Critical Content for an IR Site: Press Releases Most Viewed Within Investor Centers

January 13, 2014
Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

We’ve heard from naysayers for years now that the press release is dead, especially within the financial industry. The statistical truth, however, is that the press release is, by far, the most accessed type of content within an investor relations center, or IR site.

At Business Wire, we work with thousands of publicly traded companies to disseminate press releases containing important financial data. Many of those organizations have also partnered with Business Wire to host their IR site. As we monitored these sites, we noted that the most popular content ranked as follows for 2013:

  1. Press Releases
  2. Events and presentations
  3. Executive biographies
  4. Annual reports and other financial documents
  5. Analyst coverage

With hundreds of thousands of views, the press release reigns supreme as it is viewed almost seven times more than events and presentations, the second most preferred content type. Views for all content types increased from 2012 to 2013. Interestingly enough, executive biographies grew over 300 percent, passing annual reports by a level.

I’ve always championed the frequently asked questions or FAQ section, particularly for the IR site, and it is next in line after the top five content types above. Financial communications can be complex at times, and investors, analysts and financial reporters have a lot of questions they need answered quickly. It makes it straightforward for all parties if the most common questions are provided with the most current answers.

Due to the demand for press releases, it is vital that they post simultaneously and directly to the IR site as they are distributed via the newswire. Categorizing releases not only by date, but also by subject matter, will make them easier to review and manage.


KISS an Online Newsroom

August 8, 2012
By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services, Business Wire
Ibrey Woodall

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services


“What I’m hearing is KISS — Keep it Simple, Stupid — correct?” exclaimed one of the 70+ attendees during Business Wire’s “Meet the Media” luncheon. The discussion for this Atlanta-based session covered how the media uses online newsrooms. As moderator of this session, I turned and looked at the panelists to answer this outburst. All three replied with vigorous, affirmative nods.

The panel consisted of Anita Sharpe, Bureau Chief, Editor-at-Large for Bloomberg News; Jeremiah McWillams, Business Reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Stephen Brown,EVP/Managing Director, Cohn & Wolfe-Atlanta. Each panelist shared their personal insights about challenges and usage of online newsrooms by the media. This included keeping the online newsroom simple and straightforward with easy access to news specifically about the organization.

For many years, I’ve surveyed journalists on what they want in an online newsroom. I’ve also surveyed communicators on how they manage their online newsroom. I use this valuable feedback to make sure that Business Wire’s NewsHQ product contains the best features and functionality. I enjoy listening to the horror stories, and seeing journalists get worked up about obstacles in some of the online newsrooms that they visit.

Atlanta "Online Newsrooms" media panel

(L-R) Jeremiah McWilliams, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Anita Sharpe, Bloomberg News; Stephen Brown, Cohn & Wolfe-Atlanta and Ibrey Woodall, Business Wire discuss how media use online newsrooms.

Although all agreed that an online newsroom is a necessity for any organization, below are simple points that have caused frustration for these particular panelists.

  • Excessive clicks from the corporate site to the newsroom
  • Complicated navigation and design
  • Uncategorized press releases
  • Absence of press releases distributed via wire services
  • Dearth of historical press releases
  • Press releases in PDF format only
  • Omission of dates in press releases
  • Lack of fact sheets
  • Insufficient birth dates for executives
  • Missing subject matter experts
  • Unavailability of email alerts
  • Forced registration/password-protected content
  • Inadequate updates during a crisis situation
  • Failure to provide media contact phone numbers and email addresses

All of these frustrations are easy to avoid with a proper online newsroom. There was one request made; however, that I’m not sure will ever be available in an online newsroom – cell phone numbers for chief executive officers.


Online Newsroom or Investor Center – Your Message Must be Mobile

May 21, 2012
by Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services
Ibrey Woodall

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

I have weekly, often daily, conversations with communicators at Fortune 500 companies. These discussions focus on online newsrooms and investor centers. More and more, I see these top-notch professionals realize that their communications center should be optimized for mobile access.

Whether your message is for investors and analysts or journalists and bloggers, you cannot ignore the fact that your audience is a moving target. And that moving target has a smartphone.

Two years ago, only 18 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers owned a smart phone device. Today, it is 44 percent according to Nielsen. If you need more statistics to convince you of the mobile momentum, the Pew Research Center reports that a third (34%) of all desktop/laptop news consumers also use their smartphone to access news.

So the question isn’t whether you need your online newsroom or investor center optimized for mobile devices, it is how quickly you can make it happen. Other points to consider include which platforms your mobile-optimized online newsroom or investor center will support; how investors, analysts, or journalists will find your mobile site; if your mobile site is legible; if you will be able to view mobile site statistics; and whether you need a mobile application or a mobile website.

Luckily, mobile-optimized sites should be clean and uncomplicated since we are talking about a very small screen. Therefore, the mobile-optimized version of your online newsroom or investor center should take no longer than two weeks to launch. All major platforms (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android) should be supported, and when a member of your target audience visits your online newsroom or investor center, their smartphone should automatically redirect to the mobile version for better viewing.

Simple design is the key to a good user experience when it comes to mobile sites. Shy away from use of graphics that carry a large file size, and keep the code clean. As with any other site, you should have access to analytics so that you will know the number of page views and unique users garnered by your mobile online newsroom or investor center.

Although there are very good reasons to create a mobile application, Business Wire offers the mobile-optimized version. It’s faster and less expensive to provide to communicators with deadline concerns and budget limitations. It’s also searchable via Google so target audiences have a greater chance of finding company news, information and other content types including press kits, stock quotes, and contacts. And, as we’ve seen, web browsers will continue to gain speed, while an individual platform may not necessarily have an indefinite lifespan.

If you have questions concerning NewsHQ Mobile online newsrooms or InvestorHQ Mobile investor centers, contact your local Business Wire representative.


LA Communicators Share Online Newsroom Best Practices

April 9, 2012

by Warner Boutin, Account Executive & Luis Guillen, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire LA

Business Wire LA hosted a media panel breakfast event on Wednesday, March 28th examining best practices for online newsrooms.

Business Wire’s VP Web Communications, Ibrey Woodall moderated the panel. Panelists included Brian O’Connor, Director of Marketing & PR, Cunard Cruise Line; Serena Ehrlich, Director of Marketing, Mogreet; Deborah Braidic, Manager Website Content/Internal Communications, Children’s Hospital LA and Amanda Hedlund, Web Communications & Media Relations Specialist, Children’s Hospital LA.

L-R: Amanda Hedlund, Deborah Braidic, Brian O’Connor, Serena Ehrlich & moderator Ibrey Woodall

Based on the recent Bulldog Reporter/Business Wire Communicators Online Newsroom Survey results, panelists discussed anecdotes, challenges & overall benefits of their online newsrooms. Here are some of the highlights of the discussion:

General survey findings:

  • Half (48.4%) of corporate communicators currently have an online newsroom
  • The online newsroom remains a relatively modest investment for most companies
  • Companies are integrating their social media activity into their newsrooms
  • Two most important site features: PR contacts and search module

On building your online newsroom:

  • Stakeholders should come together from the very beginning – O’Connor
  • Corporate communications and web development must be on same page. “We streamlined things early, which prevented the marriage from falling apart down the road” – Braidic
  • Know your audience’s needs. “We make sure our audience can quickly find our latest news” – Hedlund
  • Determine what content your audience wants to see
  • Journalists want quick access to your newsroom rather than searching full site

On making your online newsroom relevant:

  • Customize newsroom based on top 3 most frequently accessed content type:
    • Photos, press releases & b-roll – Cunard Cruise Line
    • Multimedia, PR contacts and all social media content – Mogreet
    • Multimedia, Experts/Physicians lists and protected logos – Children’s Hospital
  • Categorize your releases and list experts as well – Ehrlich
  • Use inbound site traffic to create potential blog posts. “I check the web traffic analytics for blog ideas” – Ehrlich
  • Analyze your online newsroom’s web page stats on a weekly basis
  • Make your corporate blog accessible on your online newsroom

On online newsroom maintenance, crisis communication and security:

  • Every company should have dark site ability, allowing you to prepare pages ahead of time for a potential crisis
  • Dark sites need to be light on graphics and multimedia
  • Some of my clients maintain 10-12 different dark sites for “just-in-case” situations – Ehrlich
  • You must know your target market if you’re going to password protect your newsroom – Ehrlich
  • Password protected content needed sometimes:
    • We don’t want somebody pulling a photo archive on a ship we don’t manage anymore – Cunard Cruise Line
    • Sometimes we’ll use passwords to prevent logos from being stolen – Children’s Hospital LA

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


New Year, New Online Newsroom

January 24, 2012

by Ibrey Woodall, VP Web Communications Services, Business Wire Florida

Click here to download the 2011 Communicators Online Newsroom Survey Exec Summary

Hopefully, one of the items on your list of New Year’s resolutions is to closely review the workings of your current online newsroom. Do you have a fully developed and optimized online newsroom? Does it have the expected features? Does it fit well into your overall set of public relations and social media tools? Does it allow you to work efficiently and timely?  If not, do you have the budget to afford one that does?

Based on the results of the October 2011 Communicators Online Newsroom Practices Survey by Business Wire and Bulldog Reporter, the majority of organizations who intended to create an online newsroom in the future expected to do so within the next three to six months. That means that 2012 will be the year that some communicators will finally take advantage of the technology available to them.

In the past, barriers to utilizing an online newsroom have included lack of resources, inability to self-publish content, inability to integrate social media, lack of traffic, lack of analytics, lack of automated posting of press releases, inability to customize or highlight content, and simply the absence of a user-friendly content management interface.

Fortunately, very few of those surveyed felt that the cost of an online newsroom was a hindrance. Both large and small companies pay less than $10,000 a year for a standard online newsroom. Use this number as a parameter when working the cost of an online newsroom into your 2012 budget.

One of the obstacles communicators have had to deal with is one I’ve seen way too often. You won’t find this hurdle noted directly on the survey because it deals with internal departmental control and strife. However; you can imagine or even relate to the situation when you see that most organizations use an internal IT department to create their online newsroom. This may explain why communicators have not been able to self-publish content, automate press release postings, integrate social media, or even highlight specific content.

An online newsroom is a means by which a communicator can perform their job more efficiently, update content more frequently, supply desired material to journalists more easily, and interact with multiple audiences more timely – especially during a crisis situation. It is not just another section within an organization’s marketing website.

Will you be able to use dedicated communications technology to meet the varied demands of 2012? In other words, are you a PR warrior with the proper battle weapons?

Learn more about Communicators Online Newsroom Practices: join us for our free webinar on Tuesday, February 28 at 1pm ET. Ibrey Woodall, VP Web Communications Services for Business Wire, will moderate the panel, which includes Cindy Haas, Director, Corporate Communications, Ryder System; Maggie Jensen, APR, Media Relations Consultant, Securian Fianancial Group; and Mike Trask, Manager of Corporate Communications, Bally Technologies. Register for the free session HERE.


How Are You Managing Your Online Newsroom? Please take Survey, We’ll Share Results

September 12, 2011

by Ibrey Woodall, VP Web Communications Services

Ibrey WoodallIn several years of creating online newsrooms, many of my most enjoyable experiences have been working directly with, and learning from corporate communicators in the field. I’ve met some great people, and I’ve been fortunate to be involved with online newsrooms for educational institutions to Fortune 500 corporations.

The stories I’ve heard are endless and entertaining. To me, public relations professionals are the soldiers on the front line. They maintain the reputation of their organization and deal with a barrage of questions – especially when things go wrong. I began surveying journalists in 2004 to see what they wanted from an online newsroom. That’s all pretty common knowledge now.

My goal today is to continue accumulating more real-world knowledge from PR warriors, and relay that to other communicators. Business Wire has teamed up with Bulldog Reporter to gather responses, and share them with all communicators.

If you have an online newsroom, please participate in the Communicators Online Newsroom Survey. Let us know how you manage your online newsroom. There are only 29 questions, so it won’t take long. You have until Sunday, September 18 to help your industry peers, and maybe even win an Apple iPad2TM.

Communicators Online Newsroom Survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/OnlineNewsrooms

I look forward to learning more.


International Communicators Hungry for Communications Technology… and Cake

June 14, 2010

– by Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services

Ibrey Woodall

The IABC World Conference took place in Toronto, Canada June 6-9, 2010. It was a perfect opportunity for Business Wire to announce the launch of our NewsHQ online newsroom and InvestorHQ investor center services.

So many attendees from all over the country were hungry to learn about communications technology and how it integrates with social media. This was evidenced by the many sessions referring to the subject matter, including “How to measure the ROI of your social media efforts” by Katie Delahaye Paine of KDPaine & Partners, “Integrating multimedia into your social media campaign” by Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications, and my own Sunday session “Online newsrooms with social media integration.”

Other tracks included employee communications, global trends, change management, communication leadership, and strategy and counsel. You can see more of the program by visiting http://www.iabc.com/wc/program.htm. You can also search on the Twitter hash tag #iabc10 to get an idea of the conversations happening during the conference. From this same feed, I found a blog about my session entitled “Online newsrooms with social media highlights” by attendee Kristen Sukalac or Prospero Communications.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the opening general session. A team of musicians called Drum Café (http://www.drumcafe) showed everyone how to listen and play to the same beat using African drums. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many drums in one place. Drum Café has performed for Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, the Queen of England, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, and they certainly didn’t fail to show a good time to IABC attendees.

IABC 40th Anniversary Cake

And of course, Guy Kawasaki, author of nine books, provided a very comfortable and enjoyable closing general session on “The Art of Innovation.”

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this year was the 40th anniversary of IABC, a feat that every organization should be fortunate enough to celebrate. In rolled an extremely large cake that took about six chefs to pick up and place on the table. I personally enjoyed the sigh of relief and self-congratulations on each chef’s face once the cake was successfully transferred.

This was my first IABC conference. It was refreshing, professionally done and held many possibilities for both attendee and exhibitor. Although some may not be there yet, several attendees were well aware of the need to integrate social media and search engine optimization into their press release distribution. Yes, even the ones who work in the government industry.


Business Wire’s Ibrey Woodall on Mobile Investor Relations

May 5, 2010

Ibrey Woodall

Business Wire’s Director of Client Development, Ibrey Woodall, has an article in today’s Bulldog Reporter IR Alert, “Are You Ready for 3G IR? Investor Relations Should Heed the Momentum of Mobile.” With the explosive growth of the mobile internet, financial and investor information joins the other types of content that needs to be prepared for the 3-inch screen, and as soon as possible.

Ibrey offers key tips for getting your own site up to speed:

As many components, as technically possible, that are found within an investor relations website should also be readily available for mobile browsing. Stock quotes, stock charts, stock history, events, investor relations contacts, company information, financial press releases and more should be properly formatted for legibility. Smartphones have small viewing screens, so attention to display is particularly important for financial content. Table columns should line up, navigation icons should be larger, and scrolling should be limited to one direction.

Click through to read even more in-depth suggestions and analysis.


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