Eight Reasons the Media Hate You (And How You Can Fix It)

June 4, 2014
By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New York

If you’re like most public relations professionals, you have a list for everything – a to-do list, a client list and, of course, a media outreach list. When time gets tight, you may occasionally succumb to the temptation to send out a blanket pitch to your entire press list, and then cross your fingers while hoping that all your clients’ dreams come true. A word of advice: don’t. The key to garnering coverage in 2014 is by helping reporters help you. Otherwise you risk landing in the junk folder – permanently.

8 Reasons the Media Hates You (And How You Can Fix it) By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New YorkTo help you connect with the press who really do need your input, we compiled comments from editors, outlining the top eight reasons why reporters occasionally hate you – and how to make them love you.

1)      You Didn’t Tailor Your Pitch: “It’s hard work, but work worth doing: tailor your pitch to me. Know who I am and what I cover and exactly what might interest me about your product/person/idea other than just ‘IT EXISTS!’”  says Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, and freelance journalist for NY Times and other publications.

In other words, make sure you’ve at least looked at the publication and understand its audience and news stance. Are you pitching a local publication about a product launch and including a general press release and product sheet? Fine, but find an authentic local hook – don’t just say “people chew gum in New York, so your New York publication should cover our national launch of chewing gum.” There needs to be an honest connection with the reporter’s readers, and the issues covered by the media outlet – find that connection, and use it as your lede.

 

2)      Your Headline is a Snooze and Your Lede is MIA: “If the subject line of your email pitch isn’t interesting and concise, you will get deleted before you’re read. Same goes for your press release headline: if you leave the meaty stuff at the bottom, it will never get read,” says Nicole Bode, Deputy Editor of News, DNAInfo New York.

It may seem self-explanatory that brevity is the soul of wit, but we dare you to review your last few press releases or press pitches. Could you read the headline or subject aloud without the need to gasp for air? Are the most crucial details easily found within the headline/sub-head or first paragraph? If not, get cracking – and revising. Same goes for voicemails, elevator pitches and topics for short meetings.

3)      You Had Truly Bad Timing: “Not understanding a publication’s production schedule is a problem. If a magazine goes to print on Tuesday, Monday night is not the time to say ‘Ok, we’re ready to go on the record now!’” and think that you’ll make it into that issue. There are always exceptions, but they are not made with ease. Get to know the publishing schedule of a media outlet you hope to do lots of work with. It’s not an excuse to say that you waited to the last minute because you were afraid it would get out before an agreed upon date. If you think a writer or editor is that unprofessional, you shouldn’t work with them anyway,”says Xania Woodman, Senior Editor, Vegas Seven Magazine.

If you don’t know your key outlets’ timetables, start gathering them now, and act accordingly. No sending press info about a Super Bowl-related product two days before the game: No editor will have time to review and your client will be shortchanged. Similarly, unless it’s breaking news or you specifically know the editor or reporter is working that day, don’t pitch press on a major holiday. Take a break yourself – the media will respect you more if you’re not emailing them while they’re BBQing for Memorial Day or July 4th.

 

4)      You Were Too Chummy: “Among my pet peeves are publicists who address me as Mr., and others who write to me as if we know each other, when we have never before spoken or met (e.g. ‘Hi Jamie! Hope you’ve been having a great week…’ How about just ‘Dear Jamie, I represent Tazo Teas, and I would love to get to know you. I have a new product that I thought might be an excellent fit for your publication…’” says Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, Editor-in-Chief of CarleyK.com.

A simple LinkedIn search would reveal that Ms. Kiffel-Alcheh is in fact, female, and yes, sometimes the simplest declarative introductions can be best. Does your client watch its channel’s daily segment on XYZ, and you think the client is a perfect fit for this reason? Say it clearly and professionally, and you may be surprised at the very pleasant response.

5)      You Ignored the Media’s Main Requests: “In business journalism, some publications require that I find out the revenues of a company–or they won’t accept a story from me about that firm. Every once in a while, a publicist will, after hearing this, go around me to see if they can persuade an editor at the publication to bend that rule, which will usually annoy the editor. Or they will set me up on an interview with a business owner who clearly has no intention of sharing financials, even though we’ve agreed ahead of time that this info will be part of the interview. It’s not always the publicist’s fault, but it ends up being a waste of time for all concerned, since I can’t use the interview in the end,” says Elaine Pofeldt, a contributing editor at Crain’s and a contributor to Money, Fortune and Inc. 

Reporters get frustrated when people set up follow-up interviews without all the information at the ready – so unless you are prepared to burn a bridge, don’t offer a brick wall. Pre-plan and know what information you can offer and to whom. Even if you have limited resources, come up with a Plan B. If the editor says it’s super important, believe it and get that info, or simply decline and come back another time when you have everything he or she needs to build the story. If you build a good rapport, you may wind up quoted in a trend feature or commenting on another company in print. But don’t ignore their original must-haves.

6)      You Sent a Wall of Text: “I might be different than lots of publications. I don’t want to copy/paste/print your release. I want the mechanics to find my own angle. That means links, bullets, bites. I could care less that ‘We are pleased’ was quoted by this or that important person. I agree deeply with David Meerman Scott’s jargon buzzword bingo opinion, where it seems that every solution is ‘next generation, world class, scalable, blah blah blah.’ Skip the adjectives and save me some time in finding my own angle into the story,” says Chris Brogan, Publisher of Owner Magazine, and New York Times best-selling author of six books, including The Impact Equation (with Julien Smith).

Stop calling your client “ground-breaking,” and please do take care in how you set up a press release or a pitch, with easy-to-grasp formatting, so the reporter can review it and figure out if it’s a good match. Business Wire releases are distributed in XHTML, so use bullets to focus on key points, send your release with boldface and italics to highlight issues, and make sure you include multiple relevant and easy-to-access hyperlinks. It’s not just for consumers to engage and generate click-through data for your client (although that’s a plus), but for reporters who need to know very quickly how to reach you, your client, or get more information about the product/event/issue you’re promoting. Adding a photo to your release also helps paint the clearest picture – just make sure to include a proper caption in case it’s used.

7)      You Gave Way Too MUCH information:   “You’re likely not to get any coverage if you send over so much stuff that it won’t download, or if you send a giant press release that’s too long. Simplicity works best for me. Instead of a huge file, I’d click through to see media at a link,” says Tara Cox, Managing Editor, Men’s Journal.

 

While each editor and reporter will have different needs and timetables, crashing someone’s computer with your pitch is never a good idea. Whether you’re sending a well-crafted email blast or a wire press release with well-chosen multimedia, use these digital missives to clearly show your assets and pique interest. Video, images, and multimedia are great, but make sure the links work and files are easy to open.      

 

8)      You Were Boring: “Journalists are busy and some get hundreds of press releases a day (I know I do!), so use a bit of humor in your email to me and include a story with some passion so it can really stand out. A press release can be more than a collection of data. Make me truly excited about what you’re trying to promote. If you were a reader, what story would capture YOUR attention?” says Katherine Brodsky, freelance writer for publications like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend, Mashable, and MovieMaker Magazine.

 

Media professionals face tight deadlines and tough demands, but the ones you hope to reach for coverage are people, not robots- they do respond to genuine feeling. Don’t forget what the R in Public Relations means and try relating and connecting for a change, and yes, add some style and interest where you can. If you can use that to establish trust and connection, and deliver on your promises, anything can happen.

 


Kraft Strikes Cheesy Gold at Super Bowl: A Lesson on Turning Crisis into Opportunity

May 19, 2014
Meghann Johnsonby Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

Crisis communications: two words that can mean success or failure for any organization. No matter what industry your business operates within, there are always threats that can sour public opinion, create a media firestorm, or worse yet, ensnarl your company in legal battles. Given this, crisis communications may be the two scariest words in PR.

But what if companies used information gleaned from crisis situations to improve their value proposition? Or took the opportunity to listen and react to their audiences? Kraft’s Velveeta brand recently did just that.

Kraft’s Super Bowl Meltdown

As reported by AdAge,  in the weeks leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, Velveeta had a shortage of its popular processed cheese product. This dilemma was jokingly dubbed by media as the “Cheesepocalypse” and even birthed its own hashtag. Almost immediately, brand aficionados took to social media to declare their love of the brand, desperately urging Kraft to find a solution. As a result, the topic soon went viral (I even received an email from an old college roommate about the news).

By the time the topic had reached a frenzied level, Kraft’s spokeswoman Jody Moore issued a statement to quell the chatter and put the situation into perspective, stating, “Given the incredible popularity of Velveeta this time of year, it is possible consumers may not be able to find their favorite product on store shelves over the next couple of weeks. Our retail customers are aware of the situation and we expect it to be a short-term issue.”

By February, the crisis had been averted and fans enjoyed their Super Bowl dips. But in the end, the real winner was Kraft, who was able to identify their most active brand advocates (and detractors) by closely monitoring social media conversations. This led to the emergence of so-called “Super Consumers,” or people with a high affinity for Velveeta. Now, Kraft is engaging them further through focus groups and meal diaries in order to understand what ads and products are most appealing to this meaningful market. This could yield big insights and it only took one minor cheese meltdown to happen.
cheese-lo-res

Post-Game Huddle

So what lessons can be learned from the Cheesepocalypse? Number one is that crisis communications is all about planning. It’s important to craft a plan that has time to evolve and change, as opposed to creating a strategy once the wheels are in motion. For tips to ensure your company is prepared, check out this article from Hutchens PR (http://hutchenspr.com/resources/crisis-communications-tips/).

As important as planning may be, however, it can be just as critical to glean insights once the crisis has occurred. In Kraft’s situation, the company identified loyalists on social media who are likely to help grow the brand over time. This is the case for any company in the public spotlight as 43% of online news sharing occurs via social media networks.

Employing a social media monitoring service such as Business Wire’s partner, NUVI, is key for any company needing to identify and understand the voices impacting their brand. And with NUVI, it’s easier than ever before to instantly see what people are saying about you across the Internet, respond to the most important conversations and influence behavior in real time. All brands should be in tune with the conversations taking place about them, in times of crisis or not. And once these influential voices have been identified, savvy companies will employ a robust influencer program to continue to engage and build affinity among their key audiences. For steps on creating, and successfully executing, an influencer program, check out our recent blog post on Bulldog Reporter (http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/thought-leaders/the-age-of-influencers-how-to-engage-influencers-to-amplify-your-pr).

So next time you have a crisis situation, be sure to employ pre- and post-event tactics to ensure you’re able to capitalize on your #Cheesepocalypse moment.

Interested in learning more? Keep following the BusinessWired blog to stay on top of the latest social media updates and please contact us with any specific questions you have!

Meghann Johnson is the Regional Sales Manager for Business Wire Chicago and a devout follower of PR trends. Connect with her via Twitter @MeghannJohnson5.


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


Top 10 Takeaways From Business Wire’s “Best Practices For Engaging The Media” Orlando Event

November 27, 2013
by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Supervisor

Business Wire Florida recently hosted “Best Practices for Engaging the Media” at the beautiful Alfond Inn in Orlando with local journalists and bloggers. Among the topics discussed were what they look for in potential stories, how to pitch them, what they are doing to keep pace with social media, the latest media trends, just to name a few.

Speakers:

Moderator:

Beth Cocchiarella, President, EMC Public Relations, @bcocchiarella

Orlando Media Event

Orlando Media Event “Best Practices for Engaging the Media”- From left to right: Bess Auer, Sean McNamara, Ned Popkins, Steve Helling, and Beth Cocchiarella

Here are the Top 10 Takeaways from the panel discussion:

  1. If you can pitch a story in 140 characters or less, it’s most likely a great story.
  2. Ask yourself this question, “Would you read this story if you didn’t work there?”
  3. The subject and first line of a pitch email often determine success.
  4. Reinforcing the value of knowing your target before you pitch. Before you pitch, know what the reporters and bloggers write about.
  5. Most newspaper reporters monitor and follow people on their beat. It’s pretty decentralized. Know their beats.
  6. Building personal relationships with bloggers is very important and social media is the best tool. Keep in mind most bloggers are not journalists and have other day jobs.
  7. Journalism is still about telling a good story regardless of the medium. The tools used to tell the stories are now different.
  8. What defines the news? News piece that’s interesting. Best with good pictures and video. Use multimedia in your pitches!
  9. Online coverage is great and easy to track. Better results and can get numbers from it. Hard copy is not as prevalent.
  10. Social media = ratings on adrenaline for news assignment editors.

Thank you to our amazing moderator and panelists for a fantastic and informative discussion!

Media Relations Supervisor Pilar Portela

Media Relations Supervisor Pilar Portela

If you missed the event you can also check out the Twitter conversation on #BWORLMedia and Storify at http://storify.com/pilarp/nov-8-orlando-media-panel-best-practices-for-engag.

For upcoming local Business Wire events or our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


Business Wire Media Breakfast: How to Pitch Influential Business Publications Event Recap

November 26, 2013
by Warner Boutin, Senior Account Executive & Luis Guillen, Media Relations Specialist

On Wednesday, November 20th, Business Wire Los Angeles hosted a media breakfast panel titled “How to Pitch Influential Business Publications” addressing tactical media targeting tips. The panel, moderated by Stefan Pollack, President of Pollack PR Marketing Group, asked questions to the group on numerous topics, including how they prefer to be pitched by the media, how public relations & marketing professionals should navigate through today’s glut of online media and what new opportunities and challenges face PR professionals. The panel consisted of Brian Deagon, Business & Technology Reporter, Investor’s Business Daily; Joe Bel Bruno, Deputy Business Editor, Los Angeles Times; Pat Maio, Business Reporter, Long Beach Register; and Russ Britt, Los Angeles Bureau Chief, Marketwatch from Dow Jones.

Story Pitching Tips & Media Trends

Business Wire Media Breakfast on "How to Pitch Influential Business Publications"

Business Wire Media Breakfast on “How to Pitch Influential Business Publications”

Kicking off the media breakfast, Pollack asked the journalists to share trends & coverage tips. The panel agreed that random, untargeted pitches end up in the garbage. “Reporters tend to stay with people and sources they know,” said Los Angeles Times Editor Joe Bel Bruno. Marketwatch Bureau Chief Russ Britt explained “timeliness is key.” Clarifying that their bureau’s focus is on relevant leads. Brian Deagon from Investor’s Business Daily, highlighted a creative online video pitch from the CEO of Santa Monica StartUp Dollar Shave Club. Long Beach Register reporter Pat Maio said he communicates mostly through email and texts versus phone call pitches. The panel agreed that the biggest Public Relations pitching blunder is lack of research: not understanding your audiences and/or relevant media outlets.

Attracting the Reader’s Attention
Pollack asked the panel about news discovery trends. The panel agreed on the need for stories to be brief, concise, shareable, SEO friendly and timely. “The first one to get their story out gets the most clicks,” said Brian Deagon. Joe Bel Bruno elaborated on click rates, discussing SEO news content discovery and describing one LA Times department that analyzes nothing but Google algorithms.

Full attendance at the Business Wire Media Breakfast

Full attendance at the Business Wire Media Breakfast


Leveraging social media tools

In response to using Twitter as a social media tool, Brian Deagon said “there’s nothing wrong with appealing to our vanity (on Twitter) to make an intro.” The Long Beach Register uses their blog to run polls, research data and engage their niche audiences, and because they use a subscription model the focus is more on local community rather than social media posting.

Panelists concluded the panel, answering audience questions and sharing final tips for pitching an oversaturated media environment.
From Left to Right: Pat Maio, Long Beach Register; Joe Bel Bruno, Los Angeles Times;Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily; Russ Britt, Marketwatch; and moderator Stefan Pollack,President of Pollack PR & Marketing Group

From Left to Right: Pat Maio, Long Beach Register; Joe Bel Bruno, Los Angeles Times; Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily; Russ Britt, Marketwatch; and moderator Stefan Pollack,President of Pollack PR Marketing Group

For upcoming local Business Wire events or our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


Decoding the Media: National Journalists Divulge Best Way to Build Relationships

November 12, 2013

By Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

What does it take to land a signature placement? You know, the media placement that positions your company as an industry-leader with the smartest executive team and best products? According to speakers on PRSA Chicago’s recent panel, a heck of a lot more than it used to.

Business Wire team members recently attended “National Media in Chicago: Who’s Here and What Do They Cover?” featuring journalists from top national media outlets including:

  • Diane Eastabrook, Correspondent, Al Jazeera America (@AJAM)
  • Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, Wall Street Journal (@JasonRDean)
  • Flynn McRoberts, Chicago Bureau Chief and Editor-at-Large, Bloomberg News (@FlynnMcRoberts)
  • Neil Munshi, Chicago and Midwest Correspondent, Financial Times (@NeilMunshi)

During this discussion the speakers divulged best pitch practices for PR professionals. In each case, each journalist reiterated the exact same advice – all good PR professionals must do their research before reaching out. This, they told us, is the number one way to create strong relationships and build trust in your company.

In this case, research does not mean referencing their latest article, post or tweet. In PR, researching the reporter means understanding both what they write about and who their audience is.  In today’s world, general pitches only slightly on target with the reporter’s beat and readership are unacceptable. It is better to write highly targeted press releases, with a highly specific audience. Not only will this support your internal business goals, you will provide better content to your beat  reporters.

A few other themes were addressed to give insight into their news process:

Newsrooms embrace social media…to an extent.

In April 2013 Bloomberg News introduced corporate and CEO Twitter feeds to their terminals, a huge step for highly-regulated industries that may not have access to social news at work

  • Business Wire Tip: If you delete a tweet archived in the Bloomberg terminal, you must call Bloomberg to have them manually remove it.  These tweets are not automatically deleted.

While social media is expanding, many journalists are still cautious.  Financial Times’ Neil Munshi was quick to point out that when a big story hits he shuts off Twitter so he can focus on uncovering facts vs. reading potentially false reports.

  • Business Wire Tip: For any communications, especially in times of crisis, it is important for companies to be transparent and provide as much information about the situation as possible in order to control the conversation.  Considering issuing a press release or utilizing your corporate blog to ensure the words used to describe your news are your own.

Content other than photos are rarely re-purposed verbatim; however these elements have huge value in showcasing the larger story to the reporter and brand fans.

In the age of videos and infographics, companies should include content elements that tell the brand’s larger story.  Video works well as it provides a face to the story, while images drive deeper emotional connections.

  • Business Wire Tip: Content marketing and distribution is an effective way to gain attention and influence key constituents; however, it’s important to ensure the story is relevant and timely to drive conversations. Check out on our recent post on this topic.

Press releases remain relevant to news gatherers.

The resounding feedback from speakers is “press releases are alive and well.” According to Jason Dean of the Wall Street Journal press releases remain one of the best ways share company news as it provides reporters accurate information, with links to supporting information, making it easier to do their jobs.

  • Business Wire Tip: If you’re looking to spice up the traditional release think about adding bullets highlighting “Just the Facts” and “Key Quotes,” which may catch the viewers’ attention. Consider adding a Click to Tweet in your sub-headline like this PRSA Austin story.  Or take it one step further like this Amazon release entirely comprised of Tweets each crafted with a different audience in mind.

These are just a few of the tips from leading journalists, but we have many more. Keep following the BusinessWired blog or contact us directly to learn more.


Local Bureau, National Media: Four Major Outlets Tell PR Professionals How to Get Their Attention

May 9, 2012

by Andrea Gillespie, Account Executive, Business Wire Chicago

With Chicago being the third largest media market in the US, many national media contacts call The Windy City home. Whether their beat is the entire Midwest or specific industry groups, knowing who’s who in the Chicago national media scene can earn you more placements. In April, Business Wire hosted some of these national news gatekeepers to learn what types of pitches stand out and how to get national attention for your company or client.

Cheryl Corley, National Desk Correspondent, NPR

Based in NPR’s Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels primarily throughout the Midwest, covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

Pitch tips:
  • Cheryl is interested in stories that have a national or at least a broad Midwestern scope.  If a story is too focused on one specific state or city, she will refer the person to the local station.
  • Because of the radio format, she is not as interested in video. Adding still photography is helpful to create interest in your pitch, but no attachments.
  • The librarians for NPR are frequently called upon by NPR correspondents to do research for stories, so they are good contacts to have. They regularly scour and post queries to social media sites for experts.
Jason Dean, Chicago Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires

Jason Dean oversees coverage of subjects including economic, political and cultural developments in the Midwest; national education issues; the agriculture and foods business; the airline and aerospace industries; and key financial exchanges.

Pitch tips:
  • Jason prefers personal pitches – just plugging his name into an email that went to a large group of people doesn’t fool him.
  • He also suggests doing research to identify which WSJ/Dow Jones reporter covers your industry. The Chicago Bureau does not cover all Chicago companies. For example, Chicago tech companies are covered by the San Francisco bureau.
  • Pitch visuals. With every story they cover, they consider what type of video component can be added to it. While they prefer to shoot their own video, it’s helpful to include a link to b-roll or your spokesperson in action in your pitch. He requests links only – no attachments.

Andy Fies, Producer, ABC News

Great crowd at the BW Chicago event!

Andy Fies is one of two producers based in ABC’s Midwest Bureau covering stories for World News with Diane Sawyer,Good Morning America, Nightline and ABCNews.com. His primary area of responsibility is news of national interest from the nation’s heartland.
Pitch tips:
  • Andy is interested in covering stories from all Midwestern companies, but he is mostly drawn to those that show how people on the street are being affected. They want to put a personal view into every story they cover.
  • As ABC recently merged with Yahoo! News, consider the digital version of your story. This means photos and visuals of your story are necessary.
Greg Stricharchuk, Editor, Sunday Business Section, The Chicago Tribune

As an editor in the business news section, Greg Stricharchuk works with reporters and helps conceptualize and edit their stories. He’s also specifically responsible for the Sunday business section.

Pitch tips:
  • While you can copy Greg on your pitches to reporters, it’s best to read the paper and know who writes about your topic. Pitch them directly first.
  • Greg is mainly interested in publicly held companies – not so much private companies or organizations, unless they are starting an industry trend or obtaining significant funding.
  • Don’t pitch experts 2-3 days after a story breaks. Oftentimes, stories are starting to form days before the actual news breaks. Get your expert pitches to the appropriate editor before that happens.
  • Remember that the Tribune is comprised of six newspapers, online sites and TV stations. Pitches that show how the story can cross all mediums are typically well-received.
Thanks again to all of our clients and the communications professionals who were able to join us.
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.

Seeing the Big Picture: How PR Pros Can Use Infographics to Tell a Story

April 17, 2012
by Shawnee Cohn, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/NY
MRT

Shawnee Cohn

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a thousand hits? Defined as “graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge,” infographics are more likely to be shared via social media than your standard text article. Therefore, both journalists and PR professionals are taking notice of this visual phenomenon. (Need some examples? Take a look at this slideshow from Mashable).

Here at Business Wire, we encourage clients to create infographics and include them as Smart News release assets in their press releases. For example, Kaplan Test Prep recently utilized an infographic to summarize their annual survey results. Convio also offered a visual look at the data included within their press release about online giving, and Mashable later republished that same infographic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So if you’re a PR professional embarking on the infographic challenge, what do you need to know beforehand? The Publicity Club of New York recently hosted a discussion about these popular visual representations of data. The panel included:

Here are some highlights offered by the experts:

Infographics help us cope with information overload: With the abundance of raw data that is available to consumers today, the average person’s “attention span is declining,” and infographics are an effective way to spark a reader’s interest, says Spurlock. Pachal agreed, stating that infographics are “more clickable” than other multimedia, such as video, which may turn a reader off since it usually requires sound, as well as investing more time to watch. Consequently, including the word ‘Infographic’ in your press release headline is a great tactic to increase your number of hits.

Not all infographics are created equal: If you’re compiling numbers into a graphic, yet those numbers do not relate, the purpose of the infographic is lost, notes Spurlock. Bergmann agreed, suggesting that PR pros evaluate the usefulness of an infographic on a “story-to-story basis.” At the Associated Press, staffers are very interested in interactive graphics as well as animations. However, Neesa pointed out that “not every story renders well into a visual,” and PR pros should be cautious of jumping to the assumption that every poll translates into a legitimate news story. The panelists agreed that pitching an infographic that blatantly promotes your brand is a major faux pas. If your visual looks the least bit like propaganda, any legitimate news organization will be reluctant to post it, as it could hurt their brand value, says Bergmann.

Be clear and concise; editors and readers will thank you: One of the main advantages of creating an infographic is that it allows you to “mold and present information in a way that’s clear to the reader,” commented Bergmann. If you cram too much information into your graphic, you’re defeating its original purpose. Pachal mentioned that your infographic should easily translate to Pinterest, which drives much of the online traffic today. Whether you’re pitching an idea for an infographic or an actual infographic itself, make sure you are presenting “tabulated, nugget-style information,” suggests Neesa. Focus on how you can break the product/idea up; if your information is already organized for the visual staff at a news outlet, this makes their job that must easier. Lastly, stick to the facts, and facts only. The editorial team will vet and research the data you present before they post or link to your infographic, so you must be absolutely sure that your methodology and sampling are valid beforehand.

For more information on the Publicity Club of NY, visit www.publicityclub.org. You can get the latest news with photos/multimedia by registering at www.businesswire.com.


The World’s Biggest Media & Facebook – An Evolving Relationship

April 11, 2012

By Michel Rubini, International MRT Specialist – London

In 2007, Rupert Murdoch joked about Facebook overtaking MySpace as the most popular social networking site on the web.  Not long after, it was no laughing matter.

While Facebook might not be the best social networking site, or offer the best user experience, or even the most innovative solutions, it has been accepted as the standard by most internet users. Facebook has now reached the 600 million user mark, so it is no surprise that media organisations across the world are looking into ways to tap into this pool of potential readers.

At a recent News:Rewired event (a periodical digital journalism conference) in London, I listened to speakers from some of the world’s biggest media organisations explain how they are facing — and mostly embracing — Facebook.

The most enthusiastic evangelist was Martin Belam, User Experience Lead at The Guardian. Belam explained how their new Facebook application has been hugely successful. The application allows users to share Guardian content easily with their friends, and so far, six million people have downloaded it. One of the most exciting things, according to Belam, is that 54 percent of the users are under 24 – the kind of audience the Guardian has always aspired to reach.

Belam also explained that a younger audience means a younger kind of content becoming popular on the application. He denied there was any danger of a “dumbing down” The Guardian. “To my mind, if we are producing that content anyway – which we do – then why wouldn’t we want it to reach as wide an audience as possible?” he asked.

Belam also noted that there is growing evidence that the Facebook application alone is producing as many views for articles as the guardian.co.uk site, in practice doubling the amount of traffic a story gets.

Liz Heron, former social media editor of The New York Times and current director of social media and engagement with The Wall Street Journal, seemed to agree with Martin. “In the new landscape, the question is no longer whether we do social media, the question is how. How can we make our social media experiences stand out?”

She went on to note that fifty New York Times journalists offer Facebook subscription streams; and that all reporters have been encouraged lately to try Facebook, especially foreign correspondents. The advantage of Facebook, she said, is that it offers great crowdsourcing opportunities and can yield insightful comments and debates. However, the majority of New York Times journalists are still using Twitter. This is due to the fact that most journalists are aware of the dangers of mixing personal profiles with professional lives.

Nate Lanxon, editor of wired.co.uk was very clear about the importance of Facebook. He admitted that for 5 years WIRED had ignored Facebook.  That has recently changed. He has now printed a big photo of Mark Zuckerberg which is passed around the office. The person with the photo is the editor of the WIRED Facebook page for that day. The physical presence of the photo has helped the newsroom embrace Facebook in its daily publishing routine.

Lanxon said one of their key discoveries was that having a presence on Facebook wasn’t about driving fans to WIRED, it was about driving WIRED to fans. Lanxon also noted that Facebook follows its own news cycle. Facebook items seem to increase in traffic around the late afternoon and evenings, when users log in to check their latest feeds.

These three examples seem to show a clear shift in how well regarded (and global) news organisations are fully embracing the enormous readership potential offered by Facebook.


Raleigh-Durham Media Discuss Journalism Trends, Press Release Tips

March 28, 2012

by Penny Sowards, Client Services Representative, Business Wire Charlotte

Business Wire hosted a “Meet the Media” luncheon at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center in Durham on March 15.  Panelists included Rick Martinez, News Director, NewsRadio 680 WPTF; Rick Smith, Business and Technology Manager, WRAL-TV, and David Bracken, Assistant Business Editor, The News & Observer. Kristi Lee-John, Principal at Crossroads Public Relations, was moderator.

Panelists discussed current trends in journalism and tips on effective pitching.

L-R: David Bracken, Rick Smith, Rick Martinez. Kristi Lee-John, moderator at podium

Important points made during the discussion:

  • Make sure someone from your company is available by phone or email at all times after making an announcement
  • Keep the lead information at the top
  • Have all answers available if possible
  • Pitch should always be professional and go to the appropriate reporters
  • Subject line on emails should be “to the point”
  • The company website is very important to journalists for gathering information
  • Blogs are a great tool and have great potential provided quality is there
  • Make an effort to contact the media before 3 p.m.
  • No jargon-filled releases

The journalists all agreed that press releases are important and relevant in conveying news to the media. Specific guidelines were discussed on what the media deems a good press releases:

  • Headlines should be clear and to the point
  • The focus of the news should be at the beginning of the release
  • Bullet points are a great tool to create a clear and concise message to the reader
  • Multimedia and web links are great added features to make the release more informative and interesting.

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.


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