Seattle Journalists Offer Insights; Pitching Advice at Media Roundtable

January 20, 2016

Matt Allinson Bio Pic

by Matt Allinson – Media Relations Manager, International Markets

Seven superb Seattle journalists assembled downtown on a gray December day for Business Wire Seattle’s media “speed dating” event. The event provided an opportunity for those who work with the media and/or who are interested in the media to have small group discussions with the journalists who matter to them most. The goal, as always, was to foster education and understanding between the media and PR/IR community (as well as with the public at large).

Media at Event

From L to R: Garrett Rudolph (Editor – Marijuana Venture Magazine); Taylor Soper (Reporter – Geekwire.com); Michelle Flandreau (Producer – KING5); Lauren Mang (Digital Editor – Seattle Magazine); Roger Nyhus (Moderator – President & CEO of Nyhus Communications); Sara Lerner (Reporter – KIRO Radio); Ashley Stewart (Reporter – Puget Sound Business Journal); Rachel Lerman (Reporter – The Seattle Times)

The journalists varied widely in terms of the media they work for, the industries and companies they cover, and the way they do their jobs. We had a marijuana industry magazine editor; a tech reporter for a start-up; a long time public radio reporter who recently switched to commercial radio; a television producer; a digital editor; a finance reporter; and a tech reporter from the state’s biggest paper.

The journalists offered many excellent tips for interacting with media and pitching stories. Here are some you should remember:

  • Press releases are great … particularly those that include multimedia … but a personalized email pitch or a follow-up call that comes with it can make a big difference.
  • Know who you’re pitching and what they write … take the time to form a relationship if you want the reporter to cover you now or in the future.
  • Taylor Soper of Geekwire.com pulls two to three stories a week from Twitter. It’s increasingly becoming one of his favorite ways to find story ideas.
  • Radio interviews … Sara Lerner of KIRO Radio always prefers an in-studio interview, but recognizes that short notice can make that difficult. A great alternative, she says, is to use Skype, because you don’t need a microphone and it resolves the problem of cell phone quality and the scarcity of landlines.
  • If you live in a marijuana-friendly state, take note of the publications focusing on that industry. Marijuana Venture Magazine editor Garrett Rudolph said his magazine started as a 8-page black and white publication in the spring of 2014 and is now a 120+ page glossy.
  • How does the Seattle Times‘ tech reporter Rachel Lerman find stories? For one, she scans Business Wire’s daily PressPass feed. She also has various alerts set up on all the companies that she covers.Rachel
  • A major pet peeve amongst several of the journalists in attendance was lack of an available contact. Too many times, they say, have they received an interesting press release only to call the contact number on the bottom and get no answer. Lack of availability will often lead to a lack of coverage.
  • One way to ensure reporters always have access to additional information, images and company contacts is to include a link to your organization’s online newsroom. These sites are crucial for reporters, as well as analysts and other decision makers when looking for more information about your brand.

For more tips and and to better understand the tools journalists are currently using, download the 2015 Business Wire Media Survey.

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ICYMI: Meet The Washington D.C. Tech Media

April 3, 2015

By Simon Ogus, Business Wire

As a technology reporter in the digital age, life has become pretty crazy. You are expected to be an early adapter to the new tech toys, be an early adapter and work non-stop in today’s 24/7 news cycle.

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Hoping to bridge the gap between the reporter and the PR professional, Business Wire Washington, DC hosted a “Meet the Technology” media panel on focusing on the latest trends in the world of technology reporting.  The panel consisted of five established names in the Washington, DC technology reporting industry and the topics discussed included how reporters utilize social media professionallyhow to effectively organize a pitch and the best ways to get a reporter’s attention in today’s non-stop news cycle.

Speakers:
Paul Sherman, Editor and Publisher of Potomac Tech Wire – @PaulRSherman
Kasra Kangarloo, Reporter, Washington Business Journal – @TechFlashWBJ
Rob Pegoraro – Columnist, Yahoo! Tech – @RobPegoraro
Joseph Marks – Reporter, Politico – @Joseph_Marks_
Hayley Tsuyakama – Reporter, Washington Post – @htsuka

How Reporters Prefer to Be Pitched
The panel began with how reporters can ideally and most efficiently be pitched in the current times. The near unanimous sentiment was that pitching by e-mail was preferred over phone and social media. Paul Sherman flatly said that “phone pitching, while not dead is much rarer these days”.  Every panelists agreed.  Phone calls with pitches often will fall through the cracks as the reporter might not be at their desk or lose track of the phone call or message throughout their busy day.

Photo by Jennifer Dunn

Photo by Jennifer Dunn

Hayley Tsuyakama noted that she liked receiving emails from PR pros “because those pitches can be saved if I am busy, flagged if I want to make sure I see them later and easily searchable through modern e-mail capabilities.” This illustrates a strong point about email, even if they aren’t used immediately, they can be found easily via keyword searches of the e-mail text, subject or sender’s contact information.

But email is not the only way to reach reporters.  When the conversation turned to the role of newswires in the news gathering process, each of the panelists agreed that newswires offer a wide range of benefits over releases pitched directly by the individual company.  Sherman said he “uses Business Wire as a source every day.”  In addition, the speakers noted that newswires are both convenient and a good source of accurate information.

What to include in your pitch
Knowing how to pitch a reporter also immensely aided by knowing where the reporter gathers news ideas and what kinds of topics and trends they find important. Ultimately a public relations professional may love their own story or find it extremely important, but it is up to the reporter to determine if they want to cover it.  So what is a pitch that will catch a reporter’s eye? Rob Pegoraro said If I can learn something myself and teach my readers at the same time, then I have found a great story to cover.” Reporters are busier than ever trying to uncover impactful story ideas. As Sherman said “competitors are not just other outlets, but social media as well. Anyone is a source now with smartphones, the job is much more competitive in 2015.” So how does this affect the PR professional? Reporter’s time is now more valuable than ever, so getting your message across takes additional strategy and tactics. While the content of your story will be what gets you covered, the panelists did provide a few other ways to catch their attention.

Meet the DC Tech Media

Provide an Expert Marks said “Being able to provide an expert to your pitch is very important, it is great to learn stuff from a pitch that you don’t already know. If your spokesperson has great credentials, feel free to pitch anytime, not just when a breach happens in my cybersecurity reporting.” This is a strong message for all communicators  always try to have an expert at your disposal for technical pitches as they will help to catch the eye of the reporter trying to explain complex content matter.

Be Easy to Find
Additionally Kasra Kangarloo said being active on Twitter is important for communications skills. “It’s easier to find a @twitter profile than an email address, so I may reach out by tweet instead of email.” As well all know Twitter is the main hub of spontaneous communication, so having an active presence could get you that dialogue going with a reporter that could eventually lead to coverage for your client.

Leverage Partners (and don’t forget to include financial data)
The conversation shifted to Kangarloo’s coverage of technology startups and what he looks for in a good new startup to cover for the Business Journal. He had some great advice for anyone trying to get media coverage for a newer startup. He said “Get your name out there, I want to hear you from someone else. Not from yourself, anyone can talk about themselves. Hearing about your startup from someone else will pique my interest.” He also reminded the audience that data such as revenue is key for securing coverage, especially for today’s startups.

Read Your Pitch, First (on a mobile device) 
While the subject matter of the news release is always paramount, the panel did mention some tips on best practices to get them interested in a story.  Pegoraro Reminded the audience that most reporters work off mobile devices and suggested PR professionals read their pitch on their own mobile device to ensure the most salient points appear at the top of the device.

As the discussion came to a close there was an interesting question from the audience about what defines journalistic success in 2015. Lots of outlets strictly look at click-rates which often times leads to stories that perhaps aren’t the most informed content on the web. The reporters responded honestly and the majority said they were very aware of their analytics for their stories and that plays a major role in how their performance has been, but there is more to the process. Pegoraro said “making readers smart is a focus of journalistic success in additional to analytics.” This tweet from the event also goes on to say what additional words were said on the topic.

Journalism today has changed.  Reporters are expected to do more, in less time.  Crafting interesting pitches, tailored to each media outlet’s needs and utilizing smart distribution methods will help you increase your coverage and overall visibility.  For additional commentary on this discussion please check out the hashtag #bwchat.


“Every Business Has an Audience” is a Key Takeaway from SXW2O

March 17, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

The venue was large and had already been entertained by the great Al Roker by the time Jim Weiss (CEO, W2O Group) and Cathy Baron Tamraz (CEO, Business Wire) stepped on stage. They had their hands full with a standing room-only audience and only saying something fundamentally mind blowing would turn it around. Fortunately for the crowd, that’s exactly what happened.

Cathy and Jim at SXW2O event

During the session, Cathy was asked how a newswire service could support a startup or organization that journalists weren’t actively looking for information on. “If you have a business, you have an audience,” she told the crowd. “Safe is not going to win the game.”

More news is being created and consumed now than ever in the history of modern man, she continued, adding that there are trade papers, journalists, online publications and consumers looking for relevant company news every day. You don’t have to be a big name brand to get noticed; you just have to have a good product or piece of news. In a world so cluttered with content, it was refreshing to hear someone say what every successful large and small organization knows to be true. You don’t have to be big to get noticed — you just have to appeal to your core audience.

Apple WatchTo reiterate the point that smaller companies can greatly benefit with a newswire service, Cathy cited her own company’s history. When Business Wire first launched over 50 years ago, they were distributing news for companies like Hewlett-Packard, companies that were being run out of garages. This hasn’t changed much. From startup launches to the introduction of the Apple watch, Business Wire continues to distribute market moving news across a wide range of industries.

Jim Weiss chimed in, adding that startups need to get into the practice of issuing releases. It is important to start building and archiving a digital trail for your company during its earliest stages. The digital revolution also created a wide variety of options for the format of your distributed information.

Both Jim and Cathy agreed that multimedia was not just beneficial to a news release, but a requirement in modern news consumption programming. Modern communicators like Hasbro, Intel, Cigna and more are leveraging multimedia assets like News and Picture Capsules that allow users to play a game while learning about the brand and product. IntelBy incorporating interactive multimedia within the news story, audiences spend far more time on the news announcement than they would had it just been a simple text release.  Text-only news releases engage readers for seconds, while interactive-based releases are showing engagement results between 4-10 minutes – rates that are unheard of in the current communications and content marketing space.

The next topic covered was the importance of measurement in the communication space.  Measurability is the single greatest tool in identifying how a release is impacting the market and the company goals alike. Advents, such as NUVI, create an ability to not only see where your news release is being picked up but who is engaging with it and how – reading, sharing or advocating. Being able to distinguish the public reaction of your release gives you the opportunity to take control over your campaign like never before.

nuvi report

The lineup at this year’s SXW2O was fantastic, and the reason why is because the speakers were inspiring. There is a great feeling to knowing that you can make an impact especially when the message is coming from people who make an impact every day, like Jim Weiss and Cathy Baron Tamraz. The question now is who are you trying to activate with your news, and how can Business Wire help you distribute it?

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The Role of Consistency in News Releases, and Gym Workouts

February 28, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director, Social +Evolving Media, Business Wire

StetchingEarlier this month, CommPro.biz published a piece by Business Wire Newport’s Kathy Tomasino outlining the seven reasons why sending out a news release is a lot like going to the gym and sharing her top tips for creating a communications fitness plan.

Click here to read this piece. Have a comment or a tip of your own?  We would love to hear your thoughts!  Just leave a message in the comment section below.


Don’t Eclipse Your News During the Lunar New Year – Why Sending News to China During the Spring Festival is a Bad Idea

February 18, 2015

Bio Pic 2

By Matt Allinson, Media Relations Manager – International Markets

China’s Lunar New Year is nigh (February 19), but the travel frenzy known as Chunyun (a 40-day period surrounding the Spring Festival) is well underway. It is a migration unlike any other, with an estimated 2.8 billion passenger trips undertaken between February 4 and March 15. Millions upon millions of people will be hurrying home to reunite with family and enjoy the holiday. It is said to be the largest annual migration in the world.

China

Chunyun travel in progress

With so many people concentrating on getting from one place to another, it stands to reason that not a lot of business gets done in the People’s Republic of China during this time of celebration. It also stands to reason that sending out a news release around the holiday is not a wise move – unless, of course, you’d rather people not see your news.

Shaun Bowers Interfax ChinaI had the opportunity to speak more about this with Shaun Bowers (pictured left), the Managing Director of Interfax News Services in China. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had, as well as some questions that are often put to me.

Q: Can you describe the impact Spring Festival travel has on not only the news distribution business, but all business in China?

A: It (business) almost stops. Family is at the very center of Chinese culture and this is the time of the year that workers all across China return to their home province to visit family. Often, it is the only time they will see their family during the entire year.

Starting in January, factories will stop taking orders because of the holiday and will be rushing to fill orders they have in hand. The distance workers have to travel means journeys can take days, so often workers will start traveling two weeks early … and it’s not uncommon for a factory to close for an entire month. So for most businesses, it is a quiet period … unless you are a food vendor near a train station or a retail clothing store (it is traditional to buy new clothes for the Spring Festival).

Q: A question I have received in the past is: Don’t the Chinese have the most cell phones (per capita) in the world? Wouldn’t they still be absorbing news on their devices during the holiday?

A: Perhaps you should ask them if they sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and read the news. The Spring Festival is a time for celebration – the whole of China is on holiday and people are focused on fun and seeing old friends.

Q: To which western holiday would you compare the Lunar New Year? Or is there such a comparison?

A: It’s hard to compare … for Europe it would be Christmas, and for the U.S. I would say it’s like Thanksgiving … at Thanksgiving, people will do anything to get home. The U.S. has 330 million people and I’m sure readers can relate to what a nightmare travel can be during Thanksgiving. Now imagine adding another 900 million people, and you get a sense of what it’s like.

Q: What have been your personal observations and experiences with the Lunar New Year? Any crazy travel stories?

A: My wife’s family is from Hong Kong so we don’t have to travel, but it’s quite normal for us to sit down to dinner with 67 immediate family members … some of whom have traveled from all corners of the world. There is a saying in Hong Kong: “Don’t go on holiday as everyone you know will be on holiday, so stay in Hong Kong and enjoy the peace and quiet.”

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According to Shaun, it’s not that people in China don’t read news during the holiday; it’s just not a top priority. Chinese New Year is the one time of year when all workers can return home and, in essence, MUST return home. It is important for them to do so and it is expected that they will return with gifts for the whole family. And in the end, what’s more important: being present with family or reading up on news about listed companies?

Shaun’s advice, and mine, is to hold off on sending any news to China between the 18th and 24th of February.

And I will take this opportunity to remind you that it’s a best practice to always make sure the country to which you’re trying to send news is not on a holiday.  A quick check of timeanddate.com, bankholidays.com, officeholidays.com, or any similar site can save you time, resources and headaches when sending news internationally.

Stay up to date with the latest news and trends impacting today’s communications programming.
 Join our mailing list today!

5 Tips from Arizona’s Top Journalists on Gaining Local Media Coverage

December 6, 2014

Earlier this year, Business Wire Phoenix hosted an event regarding media relations and local media – how to get the most out of your pitches and how to best strategize your PR efforts to reach out to newspapers, magazines, and other media publications located in your region.

Dawn Gilberton, Patrick O’Grady, and Kiva Couchon, on a panel moderated by Amy La Sala, provided five important tips to getting the most out of your media outreach efforts:

  • Know your local media
  • Use the 24-7 news cycle to your advantage
  • Press releases are still valuable as long as the release includes the right information
  • “Digital is driving everything”
  • Now is a great time to be in PR if you’re utilizing different media platforms

Read this piece by Victoria Green (MRT, Los Angeles) and Billy Russell (CSR, Phoenix) fully detailing tips on how to gain coverage from your local media: http://www.commpro.biz/public-relations/media-relations/5-tips-arizonas-top-journalists-gaining-media-coverage/


How to Craft an Editorial Calendar

November 20, 2014

Several times a year, Business Wire’s Serena Ehrlich presents at TechMUNCH, the nation’s leading food blogger conference, on the topic of how to craft a successful editorial calendar.  If you haven’t had a chance to read this piece, check it out here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140926200156-1308357-blogger-pr-tip-of-the-day-why-you-need-an-editorial-calendar

In this article, Serena outlines why you should create and use an editorial calendar, various elements that affect the calendar, and how you can use events such as movie premieres, elections, breaking news, and more, to deepen the affinity between your blog and your readers.


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