Tweeting the Campaign: Three Ways Social Media is Changing the Way Reporters Cover the Election

March 5, 2012
by Shawnee Cohn, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York
MRT

Shawnee Cohn

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently proposed that 2012 is going to be the year of the “Twitter Election,” referring to the power that the social network offers presidential candidates to engage with voters.

Not only are candidates contributing to the Twitter conversation, but the media is also breaking important campaign news in 140 characters or less. Here at Business Wire, we offer all of our Public Policy and Election news at the Twitter handle @BW_PublicPolicy.

In response to this trend in news distribution, Twitter recently created an official account, @TwitterForNews, which offers tips for journalists on how to cover the 2012 election most effectively.

As part of Social Media Week, The New York Times hosted a panel discussion which delved deeper into the topic of how social media impacts political coverage. The panel featured:

The panelists offered compelling evidence for the argument that social media is critical when sending out your election-related news. Here are some highlights of how journalists utilize Twitter and other social networks:

To monitor breaking news: Stevenson stated that “every political reporter uses Twitter as a news feed all day long.” Smith agreed, admitting that he now heavily relies on Twitter traffic, in addition to some RSS news feeds, to get the day’s headlines. Instead of tuning in to watch the debates on television, one could simply scan all of the highlights by solely reading relevant tweets, noted Hamby. However, both Hamby and Stevenson advised that it is important to occasionally detach yourself from Twitter. Taking a step outside the Twitter realm helps journalists to avoid snap judgments and observe the opinions of those who are not as involved with the social network. Being that reporters rely on various mediums to get their news, it is important to send out your message on multiple platforms, such as a news wire, Twitter, mobile alerts, etc.

To accurately relay readers’ real concerns: Michel discussed how social media offers journalists the capacity to “systematically engage people” and therefore “find stories that you wouldn’t otherwise.” Smith also uses Twitter as a “place to find questions” from the public, rather than answers. Social networks allow the media to get a feel for what people are wondering about, and to consequently be more responsible to their audience, said Stevenson. For example, in the recent cases of the Komen/Planned Parenthood decision and the SOPA bill, journalists monitored the negative reactions to the policy choices on social networks and chose to report on the backlash in depth. The Washington Post places importance on reflecting “what’s happening socially,” and incorporating the “conversation around things” into their reports, says Zamora.

To interact with other political reporters:  Stevenson explained there is a “clubhouse effect” when it comes to political reporters; they tend to engage in discussion with one another and this can sometimes lead to a closed feedback loop. This creates a sort of “virtual spin room” that plays out in real-time. You can watch and learn from this ongoing conversation by following multiple political journalists (you must follow both users on Twitter to be able to see @ messages). It is also critical to establish yourself as a credible source if you are trying to gain the attention of any number of these reporters. CNN and other major media will not report anything on Twitter that they would not report on any other platform – a valid source is always essential.

For more information on Social Media Week, visit socialmediaweek.org.You can find the latest election/campaign news by registering at www.businesswire.com, or by following @BWPolitics and @BW_PublicPolicy.


DC-Area Tech Journalists Offer Pitching Tips

October 1, 2010

by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

Business Wire/DC hosted a “Meet the Technology Media” Event at Marriott Tysons Corner in Vienna, Virginia on Wednesday, September 29th.  The panel discussion, moderated by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, featured five technology journalists from some of the area’s top media outlets:

About 120 public relations and communications professionals were in attendance to learn how to increase your organization’s chances of securing media coverage. Attendees joined in the conversation during a question and answer section and also by live tweeting the event using the #BWEvents hash tag.

Here are some of the key points from the panel discussion:

  1. Headlines are important. Nick Wakeman said to think about your press release headline as a headline in a newspaper. Just as media outlets compete for readers at the newsstand, public relations professionals must compete for the attention of journalists in their inbox. The headline should tell reporters why they should care. For The Hill, you should have a clear link to politics or policy issues, said Gautham Nagesh.
  2. Include your organization in the e-mail subject. Paul Sherman noted that e-mail subjects are key in a mobile environment. Rob Pegoraro added that including a client and product name in the e-mail subject makes it easier for him to find the message later on.
  3. Know who you’re pitching. Every journalist has his or her own preferences when it comes to being pitched. Paul Sherman noted that he prefers texts over voicemails. Nick Wakeman likes when you follow up your e-mail with a phone call. There is no secret formula to media relations. You just need to do your homework.
  4. Consider your audience. Bill Flook pointed out that the Washington Business Journal reaches two different audiences through its online and print editions. Think about how your story fits in and remember that exclusivity matters for print while immediacy is more important for the web.
  5. Go beyond the pitch. According to Gautham Nagesh, Twitter can be an effective way to generate interest. If his followers are interested in your message, he will be more inclined to pay attention. Rob Pegoraro noted that commenting on articles online is a great way to provide information that was not included in the story. Bill Flook suggests setting up informational interviews with your CEO. Often, meetings like these can result in story ideas.

For more upcoming local Business Wire events or to see what’s coming up in our award-winning webinar series, visit http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/business-wire-events.


Media Relations in the Digital Age Event Recap

July 15, 2010

by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire DC

Members of the Business Wire/DC team were in attendance at Media Relations in the Digital Age held at the US Navy Memorial & Heritage Center on Wednesday, July 14th.  The event, which was organized by the Professional Development Committee of the PRSA – National Capital Chapter, welcomed four journalists – Ceci Connolly, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, Greg Ip and Jordan Rau – to discuss “how to fearlessly pitch big-league media and get big-time results.”

Ceci Connolly

Ceci Connolly

Ceci Connolly is the national health policy correspondent for the Washington Post.  She has been a staff writer at the Post for over a decade and has covered politics, health care and several major disasters.  Prior to joining the newspaper in 1997, she covered politics for Congressional Quarterly and worked at the Washington bureau of the St. Petersburg Times.

According to Ceci, public relations practitioners need to think strategically about which news organizations they are targeting.  “The more you can be targeted, the more you can be effective,” she said.  Assist reporters by providing factual information with credible sources, understanding deadlines and knowing what beats they cover.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for the Washington bureau of Marketplace.  Previously, she worked as a newscaster for NPR and WAMC in Albany, New York, as well as an anchor at Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Nancy reminded the audience that “the early bird gets the worm.”  Send pitches with plenty of lead time and plan events around days when journalists may not be as busy.  Mondays, Fridays and holidays work best.  Marketplace will generally be seeking out stories during these times.

Greg Ip

Greg Ip

Greg Ip is U.S. Economics Editor for The Economist and also contributes to The Economist’s blog Free Exchange.  Before joining The Economist in 2008, he served as chief economics correspondent of the Wall Street Journal and created the paper’s online blog Real Time Economics.

According to Greg, reporters at The Economist are generally looking for experts with deep knowledge about the subjects they are covering.  He suggests inserting your organization into the context of a story.  “Describe why something affects you in a positive or negative way.  Examples are very valuable,” he said.

Jordan Rau

Jordan Rau

Jordan Rau is a reporter for Kaiser Health News.  His KHN stories have been featured in publications such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as news sites including NPR.org and MSNBC.com.  Prior to joining Kaiser Health News, he covered government and health care politics for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Concord Monitor.

When it comes to public relations, Jordan recommends focusing on “people, data and dish.”  Find people who are affected by the issue your organization is concerned about and truly illustrate the story.  Provide quantifiable data which can easily be used in a story.  Finally, don’t be afraid to dish out information about your competitors.  “Some of the most successful people in public relations are the experts in opposition research,” he said.  Pitches that suggest conflict with competitors often get more attention than stories that highlight your organization’s own products, services or success.


Interview with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz of The Washington Post

June 9, 2010

– by Cecile Oreste, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/DC

I recently met with Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor for the Local section of The Washington Post, to talk about newsgathering trends and press release distribution.  Emilio has extensive knowledge of these topics, with more than 25 years of experience in the newspaper industry and a journalism degree from the University of Maryland.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz

Prior to being named the Local Editor last year, Emilio served as Sports Editor of The Washington Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where he directed an investigative series that uncovered academic fraud at the University of Minnesota and won reporter George Dohrmann the 2000 Pulitzer for beat reporting.  In addition, Emilio has worked for other top 100 dailies including the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times.

When asked about social media in relation to news gathering, Emilio said that the Post is using these tools to look for crowdsourcing ideas.  He mentioned Twitter being especially helpful for content during the big snowstorms in Washington this past winter.  Social networking tools have enabled journalists to engage in conversation with their readers.  They also allow reporters to follow organizations they cover for breaking news and announcements.  Although social media has become a major part of the newsgathering process, press releases still play a role.  The issue, however, is how to make your release stand out.

During our meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, Emilio received 10 press releases via e-mail – all of which were irrelevant to the Local section.  “If you’re going to send someone a press release, make sure you have the right contact, because if not they’re just going to delete it.  The best press releases are hyper-targeted to what we do.”

With the number of public relations practitioners outweighing the number of reporters, it’s more important than ever to think like a journalist when writing your release.  According to Emilio, “Many of the problems could be alleviated with some basic newspaper fundamentals.  Including who, what, where, when, how in the first paragraph.  That would be nice.  Get to your point quickly instead of writing in a convoluted way.  Just like a story, if a press release doesn’t work at the top, then you’re not going to continue reading.”

Above all, practitioners should remember that public relations is about relationships.  “The best chance to get to me is with a relationship,” Emilio added.  “My time is limited and when your time is limited, you deal with the people you know.”



Business Wire: Remaining Relevant for All The Right Reasons

May 10, 2010

by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media, Business Wire

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media, Business Wire

The Washington Post Company’s decision to put Newsweek on the block this week is the latest example of the modern Darwinism that is radically reshaping the media industry. For me, the news was more personal, having  spent a decade [1977-1987] at Newsweek when it was near the top of its game, still basking in the afterglow of its Watergate heroics.

Newsweek‘s top editors were known internally as “The Wallendas,” a reference to the famous circus family that walked the high wire without a safety net. Ironically, it was the magazine itself that decades later would become the victim of a potentially fatal free-fall that endangers its very existence.

In chronicling Newsweek‘s near-death experience, Jon Friedman, the MarketWatch media columnist, pinpointed the core issue confronting all media companies today. “In the 21st century,” Friedman writes, “the key question that media companies will face is this: Is my product relevant? “

Of course, Friedman is right. Relevancy is king, and always has been.  Routine relevancy checks are a requisite for survival in today’s media metamorphosis.  I’m not entirely convinced, however, that relevancy is a phenomenon that is unique to the Digital Age. As far as I’m concerned, relevancy has always been the name of the game.

Business Wire has always revolved around relevancy, and staying ahead of the curve.

We vigilantly seek out new technology and formatting opportunities that will enhance our client value proposition and end-user experience. Business Wire is well-known within the news and information industry for pushing the envelope, and for setting industry standards. Our pioneering NX news delivery system, for example, has been awarded patents in the United States and Canada for its simultaneous, real-time news delivery capability — a must for full and fair disclosure. Most recently, we began formatting our transmission in XHTML,  a web-based display format that provides the user with increased functionality and flexibility.

To be candid, Business Wire is not very popular with the IT departments of major media organizations and financial information providers, as we are always raising the bar in terms of our delivery standards. We are more interested, however, in retaining our reputation as the industry technology leader than in winning any popularity contests. It’s a small price to pay for staying relevant.

Despite today’s seismic changes, Business Wire is more relevant than ever. Indeed, Business Wire is likely to play a more significant role in global communications and regulatory compliance in the years ahead.

We’ve made the successful transition from traditional “wire service” to a multi-lingual, multi-media publishing platform that leverages the full spectrum of available delivery channels, ranging from RSS feeds to social media networks, to SEO, to mobile applications. Our network is like a snowball accelerating down a steep mountain — it continues to grow exponentially.

We can say with total confidence that Business Wire has the most robust and dynamic delivery system in the industry, transforming the once humble press release into a rich media, interactive presentation that can be rendered into multiple formats across a range of platforms. Anyone who still thinks of a “wire service” as clattering teletypes and satellite transmission is seriously out of step with reality. We’ve taken Internet delivery to the next level — and have patents in multiple jurisdictions to prove it.

And with the push for financial reform a top global priority, Business Wire’s ability to deliver material information to ALL market participants simultaneously and in real-time takes on a renewed sense of importance. There is simply no substitute for disclosure and transparency, as regulators and reformers worldwide agree.

In our view, there is more than one definition for relevancy.  While technology is the backbone of what we do, it is only part of the story. To be truly relevant in today’s era of intense competition requires a commitment to core timeless values, including client service, editorial integrity and credibility, and network security. Without a commitment to these fundamental values, irrelevancy is all but guaranteed.

As Business Wire approaches its  “half-centennial”  anniversary in 2011, we have never been more optimistic about the future. Rather than being a prisoner of its past, Business Wire is justly proud of it. And we look forward to remaining at the nexus of the global information exchange in the decades ahead.



Press Releases are More than Just News; They are Valuable Content Across the Web

August 11, 2009

marketwatchIt’s no secret that Business Wire pushes out news to a broad community of journalists through many means, just as we have been doing for nearly 50 years.  And we’ve been posting press releases to the Web as long as it’s been possible to do so.  But the media landscape has changed over the past few years.

Newspapers’ websites have become much more important not only to readers but to the newpapers themselves.   Business Wire benefits from this shift because papers want our releases on their sites as additional, Web-only content and we can customize news feeds to their specifications (e.g., public companies only, Florida news, high tech news, etc).   Our clients benefit from the extra exposure.  And clients get direct feedback on this exposure in the form of a NewsTrak Posting report, which is a selective list of sites to which their releases are posted.

The great news is that the list of newspapers appearing on reports for public companies has just been enhanced with sites hosted by Marketwatch.  It’s significant to note that all of these major papers have received Business Wire news for many years; but now readers have access to unfiltered news releases on each site.

The sites are:
New York Times
Washington Post
Newsday (NY)
Los Angeles Times
Chicago Tribune
Baltimore Sun
Hartford Courant
Morning Call (Allentown)
Investor’s Business Daily

AND, public company Posting Reports now also show links to postings on the Wall Street Journal site.

-Sandy Malloy, Senior Information Specialist, Business Wire


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