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.

Click here to share these media relations tips on Twitter:  http://ctt.ec/d5c3w

 


Business Wire Gives Back With Contribution to Journalism Scholarship for University of Washington’s LaVendrick Smith

July 21, 2015

Matt Allinson Bio Pic

By Matt Allinson, Media Relations Manager, Int’l Markets

Business Wire is pleased to contribute to a journalism scholarship awarded to University of Washington journalism student LaVendrick Smith during the Society of Professional Journalists (Region 10) awards gala on Saturday, June 13. Mr. Smith, an Everett, WA native and a senior at the University of Washington, was one of four students who were collectively awarded over $10,000 in scholarship funds.

LaVendrick Smith

LaVendrick Smith

Mr. Smith spent last term covering the Washington state legislature as an intern for the News Tribune and The Olympian. During his time on staff, he wrote about a wide array of bills, one of which would have required young drivers to place “New Driver” decals on the back windows of their vehicles. He also wrote about House Bill 1021, one that would require the Washington State Patrol to create and implement a system similar to Amber Alerts (called Silver Alerts) for lost senior citizens. He also works on The Daily at the University of Washington and wrote for the Seattle Times in autumn of 2014.

I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Smith after he received his scholarship and ask him a few things about the journalism profession, his life, and what he would do if he were the first person with verifiable proof that Bigfoot exists.

1) Who or what inspired you to study journalism and pursue it as a career?

I’ve always been interested in writing ever since I was a kid, but in high school, a security guard I knew at my school read my work and really encouraged me to pursue journalism because he said I could be really talented at it.

2) How can you and your generation of journalists help to change the negative impression most people have of the industry?

I think the best way to change negative impressions people have of the industry is to make sure people are doing their jobs the right way. Many people have a mistrust of the media, when the role of the media is to foster and maintain trust. If journalists uphold the values and ethics that are central to journalism, I believe people will have a better understanding of the industry. 

3) Where would you like to be in eight years?

I would love to be working at a major daily newspaper covering a major U.S. city. 

Me & LaVendrick

4) What are you doing this summer?

This summer, I’m spending my vacation in Boston, and resting up for my senior year of college.

5) If you were somehow able to capture the first verified photo/video of a Sasquatch, where would you publish it first?

I’d want it to be in TIME magazine because I always like their covers, but anywhere where I can always have credit of being the first person to ever capture the Sasquatch.

Click here to share this story on Twitter: http://ctt.ec/08G6y


Greater Fort Lauderdale PRSA Sunshine Conference 2013 Making Waves: PR in a Sea of Change

August 19, 2013
by Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Miami
and Janice Essick, Regional Manager, Business Wire/Miami

Business Wire was recently a top sponsor of this informative annual event held Friday, August 2nd at Fort Lauderdale Beach’s beautiful W hotel; and the opening speaker, Ron Magill, Communications Director of ZooMiami, did not disappoint. He gave an incredible and moving presentation regarding his experiences over his 30 year career with the Zoo. The highlights from his presentation are numerous, but here is an abridged list of what he thinks has made District_Logohim so successful in PR:

  • Believe in what you’re doing.
  • It’s all about relationships you have.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Appeal to your audience; don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • When negative things happen, be proactive as soon as possible – do not wait.
  • Partnerships.

Choosing which breakout session to attend was not easy, but selecting “Visual Storytelling and the New Reality of Content Marketing,” presented by speaker Mike Bako, Marketing Manager and Broadcast Journalist of DS Simon, was very interesting and some takeaways are shared below:

  • 95% of TV stations are using outside video.
  • Media points are using social media networks more and more to find leads on content to cover:
    • 85% of TV stations
    • 76% of radio stations
    • 74% of magazines
  • Creating branded, expert-specific videos is an extremely good idea in today’s market.
  • YouTube is an extremely important tool for media; now it’s not just for sharing funny cat videos or someone falling off a skateboard.
  • Examples of using the right spokesperson for your brand, even when it’s an unlikely connection:
    • Deion Branch (professional football player) for Lactaid
    • Newscaster and his son for Legoland USA
    • Mommy blogger for Nintendo
  • Video use on Instagram and Vine for companies to create Brand Recognition:
    • Lowe’s is a brand who has been able to successfully use Vine.
    • Brands are trying to leverage the new apps targeting teens because in a few years they will have the buying power.
  • Video can also be used for internal communications  as well.

Lainey Garcia, Manager of External Communications for McDonald’s Corporation, spoke on “How McDonald’s Approaches Social Media in a Changing PR Climate.” She opened the session with a great story about a tweet sent out by “Millennial Mom” regarding her very unhappy 8-year old son who received the girl’s toy in his happy meal instead of the boy’s toy. The McDonald’s Twitter Team immediately saw this tweet and contacted the mom, rectifying the error by sending the correct toy. This particular mom was a very well-known mommy blogger; had this not been seen and dealt with swiftly, Lainey suggests the consequences of not reacting quickly could have included the viral effect from the Millennial Mom’s social network.  Here are some other helpful tips from this session:

  • Food is the single most talked about item on social media.
  • Using another brand to capture positive social media exposure that will be shared with thousands to millions of followers – illustrated by the Mindy Kaling birthday situation:
    •  Mindy tweeted a picture to McDonald’s of a birthday gift she received from Wendy’s.
    •  The McDonald’s Twitter team saw the tweet, quickly researched what Mindy liked and had a package of gourmet cupcakes sent to her.
    • The Twitter team was able to initiate and execute all of this within 7 hours of seeing the tweet.
    • Mindy followed up with a tweet saying: “Best day-after-birthday ever. Nice move McDonalds.  WE’RE lovin’ it.”

The keynote speaker, Mickey Nall, Chairman and CEO of PRSA, gave some great insights on working with millennials and gave us an overview of the changes and progression within the PR industry:

  • Working with Millennials – 4 Big Opportunities
  1. Focus on Reputation
    1. We are brand ambassadors; that is why it is important to work for a company that you admire and has a good CSR effort.
    2. Reputation matters – we own the reputation (not the brand).
  2. Create your own Content
    1. Content is really just another word for writing.
    2. Call it a media release, NOT a press release.
  3. Become a Story Teller
    1. The ‘Showing’ and ‘Telling’ in creating effective narratives.
    2. Get to the heart of the story.
    3. Make the abstract concrete so the audience gets it.
    4. Graphics are more effective to deliver a message.
  4. Employees Become Advocates
    1. Best Buy is a brand that strongly encourages its employees to tweet during their work day.

Laura Stephens, Public Relations Specialist, and Joshua Glanzer, Director of Public Relations for Lynn University, discussed during the final general session their hosting of a Presidential Debate.   Some highlights include the following:

  • Two part strategy for hosting a Presidential Debate
  • PR campaign (1 year)
    • Never assume or say it’s just two candidates.
    • Lynn made t-shirts that had the slogan “We’ve never heard of you either,” poking fun at the fact that most people hadn’t heard of the very small private university.
  • Managing the event (4-5 days)
    • Valuable experience for the university’s international students (Lynn is ranked as #4 for international students) because it provided a front row seat to American democracy at work.
    • Google provided an online street view when they were coordinating where stages were going to be built for big name TV stations like CNN.
    • Over 4,000 journalists attended the event.
    • Google “Hangouts” were held and Google promoted them for the University.
    • A social media lounge was created and the 15 student story teller volunteers went there and shared their stories via their personally preferred platforms.
    • Twitter and Google came to hang out in the lounge as well.
  • Total Cost $4.9 million (actual capital outlay was $2.7 million) = $63 million in ad equivalency.
  • Over 33,000 news stories were written:
    • Facebook impressions jumped from 86,579 to over 934,000.
    • Lynn became a trending topic, which isn’t something that can ever be paid for.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Focus and simplify.
    • Always tell your story.

Opening the second day at the conference was Virgil Scudder, President of Virgil Scudder & Associates, a 35+ year PR expert:  Lessons from the Trenches

Virgil Scudder Book Signing PRSA FL 2013_1

Key points to remember:

  • “Communication is not what you say or know, it’s what the other side takes away.”
  • 4 C’s = clear, concise, credible, confident.
  • Never use a big word when a small one will do.
  • Create positive interview capabilities.
  • Draft a checklist for what might be needed to handle an immediate crisis.
  • Have and share ideas.
  • Be nice, humble and a good listener.
  • Share credit and accept blame.
  • Outwork your competitor.

Listening to the last speakers of the conference was insightful and entertaining, while delivering two unique perspectives on reaching a Latin American audience with extremely different budgets:

Bea Garcia, Director of Media Relations, Deutsche Post /DHL

DHL handles all international transport except domestic here in the U.S.?  Their corporate communications strategy between a 3-person team consists of the following:

  • Sharing Globally; Adapted Regionally; Executed Locally
  • Partnering with SMEs (small/medium enterprises) to reach Latin American market, she grants one-on-one interviews with their CEO and shares studies of success stories with SMEs that use DHL in those markets.

Miguel Angel Oliva, VP for Public Relations & Corporate Affairs/HBO Latin America

Miguel talks about his unlimited budget and independence of marketing department to report directly to President and talks about his goal of achieving “critically acclaimed” using his PR / corporate communications strategy.  Large press tours using Latin American venues and sharing a slide show of the 2011 – 43 press tours.  77 tours in 2012, 83 expected in 2013 assist in achieving their corporate communications annual initiatives.

It was another informative PRSA Sunshine District conference that we are proud to support!


Business Wire Phoenix and Keith Yaskin Show How to Tell Your Story with Video

March 7, 2013
by Billy Russell, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Phoenix

At Business Wire’s February 27 workshop, “How to Dynamically Tell Your Company’s Story With Video,” Keith Yaskin, who moderated the event, had an opportunity to provide his own insight into the creative process of crafting a video to tell a company’s story.

Three teams were each assigned to produce a video for a specific company Keith had outlined, and were asked how they would tell their story and what visuals would be highlighted. Two teams were given the task of creating a video for a mining company in order to boost its image to gain public support for a land swap.  One team was given a small, local dentist’s office who specialized in kids’ dentistry.  Both industries may have a difficult time portraying a positive image for different reasons:  Mining companies can receive public backlash for environmental reasons, and a dentist’s office is a classic phobia for many people.  So, how to tackle these issues?

According to Keith, there is absolutely no ONE right way to tell a story.  There may be ten, twenty, a hundred different ways to tell a story, all of which can be equally effective.  The two teams provided with the task of the mining company had different ideas, ranging from who to interview, to where to shoot the interview.  Should it be outside on a sunny day?  Who would be interviewed?  The town’s mayor?  An environmentalist professional?  Everyone had their own ideas, none of them wrong, but all greatly different in achieving the goals.

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Event photos by Billy Russell, Business Wire

Keith then shared a video he had personally produced for a mining company in the same situation. His was shot almost entirely within the mine, about 70% of it being with the workers and interviewing them, and 30% within the town.  He explained to the workshop attendees that he wanted to highlight the hard work that the employees handle within the mine in order to boost the company’s public image.  When it comes to interviews, he told us, he much preferred working with non-actors in order to get a more naturalistic demeanor from them.  With actors, he said, sometimes they come off TOO good, too polished and confident.  He told the groups that he preferred the reactions and statements of everyday people as their conversations come across more warmly.

The second team was asked to create a video for a pediatric dentist’s office to portray the professional positively and warmly; themes were discussed on what would be covered and who would be interviewed.  Some ideas were to interview the child coming to visit and asking how they liked coming to the dentist’s office, making sure to get great, big smiles on camera to highlight his/her happiness with the visit and the professional work on their teeth.  Other members of the team thought it would be a good idea to spend some time talking about the equipment used, to show how state-of-the-art their techniques for dentistry are, to ease potential clients’ minds about what to expect.

After the discussion, Keith shared another video he had produced to demonstrate how he handled the same task.  He allowed the dentist to speak freely about how he comforts his clients coming in for checkups and building rapport with them.  Keith noted one of his techniques to filming is to, after an interview is conducted, have the dentist continue to wear his microphone and to shoot video of him going about his business so that he can get some off-the-cuff moments and the children visiting his office that looks and feel entirely real and unrehearsed.

The workshop closed with a Q&A session where our attendees had a chance to clarify any questions that they had about the creative process and how to work within reasonable budgetary restrictions.


Trends in Today’s Newsrooms: Business Wire Media Luncheon Recap

January 8, 2013
by Cindy Cantu, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Houston
Houston Bureau Chief Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News and Managing Editor Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal give tips on pitching stories to the media.

Houston Bureau Chief Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News and Managing Editor Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal give tips on pitching stories to the media.

Learning how to attract media coverage was one of the many topics discussed during the Business Wire Media Luncheon: Trends in Today’s Newsrooms, hosted by Business Wire Houston on Dec. 12. Clients had the opportunity to hear perspectives from two of Houston’s top media professionals: Houston Bureau Chief Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News and Managing Editor Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal.

There is no secret formula for attracting media coverage, but both panelists agreed there are things businesses should do when pitching stories. First, the communication should be from a top level executive, preferably the CEO, and personalized, not an obvious email blast to numerous media outlets. Second, include as much vital information as possible, so the story can be directed to the appropriate reporter. Finally, if the pitch is regarding a personnel change, always include a high-resolution photo with the actual story. Stories without photos are generally not even considered.

Barr said the public can even upload profiles and photos on their own via the HBJ website, http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/. The profiles and photos go through an approval process, before being posted to the site in the “People On The Move” section.

An obvious email blast is a pet peeve for both Barr and Stubbe. They would much rather receive pitches for an exclusive story, instead of a pitch that is sent to multiple media outlets.

Some news is automatic for the Houston Business Journal. Barr said the publication compiles a comprehensive list of the Top 25 Houston-based public companies each quarter. Other companies are reviewed, but their inclusion in the publication is not automatic. They also report on stock swings and mergers/acquisitions, if they meet certain criteria.

Covering earnings releases is not what it used to be for Bloomberg News, according to Stubbe. He said there is not as much separate reporting on earnings releases anymore because people tend to read the “actual” earnings release instead of Bloomberg’s related article.

In this technology-driven world, the panelists were asked what their publications were doing to keep up with social media. Stubbe said Bloomberg News was still finding its way with social media, but recognized its importance. Barr joked that his perspective on Twitter is to “just follow Ashton Kutcher and go from there.” In reality, he said, his staff utilizes all social media options, including Facebook and Twitter. In fact, HBJ stories are instantly tweeted, he added.

Business Wire Houston would like to thank both Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News and Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal for serving as panelists, and the BW clients who attended the event.

Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News and Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal answer questions from the audience

Greg Barr of the Houston Business Journal and Richard Stubbe of Bloomberg News

Attendees of Business Wire Houston's luncheon listen as Greg Barr and Richard Stubbe discuss tips on pitching to the media.

Attendees of Business Wire Houston’s luncheon listen as Greg Barr and Richard Stubbe discuss tips on pitching to the media.


Three Tips on Staying Relevant during the Holiday Slowdown

December 20, 2012
by Alexander Howard, Editor, Business Wire/Nashville

The holidays can be a slow time for PR departments. Vacations have begun in earnest, and marketing pushes can seem futile while potential customers are busy visiting relatives. But the holidays can be a prime time for companies to stay relevant with a few simple tips:

‘Tis the Season

Tie your message into the spirit of the season. Journalists are more open to timely stories, so concern yourself with releases that spread holiday cheer, forecast the year ahead or review the year past. Tools like Google Trends can help you get a jump on popular search terms. Keep in mind that the lead time for end-of-year feature stories can be fairly long, so know your target media’s editorial calendar, too.

Go Social

Reach out—the holidays are about getting together with friends and family. Major companies use the holidays as a time to bolster their social media presence. Twitter and Facebook are commonly cited by journalists as prime sources for stories.

Consider the Calendar

Heed the holidays. Generally, the advice is that earlier in the week is better, but the holidays can shake up schedules and reorganize routines. US markets (and many others) are closed for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, which both fall on Tuesdays, so market-moving information might be best embargoed for later.

Maintaining your media strategy throughout the holidays will ensure that business will wax well into the new year.

Does your company have a unique PR strategy or messaging tips for the holidays? Let us know in the comments!


Marketing vs. PR Writing – What’s the Difference?

January 18, 2012

… in this social media world we live in, the line between marketing and public relations writing is or ought to be blurred and that’s a good thing.

Hyperbole-filled marketing prose will quite likely be dismissed by target audiences just as verbose public relations copy. Through social media, our customers help keep savvy marketers grounded and more authentic, as journalists have done in their engagements with public relations practitioners for years. To say there is a line between marketing and public relations writing, then, misses the point of the current world of communications.

Press releases are used to engage consumers. Journalists go to customers and corporate websites to gather reporting information. So, your communications practitioners should all be singing from the same song sheet, so to speak…

What’s your take?


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