Category Archives: Digital Content

Social media, the SEC & the impact for public companies

Author Scott Mozarsky is PR Newswire's Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Author Scott Mozarsky is PR Newswire’s Executive Vice President and
Chief Commercial Officer.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidance yesterday that permits public companies to disclose material information such as earnings through social channels — such as Facebook and Twitter – as long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.  The SEC guidance related to an investigation that it has completed concerning a post by Reed Hastings (Netflix’s CEO) on his personal Facebook page that contained material information regarding Netflix’s performance.

So, is the SEC guidance a good thing or a bad thing, and what is impact do we expect this guidance to have on disclosure and the investing public?

We believe fact that the SEC is embracing social media and encouraging companies to use social channels to disseminate information is a very good thing.  Companies benefit by disclosing information as broadly as possible.  Using social channels in addition to company websites and press releases to distribute material information ensures more engagement with a broader audience.  In fact, PR Newswire is encouraging our customers and other public companies to complement their disclosure of material information by using social channels in addition to press releases, their websites, emails, etc.

That said, similar to the guidance that the SEC provided regarding web disclosure back in 2008, yesterday’s statement by the SEC was ambiguous and could be read to permit disclosure of material non-public information solely through social channels.  This would not be a good thing for companies, investors, capital markets, analysts, traders, journalists, or anyone else with a stakes in public companies.  We believe it is highly unlikely that companies will use social channels as their sole means of disclosing material information.  Doing so would limit severely limit the audience.

What does this mean for our customers?

The SEC has clearly stated that the purpose of Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) is to promote broad and simultaneous disclosure of material information.  Investors should have an even playing field.  Selective disclosure is not a good thing and is prohibited by Reg FD.  Given that the internet and social channels have become a central part of everyone’s lives, the SEC wants to encourage companies to use their web sites as a core part of their overall disclosure strategy and this now extends to social media.

Companies that use their websites as the sole means of disclosure run the risk of uneven disclosure that disadvantages certain types of investors.   The SEC has been clear that the idea that investors might have to go and look for the information rather than getting it through a broader distribution is far from ideal.  The SEC has also previously noted that some investors don’t have easy access to the Web.  Additionally, law firms have consistently been advising their clients that the only way that such clients can be certain that they are meeting their disclosure obligations is to push the information to investors using press releases and other online distribution.

For more on the implications and risks of this ruling for the financial markets and investing public, please see Scott’s discussion on the Building Investor Compliance blog titled, “PR Newswire applauds SEC guidance on social media.”

Blog Notes: Design, Lifestyle, Travel & Medicine


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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Not Yesterday’s News: Social Media in the Newsroom

Would you like to know what’s happening around the world, in real-time? Search Twitter for “WTF was that,” says Andy Carvin, senior strategist at NPR’s Social Media Desk. It’s a common question people will tweet in the event of an earthquake, for example.

Andy Carvin (NPR), Ayman Mohyeldin (NBC News), Meredith Artley (CNN Digital) and Jim Frederick (Time International)

Andy Carvin (NPR), Ayman Mohyeldin (NBC News), Meredith Artley (CNN Digital) and Jim Frederick (Time International)

Carvin was on a panel at SXSW which discussed how media organizations are approaching news gathering in a real-time world. Others on the panel included Jim Frederick, Editor, Time International, Meredith Artley, Managing Editor, CNN Digital, and Ayman Mohyeldin, foreign correspondent for NBC News based in Egypt.

Of course you’ll get lots of tweets and lots of twitterers during a natural disaster, but that’s where traditional journalism tactics come into play. Carvin figures out who his trusted sources are and puts them into a Twitter list (brilliant!), then proceeds to collect information and verify. “You end up using a lot more sources,” he said, “and you have to figure out which characters work best in that moment.”

One problem brought up by Frederick which is prevalent during major news events like Hurricane Sandy is all the misinformation and outright lies that can go viral via social media. Think of the fake photos that were being tweeted and posted during Sandy, like sharks swimming in the flooded streets of Manhattan.

Mohyeldin offered that the public has a certain responsibility along with the media, especially when they have the power to instantly feed bad information to hundreds or thousands of people via Twitter and other social networks. “You have choice as a user to decide what you trust and you should be responsible in reposting things.”

And what of the responsibility of governments and others that hold great power in controlling how information gets shared?

“The first couple of days of the Egyptian Revolution cell phone connection was cut off by the government,” said Mohyeldin. But governments have become wise to the power of social media and are now using it to communicate with the masses, and surely to ‘listen.’ “You wonder how the regimes 2.0 will use these tools.”

But back to news organizations, what are the social media tools they see making a splash in how news is reported in the future?

Carvin gave a brilliant answer to this question. “Whatever gives critical mass the opportunity to have a voice.” How true. A tool can only be powerful when it empowers the people. And that’s where the stories come from.

And what about money? “Can news organizations monetize social media?” asked Frederick.

Artley said this is a subject that is frequently brought up. “Social media attracts new audiences and that is value. Also, clients and advertisers want to do business with companies that are doing things in the social space.”

Carvin added that rank and file journalists now have to think about the money side of journalism more and more. They use their personal brands to promote their work and the organizations they work for. They drive traffic.

Does this mean news organizations have a claim on a journalist’s personal social media accounts?

“That was a conversation that happened years ago when Twitter was new,” said Carvin. A personal Twitter account has the value to the brand of helping to drive traffic, but it still belongs to the individual journalist. “Authenticity [offered by personal brands] can pay off dividends.”

“We have a vibrant social media team that projects an experience, what it’s like to be a reporter,” said Mohyeldin. “That is translated into viewership.”

But social media has also given new power to the audience. They have greater awareness and expectations.

“Social has broken new grounds, we now can be exposed if we’re not covering events, conflicts around the world,” said Mohyeldin.

But the most interesting change social media has caused in the newsroom is in how they start their day. They listen to the audience.

“When we meet in the morning, we talk about what people are talking about in social and what is trending,” said Artley. “We also find stories that way which are unique and we wouldn’t have heard about in another way.”

This of course leads us back to how the panel started, with Carvin speaking of using social to learn what is happening in real-time during a major news event. Social as a listening tool seems to have the greatest impact of all for the media.

What impact has social media had on how you do your job?

Victoria Harres is Director of Audience Development at PR Newswire, the main voice behind @PRNewswire, social media lead for @Business4Better and a frequent speaker and writer on social media for business. 

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.

Content We Love: Travelocity’s Photo Adventure


There is something special about traveling. New places. New food. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that impact you. For me, the beauty is having a camera strapped and ready in my hand. Vacations require photos!

Travelocity’s New Brand Campaign Urges Consumers To ‘Go & Smell the Roses’

When I saw Travelocity’s new campaign, I was instantly wanting to book a vacation.  On the release, Travelocity takes its iconic Roaming Gnome to great heights by having an adventure and capturing it! Laid before my eyes were beautiful images of foreign lands to go hand-in-hand with the message.


cwl gnome

n his latest ad campaign the Travelocity Roaming Gnome is dropped into a scene from the world famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. (PRNewsFoto/Travelocity)

Within this release, the different adventures, travels, and trips are not only outlined with an enthused tone throughout, but showcase the travel options with unique photos and a video.

  • Would you buy a house without first seeing it?
  • Would you book a vacation without first scoping out the area?

Images are important!

So what does this mean for press releases?

When telling your story (via a press release), it is imperative to show your audience the full story so they can understand. And given the point that “pictures are worth 1,000 words,” adding images and video will instantly attract viewers.  We are visual people in a visual world.

The icing of the touring cake is the hashtag #GoSmellTheRoses which transports the campaign to social media channels. Not only can you view the video on the release, but you can also see the YouTube channel which hosts a video of the Roaming Gnome in each destination mentioned!

Including your content on multiple channels (and connecting them) presents your message on a wider platform. This introduces your message to an ever bigger audience. It is like learning a greeting in a new language.

Guten Tag, Social Media!

Thank you to Travelocity for taking us places with your multimedia adventures!–smell-the-roses-196688271.html

Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on or on twitter

SXSW Interactive: What’s Catching My Eye

sx big fishThis is an unusual year at SXSW Interactive, because as of this writing, there’s no big break out story, company, app or trend – at least that I can detect – and I’m hearing the same thing from the journalists and fellow bloggers I’ve been talking to up in the Samsung Blogger Lounge.   That said, a few things have landed on my radar screen over the last few days, including:

Big data about influence + smart filters * knowledge graph = HeyBigFish

From the folks behind Little Bird comes a great new way to look at real-time and influential conversations swirling around an event.  HeyBigFish lets you dive in to the digital discussions around specific topics at an event like SXSW.   You can find out in an instant what emerging conversations are about  and who’s shaping the discussion.

Note to brands: Need=Opportunity

Click the icon to get the beta version of the Ion app.

Click the icon to get the beta version of the Ion app.

The app I’m really digging:  From the folks at Otterbox – makers of cases for all manner of mobile devices – comes a neat new app that tells you exactly when your device is going to run out of power, based on your usage.  It’s actually very handy at an event like SXSW when you really do want to conserve and manage your power, because the days are long and you just don’t know when you’ll be able to recharge.  Called Otterbox Ion, it’s out in beta for you to try.

Along the same need=opportunity line of thinking is this simple but clever sx t chargepromotion from AT&T.  They have created secure charging stations, and have placed them all over South By.  You can put your phone in a little locker to recharge while you run to the washroom or grab a cup of coffee.  It’s smart and relevant branding.

The pervasiveness of cats.    

So we’ve been talking (and joking about) the prevalence of cats on the internet for years now.   But cats are a hot topic at SXSW this year.  Lines to see Grumpy Cat at the Mashable House stretched for blocks.  And a session on the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Fest (@catvidfest) was packed.  Even among the digerati here in Austin this week, cats are cool.

SXSWi attendees waiting in the rain to meet Grumpy Cat in person at Mashable House.

But really, the take-away here for marketers isn’t to stick cats into all your messaging.  However, it is worthwhile to spend some time reflecting on what is about cats that makes them so attractive to digital audiences – which is ultimately the ability for people to relate to them – and to assign conversations, feelings and emotions to them.

Real social relationships:

It’s interesting watching the juxtaposition between people who dive 100% into the whole SXSW experience, and those who don’t – and the difference between the two is (at least as I’ve observed it) is emphasis on real-life versus digital experiences.  It’s important to remember (and invest in) the real relationships and experiences that social media fosters.  Without interactions IRL, you miss a lot of value.

Watch this space for more from SXSW over the next few days.  And if you’re in Austin this week, tell me, what’s catching your eye?

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

Content We Love: Social@Ogilvy’s #SocialMediaWin

ContentWeLoveImagine an event full of people. Our modern world has supplied social media in their hands and each individual has a story to tell. Now harness that visually– each person is firing photos via social media and all using one unified hashtag to make it searchable…


Social Media + Press releases!

When I read the headline from Social@Ogilvy, I was instantly stopped in my tracks.  Social@Ogilvy and Chute: Capture, Create and Share with #DOAustin

Not only will social media be utilized at the interactive festival in ATX, but Social@Ogilvy prepared a release to showcase their efforts AND
shared the components!

If your company is using social media for events, for communicating, for interacting, include it in your press releases! It invites your readers to join in the conversations already happening, the pictures already being posted, and the networks already being used!

  • Why include social media?

Social Media is your online community, your networking neighbors.  In short, it is the audience for the message! Social@Ogilvy is taking its instagram interaction and letting it grow into an even bigger movement. The release included not only was the #hashtag, but ways to connect with the company itself through different social channels. (Remember, the bigger the audience, the wider the potential impact!)

What is a #hashtag?

A hashtag is a word or phrase that is searchable on the social media platform. Visible are the “trending topics” of what is being discussed and relevant content pertaining to specific interests can also be found on these channels. In Social@Ogilvy’s case, #DOAUSTIN will be searchable through Instagram and will be streaming the images live throughout the event.

Now that is cool!

So if social media is the audience for your message and your message is searchable (so interested parties can find it)… that is a #SocialMediaWin!

A hearty thanks to Social@Ogilvy for the #SocialMediaWin and the great release!

Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on or on twitter

Trends We’re Watching at SXSWi This Year

A special-edition SXSW “Panel Nerd” badge from Foursquare. I have a full set.

Today some coworkers and I are heading to Austin, Texas – the land of bluebonnets, BBQ and SXSW Interactive.   “South By” is on my list of can’t miss events, and not because of the parties – I have yet in my four years there to be seen out and about much past 10 p.m.   No, I’m a panel nerd. I go to SXSW to learn.  I’ll be blogging from the sessions, and already, some trends are emerging in the gathering noise from the event.

It’s not about you.  It’s about me.  ALL about me.

Personal technology – and personalization of technology – looks like it’s going to be taking center stage this year.   The Interactive lineup includes a bevy of sessions about personal tracking and health technologies, as well as wearable tech.    I’ll be watching what emerges from this trend – personal tech absolutely influences behavior, and as a marketer, I’m interested in that.

Big data, redux.

Big data was big news last year at SXSW, and I’m expecting a reprise of this subject again, albeit with a more practical point of view.  Last year was about the availability and awesome potential of big data.  This year I’m expecting to hear about some interesting applications thereof.


Science, specifically space, will be a big theme this year, as the speaker and session lineups include a keynote from Elon Musk of SpaceX to a slew of sessions about space-derived science, I’m battening down the hatches for a lot of extra-terrestrial geekery.  What can this stuff possibly have to do with marketing and communications?  I’ll be looking for two angles to these stories – actual storytelling from brands and thinkers (after all, SXSW draws a highly influential crowd, and watching how brands engage with that crowd is always informative,) and where people are finding market opportunities, within those stories one can find good thinking about segmentation. So yes, even though I tend more toward being a life-sciences enthusiast, I’ll be in a science- or space-related session or two.

Moving targets.

Mobile marketing is kind of old news, except that this seems to be the year that marketers are awakening to mobile, driven by the massive adoption of smart phones and tablets.  However,  mobile behavior and motivations are different other online behaviors.  I’ll be looking for thinking around appealing to audiences in the different contexts in which they’re using their devices.

We’ll see how well I stick to these plans.  I have no doubt my plans will be waylaid by crowds, and I’ll find myself in a session about completely new subject, and if history means anything, I’ll walk away with a significant new perspective.  That’s part of the SXSW serendipity.  I’m looking forward to it.

You’ll have the chance to follow along, and see how I do (and whether or not I’m right in my trend watching.   A number of us are headed to SXSW, and we’ll be blogging, Tweeting, Tumblring, Pinning and otherwise sharing as much content from the event as we can.  And if you’re going to be joining the fray in Austin, I’d be curious to know which trends you think will dominate the conversation.  Am I on point, or did I miss the mark?  Let me know what you think.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

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?