Introducing The Underdogs of the Social Media World

January 23, 2014

By: Ciaran Ryan & Zara McAlister , Business Wire Toronto Editors

The odds are forever stacked against them, and yet we can’t help but cheer them on. They may not be as big or as strong as their rivals, but they all hold the potential for greatness. They are underdogs. They’re the stuff of sport’s Cinderella stories, history’s conflicts, and Hollywood’s scripts. If you look hard enough you can always find the underdog. Even in the social media landscape, dozens of underused platforms are waiting for brands to try them on for size.

Facebook and Twitter may be the current top dogs, but other platforms boast their own unique strengths that could be beneficial for your brand. We’ve paired these platforms with notable underdogs of the past for entertainment value.

G+ & Rocky Balboa

rocky

Image source: IMDB

Google + is a lot like Rocky Balboa, the “Italian Stallion” from the Rocky movie series. On paper the diminutive boxer stood no chance against powerful fighters like the Soviet Union’s Ivan Drago. But the manly Rocky persevered when few believed in him, save his trainer Mickey and his love interest Adrian.

G+ has more supporters than Rocky ever did, with 540 million users. This social networking platform may not have Facebook’s numbers, but it’s quickly gaining ground. About 70% of its users are manly men, like Rocky. Typical users are in their mid-twenties to early thirties with technical interests such as engineering and modern technology. If this fits your brand’s target demographic, then appeal to these users by using G+ Hangouts to connect directly with them in a video chat environment. G+ is also useful for sharing learning-based content, hosting product demos and Q&A sessions. Sidneyeve Matrix, media professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario suggests making use of your brand’s evergreen content (not time sensitive) on G+ or posting information exclusive to your G+ circle.

If you need another reason to try G+, it’s no surprise this social network is the number one driver of Google SEO.

Pinterest & Danica Patrick

Few people thought Danica Patrick, a high school dropout, would succeed in the male-dominated sport of auto racing. Yet she defied the odds in 2008 to become the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Patrick’s underdog status and photogenic appeal have made her a household name.

Pinterest has also made a name for itself with 70 million users worldwide. The photo sharing community-based platform has a predominately female user base that works well for consumer brands. Pinterest ranks higher than Twitter for driving SEO on Google according to Search Metrics. What’s more, a recent study by GIGYA found Pinterest generates more e-commerce traffic than Facebook. And Pinterest’s industry leading 85% click through rate means more visitors following advertised links to get additional information about your brand. Ms. Matrix thinks Pinterest works best for brands that are rich in original content. “Think outside the box. You’re not always trying to sell. Sometimes you’re just trying to inspire,” she says. If your company fits the Pinterest bill, add a pin tool to your social sharing buttons, create targeted boards and consider running contests to get your customers more involved.

monet

Image source: Wikipedia

Vimeo & Monet

Two years ago Monet’s “Water Lilies” painting sold for over $43 million USD. Not bad for an artist whose work was initially panned by critics in France. Monet was an artistic underdog because most 19th century art critics didn’t know what to make of his Impressionist style. Eventually the Impressionist movement flourished and Monet became one of the most celebrated painters of his time.

Much like Monet is his early years, video sharing site Vimeo flies under the radar. Its 100 million unique monthly victors are a drop in the bucket compared to YouTube’s 1 billion. But for what Vimeo lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of its content. Vimeo is a hotbed for indie filmmaking. You may not find tributes to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” or music videos about what foxes are really trying to say to us, but you will likely stumble upon something like this emotional ad produced by Google.

Vimeo is well categorized and less cluttered then other video sharing platforms. It’s not necessarily the right network for launching viral videos, but if your brand is interested in showcasing high quality content to a creative audience, then this is the place to do it. Last year Vimeo started the Brand Creative Fund, which helps to connect brands with Vimeo registered filmmakers, to create branded content that the community will appreciate.

These social media platforms are only a sample of the ones out there that encourage creative content and “out of the box” thinking. Always keep your target market in mind when considering what platforms will work best for your brand. Can you think of any other social media underdogs? Share your thoughts with us.


Best Practices Guide to Successfully Navigating Social Media for Publicly-Held Companies

January 16, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media

We are excited to share our latest guide for investor relations and corporate communication professionals outlining the steps they should take (and avoid) to both engage and manage their reputation across social channels.

Business Wire Benefits of SM for IROs

This report details the opportunities and risks of using social media as both a research and communication tool in today’s investor relations programs.  Included are 12 ways investor relations professionals can leverage social media tools for a stronger, more effective engagement program, as well as 12 reasons why social media platforms are not compliant communication tools.

Embracing social media as a news sharing and engagement tool

Business Wire continues to advocate utilizing social media channels to amplify the visibility of company news.  These channels, designed to enhance the communication between organizations and their members, are perfect for brand advocacy.

Business Wire’s guidance for running a successful and legally compliant socially oriented investor communication program include:

  • How to spot an emerging crisis or reputation attack using social media monitoring
  • The importance and impact of multimedia to analysts and other key constituents
  • Real time communications, or why live tweeting earnings works so well
  • Ways to initiate and expand third party sharing of pertinent company information increasing the visibility and authority of your news

Avoiding social channels as a sole means of sharing financial or disclosure oriented news

For the last 4 months, we have taken a long hard look at the concept of utilizing social media distribution channels for financial disclosure.  While we are obviously big fans of utilizing social media as a tool to share news and information, the technology simply is not there yet for these channels to replace traditional disclosure platforms.

Business Wire’s guidance on why social media platforms are not appropriate as the sole method of disclosure includes:

  • Potential coverage limitation
  • Lack of visibility of social updates
  • The impact and risk of message modification
  • Social network demographics and usage rates

To download this free guide in its entirety, visit http://go.businesswire.com/social-media-for-financial-disclosure
Share this with your friends!  Tweet this news out in one click by visiting http://ctt.ec/UEbvf

Want to schedule a time to speak with a Business Wire sales representative about social media, news distribution and disclosure compliance?  Let us know!


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 Presents: Everything PR and IR Pros Need to Know for 2014

January 2, 2014

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Emerging Platforms

Let’s face it; there is nothing better than working the last two weeks of the year.  Oh you may think it is better to be with friends and family or battling mall crowds or lines at the airport, but in reality, those of us working this week are enjoying shorter commuting times, phones not ringing and a few spare minutes to catch up on the latest industry news and trends.

As we in the Business Wire marketing team catch up on our reading, we compiled this list of posts to catch you up on the best of 2013 and prepare you for a productive and successful 2014.

Top Gaffes for 2013 (after all, you don’t want to end up on this list next year!)

2013 Industry Changes + Best Practices

Looking ahead: Top Tips and Predictions to Prepare You for 2014

And just for fun, a hat tip to Buzzfeed for this scarily accurate look at Isaac Asimov and his 1964 predictions for 2014.


PR Lessons from New York City

December 3, 2013
by Erica Schuckies, Account Executive

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

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

The busy streets of NY

1.     Come prepared for anything and everything.

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

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

2.     Go with the flow.

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

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

3.     There is always someone willing to help.

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

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

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

4.     Things are not always as they seem.

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

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

5.     Don’t fret over missed opportunities.

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

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

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

6.     Wear comfortable shoes.

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

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

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


What We’ve Learned: A Round-Up of Tips, Tricks and Tools from Some of the Top Public Relations and Marketing Conferences

November 20, 2013
by Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

Curious about SEO in the new age of Google Penguin and Hummingbird? Interested in the very latest content marketing best practices?

We were too, which is why Business Wire recently attended a wave of industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, AdTech and the Internet Summit, all to uncover the latest and greatest tools, tips and techniques for public relations and marketing professionals to meet their business goals.

And even though we learned a lot, there was one discussion on the top of everyone’s mind – how social media engagement impacts SEO. The number one point reiterated at every conference is that while an individual piece of content may no longer generate increased SEO, social media interactions can impact the ease in which content is found. The better the content, the more engagement it receives, the easier it is to be found. The lower the quality of the content, the fewer interactions it receives, the harder it is to be found. It’s that simple.

Below is a cheat sheet we created to help you navigate Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  We also pulled together supporting articles that provide additional insights and tactics you can use.

Facebook

Your target audience should no longer be thought of as “consumers”. Instead, think of them as “participants” in your brand conversation. Courtesy of Daina Middleton http://tinyurl.com/lmtr4m7

Developing brand personas are increasingly popular for marketers who want to better understand their target audience. We love these simple steps from marketing expert Heidi Cohen http://tinyurl.com/nxw6je6

If you’re doing Facebook advertising, focus on the newsfeed ads vs. those on the right-hand rail. These tend to get more click-thrus and engagement. Note: They are more expensive as well, but the pay-off may be worth it for your brand.

With Facebook’s recent algorithum changes users will be introduced to content based on their activities. For example, users who view more photos will be presented with more photos in their newsfeeds. Smart marketers should test different format types to determine which resonate best for their audience.

When adding links to press releases it’s important to practice SEO co-citation, or linking to relevant sites other than your own. This helps your news gain authority as a meaningful resource for more information.

Testing your website? According to Jakob Nelson, just five users can uncover 85% of usability issues http://tinyurl.com/mhr8emm

Twitter

Think visually! @Twitter introduces pictures and videos to the newsfeed http://tinyurl.com/nuzfgyt #contentmarketing #prtips

Journalist can’t cover your story? Send them a pre-scripted Tweet instead! #prtips

Follow weekly #trends on #Twitter to see how your company can participate and engage in the conversation

#Retargeting is important for today’s search-driven society, but ensure you have the right goals in mind http://tinyurl.com/kq76z4j

Marketing on @Twitter? Be sure to check out new lead generation cards to drive users to YOU http://tinyurl.com/qafwzjc

Companies using Twitter will continue to be indexed by search engines, a great plus for gaining more #visibility and #SEO

Good #stat: 50% of retweets occur in first 18 minutes of being published so make sure content is attention-grabbing @MarinSoftware

Google +

Companies who use Google+ will get indexed faster by Google than other social media sites such as Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/p7fhq6g

Adding multimedia to Google+ is a great way to boost visibility and search optimization for content.

YouTube now requires all commenters to have a public Google+ account, weeding out some posters on the popular site and boosting Google+ membership. http://tinyurl.com/kstylq7

Google+ is an inexpensive way to host conversations among audiences and can be recorded for later use.

Even with Google’s recent algorithum changes, press releases can still drive meaningful traffic to a company’s website, blog or social media sites and boost viewership across these channels.

Check out this cool infographic from @Brafton media on how to combat the Google Penguin http://tinyurl.com/qxzpyuw

What do you think of this list?  Was it useful to you? As always, you can contact us directly to learn more about any of these topics, and stay tuned to the BusinessWired blog for other interesting updates.


Investor Communications vs. Social Disclosure on Social Media

October 22, 2013
Image
By Thomas Becktold, Senior Vice President, Marketing
The Wall Street Journal’s Ben DiPietro (@BenDiPietro1) recently filed a story, “The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Disclosure.” Not surprisingly, we have something to add.
Ben interviewed E. Terrell Gilbert Jr., an attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, who provides some solid advice to IROs, like this, “Where I think companies are prone to slip up is if focus solely on the new ways to communicate with investors but forget the basics of disclosure.”
Where the article falls short is that it doesn’t distinguish between investor communications and disclosure on social media. It doesn’t address ownership issues of executives’ personal social media accounts that are used for investor communications. It also lumps investors into a single homogenous group, where IROs know that buy-side and sell-side investors have significant differences in their preferred communications platforms and content.
While Gilbert rightly suggests that a CEO should send out a tweet that includes a link to a press release to provide more detail about the company, he mixes up disclosure and investor communications.Here’s why: the press release is the disclosure, not the CEO’s tweet.
The press release would be filed as an 8-K, issued on the wire and posted to the company’s website to ensure full and simultaneous distribution and access to all market participants. The CEO tweet is an additive part of investor communications, providing an opportunity for the CEO to more directly engage audiences, not unlike an open earnings conference call.
Gilbert notes that if companies want social media to be the first place they make market-moving information public, they should “take the right steps to let investors know the CEO’s Twitter account or Facebook page is the recognized channel of distribution…” I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t dispute the accuracy of what he says, but from a communications perspective, there are a lot of problems here.
First, if you’re going to establish an executive’s personal social media account as a disclosure channel, you better lock down some written ground rules to protect the company. If the executive leaves, does he take his channel and the followers with him? Is it ok for the executive to mix in personal posts (“look at my kid’s new puppy!”), photos and comments that may be of no interest to investors?
The National Investor Relations Institute’s Southern California chapters recently had a panel discussion on “The Future of Investor Communications.” I was fortunate enough to be on that panel with Ben Claremon, a research analyst at Cove Street Capital. That discussion provided a microcosm of the varying needs of investor constituents. Claremon was clear that he did not want companies using Twitter, Facebook or other social channels to disseminate material news. As he put it, investing and investor communications is serious business, and using the latest social channel “trivializes what we are doing.” He wants relevant information via trusted channels in a timely manner.
As we’ve discussed before, social media was not designed for disclosure, does not provide simultaneous delivery to all market participants and is often loaded with non-relevant content. Your followers or readers don’t see every post from their followers.
Facebook uses hundreds of factors to determine which posts a user would be most interested in seeing, all beyond the control of the disclosing company. Twitter offers promoted tweets, allowing an advertiser to jump ahead of organic tweets. In all social media platforms, the likelihood that your users actually see the content you share is a function of how frequently they visit their channel, how many people they follow, how much those folks post and the type of content they engage with, among other factors.
Gilbert points out that “the FD in regulation FD stands for fair disclosure” and we most certainly agree. Social media should be used as an additive to investor communications, but in no way does it provide a level playing field for all market participants.

Understanding the True Risks of Utilizing Social Media for Financial Disclosure

October 8, 2013

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media

Last week, Twitter announced to the world it was filing its S-1 via its own social media platform.   While a few vendors in the IR + social media space praise the recent decision by the SEC to allow public companies to disclose material news via social channels, most realize this method is far from a best practice.

What is disclosure via social networks? 

In April 2013, the SEC announced that public companies could utilize social media networks as material disclosure distribution outlets, if they first let investors know which networks they were going to use.  This announcement came with a wide range of support and backlash. Those in favor believe this decision is forward-thinking and a solid fit for the way people communicate today.  Many others believe that this decision will lead to uneven access to content and the sharing of misinformation, ultimately creating a more volatile stock price.

Why are social networks bad platforms for disclosure? 

Before we start, let me reiterate, I am obsessed with social media.  I love Twitter.  I love Facebook.  I’m a wizard at G+, and yet I strongly believe social networks are terrible platforms for disclosure as they simply do not provide immediate, broad access to the news.  Below are several of the road blocks facing this practice that should be considered by every public company before considering this step.

  • Does the news fit the platform?:  Each social network has its own personality and fulfills different end user needs and desires, most of which are not aligned with most companies’ investor profiles.  Facebook, for example, is an excellent recommendation engine.  Pinterest is an aspirational website and Twitter is a continually updating information sharing tool.  None of these sites are being utilized by the average user as legitimate investment forums.  It is important to note that while platforms like StockTwits do bring the discussion of stocks onto Twitter, it is not reflective of Twitter’s overall market use.
  • Lack of visibility of Tweets and social updates:  As noted in this infographic, many company updates are simply not seen by page friends and fans. In fact, 84% of Facebook newsfeed stories are never seen and 71% of tweets are ignored.  This lack of visibility directly affects the success of social network disclosure posts.
  • Manipulated news visibility:  Every social network has the technology and ability to change the visibility of tweets and posts.  Twitter, Facebook, and other networks are monetized by advertising.  Paid tweets, sponsored posts and trends and more increase visibility of “popular” news and take valuable visibility away from non-paid status updates and posts.
  • Potential platform volatility:  Let’s face it, social networks sometimes go offline. Whether it is for system maintenance, too much volume or a DOS attack, when you choose to disclose over a social network, you put yourself at the mercy of a network only a handful of years old.
  • The old game of telephone:  When news is shared out across social networks, people frequently include their own opinion before resharing.   This leads to the possibility of message alteration (on Twitter, these changes are frequently noted with an MT which stands for modified tweet), which could directly impact perception of both the company and the news issued.  Rumors spread quickly on social networks and once misinformation is shared, the company must focus on message correction or risk stock instability.
  • Lack of access to social networks:  In 2011, a study of corporate CIOs shows that 31% of companies did not allow access to social networks during work hours, directly limiting access to real-time breaking news.  As the New York Times noted in 2012, financial institutions continue to struggle with providing traders and analysts with access to these channels.
  • Lack of immediate access to full-text:  The other issue with social networks is that they do not allow for very much text.  This means a company must state the impact of their news in as little as 140 characters and include a link to the full text article.  This 2-step process decreases potential visibility of the full story, and delays access to the news for end users.
  • The impact of delayed access to news:  One of the big discussions this summer in relation to the investment community was the financial impact of Thomson Reuter’s product that provides elite traders access to key information milliseconds before the rest of the financial community.  This service allows traders to buy and sell before the rest of the financial community. Every second counts on Wall Street. CNBC notes that within 10 seconds, hundreds of millions of dollars in trades can be completed.  Social networks are unable to confirm equal visibility of news and tweets, making it very easy for trades to be made before the news has fully been disseminated.
  • The security issue:  While somewhat rare, every social network, every website, faces potential security attacks and risks. Even the AP’s Twitter account was recently hacked, causing  widespread sharing of a false report of a shooting at the White House.  How are consumers supposed to know if your update is legitimate or not?  How quickly can a stock price be halted if false news impacts trading?
  • By the way, who actually uses social networks?:  While many buy-side analysts praise the use of social networks as research tools for reporting (a practice we highly recommend), most social site demographics are not aligned with investor audiences. Pew Internet notes that only 16% of Americans who utilize social networks have a Twitter account while 67% use Facebook.

Did we mention that we love social networks?!  So what should you be doing if you want to socialize your news, increasing overall awareness and engagement with your organization?  Business Wire continues to recommend a mix of tools including:

  • Use broad distribution via a commercial newswire to guarantee your full-text press release is simultaneously put in front of reporters, analysts and interested online parties.
  • Include multimedia to enhance your news – analysts love multimedia, especially video from senior team members.  Not only does multimedia increase viewership and news sharing, it has been proven to both drive deeper company-to-consumer relationships and also humanizes the brand.
  • Blog about it:  One of the best uses for corporate blogs is the ability to provide additional context for corporate news.  These are perfect vehicles to showcase the “why” of your story. And blogs that answer expected media and analyst questions help reporters provide better news coverage, ensuring further approved message permeation, decreasing message confusion and stock volatility.
  • Sharing news socially is a great idea!  Once your news has been posted to your website, share it out across your social channels.  Include Tweet this links inside your release copy to make it easy for your readers to share your highlights.
  • Live tweet:  One of the best ways to use social networks to share out news is to live tweet major events or news.  Draft tweets based on key elements of your press release and tweet them out with links back to your news. Include created multimedia to drive even higher engagement and sharing.
  • Utilize video chats: Create a video version of your blog and share each video’s embed links with key reporters and analysts. Today’s news outlets crave video content, as it both engages readers and increases the time the reader spends on their website. Analysts like the opportunity to see as well as hear from senior management. And of course, just like the blog, this content continues to drive message permeation.
  • Monitor the Conversation:  This is the number one way analysts today use social media.  They use it to see what people are saying about you, your product, your reputation and company.  The best way for organizations to utilize social media for disclosure is to listen.  What are people saying about your company, what misconceptions need to be clarified, what message points are resonating and which ones are not? Through listening you can not only find where conversations are occurring about your brand, but major themes, providing you with a roadmap for future discussion points.

There is a real, legitimate place for social media tools and platforms in the news distribution process, just not for material disclosure.

What do you think? Do social media platforms meet the requirement for consistent broad disclosure? We would love to hear your thoughts below!

Have questions about the role social media plays in the news distribution process? Let us know!


New Social Tool Alert: Pinterest Launches Article Pins for Publishers

October 2, 2013

Ask any travel fan, bride-to-be, home cook or mom what social network they spend the most time on and you might be surprised to find it is not Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, but rather the image-based discovery site, Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?  Considered an aspirational social network, Pinterest is a website that allows users to upload and share a wide range of web-hosted images, sorted by categories or boards.  Users “pin” images they find on the web to “boards,” which the user has organized by theme.  For users and publishers alike, this is a highly utilized social network, with a heavy emphasis on content discovery and sharing.  What makes Pinterest so successful is that the pinned images include links back to hosting websites, allowing interested parties to click through to the original website for additional action.

This week, Pinterest revamped how they present pinned articles.  Previously, one could pin an article, and the image would appear but the pin would be missing necessary information to make the pin relevant and compelling for search and discovery.  But no longer!  This week, Pinterest released its new article pinning service.  Now, when a user pins an article, additional information such as the headline, author, story description and article link appears. This is highly beneficial for both the pinner and the reader.  For the reader, this provides clearer context of the pin, and for the pinner, it is a perfect way to bookmark a great read.

ImageImage courtesy of Pinterest

Pinning articles was a natural next step for Pinterest.  With more than 5M articles pinned every day, this new feature provides a better experience for those interested in pinning news as well as those discovering them.  And it is a boon for publishers as well. As YieldBot notes from its recent publisher referral traffic survey, Pinterest (85%) dramatically outweighs Facebook (8.3%), Twitter (0.5%), Tumblr (0.1%) and more for desktop inbound referral traffic.  Imagine if you could increase the inbound traffic from your social shares by 80% simply by using a new platform!

So how should public relations professionals implement Pinterest’s latest tool?  First, download the new pin tool and add it to your company website’s existing social sharing buttons. This will allow site visitors to pin your news releases, images, articles and content to their own boards, kicking off viral sharing.

Next?  Make sure your website images are tagged properly to help you be found within Pinterest’s own search engine.  This, too, is easy, it just requires a slight adjustment to your image tags.

From here, the rest is about context.  Pinterest is an image-based social network so of course, you must have image-based content.  Then ask yourself, who is this image relevant to?  Technologists?  Scientists?  Brides?  Cowboys? Search Pinterest and determine the level of interest by its members for your type of news or product and pay attention to the terms being used by your audience.  Every brand has brand fans, and every brand has a fan on Pinterest.  The trick for reaching and being found by these fans is in images you share, the name of your boards and the caption you create.  Consider creating highly niche boards to reach highly specific audiences, and more general boards when featuring industry specific industries.  Looking for other ideas on how to maximize your Pinterest presence?  We love this piece by Gini Dietrich, “16 ways to use Pinterest for PR.”

So where is Pinterest going next?  While it is still too soon to know, this new service will allow Pinterest to track article uploads and reads to build out its own internal user “interest graph” data set providing additional customization and monetization options down the road.

What do you think about this new Pinterest feature? Do you plan on implementing it on your sites? If you are using it now, what do you think? We would love to hear how you are using this tool to increase the overall awareness of, and click through traffic to, your company, products or news.


Common Sense vs. Nonsense: What Thomas Paine Can Teach Us About Disclosure

April 22, 2013
by Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Business Wire
Cathy Baron Tamraz

Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman & CEO, Business Wire

Herb Greenberg, the respected CNBC market commentator who first asked whether Netflix violated Reg FD with its use of social media, subsequently put the issue into its proper perspective: It’s all about “common sense.”

Unfortunately, common sense seems to be in short supply these days, as attempts to redefine “full and fair disclosure” depreciate its value to market participants.

In a prescient post in July 2012 (http://www.cnbc.com/id/48086440), Greenberg asked whether Netflix CEO Reed Hastings side-stepped Reg FD by touting on his Facebook page that Netflix had set a new milestone in monthly viewing.

The provocative post apparently caught the eye of SEC officials; the agency filed a Wells Notice against Hastings and Netflix, indicating an inquiry into whether there was a basis to pursue the allegations.

Common-Sense-DisclosureGreenberg, in a December 2012 post, reflected on the surprising reaction of some folks to the SEC’s action. As far as Greenberg was concerned, the issue was simple.

“Bottom line: I’m all in favor of social media as a point of dissemination,” Greenberg wrote.” “They aren’t going away. But public companies and executives want to use them, and they have to play by the rules. That means, simply, issue a press release at the same time. Simple common sense, don’t you think?”

The SEC tweaked the rules recently by issuing a report on the possible use of social media tools for compliance purposes. Unfortunately, the agency’s report generated a lot of heat, but little illumination.

Thomas Paine, in talking about government and society, wrote his passionate pamphlet called “Common Sense” in 1776. Written more than 200 years ago, his words are timeless:

“There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of the monarchy. It first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgement is required.”

Common sense dictates that full and fair disclosure means that all market participants have simultaneous, real-time access to market-moving information. Business Wire has a patented news delivery platform — “NX” — that ensures network recipients worldwide have equal, unrestricted and simultaneous access.

Common sense dictates the overriding importance of network security, and the vetting of corporate announcements to validate their source. Business Wire’s network systems are audited annually by independent management consultants, ensuring compliance with the rigorous standards of securities regulators in multiple international jurisdictions. Additionally, Business Wire has close to 200 editors — and authentication procedures — to provide credible, vetted information to the capital markets.

Common sense dictates that an audit trail exists to protect issuers in the event of a regulatory investigation. As a point of fact, the SEC itself utilizes Business Wire’s audit trail when investigating companies that have caught their attention.

Common sense dictates that the recommendations of prominent professional organizations such as The National Investor Relations Institute be factored into policy decisions. Specifically, NIRI’s “Best Practices” call for a combination of Reg-FD compliant platforms to ensure the broadest possible investor outreach.

Common sense dictates that service providers adapt the latest technologies. Business Wire’s multi-channel platform has long embraced social media (it has 61 industry Twitter feeds). In fact, Business Wire is the industry technology leader with five patents, including two for social media innovations.

Common sense tells us that information should be simultaneous and ubiquitous. Excluding anyone from access to material information is the road to chaos, leading to a possible return to the “Whisper on Wall Street.” Ironically, this is the very thing that Regulation Fair Disclosure sought to eliminate in 2000.

Clearly, there is no substitute for common sense. While it is apparently lacking in some circles, the encouraging news is that the investor relations industry has a proud history of taking a pragmatic and thoughtful approach in meeting its professional obligations, as confirmed by this recent NIRI survey.

The silver lining, as Thomas Paine and Herb Greenberg have taught us, is that common sense never goes out of style.


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