Author Archives: PRN Bloggers

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?

suntimes iphotogs

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.
PRSAoneworld

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.

How Cross-Channel Storytelling Engages Broad Audiences

honda drive in

One example of a campaign that incorporated storytelling was Honda’s “Project Drive-In.”

Yesterday’s Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit, held in Marina del Rey, CA, brought together a powerhouse panel that focused on the role of storytelling in today’s media environment.  Top digital marketers and their technology partners across the entertainment and brand landscape discussed campaigns that are making an impact now.

Moderated by David Hayes (@heydch), Entertainment Evangelist, Tumblr, the panel was thick with heavy hitters from impressive brands.

  • Bettina Sherick (@bettina), Senior Vice President, International Strategic Digital Marketing Twentieth Century Fox
  • Malcolm De Leo (@innovationmuse), Chief Evangelist, NetBase
  • Alicia Jones (@aliciajones), Manager and Head of Social Media, American Honda Corporation
  • David Gibbons(@gibbosf), VP Product Marketing Ustream
  • Nicolaus Beraudo, EVP Worldwide Sales, GM US, App Annie
  • Jared Hoffman, EVP Content and Programming Partnerships, Alloy Digital

The panel first gave a nod to their favorite brands.  They ranged from some long standing, tech-oriented brands like Sony and EA Sports to retail and apparel giant Nike as well as the uber successful sandbox indie game, Minecraft. The most interesting brand mention was Star Wars.  Jared Hoffman explained that he is fascinated by how it has come to mean many things to many people.  It has now engaged at least two generations, showing its enduring tale has serious staying power – – it has has infiltrated Angry Birds and is currently featured in a Verizon commercial.

Alicia Jones gave two very powerful examples of Honda campaigns that made good use of storytelling.  “Million Mile Joe” is a real person whose Honda was just about to tip the odometer over 999,999 miles. This story was brought to Honda’s attention by Joe’s local dealer in Maine.  It was an organic, authentic customer story– easy to tell and easy to digest.  Moderator David Hayes basically defined a successful campaign by having brand pillar messaging hidden inside a consumer story, like “Million Mile Joe”.  See the campaign here: http://www.rpa.com/portfolio/honda-million-mile-joe_surprise-parade/

In the same vein, Bettina Sherick elaborated on 20th Century Fox’s  “Life of Pi” promotion  using Yahoo!’s contributor network and encouraging the telling of real-life accounts of heroism, stories of overcoming adversity and inspirational vignettes in the same vein of the award-winning film.  This resulted in editorial impressions and many levels of engagement via comments and sharing.

Another great story from Honda was one that PR Newswire was proud to play a part in executing.  Project Drive-In was created by Honda and tapped into the major challenge of drive-in movie theater’s conversion to digital projection.  By telling a story integral to American car culture, a car company was able to engage the public with a good emotional draw and maintain a positive message without over commercializing the brand.  Honda used digital delivery, social engagement and traditional press release distribution methods to garner editorial coverage and increase overall exposure.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hondas-project-drive-in-helps-save-four-additional-theaters-nine-in-total-continues-fundraising-effort-to-help-others-224840162.html

Overall, the panel seemed to agree on the success of storytelling as a sales tool, but what must be recognized is that the narrative must be told across platforms to drive and sustain audiences throughout the story arc.  Marketers need to embrace the sheer size of the potential audience and it’s important to listen as much, if not more, than you talk.  Malcom De Leo summed it up by reminding us that we live in “post-authoritarian economy” and to a very great extent, the audience controls the success of your message.  So we need to take all this into consideration, sit side-by-side with those audiences and craft a good old fashioned story with a beginning, middle and end.

Author Heather Williams (@heatherw716) is a national broadcast manager with PR Newswire/MultiVu. 

Customer Security Announcement

There has been a lot of news lately about data intrusions at leading companies around the world. This is a challenging aspect of doing business today, but the privacy and security of our customers’ information are of the utmost importance to us.

We continue to refine our security approach in light of the ever-changing nature of threats, and implement security enhancements on a regular basis. Notwithstanding our efforts, we recently learned that a database, which primarily houses access credentials and business contact information for some of our customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, was compromised. We are conducting an extensive investigation and have notified appropriate law enforcement authorities. Based on our preliminary review, we believe that customer payment data were not compromised.

As a precautionary measure, we have implemented a mandatory password reset for all customers with accounts on this database. As a general practice, we recommend that our customers use strong passwords and regularly update them, not just on PR Newswire but on any website requiring login credentials. From an internal perspective, we continue to implement security improvements and additional protocols to help further protect user portals and customer and proprietary information.

For almost 60 years, PR Newswire has established itself as the premier global provider of multimedia platforms that enable organizations to leverage content to engage with their key audiences. We recognize that the trust and protection of our customers are critical to our success, and we will keep customers apprised of any additional important information.

We regret any disruption this may cause PR Newswire users and will continue to work diligently to prevent these types of events from occurring in the future.

Ninan Chacko

Chief Executive Officer