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.


How to Increase your PR Horse Power for the Lunar New Year

January 31, 2014

Turn your press release into a charging warhorse

By Joanne Ngo and Alex Howard, Business Wire

January 31, 2014 is the first day of the Lunar New Year, the most celebrated holiday in China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. It is a celebration honoring new life. It is a highly anticipated holiday full of firecrackers, dragon dances, temple visits, lucky red envelopes and family gatherings.

One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.

One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.

This year is the year of the horse. The horse is one of the favorite animals in the Chinese zodiac, and is closely linked to people’s lives because of its ability to quickly transport people and things. In China, the Red Hare was the celebrated warhorse of Lü Bu, the ancient Chinese general and warlord. According to legend, the Red Hare had a reputation of being the horse that could travel hundreds of miles a day, climb mountains as if they were flat land, cross rivers and much more. As we at Business Wire prepared for the Lunar New Year, it occurred to us that the mystical Red Hare is much like today’s modern press release. The horse, for example, is a symbol of:

  • Strength: Like the horse, a press release is a pack animal, capable of carrying loads of information to your audience.
  • Efficiency: Similar to how a horse helps you work more efficiently, your press release when distributed via Business Wire, helps you efficiently deliver a message packed with content that your readers and media want to read, report on and share.
  • Speed: Comparable to a galloping horse, news shared via Business Wire travels around the globe, quickly, easily and effortlessly.

Our thoughts of Lü Bu’s many military victories got us thinking of Lü Bu atop his magnificent steed, charging into battle. As in war, where one would never send a horse out to battle without armor, the same goes for your press release. To protect your brand, product and message, outfit your press release properly – utilize clear, relevant writing, multimedia, social media calls to action, and hyperlinks. A warhorse cannot fight an army without armor, and neither can your news.

Train your Release Prior to Battle: Make it Clear and Relevant

One of the most important ways to prepare your news to battle today’s content clutter is to make sure your release is clear and relevant. A well written, highly targeted press release sparks conversation and interaction and guides journalists and other interested readers to your news. Today, this is more important than ever thanks to Google’s recent algorithm changes. Google no longer places emphasis on individual keywords placed in copy, but instead helps users find your news via natural search phrases.

Outfit Your Release for Battle

Once you have a beautifully crafted, relevant story, you need to arm it for battle. In 2011, Skyword’s research discovered that news articles with images received 94% more views than news articles without imagery. In 2013 the award winning study conducted by SEO-PR and Business Wire, the press release that included video had 55% more views than the one without it. In 2014, multimedia is a required element to any article or story. Visuals quickly capture the attention of today’s fast-paced, mobile-crazy audience. They also help illustrate a very technical or lengthy press release, support new product launches and paint a clear vivid picture of your story. This imagery will help your press release defeat the clutter and reach your target audiences faster and more effectively.

The Charge

In war, the battle cry can unify the corps and intimidate your opponents, so give you news the final advantage with a battle cry. One of the best ways to increase the impact of your press release is to initiate social sharing. Including a sharing call to action, such as including a Click to Tweet, allows readers and brand fans to tweet your news, your battle cry.

After the fighting is over, the warrior leads the Red Hare home. Just as the warrior leads his horse home, so must you lead your readers. Include relevant, natural links within your press release to help interested parties continue their journey to learn more about your business. For best usage of your links, limit them to an average of one link per 100 words.

Winning the Battle, Winning the War

Just as the Red Hare served the warrior in times of need, so will your press release serve you. When crafted properly, and outfitted with its armor of multimedia, this piece of content will cut through the clutter and deliver your news, your company story to all corners of the world.

 


Understanding the Role of the Press Release and the Modern Marketing Mix

January 15, 2014
by Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

For many years, communication programs did not utilize input from every department in the company before launching. Thankfully, this has changed.

Today’s most successful communication programs run across many different divisions to maximize even the smallest program’s potential success.  In addition to increasing the potential for success, cross-department programs provide deeper insights necessary for future programs.  Below, we breakdown how marketing and PR support the impact of the press release.

When it comes to increasing the impact of a marketing program, for more than 50 years, one method continues to be most effective way to distribute your news – a commercial newswire service.

Press releases containing photos and/or videos and easy to find social sharing buttons, issued over a commercial wire service continue to be the most cost-effective way to reach journalists, bloggers, analysts, online and offline media, social networks, customers, and prospects.  Press releases are measured by quality of coverage, its impact on the company’s reputation and brand goals, action taken by readers and the amount of sharing across social networks.

The new tactics you must employ now to support your press releases and measure their impact include:

  1. Sharing social media messaging with brand fans and influencers, including a link back to your website, each tailored to the news’ target audience. Social actions taken related to your news are measured by overall shares, shares by influencers, link clicks and, most importantly, the quality of inbound traffic.
  2. Posting and directing journalists to blog posts that directly answer the questions you know journalists will ask you.  This increases the likelihood of company message adoption and decrease real or perceived anxiety by journalists and consumers about your message, brand or organization.
  3. Advertising on key industry media, highlighting the benefits of your product or brand is a terrific way to decrease the amount of time it takes a user to make a decision. Advertising success is measured by desired action taken, clicks, impressions, downloads etc.
  4. Utilizing online media syndication services like dlvr.it and Outbrain which can help increase visibility of valuable coverage and is best measured by impressions, views and quality of inbound traffic
  5. Creating social channel messages for colleagues, customers and partners to share across their own social channels.  Use a unique URL to more easily track shares, inbound traffic and the quality of that traffic
  6. Implement paid and non-paid influencer program to decrease sales consideration time.  This can have an impact on an increase in discussion, message adoption, social reach, quality of inbound traffic leads and amount of time before desired action taken.

These six steps increase the impact of your press release, as well as provide you with the valuable insights needed to revise messaging for future programs.  Which message resonated best with your various audiences? What asset or platform provided the best ROI?

The press release & the modern marketing mix – 6 #prtips by @serena http://ow.ly/sC4NY


Business Wire Establishes New Standards for SEO with the 2014 Guide for Press Release Optimization

January 8, 2014
by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire

As we enter into 2014,  we are still receiving a lot of questions about how SEO should be used with a press release. One of the biggest misnomers we hear is that you cannot use any links in a release and that keyword research is not applicable anymore.  In an effort to clear up some of the confusion with SEO best practices for researching, writing and distributing a press release, Business Wire has put out a new guidance report titled “A Guide to Press Release Optimization.” The download is available for free and will answer all of the questions regarding press releases and SEO for 2014.

Business Wire PR and SEO in 2014The press release guidance report shows the major changes that have occurred with the press release including updates from Google that have redefined how the release is written. Additionally the report discusses best practices moving forward including future SEO and social trends in 2014. The guide is structured chronologically as a reference that will walk you through all of the steps of a press release from research and planning, through writing content, and into final distribution and measurement.

The idea is to have a standard that professionals in the communications industry can use as a guide when developing a press release for the New Year. All of the ten tips include examples and strategies including many free tools that are available to all professionals.

Tips include:

  • How to research and learn the behaviors of key constituents
  • Complete overview of the latest algorithms, and how to benefit from these updates
  • Recommended  press release layout improvements
  • How to properly use links
  • What you need to know about press release keywords and key phrases
  • The importance of high quality content
  • The role multimedia plays in increasing discovery and action in 2014
  • How to use social media strategically
  • Using a responsive design webpage for mobile
  • How to choose the proper news distribution method

The report can be downloaded, for free at http://go.businesswire.com/guide-to-press-release-optimization. Click this link to share it with your Twitter followers:  http://ctt.ec/4v0K3

Google Hummingbird

Need more incentive to download our report?  Business Wire will select, at random, 18 people who downloaded our guide to receive a hummingbird of their own!

We want to hear your comments. Let us know what you think of this guidance report and follow us on twitter @businesswire.


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!


Involving Reddit in your PR campaign

December 18, 2013
by Paul J.F. Bowman, Senior Editor

Reddit.com, the self-styled “front page of the internet,” is a social bookmarking site currently ranked #80 in the world and #31 in the United States in terms of traffic. The site is a diverse and vibrant global community.Reddit

To get a simple sense of Reddit, visit /r/awww or /r/cute. “/r/” dictates a “subreddit,” a section of Reddit devoted to a specific topic. Two popular subreddits are /r/IAmA (I am a…) and /r/AMA (ask me anything). Admittedly, /r/IAmA and /r/AMA are very similar; Reddit describes their main difference as the number of subscribers (AMA currently has around 53,000 readers while IAmA has over 4 million).

Essentially, both IAmA and AMA are crowdsourced interviews; any Reddit user (“Redditors”) can ask questions of the person/organization submitting themselves for an interview. It’s easily comparable to an online press conference. For example, a well-known skateboarder recently posted an IAmA/AMA:  “Geoff Rowley – Professional Skateboarder. Co-owner of Flip Skateboards and Founder of Civilware Service Corporation.”

As questions were submitted, Rowley chose those he would answer while ignoring questions deemed irrelevant, information sensitive, difficult to answer in time allotted, too personal, etc. By simply answering questions, Rowley was able to promote his skateboarding company, his outdoor supply company as well as an appearance on a video Web series. Redditors asked questions varying from skateboards and shoes to hunting and running a company.

For your next public relations campaign, you might consider a similar IAmA/AMA appearance. The trickiest part is to make sure that you do not violate one of the primary rules: “Obvious nonsense or advertising will be removed – this is up to the discretion of the moderators.” Reddit also asks that you phrase your post in terms of “something uncommon that plays a central role in your life” (ex: “IAmA founder of a non-profit dog grooming organization. AMA!”) or “a truly interesting and unique event” (ex: “I invited the Los Angeles Lakers to my fundraiser and 20 of them attended! AMA!”). Many PR campaign topics fit into these categories; it should be easy to find something unique to focus the post around.

Many notable people have submitted themselves for AMAs; Barack Obama and Bill Gates are among the most successful and publicized. Redditors may also submit requests for people they would like to see participate in an AMA. Actors, authors, comedians, inventors, musicians and scientists are common IAmAs/AMAs.

All of the information to begin an IAmA/AMA is at www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/wiki/. Here are the basic steps after you’ve created a Reddit account:

  1. Decide which community is best for your post.
    Assuming that you’re looking for the most exposure, IAmA is the best place to post. The major downside of the large IAmA audience is that your scheduled time may be overshadowed by a well-known celebrity. Make sure to check the “Upcoming AMAs” schedule in the right margin to find the least-populated timeslot.
  2. Choose a way to prove your identity.
    Options for proof include a work ID, business card, paystub or contract (make sure any sensitive information is blocked out). Posting a note regarding the IAmA/AMA on an official website and/or Twitter account is both allowed and encouraged. The mention should dictate which Reddit username will be used and a link to the AMA once it has been posted to the website.
  3. Request a spot on the “Upcoming AMAs” calendar.
    This is purely a request to the moderators to have the AMA added to their official calendar. Schedule for the daytime of your expected geographic audience. Add the title of your AMA, date/time requested, the description of the person/organization, the username that will be used and the proof gathered from step 2.
  4. Fill out the thread and submit.
    The title should grab people’s attention with the most interesting/intriguing part of the IAmA/AMA. Use the information entered in the Upcoming AMAs request from the previous step.
    Example title: “I am the founder and editor of the first website dedicated exclusively to fire ants, fireanthill.com. AMA!”
    In the next field, write a short biography. Keep in mind that the more relevant information that is provided, the more the Reddit community will be able to engage and ask questions. At the bottom of this field is where you place the verification/proof of identity mentioned in step 2.
    Example text: “I’ve worked as editor of other publications such as LIFE, People and Cat Fancy. Before I started fireanthill.com, the fire ant websites only included research but did not aggregate the many fascinating aspects of fire ants. I’ve been interested in fire ants for 20 years, AMA! Here is a photo of me at home: [LINK], a link to my bio on the website: [LINK], and me in front of a giant fire ant hill: [LINK]“
  5. Make sure the posting worked by visiting reddit.com/r/IAmA/new.
  6. Publicize the link of your IAmA/AMA to websites and social media accounts with the time questions will be answered.
  7. Answer the questions asked of you with genuine interest and passion.
    Many Reddit users can sense when something is purely for publicity. Do not repeatedly focus your answers on the campaign. Genuine responses will garner genuine interest in your company. The majority of self-promotion should be placed in the text of step 4. If the response is lackluster, the post can still be an interesting addition to an “About Us” or “Biography” page.

There have been a number of controversies surrounding the website. Like any other public Internet forum or social media, Redditors can frustrate and antagonize people posting on IAmA or AMA. Woody Harrelson is the most disparaged AMA as he was only willing to answer questions about Rampart, the movie he was promoting at the time. Morgan Freeman (posting under username “OblivionMovie”) had a similar downfall; Redditors deemed his short and canned responses as a PR agency paraphrasing or posting for him rather than Freeman himself.

Remember, there is no guarantee of a successful IAmA/AMA post. However, the more you interact on Reddit (specifically the AMA and IAmA pages), the more you’ll have an understanding of the site and which posts draw people in. This wide-ranging and interesting worldwide community is a great tool for promotion but recognizing what drives its visitors will be key to your success on the site.


Business Wire Event Recap “Meet the Biotechnology Media”

December 5, 2013
by Luis Guillen, Media Relations Specialist

On Thursday, November 21st, Business Wire San Diego hosted a “Meet the Biotechnology Media” panel in Mission Valley. With some of the top biotech journalists in the San Diego area, our panel spoke on a wide range of topics ranging from how to pitch media and current trends to the future of journalism.

Speakers:

  • Bruce Bigelow, Xconomy’s San Diego editor
  • Meghana Keshavan, San Diego Business Journal’s healthcare and biotech reporter
  • Mandy Jackson, SCRIP Intelligence’s West Coast editor
  • Kelly Quigley, life science network and brand journalist at Chempetitive Group

Moderator:

  • Erik Clausen, Managing Partner, Chempetitive Group
    SD-Media-Breakfast-lo-res

Know your media

It’s important to not only know your target media but also what they like. When discussing what makes a good story, our panel shared their tips.

Interesting Characters:

Every story needs to have someone the audience can connect with.

Different Perspective:

Go further in depth, cover it from a different angle that’s not been used before.

Be Open:

Don’t tell me how much money your company has, tell me how the money is being or will be spent. If not willing to talk about certain things, it devalues the story.

Quotes:

Speak with someone who is candid and gives the story some personality.

Pitching preferences

Social media allows new ways to pitch journalists, some embrace it, others still prefer email.

Timing is everything:

Not only does it help to know what your target media covers but also their deadline schedule. Don’t pitch on a Wednesday if the deadline is on Thursday, instead pitch on a Monday, when we’re looking for stories.

No need to follow up:

I received your email pitch. If I don’t call, I’m not interested.

Coaching not required:

PR pros: Be transparent, allow access to the source. Having an open one-on-one conversation with the client is important, beats interviewing someone reading a script.

Embargos:

Are not dead. The panel all agreed that at the very least they would look at it, not necessarily do a story on it.

Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn:

FB seems to be more personal. Twitter has become the go-to tool for journalists to look up people, story ideas and get background information on a particular individual/topic.

Future of Journalism

The truth is no one knows what the future of journalism will look like in 5-10 years. What we do know is that journalism is constantly changing. As more publications continue to go under, some will shift from print to online, following the current trend of specialized publications. With fewer reporters covering this current online, social media, 24/7 news cycle, publications will face new challenges that will reshape the current landscape of journalism again.


Business Wire Media Breakfast: How to Pitch Influential Business Publications Event Recap

November 26, 2013
by Warner Boutin, Senior Account Executive & Luis Guillen, Media Relations Specialist

On Wednesday, November 20th, Business Wire Los Angeles hosted a media breakfast panel titled “How to Pitch Influential Business Publications” addressing tactical media targeting tips. The panel, moderated by Stefan Pollack, President of Pollack PR Marketing Group, asked questions to the group on numerous topics, including how they prefer to be pitched by the media, how public relations & marketing professionals should navigate through today’s glut of online media and what new opportunities and challenges face PR professionals. The panel consisted of Brian Deagon, Business & Technology Reporter, Investor’s Business Daily; Joe Bel Bruno, Deputy Business Editor, Los Angeles Times; Pat Maio, Business Reporter, Long Beach Register; and Russ Britt, Los Angeles Bureau Chief, Marketwatch from Dow Jones.

Story Pitching Tips & Media Trends

Business Wire Media Breakfast on "How to Pitch Influential Business Publications"

Business Wire Media Breakfast on “How to Pitch Influential Business Publications”

Kicking off the media breakfast, Pollack asked the journalists to share trends & coverage tips. The panel agreed that random, untargeted pitches end up in the garbage. “Reporters tend to stay with people and sources they know,” said Los Angeles Times Editor Joe Bel Bruno. Marketwatch Bureau Chief Russ Britt explained “timeliness is key.” Clarifying that their bureau’s focus is on relevant leads. Brian Deagon from Investor’s Business Daily, highlighted a creative online video pitch from the CEO of Santa Monica StartUp Dollar Shave Club. Long Beach Register reporter Pat Maio said he communicates mostly through email and texts versus phone call pitches. The panel agreed that the biggest Public Relations pitching blunder is lack of research: not understanding your audiences and/or relevant media outlets.

Attracting the Reader’s Attention
Pollack asked the panel about news discovery trends. The panel agreed on the need for stories to be brief, concise, shareable, SEO friendly and timely. “The first one to get their story out gets the most clicks,” said Brian Deagon. Joe Bel Bruno elaborated on click rates, discussing SEO news content discovery and describing one LA Times department that analyzes nothing but Google algorithms.

Full attendance at the Business Wire Media Breakfast

Full attendance at the Business Wire Media Breakfast


Leveraging social media tools

In response to using Twitter as a social media tool, Brian Deagon said “there’s nothing wrong with appealing to our vanity (on Twitter) to make an intro.” The Long Beach Register uses their blog to run polls, research data and engage their niche audiences, and because they use a subscription model the focus is more on local community rather than social media posting.

Panelists concluded the panel, answering audience questions and sharing final tips for pitching an oversaturated media environment.
From Left to Right: Pat Maio, Long Beach Register; Joe Bel Bruno, Los Angeles Times;Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily; Russ Britt, Marketwatch; and moderator Stefan Pollack,President of Pollack PR & Marketing Group

From Left to Right: Pat Maio, Long Beach Register; Joe Bel Bruno, Los Angeles Times; Brian Deagon, Investor’s Business Daily; Russ Britt, Marketwatch; and moderator Stefan Pollack,President of Pollack PR Marketing Group

For upcoming local Business Wire events or our award-winning webinar series, visit our events page or follow Business Wire events on Twitter, hashtag #bwchat.


What Can Louisville’s Kevin Ware Teach the SEC and Public Companies About Social Media?

April 4, 2013
by Thomas Becktold, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing

Turns out, quite a bit.  You see, within hours of his terrible injury on the basketball court, fans were flocking to Twitter to offer their support.  Unfortunately, most were initially going to a fake Twitter account and weren’t engaging with Kevin Ware at all.

Following the April 2, 2013 SEC Report of Investigation that says social media accounts fall under the guidelines of their 2008 Interpretive Guidance Report on IR sites, we have put together some tips to help public companies in their IR social media efforts.

Social media engagement should be a part of the communications mosaic, but it is not a replacement for full, fair and simultaneous distribution of news achieved through Business Wire.  Investor relations professionals appreciate that their audiences are diverse and dispersed and use a wide range of platforms and content sources to access material information.

SEC_Blog_Post_Graphic

Social Media Opportunities for Public Companies

  • Social media channels offer the ability to gather intelligence and engage in two-way conversations, and as part of a comprehensive communications mix, are quite valuable.
  • Companies should establish official IR-specific social media channels on key platforms, even if they are not ready to use them.  If the channels are not active, put a disclaimer or keep them dark.
  • For those with a solid understanding of social media and their investor audiences, regular, consistent use of the channels for both good news and bad news is key.  Just like any other disclosure platform, don’t tweet or post only the good results and skip the bad ones.  Once you commit to adding a social media channel to your communications mix, stick to it.  If you discontinue use of a channel, communicate that as well.
  • Establish and publish a clear policy on your company’s use of social media as a supplemental channel to alert investors of disclosure press releases and filings.  Cross-reference those channels on your IR site, press releases and filings.
  • Listen to conversations and track sentiment and influencers, including your company’s Twitter “Cash Tag” – tweets tagged with your ticker symbol preceded by a $.  Business Wire now offers social media sentiment analysis reports for press releases via our partnership with NUVI.  For real-time monitoring and engagement, the NUVI platform provides an easy visual representation of influencers and sentiment based on the terms you choose.

Social Media Cautions for Public Companies

  • Full and Fair Access:  According to Pew Research as reported by TechCrunch, only 16% of adult US Internet users are on Twitter.
  • Privacy: Social media channels have barriers to entry and require the user to set up accounts and agree to the terms and conditions of each channel.  Your company does not control those terms and they may be objectionable to those interested in your news.  Chances are, your own IR site, as a best-practice, does not require visitors to agree to terms and conditions to access material news.
  • Fragmentation: Where’s Waldo meets disclosure.  As an IRO, do you opt for a wide, instantaneous Business Wire distribution or solely post to Twitter or Facebook and hope people find your material information?  Ask yourself, how do your investors, potential investors and media currently access your news?  Chances are, it’s through a widely divergent set of sources.
  • Simultaneity: The fact that users must click on a link to read a full-text announcement (that will reside elsewhere) adds latency and unfairness to the disclosure process.
  • Usability: Is social media going to meet the needs of your audiences?  Is it realistic to ask your institutional investors to hit “Like” on Facebook to get the latest earnings release alongside their elementary school friend’s picture of their latest cake or new puppy?  Should you expect your retail investor to stop relying on their brokerage account to access your news because it’s no longer there and instead subscribe to your Twitter feed?
  • Security: Don’t use social media as your sole means for disclosure: Look at Kevin Ware, the Louisville basketball player and what happened on Twitter just after his recent on-court accident.  Someone set up a fake account because, yes, we know it’s that easy to do.  And, that fake account had more followers than his real account.  Imagine potential investors searching in vain for the “real Twitter account” for your company when breaking news happens?  (Or finding that the official account has been hacked, as recently happened to both Burger King and Jeep.) Want to get a “verified” account?  Good luck —  and it might not make a difference anyway, according to this recent Mashable article. The Business Wire slug ensures a seamless, secure, audited experience.
  • Reliability: Twitter has been riddled with outages as it grows – think how many times you’ve seen the Fail Whale. Business Wire operates at 99%+ uptime.   With your news widely distributed, if one site or system goes down, investors have many others to turn to.
  • Liability: Leveraging a Business Wire distribution ensures full and fair distribution.  Tweeting a release today is akin to walking across a frozen lake in late March.  Your odds of making it across are good, not great.

Want to read what journalists and others are saying about the SEC ruling?  Here are a few links – the comments sections often provide greater insight for you to consider as a communications professional:


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