Author Archives: PRN Bloggers

Potent & Creative Content Earns Attention: See The EARNIES Winners!


Earlier this month, we announced the winners of our 2nd earned media awards program, The Earnies.  The caliber of work was impressive and is testament to the fact that PR professionals and marketers are truly pushing creative boundaries and thinking outside the box to successfully connect with their audiences and drive business results.  And with thousands of votes cast by our community, this year’s winners can walk away knowing their work was admired not just by us, but by their peers.

The winners are:

The Earnies Grand Prix:   The Advertising Council

Campaign: “FWD Campaign” by the Ad Council and USAID

usaid mnr

A snapshot of the Multimedia News Release used to promote the FWD>> campaign. Click on the image to see the actual MNR.

 In an effort to raise national awareness about the famine, war and drought in the Horn of Africa, The Ad Council joined forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and created the FWD (Famine, War, Drought) campaign, encouraging Americans to FWD the facts about the crisis and support relief operations.  By leveraging a variety of social media channel and the influence of their partners, allies and agencies to spread the message, the Ad Council achieved astounding results – reaching millions of people, igniting incredible audience interaction and generating an impressive amount of content surrounding the campaign.

Best Use of Video in Social Media: LatentView Analytics

Campaign: Confessions of a Serial Analyst

In order to showcase their workplace culture, LatentView Analytics tested their filmmaking skills and also put their own in front of the camera. “Confessions of a Serial Analysts” was filmed in their India office and the result was a fun, short film that resulted in thousands of video views and Facebook likes – and gave viewers insight into the world of LatentView Analytics.

Best Connection to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook Audience: New Media Strategies

Campaign: Engaging the casual wine buyer: The Wine Bar Facebook Community

wine tasting
Diageo Chateau & Estates needed help establishing a social presence for their Lifestyle Wines and attracting a younger demographic of wine drinkers.  After conducting thorough research of the audience, their behaviors, likes and wants, as well as of the competition, New Media Strategies strategically created an editorial calendar which focused on easily digestible and visual content and launched a new Facebook page to reach this audience. The Wine Bar Facebook page quickly became an online wine community that boasts a fan base of 31,000+ with extremely high interaction outpacing the competition

We Can’t Believe That Worked!:New Media Strategies

Campaign: ACCCE “Click-to-Call” Grassroots Advocacy

earnies12-believe-NewMediaACCCE, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, wanted rally online advocates to take offline action, increase the level of activism and increase online visibility in search and social.  In order to do so, New Media Strategies, needed to identify a way to do so quickly and easily, and motivate “an army of grassroots supporters into a quantifiable result.”  Using a two-fold approach, educate and activate, NMS developed a first-of-its-kind, a click-to-call campaign using Twitter, owned email lists and Facebook to connect local supporters directly to their  state senators.  With 3,300 calls and 41 hours of constituent-to-congressional-office talk time and promoted tweets, ACCCE saw a ~153 percent increase in followers. Furthermore, Twitter and Google used this campaign to create platform case studies, highlighting the success of this campaign as a first-of-its-kind in the advocacy space.

Best Use of Social Listening for Campaign Planning: General Electric

Campaign: HealthyShare: Surprise & Delight

ge tweetLooking to strengthen the public’s association of health and health-related subjects with the General Electric brand, GE developed a campaign that would allow them to have meaningful conversations about health, engage audiences that were interested in such subjects and grow brand enthusiasm.  By using a refined list of Twitter search terms and carefully listening to conversations taking place on Twitter, GE was able to identify a strong audience base to target, establish trust and share healthy gifts that helped generated earned media and new brand advocates.

Best Visual Campaign through Pinterest or Instagram: Fathom

ConsumerCrafts Back-to-School Crafter’s Challenge


It’s no surprise that the use of visual content is a necessity for ConsumerCrafts, an online craft store that sells affordable arts & craft supplies for jewelry making, scrapbooking, kid’s crafts and more.  So in order to increase Pinterest followers and pins, Fathom and ConsumerCrafts developed a contest that invited users to submit photos of creative kid’s craft projects using back-to-school items.  The winning entry was simply determined by the highest number of repins.  ConsumerCrafts saw a significant increase of blog and website referral traffic, engagement from bloggers promoting the contest, hundreds of repins and was able to identify new followers, as well.

Best Use of an Infographic: Cisco Systems

Campaign: The Internet of Things

earnies12-infographic-CiscoInternetArmed with the understanding that there are more devices tapping into the Internet than people on Earth to use them, Cisco set out to bring awareness that connections to the Internet go way beyond the obvious – computers, tablets and phones – and explain the impact this has on business.  Furthermore, Cisco sought to drive positive conversation around their brand and its role in bringing the network into its current, impressive state.  By creating an infographic and thoughtful messaging to support it, and then promoting it through multiple channels, Cisco’s campaign, “The Internet of Things,” was a huge success.  In fact, Cisco noticed a 30% increase in quantity of conversation and a 7% increase in sentiment; 100MM+ impressions, impressive media pick up and significant social conversation and tweets by thousands, including industry influencers.

Best Global Communications Campaign: Tourico Holidays, Inc

Campaign: Best Hotel Promotion Combined with a Worthy Cause!

earnies12-global-TourisoIn an effort to increase revenue during a one-month global promotion and also raise $40,000 for Give Kids the World Village, Tourico Holidays had to get creative.  By engaging contracted hotels and creating a system that encourages small donations, a match program, along with promotion of the campaign through email, social media, at events and on their website, Tourico was able to increase the number of bookings by 93% and increase revenue by an impressive $685,000.  Before all of the check-ins even occurred, they were able to donate the $40,000 to Give the Kids the World Village and hope to triple that once all hotel check-ins are made.

Best Integrated Campaign on a Shoestring Budget: Gutterglove

Campaign: Gutterglove Brings China Manufacturing Back to California

earnies12-grandprix-GuttergloveGutterglove wanted to bring awareness to the fact that bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. would improve the American economy and began to create the content to do so.  With just $3,000 to spend, Gutterglove was forced to think outside the box.  One of their employees, John Quincy Adams IV, was the descendant of our former presidents and leveraged this fact and incorporated it into messaging to spark additional interest in their story. That, along with a website dedicated to promoting the cause, helped Gutterglove see huge earned media success across broadcast, print and social media.

Best Piece of Branded Content: CSC

Campaign: Connected Consumer

With a new, major Leading Edge Forum (LEF) report, “Connected Consumer and the Future of Financial Services” in hand, CSC wanted to put this piece of content to work to stimulate conversation among the media, analysts and clients, enhance their reputation, promote themselves as thought leaders and generate leads.  By executing a thorough, targeted, multi-channel campaign that considered internal and external stakeholders and influencers, CSC’s campaign was able to do so. By implementing a number of tactics – including live-tweeting of a panel discussion, relevant, third-party blog posts, town halls, dedicated sales tools and more, CSC secured coverage in major financial services outlets,  received enthusiastic feedback from analysts,  garnered more than 40,000 Twitter impressions in just over a week and generated hundreds of leads through downloading of the report.

We were inspired (and a bit awed) by these winning entries, and the runners up.   Our congratulations to the winning entrants, and our hearty thanks to our judges:

And thanks also to YOU, our readers who cast their votes to determine the final winners!

5 Things You Should (and Shouldn’t) Do in a Crisis

You walked in to work this morning, coffee in hand, ready to take on another week. But your colleagues are doing (what look like) sprints, papers are flying and your Blackberry’s buzzing like a chainsaw.

You know it’s bad. All signs are pointing to a corporate crisis.

Now’s not the time to lay blame. And until time travel’s perfected, it’s up to you – the PR pro – to help your organization weather the storm.

You’re used to leading teams and guiding organizations down the right path. You try to keep a clear head about the whole thing but the office uproar is distracting.

To help you stay focused, here are some simple Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with your crisis:

  • DO….Get to the heart of the issue: find out exactly what went wrong
  • DON’T…Pretend it didn’t happen and hope it doesn’t happen again
  • DO…Make amends: take accountability where you should and admit any wrongdoing
  • DON’T….Pass the buck or accuse others
  • DO….Repair the damage: take conciliatory steps to fix the problem
  • DON’T….Wait and see what happens
  • DO….Communicate progress: keep stakeholders informed of efforts and roadblocks
  • DON’T….Keep quiet about what you’re doing to make things better
  • DO….Learn from it: Monitor the success (or failure) of your efforts
  • DON’T….Operate blindly and make the same mistake(s) again

The last thing you want to do in the throes of a crisis is make things worse.

Remember to always refer to your crisis communications plan. But, if it gets lost in the chaos, you can fall back on these five reminders.

An ounce of planning is worth more than a pound of cure in a crisis.  Incorporate MediaVantage into your communications strategy and stay on top of industry issues — and maintain control of your brand.   Learn more about our real-time media monitoring suite.

Content We Love: A Message in a Bottle (and a Multimedia News Release)


Sending a message in a bottle across the ocean, hoping for it to be found by someone faraway, is an idea as old as the Ancient Greeks. Christopher Columbus did it, NASA has done it, The Police sang about it. We all recognize the romance, the adventure and the endless possibilities of communicating with the unknown. So it was only a matter of time before a message in a bottle got its own Twitter account: @solosoftdrink.

Norwegian soft drink company Solo has launched the World’s Largest Message in a  Bottle into the Atlantic from the island of Tenerife. Their perfect press release combination of a fun story, great images and an accompanying Multimedia News Release made sure that a good idea caught all of the attention it deserved.

solo mnr

Click on this image to access the full multimedia press release for Solo’s Message in a Bottle campaign.

The best content has to quickly grab readers’ attention as you have only around ten seconds to convince them to keep looking. Solo’s use of images in this release is a perfect example of engaging content. People will want to see the largest bottle in the world, and get answers to: “How big is the world’s largest bottle?” “Will it float?” “How will it sail?” Note the dramatic Norwegian icescape, the promising ocean blue and the magnificently over-sized bottle.

The videos are action-packed, showing exactly how you go about building a two and a half ton bottle complete with a 12m2 letter, satellite tracking technology and the ability to survive the Atlantic Ocean. Then there’s the glamour footage – the sun soaked island, and the inevitable presence of Miss Tenerife, who obliged by falling off the bottle and getting a soaking.

This story will run and run, thanks to clever use of social media. The bottle is live tweeting its journey across the ocean and fans can chart progress on Solo’s great looking Facebook page. Additionally, on the MNR an Instagram widget displays Solo bottles in attractive and fun settings, making the page even more visual and interactive so viewers are more likely to click the Follow button. These are all great examples of engaging people with a campaign and letting them have their say, which is essential if you want readers to stay interested in what you have to say to them.

Author Andrew Woodall is one of PR Newswire’s social media ambassadors and is  MNR & operations manager for the PR Newswire EMEA team based in London. 

Applying Android Design Vision to Communications

Android UXOne of the best things about SxSW is hearing the people behind the products and services,we use today detail their journeys, providing a behind-the-scenes view of the thinking and processes that went into product design.  A session I attended featured two of Android’s leading ladies in UX and design, and they revealed the principles they used to focus their design on people

Speakers Helena Roeber and Rachel Garb are two of the driving forces behind Google’s Android platform. Rober spearheaded Android’s user experience for the last five years, and Garb, who leads leads interaction design for Android apps at Google, summarized their people-oriented design vision simply: Enchant Me. Simplify My Life. Make Me Amazing.

Android UX3

Roeber and Garb found that design affects emotion and we now have an opportunity/responsibility as developers to tap into the emotions of our users in a positive way. When they created the vision, they intentionally created this in the first person so that it reflected the vision of their users, not of themselves. “We wanted to speak more to people’s hearts [with our designs]“, Roeber said.

I found this to be very interesting as this was a new concept for me.  As a product manager we often get caught up in the nuts and bolts of our product that we sometimes forget what the main goal should be: how are users feel when they interact with it.  Garb pointed out that for every interaction that triggers a negative emotion, 3 positive ones must be offered to lift your user back up.  People tend to blame themselves when things go wrong with technology.  So what Garb and Roeber did was look at the negative emotions through a year-long study of observations called the “Android Baseline Study” and asked themselves how they could turn these into positive principles and to use these principles to create beautiful, usable and innovative design.  They realized that little annoyances had the power to destroy all the magic you’ve created.

Example:  Feedback: Users tend to be overwhelmed by too many options and limitless flexibility.

Turned into the principle:  Only show what I need, when I need it.

They went on to contextually explain each principle and how they came to be and it was quite interesting, but in the end, it made sense!  Why wouldn’t positive emotions reflect a better user experience?   It even opened up my eyes to how things are phrased and worded in the user interface.  Android refuses to use the phrase “Are you sure?” in their UI because it invokes a negative emotion by placing doubt or uncertainty on the user.

What I also liked was that it wasn’t just about stimulating positive emotions, but individual emotions based solely on the things that are important to me.  In a world full of so much information being thrown at you from so many different directions, connecting to your user on an individual level is more important than ever!

Google Now, the newest technology launching from the Android team that was announced at SXSW was created using these principles.  It goes beyond any traditional method and applies the “Delight Me in Surprising Ways” principle on a whole new level by automatically pulling information that is important to you only by learning who you are.  What’s the weather like where you are?  What’s the traffic situation for your commute to work? What’s your favorite coffee shop, here’s a coupon. No preferences need to be made, it gets to know you and learns your habits.  This allows it to adjust to you and only shows you what’s important to you. The cool thing is that it reconfigures each time so it won’t remember old habits if things have changed in your life!

So what does this mean?  As a product person, this definitely gives me some guidelines in how to approach the decisions we make on how to make our products better.  So the next time we  are looking at what next new innovative feature should be applied to our product or what next NEW product we should develop, we’ll pose this question as our clients — Are you enchanting us? Are you simplifying our lives? Are you making us amazing? And remember the emotion involved when it comes to our users!

Resource: Design Principles:

Author Erika Kash is an online services product manager with MultiVu, a PR Newswire company.

Words to Live By for Communications Pros

At PR Newswire, we frequently conduct webinars featuring  a variety of top thought leaders in the industry, and through their knowledge-sharing and insights, there are some great nuggets of information derived from each of these presentations. But if you’re like me, once the webinar is over, you move on to the next item on your list; rarely is there enough time to pause and truly reflect on what these wise words mean.  So we’ve compiled some of the most thought-provoking quotes from our recent webinars into the above SlideShare presentation, “Words to Engage by… PR, Marketing & the New Media Landscape.”

Which one stands out most to you?

PR & Visuals Fuel the Content Marketing Engine

“Dear Content Marketing:  Meet PR, Your New BFF!”   This message, as said Lisa Buyer, CEO of The Buyer Group on a recent PR Newswire webinar (“Fueling the Content Marketing Engine through PR”), underscores the evolving relationship between PR and marketing professionals and the need for an integrated , collaborative approach to communications.  On the webinar, she and PR newswire’s Michael Pranikoff explored the use of PR tactics to strengthen a marketing strategy.

The start of the conversation focused on online newsrooms – and how they have gone through a “renaissance” of sorts. No longer controlled by the webmaster where updates are difficult and infrequent, today’s online newsrooms are the responsibility of the communications team, are updated multiple times daily with a diversified mix of quality content.  Essentially, it is a content marketing hub to not only share press releases, but also amplify multimedia content such as photos, videos, financial information, blogs posts and more, feeding the needs of all visitors including journalists, bloggers, consumers, investors and more.

Michael noted that as more brands start utilizing social media, “smart brands are becoming publishers” so there is an increased need to commit to quality content, increasing the need and opportunity for marketing and PR to complement each other in our social media world.”

Visual PR content was the topic of the year with the birth of Pinterest and Instagram. ”   Driving the point home, Lisa noted “There is nothing worse than reading a brilliant post or a news release when nothing in the post is worth pinning!  Not one photo, infographic or video that would make me want to share it with my near and dear.” We are a visual species and engaging content influences our actions.

PR Newswire’s study confirms multimedia content will increase views by nearly 10 times than just plain text alone, however other noteworthy stats were introduced:

  • 44% say they are more likely to engage with companies if they use pictures
  • 79% of journalists say that images increased the odds of a press release getting picked up
  • Readers are 4x more likely to engage or comment on a blog post with a good image

Bottom line: “Go Visual.  Just Say No to Boring.” 

The next hot topic was the need for content optimized for mobile devices. Engaging readers and sharing unique and useful content is not limited to just desktops; brands MUST consider multi-screen users when producing content and enhancing an online newsroom.  Mobile use is not only dominating how we receive information, but also how that information is shared.  But don’t forget; don’t lose the consistency of message when optimizing content for mobile!

This simply provides an overview of the tips and best practices shared. Take a look at the entire presentation, and listen to the archived recording. There were numerous questions addressed questions addressed and valuable answers provided during the Q&A section at the end.   Well worth listening to.

Were you able to catch the live presentation?  If you did, what were your thoughts?  Will marketing and PR be BFF or are they destined to be soul mates?

The Case for Building Distribution into Content Planning

As content marketing strategies become more prevalent in company discussions, there still remains an overriding question:
What strategies can be used for content creation and management?

A critical component is understanding how the assets can be distributed, and ensuring creation will dovetail nicely. Currently, many companies wait for the end product (i.e. the finalized content), and then devise their distribution strategy. While this can cut down on time up front, it can compromise the quality of the asset distribution. Ideally, the creation strategy and the distribution plan are working in synch. Sometimes the people involved may be from different teams, and possibly even different companies!  Think of agencies and how they were historically set up.

PR agencies, ad agencies, and brand marketers were always tasked with content distribution. That content could be a pr message, marketing tag, or print/video ad. Those teams were almost always brought in after the content creation, with virtually no input prior to completion. The management of the assets were overseen by perhaps one person (VP Marketing, etc), and the various teams did the best with what they were provided.

The Digital Asset Management Conference in Los Angeles last week week challenged this methodology.  Companies like HBO and Open Text promoted the idea of upfront planning for all assets and distribution. This can be challenging, especially with divergent philosophies, but ultimately helps ensure the creation of the best assets for the optimum management and distribution.

What we see is this –  not only are silos breaking down between earned/paid/owned media, but silos are beginning to break down at the content planning stages as well.

Kevin ProfessionalAuthor Kevin Wilke is a divisional vice president with MultiVu, a PR Newswire company specializing in multimedia content creation, production and distribution.

Content Marketing & PR: Powering the Marketing Engine with Earned Media

As a lead strategist at the Content Marketing Institute (among a number of other professional endeavors), Robert Rose is a renowned expert on all things related to content marketing. We recently asked Robert to share his thoughts on the topic of PR and its relation to content marketing, and the resulting Q&A below is chock full of tips and insights. We hope you enjoy it!

PR Newswire:  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term…

Content Marketing… 

Robert Rose: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is “my job”.  But the second thought is how marketers are using organic content and dynamic storytelling to positively affect business results.

 Public Relations… 

RR: A core practice that is undergoing fundamental disruption.  I’m a HUGE, passionate fan of public relations.  But I think the practice of Public Relations has lost its way a bit – especially as it pertains to being the corporate “storyteller”.  If there’s one group that should be embracing the ideas of content marketing – it’s PR.  And, sadly, because in many cases it has lost its strategic seat at the table (save for crisis management) PR is one of the last departments to actually get to embrace content marketing.

Daisy Rose, via BigBlueMoose on Flickr.

 Man’s best friend  (a slight digression, but I had to throw this one in here given that you’re fellow dog lover)

RR:  Oh my god – you’re tempting me to embed pictures of my dog here aren’t you.

PRN:  Yes.  We are.

PRN: What are the parallels between content marketing and PR? (What does PR lend to content marketing, and vice versa?)  

RR: I’m reading a wonderful book right now called PR! By Stuart Ewen.  It’s basically a history of the practice.   In that book, there’s a phrase that’s used frequently describing how “images used as persuasion” was at the core of PR.   That’s directly related to content marketing of course.  The question for brand marketers and product marketers is how can they tell the larger story of a brand/product to fill the emotional well of customers, in order to change or enhance their behavior.  These are identical goals.

blog_quote_RobertRosePRN:  In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about PR?

RR:  I think maybe that it’s a separate thing from marketing.  A well integrated PR program is much more than just investor relations and/or pushing content (news releases) into the publishing space or (candidly) more than issuing a “social” release that simultaneously tweets/blogs/distributes your latest press release.    An integrated PR program is one key component of telling a broader and more valuable story.  The opportunity is to really leverage earned media in order to power other parts of the marketing engine.

 PRN: If a PR practitioner was sitting across the table from you right now, what advice would you give them as to how they can help their respective organizations amplify the results of their content strategies?
IRR: Well – that’s a bigger topic than this format allows for – and probably needs great beverages to go along with it.  But here’s one quick piece of advice.  The power of today’s distribution services is being squandered by most companies.  Somewhere along the line, companies got the idea that there was only one way to write a press release – and we all swallowed the blue pill.  Why does every press release read like a press release.  Guess what – if we (as marketers or PR professionals) write the article we WANT the outlets to run – the distribution service will still distribute it.  It doesn’t have to speak in Corporate-ese – or in some bland, “we’re proud to announce that blah blah blah”.   Let’s start writing compelling, engaging content – and use the distribution service as a mechanism to get that story out in the market place.

PRN:  What opportunities or benefits exist for organizations whose PR and marketing departments work collaboratively on a content strategy?

 RR: The main opportunity and benefit is a truly cohesive story across paid, earned and owned media.  The Altimeter folks are doing some great work on this front – and I’d encourage anyone to read their work on this topic.  But truly, if you are interested in the ROI of Content Marketing, so much of it has to do with being able to leverage a cohesive story across these channels.  For example, if we look at Coca Cola – and their content marketing.  They produced a piece of content (The Security Camera video) and it was popular on YouTube.  So, nice content marketing right?  Well, right – except that they also used it as an ad for the Super Bowl (after they understood that it resonated on YouTube) and they got tons of earned media on outlets covering it.   Paid, owned and earned media making content work MUCH harder for the organization and justifying the cost of creating great, impactful content.

 PRN: Is there an organization, or two, that you can point to as being successful in rallying both marketing & PR departments around overall content goals to achieve results while working within a limited budget?

Yes, certainly (as mentioned) Coca Cola is doing as good a job with content as anyone.  Also, of course, you can’t avoid mentioning Red Bull – who people have described as a media company that also sells a canned drink.   But I’d also point to B2B companies like SAS and SAP who are doing a good job with content and storytelling.   And, finally – State Farm Insurance and their work with the William Shatner fried turkey  video is a wonderful example of marketing, PR  – turning into great content marketing. 

st farm wm shatner

Learn more about how PR and content marketing strategies can be combined to produce powerful and compelling earned media that reaches the right audiences by tuning into our on-demand webinar,”Fueling the Content Marketing Engine Through PR.”

Holidays in China: Communications Opportunities & Challenges

Image source: PRN Asia

With the usual cocktail of eardrum-shattering firecrackers, mass migrations, food-centric family gatherings and endless song-and-dance TV programs, Chinese New Year celebrations – which started on the evening of February 8 – are only just starting to wind down.

The holiday serves as a demarcation point for both companies and individuals in China; debts must be paid before the New Year, but any work that requires long-term focus or consideration is often postponed for after the holiday. “We’ll take care of it after Chinese New Year,” is a common response to enquiries in the days and weeks beforehand.

Since so much of the country’s activities are framed by these festivities, having an understanding of this holiday and what it represents is essential for companies doing business in China.

Pre-Game the Holiday

Much in the way that new products are often launched before the Christmas shopping season in North America, the market is ripe for similar promotions in China before the Lunar New Year. This is the time of year when people tap into the money they have saved over the course of the year to buy gifts to take home to their families. Some of them have not returned home in years. As with most Chinese holidays, a huge emphasis is placed on food, both with the nianyefan meal on New Year’s Eve and as a form of gift for friends and family. Beyond food, expensive gifts are popular as a way of conveying respect to the recipient, while the gift-giver gains “face”, or status, in being able to provide such a fine gift. Children are the lucky recipients of yasuiqian, aka cold cash in red envelopes, a tradition that leaves adults feeling rather deflated by the end of the holidays, depending on how many kids they know.

The lunar new year – which falls in January or February – conveniently is always preceded by the Christmas rush in the West, so companies need only tweak their campaigns accordingly to approach the Chinese market at the peak of shopping season.

Timing in all of this is key – New Year’s Eve and day are the biggest days of celebration, but the holiday extends for 15 days, ending with Lantern Festival. Work may officially resume seven days after New Year’s Eve, but many take additional time off to travel to their hometowns, and business activities don’t really begin to normalize until the full holiday has passed.

TV Takes Over

As a result of the urban exodus, the means by which companies usually try to reach audiences – the internet, email, press releases aimed for media outlets – can all fall on deaf ears as urban office workers head back to their hometowns. But while many lose their high-speed internet connections, few are the moments in China when one is not in close proximity to a television, including on all forms of transportation.

Television, as has been discussed, is still a viable medium for capturing an audience through loud, splashy ads. It is the constant background of family gatherings – in fact, the tradition on New Year’s eve is for families to gather around the TV for over four consecutive hours of entertainment in the form of galas, with state broadcaster CCTV’s being the most famous of the bunch. To give a sense of scale, CCTV’s performances this year included Celine Dion singing a duet in Chinese with diva Song Zuying.

While CCTV’s gala, known as the “Chunwan”, runs ad-free, the airtime surrounding the event is a different story. With the potential to reach up to 700 million potential viewers, the 10 minutes before the Chunwan commences are what China’s famous angel investor Cai Wensheng went so far as to refer to as a “barometer of the economy” determining which industries are profitable. This year, while the nation’s populace may have been taking a break from their computer posts, Internet companies still did their best to stay on their minds with an onslaught of TV advertising.

Unexpected Factors

Even the best-prepared companies cannot always anticipate factors that will influence buyers’ decisions during the holiday. In Beijing at least, there were two big ways in which New Year was celebrated differently this year compared to last year for a uniquely Chinese reason: the government. In 2013, authorities asked people to light fewer fireworks to help deal with the capital’s burgeoning pollution problem, and people heeded the call. The Wall Street Journal, via Xinhua, reported that people purchased 45% fewer fireworks than last year.

Also notable was the news that purchases of expensive hard liquor, or baijiu, were down in the wake of pledges to cut back on the expensive government banquets that often feature copious drinking. Even with stores discounting the prices of the most expensive brands of baijiu, at over USD 200 per bottle, Moutai still remains outside the reach of many consumers.

Holiday Exports

China is an established factor in the global economy, but soft power exports in recent years have increasingly factored in the day-to-day lives of citizens of other countries. With a huge uptick in the number of Chinese studying abroad or working overseas, as well as rising numbers of Chinese who can afford to travel abroad recreationally, Western companies are seeing an opportunity in holidays like Chinese New Year. This year, Harrods in London sold snake-themed gold bullion, Louis Vuitton offered snake monograms, and Mercedes Benz even launched a snake-themed smart car.

While bringing Western holidays to China certainly has seen commercial success, more companies are seeing the value in embracing the holidays already important to the Chinese, a trend we can expect to see continue through the Year of the Snake and beyond.

Author Caroline Kilmer is a member of the PR Newswire Asia team.

Online Newsrooms are a Key Part of Content Strategy


With all the Google algorithm buzz (kill) about the need for fresh and frequent quality content, the answer could start with a press release and be buried in your company’s online newsroom.

While most brands report having an online newsroom as part of the company website, only 14 percent of press releases were optimized for search and recent surveys indicate the entire newsroom is lacking optimization.

Shocker? Maybe. But, smart marketers can take it as a digital smoke signal for SEO and PR to spark up a better relationship.

“Newsrooms – if done right – can be an excellent source for new content. However, in this renewed age of content marketing, it can’t just be the press releases. Whatever content gets put up has to be compelling enough for people to want to share. It should not simply report facts, but should have some sort of human element explaining what this news means to the target audience.”
- Quote from Thom Craver

The Online Newsroom Opportunity

Online newsrooms actually present an opportunity for digital marketers trying to find new ways to engage their audience with relevant content at the right time. To help drive traffic, marketers are now shifting their priorities to inbound marketing efforts like creating effective content such as such as blogs, webinars, white papers and press releases according to MarketingSherpa’s eighth annual benchmark report. All this newsworthy content can be used inside the online newsroom.

For example, a recent online newsroom study by PressFeed found:

  • 72 percent of media rooms have an image gallery and 61 percent have a video gallery.
  • Less than 30 percent use multimedia with a news release and only 14 percent of news releases are search optimized.
  • 80 percent of journalists and editors say images and video are important.
  • 61 percent are connecting their newsroom to their social content.
  • 52 percent offer social sharing options in their newsroom.
  • They also lack features the media value.
  • Only 13 percent offer embed codes for images, slideshows and video.
  • Inc. 500 companies have some catching up to do, but have the most opportunity!

Online Newsroom Makeover Tips

Educate the PR and SEO Teams

“The issue that most SEO’s face is most of the time their PR or Corporate Communications folks have not fully bought into the idea of optimizing their online news. This requires education to start with and then charting a process wherein SEO is part of the online newsroom process,” says Bob Tripathi.

Keep it Fresh

Newsworthy stories, images, video, social links and blogs would seem an obvious bonus in attracting quality visits. In the past the newsroom’s visitor profile was typically the journalist, but today’s savvy consumer knows to navigate to the online newsroom to find the latest news.

Collaborate for the Sake of “Quality Content”

“First, I’d hold a brown bag lunch and invite somebody from both groups to explain why collaboration and cooperation between the departments will enable both of them to meet their marketing goals and business objectives,” Jarboe said. “Believe it or not, both groups need to create ‘quality content.’ And that quality content will be read by prospects as well as the press.”

Get Visual!

Let the statistics speak for themselves. Journalists prefer images and multimedia. Search results combined with an image have an increased performance and images are the most shared type of messaging on social media.

One more stat: 44 percent say they’re more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media, according to ROI Research. Get creative and add news feeds from Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook to the online newsroom.

Google Alert: Creating Good Content Pays Off!

“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community,” says Google . “The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

“It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest.”

The PR side of the house will be happy to hear that an online newsroom can be a link magnet. The SEO side might want to meet up with the PR side, after all they are the content generators who just need a little “need to know” SEO guidance.

Bottom Line

Online newsrooms are the mother lode of quality content that should be optimized as soon as possible.

Join guest author Lisa Buyer February 20th for a webinar with PR Newswire where I will dig further into this topic. Click here to register for the upcoming webinar.

PR Newswire’s MediaRoom line offers a seamless solution to organize and drive additional online visibility for your content, from automated news feeds for your current site to a fully hosted MediaRoom site.