In our recent CommPro.biz article, Ciaran Ryan interviews two leading photographers who shared their top 4 tips to taking the perfect photo. You can read the entire piece here. Have some tips of your own you would like to share? Add them below in the comments section of this blog.
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.
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.
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
The temptation to package your message in a video is difficult to resist. Video is brilliant at making complex concepts easily understandable. Video can engage an audience on an emotional and informative level in a way that text simply can not. Not to mention that when it comes to press releases, we see that multimedia content, including video, can drive press release views.
Assuming first that you’re sharing quality, engaging content, you still must remember that a video made for offline consumption does not always translate perfectly for online distribution.
Keep it short – Online audiences are not as attentive as offline audiences. Distractions come in many ways when browsing the web. Online video should ideally be under three minutes long. The shorter the better.
Make Text a Friend Not a Foe – Google needs the text to find your video but the traditional uses of text on screen can create poor online user experiences. So what’s the solution? Christian Heilmann, developer evangelist from Mozilla Popcorn, shared a possible answer at a Newsrewired event.
Heilmann explained that video is a black hole on the web. Google is unable to go through a video like it goes through a text. A good headline and a lengthy description is all we have to make it seen.
So how can we make our video more searchable and more findable? Heilmann’s suggestion is to always separate your content from your presentation. Any text should never be in the images. Any text in a video should be overlaying it. It makes the text easily edited, translated, enhanced or deleted when required. Titles and subtitles and are loved by Google and therefore, as Heilmann puts it, “separation increases search-ability and find-ability . . . search engines have something to bite into.”
The big question now is: how do we do it? Heilmann is a big fan of HTML5 video as an answer to these problems. HTML5 video makes it more accessible on the web by allowing the maker to easily separate text and images. Text is over imposed and can easily be edited and found by search engines. Like music made of many different tracks laid on top of each other, HTML5 video text is placed in a running track. Different kind of texts can be added to different tracks. Broadly speaking, there are 3 different tracks:
- Subtitles: translations of the dialogue in the video for when audio is available but not understood. Subtitles are shown over the video.
- Captions: transcription of the dialogue, sound effects, musical cues and other audio information for when the viewer is deaf/hard of hearing, or the video is muted. Captions are also shown over the video.
- Chapters: they are used to create navigation within the video. Typically they’re in the form of a list of chapters that the viewer can click on to go to a specific chapter.
A good example of a video using the above feature is shown here:
The overlaying is unscripted in the coding itself. Suddenly, the invisibility cloak is lifted and the video is findable, searchable and flexible . . . all things you will most certainly want when sharing your videos.
by Molly Pappas, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire Boston
Last Thursday, over 100 PR and communications professionals attended Business Wire Boston’s media panel breakfast event focused on the ever-changing media landscape. Panelists from the Boston Business Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Herald, Patch.com and Mass High Tech discussed how news is changing in a digital environment, ways publications measure success and the differing views on paywalls.
Panelists included Frank Quaratiello, Boston Herald’s business editor, George Donnelly, executive editor at Boston Business Journal, Mass High Tech’s newest associate editor, Don Seiffert, associate regional editor of Patch.com, Abby Jordan, and Leigh Montgomery, Christian Science Monitor’s librarian. Business Wire’s own Sanford Paek, Group Vice President of Eastern U.S. and Canada, served as moderator.
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:
News changing in a digital environment:
- Digital formatting has changed the way in which the media address their audience. In terms of storytelling, the visual experience online can be interesting. Donnelly says the Boston Business Journal runs two to three slideshows a week.
- The Boston Herald has played around with its homepage and moved the video player there, and has since seen a dramatic increase on time spent on the site. Videos bring in about 180,000 views.
- Digital environments have brought about a different world of immediacy to Jordan and her Patch.com team. They do not wait for an end-of-the-day deadline like print publications; instead, they are continually updating their sites, usually five to seven times a day. “The site is not just for people to consume, but to interact with,” says Jordan. For example, people can upload their own events on the site for display.
- “We need to put aside old media/new media; it’s just media,” says Montgomery. In 2009, the Christian Science Monitor was the first international publication to drop its daily print and move to a Web daily only. They still adhere to a publishing schedule, but she says they have more flexibility to publish throughout the day online (usually 30 stories per day).
- Seiffert has found that the length of stories and deadlines are affected by the digital environment. “There are losses to the digital age. You lose the ability to report longer, more well-crafted stories,” he says.
- Patch.com is unique in that it does not have a print subscription number to base its success on. “We are the new kids on the block. We measure success on the number of unique visitors on the site, the number of comments on a story, how our readers interact with the site,” Jordan says.
- For Quaratiello and the Boston Herald, circulation of print product is an obvious measure of success. But it’s also about the visitors online, who are building a community and using the Herald as a “meeting place” of sorts. The Herald has helped create a forum, engaging the paper and its readers.
- As an online publication, the Christian Science Monitor can draw on a lot of online usage data, such as quizzes, to monitor success. The core, however, is solution seeking, Montgomery says. When a story is being discussed and you hear and see it in conversation, that is considered a measure of success.
- While the Boston Business Journal has really embraced analytics, they try not to allow it to be the sole decision maker on the news they cover and publish. “We want to give people as much as we can in an interesting way,” says Donnelly.
- For Seiffert, there is a constant struggle between balancing context and ‘hits.’ “We measure success on Tweets, join/follows on Facebook, the most read and most emailed articles. But there is a danger of losing the personal connection,” he says.
Paid content vs. free:
- “Readers aren’t tired of free news, the newspapers are tired of giving out free news,” says Seiffert.
- “I do not think paid online subscriptions will be successful. It’s just not going to pay the bills,” says Quaratiello. Donnelly, however, disagrees. He sees the tide turning in the other direction, and believes that it’s necessary. “Newspapers are realizing that readers need to subsidize revenue. Newspapers are dispersing news worth paying for. Valuable news shouldn’t be free,” he argues.
- Patch.com has not looked at a paywall. They use metrics to get advertisers, thus bring in revenue.
- Because of the Christian Science Monitor’s multiplatform model (Internet first and paid print subscriptions), Montgomery believes the publication will be self-sustaining by 2017 because of the revenue they bring in.
The panelists ended the event with a few quick pointers on how they like to be pitched:
- Seiffert always likes to talk to someone directly. However, if that isn’t possible, provide links or pointers to other primary sources he can contact.
- “When we get information, our day begins. It’s frustrating and annoying when someone sends in a release at 5, then leaves and we can’t get them on the phone,” Quaratiello says.
- Both Jordan and Donnelly are happy to accept photos, but he advises that they be no more than 1 megabyte. Editors and reporters are weary of opening photo attachments because they can cause computers to freeze or shut down.
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.
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire
Facebook buys Instagram. Experian Hitwise reports that Pinterest is now the #3 social site on the Web. More than ever, the adage “show, don’t tell” applies to communications and communicators.
Adding multimedia to a press release tends to increase the number of online release views. When I looked at a list of the most-viewed releases of the second half of 2011 to see how many were multimedia-enriched, I found some pretty startling numbers.
Of the top 500 English-language releases, about 75% had one or more photos or videos. Out of all the English language releases that Business Wire distributes, only 5% include multimedia. In other words, 5% of all our English language releases accounted for 75% of the 500 most-viewed releases in the last 6 months of last year.
We can’t really say that your release is 75% more likely to be viewed if you include photos or videos, or that it will receive 75% more views. Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear to me that adding multimedia does help drive release views.
Consider the releases on the most-popular list that ran without multimedia:
- Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility
- Announcements from several huge pharmaceutical companies on the results of clinical trials or strategic initiatives
- Major acquisitions and joint ventures involving public and/or well-known companies
- One of the major video game manufacturers announcing a price drop
That the Google announcement was hugely popular was no surprise. News from very large public companies is of inherent interest to the media and markets. Acqusitions are almost always big news because of investor interest and because they can affect an entire industry. Video game news, with or without multimedia, tends to be noticed.
Meanwhile, the variety of photos and videos that ran with the Top 500 releases was wide-ranging. Some examples:
- A river cleanup
- A photo of sauces and condiments
- Photos of existing DRAM technology and an innovative variation
- Photos of the principals of 2 merging companies
- A benchmarking study (graphic)
- Pictures and/or video of contest winners
- Ringing of the Opening Bell at the NYSE
What is clear to me from this list is that the potential for finding visuals to accompany–or to tell–a story is vast.
A release can be very technical but illustrated with a photo that its equally technical audience will appreciate. The media do appreciate photos of people, and not just for personnel announcements. (If those people are celebrities, so much the better, but it’s not a requirement. Newspapers and business journals love to use photos of locals.) Charts and graphs can be compelling. Finally, there are some stories that seem to beg for photos or videos. Among these are any releases announcing eye-catching new products; corporate social responsibility releases (show the river that’s being cleaned up, the electric car charging stations, the participants in the 10K run);and releases announcing corporate milestones.
Besides the potential bump in viewership, using multimedia in conjunction with a good story can increase the chances a story will be used by broadcast media. Broadcast monitoring service and Business Wire partner Critical Mention reported in one of their newsletters that the Yelp’s IPO announcement resulted in 395 hits on U.S. television stations; and these are over-the-air broadcasts, not postings on broadcast websites. The story was a big one, of course, but the accompanying images were really colorful and exciting. As Critical Mention described it, the release (what Business Wire calls a Smart News Release) was “loaded with newsy images and video.”
Besides the benefits of attracting attention to your release and giving journalists more reason to cover your news, there is at least one other benefit to using multimedia: Your news can live longer. I have seen many instances of photos being used months or even years after they originally ran. An especially good photo of people or companies in the news can be used more than once, as in this example of Business Wire’s CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz shown with Warren Buffett in a 9/30/11 photo illustrating a 2/6/12 story.
Granted, being affiliated with Warren Buffett is an advantage when it comes to gaining attention. But even companies that don’t have this advantage can still give their stories greater appeal, and “legs”, by supplementing them with multimedia.
by Joseph Miller, EON Product Manager, Business Wire Austin
Business Wire’s distribution and technology products have evolved considerably throughout the years (we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary next year!).
With the advent of Internet distribution and other standards along with prolific creation of digital media such as photos and videos, we’ve been quick to adopt multimedia distribution solutions along with more traditional “text” distribution of our press releases. Today, we distribute hundreds, if not thousands, of releases with attached photos or videos every week.
And while it will likely always be true that journalists do not prefer to be bombarded with attachments, a succinct release with links to relevant multimedia and related resources can be extremely useful in telling your stories. This is especially true as newsrooms continue to evolve and journalists across the world are being asked to do more with less every day.
With that said, let’s get on to the data! Thinking of the impact multimedia has on release performance, we recently examined data from our internal NewsTrak reports across all Business Wire releases year to date. One metric we examined was the Top 500 releases based on “release reads”, an analog to page views, of each release. Of the top 500, a full 23% of our Top 500 releases include multimedia (photos & videos beyond logos), while only 5% of all releases include multimedia.
From this, we can conclude that including multimedia greatly increases your chances of distributing a “hit release.”
Beyond that, we looked at the average number of release reads across all releases. Once we segmented out releases with and without multimedia, we found that the average release with multimedia has received 1.7 times more release reads than those without.
So there you have it. If you want to increase the odds of your press releases outperforming their peers, it’s a great idea to add multimedia.
On August 19, Business Wire LA hosted a media breakfast and panel discussion titled “Video & SEO: Best Practices for Effective Marketing & PR” at the Olympic Collection in west Los Angeles. Our expert panel discussed the increasing popularity of online video in brand communications and shared tips with the audience of LA area communicators on how to use video to drive web traffic, generate leads and help SEO.
- Dave Toole, Founder, MEDIAMobz
- Meredith Kendall, Vice President of PR and Interactive Media, Break Media
- Matt Meeks, VP of Interactive Media, Bender Helper Impact
- Joel Russell, Advertising and PR Reporter, Los Angeles Business Journal
Here are some key insights from the panel discussion:
- There are two major benefits to online video: it increases engagement with the audience and it enhances the SEO of your content.
- Universal search is becoming increasingly popular and represents a major opportunity when it comes to video content. Because universal search spotlights multimedia, any video you use in support of your news has a good chance of being highlighted in search because there is still not that much video content out there yet.
- Although video isn’t used by all media yet, particularly print media, it can still help explain things to reporters quickly. Press releases that include video tend to have higher open rates.
- Another benefit of video is its built-in social interaction. Embed codes and social media sharing links that are regularly included in online videos make them easily sharable and creates multiple posting points online, which helps SEO.
- Know your audience and where they will be. You can’t neglect YouTube, but you have to put your video where your audience will naturally find it. A lot of the time, people won’t be searching YouTube looking for your video, you have to put it where the audience you are trying to reach already views content.
- You can think of video sites like you think of other kinds of media, in terms of reader or viewer demographic. Different audiences go to YouTube than go to Daily Motion. The YouTube audience has specific characteristics & the videos on YouTube tend to have specific characteristics. Short-form videos, particularly humorous ones, tend to do well on YouTube, but long-form videos don’t really belong there.
- Statistics show that if you post your video to a half dozen sites other than YouTube, it increases traffic by 80 percent.
- It’s also important to know your audience because that will tell you whether it is necessary for your brand to be on certain platforms, such as mobile. Video is a good way to tell your story over mobile because often people are willing to watch a short video on their phones and read the full article or press release once they are back on their computers.
For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.
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