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’s 2015 Media Survey Reveals Best Practices in Media Relations

October 20, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social & Evolving Media, Business Wire
Earlier this year, Business Wire asked reporters worldwide their preference for being pitched – from the type of news they prefer, to best practices for continuing relationships after coverage was secured.

The results of the Business Wire 2015 North American Media Survey provide a strong road map for communicators to follow when looking to increase the visibility of their organization via news coverage.

Click here to download the full survey results now:  http://bit.ly/1hOkatq

Media_Relations_Info_FINALStep 1:  Write an interesting release
This may sound easy enough, but in order to catch a reporter’s attention, your news release needs to contain the information they want to cover.

When you craft your next news release, focus on the breaking news and interesting story angles as well as quotes to increase the likelihood of pick up.

Step 2:  Multimedia is no longer optional
As more and more reporters are providing news content for online sources, there is a growing need for multimedia.  What kind of multimedia? The element most preferred is a photographic with graphics, videos, infographics, logos and audio files rounding out the list.

Why is multimedia so important? As we discuss in Let’s Get Visual, multimedia elements allow readers to engage and absorb information in new ways, building deeper emotional connections between the reader and the news story.  And reporters are not just relying on you to provide them with supporting multimedia – more than 64% of reporters are creating their own to supplement content.

In short, if you want to tell your story in your voice, supply reporters with multimedia to ensure the highest possible adoption of your news.

Step 3:  Your News Release Distribution Service Matters
News distribution services such as Business Wire play an important role in the news ecosystem. 63% of media respondents noted that their jobs would be harder without newswires to vet and deliver news releases.  Commercial newswires provide media outlets with an ongoing stream of trusted, breaking news in a variety of formats, allowing reporters to access and produce news coverage throughout the day.  And what newswire do media outlets trust the most?  At 67%, Business Wire continues to be the top newswire of choice for today’s media.

Step 4:  Social Pitching is Not Advised
Despite the use of social media for research purposes or for identifying hot news trends, 75% of reporters said they do not want to receive pitches via social media

Rather than pitch reporters via social channels, use the channels to identify who is writing about your industry and to gain a better understanding to the types of news your top reporters are interested in writing and sharing with their readers.

Step 5:  The Role of Your Online Newsroom
Where do reporters turn to research your pitch? Your online newsroom!

When breaking news hits the reporter’s desk, the next step is for the reporter to research the news, the company and the impact your news has on their readers. 77% of reporters turn to company online newsrooms to find the information they need to turn your news release into a headline.  Frequently updated newsrooms provide reporters, and other interested parties, on-demand access to the news releases, multimedia and other branded content – perfect for reporters responsible for writing news stories in a 24/7 world.

Bonus tip? Share your coverage!
The top metric for judging the success of a news story continues to be inbound traffic to that piece. Help reporters meet this metric by creating a strong coverage sharing program to not only increase views, but awareness of your news.

Securing coverage in a selfie world is not easy, but by following the steps provided in the 2015 Business Wire Media Survey you can build stronger relationships with your key media targets and increase the chance to receive more media coverage.

Click here to share these survey results on Twitter:  http://ctt.ec/3Cyhv

Download the complete 2015 Business Wire Media Survey now:  http://bit.ly/1hOkatq


Taking Stock of the World Media – A Recap of the Global Media Forum

August 27, 2015

kai5

By Kai Prager, Senior Media Relations Specialist – Frankfurt

In crisis situations around the world, the media has an undeniable impact on perception of events. It also shapes public opinion and can even manage to influence political decision makers. With the help of the internet, media access has multiplied and more and more platforms now vie for our attention. It made sense, then, that the topic of this year’s Global Media Forum, hosted by Deutsche Welle, was “Media and Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.” About 2,000 journalists and media workers came from more than 100 countries to take part in the discussions and workshops in Germany’s former capital Bonn.

Participant looking at the Plenary Chamber - Photo by Kai Prager

Participant looking at the Plenary Chamber – Photo by Kai Prager

Many presentations noted that the internet, with its vast platforms of social media, blogs, news sites, etc., has radically changed the media landscape by enabling anyone to participate and creating a demand for speed of information. But the demand for speed also puts pressure on traditional media. This was not lost on Andreas Zumach, a journalist with German paper Die Tageszeitung.

“We have a rat race to see who is first with the most spectacular news,” Zumach said. “That makes it difficult for journalists who cover the efforts to de-escalate or even solve the conflict at a diplomatic level to get coverage.”

Asiem El Difraoui, a researcher for the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, stated, “We run after the news … we don’t do permanent coverage of places which are still potentially dangerous and might explode from one minute to the next.” El Difraoui also lamented that a lot of media reduce its foreign coverage and are later surprised by the consequences. “People are much more interested in what is happening in foreign countries than what we give them credit for.”

Dana Asaad and Asiem El Difraoui - Photo by Kai Prager

Dana Asaad and Asiem El Difraoui – Photo by Kai Prager

At this international forum, the situation of foreign countries was discussed on many levels. It was mentioned that, often, media of countries in transition are not as advanced as media in more developed countries, and this often causes problems. The main problems that were visited and revisited were the lack of quality journalism due to poor training and funding; no freedom of the press; usage of media for propaganda and misinformation; and no access to information.

An example for this problem was shared by Dana Asaad, Editor-in-Chief of Awene.com, who said that a lack of well-trained journalists contributes to the continued conflict in Iraq.

“It’s obvious that covering a post-conflict [Iraq] … we need to have qualified people,” Assad said. “Before 2003, we had few media outlets – you could count them on your hand – and it was the media of the Baathist regime. One color, one opinion, one ideology.  After 2003, suddenly, hundreds of media outlets came out. Every single political party and every single official had its own media. … but we didn’t have journalists.” Asaad continued, “Journalism became the job for jobless people. You fill all those media outlets with people who have no journalism background and they know nothing about the ethics of journalism and those people started to cover the post-conflict time.”

There was also a discussion about propaganda in political reporting within the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ukrainian journalist Yevhen Fedchenko explained that propaganda tools to promote the government’s message are mainly implemented by Russia to change, omit or manipulate facts. In contrast, the Ukrainian government doesn’t have the same means to promote its propaganda though the media. Instead, news outlets started to target different groups and usually don’t keep up journalistic standards.

Many speakers mentioned problems with authoritarian governments that try to stop unwanted reporting. Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was honored with the Freedom of Speech award at the annual prize competition The Bobs (Best of Online Activism).  In his ceremonial speech, Editor-in-Chief of zeit.de, Jochen Wegner, said the ceremony was “among the most bitter, for Raif Badawi cannot be with us today.” Badawi is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia for criticizing senior religious figures online.

Jochen Wegner holds his ceremonial speech - Photo by Kai Prager

Jochen Wegner holds his ceremonial speech – Photo by Kai Prager

After three days of discussions and workshops, it became clear that media professionals need to band together and work together on a worldwide basis. The Global Media Forum served as a jumping off point for this type of comradery and coordination, and hopes to continue foster international journalistic cooperation into the future.


Armenian Media Today: Q&A with Gegham Vardanyan

July 13, 2015

By Kai Prager, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire Frankfurt

Armenia is a country with an ancient cultural heritage that once reached from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. It also was the first country to adopt Christianity in 301 AD.

To strengthen the statehood and instructing the people in the news religion, the Armenian alphabet was introduced around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots and the first media was produced Many of these old scripts still exist and are collected in the Matenadaran, the repository of ancient manuscripts in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan.

Detail of the portal of the Matenadaran. Photo by Rabirius.

The first Armenian printing establishment was founded in Venice in 1565 and focused on religious texts; it was later moved to Istanbul. The first newspaper was published in Madras, India, in 1646, but it took another 60 years before Armenian papers and journals were printed in Armenia. As part of the USSR, most Soviet-era publications were in Russian; however, in the 1980s, there was a language and cultural revival that sparked an increase in journalistic activity. After independence, Armenia developed its own press laws. Though some media enterprises failed, more publications were founded that are still in circulation today, like Aravot, Yerkir, or AZG

The Internet began to spread with the beginning of the 21st Century and online media was developed.

To find out more about the development of online media and other trends of the Armenian media market,we asked Gegham Vardanyan, producer of Media.am, a project of the Media Initiatives Center, to give us an overview:

1.  The media market in Armenia is small. Which effect does it have on the media landscape?
Armenia is a small country; the actual population figure barely reaches 3 million. This doesn’t prevent us from having, for example, a large number of TV channels. For instance, there are 14 TV channels broadcast in Yerevan alone. There are many daily newspapers, but the print media is experiencing a crisis: print runs barely reach 5,000. In addition, newspapers are printed 5 times a week: there are no newspapers on Sunday or Monday.

Online media is well developed. News websites usually publish in three languages: Armenian, English, and Russian.

Despite the quantity I mentioned, it’s not always that the same TV station offers diverse TV products for its viewers, especially in terms of news. Armenian news outlets are not wealthy, and few have their own correspondents, not even in Moscow or Washington. In order to keep abreast of international news, Armenian news outlets often make use of different news agencies, especially Russian sources.

2.  Who owns the classic media outlets, like publishing houses, broadcasting stations, etc.? Does it interfere with journalistic work?

There is the Public TV and Radio Company of Armenia, which is completely financed by the state budget.

The matter of media ownership, by and large, is a problem. In many cases, large media holdings are Closed Joint-Stock Companies (CJSC). The law allows neither members of the public to apply to the state registry to receive the names of stockholders nor requires media companies to make the names of stockholders public.

Some of the private stations belong to politicians and businessmen close to the government. Though the law officially prohibits political parties from owning TV channels, four parliamentary parties have a huge influence on four different TV stations and the public knows this. This, of course, has a direct effect on the work of these TV channels.

Gegham Vardanyan. Photo by Sona Kocharyan.

Gegham Vardanyan. Photo by Sona Kocharyan.

3.  How did the move to digital media change the Armenian media landscape?
News websites in Armenia that operate according to the convergent newsroom model are advanced. Leading websites offer their readers not only text, but also high-quality photos, video, and live video coverage of developing news.

The most widespread social networking site is the Russian Odnoklassniki, though for discussions on social and political topics, the main platform is Facebook.

Though there is a lack of professionalism in the Armenian media landscape, the increasing number of news websites ensure media pluralism and are relatively more free (i.e. less controlled) than broadcast and, to a lesser extent, print media.

4.  What sources do journalists usually use to access information?
In Armenia, journalists use press releases. There are 5–6 press clubs that host press conferences on different issues every day. Republishing content from local news outlets without permission, as well as translating from various foreign media, is extremely widespread.

5.  Which topics are most popular in the media?
Here, the picture is the same as in the rest of the world. The most popular topics are crimes, celebrities, and sports, especially football. From political topics, of interest are news on the Karabakh conflict, when the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border is tense. In general, developing news are of interest.

But the overall picture is different on different websites. For example, the top 5 most read stories in 2014 of a few leading news websites in Armenia were drastically different.

6.  Do you have any tips for people who would like to reach media, or journalists in Armenia?
You can read about Armenia’s media in a few industry websites, such as the Media Initiatives Center, Media.am (a project of the Media Initiative Center), and the Yerevan Press Club. See also the database of Armenian media outlets and professionals on the Yerevan Press Club website, as well as the Media Map on Media.am, which is organized by region (for example, see here for Yerevan).

Journalists in Armenia can be reached through social media. They are active primarily on Facebook, though also on Twitter.

Note:  Adrineh Der-Bogossian helped Gegham Vardanyan with the English text.

Click here to share this media relations tip on Twitter: How to Work with Armenian Media: A Q&A with Gegham Vardanyan: http://ctt.ec/7j2V9

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[DOWNLOAD NOW] Business Wire Launches Let’s Get Visual: Multimedia and the News Release

July 9, 2015

Earlier today, CommPro.biz published a piece outlining the new Business Wire multimedia report Let’s Get Visual: Multimedia and the News Release. This guide offers comm pros best practices for releasing company news that will connect with modern audiences in the digital and mobile age. While the importance of a news release is timeless, the communication landscape is changing and PR and IR teams need to take advantage. Find out how.

2015 WP_Cover Graphic_Lets Get Visual

Click here to read this piece and click here to share this information with your Twitter followers: http://ctt.ec/f4c3X

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.

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Snacking On News … Will It Fill Your Brain?

June 23, 2015

Simona Bio

By Simona Colletta, International Media Relations Specialist – Paris

The internet helps people understand new things like the best way to clean a bicycle chain, proper snooker techniques, and how to change a car’s head lamp. But, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, the internet is not helping people comprehend the news. The study found that only 42 percent of people were able to answer basic questions about the news.

How could this be? Why are people so uninformed about the news when they have so many options to get the news? Maybe it’s precisely because they have all of those options. People are no longer digging into news stories and completely digesting them; instead, they are merely snacking on the news. According to the study, 59 percent of the time people do not read past the headlines on internet stories. The snacking is light, it seems.

eating_paper

While the Pew Research Center Study doesn’t identify study participants by geographic location, I live in France and was recently alerted to an Odoxa survey done for Trooclick, a French start-up company that developed an opinion-driven search engine which uses a natural language processing technology to gather news and opinions online. The survey reveals some interesting data on how the French view today’s news landscape.

85 percent of French people believe that they have more information available

Between ongoing chains of information, online news sites, search engines, and social networks, the French feel more informed than they did ten years ago. A whopping 85 percent of them believe they have more information on the news. This finding is shared widely across the population, regardless of age, social class, or income level.

Graph 1

The French do not feel more informed

If the French have won in terms of quantity of information available to them on the internet, they certainly don’t feel they have won in terms of quality. Although 77 percent consider the available information on current events is becoming more varied, only a minority believes that information is becoming more useful.

It must be noted that the internet offers so much in terms of information, but that information is often scattered, poorly organized and frequently redundant. The result? Of every 10 articles read, less than half are read in full (4.5 exactly). A tiny minority of French (8 percent) read every article in full.

Graph 2

Nearly 7 out of 10 French are interested in a free online service that would deliver them a summary of every point of view on a news event

The logical conclusion to the results of the survey (and encouraging for Business Wire and Trooclick) is that 66 percent of French people would be interested in a free online service that would deliver to them a summary of all current events. The youngest were the most interested: 8 out of 10 would be keen on this kind of online service.

Snacking on the news is not bad in and of itself, but we should be attentive, as we are in our kitchen, to the quality and reliability of what we snack upon. In this massive jungle of media and information, a reader can now count on interactive tools that help him/her to select the best “product” and follow his/her fields of interest.

Have a bite!

Try Business Wire’s Press Pass or click here to visit trooclick.com

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Peter Shankman Does it with Pizza: How to Build a Professional Relationship

June 3, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

At the recent HUB Convene event, we had the opportunity to hear from Peter Shankman, a communications pro with a lot on his mind, especially about airlines and a certain car rental company. During his presentation, Peter discussed the importance of customer service on a company’s sales and marketing funnel, and the lack of customer service received from most of the companies we interact with on a daily basis. After asking an audience member why they praised a recent flight, and learning that it was because they were safely transported from point A to point B, Peter broke down society’s current standards for customer service: Getting what we pay for passes as the pinnacle of service today. For the consumer, this is terrible, but for organizations this presents a fantastic opportunity. If people’s expectations of customer service are so low, it shouldn’t take much to wow someone, making it very easy for smart organizations to create a positive and lasting impression.

shaking hands

Paying a friend a compliment or going out to lunch can strengthen ties and facilitate a year’s worth of inside jokes. Building a professional relationship is no different. It is the small, almost effortless, actions that can be the difference between meeting people’s expectations and completely redefining them. In today’s world of low customer expectations, it doesn’t take much to impress someone, so impress as often as possible.

Peter Shankman didn’t just preach relationship building; he described how he puts his plan into action. For Peter, going above and beyond in relationship building starts with pizza. After signing on a new client, he likes to drop by their offices unannounced with a surprise pizza lunch. This allows Peter and his clients to communicate and learn more about each other’s expectations and goals, ultimately resulting in better executed programming. What makes it special is that for Peter, it is not a required act, but rather done as a choice of goodwill.

Peter Shankman does it with pizzaThis is something we at Business Wire are keenly aware of – the impact building relationships has on the success of one’s PR program.

Media relations doesn’t have to be about throwing a pizza party but can be just as easy. One of the easiest ways to build awareness, and potentially coverage, of your company is to build relationships with key journalists and bloggers, before news is available to share, and after. If a journalist likes communicating with you, that can help you build a respectful, reciprocal relationship. With a personalized email or a tweet, you may end up surprising the very person you need to help amplify your message.

The digital age has made everything impersonal. We believe that we are building stronger, more personal ties with a person because we have access to their lives, their day-to-day activities and insight into their thought process. But in reality, access to information is not the same as building relationships.

Professional relationships can’t survive on the back burner. Here are some other steps that you can follow to make a new acquaintance in the media industry:

  • Be Neighborly – Allow reporters, bloggers, and other media access to learn more about your company or business. Inviting them to your facilities and providing access to both c-suite and ground level employees allows them to understand your company and your company’s vision. Let the people covering your story learn more about your organization’s story, beyond just the latest announcement.
  • Show Interest – A relationship is a two-way street so you should make sure to not only reach out when you need coverage, but also follow reporters on Twitter and other social media without the intention of pitching. They receive hundreds of pitches daily in their email box and don’t need the same clutter in their social media feed. @reply to comment on topics of interest, answer questions, engage in conversation and retweet articles when relevant to your followers.
  • Know Their Schedule – One of the best ways to stay on the media’s good side is to know the publication schedule of the person you are contacting. Knowing when a particular writer goes to print or has a deadline allows you to reach out at an appropriate and convenient time, as opposed to the night before their work is due.
  • Preferred Treatment – If you invite a journalist to an event, or even to your offices, reduce the friction associated with that visit. Providing transportation such as car service, a meal, a room to work out of while on site and more can make a lasting impression. Making someone feel special, without showboating, can go a long way.

Check out the following articles to learn more about building media relationships in 2015.


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