Florida Media Luncheon Results in Tips for Crisis Communications Planning

April 13, 2011

by Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, BW Florida

Business Wire Florida held “CRISIS! Expect the Unexpected: Plan, Manage, & Respond,” a media luncheon for South Florida Professionals on March 30 hosted by JM Family Enterprises Inc. and moderated by Amy Wagner, former Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Global Communications of Burger King.

Panelists included:

Laura Vann, Public Relations Specialist,  Lynn University Marketing and Communication

Don Silver, Chief Operating Officer, Boardroom Communications

Elianne Gonzalez, Hispanic Press Officer,  Insurance Information Institute

Wayne K. Roustan, General Assignment Reporter,  South Florida Sun Sentinel

Laura Vann, Lynn University

Laura Vann, Lynn University

Laura Vann gave a moving presentation on the Lynn University Crisis following the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which involved 12 students and two professors.

Vann discussed Lynn University’s unenviable circumstance of false information that reported some students were safe when in fact that was incorrect. The University acted quickly with a clarifying a press conference.

Don Silver opened the panel discussion with Crisis Management tips. Among them:

  • Deal with crisis immediately.  Seek a short term solution that will save time, grief, damage to your brand and the company.
  • Remind everybody, especially those that answer phones, who at the organization can speak on behalf of the company.
  • Know the media that covers your company. Understand their news cycles, how they work, what they need, and how they need it.
  • Monitor.  Keep Lexis/Nexis, Google and different news alerts active for your company, clients, brand names, etc.

Wayne K. Roustan shared 30 years of media expertise in covering crisis situations. His first insight:   how media are expected to do the impossible on multiple platforms. “It’s just non-stop feed the beast. So if the media knows when the news is coming they won’t pester you. You are controlling the situation.”

Elianne Gonzalez stated a common mistake organizations make during a crisis situation is that they forget to keep a printed copy of the Crisis Plan handy just in case the power goes out and/or loss of communication. She also pointed out the plan should include contact information for the company’s spokes persons.

Ibrey Woodall was on hand to share Business Wire’s Crisis Communications online tool. Woodall discussed a Darksite feature that allows communicators to prepare a crisis plan and implement it in the backend.

Calling All College Students: Enter Our 50th Anniversary Video Contest & Win a Trip to Meet Warren Buffett in New York

April 12, 2011

Business Wire is going back to school! In our 50 years in the industry, we’ve seen first-hand how the communications world has changed & played a pretty big role in many of those changes along the way. Looking to the future as part of our 50th Anniversary, we want the next generation of communicators to share their vision of where public relations and communications is headed.

We’re kicking off our 50th Anniversary College Video Contest to send one lucky student to New York City to meet Warren Buffett, chairman & CEO of Business Wire’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, along with Business Wire chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz at Business Wire’s NYSE Opening Bell luncheon on September 30. Full-time U.S. and Canadian students attending two- or four-year colleges are invited to submit a video answering the question, “What is the future of public relations and communications?

We’ll select our top five videos and post them to our Facebook page, where fans are encouraged to “like” & comment on their favorites. Check out all the contest details at Facebook.com/BusinessWire. Good luck!

Check out this video for a quick rundown of what this contest is all about:

Local News Sites Going Facebook Only? Press Releases Need Local Hook to be Utilized

April 11, 2011

Last month, Maryland community blog Rockville Central moved to a Facebook only format. The decision attracted media attention from a number of journalism sites including Nieman Journalism Lab and Media Bistro’s Social Times among others. Business Wire’s media relations team spoke to Editor Cindy Cotte Griffiths in a  recent Q & A that explores this innovative move and how press releases fit in.

Cindy Cotte Griffiths, Editor of Rockville Central on Facebook

Cindy Cotte Griffiths, Editor of Rockville Central on Facebook

Business Wire: What has been the initial reaction from the Rockville Central community?

Cotte Griffiths:   Although some people expressed dismay on the website before the move, the initial reaction has been extremely positive on Facebook. Our active users have increased by over 500% and our base continues to grow each day. We are seeing many new people interacting and commenting on the site which has always been our primary goal.

Business Wire: Do you think other media outlets will follow your lead?

Cotte Griffiths: Yes, we do. We’ve already heard of a local newspaper which has informed its staff that it will be shifting entirely to Facebook. However, sites which intend to take advantage of the projected increases in local online advertising probably would not be in a position to shift entirely to Facebook, since Facebook does not offer a revenue sharing arrangement.

Some other interesting developments in the online media world include TechCrunch only allowing comments with a Facebook account, and Warner Bros. making films available on Facebook with Facebook Credits. Meanwhile, big print news outlets are setting up paywalls. Currently, Facebook takes a 30% cut of revenues from sales by third parties using Credits, so perhaps the news world and Facebook Credits might be combined someday.

 Business Wire: What makes an effective press release in your opinion?

Cotte Griffiths: For us, a press release needs to be location-based since we will only report on Rockville, Md.   We’re willing to include stories about organizations or businesses which are on the forefront of their fields since we like to highlight all the great things produced in our community. So for example, if a biotech company cured a disease or an organization started a successful worldwide program, we would be willing to share the story to emphasize what makes our community special.

For more information about PressPass and Business Wire’s other journalist tools, contact our media relations team at Media.Relations@BusinessWire.com.

Friday Fast Links: Fifth calls, CSR, name changes and more

April 8, 2011

Have a great weekend!

PR Peeps Poll: Most PR Pros Practice Good Headline Habits

April 7, 2011

by Monika Maeckle, Vice President New Media

Congratulations, PR Peeps!  The vast majority of you practice good headline habits.

The March PR Peeps Poll with 191 participants, shows 143 (76%) utilize keywords in headlines while 119 of you (62%) take the extra minute or two to customize headers for email, social networks and Twitter.

PR Peeps Poll:   Headline Habits

Conventional wisdom assumes that 80% of readers don’t jump past the headline, so focusing on keywords and concepts and taking that extra time to customize for context is extremely important.   With so much competition for our attention, you may not have a chance beyond the headline to get your message across.

While 33 out of 191 (17%) said they do not emphasize keywords in headlines, 13 (about 7%) of you don’t know what keywords are.   Several  chimed in with comments such as, ” Headlines need to cause an editor to say ‘people will click to read this!’ ” and  “Non PR savvy executives push for headlines that are always too long.”  Yes.  We feel your pain.

How's your Headline Habits?

How’s your Headline Habits?

Do you emphasize keywords in the headlines of your press releases?

                                                  Yes–143,  or 76%

                                                  No–33, or 17%

                                                 What are keywords?–13, or 7%

 Do you rewrite/customize press release headlines for email, social networks and/or Twitter? 

                                                  Yes–119, or 62%

                                                   No–72, or 38%

To all those who participated, thank you very much!  Out next PR Peeps Poll asks, How do press releases fit into your branding efforts?

191 respondents via Twitter, email and Business Wire webinar polls. Poll conducted  conducted February – March 2011.

Los Angeles Tech Reporters Offer Tips for Pitching Tech Media

April 6, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Last week, Business Wire LA hosted “LA-Area Technology Journalists Discuss Reporting Trends and How to Pitch Tech Media,” a media breakfast and panel discussion with technology journalists discussing what makes a good story and best practices for pitching tech media.

Sallie Olmsted (far right), Executive Vice President of Convergence at Rogers & Cowan, moderated the panel, which included (left to right):

  • Brian Deagon, Business and Technology Journalist, Investor’s Business Daily
  • David Sarno, Staff Writer, The Los Angeles Times
  • Natalie Jarvey, Reporter (Technology), Los Angeles Business Journal

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Journalists are extremely busy and have little time to look at each pitch they receive. Be succinct and get to the point immediately.  Don’t try to set up the story. In a press release, the point of the pitch needs to be in the headline or first paragraph; in an email pitch, it needs to be in the subject line. David Sarno says to think of the headline and first paragraph of a press release as the entirety of your release, because most people don’t read past that.
  • In pitches, press releases and all corporate literature, journalists value clarity and authenticity over flowery language.
  • Stories are rarely just about one product. They usually have more to do with a trend or how people are doing things differently. Think about that as context for your pitches.
  • Reporters still like face-to-face meetings, demos, visits and webinars, but just don’t have much time. Trade shows are one place where you can meet face-to-face, particularly for tech companies. Get in touch with reporters who are attending in advance.  If you’re doing a demo or webinar, make an archive available so reporters don’t feel like they only have one chance to see it. Transcripts are also helpful and should be provided promptly.
  • Although many reporters are on Twitter and Facebook, pitching by email is still generally more reliable.
  • If you are pitching over the phone, make sure you know what you’re talking about and are able to answer questions! This is especially applicable for low-level PR professionals and interns who are asked to pitch.
  • Quotes in press release do get used, especially if the reporter doesn’t have time to get a quote on their own. However, to get used, the quote must give insight and not just be a generic “this is great” type quote.
  • Most reporters will honor an embargo, but the panelists say they don’t see it as an indicator that something is important. Embargoed items get treated like any other news item.
  • If your company uses a general media inquiries mailbox (such as a press@abccompany.com type address on your website), make sure it’s monitored regularly.   If a reporter sends an inquiry to that address, it should be responded to promptly. Better yet, list your media relations person.
  • Great tech/business news sites: TechMeme, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Bloomberg.

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.

Follow Business Wire events on Twitter! Hashtag #bwevents

BW Fun Fact: Business Wire Home to Double Jeopardy! Queens with Two Champs on Staff

April 5, 2011

If  Berkshire Hathaway companies were their own category on the long-running answer-and-question show Jeopardy, the answer to the clue “home of  TWO Jeopardy queens” would be  Business Wire.

Laura Sturaitis, Jeopardy champ, with Alex Trebek in 2002

Laura Sturaitis, Jeopardy champ, with Alex Trebek in 2002

Boasting our own “daily double,”  Business Wire’s team of 500+ employees includes two amazing women, running different departments, on opposite coasts.  Both have enjoyed competing and winning on Jeopardy.

Sandy Malloy leads our  information services department in San Francisco and won two games worth more than $10,000 back in 1989.  And Laura Sturaitis, Executive Vice President, Media Services and Product Strategy in Florida, won one of two games on the show back in December of 2002.  Also worth noting:  Sturaitis’ taping marked the first time the new Jeopardy set was revealed, “a very big deal at the time,” she says.

When she found out she would appear on the show, Sturaitis phoned Malloy for tips.  “She told me to start watching the game with a click pen in my hand to simulate the buzzer. That was really good advice.  Mastering the timing of that buzzer was the secret to getting in to answer versus being locked out for buzzing too soon,” she says.

Malloy says her only prep was to “look at a globe for awhile.” 

In the crazy coincedence department, Sturaitis was coached by her husband, Arch, who had appeared on Canadian TV’s teen quiz show,  Reach for the Top, hosted by none other than…a young emcee named Alex Trebek.  Trebek has hosted Jeopardy since 1984.

Malloy also had previous TV competition experience.  As a teenager she competed in the quiz program It’s Academic and appeared on a short-lived game show called The Challengers with Dick Clark.  There  she won  $850–“enough to buy a new TV, after putting money aside for taxes.” 

Says Sturaitis:  “I’ve been a media and communications professional for 25+ years, and at Business Wire now for 19,  but nothing I have accomplished has connected with people more than the last line of my bio where I reveal I am a Jeopardy Champion.”


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