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

 


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.


How to Perfect Your Headlines

July 20, 2015

by Agnes Deleuse, Senior Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Paris

How to Perfect Your Headlines

Photo: startupstockphotos.com

Headlines are made to draw in readers.  They are bait to capture their attention.  On newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, and, of course, press releases, this is what you see first. According to a recent survey by Copyblogger, 80% of readers don’t read beyond the headline. Thus, your headline better be a catchy one if you want your audience to remember you.

Here are a few tips from Business Wire to help you craft the perfect headline.

1/ Provide real information
No jargon.  Your headline should imply an interesting and relevant question.  You can include figures/data.

2/ Opt for short phrasing
It is a necessity.  Today, titles must be short. Think social media. Write headlines like a tweet or a post. Also, remember that if your release is going to be translated into foreign languages, English is one third shorter than French, for instance!

3/ Write your release first and finish by crafting the headline
It will help you focus on the main message you want to highlight.  You want to target the brain of your reader.  Don’t focus on news release discovery at this stage. To do this, integrate the keywords your audiences use to find your company information in the sub-headline or the first paragraph.

4/ Write at least three headlines, adjusting the order of the words and see which one has more impact.
Work like a sculptor. Add words, remove them, change them, move them around.  You can test the headlines on your colleagues.

5/ Think like a journalist!
If you want your news to catch a journalist’s attention, write a headline that is snappy, informative.  To think like a journalist is also a way to approach a subject the way a journalist would.  Journalists like it when they sometimes just have to copy and paste headlines and body texts directly from a press release!

Quality content, including well-written headlines, contributes to the entire process of delivering information to your right audience.

For additional information on how to craft an effective news release, click here:

Click here to share these tips on Twitter:  http://ctt.ec/fRpwd

Each week we share information relevant to modern communications strategies and tactics.  Stay up to date with the latest news and trends impacting today’s communications programming. Join our mailing list today!


Eight Reasons the Media Hate You (And How You Can Fix It)

June 4, 2014
By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New York

If you’re like most public relations professionals, you have a list for everything – a to-do list, a client list and, of course, a media outreach list. When time gets tight, you may occasionally succumb to the temptation to send out a blanket pitch to your entire press list, and then cross your fingers while hoping that all your clients’ dreams come true. A word of advice: don’t. The key to garnering coverage in 2014 is by helping reporters help you. Otherwise you risk landing in the junk folder – permanently.

8 Reasons the Media Hates You (And How You Can Fix it) By Stephanie Jo Peksen, Account Executive, Business Wire New YorkTo help you connect with the press who really do need your input, we compiled comments from editors, outlining the top eight reasons why reporters occasionally hate you – and how to make them love you.

1)      You Didn’t Tailor Your Pitch: “It’s hard work, but work worth doing: tailor your pitch to me. Know who I am and what I cover and exactly what might interest me about your product/person/idea other than just ‘IT EXISTS!'”  says Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, and freelance journalist for NY Times and other publications.

In other words, make sure you’ve at least looked at the publication and understand its audience and news stance. Are you pitching a local publication about a product launch and including a general press release and product sheet? Fine, but find an authentic local hook – don’t just say “people chew gum in New York, so your New York publication should cover our national launch of chewing gum.” There needs to be an honest connection with the reporter’s readers, and the issues covered by the media outlet – find that connection, and use it as your lede.

 

2)      Your Headline is a Snooze and Your Lede is MIA: “If the subject line of your email pitch isn’t interesting and concise, you will get deleted before you’re read. Same goes for your press release headline: if you leave the meaty stuff at the bottom, it will never get read,” says Nicole Bode, Deputy Editor of News, DNAInfo New York.

It may seem self-explanatory that brevity is the soul of wit, but we dare you to review your last few press releases or press pitches. Could you read the headline or subject aloud without the need to gasp for air? Are the most crucial details easily found within the headline/sub-head or first paragraph? If not, get cracking – and revising. Same goes for voicemails, elevator pitches and topics for short meetings.

3)      You Had Truly Bad Timing: “Not understanding a publication’s production schedule is a problem. If a magazine goes to print on Tuesday, Monday night is not the time to say ‘Ok, we’re ready to go on the record now!’” and think that you’ll make it into that issue. There are always exceptions, but they are not made with ease. Get to know the publishing schedule of a media outlet you hope to do lots of work with. It’s not an excuse to say that you waited to the last minute because you were afraid it would get out before an agreed upon date. If you think a writer or editor is that unprofessional, you shouldn’t work with them anyway,”says Xania Woodman, Senior Editor, Vegas Seven Magazine.

If you don’t know your key outlets’ timetables, start gathering them now, and act accordingly. No sending press info about a Super Bowl-related product two days before the game: No editor will have time to review and your client will be shortchanged. Similarly, unless it’s breaking news or you specifically know the editor or reporter is working that day, don’t pitch press on a major holiday. Take a break yourself – the media will respect you more if you’re not emailing them while they’re BBQing for Memorial Day or July 4th.

 

4)      You Were Too Chummy: “Among my pet peeves are publicists who address me as Mr., and others who write to me as if we know each other, when we have never before spoken or met (e.g. ‘Hi Jamie! Hope you’ve been having a great week…’ How about just ‘Dear Jamie, I represent Tazo Teas, and I would love to get to know you. I have a new product that I thought might be an excellent fit for your publication…’” says Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, Editor-in-Chief of CarleyK.com.

A simple LinkedIn search would reveal that Ms. Kiffel-Alcheh is in fact, female, and yes, sometimes the simplest declarative introductions can be best. Does your client watch its channel’s daily segment on XYZ, and you think the client is a perfect fit for this reason? Say it clearly and professionally, and you may be surprised at the very pleasant response.

5)      You Ignored the Media’s Main Requests: “In business journalism, some publications require that I find out the revenues of a company–or they won’t accept a story from me about that firm. Every once in a while, a publicist will, after hearing this, go around me to see if they can persuade an editor at the publication to bend that rule, which will usually annoy the editor. Or they will set me up on an interview with a business owner who clearly has no intention of sharing financials, even though we’ve agreed ahead of time that this info will be part of the interview. It’s not always the publicist’s fault, but it ends up being a waste of time for all concerned, since I can’t use the interview in the end,” says Elaine Pofeldt, a contributing editor at Crain’s and a contributor to Money, Fortune and Inc. 

Reporters get frustrated when people set up follow-up interviews without all the information at the ready – so unless you are prepared to burn a bridge, don’t offer a brick wall. Pre-plan and know what information you can offer and to whom. Even if you have limited resources, come up with a Plan B. If the editor says it’s super important, believe it and get that info, or simply decline and come back another time when you have everything he or she needs to build the story. If you build a good rapport, you may wind up quoted in a trend feature or commenting on another company in print. But don’t ignore their original must-haves.

6)      You Sent a Wall of Text: “I might be different than lots of publications. I don’t want to copy/paste/print your release. I want the mechanics to find my own angle. That means links, bullets, bites. I could care less that ‘We are pleased’ was quoted by this or that important person. I agree deeply with David Meerman Scott’s jargon buzzword bingo opinion, where it seems that every solution is ‘next generation, world class, scalable, blah blah blah.’ Skip the adjectives and save me some time in finding my own angle into the story,” says Chris Brogan, Publisher of Owner Magazine, and New York Times best-selling author of six books, including The Impact Equation (with Julien Smith).

Stop calling your client “ground-breaking,” and please do take care in how you set up a press release or a pitch, with easy-to-grasp formatting, so the reporter can review it and figure out if it’s a good match. Business Wire releases are distributed in XHTML, so use bullets to focus on key points, send your release with boldface and italics to highlight issues, and make sure you include multiple relevant and easy-to-access hyperlinks. It’s not just for consumers to engage and generate click-through data for your client (although that’s a plus), but for reporters who need to know very quickly how to reach you, your client, or get more information about the product/event/issue you’re promoting. Adding a photo to your release also helps paint the clearest picture – just make sure to include a proper caption in case it’s used.

7)      You Gave Way Too MUCH information:   “You’re likely not to get any coverage if you send over so much stuff that it won’t download, or if you send a giant press release that’s too long. Simplicity works best for me. Instead of a huge file, I’d click through to see media at a link,” says Tara Cox, Managing Editor, Men’s Journal.

 

While each editor and reporter will have different needs and timetables, crashing someone’s computer with your pitch is never a good idea. Whether you’re sending a well-crafted email blast or a wire press release with well-chosen multimedia, use these digital missives to clearly show your assets and pique interest. Video, images, and multimedia are great, but make sure the links work and files are easy to open.      

 

8)      You Were Boring: “Journalists are busy and some get hundreds of press releases a day (I know I do!), so use a bit of humor in your email to me and include a story with some passion so it can really stand out. A press release can be more than a collection of data. Make me truly excited about what you’re trying to promote. If you were a reader, what story would capture YOUR attention?” says Katherine Brodsky, freelance writer for publications like Variety, Entertainment Weekly, USA Weekend, Mashable, and MovieMaker Magazine.

 

Media professionals face tight deadlines and tough demands, but the ones you hope to reach for coverage are people, not robots- they do respond to genuine feeling. Don’t forget what the R in Public Relations means and try relating and connecting for a change, and yes, add some style and interest where you can. If you can use that to establish trust and connection, and deliver on your promises, anything can happen.

 


Kraft Strikes Cheesy Gold at Super Bowl: A Lesson on Turning Crisis into Opportunity

May 19, 2014
Meghann Johnsonby Meghann Johnson, Sales Manager, Business Wire Chicago

Crisis communications: two words that can mean success or failure for any organization. No matter what industry your business operates within, there are always threats that can sour public opinion, create a media firestorm, or worse yet, ensnarl your company in legal battles. Given this, crisis communications may be the two scariest words in PR.

But what if companies used information gleaned from crisis situations to improve their value proposition? Or took the opportunity to listen and react to their audiences? Kraft’s Velveeta brand recently did just that.

Kraft’s Super Bowl Meltdown

As reported by AdAge,  in the weeks leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, Velveeta had a shortage of its popular processed cheese product. This dilemma was jokingly dubbed by media as the “Cheesepocalypse” and even birthed its own hashtag. Almost immediately, brand aficionados took to social media to declare their love of the brand, desperately urging Kraft to find a solution. As a result, the topic soon went viral (I even received an email from an old college roommate about the news).

By the time the topic had reached a frenzied level, Kraft’s spokeswoman Jody Moore issued a statement to quell the chatter and put the situation into perspective, stating, “Given the incredible popularity of Velveeta this time of year, it is possible consumers may not be able to find their favorite product on store shelves over the next couple of weeks. Our retail customers are aware of the situation and we expect it to be a short-term issue.”

By February, the crisis had been averted and fans enjoyed their Super Bowl dips. But in the end, the real winner was Kraft, who was able to identify their most active brand advocates (and detractors) by closely monitoring social media conversations. This led to the emergence of so-called “Super Consumers,” or people with a high affinity for Velveeta. Now, Kraft is engaging them further through focus groups and meal diaries in order to understand what ads and products are most appealing to this meaningful market. This could yield big insights and it only took one minor cheese meltdown to happen.
cheese-lo-res

Post-Game Huddle

So what lessons can be learned from the Cheesepocalypse? Number one is that crisis communications is all about planning. It’s important to craft a plan that has time to evolve and change, as opposed to creating a strategy once the wheels are in motion. For tips to ensure your company is prepared, check out this article from Hutchens PR (http://hutchenspr.com/resources/crisis-communications-tips/).

As important as planning may be, however, it can be just as critical to glean insights once the crisis has occurred. In Kraft’s situation, the company identified loyalists on social media who are likely to help grow the brand over time. This is the case for any company in the public spotlight as 43% of online news sharing occurs via social media networks.

Employing a social media monitoring service such as Business Wire’s partner, NUVI, is key for any company needing to identify and understand the voices impacting their brand. And with NUVI, it’s easier than ever before to instantly see what people are saying about you across the Internet, respond to the most important conversations and influence behavior in real time. All brands should be in tune with the conversations taking place about them, in times of crisis or not. And once these influential voices have been identified, savvy companies will employ a robust influencer program to continue to engage and build affinity among their key audiences. For steps on creating, and successfully executing, an influencer program, check out our recent blog post on Bulldog Reporter (http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/thought-leaders/the-age-of-influencers-how-to-engage-influencers-to-amplify-your-pr).

So next time you have a crisis situation, be sure to employ pre- and post-event tactics to ensure you’re able to capitalize on your #Cheesepocalypse moment.

Interested in learning more? Keep following the BusinessWired blog to stay on top of the latest social media updates and please contact us with any specific questions you have!

Meghann Johnson is the Regional Sales Manager for Business Wire Chicago and a devout follower of PR trends. Connect with her via Twitter @MeghannJohnson5.


On-Line Newsroom Webinar asks “Does Yours Convert?”

March 24, 2014

2014 is the year of accessible information; have you updated your online newsroom yet?

We are very excited to announce that our own Vice President of Web Communications, Ibrey Woodall , is joining  Bulldog Reporter’s new “Master Class” webinar titled “Amazing New Power Techniques for Boosting Credibility, Influence and Traffic.” The webinar will focus on ways today’s PR and IR pros can maximize media pickup, online visibility and SEO power ,as well as generate social media buzz, all by simply refreshing their online newsroom.

Newsroom Sample

Sample of a Business Wire Newsroom (Courtesy of Silicon Labs)

In this webinar you will learn how to quickly and easily boost media mentions, improve media relations and dramatically increase your online reach to key stakeholder groups just by providing journalists and the public the information they want and need, immediately across any device.

This PR University webinar workshop will outline the essential social-media integrated features that the best online newsrooms and corporate sites share … and show you exactly what you need to do now to bring your online presence up to speed so you can boost your communications value and maximize digital ROI for PR efforts.

Newsroom Sample 2

Another Business Wire Hosted Newsroom Sample (Courtesy of Medica )

The webinar will take place on Thursday April 3rd at 1pm ET and cost $299 per registrant. To register for the event or to find out more information visit: http://bit.ly/1nyPfmw and please retweet news of this by clicking this link: https://twitter.com/BusinessWire/status/445648733536284673


Business Wire Event Recap: Business Wire Cleveland Welcomes John Campanelli

February 25, 2014
By Katie Kennedy, Account Executive

On Tuesday, February 18, Clevelanders braved the wind and treacherous roads after an unwelcome overnight snowfall to join Business Wire Cleveland for a breakfast event featuring John Campanelli, the new publisher and editorial director of Crain’s Cleveland Business. Campanelli, a Cleveland media veteran, is the first new publisher of Cleveland’s most reputable source of business news in 28 years.

In fact, Campanelli cited reputation as a major factor in his decision to take the position as publisher at a time when print publications are diminishing. Crain’s Cleveland Business is highly regarded by the community it serves and John plans to keep that reputation intact.  How?Cleveland Media Breakfast

“The worst sin is to not be interesting. Content is the single most important thing,” said Campenelli. “As long as we can keep it interesting, we’ll survive.”

Campanelli gave a preview of how he plans to keep it interesting and what is to come for Crain’s Cleveland Business:

  • A new website, responsive design, a stronger social media presence – “they are all coming.”
  • Multimedia usage. Short 3-4 minute videos recapping the week’s news are on the horizon as part of an overall campaign to include more multimedia with most stories.
  • Expanded coverage. John indicated that philanthropy and sports are beats that deserve more attention.
  • More diverse content. Look for news on dining, fitness and other “things that business people care about” to be added to the mix.
  • Continue to be a business connector. Not only by providing data and information, but also by hosting more events.  Plans for smaller, more editorially-focused events are on the agenda.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Campanelli responded to several questions about the recent changes at The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s no-longer-daily newspaper. John assured the audience that Crain’s will continue to be delivered in print and that there is no plan for the publication to be online only. A former colleague of John’s from The Plain Dealer asked perhaps the most memorable question: “Do you see a place for investigative journalism in business news?”

“Absolutely!” replied John.

Campanelli asked the audience in jest if they had any tips before concluding with a sincere thank you and extending an invitation to our guests to get in touch with him and share information and ideas as he settles into his new role.

Not so ironically, as I sat down to write this recap a colleague in attendance at the event suggested I keep it fun, light and interesting – I guess John got his point across!

John’s Crain’s page: http://www.crainscleveland.com/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=22&category=CONTACT

Twitter: @johncampanelli

Crain’s: www.crainscleveland.com


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