The Sweet 16: Business Wire’s Most Read, Viewed and Shared Content of 2014

December 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Content

Are You Ready for PR in 2015?  

As 2014 winds down, we at Business Wire are taking one last look backwards.  After all, there were some huge changes in 2014 that disrupted the way news content was showcased, distributed and adopted.

As we look towards a PR-friendly new year, we wanted to share the articles, videos and blog posts that your communication colleagues turned to this year so we can help you launch successful communications program in 2015!

How to write a press release:

The real reasons why your press releases need to include images:

Understanding media relations:

The role of measurement in PR

How Business Wire generates success for large and small companies alike [CASE STUDIES]

What are we missing?  What tips or tools do you plan on implementing in 2015?  Let us know in the comment box below.


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


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.


PR Trends for 2014 Focus of Business Wire Houston Event

March 28, 2014
By Cindy Cantu, Senior CSR, Business Wire Houston

All things social

This is the year of the empowered customer, according to Business Wire’s Director of Social & Evolving Media Serena Ehrlich. “It is up to YOU to create your brand differential and up to US to guide you through how to do it,” she told the audience at Business Wire Houston’s event, “All Things Social – Maximize Your PR in 2014” on March 26th.

Attendees from various industries including energy, biotechnology and pharmaceutical, as well as numerous media and marketing professionals, heard all about how social media is having a major impact on today’s press release. The old method of packing in keywords and hyperlinks in your press release to boost your Google ranking was made obsolete after Google launched its Hummingbird and Penguin updates, Ehrlich said.

Now, the focus is on a well-written, quality press release that can be shared via social media by you and other readers, plus will attract coverage from journalists and bloggers. One tip to consider is to add helpful links to your owned media (website, Twitter handle or blog, etc.)  at the end of every press release. Adding a ClickToTweet link, embedded with a Google URL Builder is also a good idea. If you do receive additional coverage from other media, it’s important to share those articles through your own social media channels too, she added.

Another sure-fire way to increase your readership and overall PR success is to add multimedia to your releases. Research shows releases with images or video receive three times more engagement and impressions than plain-text news on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, making multimedia no longer optional for today’s releases. Ehrlich said.

All-things-social-pic-2-lo-res

Serena Ehrlich explains “the year of the empowered customer” using social and multimedia.

One recent example of multimedia having a huge impact happened at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Surrounded by all of the giants in the technology industry, a relatively small company named mophie sparked major interest in their “space pack” product by simply adding a photo to their press release. They had one of the most popular releases among all CES exhibitors, Ehrlich said. Both release views and multimedia downloads surpassed 20K shortly after the release was issued.

Navigating through the current changes in the PR world can be daunting. Business Wire works hard to stay on top of the latest news and trends so it can share the information with its clients. Visit the Business Wire Newsroom and read the BusinessWired blog to be informed.

 

Like this blog post?  Tweet it out by clicking here: http://ctt.ec/m74wd

 


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.


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!


PR Lessons from New York City

December 3, 2013
by Erica Schuckies, Account Executive

I recently traveled to New York City for the first time and experienced the bright lights, crowded streets and unique atmosphere that only NYC can provide.

During my five-day trip, we crammed in as many activities and “touristy” sights as possible, which allowed me to leave the city with a list of takeaways applicable to my day job, working in the PR industry.

The busy streets of NY

1.     Come prepared for anything and everything.

While packing for my trip, I struggled with what to bring. The forecast called for normal November NYC temperatures, but being a Texan, I was lacking legit cold-weather attire. Luckily, I decided to bring layering options and was able to bundle myself sufficiently so I didn’t freeze. This turned out to be a fantastic decision, as it was bone-cold and even snowed! Even if I didn’t wear every piece of clothing I packed, I couldn’t have been happier for the opportunity to stay warm.

In PR, it is crucial to be prepared for anything.  Whether you are attending a client event, holding a press conference or making an important pitch, you must have all the necessary tools – and then some – at your disposal. Not everything goes as planned, and in fact, you should expect at least one wrench in your plans. Thinking twice about that spare power cord? Bring it. Extra cell phone battery? You better believe it. And while you’re at it, throw in an extra order of patience and composure. Being over-prepared is your best defense against failure. Not to mention, your client/boss will thank you.

2.     Go with the flow.

Our final evening called for a “show” of some sort, details of which were curiously lacking from my brother, who planned the evening. I had expected to sit back (off my poor, achy feet) and take in an entertaining hour or two. Our schedule had been jam-packed all day, every day and I was ready for a break. As it turned out, the show was an “interactive play,” where the set was an entire abandoned warehouse and we followed actors through different rooms and staircases to take in the story. The building was incredibly dark and spooky, neither of which I am particularly fond. Every step felt like exploring a haunted house with an axe murderer waiting around the corner. As the play went on, I was able to suck it up and roam the creepy, pitch black hallways with less fear. Eventually, I became more involved and interested in the story’s plot, wanting to know what would happen next to each character.

It’s no secret that PR is unpredictable, but the name of the game is flexibility, even in the face of chaos. When things don’t go as planned, the key to success is to keep a positive attitude and an open mind to other options allowing you to reach your final goal. This can relate to impatient clients, uncompromising team members or difficult event/work locations. Don’t be afraid to try Plan B (or C or D) if Plan A has failed. After all, it did take Thomas Edison nearly 1,000 tries to successfully invent the light bulb.

3.     There is always someone willing to help.

The NYC subway system can appear to be a hot mess to us outsiders My brother, who had lived in the city for nearly six months at the time we visited, was still perfecting his knowledge of the schedules and routes of the many train options. One day, we must have looked particularly clueless, because not one, but two locals stopped and offered to help us get to our desired destination.

Need help? Don’t understand something? Creative mind block? Ask someone for help! While the obvious individuals to seek out are managers, coworkers and colleagues, these can also include family members, friends, significant others, or even a friendly stranger. Sometimes, an outside perspective can do wonders for a campaign, idea, problem or issue. In the end, when that advice has resulted in success, all parties involved will come out on top.

And, let me say this loud and clear: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  No one should consider themselves too skilled/knowledgeable/experienced/creative to need a little assistance now and then.

4.     Things are not always as they seem.

My brother lives in Harlem.  Cue every movie, television show and song you know that portrays Harlem in a bad light. Because these things were the only exposure of the area I had, my impression of Harlem was a place you should avoid during dark of night and while walking alone with sparkly jewelry and expensive clothing. My brother swore I was wrong, but I still had my doubts. Even when we visited his apartment, the outside of the building was a bit… aged. However, upon entering his unit, I was surprised to see that the appliances and cabinets were nearly brand-new, the floors were hardwood and the space was quite charming. At this point, we can cut to me apologizing to my brother, in a rather embarrassed manner. Harlem is a true testament to not jumping to conclusions. I realized I was too quick to judge from what I thought I knew was true.

The PR lesson in this will be going in a different direction than you might expect. During the initial planning for a client or product campaign/project, there is probably an obvious message and reason for the campaign. Instead of going with the easy option, give it a few extra minutes of thought. Step into the head of your audience and consider what else might resonate with them at that point in time. For a timely example, instead of the “Top Christmas Gift Ideas” pitch, try an approach that takes a look at the “Most Returned Christmas Gifts” so people know what NOT to buy. While this theory may require a bit more time, your return on your investment will be worth it.

5.     Don’t fret over missed opportunities.

On a Monday morning, my father and I decided to navigate the subway system on an early morning trip to the gym. What we did not realize was that we would be part of the Monday morning rush hour of New Yorkers heading to work. Big mistake. Not only were we newbies to the dizzying train schedule, but we weren’t exactly sure we were even going in the right direction. We were seriously annoying the locals. One train, in particular, was so jam-packed with people, the riders on the outside had to literally suck in their guts to avoid the doors closing on them. One look at my father and we both knew: We’re not getting on this train. By the way, I strongly believe that New Yorkers develop the ability to glance at a crowded train and know exactly how many people can still fit. It’s a necessary skill for survival of the fittest. But I digress…

After missing that train, I panicked a little. We started to wonder how in the heck we were going to find our way and which train we should take next. Not two minutes later, another train of the same line pulled up and opened its doors to a much less crowded interior. The train took us easily to the location we desired and I realized my minor freak-out was for nothing. #overreaction

If you’ve been in the PR industry for any small amount of time, chances are pretty good that you’ve been told ‘no.’ Chances are even greater that you’ve been completely ignored. The first thing that many of us do after a missed opportunity is to dwell on what went wrong. Instead of staying in this valley of sorrow, swallow your pride and focus on the next open possibility. DO acknowledge and fix any mistakes made, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by lingering over the missed opportunity. If you get called out for it, apologize (if necessary) and point out what you are doing to take advantage of the next opportunity, which may turn out even better than the passed chance.

6.     Wear comfortable shoes.

As you may know, walking is the main form of transportation in NYC. While locals are seasoned experts at walking everywhere, a tourist can quickly go wrong by wearing the incorrect pair of shoes. Let me give you a tip: fashion should not be a major factor when dressing for sightseeing, even in New York City. After 4+ hours of walking, my body and mind were eager for more, but my feet and legs were not on par. The culprit was the pair of oh so fab boots I’d chosen for the day’s outfit. What I failed to consider was that my pain would overshadow my desire to continue our jaunt around the city. Also keep in mind that most of the NYC pictures you take will be of the tall buildings and unique scenery, cutting your footwear completely out of the frame.

I’ll reiterate here: PR is unpredictable, fast-paced and energetic. Running around a client event in wobbly, strappy heels will not benefit you or your client, no matter how perfect the shoes go with your dress. Remember this equation: Long hours + painful feet = grumpy PR pro. If you know you’ll be on-the-go, the fashion side of me reminds you not to wear sneakers with an evening gown, but my sensible side recommends that you skip the five-inch stilettos for a pair of equally good-looking and more comfortable wedges or flats.

Have you ever been to a place that inspired your career or lifestyle? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment below or tweet me at @the_erica_hour.


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