Surprise! Journalists use Social Media!
It should come as no surprise, but it’s at least a confirmation of what I and others have been saying for a while. A new study by Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) shows that 70% of reporters use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter when doing research for stories.
Here’s an excerpt from an article about the study on Journalistics:
10 Tips for Television News Interviews
This week’s episode of my podcast, Startup BizCast, is related to media relations, so I thought it would be relevant to post a link here. The podcast provides small business advice, and in episode 16 I provide 10 tips for better television interviews.
Listen to the episode by heading over to the Startup BizCast blog, subscribing via iTunes, or by downloading the mp3 file directly. You can also click the button in the sidebar of this blog that says “listen now” to launch a podcast player.
So, what are the tips? Here’s a preview:
- Prepare in advance
- Don’t use jargon
- Be aware of time
- Speak in the right direction
- Bring a prop
- You’re always being interviewed
- Wear dark colors
- Don’t leave until you’re excused
- Record and review later
Give it a listen for more details, and feel free to leave feedback via the Startup BizCast blog or, even better, by calling the Startup BizCast voicemail hotline at (206) 984-0860.
PRWeb Now Allows Embedded Videos in News Releases
Taking the “new” news release (Social news release? News release 2.0? Call it whatever you like) one step further, PRWeb announced today that they now have a system to include YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo! Video content in news releases.
From today’s news release:
“As the explosive growth of video sharing sites demonstrates, organizations of all sizes are using video content as a way to tell their story,” said Bill Wagner, Chief Marketing Officer of Vocus, Inc. “Feature Video allows PRWeb customers to embed videos directly in their news release, providing a true multimedia experience for their news and increasing the video’s visibility on the web.”
The Internet continues to change the way companies promote themselves (or how their PR firm does it for them). This is an obvious statement, I know, but it really is amazing how things have changed in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that faxing was the primary delivery system for news releases.
Virginia’s Community Colleges Advancement and PR Peer Conference
I was invited today to attend and present during a roundtable discussion at Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) Institutional Advancement & Public Relations Peer Conference in Staunton, Virginia. That’s a long fancy name for a conference of folks who promote and advance the messages of Virginia’s community colleges. There are 23 schools in the system, spread all over the state.
The day started with a luncheon where I was seated (I think intentionally) next to Karine Joly. Karine is a very interesting French Canadian woman who manages a blog about higher education and launched her own social networking site for college educators. We spent quite a while talking about my PR/SEO PR business, podcast production service, and Startup BizCast. We also discussed how she ended up in the US writing about US educational institutions.
After we’d eaten, we were treated to a presentation by Dan Heath, author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” Karine was armed with her laptop and a video camera, and I didn’t take any notes at all. So, as you may guess, she’s able to blog a bit more coherently on what was said. I’ll send you over to her blog for more, in her post titled VCCS Conference: How to make your marketing messages and ad campaigns stick.
My speaking opportunity was in a breakout session called “Pitching Stories that Stick”. It was designed for the PR and public information officers in the group. I was part of a roundtable Q&A that included Andrea Burney from Danville Community College, Jennifer Wishon from the Richmond bureau of Roanoke, VA television station WDBJ, and Laura Bland, the online content coordinator for the Charlottesville Daily Progress newspaper.
Our discussion was supposed to cover how to pitch stories to the media, but while it covered that fairly well, we also wandered slightly off of the reservation (sort of my fault, but mostly directed by our moderator) to talk about how social media like blogging, podcasts, and vidcasts can be used to promote your institution.
The most interesting comment of the roundtable session was from Ms. Bland, who disagreed with my statement that one strategy for getting news coverage is to build personal relationships by meeting with reporters in your area. Ms. Bland said that at newspapers, since the beat system is dead/dying and reporters are so busy covering so many different stories, it’s pointless to ask for those kinds of meetings. She suggested instead talking to the managing editors. I didn’t argue with her during the session but I stand by my initial statement. In my experience, calling the managing editor of a larger newspaper isn’t going to get you very far. If you get a response at all, you’ll likely be directed to a section editor. Additionally, while dealing with editors can be useful, there’s nothing like having a reporter fighting to get some print for your story. It is more difficult to build relationships with the climate in newspaper newsrooms, but it’s still worthwhile. There is one case where I would call a managing editor — when you’re talking about a small community newspaper. At those publications, the managing editor is also a primary reporter.
To wrap up this long post, I want to thank VCCS for inviting me. I even enjoyed the two hour drive from Richmond to Staunton. I don’t get to see the Blue Ridge Mountains much anymore and, since I grew up looking at them from my front yard, I do miss them sometimes.
News Release Writing for SEO versus Writing for Reporters
I stumbled upon some good tips from Businesswire for news release writing. They call it Writing for Robots vs. Writing for Reporters. I’ve commented on a few. My comments are in italics.
1. Choose and use your keywords. Think like your reader: What words are most likely to be searched for by people looking for what you want them to find in your release? Choose/use those words multiple times.
2. Use bold, italics, headlines and subheads to make key phrases and keywords more visible. Emphasized text may help your release stand out and can positively impact search engine results.
But don’t overdo it. It becomes annoying and hard to read.
3. Keep it readable. While your goal is to appear high in search engine results, don’t miss the mark by writing copy that’s overly repetitive, spammy or unreadable. You want search engines to find you and for readers to click through to your text. Strike a balance.
It’s an extremely difficult balance. Strive for it. If you have to err, err on the side of readability. It does you little good to have a highly-ranked release that no one wants to read.
4. Be careful with puns, innuendo and double meanings. Search engines, spiders and robots have no sense of humor. Keep this in mind when trying to attract their attention.
In other words … don’t get too cute.
5. Write timely content that provides useful information to readers. Provide tips, advice, or analysis in your press release that is relevant to your industry or your customers’ interests. Search engines are more likely to include releases that are honestly useful in their results.
I haven’t found that the search engines know what’s useful and what’s not. This is excellent advice for getting people to read your releases, though, and also is good advice for blog writing.
6. Utilize hyperlinks and anchortext, but don’t overdo it. Too many links can flag your release as spam and get you kicked out. One link max per 100 words is recommended. Choose relevant links that direct traffic to the specific pages you are promoting rather than generic company links.
7. Be consistent. Some words have multiple spellings — such as t-shirt and tee-shirt, or email and e-mail. Stick with one spelling to avoid appearing illiterate, preferably choosing the more frequently searched spelling.
8. Keep it fresh. As releases age, they tend to drift lower in the search engine results pages. A campaign of several releases is more likely to drive results than a single press release.
Excellent advice that I frequently give my clients. I recommend at least one release per month.
9. Publish on your own website. Be sure to publish releases sent on the wire or EON to your own website also. Since links are like votes, link to them. And work with your web team to make sure your site is optimized.
This is one a lot of people don’t understand. “Why should I link to my release?” This is why. It makes your release rank higher, and thus the links you get back if it’s posted someplace else more valuable.
10. Use Business Wire for the Big Bang; EON for the Long Tail. We’ve witnessed the best outcomes when press releases are sent on Business Wire and EON. Business Wire provides the big burst of attention; EON gives it the Long Tail and allows it to live forever online.
I could do without the commercial, but I included it because they did the work for me on this blog post :)