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.


On-Line Newsroom Webinar asks “Does Yours Convert?”

March 24, 2014

2014 is the year of accessible information; have you updated your online newsroom yet?

We are very excited to announce that our own Vice President of Web Communications, Ibrey Woodall , is joining  Bulldog Reporter’s new “Master Class” webinar titled “Amazing New Power Techniques for Boosting Credibility, Influence and Traffic.” The webinar will focus on ways today’s PR and IR pros can maximize media pickup, online visibility and SEO power ,as well as generate social media buzz, all by simply refreshing their online newsroom.

Newsroom Sample

Sample of a Business Wire Newsroom (Courtesy of Silicon Labs)

In this webinar you will learn how to quickly and easily boost media mentions, improve media relations and dramatically increase your online reach to key stakeholder groups just by providing journalists and the public the information they want and need, immediately across any device.

This PR University webinar workshop will outline the essential social-media integrated features that the best online newsrooms and corporate sites share … and show you exactly what you need to do now to bring your online presence up to speed so you can boost your communications value and maximize digital ROI for PR efforts.

Newsroom Sample 2

Another Business Wire Hosted Newsroom Sample (Courtesy of Medica )

The webinar will take place on Thursday April 3rd at 1pm ET and cost $299 per registrant. To register for the event or to find out more information visit: http://bit.ly/1nyPfmw and please retweet news of this by clicking this link: https://twitter.com/BusinessWire/status/445648733536284673


Business Wire Event Recap: Business Wire Cleveland Welcomes John Campanelli

February 25, 2014
By Katie Kennedy, Account Executive

On Tuesday, February 18, Clevelanders braved the wind and treacherous roads after an unwelcome overnight snowfall to join Business Wire Cleveland for a breakfast event featuring John Campanelli, the new publisher and editorial director of Crain’s Cleveland Business. Campanelli, a Cleveland media veteran, is the first new publisher of Cleveland’s most reputable source of business news in 28 years.

In fact, Campanelli cited reputation as a major factor in his decision to take the position as publisher at a time when print publications are diminishing. Crain’s Cleveland Business is highly regarded by the community it serves and John plans to keep that reputation intact.  How?Cleveland Media Breakfast

“The worst sin is to not be interesting. Content is the single most important thing,” said Campenelli. “As long as we can keep it interesting, we’ll survive.”

Campanelli gave a preview of how he plans to keep it interesting and what is to come for Crain’s Cleveland Business:

  • A new website, responsive design, a stronger social media presence – “they are all coming.”
  • Multimedia usage. Short 3-4 minute videos recapping the week’s news are on the horizon as part of an overall campaign to include more multimedia with most stories.
  • Expanded coverage. John indicated that philanthropy and sports are beats that deserve more attention.
  • More diverse content. Look for news on dining, fitness and other “things that business people care about” to be added to the mix.
  • Continue to be a business connector. Not only by providing data and information, but also by hosting more events.  Plans for smaller, more editorially-focused events are on the agenda.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Campanelli responded to several questions about the recent changes at The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s no-longer-daily newspaper. John assured the audience that Crain’s will continue to be delivered in print and that there is no plan for the publication to be online only. A former colleague of John’s from The Plain Dealer asked perhaps the most memorable question: “Do you see a place for investigative journalism in business news?”

“Absolutely!” replied John.

Campanelli asked the audience in jest if they had any tips before concluding with a sincere thank you and extending an invitation to our guests to get in touch with him and share information and ideas as he settles into his new role.

Not so ironically, as I sat down to write this recap a colleague in attendance at the event suggested I keep it fun, light and interesting – I guess John got his point across!

John’s Crain’s page: http://www.crainscleveland.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=22&category=CONTACT

Twitter: @johncampanelli

Crain’s: www.crainscleveland.com


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.


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.


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.


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