Author Archives: Christine Cube

5 Ways Journalists Use LinkedIn for Research and Reporting


Data courtesy of the Oriella Digital Journalism Survey, image via MediaBistro

Data courtesy of the Oriella Digital Journalism Survey, image via MediaBistro

LinkedIn has come a long way from its start as a conduit for creating professional connections.

In fact, LinkedIn quickly is making inroads into newsrooms as a place for research, sourcing, and listening, allowing journalists to follow issues and pull stories out of conversations.

Journalists can keep their ears open for nuggets through groups on LinkedIn, said Yumi Wilson, a corporate communications manager with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

“With groups, if you just want to follow new technology or mobile, you can find what people are saying about different companies,” Wilson said. “Journalists can follow groups, participate in discussions, and solicit feedback.”

LinkedIn also consistently is adding new tools to help users be more productive and successful in their business.

Here are 5 ways journalists are using LinkedIn:

  • Sharing stories. There are 1.5 million publishers currently using the LinkedIn share button on their sites. This includes traditional news organizations and media, such as Mashable, TechCrunch, and Gigaom.
  • Increased story visibility. LinkedIn acquired Pulse about a year ago. This means stories from those publishers with the share button are being featured in Pulse. Wilson explained the algorithm to display stories is based on an individual’s customizations and the publishers they’re following. The same happens with trending stories on LinkedIn, which takes place when many people share a particular story.
  • Following companies and employees. Journalists are staying on top of companies and running searches of employees there to see those with LinkedIn profiles. Watching a particular company’s job listings – and the types of job listings – is a clear indication it’s in the market to grow and expand.
  • Keyword search for research or story ideas. Wilson used the example of the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp. When the story broke in February, Wilson was in a training with Bloomberg reporters, who wanted to find WhatsApp members with LinkedIn profiles. The search was successful, and it came up organically, Wilson said.
  • Looking up sources. The advanced search function on LinkedIn allows journalists to find and connect with people for stories.

LinkedIn also is unveiling long-form publishing beyond their Influencers program. This feature is being rolled out in stages, with initial access available to about 25,000 members. It will be a great benefit to writers, or those wanting to share certain insights, Wilson said.

“It means I can write a longer post and not just a personal update and share it on LinkedIn,” Wilson said. “If someone likes it, they can follow me.”

LinkedIn celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Its membership is staggering: 277 million worldwide, of whom roughly 100 million reside in the United States and Canada.

To meet this incredible demand, LinkedIn beefed up its corporate presence, expanding staff from 2,100 employees in 2012 to 5,000 employees this year.

Learn more about LinkedIn for journalists on the site’s Press Center.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. She’s absolutely on LinkedIn. Follow her on Twitter @cpcube.

When a Campaign Goes Viral: #AmtrakResidency Garners 21,000 Mentions in Six Days

Amtrak has opened up a new can of worms, and it appears the fish are biting.

By now, you’ve likely heard of the #AmtrakResidency program the company plans to offer writers.

In case you missed this story, it began Dec. 23 on the PEN America site.  Author Alexander Chee casually mentioned his favorite place to write was on the train. He said he wished “Amtrak had residencies for writers.”

That’s all it took.  The conversation landed on Twitter, and Amtrak captured it.

In fact, #AmtrakResidency garnered 21,000 mentions in just six days. To put that into perspective, Amtrak typically sees 25,000 to 30,000 mentions within a 90-day period. Also as a result, Amtrak’s Twitter following grew 10 percent.

“Every brand is looking for the next viral campaign,” said Julia Quinn, Amtrak director of social media and head of the #AmtrakResidency program. “This was born through social media. The number of people who raised their hands to participate was huge. It would be writing powered by Amtrak, and hopefully it will be an inspirational experience to get their creative juices flowing.”

Amtrak has been working fast to formalize the program: What it will look like, who gets to ride, and how writers are selected.

But Amtrak recognizes that while it’s uniquely cut out to do something special here, it must tread lightly in these waters. Officials there don’t want to cause ethical conflicts between a journalist and his/her employer or cross pay-for-play lines. To that end, there’s no required number of tweets or shares about Amtrak and no contract to participate.

Any mentions of Amtrak quite literally will come from organic buzz, turning this opportunity into an advocacy program for the brand.

“This is a program that could become a staple at Amtrak,” Quinn said. “We’ll monitor as we go. The sky’s the limit right now, but we don’t want to get lost in the excitement. We want to make sure we’re still making good decisions for our brand.”

Coincidentally, as #AmtrakResidency carved its conversation into Twitter, Amtrak already was planning its first-ever #AmtrakLive event, hosting more than 30 digital leaders and innovators to live tweet and blog on the Texas Eagle from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas in early this month. Social media influencers shared updates via Twitter and Instagram.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube or give her a shout on PR Newswire’s Google+.

PR Secrets: Master Digital Press Releases and Get More Journalism Coverage

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta's Shade Vaughn.

An example of a release featuring embedded video, cited by Rosetta’s Shade Vaughn.

If you tuned in last week to the Bulldog Reporter PR University webinar Mastering Interactive News Releases: 7 PR Secrets of Digital Press Releases That Woo Editors and Wow the Public, you likely came out with more than seven secrets.

The powerhouse panel of social media and PR experts included:

  • Taylor L. Cole (@TravelwithTLC), director of PR and social media with;
  • Melanie Moran (@melaniemoran), executive director of integrated communications for Vanderbilt University News and Communications;
  • Shade Vaughn (@shadevaughn), director of PR and events with Rosetta;
  • Serena Ehrlich (@serena), director of social & evolving media with Business Wire; and
  • Sarah Skerik (@sarahskerik), vice president of social media with PR Newswire/MultiVu

It’s no secret that today’s Internet and media inboxes are overflowing with news releases announcing products and services, financial earnings, changing staff, and more. But with so many of these releases competing for the same eyeballs in newsrooms, standing out from the pack requires finesse and clever packaging, particularly in this digital era.

Some highlights that came out of the webinar (#realworldpr) included Bulldog Reporter PR University training director Brian Pittman’s list:

  • Consider multiple/tailored releases to different audiences and verticals.
  • Always use unique and trackable URLS. (Example:
  • Include a “click to tweet” link within the press release, near the top of the content. 
  • Keep headlines to 100 characters or fewer. This is also good for subject lines when sending out release as a pitch ancillary/support.
  • Write for mobile first. Craft mobile-ready copy. Think short sentences and graphs, punchy quotes, and use micro content principles. (Example: The main facts/5Ws could be listed as bullets so they’re easily scanned on mobile.)
  • Always include a call to action. (Example: “Click here to download app” or “click here for a fact sheet.” This would then tie to the first bullet above and would be trackable.)
  • Make all content portable. When possible, generate your press release content so it can be “broken apart” into pieces of mini content. (Example: Can your pull quote stand alone and be tweeted or shared on Facebook? Can your graphic be shared with a cutline that provides the key facts? Can your video stand alone?)

The panel also stressed the importance of SEO keywords.

The right keywords can improve readership of your release, the group agreed.
Business Wire’s Ehrlich shared some of her favorite keyword tools: SpyFu and Google AdWords.

When it comes to paid distribution, wire services still tend to be the “best place to get your message out there,” Ehrlich said.

PR Newswire’s Skerik agreed, noting that syndication of press releases and other branded content drives discovery of that information by new audiences, which in turn seeds new social interaction and page traffic.

“You really need to look at press releases in the grand scheme of your overall success,” Erlich added. “Understand the real size of your audience. The smaller and more micro you go, the better chance you have of getting coverage. Build your superfans.”

These digital influencers require regular doses of good information to stay engaged. Skerik pointed to the fact that influence is changing.

“There’s constant feedback,” Skerik said. “Communications campaigns need to support this feedback loop. It’s less ‘Ready, aim, fire’ and more about connecting a living and breathing presence for your brand.”

hotels bulldog

This press release from featured an eyecatching visual, as well as relevant links to strongly related information.

Consider also the folks on the receiving end of content might be changing. Skerik mentioned the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom, which recently fired its photography department, Pulitzer Prize winners and all.

It used to be that large, glossy photos on the front of the newspaper would drive newsstand sales. With media moving farther in the digital direction, arming editorial departments with iPhones and simple photography basics appears to be more accepted.

Press releases with a multimedia strategy – photos, video, audio, or infographics – always will trump those without.

Why do these visuals work? Because photographs are worth about 60,000 words.

“Visuals have their own their own distribution networks,” Skerik said.  Shade Vaughn agreed, noting that for Rosetta, including visuals in press releases improves search visibility and brand awareness.

Online newsrooms also need compelling photos, must be easy to search, and have prominent contact information, added Moran, with Vanderbilt University.“A robust cutline describes the story,” Moran said. “That’s your news release in a few lines of text.”

Vaughn, with Rosetta, said the company focuses a lot of time and attention on thought leadership. Rosetta publishes white papers to its site, maintains a blog, and does a great deal of social promotion behind each piece.

Vaughn uses PR Newswire and said the Visibility Reports dashboard is particularly helpful in tracking metrics relating to the story’s online performance, something the company carefully manages as each message is structured.

“For every release, we create a page title and meta description unique to the press release,” he said. “Write [press releases] to communicate the purpose of the announcement, not to sell. Simplify.”

Finally,’s Cole advised working with other brands to extend the life of your news.

“If your release is the hub, you have to get it right. Headline, subhead, call to action,” Cole said. “Communications is a two-way conversation.”

Cole also reminded the audience how important it is to align PR messaging with other marketing and communications objectives, both in terms of how the press release will be used and how the results will be measured.   The links offered within press releases are a great opportunity for measurable collaboration. always includes links within their press releases.

“Link once or twice to useful content that is really relevant to what your reader wants to do,” Cole noted, emphasizing the connection between digital messages and the subsequent actions readers take with the content.  PR messages can bring new people into the company’s sales pipeline, and providing useful links is one way to capture and cultivate audience interest.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

Blog Notes: TV, Personal Finance, Style & Home Remedies

roundup9Blog Notes is a weekly helping of blogs recently reviewed on PR Newswire for Bloggers. Would you like your blog reviewed? Tweet PR Newswire media relations manager Christine Cube at @PRN4Bloggers.

TV Fanatic is a big source for TV news, reviews, spoilers, photos, and information. “Our team of writers and programmers work around the clock to bring readers the latest stories, pics and quotes from the most popular shows on the air,” says the blog. TV Fanatic covers spoilers, exclusives, clips, casting news, and caption contests. Content is overseen by editor-in-chief Matt Richenthal, whose favorite shows include Lost, Modern Family, Friday Night Lights, and Dexter. TV Fanatic is owned and operated by Mediavine Inc., an Internet marketing company that specializes in entertainment-themed sites. It also has 866K likes on Facebook. Read the full review on PR Newswire for Bloggers here.

The word “oblivious” in the name of the financial blog Oblivious Investor might sound like a bad thing. This might imply a lack of knowledge or awareness. But in this blog, being oblivious is not a bad thing at all. The author’s goal is to direct readers’ attention away from day-to-day obsessions of the market. Be oblivious to that, and you’ll be ok. Additionally, if you diversify your portfolio and minimize costs, you’ll be even better off. The Oblivious Investor is written by Mike Piper. He’s married and lives in St. Louis. Read the full review here.

Stylonylon is the whimsical personal style, fashion and lifestyle blog of London freelancer Julia Rebaudo. Rebaudo has written for different media outlets, including Time Out, Elle and The Guardian. She says her blog is a “mixture of beautiful things that have caught my eye, interviews, occasional fashion news (new collections, trend & outfit collages, various edits), outfit posts, photography chat and Instagram pics” with an east London focus. It’s a fairly young blog, started last spring 2012. Already, Stylonylon has built quite a following with roughly 10,000 pageviews monthly, up from 1,000 pageviews just last October. Read the full review here. is dedicated to helping folks heal naturally with simple home remedies. It’s an interesting site, and it covers a lot of territory. In addition to remedies, other content includes organic living, herbal remedies, alternative medicines, homeopathy, naturopathy, and other forms of alternative and complementary medication. is an online media firm owned by GoodWebDomains. There are no bylines or names attached to the extensive write ups on health issues. But it’s pretty cool what the site has to say about various ailments. Here’s one that I found interesting: Natural remedies for muscle strain and sprain. Read the full review here.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her at @cpcube or see what’s happening over at @PRN4Bloggers.

Blog Notes: Design, Lifestyle, Travel & Medicine


Blog Notes is a weekly helping of blogs recently reviewed on PR Newswire for Bloggers. Would you like your blog reviewed? Tweet PR Newswire media relations manager Christine Cube at @PRN4Bloggers.

I find blogs everywhere. This blog candidate arrived by mail — a catalog from Design Within Reach. The content caught my eye pretty quickly. Then I noticed the blog URL. Design Notes is a look at beautiful architecture, stylish things, and interesting people. I also happen to appreciate the writing in this blog. The most recent piece posted by Gwendolyn Horton was on location with architect Michael P. Johnson. In the post, Johnson says, “One percent of buildings are architecture. The rest are just stuff.” Read the full review on PR Newswire for Bloggers here.

A Daily Pinch is a lifestyle blog written by “an over-achieving, list-making, gets it done gal.” The voice and brain behind it is Lisa Frame, a digital media strategist and community manager who manages the Toyota Women Influencers Network for the Clever Girls Collective, according to the blog. She’s been blogging since 2002. Her most recent post is entitled, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer is My Life Analogy. “I’m not content to sit back and let life happen around or to me,” Frame says in her post.  Read the full review here.

Booked is the “random, specific and bemused” travel blog of Amy Welborn. One day, while pouring over upcoming writing assignments, Welborn decided she’d much rather be a travel blogger. So she started writing. Then she started traveling. And she kept on writing. It’s worth noting that this site is not a travel advice site. There aren’t many recommendations, either. This is rather an online repository for Welborn’s travels. She also doesn’t do pay for play. In her own words: “What I won’t do – and you can depend on this – is do product-sponsored posts or reviews of items or accommodations that have been provided to me.  It is just not going to happen. You can trust that everything I experience here has been paid for by me.” Read the full review here.

The Doctor’s Tablet features “reflections from the frontlines of science and medicine.” It’s mostly written by faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University “about what it’s like to be a physician in today’s rapidly changing world.” This includes the latest in biomedical research, medical education, and health policy, according to the blog. Editing the blog is a team of two: Paul Moniz, managing director of communications and marketing, and David Flores, social media manager. Read the full review here.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her at @cpcube or see what’s happening over at @PRN4Bloggers.

Inside PR Newswire: Meet Customer Content Services Manager Cathy Spicer

The Grammar Hammer, who is also known to her friends as Cathy Spicer, is on vacation this week.   So while she’s away, we’re giving our readers a chance to know her better, in this edition of Inside PR Newswire.

cate fluteThe key to quieting the chatter in Cathy Spicer’s life is simple.

She picks up her flute.

“My outlet is music. It’s important to have a creative outlet to balance the work stress,” says Spicer, PR Newswire customer content services manager in Cleveland. “I’m always in such admiration of the people who play professionally because they’re so skilled and talented. It shows me just how much I have yet to learn.”

Spicer has been playing flute for 30 years. She especially loves duets and remains in awe of flutists who flawlessly play complicated pieces of music.

cate big flute

“I can appreciate the effort that goes into a person trying to master a piece of music,” she said. “You’re so focused on the music and what the next passage is going to be.”

This kind of focus and thinking also has benefitted Spicer in her PR Newswire life. In April, Spicer will celebrate her 18th year with the company.

Spicer started out as an assistant editor in the Cleveland office. It was her first big job out of college.

Today, she oversees an eight-person team that’s the primary contact with clients from the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, with the exception of New York. Her team primarily handles the editing of news releases, and it manages customer calls to the PR Newswire 800 number.

The calls into that line cover the gamut: Billing questions, inquiries from new prospects, clients with an immediate release to send out, or clients with changes to make on a current release.

Spicer is incredibly proud of her group.

“They have good instincts,” she said. “They know our policies and procedures, and we have a lot of great resources around us. We work in a very collaborative environment.”

Spicer spent some time opening the PR Newswire office in Chicago, where she spent 10 years before moving back to Cleveland.

In addition to managing her team, Spicer also can be found immersed in social media.

Spicer is the new Grammar Hammer contributor on the PR Newswire Beyond PR blog. She’s also part of a three-person team that curates the @PRNcnsmr Twitter feed.

On Twitter, Spicer and her colleagues from Albuquerque tweet PR Newswire consumer-related content.  The feed currently boasts nearly 900 followers.

It’s a world she’s already pretty familiar with – Spicer also tweets and curates @ClevelandFlute for the Greater Cleveland Flute Society.

You could say music always has been a part of her family – her father was a newspaper publisher by day and a jazz player by night.

Cleveland features an impressive music scene with its Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College.

Spicer said she prefers to play with small groups. That’s why she joined the flute society.

“The trick is to play with people who are better than you,” she said. “You learn so much just paying attention with whom you’re playing.”

Cathy's venerable feline, Sid.

Cathy’s venerable feline, Sid.

When she puts down her flute, Spicer loves to cook. But she admits she’s not a great baker, which “requires a lot of precision.” She also has a 20-year-old cat named Sidney.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Blog Notes: Life in LA, Fuel, Marketing & Food Trucks

roundup5Blog Notes is a weekly helping of blogs recently reviewed on PR Newswire for Bloggers. Would you like your blog reviewed? Tweet PR Newswire media relations manager Christine Cube at @PRN4Bloggers.

The Daily Truffle is a Los Angeles social diary and has been called “the most knowledgeable blog about life in L.A.,” by the Hollywood Reporter. The site receives more than 100,000 unique visitors monthly and features more than 20 contributors. “The Daily Truffle is known to be the first port of call for anything trending or about to trend in the L.A. tastemaker circuit,” the blog says. The blog speaks frankly about its status: “The site has no office, no phone number, and doesn’t take meetings. Intel is submitted through upwards of 100 friends of the Truffle, loosely known as “Truffle Hunters.” Read the full review from PR Newswire for Bloggers here.

Fuels America is an initiative to demonstrate the value in having renewable fuel in the fuel supply. According to its blog, renewable fuel is “more important than ever – driving economic growth in communities that need it, improving our nation’s energy security and attracting millions in new technology dollars to invest in America’s future.” Put simply, this blog talks about the benefits of consumers pumping renewable fuel into their cars — it saves money, saves the country money, creates jobs, and protects the environment. Read the full review here.

Danny Brown is a blog geared toward social media marketing. It’s written by Brown, chief technologist with ArCompany and an award-winning marketer and blogger. “This blog talks about everything from social media, PR and marketing to making the most of the various online tools and communities,” the blog says. “It’s aimed at everyone.” Brown continues: “The blog also looks at how you can combine marketing, PR, customer service and more with social media, and begin to change the way you and your clients or company does business. It offers suggestions, solutions and idea starters for you to take away and use for your own needs.” Read the full review here.

There’s a movement underway in the food industry. We’re talking actual movement here. Food trucks are all the rage in cities across the country. And Mobile Cuisine delivers “every must-read street food, food truck, food cart and food stand story bubbling up across the web.” Today on Mobile Cuisine, you can read about writing a food truck business plan, 5 Street Food Styles Any Food Truck Can Add to Their Menu, and Vote for the 2013 Food Truck Taco of the Year. There’s even an interactive map where you can search street food carts in your area. There also are resources and articles on how to make food trucks safer and more sustainable. Read the full review here.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.