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PR, IR, Marketing, Media and other news from Business Wire

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How New Journalistic Practices Are Influencing The News Release

By Agnes Deleuse, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager

Recent studies published coincidentally by The New York Times, Reuters Institute and Business Wire Media Survey are highlighting how journalism is changing in order to survive. New technology brought in new challenges and revolutionized our relationship to media consumption.  

The smartphone is our connection to the world. 51% of consumers are getting their news from their mobile device and the trend is going upwards. We hop from one site to an app, and from one social media platform to the next. Our eyes scan thousands of pieces of information and we only stop when an image is appealing or when the news is pertinent.

Tech innovation goes so fast that Facebook Live and Google News Lab have dedicated training centers for journalists, bloggers, and influencers.

What does it say? First, that journalists must today master editorial and technology techniques, social media specifics and creativity. Secondly, that they must constantly train to acquire new competences matching the pace of digital evolution. 

For PR professionals the takeaway is this: if journalistic practices are changing, it is obvious that the news release has to change as well.

Mobile = Visual

Multimedia is not an option anymore. It is the entry door to visibility and engagement. With Business Wire, images and other multimedia included with a release are sent to photography press agencies and are posted on many news sites and social media platforms. They are available for journalists and other news consumers to download in a hi-res format. If you look at a news feed (AFP, AP…) on a mobile app, news with multimedia is news that gets the most attention.

PR professionals must accept these transformations if they want their information to perform. We now live in a digital era and crafting a news release requires new adjustments. Forget the old habits! Here are a few tips that may help:

1/ Anticipation is key - Include the press release in your communications strategy. Think about your message, your target, what you are expecting from the release….
Don’t choose your multimedia at the last minute. If you need a headshot of your CEO or a picture of your new product, anticipate to get the best shot. If you are exhibiting at a tradeshow, take pictures of your booth so that they are available for later use. Create a photo library where you can dig in at any time.

2/ Forget the text only release – A NYT report says that 800 words articles don’t do great on the web. And 63% of the world are visual learners, so why are your news releases text-only? Add multimedia because the old adage that an image is worth 1,000 words rings truer than ever in the digital age. And don’t forget to include a detailed caption of your multimedia asset. News release multimedia captions can be 100-words long so take the time to describe what your multimedia asset is trying to convey.

3/ Be creative - Innovate when preparing your news release. Utilize the latest storytelling tools, such as interactive photos and videos. There are numerous shareable multimedia options that will engage journalists and consumers.

4/ Think like a journalist - Present your message in a journalistic format. The media covers stories they deem newsworthy so offer them a story that mirrors their usual content. Give them what they are looking for: visuals and quality content.

5/ Think social media - Write pertinent and quality content; it will drive sharing and engagement. Engagement is a major goal when issuing a news release because it shows that audiences are interested in your message. The question to ask yourself is how to maximize engagement. Choose the community you want to reach and craft messages adapted to its members.

Like journalists, you should master the popular social media platforms and know exactly which one is the most appropriate for the type of message you want to deliver.

6/ Searchability - Journalists love Google when researching data and info to write an article. To make sure your press release comes on top of searches, it needs to be written for optimization. The first 5-7 words of your news release headline becomes your URL string. These words must be carefully chosen. Click here to learn how to write a headline Google will love. And don’t forget to include multimedia and captions. The distribution process by your news service provider (Business Wire for example) will post your news release on multiple sites on the web and facilitates its archive on the Internet. News release optimization and distribution by an experienced partner will ensure your news release is easily found across the web.

7/ Headlines and Sub-Headlines – Your headline can be as long or as short as you would like, but they should include all the information a reporter needs to see to open your news story. Most editorial systems showcase the first 55 characters of your headline while search engines will show up to 70 characters. This means you have between 8-15 words in your headline to entice your readers into opening your release.  Since sub-headlines are not seen until the news release is open, be sure to include the impact of your news on your desired audience in your headline.

Detroit TV Execs Share the Ins and Outs of What Catches Their Eye to Garner Coverage

By Cindy Hopman, Corporate Communications Manager, Valassis

Business Wire, in collaboration with PRSA-Detroit and IABC-Detroit, hosted a panel discussion with executives from the city’s three major networks to provide PR professionals insight into their world and how it has changed. We learned more about what catches their eye for not only the 6 o’clock news but news that starts as early as 4:30 a.m. for some morning shows all the way to the traditional 11 o’clock telecast.

Once upon a time, to announce big news, you either issued a press release or held a press conference.  Subsequent front page news and broadcast coverage meant PR success. Today, those are just two tools used to get the news out and by no means do they stand alone. There is pitching, tweeting and blogging to follow up a press release or press conference for coverage in print, online, TV, radio and across social networks with rich media to further enhance the story.

Despite all of these channels to get the news out as well as for coverage, there remains a strong desire to have your story told on the evening news. And today, broadcast coverage may also extend its reach online with video and via social channels. You see, broadcast, too has re-invented itself to remain relevant and capture the attention of its viewers wherever they are.

While Fox 2 Detroit averages 70 hours of news a week, there is much competition for those time slots.  The WDIV Channel 4 NBC affiliate executive indicated her email blows up each morning between 5:55 and 6:15 with an average of 25 pitches hoping to get first in line for potential broadcast coverage. So how do PR professionals get a step up?

Here are just some of the takeaways from the Detroit-area Business Wire-led panel discussion with:

  • Rhonda LaVelle: WXYZ Channel 7 News Director (ABC)
  • Kevin Roseborough: WJBK Channel 2 Vice President and News Director (FOX)
  • Kim Voet: WDIV Channel 4 News Director (NBC)
  • Tom O’Connell, Business Wire/Detroit 

Consider this:

  • Pitch to reporters and producers direct – but first, do your homework and find a reporter whose beat aligns with your news.
  • Pitch your news via email – do not reach out early in the morning or prior to the evening news; be concise yet engaging.
  • Put a human face on pitches
  • Once there is interest, follow up with a call.
  • Strengthen your pitch with visuals i.e. b-roll, infographics, demos, etc.
  • Target morning shows for non-breaking-type stories/features.
  • Search TV station websites for niche opportunities/features.
  • Make your press release impactful in the headline and lead to garner interest. With the multitude TV stations receive daily, they may not read beyond the headline so put your best foot forward as quickly as possible. All three network execs indicated they are looking at press releases for potential coverage.

Broadcasters realize PR professionals/companies may be pitching the same story to all three networks; whenever possible, deliver a slightly different pitch or offer up a different spokesperson. Keep in mind that the TV stations are also competing for viewers and a different angle or brand-messenger can make a difference in coverage on multiple networks. And if the story is engaging, it may be syndicated across network affiliates and shared via the station’s social channels or on their web page. What they share on their websites and across affiliate stations is selective. TV stations too are looking for ways to attract younger viewers and those on the go. Take a step back and look at the broader appeal of the story you are pitching. With this in mind, the reach of the story can extend exponentially across the country and channels.

When assessing the value of a story, consideration is given to those that are consumer-friendly and still maintain the integrity of the show – meaning, don’t be overly promotional. As PR professionals we do follow the Cheers mantra and want “everyone to know our name,” but it’s a fine line that will factor into whether or not the story is deemed newsworthy.

Happy pitching and see you on TV!

Why Newswires? The Past, Present & Future of Trusted News

Newswires have a long tradition of fulfilling an industry need for the dissemination of market moving information to a wide range of news organizations and other stakeholders. Trends and technical advancements have influenced how news is both distributed and consumed.

The stability, credibility and widespread usage of newswire distribution networks are a primary reason why communications professionals view them as the backbone of the news dissemination process.

With over 50 years of industry leadership, Business Wire has established irrefutable trust from within the news market and has proven its thorough understanding of the needs of the digital age by creating a technologically sophisticated, patented distribution network. This trust and innovation have made Business Wire the launching pad for turning company news releases into credible breaking news.

TRUSTED SOURCE

The credibility and tradition of trust earned from journalists and other downstream consumers of Business Wire content enables companies of all sizes to confidently submit press releases for distribution across the wire. Within its 22 local newsrooms around the world, Business Wire employs experienced and knowledgeable editorial teams who review this content to confirm legitimacy and accuracy. This process of vetting news content is a key feature of Business Wire’s value proposition and results in the unquestioned reliance on our service by leading journalists and investors who act upon the breaking news we deliver.

Business Wire has spent over 50 years building symbiotic relationships with media, investors and consumers by regularly delivering factually reliable and timely corporate news content.

REACH

A comprehensive global distribution system and the hard-earned trust of media and investors results in Business Wire being able to provide broad reach and visibility to its members. In addition to direct distribution of releases to the news systems and mobile apps of publications large and small on a global scale, corporate announcements are disseminated across a platform in which all relevant potential audiences have access to the information. Pushed to media and investors, and SEO friendly on the web, virtually anyone can easily find Business Wire content and move on it, from reporter to consumer, from investor to blogger. Further, all information is distributed in full text, ensuring full disclosure of all the information an issuer wishes to convey. It is also simultaneously transmitted to all end users over a private, encrypted network that guarantees that it is visible and not trapped by spam filters.

Business Wire has partnerships with 60 national and international news agencies facilitating reach to more than 89,000 media outlets in 162 countries. Industry professionals recognize our benefits as exemplified by the 92,000+ journalists who subscribe to our PressPass service, offering convenient and customized news feeds. We also offer more than 1,676 delivery options in more than 50 local languages that reach specified geographic markets and offer a choice of nearly 200 industry trade categories at no additional charge.

VISIBILITY

Every day companies spend significant dollars creating a broad array of content designed to establish credibility among, and deliver key messaging to, their constituencies. In each case, the success of these programs is tied directly to their visibility.

The more promotion content receives, the more likely it is that the target audience will see and act upon it. Rather than simply promoting the content via owned channels or social advertising and platforms, which can limit visibility, utilizing a newswire can enhance visibility, coverage and engagement and drive the traffic needed to make the program achieve its objectives.

With Business Wire distribution, news is disseminated across major global platforms including AP, AFP, Bloomberg, ThomsonReuters and Yahoo! Finance, with dual-platform posting to BusinessWire.com and EnhancedOnlineNews.com. Your press release also includes interactive hyperlinks and social sharing links to help drive engagement and content sharing, improving performance in search. The goal is to create the kind of visibility that will lead to user activity and engagement.

INNOVATION with BizWireTV

Business Wire created video programming aimed at showcasing not only the importance and impact press releases still hold, but the growing need for their use as a legitimate form of messaging in the wild-west age of internet platforms. Each news release that crosses our wire triggers activity across the web, views, shares, social engagement, mentions and more specifically, sentiment. This data serves as the solution to how Business Wire will revolutionize the industry. The video programming that serves as the solution, BizWireTV, takes the traditional press release and evolves how the message held within reaches audiences around the world. 

In partnership with Al Roker Entertainment, Business Wire’s BizWireTV spotlights stories on disruptive startups and technologies, entrepreneurs and funding announcements, hot business trends and companies to watch. A core component of the video programming is news-related data analysis powered by Business Wire’s NewsTrak reports and NUVI social media tracking. Business Wire has access to a lot of information. We know how often each release is read, how images and videos perform and how the social media universe is reacting to, commenting on and sharing news stories. Using that information as our guide, we turn rich stories and deep data that we have access to into video news show tailored for digital platforms. This data and social engagement metrics help identify trending stories. Video footage is then incorporated to help share stories in an innovative way.  The goal is to deliver it all with a true news spirit that leaves the viewer feeling smarter, better informed about upcoming economic or industry developments and ready to share it with others interested in staying informed.

With over 5,600,000 video views on BusinessWire.com, 1,400,000 views on Facebook and Twitter, 1,000,000 views of news releases announcing new episodes, and 26,000 social media mentions reaching over 25MM followers, BizWireTV has gone far and above all expectations of popularity.

SECURITY

Business Wire’s patented, simultaneous NX worldwide network ensures that news is distributed to every outlet at the same time and in a highly secure manner. In fact, security is Business Wire’s number one priority. As such, Business Wire is currently the only newswire service to have received the Service Organization Control [SOC] 2 Type II attestation engagement report, providing independent validation that the company’s internal security controls are in accordance with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ applicable Trust Services Principles and Criteria.

LONGEVITY

One sure way to maintain visibility is to also ensure longevity.

The online archiving of news releases by newswires ensure that news can easily be discovered by interested parties by searching company names, ticker symbols or key phrases. Such archiving of information guarantees that news is visible and available for reference long after its initial release. Business Wire’s distribution includes full-text posting to thousands of websites and financial databases, such as Factiva and Lexis-Nexis, which archive news over a long period of time, increasing the discoverability of issuers’ news to researchers.

DISCLOSURE

As a result of Regulation Fair Disclosure, it is key for today’s public companies to simultaneously disseminate their market moving news to as wide of an audience as possible. It is important to allow analysts, reporters and interested consumers to find company news, and act upon it, as quickly as possible, with no unfair advantage given to any one party.

Business Wire’s simultaneous disclosure network, included in every US geographic wire circuit distribution, simultaneously reaches all key disclosure media including the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Reuters, Investor’s Business Daily, Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, as well as full-text posting to financial databases, such as Factiva and Lexis-Nexis.

A newswire is a trusted method to meet Regulation Fair Disclosure, which ensures all interested parties have access to your news and financial data at the same time. While the SEC has amended its guidance on disclosure to include social channels under certain circumstances, in reality, social channels were not designed or positioned to be disclosure vehicles. Twitter, Facebook and other services modify the visibility of all content to maximize their own advertising revenues. As such, the vast majority of public issuers utilize newswires to ensure broad and simultaneous reach to the investing public.

PUBLIC DEMAND

News consumption is at an all-time high and recent studies show that potential purchasers are spending more time online researching products and services before ever contacting the company directly. Using a newswire helps ensure that news is easily found in the research phase of the buying cycle. The existing interest from potential purchasers coupled with the high visibility provided by a newswire distribution, positions information to both be seen and acted upon in a timely and efficient manner. The news is available in full text as the issuer intended, providing an additional layer of certainty that the consumer has access to full, unfiltered information.

According to a media survey conducted by Business Wire in 2016, 53% of the responding journalists use a newswire service daily. Newswires are a vital utility in the news industry and as a result of Business Wire’s veracity and innovative practices, media professionals routinely rely upon our service.

Business Wire has spent over 5 decades deeply rooted in the news industry and recognizes that a new age has arrived. It is with optimism and enthusiasm that we embrace this new digital age and we look forward to building on our foundation of innovation in order to continue to provide the media, the investment community and the public with a comprehensive, transparent and irreplaceable mechanism for distributing vital corporate news.

 

What Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions Partnering Means for Comm Pros

With the announcement that industry giants Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions are partnering comes the question of what benefits will clients and partners see regarding the amplification of their news. Business Wire clients have specific needs that are wide ranging. Currently, they have access to a wide set of communications tools, and now that toolset expands even more. This new partnership offers clients a seamless and cost-effective solution to integrate media outreach and multi-outlet monitoring into their communications campaigns.

With the strategic partnership of Agility PR Solutions and Business Wire, customers can:

  • Identify Influencers: Search the AgilityTM media database of almost 800,000 verified contacts in over 200 countries and create and save custom lists. Additional information, including how journalists like to be pitched and what they cover, will help Business Wire clients strategically target the press and follow up on news stories crossing the wire.
  • Amplify Messages: Augment Business Wire’s services with personalized outreach to key influencers, with Agility’s integrated email sending and engagement tracking tools. Quickly identify contacts for follow up by seeing who opened or clicked on emails.
  • Monitor Coverage: Business Wire’s new relationship with Agility PR Solutions provides a breadth of self-service and full service media monitoring capabilities. Track trending topics, customer sentiment, share of voice, competitors and social media activity.
  • Measure Impact: Clients can evaluate the success of communications efforts with integrated reporting capabilities and gain actionable insights into the effectiveness of their communication efforts with pre-made or custom reports.

The reasons behind the new partnership, and its goals, are simple: to provide communications professionals with enhanced distribution, monitoring and media analytics capabilities. Additionally, a critical component of this new relationship is both Business Wire’s and Agility PR Solutions’ commitment to providing exceptional customer support and service. Communications tools are most effective when used to their maximum potential. Both Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions make it a priority to assist clients and partners in understanding each tool and how these tools can best be implemented into a communications campaign.

The new strategic relationship between Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions is effective immediately and is designed to help customers as they build and create their communications strategies in 2017 and beyond. 

How to Write a Professional Press Release

This article details exactly what content should populate a press release and where it should be found within the release. Use the following as a template and make sure to amplify its message through the use of a commercial newswire such as Business Wire.

It's important to remember that while subheadlines are terrific for outlining your news release’s key points, they are not seen by the reader until the news release is clicked on. Make sure your news release headline showcases the full impact of your news to increase the open rates and usage of your release.

 

Create an Intriguing Headline That Lets the Reader Know What the Release is About

Subheadlines are not seen by readers until the news release is opened so include all pertinent information in the headline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CITY, STATE (or CITY, COUNTRY) – Start the release by stating the brand making the announcement and the news being announced. Make sure to include hyperlinks to all official websites. Journalists rake through countless emails every day so it’s important to fill them in on the newsworthy content of your announcement right away to let them know if this release fits in with their beat.

Explain the industry effected by the announcement and what the targeted audience can expect from this news. 

“Include a quote that highlights the benefits of this announcement for the brand’s targeted audience and what the brand hopes to accomplish,” attribute this quote to a decision maker at the organization who had influence in the news being announced and state their role.

Offer background details about the brand behind the announcement, some recent accomplishments and brief details sourced from the company’s mission statement.

“Include a second quote that goes into more detail about the announcement and what led to it, expected results,” attribute this quote to someone with the brand who intimately knows the details surrounding the announcement.   

 OR, if the announcement is regarding a partnership:

“Include a quote describing the benefits of this partnership both for the two organizations as well as clients and customers,” attribute this quote to someone from the other brand.

Conclude the release by including final details such as websites, social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other accounts.

 

ABOUT THE BRAND

Include a company boilerplate describing the company history and highlights.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Include contact information of someone who will be responsible for handling media inquiries.

 

This is what a press release should look like and standard lengths range from 500-1000 words. It’s important to also include multimedia such as images and video and a logo that links to the company page. Digital technology has transformed the way people consume news making multimedia an expected asset. Providing a high quality image or video will help amplify your message and impact reach. A press release is news and journalists need to be engaged in order to cover your story so focus on the newsworthy aspects of your announcement. With the right targeting and distribution you’ll be reaching interested parties covering your beat so give them what they’re looking for.  

Also make sure to utilize Business Wire's included social media tools as well as selecting applicable hashtags and cash tags. 

Marketers to Increase PR Spending Over Next 5 Years – New Study Says

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism have released a new report that offers a candid look at how marketers plan to tackle public relations in the upcoming years.

The most eye-opening data found in the report is that 75% of respondents answered that they plan on increasing PR budgets over the course of the next five years. When it comes to internal PR staffing, 79% said that their numbers would stay the same in the next year with 13% saying they would moderately increase. When the same question was asked but in the timeline of the next five years, 54% said it would moderately increase.

Learn more about the report on Adweek

This study exposes just how public relations is evolving and its growing importance within the marketing landscape. A lot of this can be attributed to the digital technological revolution and the speed with which communication now takes place between businesses, clients and the public. The result is a convergence between PR and marketing and a shared use of specific tools aimed at building a bridge with potential clients and customers.

 

Needless to say, the future of PR looks very bright. 

“Digital has put PR front and center, as it allows immediate outbound communication and inbound feedback,” said ANA group executive vice president Bill Duggan.

When asked how PR programs can best demonstrate their value, there was a strong consensus with 89% saying they can achieve measurable business objectives. Industry lines are being blurred and industry leaders are well aware of this phenomenon. The only question now is how far will marketing and PR grow together.   

Find out how to best track inbound traffic from a press release. 

What Do Journalists Want? Agility PR Solutions and Business Wire Find Out

Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions want communications pros to find their perfect media match. After surveying over 600 journalists in more than 40 countries, the results were analyzed and compiled into the Media Matchmaker, a blueprint for how and when to best reach members of the media.

Creating and distributing news is only part of the equation when it comes to amplifying a branded message. It’s the media that delivers your communication to their audiences, audiences that tune in expecting trustworthy content. Media relations is as vital as the news being issued in the first place and for this reason, understanding the habits of journalists and reporters goes a long way in getting your news to its intended target audience. So what kind of information did Business Wire and Agility PR Solutions set out to uncover?  

Respondents were asked questions on a wide range of topics including:

  • Integrating more interactive multimedia online
  • Press release elements most beneficial to reporters
  • The role of long form and short form news produced by platforms such as BuzzFeed and The New York Times
  • Reporters’ increased usage of video

What kind of key findings can communicators find in the blueprint?

79% of surveyed media expect a PR practitioner to know their beat. 

No journalist wants to be just another contact on a long media list. The first step to better media outreach is to only contact journalists and reporters whose beat matches the news being forwarded. This would usually involve strenuous research, however, with Agility PR Solutions, filtered lists are compiled based on input criteria. Just let the platform know what kind of journalists you need and in return, expect an accurate media list.

75% of surveyed media use an organization’s online newsroom for research.

The online newsroom, along with Google and an organization’s main website, are the top 3 destinations for research by media. It is vital that content within the online newsroom is updated frequently. Not only does this provide fresh material for reporters, but also helps with search engine optimization. Business Wire’s NewsHQ and InvestorHQ offer direct posting of material news and coupled with Business Wire’s distribution network, provide a secure, safe and efficient way to disseminate regulatory disclosure information.

Download Media Matchmaker for full survey results on how to best reach the media

Tempo Presents: The Future of PR with Sandra Fathi, President of Affect

Business Wire recently had #CommPro Sandra Fathi, president of Affect, stop by and offer some insight into the current and future trends in public relations. An ardent entrepreneur, Sandra has spent the last 20 years helping technology, healthcare and professional services companies achieve their goals.

Communicating in the digital age requires an understanding of today’s rapidly evolving popular platforms. From issuing and amplifying content to tracking the impact of that content, Sandra covers the tools currently in use and how they might change in the years to come. She offers her thoughts on platforms such as Twitter and the recently discontinued Vine, as well as predictions on how users might be engaging with social media in the future.

Fathi covers some of the toughest questions facing today's PR and marketing professionals:

  • What are some of the tech trends you're seeing that will have the biggest impact?
  • How do you think social media is going to evolve over the next 5-10 years?
  • What role do traditional tools of communication such as newswires have today and what role do you feel they will have in the future?
  • The digital age has dramatically changed content and content marketing - how does that impact communicators?
  • What will PR look like in 10 years?

Watch the full video and see what Sandra (pictured left) has to say and learn more about Affect.

 

If You Wouldn’t Click On It, We Won’t Either… Seattle Media Shares Tips for Getting the Attention of the Press

By Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Manager

Earlier this month, six journalists from a variety of Seattle media outlets joined Business Wire for a media speed-dating session. The session allowed attendees the opportunity to engage in small group discussions with journalists and learn more about how the media works; current challenges facing the industry; how journalists like to be pitched; and other useful information about interacting with the press.

Dispensing knowledge from the journalist side was Taylor Soper (Reporter at Geekwire.com), Emily Parkhurst (Editor in Chief of The Puget Sound Business Journal), Rachel Lerman (Reporter for The Seattle Times), Michelle Li (Reporter for KING5), Lauren Foster (Managing Editor of 425 Magazine, 425 Business, and South Sound Magazine), and Anika Anand (Co-Founder of new media venture, The Evergrey). The event was moderated by Bryan Cohen, Owner/Partner of Colehour+Cohen.

From L to R ... Rachel Lerman, Emily Parkhurst, Lauren Foster, Anika Anand, Michelle Li, Bryan Cohen, Taylor Soper, Matt Allinson

Over 70 attendees gathered for the event and all took away many useful tips from these journalists over the course of an hour. Here are some that stand out:

  • Make sure the news/information you are sending to the press is compelling or interesting. “If you wouldn’t click on it, we won’t either,” said Emily Parkhurst.
  • Keep it Simple … When it comes to press releases, all Rachel Lerman wants is the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, and why). Keep it straightforward and full of useful information.
  • Details matter … Taylor Soper looks at the area codes in email signatures. If you’re pitching local, it helps to have a local area code.
  • If you’re sending a reporter an email, give them a subject line that lets the reporter know you’re a human being and load the first sentence or two with as much pertinent information as possible. Emily Parkhurst has 20,000 emails in her inbox. Yours better stand out.
  • Michelle Li says to never forget the morning news programs. Since local stations generally air four to five hours of news in the morning, “You get more bang for your buck since your story is likely to be repeated four or five times,” she said. She also noted that morning news is the only time segment where viewership grows as the broadcast proceeds.
  • Don’t make us find multimedia,” pleaded Lauren Foster. “Include headshots/photos and do your homework before you actually make a pitch.”
  • Look for potential partnerships with new media. Anika Anand says The Evergrey wants to drive subscriber growth and are currently partnering with Brooks Running as part of a referral incentive program. It’s tough out there for new media outlets, so creative partnerships are possible. 

Lauren Foster speaks to attendees at Busines Wire's March 1 media event

  • Don’t get frustrated if you don’t hear back from a journalist right away. All the journalists acknowledged that due to smaller staffs and greater demands, they are busier than ever. It’s always okay to follow up if you don’t hear back, but do so with the understanding that the journalist is probably being pulled in a thousand different directions.
  • Don’t forget your #hashtags … Michelle Li actively pays attention to hashtags on Twitter to find stories (#seattle #pacnw #washington). She also sources the majority of stories herself or via pitches.

 

 

[Webinar Recap] Here are the Top 2017 Social Media Trends to Watch by Black PR Wire and Business Wire Part II

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

The following is Part II of Business Wire's article providing insight into the top social media trends for 2017. Access Part I to learn what insight Lashanda Henry, SistaSense and Dr. Erica Taylor Southerland, Ph.D. had to offer.    

Be Authentic. Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior VP/Executive Editor-at-Large of Black Enterprise

The key takeaway from Alfred’s presentation was “don’t play yourself.” We live in an era where there are more tools available than ever to build our own brand, but it’s important to be mindful that communicating with audiences is self-representation. Build a brand that represents you, the authentic you. Don’t waste your time creating an image online that does not reflect who you are offline and could possibly alienate your intended audience.   

Every status update is a window into how audiences will see you. Brands need to protect their credibility.  Every organization has issues and every social media manager needs to know these issues and public perceptions before creating their social program.  They should think and verify before tweeting/retweeting, posting, reacting or aligning with a hashtag. Every update should align with the organization’s voice and brand.

Edmond Jr. also discussed best practices of live-video streaming. Live-streaming events, providing exclusive behind the scene’s sneak peeks is one of the best ways to draw in an audience. Use live video to bring your viewers into places where they can’t access themselves. This discussion lead into the concept of “celebrity.” Each industry has their own “celebrities” or “influencer.” Consider exclusive interviews with these thought leaders as a way to co-opt their audiences to promote your message. This is another great use of live-streaming to connect with your audience.

Tip:  Don’t Forget Email Lists

As social media evolves and transitions into a more pay-for-play role, email lists will become more important. On social media platforms, the audience you accrue is owned by the platform and they will charge you to reach them. The only audience you own is the one you can reach on your own, such as an email list. The strongest marketing programs are ones that use all the resources available to a company – include email amplification in your programs to ensure you reach and activate your most loyal fans with your news and information.

Don’t Sleep on LinkedIn

When looking to drive sales via social channels, Edmond Jr. pleaded with viewers not to forget the power and reach of LinkedIn.  LinkedIn offers access to high income decision makers, those with access to budgets. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great for reaching audiences, LinkedIn offers a far more unique, targeted reach. People expect to be pitched on LinkedIn, making them the perfect prospects. A great way to get acquainted with the content on LinkedIn is to check out their marketing pages blog.LinkedIn.com and LinkedIntoBusiness.com.

 

Drive Social Advocacy Stephanie Tavares-Rance, Director of Digital Marketing, PR and Social Media at Boston Market

Stephanie’s tips centered on three key goals: share, educate and motivate.

Content should tell a story, deliver information and solve a problem for the audience that’s being targeted. Don’t waste your time reiterating issues that potential clients might have without offering plausible solutions. This work doesn’t motivate them to act on your brand as a beneficial partner, a key component for increasing social advocacy.

Stephanie also offered some tips when crafting content for social platform distribution:

  • Know your platforms. Develop content and copy with a mobile-first point of view. Have a clear understanding of image dimensions required and maximum character count.
  • Vary your content. Content should change with each platform to best suit the platform’s capabilities. Image dimensions, character count, and understanding unique audiences to each platform will help tailor craft your messaging.
  • Use CTAs. Calls to action should move audiences to go beyond the view to action. Getting audiences to consume your content is the first step. Get them moving down the sales funnel by encouraging they take further, proactive steps in learning more about your brand or product.
  • No words needed. Video content should be able to tell a story without sound. Social platforms are often mobile platforms and engaged with on the go. Create video content that tells a story visually because you don’t know when audiences will or won’t be listening to audio, if they find themselves in public spaces.
  • Be interesting. Posts should engage the reader to share, comment and provide their own stories. Posts should be conversation starters, opening two-way dialogue.

 

Melissa Kimble, Founder of #blkcreatives and Senior Social Media Manager at Ebony

Melissa kicked off her portion of the webinar by posing several intriguing questions:

  1. Are you resting on utilizing social media as the “face” of your business or are you using it as a tool to leverage your business?  
  2. Are you utilizing social media to create noise or to create necessary relationships? How can you create a more well-rounded brand offline?

Strategy starts with intention and the goal is to utilize social media platforms to maximize the visibility and impact of brand communications. With all of the noise that social media creates, people are hungry for more substantial, real life experiences. They are authentic and tangible and they crave likeminded content. These experiences include in-person events, face-to-face meetings or even phone calls and allow social media to supplement what the brand is creating offline.   

Melissa explained that social media is a game that changes but brands need to keep doing what makes sense for their business and bottom line. The best way to approach social media, she suggested, was by staying focused on managing a few platforms well.

Creating a successful social media program starts with a deep understanding of your organization, your goals, your positive traits and your flaws.  Understanding who you are, and who you want to be is the first step in building an online branding program that connects with intended audiences and ultimately drives to your business goals.  Once you know what your organization stands for, you can select your platforms, create your brand voice and the content you need to translate your organization into a tangible brand online, and off.

Interested in learning more about using social media to amplify your news and content? Email us now!

This webinar is available for replay here:  http://bit.ly/2lAeZRQ and you can view the event Storify here: https://storify.com/serena/business-wire-and-black-pr-wire-2017-social-media-

[Webinar Recap] Here are the Top 2017 Social Media Trends to Watch by Black PR Wire and Business Wire Part I

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

There was a time when CBS, NBC and ABC dominated people’s attention, but in today’s world we find ourselves glued to the constantly updated timelines of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other unique and highly engaging platforms. For an organization, these platforms pose an immense opportunity to reach potential clients and customers to maintain an open line of communication, and amplify brand awareness. However, these digital platforms are rapidly changing and keeping up is difficult.

Many questions arise when determining how to maximize impact when sharing on the most popular social platforms. Business Wire’s director of global media relations, Raschanda Hall, had the opportunity to co-moderate a conversation with today’s leading communicators on what the current trends are in social media. The webinar, hosted by Bernadette A. Morris, president/CEO of Black PR Wire, offers listeners insight into the best practices for utilizing social media as a communications tool.

 

Increasing Video Impact with MORE by Lashanda Henry, SistaSense

Lashanda introduced listeners to the MORE strategy. An acronym, MORE stands for Master Originality Reach Engagement. MORE needs to be applied to brand storytelling by creating videos that present authentic messaging. Videos are today’s key piece of social content. Not only do they drive deeper connections with viewers, social networks are emphasizing video content, giving it broader reach than any other type of update.  

“You can’t go wrong by constantly showing your content on social media,” Lashanda emphasized. 

There are multiple kinds of videos organizations can produce today to meet their goals. These include live streaming video, video conferencing and video podcasting. Which one is the right one for you?

Although incredibly popular, live streaming isn’t always applicable. It’s a great tool to use when on location at a conference, during an interview, or other situation where the audience can’t physically be present at the scheduled time of the event. Other situations might call for pre-recorded video, such as a video podcast, that is relevant at any time the viewer chooses to watch the footage. Organizations must look at their end goal first, then decide which video type will achieve it.   

Lashanda’s tips for creating videos that drive sales and revenue:

  • Create a publishing schedule. This is key for budgeting purposes, but will also help you connect your videos to your sales goals
  • Video length will vary from 60 seconds to 60 minutes, depending on content and platform.
  • Being professional doesn’t’ cost a lot.  Don’t prop your phone against a book! Use a tripod and other equipment to create production value for your videos
  • Stop including “inbox me” or paypal links in your video. Create easy short links that send people directly to your own sales page (not your homepage).
  • Include customer photos for testimonials. Visual storytelling allows viewers to connect with the story, deepening loyalty and ultimately driving more sales

 

Social Media Takeaways for Non-Profits with Dr. Erica Taylor Southerland, Ph.D.

Dr. Southerland provided social media tips and trends that can benefit organizations in the non-profit sector such as best practices for social media management on a small budget. The easiest tip to implement is to have a social media plan. Know what kind of content you want to be putting out and have a schedule so that content is created and published regularly. Scheduling content for automatic posting on platforms such as Facebook creates the opportunity to plan ahead and develop initiatives for the future.    

Another great tip provided by Erica was to leverage your partnerships to increase the visibility of your content. Share content with other similar organizations and social media influencers who are talking about the same issues. Build reciprocal content sharing relationships with likeminded organizations to increase the overall impact of your messaging.  Within the social world there is a community element that should be taken advantage of to maximize outreach efforts.

Top non-profit social media trends

  • Building your reputation:  Utilizing executive blogs, such as posts on platforms like Medium, gets your voice out as a sharable asset.   
  • Finding passionate audiences Hashtag activism is a great tool to tap into and engage large audiences.
  • Use humor. Smartly. Use humor but maintain cultural awareness and authenticity. Use facts and supplement those facts with a relevant joke.
  • Use data to create a smart “clap back.” Today’s top social commentary is filled with brands utilizing the “clap back” to make their point. As with all communication though, brands need to be careful of the potential “clap back.” There are a lot of opposing opinions and alienating potential clients or customers is counterproductive. The goal should always be what’s best for your organization, the bottom line.
  • Go big. Crowdsourcing and social fundraising are great ways to get potential and current donors excited. 

 

Check back next week for Part II featuring insights from Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior VP/Executive Editor-at-Large of Black, Stephanie Tavares-Rance, Director of Digital Marketing, PR and Social Media at Boston Market Enterprise, and Melissa Kimble, Founder of #blkcreatives and Senior Social Media Manager at Ebony 

Everything PR Pros Need to Know About Influencer Marketing Part II

Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, Business Wire

 

The following is Part II of Business Wire's article providing a closer look at influencer marketing and how it can help you amplify your message. This section covers working with influencers, measuring your success, and maintaining the best communications for your brand. Access Part I to learn about why influencer marketing is important and how to identify the appropriate influencers for your message.   

 

Working with influencers:  Now what?

Once you have identified your influencers and established communications, it is time to determine if you want to work together. 

 

First, you must build out your own program. What is your goal, what do you want influencers to do, how long do you want this program to last, what are the results you expect? Determine how you plan on compensating your influencers – can you afford to pay them? Do you have product that may be of interest, or can you provide significant visibility to their work. Once you know your goal and the influencers you need to achieve it, it is time to start the outreach.

 

Read the influencers’ websites in advance to see if they provide an overview of their influencer programming. This will tell you if they want to be paid, the type of reach they have and more.  You may want to ask for a screen shot of their analytics to confirm their reach and activity claims. Next, craft and send a short outreach note asking if they are interested in new partners and what their programs consist of, their reach and average results and how they prefer to be compensated. Do not expect influencers to write for free.

 

Once the influencer has agreed to be a part of your influencer program, it is time to write and sign a contract. Do not forget this step! Contracts are very important because they outline the goal of the program, the length, the content expectations, content points that must be included in the output, the use of disclosure language such as #spon or #ad, distribution platforms, launch and completion dates, how the program will be measured and, of course, payment terms. How long do you want the content to live? Who has the rights to pull it down? You will want to make sure that your contract includes explicit language in case your influencer does not fulfill their side of the bargain, goes rogue or partners with a competitor while working with you.

 

Amplifying the influencers’ work

The last thing you must do when launching an influencer program is to design your content amplification support system. When you have outside parties creating content on your behalf, you must take your own steps to amplify this content even further.  Create blog posts that point to the content, consider amplification via newswire services, use social channels to increase views and of course, don’t forget about contextual ad networks that can place your influencer content in ad blocks around the web.

 

Influencer content is exactly the kind of information an organization should promote. Don’t forget this final step!

 

Measuring the success of your influencer program

As we noted earlier, it is key to establish the goals of your influencer program well before you launch. This ensures you are able to establish and track the success of your program.  Key questions to ask at the end of the program include:

 

  • Were deadlines met?
  • Were contract guidelines met?
  • Were FTC #spon/#ad disclosure guidelines met?
  • How high was the quality of content the influencer created?
  • What was the amount and quality of brand mentions/discussions?
  • What was the amount and quality of inbound traffic?
  • What was the amount and quality of leads?
  • What was the amount and quality of conversions?
  • How did this content make the audience feel about your content?

 

You may need to use technology to track these metrics. Work with your analytics team to create conversion pixels, UTM codes and more tracking links to ensure you capture as much data as possible within your programs.

 

But don’t just measure the success of your program. Monitor your influencer partners as well. Has their brand voice changed recently? Are they working with competitors? Are they using their platforms in an unexpected manner? Even if you use influencers for a short-term program, you are co-opting their brand. You must monitor all outputs to ensure they stay consistent to ensure the strongest connection possible between the influencer, their audience and your organization.

 

Costs associated with influencer marketing

As we noted earlier, paying for influencer marketing programming can be done with money, goods, visibility and access.  To ensure there is no confusion, always use a contract to ensure both parties are held to the same clear standards.

 

The 2016 Linqia Influencer study shows that in 2017, costs for influencer programs have increased, averaging $50,000-$100,000 per influencer. The bigger your goal, the bigger your budget will need to be. If you cannot afford this kind of pricing, consider offering other options to your influencer such as:

 

  • Free product
  • Exposure via cross promotion
  • Compensation per post or content piece (flat rate)
  • CPE: Compensation per engagement (likes, shares, comments) per piece
  • CPC: Compensation per click by the consumer (link clicks)
  • CPA: Compensation per acquisition

 

There are many ways to compensate a blogger or influencer – and the choice you make will depend heavily on both your goals and the influencers you choose to work with.

 

Righting the ship: When influencers go rogue

Let’s face it. Even the best planned programming can go rogue. So what do you do when your influencer acts out in a manner that you didn’t expect? Can you do anything?

 

The answer is yes. Refer to your contract! If your partner isn’t meeting their end of the bargain, make sure you cover this in your contract. You want to spell out penalties for both parties when the contract isn’t met, including withholding of final payment or the deletion of created content.  This is especially key in created content and in the use of FTC disclosures.

 

And if the influencer goes rogue and you determine that the content is no longer aligned with your brand, ask them to pull it down. Sometimes it is better to walk away vs. allowing your brand to be dragged down by a 3rd party.

 

Influencer marketing is a great way to increase the alignment between your brand and your targeted audiences, but it can come with pitfalls. Take a smart, organized approach to identifying, outreaching and aligning with relevant audiences to reduce potential issues and increase the opportunities of achieving your goal.

 

Want to learn more ways to increase the visibility of your organization’s content? These articles are great! Or email us with questions!

PR Measurement: How to Track Inbound Traffic from a Press Release

By Serena Ehrlich, Business Wire, Director of Social and Evolving Media

 

What good is a news release if you can’t track the results?

 

Hyperlinks in news releases are extremely important as they lead readers to your website to find additional information about your organization, product or service directly from your news release. Tracking this inbound traffic is a great way to see if your website content is aligning with your news content, ensuring you are meeting your business goals. 

 

While Business Wire’s NewsTrak reports tell you how many times a tracked link is clicked, you can get much more useful information if you append your hyperlinks with a URL builder (sometimes called a UTM link).

 

What are URL builders?

Provided by your analytics program, URL builders or UTM links are lines of text you add to the end of a URL that allow the program to track the inbound traffic activity you are generating. 

 

URL builders allow you to connect the dots between your reader and your website, tracking the impact of your communications program directly on your business goals. 

 

When should you use a URL builder?

Don’t limit your data gathering to just your news releases. Create extensions for blog posts, social updates, advertising and other marketing collateral to keep your program’s activities separated. You can create new URL builders for every release and identify traffic by platform (one builder for all news releases vs. blog posts) or topic (one builder for all earnings vs. products).  Email marketing services like Pardot allow you to track actions within distributed emails as well as landing pages, providing even more data you can use to tweak or update your program.

 

How to create a URL builder in under 5 minutes:

If your company has a team that oversees analytics, email them and ask for a URL builder you can add to the end of any URL.  If you manage the analytics yourself, here are the instructions for creating a Google Analytics URL builder.

 

Click here to open the URL builder creation page: https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

 

  1. Enter the complete URL of the link you’d like to track (required)
  2. Enter the Campaign Source (required, e.g. “BusinessWire”)
  3. Enter the Campaign Medium (required, e.g. “PR”)
  4. Enter the Campaign Term (usually to identify keywords or topics, e.g. “earnings,” “product”)
  5. Enter the Campaign Content (usually for tracking versions or tests, e.g. “newsrelease”)
  6. Enter the Campaign Name – this can be any name you want (e.g. “Q3,” “PR” “IR”)
  7. Click “Submit”
  8. Now you have an expanded URL that contains all the analytics tracking data.
  9. Hyperlink this expanded URL within the Business Wire news release
  10. Work with your analytics team to create a weekly report to send you the data these URLs are gathering so you can use this to correct your landing pages, conversion concepts and more

 

What are the limitations to a URL Builder?

Not all of your inbound traffic is going to come in to your website from your appended link. Some websites hosting your Business Wire news release will strip that appended data out. Also, some consumers still enjoy typing a company name into the search bar vs. clicking a link. It is best to view this data as a snapshot of all the traffic you are driving in, not a reflection of all the traffic and activity you have initiated.

 

Reading your URL Builder Data

Every time someone clicks on your appended hyperlink, you can now track their actions across your website, such as:

 

  • Is your landing page working? Many times news releases drive traffic to home pages without realizing the home page is not showcasing the information needed to convert the visitor to a customer. How long are visitors staying on your landing page and within your website? Are they leaving your page in under 30 seconds? Or are they going deeper? Make the changes needed to convert your inbound traffic.
  • Who are you reaching and activating? Are you reaching new audiences with your news releases, or are you decreasing the consideration time it takes for someone to buy your product?
  • Where is your audience? Are you activating the right markets? Are they on their smartphones or on a desktop?
  • What actions are they taking? Are your news release readers downloading your promoted content?  Are they subscribing to your marketing channels?
  • Which news release topics are driving the most inbound activity?

 

Few departments generate as many discussions as your PR team. Capitalize on these discussions and the traffic they generate by tracking the activities your news has on your website. With URL builders, you can see if you are driving in the right traffic and if your audience is taking the actions you want. This will provide you the hard data needed to increase the ROI of future marketing efforts such as landing page revisions, keyword research needs and more.

 

Click here to learn more about Google Analytics’ URL builder or email us today to set up a meeting to discuss this further.

 

 

 

Everything PR Pros Need to Know About Influencer Marketing Part I

Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, Business Wire

 

There are about 1,209,803,094,832 articles on the web today related to influencer marketing and how it will revolutionize PR and marketing in 2017.  Knowing how important it is for an organization to activate key audiences, we at Business Wire wanted to provide a closer look at influencer marketing, why it is so important and how it works.

 

Why? What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the identification of, and outreach to particular individuals because of their existing reach within a particular market or demographic audience segment with the hopes they will share your content, or create their own, to educate their audiences about your business or product line.

 

This is exactly what PR pros do every day! Every day they identify publications and writers that their audiences trust, and reach out with the hopes of securing media coverage.  The difference between an influencer pitch and a media pitch is usually found in the output and the financial incentives influencers require to share your content with their audiences.

 

Influencers offer companies new lines of communication. They provide the opportunity to reach smaller, highly targeted groups with authentic and trusted content designed to drive action or meet a specified goal. Most influencer programs in 2017 are paid programs, with access to content and goods as secondary payment options.

 

Why would a company initiate an influencer marketing program?

Every two years, Nielsen releases its Trust in Advertising Study. Over and over, the results show that consumers place high trust (66%) in editorial/expert content. But when that content is shared by a friend or someone they know? The trust in that content jumps to 83%. Imagine consumers trusting your company’s information at a rate of 83%! That is huge!

 

Influencers work hard to build their audiences, to create friendly relationships with their readers. Their goal is to create content pieces that their audience not only will read or watch, but that will activate their readers to take an action – to share the content, to click the link, to buy the product.  If you are looking to reach a particular audience, it makes sense to work with someone who is already a trusted source to your end audience.

 

What are the rules surrounding influencer programs?

The most important rule in influencer programming is related to disclosure. The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for truth in advertising. In 2009 the FTC issued guidance on influencer programming – requiring influencers who were compensated for posts to make it clear to readers that they were working with the brand as a paid or compensated spokesperson.  These are guidelines not laws, but are considered a key part of truthful, transparent influencer engagement. This information should be provided in the body of blogs, as a footnote in videos, a spoken sentence in audio content and via social updates utilizing the hashtags #spon or #ad plus the name of the sponsoring organization. 

 

What kind of influencer programs are there?

There are many times an organization can use influencer marketing. It can be to support a new product launch, or to extend the visibility and reach of an existing product.  You can leverage influencers to share out your created content, or to create their own content based on your specifications.  Influencers also do a great job of reporting and extending the life and impact of events. But influencers can do more than just share a product release – they can be invaluable in a crisis, providing another avenue for you to reach end audiences when misconceptions or mistakes are dominating news headlines.

 

What are the features of a good influencer?

A good influencer is one that has a strong reach within your target audience. Influencers are not meant to be used broadly – they are meant to activate small segments of your overall audience.  A good influencer will be someone who actively participates in your target audience sphere, online and offline.  Another hallmark of a good influencer is someone who creates content that activates others. You want to find influencers who encourage action, not one that simply promises visibility. 

 

Another thing to consider is the influencer’s own brand voice. You may want to find influencers that align with your existing brand voice and values, or you may choose influencers with a completely different type of style if looking to reach completely new audiences.

 

Influencers can be famous. Or not. If you have a large budget, you may want to consider partnering with a celebrity or a mass influencer (someone will more than 1 million followers). But this is not a requirement for a good influencer program.  Many companies have found strong success in activating influencers with smaller audiences. Their followers may be more passionate and more likely to act upon the shared content as they feel more connected with the influencer.

 

Influencers can also be reporters and writers! They may be industry professionals such as the head of your industry association. Employees are wonderful influencers and can be activated with little out of pocket costs with a strong employee engagement program. Company partners and customers can also help share out important content pieces and news with a simple ask.  When launching an influencer program, it is key to identify internal and external industry experts.

 

How do you find your influencer?

84% of marketers identify influencers manually and most marketers agree identifying the right influencer is the hardest part of the entire program. 

 

To get started, first identify who is currently sharing your company news out across their social channels, publications or blogs.  Are they employees? Journalists? Analysts? Partners or brand fans? Who is currently advocating for your company? 

 

Next, look to see who is advocating for your competitors and your overall industry. Who has the largest voice, one that most aligns with your own organization’s tone and goal?

 

Then, it is time to turn to your tools.  News release distribution services like Business Wire provide organizations with a complete list of who socially shared out their news releases. This is an influencer list! Simply go through it and see who you want to add to your list. Social monitoring services like NUVI identify who is tweeting out support for your business and industry. Don’t forget that media databases like Agility PR now include influencers who want to work with brands as part of their service.

 

You can outreach to influencers via email (usually found on their website on the contact page) or via their social channels to initiate the discussion.

 

Check in next Tuesday, March 7th at 8am for Part II of this piece, offering additional insight into "Influencer Marketing" and what to do once you've identified your relevant influencers. 

 

How to Write News Release Headlines Reporters Love

By Raschanda Hall, Director of Global Media Relations, and Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media, Business Wire

Every year, the teams at Business Wire look at changes in the industry that impact news release distribution and usage. We review the technical changes and the behavioral changes that directly affect the visibility and consumption of information. Once we gather this information, we make tactical suggestions that PR professionals can use to increase the success of their work. Still the most frequently asked question we receive is:  What makes a good news release headline and how long should it be? 

The key to writing a good news release headline is to be both compelling and informative. Do not just say what the project is, explain the importance to your end audience. Don’t just tell reporters you’re opening an office in a new city, highlight the effects of the move on the neighborhood, your overall business, and the industry. This is what piques their interest, the implications of their news on their readership.

While headline writing isn’t an exact science, a common formula includes the use of a number or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise.  Trigger words can be question words like what, how or why?  They can also be persuasion words like imagine, if, and new. 

Whether you choose to use this formula or not, you want to make sure the most compelling word, or phrase, in your news release is also in the headline.  This is why, when it comes to news releases, you write your headline after you write your news release. This will ensure that you include important keywords or data in your headline because they are relevant to your news.

The Key to Selecting Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases frequently used by your colleagues, industry peers, customers and reporters to describe specific products or services. Once you write your news release, go through and underline the words and phrases you included that are popular right now in your industry.  Pick the keywords that help explain the real impact of your news to your readers. Don’t focus on keywords that are irrelevant to your overall story goal. 

Confirming Your Keywords Have Impact

Once you have selected the keywords or key phrases from your news release that showcase why this is news, you may want to use a keyword tester to see how popular that word is with your audience. Google Trends is a free service that Google offers to show writers, content creators, marketers and PR pros what information people are looking for within Google search. By going to Google.com/Trends, you can type in and search the words and phrases in your news release to see which term or terms may be most useful to reach and activate your audiences.

How to use Google Trends:

  1. Go to Google.com/trends
  2. Set the location to match your country
  3. Set the timeline to match the last 7 days (for blog posts, try 30 days)
  4. Identify the keywords in your news release that ladder up to your headline goals
  5. Type in each of your keywords or phrases
  6. Write down which keywords or phrases have the highest search terms
  7. Add the most popular words to your headline
  8. Review your headline to ensure maximum readability
  9. Distribute your news release
  10. Monitor results and make modifications as needed for your next release

Once you have identified your most searched keywords or phrases, craft several different headlines and use a headline tester to confirm your new headline is both interesting and relevant. Here are three free, online headline testers for your files:

How long should your headline be?

While shorter headlines are preferred, it is important that your headline provide key information to your reader. Depending on keywords, your headline may be short, or it may be longer than usual.  The URL string of the Business Wire version of your news release will showcase the first 5-8 words of your announcement so make sure your most impactful words are included here.

Keep in mind, ideal headline character counts can vary by platform and news partner.

  • Many editorial systems show the first 55 characters of your news release headline.
  • Search engines showcase the first 70 characters of your headline.
  • Social channels tend to pull in the entire headline (along with your Business Wire news release summary)
  • Don’t forget about mobile devices. Keeping your headline to 40 characters may be tough, but some think that is the ideal headline length for mobile readers. 

This means you have between 8-15 words in your headline to entice your readers into opening your release. 

Tip! Let Your Coverage Be Your Guide!

One way to see if your news release headlines are working is to see how reporters revise them in their coverage pieces or how consumers translate your news in their social updates. Did they use your language or your angle? What did they change? Why? Taking the time to review your past coverage pieces is a fantastic way to guide you to crafting a better release next time.

Once you have your news release headline, don’t forget to include the other required news release elements!  Include hyperlinks to provide reporters with instant access to back up materials, add a photo, infographic or video that visually tells your story to activate visual learners and include social prompts in your news release to allow fans to advocate on your behalf.

And once your release has crossed Business Wire, monitor your NewsTrak report (clicking on the Compare to Recent button) to see how your revised headline compares to past releases.  You will also want to monitor social media channels via your NUVI report to see if your newly revised headline message resonates with individuals.

Have questions about using keyword research for crafting news release headlines? Let us know! We would love to set up a time to review your news releases and show you the small changes you can make to drive larger results. Email us at serena.ehrlich@businesswire.com to get started.

Start Off the New Year with the Top Trends in PR, Search & Social Media

The MediaLeaders Team didn’t wait too long before putting together a trends report for the New Year. With 2017 being projected as the year of news content visibility, the goal for any communicator will be generating the most impact through the use of PR tools and solutions. MediaLeaders compiled the information found within the article based on a breakout session at the Digital Marketing Conference in Los Angeles hosted by Serena Ehrlich, Business Wire’s director of social and evolving media.

Read the full article on MediaLeaders

What do the trends look like? The infographic below offers a visual roadmap of how to amplify your news and achieve your goals in the New Year. 

Business Wire’s Top Ten Tips from the 2016 Media Blueprint Survey

Business Wire’s 2016 Media Blueprint Survey puts a magnifying glass to the work habits and preferences of today’s leading journalists and reporters. Knowing how to best reach and engage the media is a vital tool in a communicator’s arsenal, and Business Wire’s media survey offers the data needed to amplify branded news.

The following are the top ten tips found within the Media Blueprint Survey and if you’re looking for editorial coverage, there’s no better place to look.  

  1. 79% of surveyed media expect a PR practitioner to know their beat. 

No journalist wants to be just another contact on a long media list. The first step to better media outreach is to only contact journalists and reporters whose beat matches the news being forwarded.

  1. 53% of surveyed media use newswire services daily; 39% use it weekly or monthly.

Reporters rely on newswires because the news is vetted before distribution. Wire services are also a great resource for reporters as it provides usable content, copy can be pulled straight from the release.

  1. 91% of surveyed media prefer to receive news via an email alert linked to the press release.  65% of reporters look for supporting facts in a press release.

Include hyperlinks to all related information in a news release and one-click access to content features.

  1. 63% of surveyed media state that early in the week (Monday or Tuesday) is the best day to receive pitches.

Issuing news when the media is most likely to engage with it is a best practice for achieving editorial coverage.

  1. 61% of surveyed media prefer to receive pitches in the morning.

Like most consumers, reporters prefer to have as much news at their fingertips first thing in the morning.

  1. 33% of surveyed media rank photographs as most important supplement to a press release.

Photographs were the #1 release supplement and it tells us that multimedia is no longer an optional asset, it’s expected.

  1. 75% of surveyed media use an organization’s online newsroom for research.

The online newsroom, along with Google and an organization’s main website, are the top 3 destinations for research by media. It is vital that content within the online newsroom is updated frequently. Not only does this provide fresh material for reporters, but also helps with search engine optimization.

  1. 81% of surveyed media expect to access press releases in an organization’s online newsroom.

Press releases continue to be the most desired content type within an online newsroom year over year. Verified news is more important than ever to today’s media, with HTML being the preferred format over PDF for press releases.

  1. 54% of surveyed media expect a minimum of 1-5 years of historical press releases in an organization’s online newsroom.

Although the average amount of press releases that surveyed media expect to see is 1-5 years of releases, more than 30% of surveyed media still want to be able to access the entire historical archive of press releases. Make sure that all “milestone” releases are available within the online newsroom. Milestone releases recorded major happenings within the company or organization such as mergers, acquisitions, a new CEO, a new product, and more.

  1. 60% of surveyed media expect to search news by type and/or date in an organization’s online newsroom.  

Reporters are on deadline. They need to search, filter and access desired information quickly. Make it possible for reporters to get as detailed as possible in their search queries.

Bonus tip!

58% of reporters create more than 6 articles a week. This tells us that reporters are busy! Give them complete news releases – ones with facts, multimedia, and one-click access – so they can cover your story fast and accurately.  

Download the survey!

Received Editorial Coverage? Here’s How to Amplify It

Your news received editorial attention and coverage giving you reason to celebrate. Although you should celebrate the identifiable ROI, the amplification of your news, generating interest amongst potential clients and customers… remember not to cheer for victory too soon. This is the digital age and there is still more work to be done if you want to maximize the impact of your PR campaign. The real impact of editorial coverage is directly related to its visibility, and what you want to do is increase the visibility even more. That is true amplification of your news.

 

In the newly released Social Media Amplification Guide, Business Wire outlines the role of editorial coverage in the customer-consideration and purchase journey, and presents a series of strategies and tactics designed to increase the visibility of news stories across social channels.

 

Why is editorial coverage important?

 

Nielsen’s 2015 Trust in Advertising study revealed that consumers trust editorial coverage (66%) and this trust was increased greatly when this same content was shared by a friend or family member (83%).

 

Combine this data with the results of the 2016 Business Wire Media Survey in which reporters noted that inbound traffic was a key success metric for their editors (a metric communicators can help meet by broadly sharing their secured coverage across their owned networks) and it becomes easy for today’s public relations practitioners to understand why editorial coverage is so important and why they must create a social media news amplification program to promote this content.

 

Business Wire’s free social amplification guide outlines:

 

  • Best practices in crafting updates that meet each platform’s user aspirations.
  • Best time to share and encouraging coworkers to participate in the share process. 
  • Features valuable insights into Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Reddit.

 

Download your copy of Business Wire’s free Social Sharing guide

 

Know a fellow communicator who would benefit from this guide? Click here to share it with your Twitter followers now.

[PODCAST] Optimizing Press Release Headlines for Search from Business Wire

Business Wire’s Serena Ehrlich dropped by the Arketi Group to join in on an episode of their podcast series, one they self-describe as This American Life for the B2B marketing set.

Serena, Business Wire’s director of social and evolving media, gave some strong tips on how to craft better headlines and increase the impact (visibility, accessibility and engagement) of a press release.

The headline is often the audience’s first contact with an organization’s content, and could very easily be the last if the reader isn’t engaged enough to keep reading. A good headline offers enough information to let the reader know the basis of the underlying story and the impact of that story on their life. A headline shouldn’t be a mystery, it should lead the reader down a path they want to go down, a path resulting in key findings, data and facts. A successful headline is also a searchable headline, containing trending keywords that reporters and news consumers use when seeking out a story.  

The podcast covers key aspects to crafting a strong headline, as well as several other tips from Business Wire including:

  • Why headlines are important
  • When to write the headline
  • Subheadline do’s and don’ts 
  • Using Google Trends
  • Importance of using click-to-tweet and hyperlinks

Ask yourself, do your news release headlines hurt or help drive media coverage? If your headline isn't optimized for search, then your release may be buried among a sea of forgotten news releases. 

Listen to the full podcast now: Episode 9

Don’t Leave Journalists Wondering: “How Do I Pronounce That”

By Vilan (vē-län) Trub, Marketing Content Lead

As we find ourselves looking to generate positive news coverage in the rapidly evolving digital era, we learn more about its defining features. Companies are transforming how we see the world, how we consume, learn and socialize. For a creative brand seeking media coverage, it’s important to distribute interesting news along with engaging multimedia. Although helpful advice, this is a tip that gets suggested often enough to no longer be considered an insider tip. To really tip the scales and leave a memorable mark on the media and news consuming audiences, we need to look closer at how brands can better acquaint themselves with journalists and reporters. Today’s companies exude creativity in all of their decisions, first and foremost with their corporate names. A great way for companies to familiarize their target market with their brand is to announce their name clearly, in a memorable way. Don’t leave journalists and reporters asking, “How do I pronounce that?” Tell them with a pronunciation key!    

Business Wire’s BizWireTV is a video news show that spotlights the top trending and most interesting stories crossing the wire each week. Our editorial production team takes great pride in presenting the brands behind those stories as accurately as possible and that starts with the correct pronunciation of their names. Great research is done into the companies behind the releases that serve as the backbone for each episode. BizWireTV, like every news media program, would benefit if brands included a pronunciation key with their releases. It would prevent the media from making an error they wouldn’t want to, and make sure that the brand behind the story is presented accurately.

How it works:

Using a pronunciation key, spell out your brand name using characters that will allow the reader to understand how each letter and section should be pronounced. For example, Bacchus, the Greek God of Wine, would be written out as: (ba-kəs). The reader will have a clearer understanding of how each vowel is pronounced and how the word should be said when spoken aloud. By encouraging the reader, and providing an opportunity to learn how to properly pronounce your company name, you work to create a memorable impression of your brand.

As for where to include the correct pronunciation of your company name, that can depend on several factors. If you’re a startup, a new brand looking to make a strong impression, it might make sense to include the pronunciation along with the first mention of the company in the release. If you’re a publically listed company, including a pronunciation along with your ticker will bring added attention to both. A neutral location within the release is the boilerplate. Readers look to this section to learn more about the company and their goals.

A tool for whenever necessary:

Using the same pronunciation-key, you can provide pronunciation accurate spellings of people’s names and locations pertinent to your company announcement. When issuing a news release always ask yourself, what questions will journalists and reporters be asking? Sure, they’ll be asking about the content of your announcement, details and data points. The one question you don’t want to leave them wondering is how to correctly pronounce a bit of information when presenting your story on air. 

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