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.

 

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Raleigh-Durham Media Discuss Journalism Trends, Press Release Tips

March 28, 2012

by Penny Sowards, Client Services Representative, Business Wire Charlotte

Business Wire hosted a “Meet the Media” luncheon at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center in Durham on March 15.  Panelists included Rick Martinez, News Director, NewsRadio 680 WPTF; Rick Smith, Business and Technology Manager, WRAL-TV, and David Bracken, Assistant Business Editor, The News & Observer. Kristi Lee-John, Principal at Crossroads Public Relations, was moderator.

Panelists discussed current trends in journalism and tips on effective pitching.

L-R: David Bracken, Rick Smith, Rick Martinez. Kristi Lee-John, moderator at podium

Important points made during the discussion:

  • Make sure someone from your company is available by phone or email at all times after making an announcement
  • Keep the lead information at the top
  • Have all answers available if possible
  • Pitch should always be professional and go to the appropriate reporters
  • Subject line on emails should be “to the point”
  • The company website is very important to journalists for gathering information
  • Blogs are a great tool and have great potential provided quality is there
  • Make an effort to contact the media before 3 p.m.
  • No jargon-filled releases

The journalists all agreed that press releases are important and relevant in conveying news to the media. Specific guidelines were discussed on what the media deems a good press releases:

  • Headlines should be clear and to the point
  • The focus of the news should be at the beginning of the release
  • Bullet points are a great tool to create a clear and concise message to the reader
  • Multimedia and web links are great added features to make the release more informative and interesting.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


Editor’s Corner: Grammar Snob Alert! Who vs. Whom Demonstrates Usage in Transition

September 13, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Who vs. whom, which is it? 

 “Look it up.”

This was my fellow university newspaper staffers’ reply to a grammar question, accompanied by an AP Manual flying toward my head.  I’m far from an expert, so, when confronted with the question of who or whom, I looked it up… and found confusion.

Why?  Apparently we’ve changed how particular we are about the correct usage and now find whom awkward in some instances – mostly when our misuse is corrected.  

In a typical press release, the sentence structure is simple and doesn’t call for complication.  The characters you write about are usually getting hired or promoted, maybe sued, so the trick for determining which usage is correct revolves around this: Who is a subject and whom is an object.  Or, who does stuff while stuff happens to whom

 Who came up with this idea?  We, they, he or she came up with this idea.

 We can’t tell for whom the package is.  Awkward, isn’t it?  But correct useage tell us the package is for them, us, her or him.

If the people being replaced in your sentence are committing the action, they are replaced with who.  If they’re just there, near the action, replace them with whom.

 Give this to someone who knows how to use it.  Even if it’s not an actual action.

 Without an address, we didn’t know to whom the package belonged.  Guess it’s for us.

 Whoever and whomever work in the same manner.

 Whoever finds the keys gets a reward.  If he or she finds the keys.

 We will look for the keys in the pockets of whomever we meet.  We meet them.

Some of these feel strange to say.  If you saw a birthday cake in your break room, would you ask, “For whom is this cake?”  Or, would you ask, “Who’s the cake for?” 

Will there be a “grammar snob” around who is still willing to correct us?  I wouldn’t count on it.  But, why wait on someone else when you can do it yourself?

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.


Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Presenting Quotes in Press Releases

July 20, 2011

by Andrew Guinn, Graveyard Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Nashville

Andrew Guinn

by Andrew Guinn, Newsroom Supervisor, BW Nashville

Writing for an audience of business journalists can be tedious.  You want your story to catch their eye, but the language of business news ties your hands and holds you to a monotonous retelling of the latest bond offering or board meeting.  You want to make the release personal and add some zing, but your boss (or client) doesn’t want you to editorialize for them… so, why not let them do it for you?  By asking the right questions, you can build a palette of quotations to break up the rhythm of business speak and breathe a little life into your release.

As the narrator of business news, you convey the facts and answer the “5 W’s.”  Anything you say which attempts to judge these facts without attribution will lead to the dreaded question: “Says who?”  With quotations, not only can you tell the reader how your company feels about its news, you can relay how you think they should feel about it.  You also provide business journalists with the tools necessary to make their story about your news seem as though it resulted from an actual interview, not just a press release.

Once you have the quotes you need, you should present them in the proper manner.  To demonstrate, I’ll quote myself during the rest of this entry.  (I wouldn’t try this at home, unless you’re your own boss.)

“A standard, run-of-the-mill quote starts out like this,” said Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire Nashville.  “Simply take the first full idea the speaker said and follow it with the attribution.  The first mention of the speaker should give their full name, title and company.”

For simple quotes like this, the punctuation should always be placed inside the quotation marks.  Since the attribution is complex, the verb should come first so it is not tacked on to the end like an afterthought.  (“This is an example of what not to do,” Andrew Guinn, Editor, Business Wire, said.)  On further references to a speaker who has already been mentioned, only their last name is necessary.

“In hard news, the preferred verb for an attribution is ‘said,’” Guinn said.  “Words like ‘commented,’ ‘stated’ and ‘says’ are fine for fluffy features, but, since most hard news is written in the past tense, quotes should be finite – the speaker said these words.

“Notice I left the quotation mark off the end of the last paragraph.  If the statement you’re quoting continues into a new paragraph spoken by the same person, you can use a continuing quote like this and not need to add another attribution.  You can carry on in this manner for as long as you need, but, if you change speakers, you’ll need to start a new paragraph and a new quote.”

If you need to introduce the quote, but don’t want to use an entire paragraph or sentence to do it, “you can use a partial quote,” Guinn said.  “This is especially helpful if the idea you’re trying to convey is based on this person’s opinion, if your speaker wasn’t concise or if you simply need to establish context not provided in the quote.”

These are the three most common types of quotations you’ll encounter writing a standard press release.  For further information, the Associated Press Stylebook is considered by many to be the “journalist’s bible.”  Of course, you can always feel free to contact your local Business Wire office and speak with an editor who will be more than happy to assist you.

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.


Editor’s Corner: Avoid Press Release Buzzkill with George Orwell’s Writing Tips

May 24, 2011

By Rebecca Bennett, Editor, Business Wire Seattle

by Rebecca Bennett, Editor, BW Seattle

While there’s plenty a PR pro can do to draw attention to press releases – solid SEO terms, attractive multimedia, for example –  simple language should not be underestimated. 

Straightforward language in the body of a release can be a big asset in establishing credibility and gaining traction.  Those writing press releases should avoid buzzwords and industry jargon that work against clear messaging, opting for brevity and conciseness.

In 2010, PR strategist Adam Sherk compiled a list of the most common buzzwords in press releases to demonstrate how a company’s perceived innovation may serve as a buzzkiller when it provokes eyerolls from editors and journalists who read dozens of press releases daily. 

Writers of press releases are wise to consider George Orwell’s Five Rules of Good Writing (actually six rules) included in his famous 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.

Here they are:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Rules two and five are especially relevant to press release writers.  Keeping it brief can help your budget, since press release distribution costs are based on word count.  Avoiding jargon and obtuse language clearly communicates your message.

Business Wire’s website has plenty of press release pointersPRFilter.com is a great aggregator of press releases–useful for a PR professional to compare frequency of words across industries. 

Also, don’t hesitate to contact your local newsroom and/or account executive for feedback.

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

Don’t Let Your Press Releases Get Lost Without Translations

April 14, 2011
by Daniel Blue, Senior Editor, International Desk

Daniel Blue, Senior Editor, International Desk

Daniel Blue, Senior Editor, International Desk

Businesses who want to rush their international releases sometimes ask us to skip translations. Translations take time, and if  English is indeed “the universal language of business,” why not leave out that middle step?

When clients ask this of the International Desk, we suggest they consider the following:

  • Partners in China, Japan, France, Russia, Latin America and Eastern Europe (among others) don’t accept English-only copy at all. In other words, English-only releases won’t be received by several of the largest markets in the world.
  • Agence France-Presse, the French version of the Associated Press, will not send in English to certain areas of the world. AFP is one of the world’s three largest news agencies, and when it doesn’t distribute your news, the lost exposure is significant.
  • If a release isn’t translated, it won’t show up in that language on the Business Wire website. Nor will it be aggregated into newsfeeds by the Chinese, Japanese and other non-English services that scrape our news pages. That’s another huge missed opportunity.

So who does receive releases sent only in English?

A few large markets will accept these, notably, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, India, Spain, Italy, and Scandinavia.   Also, certain international journalists that have specifically asked for English copy will receive the feed from from Business Wire though our Press Pass program.

But how many people in those countries will actually read the release?

While some viewers will be fluent in English, many will not, and pick-up is bound to be limited by not having the release in the native tongue.

Bottom line: use translations. They’re part of the price, and if you want to look them over beforehand, we’re glad to oblige.  But don’t hobble your coverage by refusing to use them at all.


Photo, Good Headline, and Newsworthiness Will Get Your Press Release Noticed

March 29, 2011
by Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist
Sandy Malloy

Sandy Malloy

When comparing measurement reports from different releases, clients often ask why one news release received more views than another.  The question arose recently in the context of a release that proved to be far more popular than another despite the client’s perception that the latter was more “important” news and the release was more widely distributed.

I won’t explore the rationale for choosing one distribution over another, but I WILL comment on factors that can make a press release popular.  In this particular case, the more popular release had a photo. 

As we’ve noted before, releases with multimedia receive 1.7 times more reads than those without.  This release was no exception.  Multimedia not only attracts viewers who want to see or  download the photo or play the video, photos and videos attract more viewers, period.  The visual Web loves multimedia, which grabs attention.

A second trait of popular releases is a good headline.   It’s such an important component of an effective news release that we’ve presented webinars on this topic.  The more popular release in this case had a succinct headline that clearly stated what the release was about and why it should be of interest to the reader.  Remember that although search-friendly keywords in your release are very important, many people will see your headline on our site, on their mobile devices, in RSS feeds or email and decide whether or not to click through.  Headlines make that first impression, and just as you don’t get a second chance to impress in the real world, nor does your press release.

Finally, make sure the release is truly newsworthy.  This list of news release-writing tips from PRSA’s blog is typical in making newsworthiness Tip #1.


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