Follow the Top Unique Leading Leader

August 25, 2010

- by Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist

It’s a topic we’ve addressed before — buzzwords and jargon in press releases — but Mark McClennan at Schwartz Communications has come at it from a unique way. He took Adam Sherk’s list of the most overused words and phrases in press releases, and made a word cloud out of it. (If you’re unfamiliar with word clouds or tag clouds, they provide a visual representation, usually via size, of how frequently various words are used on a site or in a piece of text.) Seeing McClennan’s word cloud  really drives home how often some of these words are used:

most overused words

(Click for larger image)

Well, not much more to say, is there? It seems like, much as in Lake Wobegon, everyone’s a leader.


Editor’s Corner – July Edition: What’s all the Hype about Hyperlinks?

July 16, 2010

With 30 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.

What’s all the Hype about Hyperlinks?

Direct the Media and Viewers Beyond Your Home Page

Nicole DeJarnatt

BW Denver Editor Nicole DeJarnatt

From financial filings to product updates to new personnel announcements, it’s vital that today’s press release not only encourage your target audience to read your news, but to “click” through your text and go beyond the scope of your company’s home page.

Including a variety of “active” or “clickable” hyperlinks in your press release is an easy and cost-effective way to showcase a particular product and generate traffic to your website. Moreover, it enables your audience to learn more detailed information, keeping them engaged with your company longer, in a fresh and interactive way.

When adding hyperlinks to your press release, consider these tips:

  • Pick relevant, up-to-date links that reference a specific Web page, rather than generic links like your company home page. For example, emphasize your investor relations page, link to the registration site for an upcoming conference, showcase a product and where it can be purchased, or highlight executive bios/photos and personnel quoted within your release.
  • Don’t link your headline. This can actually hurt the searchability of your release on sites like Google.
  • Don’t wait for the boilerplate. Readers often skim the news so include links early on and not just in the “About” section.
  • Don’t repeat links. Mix it up and reference a variety of resources/Web pages.
  • Don’t overdo the blue. Too many links can actually flag your release as spam and make it hard for the reader to focus on what’s important. Business Wire recommends one link per 100 words.
  • Link to interactive multimedia like photos as well as video and audio clips.
  • Optimize and reinforce keywords/phrases with online search engines by hyperlinking them in your press release.
  • Copy/paste embedded hyperlinks whenever possible (i.e., don’t re-key long URLs).
  • Use Business Wire’s Short URL Generator to convert long URLs for use in your release and other marketing communications.
  • No dead links. Double check that all your links are live and working.
  • When uploading your company logo via Business Wire Connect (free), be sure to include the URL/link to your home page so readers are automatically directed there.
  • Gauge your return on investment by reviewing your NewsTrak reports to determine a summary of viewer interaction with your release, including links and click-throughs from referring URLs. Evaluate which keywords/phrases are getting hits and which aren’t, and adjust your media strategy accordingly.

Adding “active” and “clickable” hyperlinks expands the reach of your press release and transforms it from a basic public relations tool into an interactive online portal for media, analysts, investors and consumers. Now click your mouse three times and say…“There’s a better place than the home page.”

For questions about how to embed “active” and “clickable” links within your news release, contact your local Business Wire newsroom.

-Nicole DeJarnatt, Newsroom Editor, Business Wire Denver


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


Great Free Keyword Tools For Your Press Releases

June 18, 2010


In this edition of SEO Tip Jar I want to show you some free keyword tools that can start using today to supplement your press release and online content creation efforts.  Keyword tools are an excellent resource to help you optimize for search, generate new ideas, gauge the relative popularity of different keywords among searchers or even just learn some new words.   I’ve divided this post into two sections:

Keyword Generation Tools which give you ideas and statistics based on keywords you input

Quirky Keyword Tools which might seem a little out there at first but can help you look at related words in different ways and maybe even give you a few ideas.

Without further ado, let’s dig in to the tools!

Keyword Generation Tools

Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Suggestion Tool is the granddaddy of online keyword tools.  Wordtracker was started way back in 1997 and uses a database of search terms culled from popular “metacrawlers” Dogpile and Metacrawler to supplement its keyword suggestion engine with data on search volume.

Wordtracker’s tool is designed to give you keyword ideas and usage is simple.  Just enter a keyword and click the button.  You’ll receive the top 100 related keywords in order of search volume.

It’s worth noting that since search frequency data is not provided directly by Google, Yahoo or Bing you should probably look at the numbers to gauge relative popularity rather than a precise estimate of the traffic you may be competing for.

If you are a data geek and want even more numbers surrounding these results, you can also try SEOBook’s free keyword tool (registration required) which borrows suggestions from Wordtracker. If you want even more results you’ll need to subscribe to their paid plan which is $59 per month.

Wordstream’s Free Keyword tool is a relative newcomer but provides a bit more features than Wordtracker.  First off, Wordstream lets you put in more than one keyword at once.  This lets you more easily gauge popularity of different terms.  Second, and most importantly, Wordstream will provide you with a full list of matching keywords via e-mail rather than limiting results to the first 100.

Another difference between the two services is that Wordstream keywords are ranked with relative frequency rather than hard numbers, although this might actually make it easier for people to put all the keywords you generate in context.

They also assert that their keyword tools draw from the widest dataset, although the results returned seemed quite similar to Wordtracker in my limited tests.

Wordstream has another tool called the Keyword Niche Finder that aims to give you segmented result sets for niche keywords based a single keyword that you enter. enter.

Since the groups generated are likely to be seen as similar by search engines as well as news consumers I can see this tool being very useful for conceiving and building topic themes for, say, a related series of press releases, marketing messages and social media topics working in conjunction.

Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool is a favorite of many wordsmiths since it pulls recommendations and data directly from Google.  As the name suggests, this tool is designed to help Google AdWords advertisers and tends to show you very broad keywords with the most search activity by default (top recommendations for my keywords make sushi and learn Japanese were sushi making and Japanese sushi).  These recommendations and data provided can be useful for anyone crafting online content if you’re willing to mine through the results.

Here’s a tip to find more targeted keywords with the AdWords tool: sort by Global Monthly Searches from low to high and work your way up the list until you find a sweet spot of targeted keywords with significant traffic.  You could also supplement your research with Google Trends for even more data.

Quirky Keyword Tools

Sometimes you just need to take a more different look at things.  The following tools can help you spot trends and relationships among all the words floating around the web.

SEOMoz’s Popular Searches tool simply displays popular searches and topics from Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.  All of this data is available scattered around the web, but it’s great to have it in one place.  You can also search the archives to see what’s been popular as far back as 2007.

If you are looking for a hook to a hot topic, SEOMoz’s tool can be a great place to go and get a feel for what’s hot across the Internet.

Quintura is designed as a visual search engine aid.  The site shows related keywords in a tag cloud style design when you perform a search.  Each keyword is clickable and leads you on a web search, making it both a helpful general research tool and keyword visualizer.

VisualThesaurus is not entirely free, but you can perform a few searches before the app starts asking for your credit card information.   Among visual tools I’ve looked at, the clean display and comprehensive depth of word trees presented by VisualThesaurus really make it stand out.  My searches for common words like make produced vast trees of related words and terms.

Last but not least is Soovle.  This tool grabs the search auto-complete results from various popular websites and displays them all in one place.  As opposed to the Popular Searches tool, which tells you what’s hot now, Soovle can be a novel way to find out what searches related to the keyword you enter are the most popular in the long term among many searchers.

Do you have any experience using these or other keyword tools?  Did I miss any great ones?  Please let me know by commenting below or sending a message to @EONpr on Twitter.


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.


Editor’s Corner – May Edition

May 18, 2010

With 30 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.

BW Charlotte Newsroom Supervisor Penny Sowards

I have been here at Business Wire for 23 years and, although the PR industry has undergone dramatic technological changes during that time,  the basic rules are still pretty much the same when it comes to getting the most out of a press release.  Here a few things to consider.

One of most important things to think about when writing a press release is its “readability,” making sure the focus is clear and concise.  Lead sentence should of course convey the main idea of what your press release is about. Sentences should be clear and to the point, avoiding lengthy and confusing terminology.

Bullet points can be a handy tool if you’re listing events, locations, etc. Breaking information out in this manner makes it easier to reference data quickly.  I have noticed more of a trend toward this style of press release writing in recent years, and I think it works well.

Quotes are an extremely important component to include in a press release.  It gives  information in the release validation and support.  Press releases take on more of a personal and credible tone with well-worded quotes placed in strategic locations. Break out quotes change on our site each time a press release is pulled up, so it’s important to have several compelling citations to inspire readers to read more.

Consider running a photo with your press release. Whenever I am editing a press release, I always enjoy the ones that include photos.  Photos, or for that matter, videos, make the release more effective because it is genuinely more interesting. A colorful, multimedia effect is more appealing than black-and-white words on a screen.  Technology has made this dynamic supplement to press releases increasingly simpler to achieve.

Lastly, and this probably goes without saying, always be available when a member of the media should have questions for you. The press release will contain plenty of information, but reporters on deadline will most likely have more in-depth questions that only the PR or Communications person can answer.

-Penny Sowards, Newsroom Supervisor, Business Wire Charlotte


Editor’s Corner – March Edition

March 22, 2010

With 30 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.

BW Cleveland Editor Alan Waldinger

As an editor at Business Wire, I’m used to scouring press releases for any and all mistakes – misspellings, grammatical issues, punctuation errors, etc.  And while our clients do an excellent job of composing releases, there are a few key items that are occasionally omitted from them.  The following aren’t errors in a traditional sense, but correcting them can add to the visibility and utility of your press release.

1) Company Name in the Headline: It goes without saying that the headline is the most important part of your press release, providing the reader with a concise summary of its content.  It’s also important to signify who is issuing the release; you want the media to know that your company is announcing a new product, adding personnel, or receiving an award.  Something like “XYZ Corporation’s New ABC Software Improves Retail Inventory Distribution” seamlessly integrates your company’s name into the headline, while also including all of your release’s essential information.  Don’t forget that including your company name will also improve your visibility on many search engines.

2) Full Contact Information: The goal of a press release, in addition to making your news public, is to draw in media for supplemental coverage.  That release could result in an interview, or feature in a print or online publication.  It is imperative, therefore, for the media to be able to contact you directly.  Make sure you include your phone number (direct line if possible) and email address in every press release.  If you’re with an agency, make sure its name is also included with your contact information.  The growth of social media has generated even more avenues for business and media exchange, so don’t be afraid to provide your LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account.

3) Company Website: Although a corporate website has become the de facto place to learn more about a particular company, some writers still forget to include a URL address in a press release.  The boilerplate is an obvious location for a URL, but it also doesn’t hurt to hyperlink your company’s name in the first paragraph.

-Alan J. Waldinger, Jr., Newsroom Editor, Business Wire Cleveland


Editor’s Corner – January Edition

January 7, 2010

With 30 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.

BW LA Senior Editor Roger Johnson

Years ago, teaching English composition at the University of Arkansas, I gave a half-joking, half-serious commandment to my students the first day of class: don’t bore me.

I didn’t mean that a tiger had to leap out at me in every sentence, or that each paragraph should end with someone hanging from a cliff. I meant that their prose should be vigorous –clear and concise, filled with specific detail.

In my past 13 years as an editor at Business Wire, I’ve discovered that readers of your news releases want the same thing. They’re not looking for pouncing tigers – just clear, concise, detailed information that keeps them reading. And keeps them using your releases — in their newspaper, television broadcast, blog or online database.

We all know “the rules” by now: omit needless words, clearly attribute speakers in quotes, use nouns and strong verbs, etc. (Pick up a style guide for a refresher course. From the fussy Elements of Style to the practical and sturdy AP Stylebook, there’s a million of ‘em out there.)

Writing a tight, detailed release definitely will get your news noticed. But an even better way to attract media attention is to include a multimedia element with your release — something you can do by ordering a Smart News Release (SNR).

Press releases about new hires or promotions will definitely attract more eyes if you include photos. Open up any newspaper’s business section, which is filled with executive headshots, and you’ll see how valuable these are to editors – and thus to your company.

That old adage about “a picture being worth a thousand words” endures because it’s true. Many times I’ve worked on an SNR one day and then seen the same image in the pages of USA Today or the Los Angeles Times the next morning. And I’ve seen videos SNRs I’ve worked on in the morning on that evening’s local news broadcast.

Some things to keep in mind when you send in a photo as part of your SNR:

  • Send it in .jpg format. (Other graphics files like .tif, .gif, .bmp, and .png are usable, too.)
  • Send images of at least 2400 pixels on the longest side. (Although we can run any size as an SNR, print media won’t use smaller images.)
  • Always include a caption with your photo.

Some things to keep in mind when sending us video files:

  • Send original digitized files (MPG, MP4, AVI, WMV and MOV files, for example) rather than files already converted to a streaming format.
  • Make the video for a window of at least 320×240 pixels (a 4:3 aspect ratio).
  • The frame rate should be at least 15 fps (frames per second) or higher.
  • Most web viewers say they prefer videos of five minutes or less.

Along with photos and videos, you can supplement your news releases with Excel spreadsheets and charts; PowerPoint slide shows; PDF documents; Word documents; or Flash animations.

Finally, include your company logo with your photo or video. This will help brand your company news and help complete your multimedia package.

-Roger Johnson, Senior Editor, Business Wire Los Angeles


Business Wire and Bloomberg Toronto Host Talk with Bureau Chief David Scanlan

July 7, 2009

bweventswrapupheader

torontosky2On June 25th, Business Wire Toronto hosted a seminar at Bloomberg’s Toronto office—home to a spectacular view of the Toronto skyline—where Bloomberg Bureau Chief David Scanlan spoke to a crowd of more than 30 of Toronto’s top-tier PR and IR professionals about how to craft an effective press release.

David’s talk focused on five “F” factors that increase the likelihood of press releases being noticed by Bloomberg’s reporters.

  1. First Word: Bloomberg prides itself on being a high-caliber new service. Help their reporters to be the first ones to get your news out by writing a factual, concise release.
  2. Fastest Word: When you or your client has company news, get it out to the media as soon as possible.
  3. Factual Word: This one speaks for itself, but David encourages total transparency, too.
  4. Future Word: Get the word out of what’s in the pipeline and include date and time of your next financials, upcoming events, etc. Reporters love this!
  5. Final Word: Make sure your release is thorough. Don’t leave anything out or any unanswered questions.

Additionally, David passed along a few extra special tips to the group:bloombergtoronto

  • Use charts and use them as close to the top of your release as possible, especially when it comes to financials. All reporters want to know if your profits are up or down, by what percentage over the previous year and why.
  • Distinguish between U.S. and Canadian currency. Don’t assume it’s obvious, it’s always better to be clear.
  • And finally, write your release like you were talking to someone on the street about it. “Hey, you’re never going to believe what happened…”

Our thanks again to David and the Bloomberg Toronto office for a great event!

Local Business Wire offices host several events each year on PR, IR, SEO & media topics.  Check out the Business Wire Events page to find upcoming events in your area.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hash tag #bwevents


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