Business Wire Promotes 3 Top Media Relations Experts: Raschanda Hall, Pilar Portela and Matthew Allinson

November 13, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Earlier today, Business Wire announced the promotions of three media relations experts, Raschanda Hall, Director of Global Media Relations, Pilar Portela, Media Relations Manager, U.S., and Matthew Allinson, Media Relations Manager, International.  Business Wire has the most media relations experts in the newswire industry.  Each day, this team works with large and small media outlets across the globe to ensure the widest visibility and usage of our client’s press releases.

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Meet Raschanda

Raschanda has spent the last 14 years leading Business Wire’s global media relations team through the fast-paced, changing media landscape, utilizing her formidable communication skills, understanding of emerging technology, and pioneering social media presence to expand Business Wire’s reach to media and influencers worldwide. Raschanda’s focus is on strategies to further establish and expand Business Wire’s circuit offerings and targeted delivery using the latest technology and communications tools. Her work provides Business Wire the advantage in reaching both traditional, online, trade and specialty press and social media audiences around the world.

Raschanda is an active member of many journalism and PR industry organizations including the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Publicity Club of Chicago, ColorComm and the National Black Public Relations Society where she serves as Vice President of the Chicago chapter.  She is based in Chicago and is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans. You can follow Raschanda on Twitter at @RaschandaHall.

PilarMeet Pilar

Pilar has been with Business Wire for 18 years and joined the Media Relations department 6 years ago.  In her current role, she oversees the U.S. Media Relations team and is responsible for developing, maintaining, and expanding relationships with the Southeast and Multicultural media, especially U.S. Hispanic. In recent years, she has been a key player in developing Business Wire’s LatinoWire circuits, speaking on industry panels and cultivating relationships with Hispanic journalists and media properties.

Pilar is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists where she has served as Officer At Large for 4 years. Based in Miami, Pilar is a graduate of New York University (NYU) with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where she earned an MBA.

Matt 1Meet Matt

Matt has spent the past 12 years in various roles within Business Wire’s International Media Relations Department. He has endeavored to enhance Business Wire’s global reach by coordinating licensing agreements, developing partnerships with international news outlets, cultivating relationships with journalists in all corners of the globe, and directing a staff of media relations professionals in Canada, Europe, and Asia. Matt is also an active member of the Western Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and regularly organizes media events in the Pacific Northwest.

Originally from Colorado, Matt has spent the past 4years in Seattle. He has a degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Colorado and a certificate in Social Media Implementation from the University of Washington.

Business Wire’s media relations team covers the world from Business Wire offices in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, Toronto, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo.


The Perfect Recipe for the PR Professional: Data, Multimedia & Engagement

October 21, 2014

By Jennifer Dunn, Senior Account Executive, Business Wire

In today’s world of marketing and PR, one of the topics constantly being discussed is “big data and measurement.” For some, this is an exciting topic; for others it may seem overwhelming because there is so much information to digest. I fall somewhere in between as I believe it’s all in how the information is conveyed to me in regards to whether or not I will find the information stale or enlightening. One could compare this to – what makes news or a press release more engaging – think straight text releases vs. ones with photos or video.

perfect recipe for pr professional

I attended a number of sessions at PRSA International in Washington, D.C., October 12-14th, but have to say, by far, the one that really stuck with me was “Big Data and Analytics for Communications Pros: Why the Math Matters” with Mike Buckley, VP of global business communications at Facebook as the featured speaker. Not only did he provide great insight on how data can be utilized to measure results, but was engaging and honest.

Interesting Points from Buckley’s session:

  • “There is more data created in one day than grains of sand on every beach in the world.”
  • “Use data to understand what is going on. Embrace it.”
  • “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
  • “Understand the cycle, shorten the cycle, get ahead of the cycle using data.” Math grounded some of Facebook’s major business decisions such as the purchase of Instagram. They received lots of negative press, but they just rode it out and now FCBK and Instagram are two of the fastest-growing mobile apps.
  • “Look at social chatter as part of your analytics.”
  • “Your Facebook algorithm is governed by your actions. Choices have to be made and great content is key.”
  • “Data is not everything. It can be complex. Data will never replace human judgment and interaction.” This was probably the most powerful statement Buckley made during his presentation. He followed it by showing the video of John Berlin, a father whose son passed away January 28, 2012. Berlin had made a plea to Facebook trying to access his son’s “Look Back Video.” The entire crowd was just silent after seeing the video. Buckley said the video went viral and Facebook did reach out to John Berlin providing him access to his late son’s video.

What really made this session such a success, was the combination of Buckley’s presentation style and the use of engaging visuals/audio. Not once did I find myself disengaged from the discussion. I, along with the rest of the audience, was captivated throughout the entire session. Buckley successfully took a topic that can at times be dry and not exciting to some, and simplified it by relating to his audience, showing how they can make “big data” part of your everyday communications cycle.

This session really proved the importance of embracing data and including social analytics as part of that data and measurement. Further, it showed the impact multimedia can have on increasing overall engagement and word-of-mouth marketing.


Don’t Miss the Upcoming Webinar “The Business of Sports”

June 5, 2014
Jake Toplitt, Account Supervisor at Matter, Inc

Webinar moderator Jake Toplitt

The pressure is on. You have been put in charge of getting coverage for a top sports brand.  You begin your press campaign by writing a compelling release which you promptly distribute, patiently waiting for signs of interest.  You want a journalist that will sing praises about your brand or maybe a mere mention. But instead you find silence. What went wrong? Wouldn’t it be great to learn from someone on the inside who can share insights on the business side of a major sports outlet?

Danny Ecker, Reporter/Producer (Sports Business), Crain's Chicago Business

Danny Ecker, Reporter/Producer (Sports Business), Crain’s Chicago Business

On June 12, Business Wire is giving PR professionals the opportunity to learn everything from sports-oriented product pitches and endorsements to coverage of the biggest news in professional and collegiate athletics with a webinar titled “The Business of Sports.” The webinar will feature a panel of leading journalists from the world of broadcast and print.

“So many story pitches that show up in my inbox are generic. I am constantly deleting emails from PR people that are so obviously casting a wide net and trying to get a reporter to bite,” said Danny Ecker, who writes for Crain’s Chicago Business and will be speaking on the panel. “Covering sports business often requires looking at the world of sports the way most people don’t and highlighting everything except what’s happening on the main stage.”

Hugo Balta, Coordinating Producer, ESPN

Hugo Balta, Coordinating Producer, ESPN

Another speaker is Hugo Balta, a coordinating producer for ESPN. Balta has mentioned on many occasions the importance of doing your homework when pursuing a journalist or outlet. His philosophy is to research the outlet so you can begin to understand what they’re trying to achieve. Then you can tailor your client to what specifically meets the needs of the journalist.

Kristi A. Dosh, Esq., Sports Business Analyst, Public Relations Exec.& College Sports Consultant

Kristi A. Dosh, Esq., Sports Business Analyst, Public Relations Exec.& College Sports Consultant

The panel also includes Kristi Dosh, who is a Sports Business Analyst, Public Relations Exec. & College Sports Consultant. Moderating the event is sports marketing professional Jake Toplitt, Account Supervisor for Matter Inc. All of the panelists bring years of experience working for sports outlets and will effectively reveal powerful pitching tips and advice for reaching sports journalists and influential outlets.

Sign up and be prepared to learn about unexplored opportunities for coverage from leading professionals working in the field.

Register Now


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.


Business Wire Spotlight: Meet Greg Blazina

May 16, 2014
Greg_Blazina

Greg Blazina , Regional Manager, Eastern Canada, Business Wire


Canada employee spotlight Q&A – Greg Blazina

Where are you from?
Born and raised in Toronto

What is your background? Did you ever work for a newswire or similar type of company? If so, what was your role at that company and how long have you been working in the industry?
I have worked in the newswire and content distribution industry for 13 years. I started in the newsroom and then moved to newsroom supervisor before eventually managing accounts.

When did you start working for Business Wire and have you had any other roles at Business Wire?  If so, what were your previous positions?
I joined Business Wire in April of 2011 as an Account Executive with a focus on the Toronto market.  At the start of 2013, I was promoted to Regional Manager, overseeing Business Wire clients in Eastern Canada.

So what do you do for Business Wire? Please sum up your role and responsibilities.
I’m responsible for ensuring Business Wire continues to grow throughout Eastern Canada; and I support our local newsroom and media relations teams.  In addition, I continue to monitor the impact of technical, social and behavioral changes upon news consumption.

What do you enjoy about your job?
Being involved with Canada marketing initiatives, and helping companies achieve their communication goals are, without a doubt, my favorite part of the job. Business Wire’s news and content distribution methods have made a big difference for so many of our customers.

What do you like about Business Wire?
What I really like about Business Wire is our open and honest approach to everything. From working with clients to internal projects, everyone is very passionate about the company, industry and doing things the right way.

What are some key achievements/contributions you have had at BW?
I’m proud to have helped many companies find an efficient, effective method to disseminate their news and raise visibility of created content. This has resulted in continued growth for Business Wire in the Canadian market since I started three years ago.

Please give a brief summary of what you hope to accomplish for your department and BW.
Business Wire has very unique offerings that enable our clients to meet a wide range of communication goals – from disclosure to product launches, we provide a complete distribution solution. I want to continue helping companies understand how to apply these features to best serve the Canadian market.

Tell us about yourself. (Your background, education, interests, hobbies, music, books, pets, family, etc.)
My wife and 3 kids (Jordyn, Lukas and Rachel) provide me with a very fulllife! Aside from that, I’m a huge hockey fan, a long-time Detroit Red Wings fan. Any book that makes me think and learn about life is also of interest to me. While it is definitely hard for me to narrow my favorite music groups down, I grew up listening to Green Day, Bush and Blink 182 before eventually falling love with the classics — Bob Dylan, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix. Today I listen to a wider variety of music.

What drives you to do what you do every day at Business Wire?
 I believe in what we do, and how we do it.

What is your favorite thing about living in Canada?
Celebrating all four seasons. I enjoy the sun and the snow, but most of all, I love the seasons in between.

Please give us some comments about the Canadian market and what BW does that makes us a great fit in that market.
Business Wire has been distributing news for Canadian businesses for decades.  And why not? We continue to provide so much for Canadian businesses. Our unique distribution agreements and content spotlight services provide something most newswire veterans never dreamed would be possible. Not only is Business Wire’s distribution impressive, but the monitoring reports are outstanding.

What are some top reasons why you would recommend Business Wire to Canadian companies?
Business Wire is an exceptional company and our Canadian office is no different. We have an outstanding team and provide a strong ROI-Based news and content distribution service.


PR Pros Bridging Industry’s Divide with Social Media

April 25, 2014

In case you missed it, Business Wire’s editor Luke O’Neill  wrote an article in PR Daily that discusses the gap between social and PR . In the story Luke discusses how social media is part of the requirements for a PR professional including how traditional media consolidation and the rise of social media as a channel for news and commentary were the main forces merging the two sides.

Some of the key focus points include:

  • The best communication programs use both traditional PR and social messaging to ensure maximum reach and return on investment.
  • PR people should embrace the idea that different people from their organization are communicating interactively online.
  • Organizations have embraced social by inserting social sharing prompts within their news releases to initiate sharing from the release end.

    business-pros-bridgePlease give us your thoughts on the story. Does this change your view on the role of a public relations practitioner?

 

 

Read the full story http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/16291.aspx#
Retweet the story https://twitter.com/BusinessWire/status/459048767010775040


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