PR Trends for 2014 Focus of Business Wire Houston Event

March 28, 2014
By Cindy Cantu, Senior CSR, Business Wire Houston

All things social

This is the year of the empowered customer, according to Business Wire’s Director of Social & Evolving Media Serena Ehrlich. “It is up to YOU to create your brand differential and up to US to guide you through how to do it,” she told the audience at Business Wire Houston’s event, “All Things Social – Maximize Your PR in 2014” on March 26th.

Attendees from various industries including energy, biotechnology and pharmaceutical, as well as numerous media and marketing professionals, heard all about how social media is having a major impact on today’s press release. The old method of packing in keywords and hyperlinks in your press release to boost your Google ranking was made obsolete after Google launched its Hummingbird and Penguin updates, Ehrlich said.

Now, the focus is on a well-written, quality press release that can be shared via social media by you and other readers, plus will attract coverage from journalists and bloggers. One tip to consider is to add helpful links to your owned media (website, Twitter handle or blog, etc.)  at the end of every press release. Adding a ClickToTweet link, embedded with a Google URL Builder is also a good idea. If you do receive additional coverage from other media, it’s important to share those articles through your own social media channels too, she added.

Another sure-fire way to increase your readership and overall PR success is to add multimedia to your releases. Research shows releases with images or video receive three times more engagement and impressions than plain-text news on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, making multimedia no longer optional for today’s releases. Ehrlich said.

All-things-social-pic-2-lo-res

Serena Ehrlich explains “the year of the empowered customer” using social and multimedia.

One recent example of multimedia having a huge impact happened at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Surrounded by all of the giants in the technology industry, a relatively small company named mophie sparked major interest in their “space pack” product by simply adding a photo to their press release. They had one of the most popular releases among all CES exhibitors, Ehrlich said. Both release views and multimedia downloads surpassed 20K shortly after the release was issued.

Navigating through the current changes in the PR world can be daunting. Business Wire works hard to stay on top of the latest news and trends so it can share the information with its clients. Visit the Business Wire Newsroom and read the BusinessWired blog to be informed.

 

Like this blog post?  Tweet it out by clicking here: http://ctt.ec/m74wd

 


Using the Holidays as Inspiration for a Press Release / Social Media Campaign

December 20, 2013
by Carl Dispoto, Senior Editor

The final days leading up to Christmas can be overwhelming for brands and marketers. The options of what to promote, when to promote and how to promote are seemingly endless. But inspiration can be drawn from some common holiday traditions to help structure a campaign built around press releases and social media.

GiftCounting down is part of the holiday season. Around the world, people count down the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar, which reveals a different featured item each day. Even more well-known is the popular carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which highlights a series of gifts given on each of the 12 days, with a new present being revealed in each verse.

It’s pretty clear that the gradual reveal of new surprises is an integral part of the holidays, so why not follow that pattern to highlight what products and features are the most important for potential customers?

This strategy can be effectively employed through a succession of Business Wire press releases and corresponding social media distribution.

Imagine struggling to find a way to feature the dozen or so products that you want to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue? How can you possibly maximize exposure and focus the attention of potential customers on multiple ideas?

The initial task is to choose the subject matter of your campaign, which can be either a series of products and services or varying features of the same product or service. Once the focus is decided, you can reveal a different product or feature each day leading up to Christmas.

As each new product or feature is revealed, you provide links to the previous products and features that have been unveiled. Pair each release with associated actions on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and you are building an integrated network of links to boost the visibility of each post.

Using this method, each product or feature is getting promoted multiple times across various networks, continually funneling readers – and potential customers – throughout your chosen list of topics.

And while the countdown to Christmas is most common, this plan of action can be successful for the buildup to any holiday or event, especially those that have a specified number of days such as Hanukah, Lent, Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, the Olympics and the World Cup!


Tumblr, Storify and More: Journalists Embracing New Media Tools, PR Community Should, Too

October 4, 2011
by Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager, Business Wire/Chicago

Raschanda Hall, Global Media Relations Manager

Attending the recent Online News Association (ONA) conference in Boston inspired me to step up my social tech tools game. Christine Montgomery, managing editor of PBS.org and ONA president characterized the recent meeting as “the intersection of journalism and technology….where members come together to reinvent journalism.”

Journalists have learned their lessons, no longer lagging behind as their audience embraces change. These digital reporters are among a group not only embracing new media tools, but shouting their praises from roof tops.

But are PR people are listening?   We hope so.  The PR community would benefit by getting familiar with the new media tools described below.  Take a look.

Tumblr

Tumblr has been around, but tripled its audience in the last year to more than 28 million blogs, igniting new interest. People are ready for the next big thing and Telegraph.co.uk says Tumblr is “to weblogs what text messages are to email – short, to the point, and direct.”  Reporters love that Tumblr rewards original or unique material. Posting the most interesting information from a story is a great way for them to repurpose content.  Fun and lively photos are great “Tumblr bait” and often get reblogged and shared.

PR APPLICATION: Brands using Tumblr include Huggies, General Electric and J.Crew. Does your organization have great photos sitting in a boring photo archive? Recycle that content and create a Tumblr feed.  Do your clients have great quotes in their press releases? Share them on Tumblr.

Storify

Changing the way reporters find sources and incorporate social network content into their online news stories,  Storify allows for better story telling by helping the “writer” to easily drop in content from social sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.  Melanie Eversley of USA Today used Storify to recap her lasting lessons from the National Association of Black Journalist’s convention in August.  The Bay Area News Group tapped Storify to cover Obama’s town hall with Linkedin employees.

PR APPLICATION: PR people strive to share great stories, too. Your next op-ed piece could look completely different using Storify. Right now we see it being used for sharing resources, but imagine creating a page about a product and dropping in selected customer feedback from Twitter, YouTube and Facebook–then sending it to all your networks.

Brand Pages on Google+

If Nike says it’s gotta be the shoes, Google would say it’s gotta be the circles. The excitement around the Google+ branded pages results from the idea that engaged brands might see better ad tracking, better search ranking on Google and the ability to create segmented target audiences into circles on Google+. This feature is not available yet, but Google says brand pages are coming soon.

PR APPLICATION: Brands could create unique messages and use this enhanced targeting for reaching segments of their consumer base, i.e. women or men, baby boomers or gen y’ers.  They could have conversations with their industry reporters and their internal experts.

And last, but not least…Failure

I know what you’re thinking:   failure isn’t a tool, but it is.

If you spend too much time thinking about the why, and the ROI you may never try anything. To borrow a tweet from @mbgelman:

“Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to try something than it is to debate about trying something.”

PR APPLICATION: More companies should reward failure – or at least the attempt at innovation.  Failure breeds better ideas. Are you doing anything new and exciting with your communication outreach? More wisdom from an ONA attendee @christopherwink

When you do something groundbreaking, it won’t be comfortable.”


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.


Beyond Email and Phone: Tips for Using Form Fields, LinkedIn, Facebook for Pitching Tech Writers

August 16, 2011

 By Travis Van, Founder, ITDatabase

In the late 90’s, tech PR pros pitched almost exclusively via email and phone. We considered it a big win that the fax was finally phased out as a media relations tool.

Today, tech PR pros still conduct the majority of pitches via email, but phone “follow-up” is in danger of following the fax. Most tech writers these days are bloggers, and most intentionally withhold their phone numbers because they’re not interested in fielding calls. Even tech trades– who formerly supplied direct phone numbers to their writer roster–have a staff of mercenaries who are always in flux. Mastheads are tiny or nonexistent. Where individual phone numbers were once publicly available, today they must be earned through establishing relationships that usually begins with email. Strike out on your outreach to a writer, and you may blow your chance to connect by phone. Chalk it up to years of pushy calls from PR pros.

Increasingly, writers have no public email address but may be contacted exclusively via Twitter, or a form field, or a LinkedIn profile. How do PR pros utilize these various contact methods?

Yesterday I pinged a former tech PR colleague who I respect. He’s done countless outreach over the last 10 years for tons of tech PR startup launches and product announcements. He shared a few insights about his experiences with the spectrum of contact methods that he uses on a daily basis.

Email

“Subject lines need to be short and attention-grabbing. The entire pitch should be no more than one-two short paragraphs, and it’s much better to provide links to more info than paste them into the release. Excessively long pitches will not get read. I find it most effective to reference something that the author has written before and to create a hook that makes them feel that I am respectful of what they are trying to bring to the table for their unique audience, and not just trying to cram some announcement down their throat.”

LinkedIn

“LinkedIn keeps getting better. So many tech authors are on it and actively maintaining their resume there. Sometimes I’ve used InMail to contact those whose email I can’t find elsewhere. It was unclear to me in the beginning whether this was acceptable, or would rub them the wrong way. But I have yet to have anyone complain about it, and it’s worked a number of times.”

Twitter

“There’s a perception that tech PR pros are actively pitching via Twitter Direct Messages. I have not met a single PR pro who is actually doing this as their primary outreach method. First of all, you can’t direct message someone on Twitter unless you are mutual followers (unless you use a work-around, which is not advised). For most of the tech authors that follow me back on Twitter, I usually have their email address and pitch them that way. The best value I get out of Twitter is being able to follow what those tech contacts are saying, reweet their posts to show them we are actively following their content, and to detect when they are jumping into new subject matter.”

Form Fields

“Many PR pros suspect that form field submissions don’t get answered, that their submissions disappear into the ether. But I’ve had equal success with form fields as with email addresses. And when you get a response, you have their email address.”

Facebook

“I still don’t consider Facebook to be a serious tool for media outreach. What, I’m going to friend a writer on Facebook, then contact them that way? I’ve had some great client efforts where a lot of target customers ‘liked’ us and the effort really helped us with audience building. But Facebook never really comes into play in my outreach to actual tech writers.”

Comments

“There are a ton of tech PR pros writing drippy, insincere comments to kowtow to tech authors. I don’t believe that sycophancy is an effective media relations weapon. What has worked for me in the past is if I detect an article that is just dead on with a client’s focus and they have something provocative, I’ll encourage the client to comment with either something inflammatory or a sidebar that genuinely advances the discussion. Sometimes that comment will lead to a connection with the author, or be something that I can reference in a future correspondence to the author.”

Phone

“This is my ultimate goal. My best relationships are writers I can call and give a quick verbal pitch. For others that don’t respond to my email pitch, I will sometimes call them as well. It’s a bit uncomfortable to try to break through to an author via phone, but it’s amazing how many other PR pros you leapfrog, because they were too timid to call.”

Whatever your personal successes / failures with each of these contact methods, keep in mind that the further in advance of your announcement that you recognize available contact options, the more opportunity you have to figure out your best angle. The idea that you’re flying blind unless you know a writer’s “pitching preferences” is a strawman by media directory services trying to sell you their interpretations. Contact preferences are obviously the contact info supplied publicly, and preferred pitches are those that tie directly to what writers are actually writing about and what’s relevant to their readership. There are more breadcrumbs than ever to learn about your targets before engaging them.

Travis Van is the founder of ITDatabase.com, an online media database of technology journalists and Business Wire partner company.

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.


Daylight Saving Time And Other Timing Tips for Your Press Releases

March 10, 2011
by Rebecca Rose, Business Wire Editor, Atlanta

If you’re sending a press release in the next couple of days, please factor Daylight Saving Time into your plans.

Rebecca Rose, Editor, BW/Atlanta

Daylight Saving Time was first enacted in the U.S. in 1918 and in classic “spring forward”  fashion, it begins Sunday, March 13, this year.  Clocks will jump forward an hour at 2 a.m. local time in most areas. The time shift will also occur in other parts of North America, including Mexico and most of Canada.  The European Union (EU) won’t change their clocks until the last Sunday in March.

Exceptions to Daylight Saving Time include the entire state of Arizona, northwest Indiana and the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.  We recommend verifying the local time in your targeted distribution area.   And, if you’re at all unsure about the correct time zone, contact your local newsroom – we’re always here to help!

The most common goof we see on news releases during time change season is communicators failing to note event timing announcements in the current timing scenario.  For example, a press conference taking place at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York City will be noted as starting at 8 AM EST versus 8 AM EDT.   Our editors are on the look out for such errors.

Here’s a good reference to see which locales change when.  Below we’ve assembled a few extra timing tips to get you through the night as that extra hour gets shelved until autumn.  On November 6, we’ll “fall back” and get those 60 minutes back.
  • When writing and scheduling your press release, be sure to consider the time zone of your desired geographic circuit. If you’re located in Atlanta, but are targeting media points in California, sending your release out at 8 a.m. ET (5 a.m. PT) probably isn’t going to get you the most bang for your buck.
  • Templates are frequently used when crafting press releases, so be sure to double-check that time zone abbreviations are updated and correct.
  • A simple, albeit effective, strategy for boosting pickup is to release your news slightly past the hour. For example, rather than scheduling your release to cross the wire at 8 a.m., try scheduling it for 8:01 a.m. or 8:06 a.m. This will set your news apart from the rush of releases scheduled to go out on-the-hour.

With 32 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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