Category Archives: Media Relations

7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This Week

7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This Week.

7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This Week

Image of 7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This WeekBy Susan Young, CEO,  Get in Front Communications, Inc.

The July 4th holiday typically throws newsrooms and reporters into a ‘scramble for something other than pools, camping, and gas price stories…PUH-LEEZE!’

Monday’s are typically slow news days. But as the hours passed, it became glaringly obvious that the upcoming holiday would be far from the norm.

Online news sites, bloggers, and reporters entrenched in digital had plenty of content and breaking news to last through Labor Day.

Unless PR and marketing pros can newsjack a story from the sorted headlines and tweets below, don’t even think about pitching your story or press release. It will likely appear mediocre at best. At worst, you’ll ruin your credibility.

Newsjacking has been around for decades, but with social media it’s now been given a spiffy new name.

When I was working as a broadcast news director and reporter, we called it ‘piggybacking on a story’, meaning we could find the local connection to a bigger story that was making news at the moment.

The goal was to beat the competing media outlets to the punch with a fresh angle and fabulous quote or sound bite. Get creative. And hurry.

Pitch your story only if you have a new and relevant angle that clearly connects to the big news:

  • Contraception and Hobby Lobby
  • Immigration reform
  • BNP Paribas $8.8 billion fine
  • New GM recalls
  • Israeli teens found dead
  • World Cup
  • Facebook study

Oh, and there’s apparently a storm heading for the East Coast, just in time for the holiday weekend.

Maybe there’s a silver lining in this news cloud. Was this busy and frightening day the only way to bump the baby bumps and Kardashian escapades that masquerade as interesting or newsworthy from the headlines?

Once again, this former reporter is left scratching her head and going for the news from Nutella.

Image of 7 Reasons Not to Pitch Your Story This Week

 About the Author: Susan Young is an award-winning news, social media, PR, and communications professional with 26 years of experience.  Her new book, “The Badass Book of Social Media and Business Communication” [Kindle Edition] was recently released.  She works with organizations that want to use digital platforms to increase their visibility, credibility, and revenues. Susan’s company, Get in Front Communications, provides consulting and coaching on all things communication. Her latest accomplishment: Being named one of the ’75 Badass Women on Twitter.’(@sueyoungmedia)

8 AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases

8 AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases.

8 AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press Releases

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of PR tips tied  the AP style guidelines. To read “PR Pros, Journalists Tackle Latest AP Stylebook,” click here.

Image of 8 AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press ReleasesBy Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire

Associated Press style has been in the news recently, at least for journalists and public relations professionals, after announcing a rash of controversial changes. As you know, it is important for PR, IR, marketing and communication professionals stay abreast of AP style, and its iterations, so you can relate to the media on their level, write cleaner press releases, increase message adoption, and simply sound cool.

Of course, you must consider the style preferences of your company or clients, but you also have an obligation to the media – the end user – to craft a well-written story. With that said, we at Business Wire see our share of AP style blunders in press releases. Here are 8 of the most common style bloopers to avoid:

  1. Image of 8 AP Style Mistakes Frequently Found in Today’s Press ReleasesCapitalizing job titles after a person’s name – a no-no… AP recommends that you only capitalize a title used before a person’s name, not after. The AP’s titles entry is long but worth a look since this is such a common element found in press releases.
  2. Dates and times – eliminate redundancies. Too often, we see dates written as “Wednesday, June 4, 2014” when writing simply “June 4” would suffice. Also, write dates as “June 4” and not “June 4th “ and times as “9:30 a.m.” and not AM. Always be careful with EDT vs. EST; simply using ET is a nice failsafe.
  3. Trademark symbols – avoid them. Trademarks and other symbols are not, and actually never have been, meant for use in PR and news copy. Remove these symbols to make it easier for reporters to utilize your releases.
  4. Percent vs. % – in most cases, spell it out. Standard AP style suggests you write out “percent” in news releases, while utilizing the % symbol in tabular information such as financial tables.
  5. Entitled vs. Titled – Can you spot the difference here?  The survey was titled “Top 100 AP Style Gaffes.” Let’s just say you’re entitled to make a few mistakes, just not AP style mistakes. In short, do not use “entitled” to refer to the title of something.
  6. Acronyms come later – when referring to organizations: Do not put an acronym in parentheses after the first reference to the organization. Easily recognizable acronyms, by themselves, can be used on second reference without spelling out the organization’s name a second time.
  7. The dreaded –ly – avoid hyphenating these words: Do not hyphenate a compound modifier when using adverbs that end in -ly, such as commercially-available products. The correct style is commercially available products, no hyphen.
  8. Write it out – don’t use shortcuts when referring to numbers: As the AP points out, spell out numerals one through nine and use figures for 10 or above.

Looking to create a stronger relationship with today’s journalists?  Correcting these small mistakes in your press releases will help reporters and other key constituents read, adapt and share your news.

About the Author:  Luke O’Neill, formerly a newspaper reporter and copy editor, is an editor at Business Wire Boston. He has nearly 15 years of communications experience and a master’s degree in journalism. 




PR Pros, Journalists Tackle Latest AP Stylebook

PR Pros, Journalists Tackle Latest AP Stylebook.

Image of PR Pros, Journalists Tackle Latest AP StylebookBy Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire

June 4, 2014

Earlier this year, The Associated Press style editors created quite a disturbance in the journalistic Force when they announced changes to their stylebook. AP style purists, myself included, were aghast.

The word “over” is now acceptable in all cases to indicate greater numerical value. Previously, the phrase “more than” was the preferred term. So you can now write: “Salaries went up over $20 a week“instead of “more than $20.”

The “over” vs. “more than” decision, announced at the American Copy Editors Society conference in March, reportedly elicited gasps from the audience. The reactions since then have ranged from outrage – some of it tongue-in-cheek – to a get-over-it mentality.

But that was only one of many recent changes, some of which were accepted more easily than others. One approved change was in the format of state names within articles. AP style editors announced in April that state names would now be spelled out within the body of stories to ensure consistency in domestic and international stories.

And, in case you missed it, the AP Stylebook 2014 print edition just launched May 28.

Style Matters

If the (over)reactions to the style changes has taught us anything it is that style matters and is deeply valued by news editors.

As we at Business Wire frequently discuss, public relations professionals who speak the media’s language continue to garner greater credibility among journalists. AP style is important for both writer and reader as it encourages consistency and clarity.

AP style is a “foundation to which communicators can refer when creating content,” Mark McClennan, senior vice president at PR firm MSLGROUP Boston and Public Relations Society of America national treasurer, wrote in an email.

It is important to note that although  AP ruled the word “over” as  acceptable to indicate greater numerical value – its usage isnot mandatory. You can still use “more than.” I suggest you turn a blind eye to the AP’s change and reserve “over” for spatial relationships.

The AP said “over” is acceptable because it evolved and became common usage. The change is noteworthy since it is a style element that appears so often in editorial copy.

In a blog, McClennan urged the AP to reconsider its “over” ruling. He does not agree with the reason for the change and encourages PR pros to keep using “more than.”

“I am very disappointed with the recent AP Stylebook changes,” said McClennan,. “AP was clear in many of these changes that they were broadening what is acceptable, not eliminating past practice.”

Getting Over ‘Over’

The Columbia Journalism Review noted that “over” has been in use for centuries when referring to quantities.

A Poynter blog noted the style change is a sign of the times – then the author threw this painful yet truthful haymaker: “As the volume of content available for consumption has grown, it seems logical that we have altered the precision with which we use our words…. And if you want to remain a relevant and effective influence, you cannot insist on enforcing standards that large numbers of people ignore or misunderstand.” Ouch.

Fred Vultee, associate professor of journalism at Wayne State University and an American Copy Editors Society board member, said he likes the “over” change.

“The best thing about the ‘over’ ruling is it doesn’t tell writers they should or shouldn’t do anything,” Vultee wrote in an email. “It just tells people not to worry about a colloquial usage that has made perfectly good sense for centuries.”

Vultee said he’ll still write “more than” in most cases. And he suspects most people he knows, who approve the “over” change, will also still write “more than.”

Create Your Own Style(book)

One way to ensure adoption of these changes is to create your own in-house stylebook featuring AP best practices particular to your commonly used words.

“A style guide is part of the rulebook for the conversations your organization has with its audiences, whether you’re in news or in PR,” said Vultee. “If a change in the rulebook helps you and your audience have that conversation more clearly, or if it fits better with your mutual understanding of how culture and society work, it’s a good change.”

About the Author:  Luke O’Neill, formerly a newspaper reporter and copy editor, is an editor at Business Wire Boston. He has nearly 15 years of communications experience and a master’s degree in journalism. 

Why PR Should Own Content Marketing

Why PR Should Own Content Marketing.



Why PR Should Own Content Marketing image inpowered data third party content2 600x450

Image credit: Flickr

A recent Nielsen study pursued that question to determine which type of content had the greatest impact on the consumer decision-making process. The study compared the effectiveness of three kinds of content: expert content (credible, third-party articles and reviews), user-generated content (review from users, like on Amazon) and branded content (any content developed or owned by the brand).

These content types were measured for their ability to provide lift across three stages of the consumer purchase process: brand familiarity, brand affinity and purchase intent.

Ultimately, Nielsen found that expert content was the only type that provided a lift across every stage of the consumer buying cycle. The study showed that the credibility and unbiased nature of third-party articles and reviews were critical to their impact on the consumer’s decision-making process. In fact, the study showed that:

  • 85 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content – credible, third-party articles and reviews – when considering a purchase
  • 69 percent of consumers like to read product reviews written by trusted experts before making a purchase
  • 67 percent of consumers agree that an endorsement from an unbiased expert makes them more likely to consider purchasing
  • The data clearly shows that the content that experts are writing about our brands – the press coverage that PR practitioners secure – has far more impact than the content we write about ourselves. Why, then, does the ownership of content marketing strategy and execution so rarely live with PR teams?

    Our PR teams are the storytellers of our organizations, the folks we hire to help shape our messages and effectively communicate with the press and other influencers. They have their fingers on the pulse of what messages will resonate, when more market education is needed, and why certain stories fall flat. They’re also responsible for the most strategic content our organizations have at their disposal – the press coverage that has the most impact on consumers.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that organizations should rely 100 percent on the press coverage that the PR team secures. The Nielsen study clearly shows that, while Expert Content had the greatest lift across all categories, both User-Generated Content and Branded Content also impacted the consumer and provided lifts. It’s not an either/or proposition when it comes to content, and a mix of these different types of content should be used for maximum impact.

    But the fact of the matter is that the order in which you use these types of content does matter. You might have an amazing writing staff cranking out great content, but if the consumer does not know your brand, and if you haven’t established some level of trust with them, then your branded content will fall on deaf ears.

    So regardless of the content mix you decide to use, the Nielsen data suggests that utilizing trusted, third-party content is a solid first step towards educating the consumer and establishing trust.

    PR teams are already leading the charge in securing this trusted, third-party coverage for your organization, thus helping to establish consumer trust and educate the market. So perhaps it’s time more organizations hand the keys to PR and let them drive the content marketing machine. And with only 42 percent of marketers feeling like they are effective at content marketing (from the CMI and MarketingProf’s annual B2B Content Marketing Trends Report), perhaps they’re ready to pass the reins.

    To download the complete Nielsen study, click here.


Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care)

Interesting article written by Serena Ehrlich with Business Wire about how Twitter is evolving in 2014 to become a news conduit and research tool for reporters and the public.  Ehrlich goes on to explain that despite the ability to share news quickly and in real-time, Twitter is not interested in scooping reporters. Instead, Twitter is focusing on facilitating the sharing of news between creator and consumer. — Pete Cento

Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care).


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

Last month, The National Newspaper Association kicked off their annual conference with a presentation from Twitter’s head of news services, Vivian Schiller. In her keynote, Vivian outlined several upcoming changes within the Twitter news and newsfeed services, introduced Twitter’s new local news initiative and provided tips for journalists on how to leverage Twitter to build their audience and brand.

“News is important to every person on the planet, but for each person, the definition of news that’s important to them is going to be different.” Vivian Schiller, Twitter

One of the top goals for Twitter in 2014 is not to become a news service, but to become a news conduit and a research tool.  Despite the ability to share news quickly and in real-time, Twitter is not interested in scooping reporters. Instead, Twitter is focusing on facilitating the sharing of news between creator and consumer.  In 2014, Twitter is expanding its partnerships to include local media, a big step up from previous years where Twitter focused more heavily on larger media properties. This partnership includes providing easier access to Twitter verification,  taking a second look at the follower caps placed on some accounts and even promotional assistance to outlets breaking a larger story.

Image of Understanding Twitter’s Impact, and Commitment, to Traditional Media (And Why PR Pros Should Care) “Every reporter, every editor should be their own social media editor”

To ensure media outlets can maximize their presence and reach on Twitter, Vivian also shared a series  of best practices and tips to increase reader engagement and widen the news reach.  The top tips for today’s journalists looking to build a brand on Twitter include:

Twitter lists provide a better user experience:  One of the best ways to utilize Twitter is to create lists based on industry or geography or both.  Once the lists are set up reporters can easily scroll through each list for story ideas, to see what is resonating within key audiences, and which individuals are the most influential within their core topic.  And you can add people (or competitors!) to lists without following them, allowing you to maintain the integrity of your core news feed.

Multimedia increases views and shares:  One of the fastest, and easiest ways to increase views, retweets and click throughs on a Tweet is to include multimedia.  In fact, Vivian noted that within the media community, tweets with photos and video lift engagement by 27%

Twitter Cards are a reporter’s best friend and better branding  Twitter cards enhance a tweet, especially those that include images or video by providing more than just the traditional 140-characters.  Links to articles, for example, now include the media outlet name and logo, the byline and more.  These cards are perfect for reporters!  Not only do they enhance the story being shared, Twitter cards build branding for both the reporter and their media outlet.  Did we mention they are free to use?

Twitter builds your media brand:  One of the biggest ways for reporters to increase their own impact and visibility is by building a relationship with their social media fans and readers.  To do this, it is important for every reporter, every social media platform user to take the time to build relationships with their audience.  The fastest way to build a social following is to thank those who share our your news articles, be engaging and talk to your readers, send tweets with companies you may be interested in covering, utilize hashtags to enter larger conversations and live tweet big events such as keynote discussion.  For additional ways to reporters to build their audience on Twitter, read this article by Poynter.

Twitter tracks your success:  Measuring successful tweets on social media is an ongoing challenge.  Initial metrics include follower and overall conversation counts, but those that focus actions taken by the reader, including article sharing, article advocacy and feedback provide a better story. It is these engagements that increase article shares, build loyal readership and drive the inbound traffic needed to meet most media properties overall revenue metrics.

News is going mobile:  A huge majority of Twitter users access the platform from their mobile device.  This means readers are taking journalists and news with them throughout their day. Today’s readers consume news throughout the day and night, regardless of location. Reporters who utilize and share news articles on Twitter can reach any interested party now, no matter where the reader is.

There are more than 500 billion tweets sent every day.

For the last 50 years, we at Business Wire have watched, first hand, the continual evolution of the news industry. It is in our DNA to understand that while news distribution and consumption methods are ever changing, the need for news will never abate.  We are very excited to see Twitter expanding their media partnership to include smaller, local publications and can’t wait to work with journalists and reporters as they continue to maximize their reach and presence on Twitter.  Have questions on how media outlets can better utilize Twitter to showcase articles, stories or press releases?  Let us know!

 About the Author: Over the last 20 years, Serena Ehrlich has worked closely with public and private companies providing guidance on investor and public relation trends. Serena has implemented local, national and international social media and marketing campaigns for a wide range of company and brands including Mogreet, LuxuryLink, Viking River Cruises, the unincorporated city of Marina del Rey, Kraft, Kohl’s, Avon, Mattel and more. Serena started her career in advertising where she developed an understanding of branding from a large-scale perspective, but it was her 14 years in the newswire industry that placed her squarely at the forefront of a technical, sociological and influential revolution changing the face of customer communications. In 1994, Serena was part of a small team who introduced the communications industry to the Internet via a series of first-ever conferences, Her love of technology based communications hasn’t stopped since. As the director of social and evolving media at Business Wire, Serena has a unique insight in the content lifestyle – from creation to consumption. In addition, Serena serves as the Corporate Secretary of the international Social Media Club board of directors, President of Social Media Club Los Angeles, as well as social chair for the National Investor Relations Institutes’ Los Angeles chapter and is a frequent speaker at analyst and business conferences alike on the topics of mobile, payments and social.. She can be found on Twitter (@serena)

Media Relations: What We Can Learn from the Bassmasters

Media Relations: What We Can Learn from the Bassmasters.

Interesting article by Josh Berkman, President, Piston Communications, about when and how to effectively pitch the media and get the most coverage for you and your clients. 

When I think about my greatest hits, they all have one thing in common: They embodied at least four of the main elements. In other words, the bait was tasty. There’s a science to selecting your bait and tackle, but first, it’s worth reviewing the six elements.

  1. Timeliness: Why now?
  2. Proximity: Local news is news to someone. Who is it?
  3. Human Interest: Can you tell this story at a backyard barbecue or cocktail party and expect that a crowd will gather around?
  4. Prominence: Anybody famous?
  5. Conflict: Man vs. man? Man vs nature? Man vs. himself?
  6. Consequence: Who’s life is about to change?

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded.

Lessons To Be Learned From The Chris Christie Crisis: You Have Responded

Editor’s Note: encourages and welcomes debate on issues that are relevant to our community. Yesterday, the Governor of New Jersey stepped up to the podium to address an issue that in his own words “side lined” him. As the CEO of a state, that caught our attention. So we reached out to our community and posed a number of questions relating to management. They included:

  • Is Any CEO Totally In Control?
  • Should They Be?
  • How Can They Be?
  • Trust. Can We Depend On it? is pleased to share these commentaries:

How to Stop Gov. Chris Christie’s ViralBy Adele Cehrs, CEO of Epic PR Group

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Takes Charge in a Crisis: All Eyes on Gov. as Bridge Crisis UnravelsBy Cindy Rakowitz, CEO, BR Public Relations and co-author Emergency Public Relations; Crisis Management in a 3.0 World

Unanswered Questions: Governor Chris Christie:  By David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC

Chris Christie’s Press Conference: Being First. My View… By Ronn Torrossian, CEO, 5W PR

Building and Losing Trust During A CrisisBy Davia B. Temin, President and CEO, Temin and Company

Own-Up and Take Control: Kudos Governor Christie!By Adam J. Handelsman, President & Founder, SpecOps Communications

Lessons To Learn In Governor Christie’s Crisis ManagementBy Mark Stevens, Author of “Your Marketing Sucks,”& CEO of MSCO

Honest Communications. A Dream?Observations from Honesty Expert, Steven Gaffney