Cutting Clickbait – How to Write a Compelling Headline

March 31, 2014
Matt Bio Pic By Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor

Greg Rasa has worked at the Seattle Times for 27 years. Suffice it to say, he’s seen a lot of headlines. He’s also written a lot of them … thousands of them. At a recent talk he was giving on writing clickable headlines, I asked the long time news editor if he could recall the very first headline he ever wrote. “I can’t,” he said, “but I bet no one clicked on it.”

The headline is … arguably … more important now than it has ever been in the news and PR industries. Ads, paywalls, enticing paying customers, and attracting attention to important issues depend heavily on lassoing some incredibly short attention spans. People may last only a few seconds on your page or your story or your press release before fluttering away, but it behooves you to at least get them there.

But how do you write a compelling, clickable headline without always depending on the age-old use of yellow journalism/clickbait? Mr. Rasa, The Times’ news editor, offered up numerous solutions during his hour plus seminar, but these were some of my favorites.
headlines(click to enlarge)

USE ACTION VERBS – Honk, Fizzle, Careen, Blast, Chew, etc. … Action verbs are known attention grabbers.

  •          Have some fun with the English language (or whatever language you use).

FRONT LOAD BEST STUFF – Google crawls content from the top down, first to last, and that includes headlines.

  •          Use Google Trends to locate relevant keywords based on specific criteria.
  •          If you’re writing a press release, always get your company name into the headline when applicable.

BE CONVERSATIONAL – Write headlines like the way people talk … use natural words and syntax. An example:

Bad Headline = Jobs Report Pressures Obama Re-election Outlook

Would you ever say, “Hey, you’re pressuring my outlook?”

Good Headline = Lingering Joblessness an Election Problem for Obama

BE SPECIFIC AND CLEAR – Don’t be too general and/or vague. It’s OK to tease the reader a bit, but try to be as straightforward as possible.

Vague Headline = NYC Looks to Stop Spreading Bedbug Infestations

Specific Headline = Bedbugs: 1 in 15 New Yorkers Had Them Last Year

BEFORE YOU SEND, LOOK AGAIN – Take a moment to put yourself in the readers shoes.

  •          Does the headline you wrote make sense to someone who has no idea what the story is about?

More tidbits and thoughts on Mr. Rasa’s presentation can be found here and here. And if you ever get the opportunity to see Mr. Rasa speak, I cannot recommend doing so enough. Headlines are important … go learn a thing or two about them.


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.


How to Increase your PR Horse Power for the Lunar New Year

January 31, 2014

Turn your press release into a charging warhorse

By Joanne Ngo and Alex Howard, Business Wire

January 31, 2014 is the first day of the Lunar New Year, the most celebrated holiday in China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. It is a celebration honoring new life. It is a highly anticipated holiday full of firecrackers, dragon dances, temple visits, lucky red envelopes and family gatherings.

One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.

One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.

This year is the year of the horse. The horse is one of the favorite animals in the Chinese zodiac, and is closely linked to people’s lives because of its ability to quickly transport people and things. In China, the Red Hare was the celebrated warhorse of Lü Bu, the ancient Chinese general and warlord. According to legend, the Red Hare had a reputation of being the horse that could travel hundreds of miles a day, climb mountains as if they were flat land, cross rivers and much more. As we at Business Wire prepared for the Lunar New Year, it occurred to us that the mystical Red Hare is much like today’s modern press release. The horse, for example, is a symbol of:

  • Strength: Like the horse, a press release is a pack animal, capable of carrying loads of information to your audience.
  • Efficiency: Similar to how a horse helps you work more efficiently, your press release when distributed via Business Wire, helps you efficiently deliver a message packed with content that your readers and media want to read, report on and share.
  • Speed: Comparable to a galloping horse, news shared via Business Wire travels around the globe, quickly, easily and effortlessly.

Our thoughts of Lü Bu’s many military victories got us thinking of Lü Bu atop his magnificent steed, charging into battle. As in war, where one would never send a horse out to battle without armor, the same goes for your press release. To protect your brand, product and message, outfit your press release properly – utilize clear, relevant writing, multimedia, social media calls to action, and hyperlinks. A warhorse cannot fight an army without armor, and neither can your news.

Train your Release Prior to Battle: Make it Clear and Relevant

One of the most important ways to prepare your news to battle today’s content clutter is to make sure your release is clear and relevant. A well written, highly targeted press release sparks conversation and interaction and guides journalists and other interested readers to your news. Today, this is more important than ever thanks to Google’s recent algorithm changes. Google no longer places emphasis on individual keywords placed in copy, but instead helps users find your news via natural search phrases.

Outfit Your Release for Battle

Once you have a beautifully crafted, relevant story, you need to arm it for battle. In 2011, Skyword’s research discovered that news articles with images received 94% more views than news articles without imagery. In 2013 the award winning study conducted by SEO-PR and Business Wire, the press release that included video had 55% more views than the one without it. In 2014, multimedia is a required element to any article or story. Visuals quickly capture the attention of today’s fast-paced, mobile-crazy audience. They also help illustrate a very technical or lengthy press release, support new product launches and paint a clear vivid picture of your story. This imagery will help your press release defeat the clutter and reach your target audiences faster and more effectively.

The Charge

In war, the battle cry can unify the corps and intimidate your opponents, so give you news the final advantage with a battle cry. One of the best ways to increase the impact of your press release is to initiate social sharing. Including a sharing call to action, such as including a Click to Tweet, allows readers and brand fans to tweet your news, your battle cry.

After the fighting is over, the warrior leads the Red Hare home. Just as the warrior leads his horse home, so must you lead your readers. Include relevant, natural links within your press release to help interested parties continue their journey to learn more about your business. For best usage of your links, limit them to an average of one link per 100 words.

Winning the Battle, Winning the War

Just as the Red Hare served the warrior in times of need, so will your press release serve you. When crafted properly, and outfitted with its armor of multimedia, this piece of content will cut through the clutter and deliver your news, your company story to all corners of the world.

 


The Press Release Then and Now: How We Arrived At Where We Are Today

January 27, 2014

By: Hannah Kelly, Business Wire, Paris

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important milestones in the history of public relations – Ivy Lee’s management of the 1913-1914 Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.

The term ‘Public Relations’ first appeared in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature, and the original press release, which we can credit to Ivy Lee, was published in 1906 – following the tragic loss of 50 lives in the Pennsylvanian Railroad Crash.

Equally, Lee’s Declaration of Principles, also released in 1906, was a turning point for public relations, as it communicated the responsibility of those working in PR, not only to the client but also to the public. This declaration ensured that Lee’s work was subsequently accepted not in the form of advertising, but as news, as accurate information, as matter “of value and interest to the public”. This was, and still is, the founding principle of wire services such as Business Wire, Associated Press, AFP and more.

So with all of these important events taking place before 1914, what exactly was it about the Colorado Coal Strike that is now so crucial to the history of public relations?

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

Firstly, the strike needed publicity management due to its hotly controversial nature – on-strike miners and their families were killed by state militia, and the mining union blamed the Rockefeller family and their coal mining business for the deaths.

Lee used, to his advantage, the establishment and acceptance of his Declaration of Principles as the basis for the management of the Colorado Coal Strike aftermath.  He drafted and mailed an array of bulletins to media outlets and workers alike, addressing the issue with candor (as well as successfully keeping the Rockefeller name free from reputational damage). This has become known as one of the most successful and influential PR campaigns – an experience that demonstrated, for the first time, the importance of publicity and public relations to the American nation.

It should be noted that doubts do exist regarding the authenticity of this campaign, whether certain facts were distorted, and if this was the case, as to whether this was intentional or not. However, despite any uncertainties, we must concede that this campaign achieved its goals : to promote the facts of the event and to share news with the public, whilst recognising its responsibility to both the public and the client, the Rockefeller’s.

Many years later, the standard of PR established in Lee’s Declaration of Principles has evolved significantly. It is now so well integrated into modern society that we no longer even question it. PR is an essential part of business life – and it would be unthinkable to run a company nowadays without openness and honesty to the public. It is for this reason that Business Wire works so hard to ensure the authenticity of all press releases, and adheres to such stringent security regulations. We agree with Lee’s rules: “Accuracy, Authenticity, and Interest”.


Understanding the Role of the Press Release and the Modern Marketing Mix

January 15, 2014
by Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

For many years, communication programs did not utilize input from every department in the company before launching. Thankfully, this has changed.

Today’s most successful communication programs run across many different divisions to maximize even the smallest program’s potential success.  In addition to increasing the potential for success, cross-department programs provide deeper insights necessary for future programs.  Below, we breakdown how marketing and PR support the impact of the press release.

When it comes to increasing the impact of a marketing program, for more than 50 years, one method continues to be most effective way to distribute your news – a commercial newswire service.

Press releases containing photos and/or videos and easy to find social sharing buttons, issued over a commercial wire service continue to be the most cost-effective way to reach journalists, bloggers, analysts, online and offline media, social networks, customers, and prospects.  Press releases are measured by quality of coverage, its impact on the company’s reputation and brand goals, action taken by readers and the amount of sharing across social networks.

The new tactics you must employ now to support your press releases and measure their impact include:

  1. Sharing social media messaging with brand fans and influencers, including a link back to your website, each tailored to the news’ target audience. Social actions taken related to your news are measured by overall shares, shares by influencers, link clicks and, most importantly, the quality of inbound traffic.
  2. Posting and directing journalists to blog posts that directly answer the questions you know journalists will ask you.  This increases the likelihood of company message adoption and decrease real or perceived anxiety by journalists and consumers about your message, brand or organization.
  3. Advertising on key industry media, highlighting the benefits of your product or brand is a terrific way to decrease the amount of time it takes a user to make a decision. Advertising success is measured by desired action taken, clicks, impressions, downloads etc.
  4. Utilizing online media syndication services like dlvr.it and Outbrain which can help increase visibility of valuable coverage and is best measured by impressions, views and quality of inbound traffic
  5. Creating social channel messages for colleagues, customers and partners to share across their own social channels.  Use a unique URL to more easily track shares, inbound traffic and the quality of that traffic
  6. Implement paid and non-paid influencer program to decrease sales consideration time.  This can have an impact on an increase in discussion, message adoption, social reach, quality of inbound traffic leads and amount of time before desired action taken.

These six steps increase the impact of your press release, as well as provide you with the valuable insights needed to revise messaging for future programs.  Which message resonated best with your various audiences? What asset or platform provided the best ROI?

The press release & the modern marketing mix – 6 #prtips by @serena http://ow.ly/sC4NY


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


Business Wire Presents: Everything PR and IR Pros Need to Know for 2014

January 2, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Emerging Platforms

Let’s face it; there is nothing better than working the last two weeks of the year.  Oh you may think it is better to be with friends and family or battling mall crowds or lines at the airport, but in reality, those of us working this week are enjoying shorter commuting times, phones not ringing and a few spare minutes to catch up on the latest industry news and trends.

As we in the Business Wire marketing team catch up on our reading, we compiled this list of posts to catch you up on the best of 2013 and prepare you for a productive and successful 2014.

Top Gaffes for 2013 (after all, you don’t want to end up on this list next year!)

2013 Industry Changes + Best Practices

Looking ahead: Top Tips and Predictions to Prepare You for 2014

And just for fun, a hat tip to Buzzfeed for this scarily accurate look at Isaac Asimov and his 1964 predictions for 2014.


Using the Holidays as Inspiration for a Press Release / Social Media Campaign

December 20, 2013
by Carl Dispoto, Senior Editor

The final days leading up to Christmas can be overwhelming for brands and marketers. The options of what to promote, when to promote and how to promote are seemingly endless. But inspiration can be drawn from some common holiday traditions to help structure a campaign built around press releases and social media.

GiftCounting down is part of the holiday season. Around the world, people count down the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar, which reveals a different featured item each day. Even more well-known is the popular carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which highlights a series of gifts given on each of the 12 days, with a new present being revealed in each verse.

It’s pretty clear that the gradual reveal of new surprises is an integral part of the holidays, so why not follow that pattern to highlight what products and features are the most important for potential customers?

This strategy can be effectively employed through a succession of Business Wire press releases and corresponding social media distribution.

Imagine struggling to find a way to feature the dozen or so products that you want to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue? How can you possibly maximize exposure and focus the attention of potential customers on multiple ideas?

The initial task is to choose the subject matter of your campaign, which can be either a series of products and services or varying features of the same product or service. Once the focus is decided, you can reveal a different product or feature each day leading up to Christmas.

As each new product or feature is revealed, you provide links to the previous products and features that have been unveiled. Pair each release with associated actions on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and you are building an integrated network of links to boost the visibility of each post.

Using this method, each product or feature is getting promoted multiple times across various networks, continually funneling readers – and potential customers – throughout your chosen list of topics.

And while the countdown to Christmas is most common, this plan of action can be successful for the buildup to any holiday or event, especially those that have a specified number of days such as Hanukah, Lent, Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest, the Olympics and the World Cup!


Business Wire Event Recap “Meet the Biotechnology Media”

December 5, 2013
by Luis Guillen, Media Relations Specialist

On Thursday, November 21st, Business Wire San Diego hosted a “Meet the Biotechnology Media” panel in Mission Valley. With some of the top biotech journalists in the San Diego area, our panel spoke on a wide range of topics ranging from how to pitch media and current trends to the future of journalism.

Speakers:

  • Bruce Bigelow, Xconomy’s San Diego editor
  • Meghana Keshavan, San Diego Business Journal’s healthcare and biotech reporter
  • Mandy Jackson, SCRIP Intelligence’s West Coast editor
  • Kelly Quigley, life science network and brand journalist at Chempetitive Group

Moderator:

  • Erik Clausen, Managing Partner, Chempetitive Group
    SD-Media-Breakfast-lo-res

Know your media

It’s important to not only know your target media but also what they like. When discussing what makes a good story, our panel shared their tips.

Interesting Characters:

Every story needs to have someone the audience can connect with.

Different Perspective:

Go further in depth, cover it from a different angle that’s not been used before.

Be Open:

Don’t tell me how much money your company has, tell me how the money is being or will be spent. If not willing to talk about certain things, it devalues the story.

Quotes:

Speak with someone who is candid and gives the story some personality.

Pitching preferences

Social media allows new ways to pitch journalists, some embrace it, others still prefer email.

Timing is everything:

Not only does it help to know what your target media covers but also their deadline schedule. Don’t pitch on a Wednesday if the deadline is on Thursday, instead pitch on a Monday, when we’re looking for stories.

No need to follow up:

I received your email pitch. If I don’t call, I’m not interested.

Coaching not required:

PR pros: Be transparent, allow access to the source. Having an open one-on-one conversation with the client is important, beats interviewing someone reading a script.

Embargos:

Are not dead. The panel all agreed that at the very least they would look at it, not necessarily do a story on it.

Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn:

FB seems to be more personal. Twitter has become the go-to tool for journalists to look up people, story ideas and get background information on a particular individual/topic.

Future of Journalism

The truth is no one knows what the future of journalism will look like in 5-10 years. What we do know is that journalism is constantly changing. As more publications continue to go under, some will shift from print to online, following the current trend of specialized publications. With fewer reporters covering this current online, social media, 24/7 news cycle, publications will face new challenges that will reshape the current landscape of journalism again.


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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