Tag Archives: social media

Social Media Club NYC Recap: A NXNE Roundup of SXSW

The Social Media Club NYC event began with a quick discussion of any new tools or websites in the social media industry, as per usual.

  • Vine, the mobile app by Twitter, is an amazing tool and you can do a lot of things in a six-second video. Even Tribeca Film Festival is holding a Vine competition.
  • Shutterstock introduced Spectrum, which is a tool that categorizes and catalogs all of their images by color.
  • TaskRabbit is a helpful tool for making reservations and completing errands.
  • Google Reader is shutting down. However, Listly has a crowdsourced list of RSS readers instead of Google Reader. And so far, Feedly has been the most popular option and has received the most attention.
  • There is a new app called Mailbox that is replacing Apple Mail. This app doesn’t help if you like to put your stuff into labels and organize your email, but it is useful if you just want to get rid of mail. Warning: There is a very long list of people waiting to download the app.
  • Another email app called BirdsEye was built specifically for tablet use, and is based on your Gmail.
  • Tempo app connects with your accounts and shows information about your schedule for the day in either a calendar or list view. It is a very useful tool if you have a meeting, because it will provide you with all the information for that meeting on one screen.

Past SXSW Experience

  • It was interesting to see how SXSW had a dedicated health track. It was especially interesting how everyone was embracing Quantified Self-Improvement. Quantified Self-Improvement is self-tracking by using data for a specific purpose, i.e., tracking your sleep pattern, steps taken, foods eaten.
  • Great show for everyone to get together and learn about the different trends.

This Year’s SXSW Experience

  • A lot of the show is about meeting up with people on the fly. It is difficult to plan prior to the event and the sessions are very booked. You need to make sure to get to the sessions 30-60 minutes before each one.
  • You meet many great people at the show, especially in places that are a little quieter and less crowded.
  • There is something for everyone at the show, and you can make it what you want it to be.
  • Here is a post on how to prepare for SXSW by Tim McDonald, community manager at HuffPost live: bit.ly/15L11fj
  • If you look at SXSW as a festival vs. conference and go for the people, then it is a great place to go. McDonald said, “It is the utopia of networking.”

What Trends Were Present at SXSW

  • MakerBot: Many people talked about MakerBot, which is a 3D printing device that lets your print 3D shapes in plastic. MakerBot comes with many pre-made shapes and things that you can utilize as well as easy 3D tools.
  • Google Glass: People talked about Google Glasses, but nobody saw any pairs at the show. About Google Glass: Google’s Glasses allow for an unobtrusive interactive experience. The glasses make it possible to be engaged in the moment while experiencing the digital aspect of it. Mark Hurst wrote a post about the dangers of Google Glasses, which discusses another side to these glasses. Watch this video to learn more about Google Glass:bit.ly/X6tgXy
  • Multimedia Screens: There were unique things going on with multimedia screens and view prompting based on various social actions. For example, the Twitter party had screens up on a wall and you could make a rocketship fly by if you tweeted a specific hashtag.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC): There was a lot of NFC at the show. Samsung was really promoting NFC, and they set it up so you could use it to get into VIP and some of the lounge parties.
  • Car Service Apps: Uber and SideCar are services you can use to “virtual hail” to get a car to pick you up, and they were big at the show. The HAIL A CAB™ app was another great service which enabled you to find a nearby taxi.
  • Quantified Self: An example of Quantified Self is Fitbit. The added social aspect of these apps and devices help reinforce the tracking of your heath, which can be a good type of social pressure that helps you stay on track. Social is a big part of medical adherence, so tracking of health can really help enable people digitally.
  • Memes: The Grumpy Cat hashtag trended more than anything else that was tech-based. The obsession with memes may come from people automatically connecting because they all recognize the meme. Also, memes are something anyone can do and start.
  • People were often looking for places to charge their devices at the show. There were lounges at the show where you could charge up. In addition, one solution for this issue are the Duracell portable power packs.

Trends Not Seen at SXSW

  • There were no Windows tablets seen at the show.
  • The Leap Motion Controller is a company that creates a gesture-based interface for computers, and the product wasn’t really seen at SXSW.
  • There wasn’t anything different mentioned at the show regarding Social TV. Social should be an integral part for reality TV shows, but it really isn’t.

Other Interesting Discussions from the SMCNYC Event

  • Warby Parker allows you to buy glasses and you are also buying glasses for someone in the developing world. The glasses, which are typically plastic, come to you in the mail and you can chose a pair you like from the 3-5 options. You send the other ones back. They even have a Web interface where you take a picture of yourself and you can see how you look in the different frames before you even order.
  • Pebble is a watch that connects to your Android or iPhone, and one of things it does is show you who is calling when a call comes through and lets you answer on your watch. You basically don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket because you have the watch on your wrist. It pairs with your phone and uses its data. It is another alternate display.
  • There is a privacy issue where people don’t read any “terms and conditions,” and then this causes a real fear in users over their lack of privacy. For example, loyalty cards can track what you bought and where you bought your items, but at the same it is purposeful for marketing. If you want to see who is tracking you in real-time you can download a Firefox add-on called Collusion. This add-on will tell you everywhere and to who you’re information is being reported after visiting a site. You can also use Private Internet Access, which will make the VPN appear in nine different countries and zones in the U.S. It tunnels your IP address to another place in the world and comes out the other side. The Onion Router (TOR) is another service that makes it difficult to track your information.

Whether you’re a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email — all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

images courtesy of Stephanie Grayson

Written by Polina Opelbaum, editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources.  To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

4 Reasons Brands Shouldn’t Rely Solely on Social Media to Communicate

I wasn’t the only social media denizen who scratched their head and said “Really?” in response to the SEC’s ruling a few days ago that cleared the way for public companies to disclose material news via social networks. It turns out I was in good company, as many others looked in askance at the ruling too, including Fortune’s Dan Primack (“SEC’s new social media policy falls short.”)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Fundamentally,  I support brands using social channels to communicate.  I am completely and utterly convinced of the efficacy and utility of social networks as a means to communicate with key audiences.

twitter tos textBut I also know from my experiences in managing several of PR Newswire’s social media presences for the last couple years that social networks are not perfect communications channels.  For a variety of reasons, I’ll never rely solely upon them as key communications channels.  Here’s why.

  • Reliability – If you’ve ever used Twitter, you’ve probably seen the Fail Whale that appears when Twitter is over-capacity.  Facebook users experience problems with their API and delays in getting content to post all the time. Simply put, you never know when your social network will slow down – or even grind to a halt. Call me cynical, but Murphy’s Law dictates that at some point, you’ll encounter a service problem right at the moment you absolutely, positively need to post something.
  • Service & platform changes – The social networks all reserve the right to make changes to their services and their platforms, without any prior warning to users, and change they do.  Over the last several years, we’ve seen the networks start and end relationships with search engines and each other, change how user content is displayed and an increase in the commingling of ads within streams of user-generated content.  All of these changes have affected (in some cases significantly) how and when social content is shared and viewed.
  • Feed management algorithms — It may come as a surprise to some, most social networks employ manage what content their users see.  Using algorithms, they bias news feeds, tweet streams and the updates they display to users, surfacing content that’s proven popular and/or is from those closes to the users’ social graphs.  More mundane posts are buried. Point is, just because a company posts content to a social network, there is no guarantee that all their friends, followers and fans will see it.  In fact, one can be fairly certain that relatively few members of your social audience will see your message at the moment it’s posted.
  • Security – Social networks can be hacked, and while they obviously try to protect themselves, it’s not at all uncommon to see spammy messages spewing forth from hacked accounts.  Company accounts are not immune, and the stakes go up if you’ve cultivated a particularly influential and well-connected audience populated with analysts, bloggers and journalists.

facebook tosIf this post has you sweating a bit, it might be a good idea to take a quick look at the various terms of service the social networks require us to agree to in order to establish accounts.  None contain service level agreements and guarantees that you get from a paid vendor.  (Note:  PR Newswire is a paid vendor.  We build security and redundancy into what we do, and we consider uptime a requirement, not a nice-to-have.)

So, while I don’t consider myself to be a Chicken Little, and indeed, I think it’s great that companies can safely add communicating via social networks to their communications mix, I do believe that brands need to be cautious about becoming over-reliant on social networks, from which they have no guarantees and over which they can wield no real control.

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

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.”

How Content Distribution Drives Message Discovery (and Results!)

Like any business, sometimes our own story needs telling.  Earlier this year, we decided that we needed to do some PR for our MultiVu business, which focuses on the production and distribution of multimedia content.   It’s cutting edge stuff, with some truly unique aspects, and it sits right between PR and marketing, and we needed to offer some explanation and raise awareness of these services.

So what did we do?  We did the same thing any of you, our customers, would do.   First, our team brainstormed the messaging.  They outlined the key points we needed to convey from a brand standpoint, and then approached the messaging from the opposite context – the questions our audience often asks has about producing video and other multimedia content, and the various struggles that can complicate these projects.

“The hardest thing to do is to distill what you do into a short-form, engaging video,” noted Bev Yehuda, vice president of web engagement products for MultiVu.  “We had to apply what we tell our clients all the  time regarding developing a video: if you don’t take the time out during the process to determine what your elevator pitch is, you run the risk of creating irrelevant content.”

With the messaging drafted, it was time to determine the medium.   Since this was about MultiVu, we knew we needed to use multimedia messaging.   We wanted to show our expertise (and our personality!) in a fun and friendly way, so we went with an animated approach.

Upping exposure with distribution

Once our animated video was done, we packaged it into a multimedia news release (“MNR”,) which combines a variety of distribution strategies and channels.

mv mnr explainer

Here’s a snapshot of the MNR we created to promote the MultiVu video. Click on the image to see the whole thing.


Of course, we could have simply shared the video socially – and we did post it directly to a number of social sharing sites – but the distribution component that is built into an MNR is crucial, for a number of different reasons:

  • Distribution drives discovery, delivering content to relevant audiences across the web – on channels, via news web sites and in industry niches.
  • Discovery seeds social conversation, amplifying your message, and increasing exposure to relevant groups.
  • Social conversations deliver third party credibility that can spur people to take action.
  • Distribution increases the number of digital touch points for your brand, and if your audience values the content, it will gain visibility in search results.  Search engines are informed by user activity and interactions around a piece of content.

How Content Distribution Drives Social Interaction

Prior to the release of the MNR, we shared the video itself on PR Newswire’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. More than 1,400 of our Facebook fans saw the video, and it was liked by 6 and shared by 3.   It fared better on LinkedIn, where it was seen by 1,983 people, generated 30 click-throughs and 8 shares.  Decent exposure for the two minutes (if that) required to share the video with PR Newswire followers.

mv distribution effect on social

However, if you need proof of how distribution drives social interaction with content, you needn’t look any further than the sharing numbers the MNR generated.  Readers of the MNR shared it with their Facebook friends 196 times (as of this writing.)

Distributed content reaches qualified, interested audiences.  And social shares have a strong viral effect, triggering more shares.

Overall Multimedia News Release Results

The social sharing was just one aspect of the visibility the MNR generated for MultiVu.  Over all, adding distribution paid off for this project, tallying thousands of reads of the press release — and tens of thousands of video views.

mv explainer Multimedia News Release Results

It’s very satisfying for us to put on a “customer” hat and use our own services to promote our messages, and witness first-hand how our networks deliver lasting results and visibility.  And based upon the results of this campaign, you can look for more from these animated characters created by MultiVu – several more videos are in the works!

Want to explore creating your own “explainer” video or learning about how multimedia distribution can increase discovery of your brand’s messages?  We’d love to hear your ideas, and help turn them into reality. Contact us for more information.

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: 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. 

Headline Hashtags & Other Tweetable Press Release Tips

Press releases generate multiple tweets per minute.

Press releases generate multiple tweets per minute.

A post on the Forbes CIO network titled “#Accounting: Why Finance Teams Need to Get Social” garnered an unusual amount of traffic when compared to other posts on that channel.  With a current tally of more than 430,000 reads, this particular post is a real outlier.  A quick scan of other posts on the site suggests that reader tallies in the low four figures are the norm.

This anomaly was spotted by Lou Hoffman of the Hoffman Agency, and he highlighted it in a blog post titled, “The Role of the Hashtag in a Forbes Headline Attracting Over 400K Views .”

“The one element that makes this Forbes post different from other executive byliners lies in the headline and the use of the hashtag #Accounting,” he noted in his blog post.

I think Lou is on to something.  According to HubSpot’s new LinkTally tool, the article was shared 1,200 times on social networks.  And, as illustrated in Lou’s blog post, Google is differentiating between the search terms “#accounting “ and “accounting.”    While I am not willing to ascribe the success of this post on Forbes entirely to the presence of the hashtag in the headline – after all, it is a well-written discussion of a timely topic – I do think that the headline format had something to do with the article’s success.

press release quote

There’s certainly no doubt that press releases are important grist for Twitter’s information mill.  A look at the live search results for “PRNewswire” on Twitter shows that people are tweeting the press releases we issue multiple times per minutes.   And there are a few things you can do when writing press releases to help encourage people to tweet and share your copy.

  • Try using a relevant and popular hashtag in a Tweet-ready headline – keep it to about 100 characters, and make it interesting.
  • That obligatory quote?   Craft it for Twitter by dropping the hyperbole and editing it down into a 100 character statement that makes a key point.
  • Encourage tweeting by including the Twitter handle of anyone you quote in the press release.
  • Don’t forget visuals.  Twitter.com displays media in tweets, and we know that visuals do a great job of grabbing reader attention.

You can also use ClickToTweet to embed pre-loaded tweets in your messages, though I would caution against relying solely upon an embedded tweet to generate engagement.   People use lots of different mechanisms to tweet, including browser extensions and social media management dashboards.  You’ll be most successful when you cater to a variety of user preferences.

Why 100 characters?  I thought Tweets were 140 characters?

While you can put as many as 140 characters into a tweet, there are a few reasons why limiting tweets to 100 characters (or even less) is a good idea.

  • If you’re adding a URL to your tweet, allow 20 characters for Twitter’s URL shortener.  All URLs on Twitter are converted to Twitter URLs automatically.
  • You’ll also want to leave space for other people’s comments and Twitter handles, to encourage re-tweets.
  • Research by PR Newswire shows that press releases with long headlines (longer than 140 characters) experience a significant drop in online views, so writing a Twitter-friendly headline can help boost overall results.

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 .

Want to get more visibility on Twitter for your news?  Try SocialPost – our Twitter-based press release distribution service, delivering exposure via carefully-curated, subject-specific Twitter presences.

Inside PR Newswire: Meet Customer Content Services Manager Cathy Spicer

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

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

She picks up her flute.

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

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

cate big flute

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

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

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

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

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

Spicer is incredibly proud of her group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cathy's venerable feline, Sid.

Cathy’s venerable feline, Sid.

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

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

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!


Author Emily Nelson is a Customer Content Specialist for PR Newswire. Follow her adventures on www.bellesandawhistle.wordpress.com or on twitter www.twitter.com/emilyannnelson.

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 www.bellesandawhistle.wordpress.com or on twitter www.twitter.com/emilyannnelson.