Author Archives: PRN Bloggers

How to Choose A Regional Accent for Spanish-Language Broadcast Campaigns

Tips for Regional AccentTo engage Hispanic audiences, many companies must decide whether their Spanish-language broadcast outreach should employ a voice-over talent with either a neutral or a regional accent.

At first glance, a neutral accent may be the best solution as it’s the easiest for all US Latino communities to understand. But, using a regional

accent may deliver the same message with a level of genuineness that could make for a stronger connection.

The Mexican accent may immediately be your first choice when choosing a regional accent, simply because Mexicans make up the largest percentage of US Hispanics. Plus, it’s also the regional accent most requested with voice-over talent.

Armando Plata platavoice@gmail.com www.armandoplata.com

Armando Plata
platavoice@gmail.com
http://www.armandoplata.com

“The Mexican accent is the most recognizable throughout Latin America due to the influence of Mexican cinema and the fact that the majority of TV shows and movies are translated over there,” says former journalist and voice-over talent Armando Plata.

A Bogotá, Colombia native, Plata credits his training as an actor as key to mastering regional accents. He feels in order to fully embrace an accent, it’s necessary to partake in each culture. That’s how he’s been able to manage Cuban, Mexican, and Argentine accents.

“On several occasions, I have gotten requests for regional Colombian accents, as

Raul Escalante esraul1@gmail.com raulescalantevoice.blogspot.com

Raul Escalante
esraul1@gmail.com
raulescalantevoice.blogspot.com

well as to narrate with a Mexican accent,” says Raul Escalante (Raul Escalante Productions – raulescalantevoice.blogspot.com), who’s also from Bogotá and can do a variety of local Colombian accents, including the Paisa, Valluno, Tolimense, and Cachaco. He also can speak with Mexican and Argentine accents.

Plata and Escalante agree that mastering a neutral Spanish accent has been a plus in their voice-over careers.

Escalante has worked as Jorgen Von Strangle, in ‘Los Padrinos Mágicos’ (Fairly OddParents) and with major brands such as Johnnie Walker, Univision, McDonald’s, and Lexus.

Plata has performed narrations for Disney, Coca-Cola, Walmart, AT&T, and Western Union.

Both agree that national and international brands generally request a neutral accent to reach a wider range of potential consumers.

Jessica AlasJessica Alas is Media Relations Director, Multicultural Markets and Hispanic PR Wire with PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @alasjessica.

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Content We Love: How the Wire Helped a Family of Pittsburgh Bald Eagles

ContentWeLove

Click here to view the entire release

Click here to view the entire news release

The story

Earlier this week I received an email from my mom (who is fondly nicknamed “Bird”) with the subject line: “A – the eagles are in danger, can you help???” As my team here in Cleveland knows, my mom is an avid eagle enthusiast who is obsessed with watching the first bald eagle family to nest in the Pittsburgh area in over 250 years via webcam. The webcam across the street documented the three eaglets being born, the mom chasing a raccoon from the nest, and an owl picking on mom as she slept. You can view the eagles on the webcam by clicking here.

The danger to the eagle family? Rat poison. An abandoned recycling center across the river from the eagles’ hunting territory was overrun with rats – thousands of them apparently. The company that purchased the center said the health department was forcing them to use rat poison to eradicate the rats. The problem with this is that eagles eat rats! Webcam viewers had seen them eating three rats in the past week alone. If the eagles consumed rats that were poisoned it could kill them with the eaglets especially being at risk. I spoke to a few sources including the owner of the Facebook group Save Hays Eagles (a group my mom and I belong to) and decided to take action by issuing a press release via none other than PR Newswire.

The release

I quickly drafted a press release titled, “Save Hays Eagles: Pittsburgh Bald Eagles at Risk Due to Rat Poison Presence,” and consulted my boss for editing. He kindly reminded me to include hyperlinks within the first paragraph, which drove traffic to our group’s Facebook page and provided further information around the cause. Once I received content approval from my contact at Save Hays Eagles, I downloaded a high res photo from a local Pittsburgh photographer who has been photographing the eagles for over a year, uploaded it to the Media Studio within the Online Member Center, and just moments later, the release hit our wire.

The results?

Earned media from local news

The media contact at Save Hays Eagles received numerous calls and four requests for media interviews, including an on-air appearance for Pittsburgh TV to discuss the issue.

Social engagement with key audiences

Sally Wiggin ReTweets

The next day ReleaseWatch reporting showed 13 mentions on Twitter thanks to PR Newswire’s targeted industry Twitter accounts PRNEnv and PRNPets and a retweet from local TV legend Sally Wiggin.

Increased visibility for our message

  • Over 309 websites had reposted the content
  • The release received 421 click-throughs
  • 2,145 total online & search views
  • 817 photo views
  • A total Visibility Index of 99 and an Engagement Index of 99

Two days later, it was reported that a safer alternative to the traditional poison used to kill rats will be used:  http://wesa.fm/post/health-department-tries-terminate-rats-not-eagles-pittsburgh

Local residents will likely be monitoring the situation and keeping a close eye on their eagles via the webcam. You can rest assured my mom will be one of them!

Amanda MeriwetherAuthor Amanda Meriwether is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter.

10 Insider Tips for Pitching Your Story to the Morning News

Chicago’s morning news shows air earlier and earlier, and local producers have to fill a combined 15 hours of news each morning. However, that doesn’t mean they are an easy sell, since these decision-makers tend to reject 95-98 percent of ideas sent them. What separates stories that air from those that don’t?

A panel, moderated by WGN’s Bill Moller, included Platform Manager Michael Batkins of WMAQ; Producer/Booker Emerald-Jane Hunter of WLS’ Windy City Live!; Supervising Producer Tracy O’Brien of CBS/WBBM; and Executive Producer Sandy Pudar of WGN, offered PR pros insider tips on the pitches that wake them up.

Pitch according to the station’s interests and reference relevant topics that were previously covered

Lackluster pitches showcase little knowledge of the person who is being pitched, the station being pitched and, worst of all, blanket generic pitches. Media experts expect PR professionals to be familiar with their shows and what they are looking for to fill their time. Even though all journalists would like to get exclusives, they appreciate that even when they are given the same guests and topics, the pitches have different spins.

Pudar suggests that PR people “become familiar with what’s being been done and refer to [topics] we’ve covered. [Let us know] you watch our show. Tell us who will be a fit for our program and why. This catches our eye. Avoid boilerplates! It’s all about relationships so show that you are aware of our personalities, our shows, our themes and reference them. Mention names!” Summon your creativity to find a newsy niche to a story.

Include visuals to tell the story

Batkins’ advice is to “Spell out the visual components of the story and show me why it belongs on television. What will we see? What can you provide? I need to know what I am going to get.”

Hunter, whose segments all live online, is a major proponent of creative pitches. “Put thought into your pitch and figure out how to make it interactive so we can have fun with it,” advises Hunter, “Check our Web pages, Facebook, and Twitter. Find ways to tie-in that pitch so it fits.” She also adds that providing a YouTube link for viewing your client on camera in action is key.

Be concise in your text

The panel unanimously admonished the audience against making long-winded or unclear pitches, which are among their greatest pet peeves. Pudar states it bluntly, “I don’t need to know everyone’s history. Just give me one or two sentences saying, ‘This is my client. This is what he can talk about.’”

O’Brien suggests that bulleted pitches are preferable, with Hunter adding that the subject line should be clear, concise and include a news hook.

Use numbers to communicate value to the viewer

“Consider the viewer benefit,” suggest Pudar, “like providing ‘five crunches to flatten your tummy immediately.’”

O’Brien agrees that putting a number with the pitch adds value. “Give me unusual facts we have not heard before, like ‘three things to know before hiring a nanny,’ for example.” She added, “Offer a two-sentence tease line then a fact sheet once you already have us.”

Enhance your pitch with social media

Assistance with social media promotion offers a slight edge. “Social media has changed media pitching dramatically. Everyone can get the word out much faster about what we have coming up and what we’ve just done, “ O’Brien explains, “We find more breaking news on Twitter and Instagram. Promise us a client who is big with social media and will blast when they’ll be on TV and retweet it to show your traffic. If you can get that done, you may get on.”

Don’t be overly promotional

Never make a pitch that is too self-serving or merely a product commercial. Moller acknowledges that “telling stories about clients may not have been something the client wanted, but if it gets them on the air via a ‘soft sell,’ it will help polish their brand.”

Be aware of each station’s specific lead times

“If you get a ‘no,’ it might just be about timing,” explains Hunter, whose guests on Windy City Live! are booked three to four weeks in advance. However, if your pitch is especially good, keep in mind that it may be archived in case they need to fill a gap at the last minute. Other guests on the panel preferred pitches with only two weeks lead time to avoid feeling overwhelmed unless there is an approaching holiday.

Do not pressure producers for an immediate response to your pitch

Another one of O’Brien’s pet peeves is being harassed by phone several minutes after receiving an email pitch. “Give me a day or two to follow up with you if I am interested,” she says, “but if I am not interested, I am not interested”

Hunter on the other hand, would rather not receive phone calls at all, “When I am on the phone, I am distracted. If it is written, I can track it down. Phone pitches never work.” Remember not to oversell, overpromise or act pretentious.

Showcase your client’s expertise

All media love when professionals are tuned into the news and can offer sources proactively. “If there is something in the news, I love to get a note in my inbox offering a source. It really makes my job easier,” said Pudar.

If you’ve seen a segment covered on a different show and have an even more qualified expert to offer on the subject, don’t be shy about pitching them as well. O’Brien says to “Know the personalities of the different anchors and try different things. Tie stories to a news peg.” She greatly appreciates expert opinions when it comes to stories that involve schools, communities, and large groups of people where “there’s a lot of action and emotion.”

Prepare your guest with proper media training

Potential guests must be passionate and comfortable public speakers who can tell the audience something they don’t already know. Under most circumstances, it is best for guests to do their interviews live from the studio rather than using unreliable video conferencing such as Skype. If they can be flexible about the times they can appear, it reflects positively on you and your client. “If someone can come into the studio at 4 a.m., that goes a long way with us!” says Pudar.

Want to learn more about pitching your client to the morning news? Our ProfNet Connect service can help you showcase your client’s expertise directly to the media. Follow the link to learn more: http://www.profnetconnect.com/

sueAuthor Sue Masaracchia-Roberts is a crisis management and media relations expert and a member of the ProfNet Connect community.

4 Best Practices for Distributing a Global Press Release

Brand Marketer Summit

Your boss comes into your office and says that the major new product release you’ve been working on for the past month now needs to be sent all over the world.  “Global” is what he says before walking out the door and into a meeting, leaving you in a panicked frenzy of where t0 even begin. These four tips can help you reduce your anxiety when distributing a global press release:

Decide on the specific countries or regions you wish to target

The first step is to determine exactly what your boss means by “Global.”  Unless this is truly breaking news and you have a large budget, sending it to every country on the planet isn’t likely what he meant.  You’ll need to pin down the countries that are most important to your company, your client, or your news. If you don’t know which countries to target, check with your marketing department.  Mirroring their efforts is usually a good idea.

If they come back to you with general regions, such as “Europe” or “Asia,” it’s best to try to pin it down a bit more.  Western Europe?  Scandinavia?  The EU? What about Eastern Europe?  Do the same for all regions where you received generalities until you have a target list of countries or mini-regions.  This will help you keep your costs down, and your boss happy.

Modify your release to create localized versions

Sending one release to all markets globally sounds like the easiest way to go – one release to run up the corporate approval chain – but that is not always the best way to get your news to generate quality earned media.  Having tailored versions targeted at specific countries, regions, or mini-regions is your best bet if you’re measuring results by the number of clips your receive. I usually counsel clients to prepare a few different versions of the news release, clearly marked for the destination, and send them up the approval chain at the same time.

You don’t have to make too many changes to see a tangible difference in your results.  Modify the release in the headline, subhead, first paragraph, any bullet points or quotes, and make sure the changes are specific to the target area.  For example, “XYZ Inc. announces a new chip designed to regulate power in ________” as a headline.  Insert country, region or mini-region in the space. The quote can be completely localized in each version, and frankly, works best that way.

If you have a local contact, be sure to list that person first on the release destined for that country or region.  It will increase your chance of getting a journalist call if there are any questions, or if a follow-up interview is requested.

Provide accurate translations

Once you have your list of countries, you will need to translate the copy into those respective languages or adjust certain phrases to accommodate specific markets. Look to see if you have translation capability in your local offices that will help you keep your costs down.   If you don’t have those resources, or your local teams don’t have time, be sure to ask if they want to see the translations you’ll have done to further localize.

Translations take about 1-2 business days per 800 words of your release, so plan accordingly when working on your timeline.  If you have requested to approve the translations prior to sending out, please add time for your internal approval chain to the processing time.

Coordinate your distribution times  

Sending to all regions of the world simultateously isn’t a good idea.  Because of that whole ’round world’ thing, someone important  is going to be asleep and miss your news.   You can target the timing for simultaneous distribution in Europe, Middle East and Africa at the same time as the Americas (if you don’t mind a very early distribution time), but Asia will need to wait until later on in the day, when they get in.  You don’t need to change your dateline for the Asian release if you don’t wish – it should only slightly affect your results, if at all.

Distributing a global press release doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. It essentially all comes down to targeting your news specifically to each country and paying close attention to cultural distinctions and time zones of each region.

Interested in learning more about sharing your news around the world? View the on-demand webinar, “Thriving in a Mobile Driven World” and learn how to format your press releases to reach the global audiences who are increasingly relying on mobile devices to consume information.

Register here

Author Colleen Pizarev is PR Newswire’s Vice President of Communications Strategies in International Services. 

Telling Your High-Science Healthcare Story to Consumers

Future of Health Summit Logo

Video has often been a tool to help simplify a complicated message, and a way to add comments of credible, third-party thought leaders on a specific topic. In the healthcare space, this is common practice. For years, pharmaceutical and biotech companies have been using interview-style soundbites to simplify and support their message. While this is still common, we’ve also seen an increase in companies using production styles like kinetic topography, animation and illustration to also support their campaigns and announcements. Over the past year, Multivu has produced and distributed these types of videos for healthcare programs, such as:

  • FDA approvals and commercial launches
  • Life-cycle announcements
  • Disease awareness campaigns
  • Data publications
  • Live presentations/roundtables

A recent video used as part of an FDA approval announcement of an oncology treatment is a good example.  While it’s typical to add video to support an FDA approval, this example was interesting because the video was unbranded and focused more on explaining the disease state and tumor type rather than the treatment option. Often times, the content that is distributed by the pharmaceutical company is found online via search and editorial websites. The video made it possible for those potential patients and caregivers reading about the newly approved drug to have a better understanding of the disease itself. The video itself utilized whiteboard animation (or, video scribing), which was particularly engaging for a lay audience.

Many might think that a video about a complex and high-science disease state would not be as impactful as the traditional “talking head” video featuring a key opinion leader (KOL) or Chief Medical Officer (CMO), but what we found was the video did very well in terms of views and engagement. This confirms our thought that both the media and online news seekers are looking for what we refer to as “explainer videos.” This type of content, if produced correctly, provides insightful information in a very digestible format.

For more about this, I welcome you to attend our very own Michael Pranikoff’s presentation at the upcoming Future of Healthcare Communications Summit on February 25th  presented by Business Development Institute.

Follow the link to register now: http://www.cvent.com/d/l4ql1w

George HeadshotAuthor George DeTorres (@georgedetorres) is the Divisional Vice President at MultiVu. 

6 Last Minute Tips for PR Success at the American International Toy Fair 2014

Scenes from the American International Toy Fair 2014

Scenes from the American International Toy Fair 2014

We’ve made it to the final stretch for the American International Toy Fair.  If you’re anything like us at Virtual Press Office, the last few days leading up to an event become a blur of last minute to-dos.

So- you’ve secured your online press kit and release distribution through the Toy Fair Virtual Press Office? That’s great! But before you move down your list, let’s take a few minutes to fine-tune. Below are some tips from VPO to help you tidy up all the content for Toy Fair you’ve been working to create these past few months.

Do The Research For The Media

Journalists love the free candy you have waiting for them. But want to know what they really appreciate? When you package up everything they could possibly need to cover your story in one space. Be sure your press kit includes:

  • Your booth number
  • Your current logo
  • A phone number and email where you can be reached during the show
  • Your calendar of events during the show. Do you have a press conference? Celebrity appearance? Panel discussion? Happy hour? Let them know.
  • Links to all of your social network channels
  • Product shots
  • Company bios
An exhibitor on the show floor

An exhibitor on the show floor

The Best Time To Send Your News Release

We get this question a lot, especially because Toy Fair falls on a Sunday. Don’t shy away from sending news for Toy Fair over the weekend. The media are tuned-in and looking for updates. In 2013 the majority of the news issued through VPO for Toy Fair was sent on Sunday- day one of the show. And if you’re sending during the week, the general rule of thumb for any release is to avoid the open and close of the financial market.

Second Guess Your Headline

Does your headline sound something like “XYZ Company announces new line of products at 2014 Toy Fair?” Yawn.  You are at Toy Fair because you have an exciting story to share, right? Draw in your reader. During a recent PR Newswire media panel discussion, contributing journalists challenged the PR industry to change the format of the traditional press release.  Break the rules. Make your headline short, snappy, include a hook, and get your reader excited. Check out this headline from Whole Foods:

This is what your grocery store looks like without bees.

Whole Foods Market® partners with The Xerces Society to “Share the Buzz” and protect pollinator populations

This Whole Foods story ended up as a cover story on Time Magazine.

Break out of that boring template and tell your story!

Multimedia Increases Engagement

Click to view the entire press release from Saban

Click to view the entire press release from Saban

Toy Fair is one of the most visual trade show events.  What images, graphics and videos do you have that will help tell your story?  Press releases that include multimedia get more views- up to 9.7 times more views than releases that do not include multimedia.

The most viewed news release from the VPO Toy Fair in 2013 came from Saban Brands- this release announcing the Power Rangers 20th Anniversary addition of Monopoly. Saban included a multimedia gallery that featured product shots and a logo. The result? They led the pack in release engagements, online views, media views and search views. PR Newswire’s multimedia capabilities are now more affordable and easier than ever to utilize.

Be Social

Keep your online buzz going during the show. The Toy Fair hashtags are #TF14 and #TFNY. Be sure to have someone updating your social media throughout the day, and be conversational. Follow the bloggers and influencers that most interest you at Toy Fair, and chime into their online conversations that pertain to your brand.

Look At The Big Picture

Take a step back and look at how your product has affected or changed the market. Have you set a new standard for outdoor play at Toy Fair this year? Write a follow-up release from a feature writer’s perspective- maybe a release listing 10 activities for families who want to spend more quality time outside. Then add a quote from your CEO, link your Youtube video, and product image. Don’t wait for the media to tell an incredible story- be your own storyteller!

For more ideas visit the Toy Fair PR Boot Camp page. Now go get a manicure- you’ve got lots of firm hand shakes in your near future.

Author Lisa Kopec-Miller is a member of the Virtual Press Office staff. 

Our Take: Wire Services & High Speed Trading

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Financial Markets reporter Scott Patterson published an article regarding the impact a press release newswire can have on High Frequency Trading (“HFT.”)  The article – “Speed Traders Get an Edge: Paying for Direct Access to News Releases Can Give a Lucrative Time Advantage”  –  is available here for WSJ subscribers.

In his article, Patterson describes how some trading firms are able to gain advantageous access to press releases issued by Business Wire and MarketWired, capitalizing on the nanoseconds that lapse as material news is relayed from the newswire vendors to the web, media outlets and trading systems.

PR Newswire’s position on the topic is clearly stated in the WSJ article:

“Business Wire’s competitor, PR Newswire, says it doesn’t provide trading firms access to its “Disclosure Feed” despite frequent requests. The company says it provides the news feed to clients with the understanding that information provided won’t be used for trading purposes.”

Our distribution technology and processes are designed to meet both the spirit and letter of RegFD, the broad, non-exclusionary distribution of our clients’ material news, and we believe it serves the best interest of our clients.

There are certain media outlets we classify as disclosure points that receive the above-mentioned “Disclosure Feed,” which delivers material information to those disclosure points, including Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, the Associated Press and Dow Jones.   

Brokerage websites typically receive the news feed from a news aggregator, while a trader receives it via a market data provider such as Bloomberg, FactSet or Thomson Reuters.

PR Newswire has, over its nearly 60 year history, worked to ensure that our clients’ material disclosures are disseminated fairly to all parties and are compliant with federal regulations for news distribution and industry best practices. We made a conscious business decision not to sell high frequency  nor algorithmic trading firms our Disclosure Feed. We believe this decision serves the best interests of both our corporate clients and the capital markets.

Author Jason Edelboim is PR Newswire’s senior vice president of global media & distribution. 

Best Wishes for a Bright and Rewarding New Year!

holiday-2013

I would like to extend a sincere thank you for your business, loyalty and support in 2013.

At the end of the year, and as we approach PR Newswire’s 60th anniversary in March, there is a natural inclination to reflect. At PR Newswire, we are just as interested in looking forward to the future for communicators of all kinds – PR, corporate, marketing and shareholder – and their audiences. While technology continues to evolve and new communication channels continue to emerge, everyone at PR Newswire remains focused on helping brands and organizations earn targeted attention from consumers, investors and the media by amplifying our clients’ narratives and making their content more discoverable.

In 2013, this focus helped PR Newswire and our clients achieve a number of milestones and goals, notably:

Powering Customer Results with Our Distribution Network

This past year we built on our market strength in the US and Canada, expanding our global distribution network to include more media outlets, journalists, major news sites, syndication points, social media channels and industry-focused sites, like those covering the solar and alternative energy sectors to name just a few. Our company-wide focus on extending the most powerful distribution network in the industry helped our clients – as validated by a leading professional services firm – achieve superior media pick up vs. competitors, greater visibility on major news and media sites, and consistently higher, above-the-fold search engine results (SERP).

Providing More Visual Storytelling Options & Reporting

Multimedia communications continue to be a valuable way to deepen engagement, and this year PR Newswire delivered more video and photo distribution offerings, while building out rich media delivery. To provide our clients more insight on the reach of their campaigns and communication efforts, PR Newswire added more video, photo and other data points to Visibility Reports. Other clients turned to us for help in telling, broadcasting and webcasting their stories and in delivering multiple award-winning video and social media projects this year.

Engaging Media & Audiences in Multiple Channels

We have long been viewed as a trusted source by the media, and a survey of journalists by a leading professional services firm concluded that PR Newswire rated higher than our competitors as a trustworthy, valuable provider of news and information, and confirmed that services like ours are a frequent and primary resource for story ideas. Our clients turn to PR Newswire for this type of earned attention from the media, and we delivered when they also turned to us for more ways to reach and interact with clients, prospects and shareholders. Our MediaRoom and IR Room offerings now include more social media, interactive and distribution features, we continue to grow our followers on our industry-focused SocialPost, and we have increased our mobile and responsive design options.

Enhancing Media Targeting & Monitoring

To support our clients’ communications efforts, we enhanced our Agility platform, offering media targeting tools for more precise outreach and better collaboration. To give our clients a richer view on corporate reputation and key issues, we added sources and monitoring functionality to our MediaVantage platform.

Reinforcing Investor Confidence & Managing Transparent Compliance

As PR Newswire approaches its 60th anniversary, our Vintage Filings division celebrated its 10th by delivering several initiatives. These included the introduction of our fleXBRL program, giving our public company clients a flexible XBRL workflow that matches how their accounting groups work, as well as products and partnerships that help both newly public and seasoned companies communicate easily and broadly with all shareholders.

Supporting Our Industry & Communities

It was great to connect with and learn from you at local events, webinars and industry conferences, including NIRI, PRSA International and Content Marketing World, and we really appreciate the continued exchange of ideas and best practices on the Beyond PR and Building Shareholder Confidence blogs, in the PR Newswire for Journalists and ProfNet communities, and on social networks, including @PRNewswire. It was especially rewarding to participate with you in community-building events, including Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in New York, volunteering at The Storehouse in Albuquerque, hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross in Cleveland, and joining the Walk So Kids Can Talk in Canada.lil tweet

These are exciting times for everyone in the industry. As we enter the New Year, the opportunities are plentiful, particularly for corporate, marketing and shareholder communications professionals who are able to adapt and grow with new channels to support and amplify their content and messaging. In 2014, PR Newswire is looking forward to continuing our decades of award-winning innovation and service by investing in distribution, ecommerce, social media, audience engagement and multimedia services, so we can help you reach and connect with your customers, investors and the media more successfully.

Everyone at PR Newswire, Vintage Filings, CNW Group and MultiVu wish you, your colleagues and families, a wonderful holiday season and a bright and rewarding New Year.

Best wishes,

Ninan Chacko
CEO, PR Newswire

Content [Creators] We Love: LEVICK’s Peter LaMotte

ContentWeLoveAt PR Newswire, we are fortunate to be a part of some of the most cutting edge and engaging content creation programs being executed across any number of industries.   We are fascinated by the way these stories are changing the communications landscape and sharing them is another way we can give back to the industry professionals that we work with everyday day.

levick lamotteOne of the firms we’ve seen go through a major evolution in how they tell their personal brand story – and the stories of their clients – is longtime PR Newswire client, LEVICK.    We sat down with Levick’s Peter LaMotte, SVP and Chair, Digital Communications Practice to pick his brain on the changes that Levick has undergone over the last year and his mindset around content creation.

Q:  Peter, your background has been primarily in the start-ups and online firms – what brought you to Levick?

Peter LaMotte:  When Levick approached me, they gave me a great opportunity to not only drive, but to craft what the firm’s digital presence would be.  About a year ago, Levick went through a massive rebrand and I saw a phenomenal opportunity to work with a well-respected, traditional communications company as it evolved into a more digitally focused firm.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and I feel like my role still has an entrepreneurial feel to it.

levick

Q: Tell us a little bit about the Levick brand evolution and your approach to telling stories.

Peter: Coming from the start-up world where no one has heard of you, I had learned very quickly that it is about drawing people to your content, not just sticking yourself into the conversation.  All too often, no matter the medium -a digital advertising campaign or traditional communications outreach to influencers –  a traditional communications is simply pushing content that isn’t relevant.   We have to start by understanding the trends of what is engaging to the influencers and audience members to get them to come to us.

Levick has always focused on promoting not only our thought leadership, but also our clients’ thought leadership.   Levick has always done a good job of producing frequent, high-quality video around thought leadership and industry topics.   In the digital practice, we’ve focused on bringing these tactics to our clients.  This has helped us expand the Levick brand from just being the experts you want to have in the boardroom when there is a litigation or a crisis communications issue to make us a resource for getting the word out around issues and topics that matter to our clients.  It’s a step in helping us demonstrate that we are a well-rounded shop that can assist with any communications objective.

levick monthly

The new Levick Monthly is a rich-media, thought-leadership monthly publication launching in November.

Q:  What platforms are you using to tell these stories and how do you see these growing?

Peter:  From a digital perspective, we are using a lot of the usual platforms to tell our story and  engage with our stakeholders:  the usual social media channels, blogs, digital advertising and thought leadership – both in video and whitepaper forms.

We aggregate this content into our Levick Daily blog with the goal of creating a steady flow of content that will be of value to the readers as thought leadership.  Not all of the content on Levick Daily is created by us.  A lot of what we is content created by our clients or friends of the firm – but it remains relevant to the audience we’re trying to engage.   The medium is important as well – a good amount of the content is video in addition to text and other content.

While we’ve had great success and engagement from this approach, we also need to stay cutting edge in our delivery of the content.  That was the intention behind the development of our Levick Monthly E-Publication/Magazine, slated for November. No one else in the communications industry is doing a rich-media, thought-leadership monthly publication – and we’re excited to see how our audience engages and consumes it.

Q: Levick generates a metric ton of content.  What advice can you provide to help create content that generates engagement?

Peter:  The words “Content is King” have been thrown around every conference for some time now.  However, there is so much content out there now being produced by brands and agencies, that in order to stand out, the content has to be fresh and it has to be timely.

We subscribe to the idea of the “Urgency of Now”.  If there is an issue or a topic in the news, you have to be able to get that content out and to market immediately.  You have to get your content out there fast – if there is a topic that people care about today, don’t expect that they will be nearly as likely to care about it tomorrow.   There’s always an opportunity to attach more evergreen topics to that timely content – but if you lead about people care about today, you are more likely to find success.

There is also something to be said for simplicity.  Traditionally, thought leadership content was long form.  But more and more audiences are turning to short form videos and other mediums to get their information on a topic.  We see this trend with CEOs and executives and how they consume content. While lawyers and regulators might prefer exhaustive, longer-form content, minute long videos or other condensed versions likely will resonate better.

Q:  When your setting expectations on a project for a client how do you set expectations?

Peter:  When I’m working with clients, it really is about starting every project with a clear idea of what the client is trying to accomplish.  It’s really important for us to educate our clients on reaching out past the primary target audience especially in regard to journalists.   Good content should be targeted at the audience to be reached in order to meet their goals – but it won’t be limited to your target audience and can be used by any periphery audience in the future.  The content helps tell the organizational story once it is out there, and sometimes success can be found in different ways than the simple metrics of views and shares.

I think the biggest successes we have had with our clients are the times we’ve pushed them a little out of their comfort zone and taken on a project that has seemed ambitious to them.  Once we’re able to execute, these projects tend to turn into the type of results that allow us to deem a campaign or piece of content successful.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

Peter:  I love the pace of change in the digital marketing and communications field.  I don’t know if I could work in an industry that was the same as it was 2 years ago.  I love being able to learn every day and work with and hire people that can teach me.

You can follow Peter on twitter at @PeterLaMotte and check out the new Levick Monthly in the Insights section of the Levick web site.

Author Daniel Watson (@danielchwatson) is an account manager with PR Newswire, and is based in our DC office. 

The Media Evolution: Is Your Content Keeping Up?

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In response to sea changes in how people find, consume and share information, traditional media outlets are retooling their newsrooms and evolving their coverage.   Despite the still-challenging economic environment, many outlets are investing heavily on people and technology, in order to deliver a news product that satisfies audience appetites for rich visuals, tablet-friendly design and up-to-the minute reporting.  This begs the question: is PR content keeping up? lil tweet

PRSA attendees: Visit PR Newswire at booth 401 for fun photos & prizes, and mark Sarah’s session (Tuesday morning, 8 a.m.) on your calendars.

Outlets are creating expansive digital teams of reporters, web editors, social media managers, data specialists, designers, photographers, app developers and mobile editors.   They’re also requiring journalists to learn new skills and produce content in a variety of formats.

The Chicago Sun-Times offers an extreme example.  The venerable paper laid off its entire staff of photographers earlier this year, electing instead to equip and train reporters to shoot and edit photos and video using iPhones.

Can a reporter, newly trained in creating visuals, provide the paper with same sort of visual storytelling and evocative images that a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer once did?  Of course not.  But that’s not the point.
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Attend the Newsworthiness: New Context & Opportunities for PR session at the PRSA International Conference, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8–9:15 a.m. Room: Franklin 3 (Hotel Floor 4)

Spectacular images gracing the front page of papers and the covers of magazines drove newsstand sales – once a core revenue stream for print media.  As newsstand sales dwindle, those images offered less return to the Sun-Times.   Digital content and news cycles running at the speed of the internet changed the game.  The timeliness of an image is more important today than its composition or artistry.  The Sun-Times determined that a fleet of reporters armed with iPhones are better equipped to deliver the visual content the organization needs to compete in today’s media environment.

These changes at the Sun-Times, and at other news outlets across the US, beg an important question of PR pros:  Is the content your organization produces meeting the needs of your key media outlets – and your digital audiences? Visual content – images, video and graphics – are all eagerly consumed by digital newsrooms, and by journalists who curate topical content on blogs and social network presences.     And the underpinnings of visuals – facts, figures, processes, trends and other information that lends itself well to visual illustration is particularly useful.   Look at the front page of every issue of USA Today, and you’ll see a mini infographic in the USA Snapshots section.

In order to earn media coverage – and attention in social networks – visuals are almost a requirement, and can certainly help boost the coverage and social media attention a story generates.

If you’re in Philadelphia for PRSA, attend my session, Newsworthiness: New Context & Opportunities for PR,  tomorrow morning (10/29, 8 a.m., room – Franklin 3) 

For some additional ideas on developing relevant public relations and marketing content for your organization, download my free ebook, “Driving Content Discovery.” In it you’ll find tips, examples and ideas for improving the discoverability of your content by making it more timely and relevant to your audiences.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the newly-published ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.