Editor’s Corner: Best Practices for Using Links in Press Releases

March 21, 2012

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

by Sera Gonzalez, Senior Editor, Business Wire Dallas

With the advent of XHTML, additional knowledge is only a click away. Embedded hyperlinks turn ordinary text into doorways of information. Business Wire tracks link click-throughs, showing the link text, URL, which version of the release and how many total clicks it has received.

As an editor, I’ve seen releases with no links at all, making it difficult for readers to easily find more information. I’ve also seen releases so full of links it was impossible to determine what information was important. Finding a balance and knowing how to optimize link usage is vital for press release writers.

When considering hyperlinks in text, the writer has two options: the URL and anchor text.

A URL in the text is like this: www.businesswire.com, which works well for short URLs and at the end of boilers, linking to company home pages. Though most of the internet is XHTML compatible, there are a few sites that still post in plain-text. In these instances, a link will not be active in the body unless it is written out. Instead of saying, “Click here,” say, “Visit www.businesswire.com.” Full URL links are also useful when linking to social media sites: http://facebook.com/businesswire and http://twitter.com/businesswire. Readers see your handle and can type it in if they already have those web sites open. Registration URLs for conference calls, webcasts and trade shows help a reader easily keep the link for future use or send to colleagues.

Sometimes URLs for frequently shared pages can be really long and should be hidden from readers. These cases call for anchor text, like Business Wire, instead of writing out the URL. These links are like the icing in your release; leading your reader to more information. For names in releases, an anchor text link to the person’s biography – which commonly includes a photo – works perfectly. You also can use anchor text in product announcements, referencing a page with videos, photos, reviews or purchasing information. Anchor text links also boost SEO for your release. For example, if you wanted your release to rank on Google for the keyword “Business Wire,” you would make sure that phrase appears in the headline, first paragraph and as anchor text, Business Wire.

Make hyperlinks work for you. Lead your reader to places beyond your release, to further the understanding of your product, personnel and company. Also keep in mind that not everything needs a hyperlink; too many and your release can look like spam and discourage readers. The link is yours.

With 31 bureaus around the world and more newsrooms than all of our competitors combined, Business Wire is proud to provide local expertise and superior service, backed by the most accurate editors in the world. In Editor’s Corner, we ask some of our best to chime in on how to get the most out of your press release, based on their years of experience in the industry.

Business Wire: Remaining Relevant for All The Right Reasons

May 10, 2010

by Neil Hershberg, Senior Vice President, Global Media, Business Wire

Neil Hershberg, SVP - Global Media, Business Wire

The Washington Post Company’s decision to put Newsweek on the block this week is the latest example of the modern Darwinism that is radically reshaping the media industry. For me, the news was more personal, having  spent a decade [1977-1987] at Newsweek when it was near the top of its game, still basking in the afterglow of its Watergate heroics.

Newsweek‘s top editors were known internally as “The Wallendas,” a reference to the famous circus family that walked the high wire without a safety net. Ironically, it was the magazine itself that decades later would become the victim of a potentially fatal free-fall that endangers its very existence.

In chronicling Newsweek‘s near-death experience, Jon Friedman, the MarketWatch media columnist, pinpointed the core issue confronting all media companies today. “In the 21st century,” Friedman writes, “the key question that media companies will face is this: Is my product relevant? “

Of course, Friedman is right. Relevancy is king, and always has been.  Routine relevancy checks are a requisite for survival in today’s media metamorphosis.  I’m not entirely convinced, however, that relevancy is a phenomenon that is unique to the Digital Age. As far as I’m concerned, relevancy has always been the name of the game.

Business Wire has always revolved around relevancy, and staying ahead of the curve.

We vigilantly seek out new technology and formatting opportunities that will enhance our client value proposition and end-user experience. Business Wire is well-known within the news and information industry for pushing the envelope, and for setting industry standards. Our pioneering NX news delivery system, for example, has been awarded patents in the United States and Canada for its simultaneous, real-time news delivery capability — a must for full and fair disclosure. Most recently, we began formatting our transmission in XHTML,  a web-based display format that provides the user with increased functionality and flexibility.

To be candid, Business Wire is not very popular with the IT departments of major media organizations and financial information providers, as we are always raising the bar in terms of our delivery standards. We are more interested, however, in retaining our reputation as the industry technology leader than in winning any popularity contests. It’s a small price to pay for staying relevant.

Despite today’s seismic changes, Business Wire is more relevant than ever. Indeed, Business Wire is likely to play a more significant role in global communications and regulatory compliance in the years ahead.

We’ve made the successful transition from traditional “wire service” to a multi-lingual, multi-media publishing platform that leverages the full spectrum of available delivery channels, ranging from RSS feeds to social media networks, to SEO, to mobile applications. Our network is like a snowball accelerating down a steep mountain — it continues to grow exponentially.

We can say with total confidence that Business Wire has the most robust and dynamic delivery system in the industry, transforming the once humble press release into a rich media, interactive presentation that can be rendered into multiple formats across a range of platforms. Anyone who still thinks of a “wire service” as clattering teletypes and satellite transmission is seriously out of step with reality. We’ve taken Internet delivery to the next level — and have patents in multiple jurisdictions to prove it.

And with the push for financial reform a top global priority, Business Wire’s ability to deliver material information to ALL market participants simultaneously and in real-time takes on a renewed sense of importance. There is simply no substitute for disclosure and transparency, as regulators and reformers worldwide agree.

In our view, there is more than one definition for relevancy.  While technology is the backbone of what we do, it is only part of the story. To be truly relevant in today’s era of intense competition requires a commitment to core timeless values, including client service, editorial integrity and credibility, and network security. Without a commitment to these fundamental values, irrelevancy is all but guaranteed.

As Business Wire approaches its  “half-centennial”  anniversary in 2011, we have never been more optimistic about the future. Rather than being a prisoner of its past, Business Wire is justly proud of it. And we look forward to remaining at the nexus of the global information exchange in the decades ahead.

Yahoo! Finance Debuts Business Wire XHTML Feed

October 19, 2007

Today is a very satisfying day for many of us at Business Wire and we think it’s also a good day for investor relations. After several years of development and more than a year of working with our downstream partners, Business Wire’s XHTML feed is now being carried on Yahoo! Finance.

Why is this important? XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language) enables us and IR professionals to break a decades-long limitation in how earnings tables are transmitted, presented and re-utilized. Limitations in data feeds and ANPA and ASCII languages and technology have meant that tables could be no longer than 70 characters in width, could not support underlines, bold text or bulleted lists. This means tables are often difficult for humans to read and harder for computers to parse in today’s automated times.

Earnings Tables that are Easier for Humans and Computers

Enter XHTML. With XHTML, we present tables that closely mirror how they appear in their original spread sheet format. Wider, with underlined headers and numbers. And they are more easily readable by humans and electronic systems. For humans, the benefits are obvious.

Look at these two examples of tables:

Each element of the Business Wire NewsML press release in XHTML is tagged – the content within the headline, body copy, tables, contact information, etc. so that systems can find and utilize the exact data they need. This ultimately helps news organizations to speed the reporting of earnings results and further levels the playing field for access to corporate financial data.

This is a very big “next step” in our ongoing efforts to change the way media, syndicates, financial information services and consumer sites handle content. Our patented Internet “NX” delivery system is the backbone for this system. We have spent countless development hours and invested millions of dollars in building a smarter system to simultaneously deliver rich content to end users. We’re working on getting more systems online with XHTML in the near future.


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