to your website, each tailored to the news’ target audience. Social actions taken related to your news are measured by overall shares, shares by influencers, link clicks and, most importantly, the quality of inbound traffic.
  2. Posting and directing journalists to blog posts that directly answer the questions you know journalists will ask you.  This increases the likelihood of company message adoption and decrease real or perceived anxiety by journalists and consumers about your message, brand or organization.
  3. Advertising on key industry media, highlighting the benefits of your product or brand is a terrific way to decrease the amount of time it takes a user to make a decision. Advertising success is measured by desired action taken, clicks, impressions, downloads etc.
  4. Utilizing online media syndication services like dlvr.it and Outbrain which can help increase visibility of valuable coverage and is best measured by impressions, views and quality of inbound traffic
  5. Creating social channel messages for colleagues, customers and partners to share across their own social channels.  Use a unique URL to more easily track shares, inbound traffic and the quality of that traffic
  6. Implement paid and non-paid influencer program to decrease sales consideration time.  This can have an impact on an increase in discussion, message adoption, social reach, quality of inbound traffic leads and amount of time before desired action taken.

These six steps increase the impact of your press release, as well as provide you with the valuable insights needed to revise messaging for future programs.  Which message resonated best with your various audiences? What asset or platform provided the best ROI?

The press release & the modern marketing mix – 6 #prtips by @serena http://ow.ly/sC4NY



Business Wire Establishes New Standards for SEO with the 2014 Guide for Press Release Optimization

January 8, 2014
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire

As we enter into 2014,  we are still receiving a lot of questions about how SEO should be used with a press release. One of the biggest misnomers we hear is that you cannot use any links in a release and that keyword research is not applicable anymore.  In an effort to clear up some of the confusion with SEO best practices for researching, writing and distributing a press release, Business Wire has put out a new guidance report titled “A Guide to Press Release Optimization.” The download is available for free and will answer all of the questions regarding press releases and SEO for 2014.

Business Wire PR and SEO in 2014The press release guidance report shows the major changes that have occurred with the press release including updates from Google that have redefined how the release is written. Additionally the report discusses best practices moving forward including future SEO and social trends in 2014. The guide is structured chronologically as a reference that will walk you through all of the steps of a press release from research and planning, through writing content, and into final distribution and measurement.

The idea is to have a standard that professionals in the communications industry can use as a guide when developing a press release for the New Year. All of the ten tips include examples and strategies including many free tools that are available to all professionals.

Tips include:

  • How to research and learn the behaviors of key constituents
  • Complete overview of the latest algorithms, and how to benefit from these updates
  • Recommended  press release layout improvements
  • How to properly use links
  • What you need to know about press release keywords and key phrases
  • The importance of high quality content
  • The role multimedia plays in increasing discovery and action in 2014
  • How to use social media strategically
  • Using a responsive design webpage for mobile
  • How to choose the proper news distribution method

The report can be downloaded, for free at http://go.businesswire.com/guide-to-press-release-optimization. Click this link to share it with your Twitter followers:  http://ctt.ec/4v0K3

Google Hummingbird

Need more incentive to download our report?  Business Wire will select, at random, 18 people who downloaded our guide to receive a hummingbird of their own!

We want to hear your comments. Let us know what you think of this guidance report and follow us on twitter @businesswire.


CES 2014 to Showcase 3D Printing, Driverless Cars, Wearable tech and more!

January 7, 2014
by Leon Harbar, Vice President, Global Trade Shows and Events

The 2014 International CES officially opens today at the Las Vegas Convention Center, The Venetian and the LVH.  Business Wire is once again the official news wire and online press kit service for the International CES.  We are working on-site all week in the LVCC South Hall Press Room S229.  Stop on by!

CES 2014For the next four days, approximately 150,000 consumer technology professionals will be experiencing the latest innovations in 3D printing, driverless cars, wearable technologies, Internet of Everything (IoE), robotics, health & fitness tech, HI-RES audio, digital imaging & photography, CE start-ups and more.

The International CES will also be host to several special events and awards, most notably:

CEA MoDev Hackathon

Tuesday, January 7

9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Venetian Level 4, Lando 4301

Gary’s Book Club – Day 1

Presented by Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, January 7

10 a.m.-6 p.m.

LVCC, Grand Lobby, Booth #GL6

Gibson Guitar:  Happy Hour and Jam Party – Day 1

Tuesday, January 7

4-6:30 p.m.

LVCC CES Central Plaza, Gibson Tent, Booth #CP11

UP Global LIVE Stage – Day 2

Sponsored by GE

Wednesday, January 8

11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The Venetian Level 1, Eureka Park

2014 What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision Stars of CES

Wednesday, January 8

5:30-6:30 p.m.

The Venetian Marcello 4403 & 4503

Engadget Best of the 2014 CES Awards

Thursday, January 9

9 a.m.-5 p.m.

LVCC Grand Lobby, Engadget Stage

Last Gadget Standing

Thursday, January 9

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

LVCC North Hall, Room N255

Mobile Apps Showdown

Thursday, January 9

12:30-2 p.m.

LVCC North Hall, Room N255

Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards

Thursday, January 9

6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Bellagio, The Bellagio Ballroom

Variety’s Breakthrough of the Year Awards

Thursday, January 9

6:30-9:30 p.m.

LVH, LVH Theatre

TAO: Official CES Closing Party

Friday, January 10

10 p.m.-1 a.m.

The Venetian TAO Nightclub

Links:

CES Exhibitor News and Press Kits

http://www.cesweb.org/News/Exhibitor-Press-Releases

On Twitter

https://twitter.com/BW_CES

Official #hashtag

#CES2014


Business Wire Presents: Everything PR and IR Pros Need to Know for 2014

January 2, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Emerging Platforms

Let’s face it; there is nothing better than working the last two weeks of the year.  Oh you may think it is better to be with friends and family or battling mall crowds or lines at the airport, but in reality, those of us working this week are enjoying shorter commuting times, phones not ringing and a few spare minutes to catch up on the latest industry news and trends.

As we in the Business Wire marketing team catch up on our reading, we compiled this list of posts to catch you up on the best of 2013 and prepare you for a productive and successful 2014.

Top Gaffes for 2013 (after all, you don’t want to end up on this list next year!)

2013 Industry Changes + Best Practices

Looking ahead: Top Tips and Predictions to Prepare You for 2014

And just for fun, a hat tip to Buzzfeed for this scarily accurate look at Isaac Asimov and his 1964 predictions for 2014.


Password Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know for a Safe Secure 2014

December 26, 2013
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire

Many large businesses, including Business Wire, mandate password changes on a regular basis to ensure corporate security, a practice that has yet to catch on with the average internet user. In fact, not only do most people NOT change their passwords on a regular basis, they use the same password for all of their online portals, leaving them and their accounts in a vulnerable position.  So what can you do to protect your password and what do you do once your account has been compromised? What is the proper password etiquette going into 2014?

silver-padlock-security-icon

The latest line of defense against hacking used by sites like Apple, Google and Twitter include password authentication systems too sophisticated for hackers to infiltrate using encryption software. While Twitter and Google send passwords directly to the users’ cell phone via text, Apple is introducing two additional ways to utilize passwords.  The first protection is a password generating system that creates a sophisticated password stored in the cloud that auto fills when the user is prompted for a password. The second protection layer Apple introduced was fingerprint technology for mobile phones. Other systems are using USB password devices that unlock the authentication process by using a key.  Each of these processes were designed to increase security without increasing work on the customer’s end.

Of course, all of the new technologies have some issues. One of the problems with Apple’s icloud system is that you cannot access your passwords unless you are connected to the cloud network and the passwords the system creates are too complex for memorization. USB keys can be stolen and there have been reports of iPhone users not being able to set up the fingerprint reader properly on their phone. So what are some simple tricks that you can use to create a complex password without purchasing a new technology?

Ideally you want to have a variety of complex passwords that can’t be hacked. Many people have weak passwords that contain readable words that can be figured out once the hacker deciphers the first few letters. Instead design a system that is easy to remember yet creates very complex passwords. One method that is very useful for creating passwords is to use acronyms from a simple phrase. For example, if the simple phrase is “I drive a red Toyota at work” the password becomes IdarT@w. Another idea is to use symbols and numbers to add to the complexity of your password. Some people will create passwords in another language to add yet another layer of protection. Taking preventative measures like changing your password often will pay you back in the future.

What if you lose your password?  Every company has a way of recovery if you have been compromised. This is where Gmail and Twitter’s two factor authentication becomes important. Update your security profile with a phone number or secure email address on file so that the provider can contact you in case of emergency before you are compromised. If email is not a safe option, have a text sent to you on your phone. Second, once you are aware of suspicious activity or if your account has been compromised, know how to quickly recover from a problem.

Here are some guidelines for some of the more often hacked social platforms:
Twitter

  • If you believe your Twitter account has been compromised change your password in the password tab in settings. Use the guidelines above for selecting a strong password. If you are unable to reset your password use Twitter’s Password Reset Form. If you feel your email has been compromised contact Twitter using Support Request and choose the option “hacked account.”  Make sure to revoke all connections to third-party applications; to do this, after you have created a new password and logged in, visit “Apps” in your settings and revoke access.  If you keep trusted third-party apps connected, don’t forget to update your password settings on each platform. Once you have regained full control of your account make sure to go back and delete any unwanted Tweets.  

Facebook

  • Very similar to Twitter, start with the basics; change the compromised password to a strong password. If you are unable to change your password or feel your email has been compromised use the Secure It Here Link. Take steps to revoke third-party applications until you feel the situation is secure. Delete any questionable photos or use the hide from timeline option for photos not posted by you.

All Google Accounts including email

  • Google has a network of sites that all tie in to the same password from email, analytics to social media and as a precaution Google lets you set an option in how you want to be contacted in case your account has been compromised. Make sure to keep this accurate and up to date. Google also provides a link to help you recover from a hack called Google Account Recover. Another resource is to go to the Google Apps Documentation and Support for recovering and resetting passwords.

When hackers compromise your email or social media their objective is almost always to gain bank account details. Sometimes accounts have been compromised and yet no action is taken for many months later due to the “lying in wait” attitude criminals have when stealing information. Here are some guidelines for bank and credit cards.

Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

  • All the same recovery rules apply for your bank accounts and credit cards with one major exception; if your money was compromised there is a good chance your full identity has been as well. If you want to know how to steal from your account do this simple test; call the bank and ask them what they need to access your account so you can check your account balance. In most cases they need your name, address, date of birth, email address and the account number. These items are usually found with little effort on the internet. Many times the account number from debit cards can be compromised by knowing all of your personal information and contacting 3rd party vendors like restaurants, hotels, rent a car vendors, etc. for information. This is why protecting a simple thing like a social media site is so important. The more information a thief has about you the easier it is to steal from your bank account. If your bank account has been compromised it may become a police matter and is a federal offense.

Of course, before changing passwords, scan your computer for viruses and malware and update all the latest security patches for your computer. A proactive stance in password security is always a good thing but make sure to have a plan in case your password is compromised.

Have questions about Business Wire’s commitment to security or how you can create a secure password? Let us know in the comments below.


Business Wire Boston Finds a Unique Way to Give Back – One Casual Day at a Time

December 23, 2013

By Tim Ragan, Client Services Representative, Business Wire Boston

With the holidays breathing down everyone’s neck, it is impossible not to feel beat down. Here in the Boston Office, we can feel the heat of the season just like everyone else. In order to alleviate some insanity, our team has thought of a way to both enjoy the comforts of the holiday as well as providing a chance to give back.

The introduction of our Holiday Casual Days is a great way to make both our office and others happy as well.

Meet Business Wire Boston

Most people enjoy the relaxation of Friday, so why not extend that the weeks entering the holidays? For December, any colleague was able to pay $1 for a casual day and everyone in Boston broke out the jeans for a more casual Business Wire office!

An additional benefit from all of this fun, the money we collected has been donated in order to purchase numerous Disney princess items for a Kindergartener who has never experienced a Christmas morning. With this relaxing strategy, our colleagues were able to come together and do something rewarding during this season.

Donations from BW Boston

What holiday plans are in store for your office this year?


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