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.

 


The Impact of Press Releases on the Sales Funnel

May 14, 2014

By Billy Russell, Customer Service Representative, Business Wire Phoenix

In 2014, as demographics in the workforce shift, so does the marketing and sales cycle. What used to take a handful of “touches” to sell, now takes much more time and effort by both the company and the purchaser.

So why is this change so relevant to PR and why is PR so important to today’s sales and marketing funnel? PR is the most efficient and time-trusted way to generate the enormous number of interactions required to sell your organization, your products or philosophy. After all, you can create and launch a wide range of marketing materials, product videos and social programs on your own platforms, but to get the level of visibility and adoption needed to drive true impact, you need PR to promote them.

Learn more about how PR can impact and assist in moving customers in and through today’s elongated sales funnel at CommPro.biz: http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/support-pr-driving-sales/


How to Measure the ROI or Impact of a Press Release in 2014

May 8, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media

Almost every day, clients ask our teams how to determine the return of investment when it comes to news distribution services.  Thanks to better monitoring and tracking services, tracking the true ROI of a press release has never been easier. Not every press release may be accountable for immediate conversion or sales, but there is no denying its impact in the promotion of the news and content relevant to each organization’s core audiences.

Defining ROI: ROI is simply one’s return on investment or the overall cost of the creation and distribution of your press release vs the financial impact of this outreach within the company’s goals.

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

How Press Releases Align to the Marketing Funnel

Press releases are documents written to activate audiences.  These audiences, defined by PR, IR, marketing and management teams, include customers, prospects, stockholders, employees, brand fans, industry experts and other stakeholders.

Smart teams build customer journey maps for each audience that outline the desired outcome for each step of the decision process. Many take it a step further by assigning a dollar value to each customer (referred to as the customer’s lifetime value or LTV).  Journey maps help communicators identify content positioning, while distribution vehicles and assets maximize each piece of content’s overall impact.

Distributing Your Content: Before determining content and news distribution options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the goal of the news you are sharing out?  Are you alerting media to new products, or showcasing thought leadership with white papers and infographics?
  • What is the expected outcome of this news or content?
  • What audience can share this news out to drive the highest impact on your goals?
  • What audience reactions affect this outcome?
  • What assets are you including to increase ROI?
  • Increasing awareness with coverage?
  • Driving action with inbound traffic?
  • Driving advocacy with social sharing?
  • What distribution options provide both highly targeted and wide visibility?
  • What sharing options do I need to include to increase impact?
  • How can I track ROI

How it Works: Let’s assume the news you are sharing promotes a white paper, video or other piece of content to increase awareness within core audiences and move them into and through your marketing and sales funnel.  How would you distribute this content in a holistic manner that drives meaningful action?

The Path of the Press Release

The Path of the Press Release

Writing Your Release: The first step is to write a well written release. There are many great examples of how to do this, such as this: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/sample-press-release/. Once written, make sure your release is fully optimized for usage by media as well as for reading by today’s search engines.

Using Your OWN Channels: Every company already has brand fans!  Alerting these existing audiences of new content is a terrific way to increase impact.  Place your press release and assets within your corporate newsroom, on your blog and across social channels. Distribute the news directly through email mailing lists, including social share buttons to jump start social sharing.

The Power of Paid: While placing your content on your own channels is a no brainer, this tactic alone most likely will not provide the visibility needed to reach your goals.  This is the time to consider paid promotion.  For years, PR professionals have been leveraging paid channels to increase impact and visibility of all kinds of news. And for good reason. To this day, even now in 2014, commercial newswires provide the best ROI when it comes to news distribution. To ensure the highest possible return on investment for your press release, take a close look at your news distribution options.

  • First, determine what geographic region does your news impact? Where are your decision makers located? Are they in specific parts of the country or world?
  • Next, get granular with industry and vertical market reach. Did you write the press release to inform investors, impact IT decision makers, or activate today’s increasingly powerful Hispanic purchasers?
  • Then, understand that to drive meaningful impact, today’s press releases and content must include multimedia. With thousands of news, stories distributed each day, and fewer reporters than ever, the inclusion of an asset may be the key differentiator separating your news from that of your competitors.

visual world

  • Finally, consider promoting your content with paid advertising.  One popular way PR pros are increasing the impact of coverage is by placing them within native advertising blocs such as dlvr.it (included in your Business Wire distribution) and Outbrain.

EARNED Media Increases Results Significantly: Even the most interesting stories may never reach interested readers and reporters without outreach. Once your news is live and your content is available, reach out to leading reporters and identified industry influencers to discuss coverage focus that engages their audiences and yours. Repeated studies show that coverage has a direct impact on moving audiences into marketing and sales funnels.

To increase the success of your outreach efforts, focus your pitch on the impact your content will have on their readers, and do not forget to reference or include multimedia assets.  Today’s most successful online stories include supplemental photo essays and statistical videos.

SHARING Your Coverage: Nothing moves audiences in and through the marketing funnel better  than recommendations, referrals or shares of smart, interesting news by friends and family.  Not only should you share out coverage you receive, you should make it easy for your audiences to share your information as well.  Include calls to actions directly within your press release (see here for an example) to simplify sharing by content readers.

MEASURING Your Success: There are several ways to measure the success of this kind of PR program.  One of the easiest things you can do is look at the metrics reports created by each distribution platform.  Most press release measurement metrics, such as the ones below, focus on overall views and generated actions.

Picture2

Coverage: The first and oldest metric of PR has been the amount of coverage your news and content generated, the placement (and its impact on core audiences), length of article, assets included, message permeation and more.

Visibility: The second step in measuring the impact of the press release is wide awareness of news.  How broadly was the news shared, who shared it and which audiences impacted the marketing funnel the most–was it editorial coverage?  Influencer shares of that coverage?  Did employee sharing increase word-of-mouth marketing? Did the multimedia assets you included increase impact?

Geo-Impact: Another terrific metric available to PR professionals is the ability to see what regions, locally and globally, the news resonated within.  This data can be acted upon immediately by continuing the discussion with paid advertising or a concentrated sales effort, allowing sales teams to strike while the conversational iron is hot!

Social Shares: When tracking social impact, first look at the number of influencers talking about your news, and the number of overall news shares.  Social sharing analysis should also look at message adoption and associated hashtags usage.

Inbound Traffic: Measuring inbound traffic is easy!  Simply add a URL Builder or extension to any URL within your press release that drives traffic back to your website (create this as a hyperlink).  Then, once someone clicks those links, you can track their actions within your website.

Of course, not all media outlets will include hyperlinks to your website, so it is key to note that this will only be a snapshot of the traffic driven in. It is key to look at all increases in followers, or inbound traffic that occurs during the news cycle to get a more accurate look at the traffic you generated.

Owned Channel Registrations: Include links to join your other owned channels including following social channels or signing up for a newsletter.  This enables interested parties to take the first step in creating a relationship with your organization.

As you can see from the above, there is a very real place for the press release, and press release distribution platforms in today’s news and content distribution services. Now, with a few easy additions, communication professionals can highlight their significance quickly and easily.

So what do you think? Do you agree with this program? Is this something you could and would implement?


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


How Sensory Preferences Impact the ROI of The Press Release

April 23, 2014

April 23, 2014

This week, Business Wire Marketing Specialist Fred Godlash has an article featured in CommPro.biz on How Sensory Preferences Impact the ROI of The Press Release.

Purple BrainTo understand the impact of multimedia within your marketing, advertising or public relations programs, you first must recognize how your audience absorbs and retains information. Did you know that recollection is more difficult when hearing things rather than seeing or doing them and that a whopping 65% of the population are visual learners. This means that the standard textual press release does not resonate as thoroughly with more than half of the world!

To be a very good communicator in a ROI-oriented environment, you now must consider how today’s humans learn and consume information.
Read the full story at http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/science-sensory-preferences-impact-roi-press-release/

Tweet this post: https://twitter.com/BusinessWire/status/459000420031934464


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.


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.


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