Monika Maeckle: New Media Career Exemplified by Change Morphs to the Next Stage

November 15, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

Today my career at Business Wire comes to an end and my first thought is that I will miss you, our clients, colleagues, webinar attendees and readers of the Business Wired blog.   I leave you in the able hands of our talented marketing team, who just picked up a fourth award from the Society of New Communications Research.

Change has been the only constant in my combined 16 years here.   When I joined the company the first time, in New York City in 1987, we considered the fax machine “new media” and the Internet was in its infancy, relegated to use by universities and computer geeks.   That was the year the domain www.apple.com came online, Microsoft gave us Works, and Compuserve (remember them?) introduced the GIF standard for images.  

Back then, Cathy Baron Tamraz managed the New York Region for Business Wire, Gregg Castano, who recruited me, served as New York City sales manager, and Phyllis Dantuono  was my fellow account executive.    This talented triumvirate now serves as Business Wire’s CEO, President and COO.    

We were the East Coast pioneers of Business Wire, planting the flag in Manhattan for founder Lorry Lokey’s budding California wire service empire.  I was sad to leave two years later, but family called me home to Texas in 1989.

Eight years later I reconnected with the New York crew when I read in Texas Monthly Magazine that the wire services were opening in Texas.   I called Cathy, and with the foresight worthy of a Berkshire Hathaway CEO, she dispatched the affable Tom Mulgrew (now Vice President of Agency Relations) to recruit me from the boutique PR agency I was running at the time.  Tom and I hit it off, and soon we opened an office in San Antonio.  Dallas and Houston followed shortly, and the rest is Business Wire history.
 
What a fun ride we’ve shared: opening offices in Texas and abroad, yanking marquis accounts from the grasp of our rivals, learning and launching new tools and technologies too numerous to name.   I’ll never forget staging a luncheon in San Antonio in the late 90s, encouraging clients to “join the webolution” and explaining “Spam, it’s not just a meat product anymore.”  And then there was that major deal we did with Warren Buffett.  Berkshire Hathaway bought the company in 2005 and owns it to this day. 
 
The landscape keeps changing, and yet Business Wire remains constant, always out front.   
 
While it’s tempting to focus on the frustrations of the daily grind in this tough economy, I leave Business Wire proud to have been part of a team that in spite of any challenge, continues to set the pace, lead the way, and stage the industry for what comes next–whatever that is.  
 
For me, that will mean launching a strategic consulting and communications firm in 2012 with my talented former newspaper editor husband, Robert Rivard.  In the meantime, you’ll find me at the Texas Butterfly Ranch–a blog about the life cycle we all share.  Please stay in touch and feel free to subscribe.
 
Until we meet again, I wish each of you the best.
 

Business Wire Gives Back: Texas Butterfly Fan Uses Social Media as Monarch Butterfly Ambassador

October 17, 2011

I’m lucky that my job as Vice President of New Media for Business Wire has allowed me to apply the useful skills  learned in my professional life to a passion for butterflies.   For the past several years I’ve blogged about butterflies at www.texasbutterflyranch.com, provided updates on the Monarch butterfly migration as

Tagged Monarch Butterfly, September 2011

Tagged Monarch Butterfly, September 2011

@butterflybeat on Twitter, and used my Powerpoint prowess to share the daily miracle of metamorphosis with children, gardeners, seniors and others.  I’ve also raised caterpillars (butterflies-to-be) in my kitchen and brought them to work when they’re about to “go chrysalis” on me, much to my colleagues’ amusement.

Recently I had another amazing opportunity to spread the butterfly gospel, thanks to Business Wire’s generous BW Gives Back program.  Organizers of the Amazing Butterflies Exhibit at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (SABOT) invited me to lead a butterfly hunt, demonstrate how to tag a Monarch butterfly, and share the beloved insects’ remarkable migration story.

SABOT’s educational exhibit, which runs through January 8, leads participants through a garden maze in which they can simulate life as a caterpillar, then a butterfly, gaining insight about the life cycle along the way.

About 30 nature lovers attended the talk, admiring Monarch eggs and caterpillars collected along the Llano River in the Texas Hill Country.  Prior, we netted a Monarch butterfly in SABOT’s lovely butterfly garden and finished up the presentation with a tagging demonstration.

Monika Maeckle at San Antonio Botanical Gardens

At the San Antonio Botanical Garden: Let's go tag some Monarch Butterflies! --photo by Mary Fisher

For those unaware, Monarch butterflies make an amazing migratory journey from  Michoacan, Mexico each year, starting in April and flying north to Canada.  Over the course of multiple generations, the resilient creatures traverse the eastern United States to Canada in the Spring, their great great grandchildren returning in the Fall to their ancestral winter roosts in Mexico.  April and October are primetime for Monarch butterfly fans in Texas, which is the “funnel” for all Monarch traffic, north and southbound.

Metamorphosis, mediamorphisis–when you think about it, the two have much in common: constant change, endless fascination, reflections of ourselves.    Thanks to Business Wire for allowing me the opportunity to marry the two passions that most consume my time at work and after hours.


Importance of Writing Good Headlines Magnified as Attention Spans and Space Decrease

February 3, 2011
Free “How to Write A Good Headline” Webinar to Offer Headline Writing Tips
by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Gawker rolled out its redesign this week, provoking an echo chamber of speculation on what it means for blogs, Twitter and new media in general, and the blogosphere in particular.

One theme was constant in the online nattering:  headlines have never been more important.

With our miniscule attention spans, a firehose of content, and search engines that systematically weigh the first 70 characters of any content page, headlines today carry an unprecedented burden to deliver readers.   And with Twitter and Facebook referring so many pageviews, we no longer enjoy the luxury of the lead paragraph to tell our stories.

The headline stands alone.

“Headlines on websites—particularly those found on news websites with content heavy homepages—carry a very heavy load,” wrote Jake Brooks, Chief Strategist and Project Director of Hazan+Company, in a February 1 blogpost. “For these types of sites, the difference between 10,000 pageviews can rest entirely on the quality of the headline and how well it sells a story.”

No kidding.  And when it comes to press releases, a great headline can make the difference between your carefully crafted news release flying high or detouring to the delete heap.

If you can use some help with headline writing, please join us February 16 for a FREE educational webinar on How to Write  a Good HeadlineRegistration is free.

We’ll look at headlines from both sides of the aisle–from the perspectives of readers and robots.   Our guests will be veteran journalist Terry Scott Bertling, niche/products editor at the San Antonio Express-News; and SEO-meister  Greg Jarboe, President of SEO-PR.

Hope to “see” you there.

How to Write A Good Headline
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
10 AM Pacific/ Noon Central/ 1 PM Eastern
FREE
Register Now

 

 


PR Peeps Poll: 85% say they put hyperlinks in press releases

June 2, 2010

But internal audits of the Business Wire file suggest only about 13.5% use hyperlinks in their press releases.

This month’s PR Peeps Poll suggests that the vast majority–85% of  those who send out press releases–insert hyperlinks into them. Only 15% of the 268 polled said they don’t.

Interestingly, internal research of the Business Wire file of approximately 1,000 press releases each work day, suggests otherwise.  By our reckoning, only 13.5% of press release issuers use hyperlinks to drive traffic or amplify their messages in the context of their press releases.

What’s going on? Perhaps those on Twitter and who attend our webinars–where the poll was administered–are a bit more savvy to new media tactics than the rest of our clients.    Hard to say.   But it’s an interesting disconnect in the numbers.

Our friends like Tom Foremski, the publisher of Silicon Valley Watcher who is well-known for bemoaning  the lack of hyperlinks in press releases, will be surprised by the findings of this PR Peeps Poll.   “Forget the ‘social media release’ and the work we did on trying to create microformats for news releases…At the end of the day all I want is some links in the copy!”  wrote Formski in a recent blogpost . “Help me do my job so I don’t have to search around for this stuff,” he added.

The advantages of including relevant, timely hyperlinks in your press releases are well documented.  Links can amplify your message, help increase your search engine optimization, and drive traffic to your website or other relevant sites.  We agree with Foremski:  Why not include them?

Apparently the reasons are various–from  I just “didn’t think about it” to “I don’t know what a hyperlink is.”  Check out complete details, below.

PR Peeps Poll: Do you insert hyperlinks into your press releases?

  • 229, or 85% said YES
  • 39, or 15% said NO

Of those who said NO, and asked “Why not?” here are their reasons:

  • 13 – Just didn’t think about it.
  • 12 – I don’t know how.
  • 12 – I don’t see the point.
  • 2 – I don’t know what a hyperlink is.

To those who participated, thank you–-and how about helping with our next PR Peeps Poll: What is your biggest digital pet peeve? Someone texting while you’re presenting?  Or maybe that Bluetooth Guy who makes you think he’s talking to you?  Please let us know.

268 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted April 9 – May 31, 2010


Viva the Press Release! Social Media Diehard Hails “Traditional” Press Release and Paid Wire Services

May 19, 2010

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President of New Media

“I think now, more than ever, traditional press releases matter and that wire services like Business Wire are worth the expense – or rather – the investment.”–Alan Weinkrantz

We don’t pretend to be objective about press releases, and indeed a quote from our boss Warren Buffett, seems appropriate here:  “Don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut.”

That said, it’s refreshing to see a PR practitioner who’s been  embracing social media for five years laud the attributes of  the “traditional” press release as well as those of the “paid wire services”–in this case, yours truly: Business Wire.

Alan Weinkrantz, a high tech PR consultant in San Antonio, is a contributing business columnist for the San Antonio Express-News and a peripatetic poster on Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, LinkedIn, Flickr, his own blog and elsewhere.  I often wonder if the guy ever sleeps.   As he details in a blog post , Alan used Business Wire to issue this press release for his client, DenimGroup, a San Antonio-based IT consultancy and security software firm.

Typically Alan pitches stories via email to a targeted list of media, bloggers and industry analysts and points to the release on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook after it’s been disseminated by Business Wire.

“Business Wire is our core distribution platform for reaching journalists, analysts and bloggers who search for key words in their area of interest.  We also use social sites to supplement our efforts and hashtags on Twitter so we can be found this way,” says Alan.  “Business Wire provides confidence that we’re  helping the client populate the Internet, major search engines and industry sites that we can’t reach on our own, no matter how many pitches and phone calls we make.”

Alan’s Business Wire distribution hit a homerun for his client with an application story in RFID Journal.

He’s quick to point out that the release itself did not carry the story.  “It led to the opportunity,” he said, adding that when the lead came in,  he followed up to coordinate story development with the client and the PR teams involved. “It was a great story that brought attention to an industry looking for innovative and secure ways to integrate RFID.”

And that’s how it can work.  Thanks for sharing the story,  Alan.  We agree with you:  “Long live the press release. Viva wire services (paid ones I might add) like Business Wire.”

 


San Francisco PR Pros Discuss Today’s Global Mobile Social World

April 29, 2010

More than 90 PR and IR professionals joined our Business Wire San Francisco media breakfast panel at Autodesk’s Gallery Conference center on Thursday, April 15th, in San Francisco, CA for “Navigating Today’s Global Mobile Social World from a PR Perspective,” an engaging discussion on the state of social media, best practice case studies, trends and online community management.

Moderated by Monika Maeckle (far left), Vice President, New Media, Business Wire, the thought leaders and panelists included (L to R):

  • Kimarie Matthews, Vice President, Customer Advocacy and Loyalty, Wells Fargo Bank, Internet Services Group
  • Rachel Polish, Vice President, Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence
  • David Toole, Founder and CEO, MediaMobz
  • Chris Heuer, Founder, AdHocnium and Social Media Club
  • Maura Ginty, Customer Experience, Worldwide Marketing, Autodesk

Here are some notes from each of our panelists from the discussion:

Kimarie Matthews

  • Her Wells Fargo team leads Customer Advocacy and Loyalty for Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group.
  • Her group manages a variety of programs that enable the company to listen, respond and act to improve the customer experience, including Wells Fargo’s two Twitter channels: @Ask_WellsFargo and @Wachovia.
  • They strategically have chosen a non “corporate communications” voice to relay posts and messages to there online community and customer base.
  • They have many campaigns like “Mobile Mondays” to engage their community online and in the social sphere.

Rachel Polish

  • The 360 Digital Influence team, Ogilvy PR’s global, digital world of mouth marketing practice, is designed to manage brands at a time when anyone can be an influencer and we are all influenced in new ways.
  • The team’s focus is on engaging through conversations, outreach to new influencers and word of mouth marketing.
  • She’s also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, where she still serves as a public affairs specialist. The social media rule they apply is simple: If you have “done it,” then you have the perspective and understanding to engage customers, community in social realm.
  • Companies must listen first and really do there homework and research before engaging customers or prospects with social media.
  • Her tried and tested method has a name: LPEAO. Customer mapping should follow a process and strategy similar to this:
    L = listen
    P = plan
    E = engage
    A = amplify
    O = optimize

David Toole

  • Virgin America/ airline industry experience that speaks to the value of reaching out. He used Twitter to send message to the airlines regarding flight times and status and was pleasantly surprised with how quickly he was answered. Companies must observed and fix old structure of communicating with customers.
  • Social media and the tools involved assist in the conversation you have with your customers and clients. The do not replace working systems.
  • Companies and organizations must have community managers that are actively listening to requests and customer support related matters and engage.

Chris Heuer

  • He believes the social media and online world industry must step up its ethics and SEO to enforce clear roles. He believes in the future, “certifications” will ensure a more transparent relationship for those creating the copy/posts and customers.
  • The airline industry were very argumentative with him after he posted a story that touched on his negative customer service experience. As this is now a “public sphere,” it’s prudent that internal and corporate communicators own their words.
  • The 80/20 rule applies to this social world that is still in an “infant” stage. 80 = attitude and 20 = aptitude. Therefore, a brand and communications plan muse embrace the public sphere that is non-traditional as this is now seen as social signaling, brand casting and pea cocking.

Maura Ginty

  • Maura established Autodesk’s first centralized SEO, web content, and social media platforms. She also created the company’s first series of best practices and led it’s cross-functional councils for these new forms of online marketing.
  • Maura’s next project will be the management of the company’s third global SEO case study
  • Important to view blog posts that have a rant like angle as an opportunity to reach out to your customers, influencers and online community of followers.
  • Her and her team were able to turn a potential negative online story into something positive by reaching out and showing value. This was directly visible by the comments that were posted following the media and pr outreach. They evaluated the need to spin ‘in’ correct noise and signal. Create filters to catch what you can. As the average person is consuming media- both traditional and non-traditional for at least six hours a day, it’s extremely relevant to your larger PR and IR plan.
  • Autodesk’s “Social web council” works with all departments of the company to fold in the best practices-like the PR, manufacturing etc. to keep afloat of changes and to link relevant announcements to a social media world.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Press Release? “Several days,” said half of those polled

March 30, 2009

Polling results are in for Business Wire’s occasional 1-question poll and to those of us in the press release business, the results are no surprise.  My sense is that PR professionals may want to use these results to justify billable hours spent on press release creation, too.  Here’s a summary:

Almost half of 277 respondents said it takes “several days” to write and get approval for a press release.     Only 3%–nine of the total–were lucky enough to churn out a press release in “an hour.”  About 37%  said they spend “half a day” or “a day” to get press releases together while those poor PR souls who need “weeks” constituted an unenviable 11%.   Details below.

How Long Does it Take to Write a Press Release

Several of you wondered why we didn’t make our poll into two questions–since writing a release and getting approvals are such distinct steps in the process.  The reason: we wanted to find out the total time investment in the release BEFORE it arrives at Business Wire.  We also wanted to keep the poll to one question to encourage participation.

So what are we getting at?  Press Release Optimization.

Anecdotally, clients tell us that they “don’t have time” to optimize their press releases.  Or they don’t know how.  That’s why we built a free tool, Press Release Builder, that walks you through the optimization process.   Thing is, clients aren’t using it because it takes an extra few minutes.   Huh?  

Why would you NOT spend an extra 30 – 45 minutes optimizing your press release for search given that you’ve already invested “several days” getting it to the one-yard line?   Business Wire couldn’t help but wonder.

One obstacle is that clients are not managing press release optimization into their workflow.  Frequently press releases are written and approved, and by the time they arrive at Business Wire, their creators have no no interest in tweaking keywords or rearranging paragraphs that might change the copy and require a return to the meat grinder for more time-consuming approvals.

We understand.  That’s why we encourage you to factor press release optimization into your budget BEFORE you come to Business Wire for distribution.  Even if you work with a digital PR firm or a search engine specialist, it will take time.   You can play around with Press Release Builder at your leisure, FOR FREE, when you’re not on deadline.   Talk to your account executive.  It’s worth the investment.

To those who participated, thanks for taking the poll.  And how about helping with the next one?  Do you optimize your press release for search engines?

Business Wire Occasional 1-Question Poll:

How long does it take to write and get approval for a press release?

an hour–3.2% (9 respondents)
half a day–20.21% (56 respondents)
a day–16.96% (47 respondents)
several days–48.73% (135 respondents)
weeks–10.83% (30 respondents)
 
277 respondents via Twitter and Business Wire webinar polls.  Poll conducted March, 2009.

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