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Media release: PR Newswire launches tailored site for bloggers

April 20th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

United Business Media’s PR Newswire service has announced the launch of a new service tailored for bloggers and other “self-publishers, online journalists and hobbyists”.

The PR Newswires for Bloggers site offers customised news feeds, events listings and the opportunity for bloggers to attend press events and record video interviews with celebrities and industry experts.

PR Newswire manager for blogger relations, Thomas Hynes, said in a release:

PR Newswire recognises the growing influence of bloggers and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to access the content, tools and information they need to develop their blogs and increase visibility.

The site’s editors will also select five new blogs to feature on the PR Newswire service each week. Hynes added:

There are so many great blogs out there – and that list grows daily. Our goal is to highlight some of those blogs we find interesting or influential – which ultimately comes down to engaging content. Fortunately, there is no shortage of great blogs publishing just that so we shouldn’t run out of candidates any time soon.

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Is your blog in this PR database of 1.3 million blogs?

Press officers have long relied on databases of journalists in order to approach them for stories. PRs are now increasingly targeting bloggers, recognising their reach. One start-up has seized on this trend, creating GroupHigh, “a research engine” which crawls 1.3 million blogs in real-time.

Launched in April 2011 in Boulder, Colorado, the software allows PRs to search by keyword, location and blog traffic.

Listed in the Next Web’s top 20 social media tools of 2011, GroupHigh gets a ringing endorsement.

13. GroupHigh.com – If you haven’t tried GroupHigh yet, the next sentence might encourage you to do so. Ready? GroupHigh.com is the best blogger outreach research and engagement tool on the planet. The latest update (version three) makes it even easier for you to discover the most relevant blogs by keyword, style and receptiveness. Brilliant.

PRs who pay for access can ask the database for “a list of every mum blog out there”, co-founder of the start-up Bill Brennan told Journalism.co.uk. You can then ask the software to “tell me the ones that have written about baby formula or home schooling in the last year”.

When I tested the software and searched for “UK bloggers”, left-leaning political blog Liberal Conspiracy was listed at number one (see screen shot below).

The location search works by “triangulation”: crawling the blog, its Facebook page and Twitter feed, Brennan explained.

Users can also filter by page rank, Facebook shares or Twitter followers and export the data to Excel.

Version three of the software lists blogs not bloggers, Brennan said.

We’ll probably add contacts for individual bloggers at each blog as part of version four.

GroupHigh is the co-founders’ second start-up. Their first foray was recipe search engine Recipe Bridge, which they sold to an Australian ad network.

Confident in their ability to build software to crawl the web and realising “it’s difficult to make money [from] advertising”, the pair “started to tap into the blogosphere”, Bill Brennan said, noting a changing trend within the PR industry.

It seemed like blog outreach was really becoming a staple of campaigns for their clients.

Brennan added that PRs were finding the big bloggers, such as TechCrunch, but “they were not tapping in to what we call the ‘magic middle’” of less well-known blogs.

The cost of using the software is likely to preclude bloggers from satisfying their curiosity and checking if their site is crawled. An annual GroupHigh licence for PRs costs $3,000 (£1,926), plus $1,000 (£642) for each additional user.

Below is a video demo of how GroupHigh works.

GroupHigh 3 Video Overview from Andy Theimer on Vimeo.

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Government launches ‘virtual media centre’ for 2012 London Olympics

October 25th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, PR

The government has launched the first few web-pages which will in time form its online media centre for the 2012 Games, giving the press a “single point of access for all government-related news stories”.

Content offered on the pages will include background information, logistics information and an image library. In a press release, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has responsibility for the Games, said:

With London 2012 set to be the biggest media event in history, the UK Government is doing all it can to ensure the world’s media have everything they need.

Delivering an outstanding Olympic Games is not just about building world class facilities and infrastructure; it’s also about making sure the media can bring the sporting, cultural and human interest stories to homes across the world as quickly as possible.

These pages, plus the Government Olympic Communication Media Centre next year, will play crucial parts in making this Games the easiest to access for the media and their audiences. Between now and the start of the Games we will continue to work with media partners to ensure we’re doing all we can to meet their needs.”

The pages went live yesterday (24 October) and journalists can now sign-up and subscribe to the news alerts at www.culture.gov.uk/2012newsroom.

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FT study exposes problems in finding media information on corporate websites

August 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, PR

A study by the Financial Times and web effectiveness experts Bowen Craggs has found many corporate websites fail to provide journalists with information and serve the media in a useful and effective way – which is often not in the company’s favour in terms of generating positive press coverage.

The study finds “many press offices simply do not see the online medium as an important” and this article (part paywall) in the FT theorises that this could be as many press officers are former journalists who left the industry before the advent of online and social media.

The FT Bowen Craggs Index looks at:

How well a site caters to four areas of journalistic enquiry: the news release service and archiving; the ready availability of good quality contact information; the range of background about the company and its industry; and the provision of publication quality imagery.

News release service

The FT article states journalists “do not want to be spoon fed”:

Give them a ready-made story, and they will either ignore it, or look for a way to put a different twist on it (not necessarily in the company’s favour). The last thing they want is to write the same story as other people. What they do want is leads, which explains the keenness with which they have taken to Twitter. Companies need to understand Twitter – both to feed journalists leads and to get early warning that a nasty news storm is about to blow in.

Contact information and background about the company and its industry

The FT article states:

[Journalists] tend to be in a hurry, and impatient. Their inclination is often to pick up the phone rather than trawl a site. Companies can make themselves unpopular by failing to make press contacts easy to find.

Provision of images

The study found that “one of the most significant trends this year comes from the image library metric”:

The big move forward is the increasing use of Flickr as a complementary library: see for example Nestlé and Novartis.

A remarkable number of companies do not provide an image library at all – almost a quarter of the companies in the Index, including most of the Chinese companies but also a slew of banks – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Santander, Westpac and more. Why? If you do not provide images yourselves, media organisations will surely go to your rivals or to a library.

German company Siemans comes out on top and is heralded as an example of best practice of serving the media. It has an index of 28. An example of a lower score is Johnson and Johnson with an index of nine.

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How not to fall for a hoax like ‘IE6 users are dumb’

August 5th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in PR, Press freedom and ethics

First journalists fell for made-up stories sent out by a fake PR to highlight to practice of churnalism, now news outlets – including the BBC, Daily Mail and Telegraph – have published a hoax story that users of Internet Explorer 6 are dumb.

Here are five questions journalists should ask themselves in order to avoid falling for a hoax.

1. Does the story sounds possible? Journalists ask questions and should look at data with a critical eye. If presented with a press release saying the IE6 users are dumb, ask yourself how likely that really is.

Why do people use the an old version of Internet Explorer? Because they work for firms that do not grant them administrator rights to update software? Because they are less experienced web users and don’t know how to? Because they are older users who are less likely to trust updates and downloads?

2. When was the web domain of the PR company registered? A website such as who.is will give you a date of registration, the address where the site is registered, a company number and server details. (You can click the image below to see the results.)

3. Are the photos ripped from another website?  The hoaxer who wrote the “IE6 users are dumb” press release included employee photographs on the fake company website ripped from a legitimate French business.

You can run an image search – or even a reverse image search – by using Google Image Search or TinEye.

4. Does the phone number given on the press release appear elsewhere on the web? Google the phone number on the site or press release.

5. Does the address listed on the website, press release and domain registration exist? Enter the postcode into the Royal Mail address finder.

The hoaxer – a developer called Tarandeep Gill who set up the hoax to highlight his frustrations of people using IE6 – has published the tell-tale signs that should have uncovered the hoax in five minutes

1.The domain was registered on 14 July 2011;

2. The test that was mentioned in the report, “Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test” is a copyrighted test and cannot be administered online;

3. The phone number listed on the report and the press release is the same listed on the press releases/whois of my other websites. A google search reveals this;

4. The address listed on the report does not exist;

5. I copy/pasted most of the material from “Central Test” [the legitimate Paris-based firm] and got lazy to even change the pictures;

6. The website is made in WordPress. Come on now!

7. I am sure, my haphazardly put together report had more than one grammatical mistakes [sic];

6. There is a link to our website AtCheap.com in the footer.

Journalists should also be aware of the “churn engine to distinguish journalism from churnalism“, launched by the Media Standards Trust in February. Click the photo below to go to the churnalism tool, paste the contents of a press release and in cases where more than 20 per cent of an article and press release overlap, the search engine will highlight it as a potential example of ‘churn’ and give you overlap as a percentage.

 

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Adam Vincenzini’s year without newspapers is over, but what did he learn?

January 5th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Last January, Journalism.co.uk blogged about Adam Vincenzini and his bid to survive a year without newspapers. Vincenzini was just 19 days into his experiment at that point. The PR consultant has come to the end of his experiment now and told Journalism.co.uk today that he sees printed news in a new light.

After a year of relying on Twitter, RSS feeds and mobile phone apps, Vincenzini says newspapers “still have such an important role to play”.

There’s the enjoyment part of print journalism, the personality, the humour and the opinion; I stopped enjoying reading news when I only read it online. But also the newspaper is the one thing that can give you a snapshot that you can take away for the day … Newspapers are still the easiest way to get your news.

Which may be why Vincenzini’s main celebration on New Year’s Eve was to hold his first newspaper in over 9000 hours.

I went and bought the Sun and a bottle of Baileys just after the clocks struck 12! I had the biggest smile on my face and the best thing was is that nothing had changed – it was just like picking up a copy 12 months ago. I felt very warm and fuzzy inside.

Vincenzini’s blog tracks his experiment and now includes his conclusions.

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Giving up newspapers for a year – a PR’s experiment

iPad users ‘very likely’ to cancel print subscriptions, suggests new study

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Conversation Agent: Is ‘braided journalism’ the future of PR?

October 18th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, PR

Interesting post from PR professional Valeria Maltoni about “braided journalism” – the “practice of traditional and citizen journalists starting to intertwine through mutual need” – asking if this is the future of public relations.

Maltoni discusses an experiment by computer manufacturer Dell, which involves freelance journalists as part of a new website. Brands embedding journalists, she says, could be extremely beneficial to consumers and businesses:

The impact of journalists and reporters would be felt in a number of ways:

  • integrating the point of view of a third party lends additional credibility to the business;
  • presenting a more complete version than the one quote, sometimes taken out of context, in trade press;
  • bringing more customer and non-customer voices to the conversation;
  • including more representatives of the whole ecosystem the business operates in;
  • adding a needed perspective from researchers and domain experts.

Full post on Conversation Agent at this link…

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PRs reluctant to turn to Twitter will ‘die out through natural seclection’

Computer Weekly’s Mark Kobayashi-Hillary looks at the use of Twitter by trade journalists and trade PRs – or, more specifically, some trade PRs’ reluctance to take advantage of the communication tool.
If your focus is on a list of topics, and the writers at a group of specific titles, then what could possibly work better than having a window on what they are saying about their stories?
This works both ways – how many trade hacks really pay attention to the sea of press releases anymore when they can talk directly to the people they are writing about?
Some PR agencies have realised this. There are many now with strong digital and social expertise, but there are so many that are just riding on an existing contract. They will ultimately die out through natural selection

Full post on the SocialITe…

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‘A week on the dark side’: Hack trades places with PR, blogs about it

July 8th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, PR

PRWeek’s deputy feature editor Kate Magee has swapped places with a PR officer for a week to see what life is like on the so-called “dark side”.

Magee is working at Bite Communications and is blogging her experiences from the other side of the equation. It’s a light-hearted, but interesting look at some of the inate differences and similarities between the two industries.

The PRWeek blog can be found at this link…

Magee’s first post on ‘Hack to Flack’ is at this link…

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Independent: Are PR agencies forging the new journalism?

June 3rd, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

PRs, who once had to go through the prism of journalism to convey their messages to a mass audience, are increasingly confident in circumventing traditional media altogether. In generating their own video and text-based digital content on behalf of clients, they are not only taking the bread from the table of a weakened advertising sector but encroaching onto the old territory of television and press companies.

The Independent’s Ian Burrell looks specifically at Edelman, the PR firm which has recently hired former BBC man Richard Sambrook and the Financial Times’ Stefan Stern, and suggests that the American-owned PR firm has a different strategy from other public relations agencies: it wants to take its clients’ messages directly to the consumer.

“The mantra is that every company has to be a media company in their own right, telling their own stories not just through websites but through branded entertainment, video, iPad and mobile applications,” says Sambrook in the Independent article. “Big companies are going directly to the consumer to engage them now, rather than through display or spot ads and the traditional means of trying to reach consumers. You can’t just be out there shouting at people about your brand, you’ve got to engage with them quite carefully, and the editorial skills that I can bring can help with that.”

Social media has given PR agencies an advantage over ad agencies in reaching the consumer, says the piece, but will PR fill the news void as traditional media continues to fragment? Or will audiences still need a third-party filter or endorsement?

Full story at this link…

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