Social Media Press Releases, Like Color TVs, Have Been Coopted: They’re ALL Press Releases

November 1, 2011

by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Services Specialist

Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist

The term “social media press release” surfaces from time to time to describe a release crafted especially to appeal to the tweeting/blogging/posting crowd that comprises its purported target audience.  On its face, there is nothing wrong with this concept.  We advise crafting Google-friendly, keyword-rich headlines to make sure search engines can find press releases.

But using a separate label and special (sometimes truly ugly) formatting to create a press release specifically for sharing misses the point.  That idea may have had merit when introduced five years ago, but it now seems as dated as hailing color TV or air mail.    Today, EVERY press release should serve as a “social media press release” (search-engine-friendly and easy-to share press release) if the person crafting it does the job properly.

Business Wire recently revamped its news display to encourage and facilitate sharing.  Many of these features  enhance the social media value of releases without making them unreadable by a person with a normal attention span.  The most significant enhancements from a social media perspective are the prominence of sharing icons for popular sites (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and the ability to share photos and videos as discrete assets.

Below we’ve listed basic tips for building effective, web-friendly, news releases that will be found, seen and shared.  Take a look:

  • Create a short but descriptive headline
  • Put the most important information in the first paragraph
  • Don’t just tell, SHOW–include multimedia
  • Know the audience you want to reach
  • Be clear about why that audience should care

I recently reviewed videos submitted by public relations students for Business Wire’s College Video contest on The Future of Public Relations. Even though the students acknowledged the importance of social media, some speculating on future technological changes, an important thread emerged from their presentations:  effective press releases rely less on technology than on the personal connections that the press release content makes with the audience.

At its best, a “social media press release” makes that connection so those reading it feel compelled to pass it along.


Mayday! Mayday! Monthlong Focus on Press Release Measurement Aims to Answer Questions

May 4, 2011

May brings a focus on measurement at Business Wire,  with upgrades to our reporting tools and dashboard, a white paper on press release measurement, and a FREE May 18 webinar that explores clocking the ROI of your press release efforts.

Why the big focus on measurement?

Our clients demanded it.  Plenty of buzz but no consensus abounds on who has influence, what should be valued, and what’s working when it comes to press releases.  Our Mayday focus hopes to address your “measurement emergencies,” dispel some of the confusion and provide concrete tips on how to get the most out of your press releases.

Here’s resources we’ve lined up:

FREE White Paper  PR Measurement:  Creating the Return on Marketing Investment

FREE May 18 Webinar Clocking the Return on Marketing Investment of Your Press Releases

Overview Newstrak Report Improvements

PR Peeps Poll What press release metric do you most value?


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: 43 Percent Cite Driving Traffic as Primary Objective in Optimizing Press Releases

November 3, 2010

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

When it comes to optimizing press releases for search engines, most PR Peeps do it to drive traffic to their websites, the October PR Peeps Poll found.  Of 240 polled, 103–that is, 43%–cited driving traffic as their primary goal in applying search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to their press releases.

Standard SEO techniques for press releases include working keywords into the headline and lead, providing deep links to your web site, adding multimedia such as logos, photos, or video, and keeping the headline under 70 characters so it is most likely to be indexed by Google news.

The poll results are not surprising given that the objective of most press releases is to tell the story of the issuer.  One of the best ways to do that is to lure people to your website so they can hear your organization’s story in your organization’s words–full text, unedited, unfiltered by journalists, bloggers or others.

The second most common reason cited for optimizing press release for search engines was to “influence Google search engine results” with 69 votes, or 29%.   Shortly behind was “manage reputation” with 36 votes, or 15%, followed by 25 respondents who don’t optimize their press releases for search engines (10%) and 7 respondents pegging “generate link clicks” as their main objective in applying SEO tactics to press releases.

The poll was conducted throughout the month of October through Twitter, Facebook, email and Business Wire’s webinars.   Details below:

What is your primary objective in optimizing your press release for search engines?

103, or 43%–Drive traffic to our website

69, or 29%–Influence Google search engine results

36, or 15%–Manage our brand and reputation

25, or 10%–I don’t optimize my press releases for search engines

7, or 3%   —  Generate link clicks

To those who participated, thanks for taking the PR Peeps Poll.   How about helping us with the next one?  The November poll launches today.   What is your company’s preferred form of social media outreach?

Thanks for the help.

240 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  October 1 – 31, 2010.


Breaking News: Press Release STILL Not Dead

September 28, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

Will the death wish for the press release never cease?  Something about the approach of Day of the Dead each Fall seems to provoke fantasies of its demise.

A recent article in AdAge is a case in point.  Media columnist Simon Dumenco suggested that Twitter has made press releases obsolete.  “The long-suffering, much maligned press release, I’d argue, finally died this summer,” he wrote.    Dumenco pointed to Kanye West and other celebs as models of  how Twitter can replace press releases.

This just in: Press release still not dead

But then PR  people  (including yours truly)  chimed in, vigorously  rising to the press release’s defense.          

Among the comments:

 

            

“Dead?! Oh, Mr. Dumenco, I disagree.” –nravlin,    Burlington, VT

“There will always be a need for someone to encapsulate that great story, that feature, in a form which has shape and rationale and the emotional appeal which is what resonates with people’s fundamental needs.”–JustWrite, Los Angeles, CA

“Press releases aren’t dead, so let’s try to be a bit less argumentative and bit more informed, shall we?”–cameronb129, Baltimore, MD

“Yes, my industry has changed. I used to type news releases on an IBM Selectric. Now I compose them in a word processor, and embed hotlinks and keywords….the purpose of the news release itself hasn’t changed. And, luckily for my clients, neither have my results when it comes to writing and distributing news releases.”–Kathleen Hanover, Las Vegas

The discussion has churned for years.   Silicon Valley blogger Tom Foremski stirred up the nondebate back in 2006 with a now infamous rant, Die Press Release! Die! Die! Die!  I wrote about it right here almost exactly two years ago.  A Google search of the phrase “death of the press release” returns more than 19 million results.  And the AdAge article referenced above provoked more than 20 comments, a slew of blogposts, and an active discussion in the PRSA group on LinkedIn.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, press releases are here to stay.  They continue to serve as one of the most  useful, cost effective, enduring and yes–ubiquitous–tools in the marketing and communications arsenal. We can legitimately debate what to call them:  press releases, news releases, h-releases, social media releases, social media news releases.  But that’s another blogpost.     

For more on the State of the Press Release, check out our White Paper.


Twitter Tips Result from our What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release Webinar

August 20, 2010

We often post a recap of our webinars, hoping to offer the wisdom shared to those who couldn’t make it.  On Wednesday,  we staged What to Expect When You Tweet Your Press Release, and explored the ups and downs of using Twitter to supplement press release efforts.

Then we got lucky.  Our friends over at 451 Marketing in Boston did a fantasic recap of the webinar in their blogpost, Tips for Promoting Your News Via Twitter.   For that, we say thank you, Team 451, you saved us some work!

For those who want to access the webinar in its entirety or check out a PDF of the presentation, both are available in our webinar archive.


White Paper on The State of the Press Release Offers Tips for Maximizing their Success

July 13, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

As  a company that makes its living from press releases, we don’t pretend to be objective about their relevance and importance.  That said, we are REALLY TIRED of inflammatory and inaccurate headlines pronouncing the press release dead.   To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of (its) death have been greatly exaggerated.

We’re not alone in our view that the press release is alive and well.  And the data backs us up.

Here’s some facts from our recent white paper on the subject:

  • Just at Business Wire, we issue an average 1,000 press releases each work day (not that many on Saturdays and Sundays).
  • One study suggests 1.7 BILLION press releases are sent out via email each year.  That doesn’t include the millions sent on paid and unpaid services like Business Wire.
  • A decade ago, a press release would sit at the altar of journalists, hoping to be “picked up,” rewritten and published.  Today, it’s likely to skip gatekeepers altogether and jump straight to the screens of consumers. 
  • A recent survey suggested 92% of journalists get their ideas from press releases.

For more info and insights on the State of the Press Release, and tips on how to maximize their success, please check out our White Paper:  The State of the Press Release.   We invite you back here to share your comments. 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 


Press Release Case Study: From Press Release to Dr. Phil Show

June 22, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

A well-written press release, a heartfelt story, and a timely news hook  landed self-published author Jodi Bean on the Dr. Phil Show to promote her book and her cause.   How much did it cost?  Only $300.

Bean, of Alpine, Utah,  issued a press release on Business Wire’s Utah circuit on April 14  about her challenges raising a difficult adopted child from Belarus.   The story was especially compelling in the wake of the media furor over a Nashville mom who was vilified for sending her troubled adopted son back to Russia six months after his arrival because of violent behavior and psychological problems.

With help from online PR pro Janet Thaeler, Bean’s press release resulted in an April 30 story on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune with the headline “Preventing failed adoptions: Prospective parents need more info on childhood trauma.”   Bean’s book, Love Lessons and her Finding Hope Foundation,  were founded specifically to address those needs.

Shortly after the front page placement, and following an email follow-up, the Dr. Phil Show called.  By June 10 Jodi Bean was being interviewed on national television. 

” The important thing was to link to the book, her other appearances and to her foundation. These built trust and gave her credibility,” says Thaeler, author of the book I Need a Killer Press Release, Now What??.   Thaeler inserted useful, relevant links throughout the press release.  She also detailed the press release case study in a recent blogpost.

Apart from great media placements, Bean relayed that she went from selling two-three books a week, to two-three books a day. 

“It was my first press release and it was really successful,” says Bean.  “I’m going to do another one.”  

We’re glad to hear it.   Do you have an impressive press release case study that involves Business Wire services? Email monika.maeckle@businesswire.com


Why Add Links to your Press Releases? Ask Nieman Journalism Lab

June 11, 2010

 

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President, New Media

Still need convincing that adding hyperlinks to your press releases is a good idea?  Look no further than The Nieman Journalism Lab’s recent series on hyperlinking web content.

The Lab, a nonprofit based at Harvard which attempts to “help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age,” explores everything from why links are a good thing to how major journalism institutions are utilizing them–or not.  These conflicting attitudes seem to mirror those of the PR profession.  

When reading the series, if you substitute the words “public relations ” for “online journalism,” and “press release” for “storytelling,” you have an excellent tutorial on the wiles and ways of hyperlinking.    This should be required reading, folks.

Here’s the series with LINKS:

How News Orgs are using links–or not

How news orgs talk about links–what their policies and conflicts are.

Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink

If you’re wondering why we’re so bent on encouraging the use of hyperlinks, it’s because it’s in your interest and ours to have successful press releases.  Since our recent research suggests only 13.5% of you put links in your press releases, we’re urging those of you who don’t link to please get busy.


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.”

 


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