The State of the Media in 2017 (with infographic) | eNews from OWC

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” ~ Voltaire, as quoted in “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis

Some observers believe the media is on its heels, but it’s really an increase in platform diversity. True, there have been job cuts at newspapers, but the scope of digital publishing has doubled and traditional news outlets that embrace the changes are coming along for the ride. There are even green shoots. The publisher of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, announced in a memo this week that not only is the paper surviving, it’s profitable!

Download PDF of this issue: The State of the Media in 2017

The Need for Reporters

Don’t we enjoy our Twitter newsfeeds? If you’re smart, the platform gives you your favorite articles and all the third-party credibility they bring with them. Don’t take away my print subscriptions to the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. I still pay thousands of dollars a year for those and dozens of other magazines and business journals, but several newspapers previously available nationally can now only be read online. If you don’t live in Washington, D.C., you need an online subscription to read The Washington Post. Still, I dream of a super-slim, newspaper-sized device, one for me and one for my husband. I don’t mean a tablet. Maybe something you could roll out to be your placemat at the breakfast table. I’m not sure when that’s coming, or when paper news is going away. What I am sure of is that there will always be a need for reporters digging for stories and the truth.

Google’s Media Power

Sixty percent of Americans trust articles indexed by Google News more than news delivered directly from the same sources. Fortunately, 98 percent of broadcast, radio and print news stories are available through the search engine. As an agency, we love the power of Google. It helps establish the credibility of our clients with real news written by reporters employed by legitimate news organizations. News clearly remains a priority for the overwhelming majority of Americans regardless of how we consume it. More than 70 percent of adults follow national and local news, and 65 percent follow international news. We just do it from our cell phones and other mobile devices.

The War on Fake News

Fake news is indeed a problem and we need to go to war against it. But I take heart that the millennial generation is apparently wise to fake news and can ferret it out faster than any bot. Media giants see the danger to their reputation and are beginning to take measures to block journalistic fraud. Already Google and Facebook have banned websites that promote fake news from using their online advertising services. Read the latest on fake news from the LA Times: “Without these ads, there wouldn’t be money in fake news“.

Join the Media Conversation

As we look to 2017, reporters have a big job. We all should support and applaud their efforts as they will have to work even harder in the new climate. We can help by offering facts and expertise that further inform reporting. This is not the time to cower – not for the American people and not for businesses. Don’t be afraid to join the media conversation. Get aggressive and talk about your differentiation. You can come from behind and be No. 1 in this climate as well as any other. More outlets mean more opportunities – for those who use them. So, share your company news and industry expertise, write that guest article, speak at that conference, and your customers and prospects will notice.

We’re here to help.

 

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The truth behind the Google penalty

By Tracy Williams

google_logoThere’s confusion today about the value of using links in the news releases you upload to the wire services, and as a result, the value of the releases themselves are being questioned. Amidst changes to Google’s link schemes, some companies fear press releases can do more harm than good.

Google now penalizes releases containing excessive links when it perceives those links are just there to drive search engine optimization (SEO). The primary offenders are anchor text links which highlight numerous words and phrases throughout the article. This is a tactic SEO tricksters of yore used dozens of times in a single release. The idea was that copies of each release appeared on hundreds of websites, and each link back to your website multiplied by the number of sites was one more inbound link, driving up your search engine rankings.

Google’s link schemes are now smart enough to see these links don’t add value, and they can either drop you lower in the search rankings or remove your site entirely until you come into compliance and request reconsideration. This new development does not, however, affect direct URLs, such as a link to www.olmsteadwilliams.com included in the boilerplate at the bottom of a release.

The take away: Forget the links, but don’t forget placing news releases on the wires entirely. News releases remain an efficient tool to communicate real company news — new products, services, employees, awards and trends.

Releases give discipline to company announcements by getting all the parties involved as they work together to draft the text. And putting releases on the wires makes them easy to access for journalists across the country and indexes the news online for everyone to see. Just make sure you have real news to communicate.

5 tips for more effective news releases

Here are five tips for writing news releases that will really make news:

  • Keep it short, two pages max if possible. In this era of 140-character tweets, one page gives discipline to your news story. You want to engage a reporter, but not give them everything so they reach out to you.
  • Quote the CEO or president but no one else. Everyone wants a piece of the action when news releases are being drafted, but multiple quotes simply do not add value and create confusion with reporters and editors. Never start your quote with “We are delighted” or “I’m excited.” That’s not news and is just puffery. You can be more informative than that (see No. 3).
  • Use data — the lifeblood of journalism — to make your points. Include key figures in your quotes to increase the odds a reporter will use them. Reporters like products much better than good ideas that have yet to come to fruition, and they like quantifiable facts much better than hyperbole.
  • Know that sometimes a pitch to a handful of reporters is more effective than a news release to the masses. Ask your PR counsel which is best for each situation.
  • Opportunity this month: Take advantage of the news cycle. Reporters are looking for end-of-year stories right now, so don’t wait to draft those 2014 company and industry outlook releases.

Williams is president and CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications.

December 12th, 2013|Categories: Commentary, OWC News|Tags: , , , , , |

The Different uses of social media: What is best for you?

The other day, I had a chat with Joseph, our social media strategist, about the different uses of social media. The conversation started with how differently we viewed Facebook. Joseph uses Facebook to connect with more and more people, to engage with them, share opinions and articles, etc. – the more, the merrier — in order to start conversations and share content.

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Marie Ebenezer has been interning at OWC, writing about social media and cultural differences.

I, on the other hand, only use Facebook for private purposes. I have about 150 Facebook friends, and these are the people I actually see or communicate with on a regular basis. Seeing private photos of someone I barely know, for instance, seems odd to me. I guess keeping my Facebook profile quite private is just a personal preference, and I might be an exception. I would feel violated if someone, who I don’t really know, looked at my private pictures and knew where I was spending my holidays, and I, therefore, do not want to have as many Facebook friends as possible. This does not mean that I’m unfriendly or reluctant to make new acquaintances — I am actually very opened and extroverted.

This conversation I had with Joseph is just part of a much larger trend I have noticed while working in public relations. I have talked about Facebook with a lot of different people, and I have found that almost everybody uses it differently: some wish to have thousands of friends and interact with new people constantly, whereas others use it very passively, just to stay in the loop (e.g. know about upcoming events). Facebook alone has many different uses, and I started wondering what people used all the other social networks for. Do each of them have a specific purpose? Well, here are my thoughts on this as a meme.

People use Facebook in many different ways.

My approach to Facebook is just one of many ways to use it.

Facebook is the largest social-media platform, and it is the one I use most…by far. I use Facebook to write messages, to chat, to share photos, videos and articles and to stay connected with my friends. I also have a LinkedIn profile, which I created for professional purposes. It is useful for networking, even though I still have two years of university ahead of me before I can start looking for a job.

I do not have my own Twitter account or blog, but I have tweeted and blogged for OWC lately – and really started to like it! Twitter is great for getting your thoughts out there quickly and having them seen by a large audience. If you tweet well, your number of followers increase, and Twitter becomes very effective. Blogs are a good tool for creating a voice and elaborating interesting topics. Another emerging platform is Pinterest, an online pin board where you can collect and share items such as recipes, ideas and designs. Pinterest has a predominantly female demographic (80%), and it is expected to gain more and more influence on the social media market.

And then there is Google+. Did you know that Google+ is the second largest social network? I was surprised when I read this statistic, but as I looked more closely at this site, I became more and more convinced that Google+ has some very successful years to come. I have only ever used Google+ for hangouts, and in my opinion this tool was cleverly marketed.  It’s definitely the most prominent feature, and not only can you hang out in private (like you would on a Skype video call); but you can also join public hangouts, which are being held quite frequently. Barack Obama, for instance, has used this feature just last week for connecting with the public. (The hangout was entitled “Barack Obama answers your questions,” and it was publicized on the Google homepage).

The advantages of Google+ are not restricted to hangouts though. Another great trait is that you can use this network like Twitter by writing short posts with a hash tag (“Google+ trends”). You also have the option of chatting with your connections like you would on Facebook chat, for instance. Connections on Google+ are divided into different “circles.” These are great, because you can choose which items you share will be visible for which circles (friends, family, colleagues, etc.). You can also join a Google+ community (e.g. “Breaking Bad”, “NFL” or “Baking”) , which is similar to liking a public page on Facebook. Finally, you can create or join a Google+ event, where all the invitees can contribute to a shared photo collection and where you can share photos instantly with the so-called Party Mode.

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Google+ trends, hangouts, events and chat are just a few of its great features.

These are just a few of the features I discovered on Google+, and I’m sure Google is working on elaborating this network even further. If you are looking to have your presence known on the web, then this social media site is great, because your profile will show up on Google searches and lead people directly to you. Google+ borrowed some great aspects from existing sites and services (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram) and made them work together. This social media site looks quite promising to me, and I’m curious to see how it will evolve and how big of an influence it will garner. And let’s not forget Pinterest, which is also on the rise – some very exciting social media trends ahead!

February 21st, 2013|Categories: Client News|Tags: , , , , , , , |

SEO tips you can do yourself

Optimizing your Web site, media outreach and marketing efforts to ensure your business is well represented in Google and Yahoo! is smart. Unfortunately, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become a buzz word that can confuse company leaders who have increasingly limited marketing budgets and want to make sure every dollar counts.

Tried and true SEO tactics OWC uses to help clients help themselves improve their search engine rankings include:

  • Optimize your news releases for the wire services with these great tips from BusinessWire. Zero in on the right keywords and draft headlines and subheads that make the difference. The most important thing to remember is that search engines focus primarily on the headline and first two paragraphs of a news release. So make them count.
  • The top three SEO tips in the About.com Article “95 SEO Tips and Tricks for Powerful Search Engine Optimization” are: write great content; write unique content; and add new content continually. Even though Google changes its algorithms daily, post valuable information and your site will do well regardless. How do you generate this content? See the next two tips about media coverage and blogs.
  • Media coverage is priceless for SEO because news articles are highly indexed in the search engines as millions of people access them daily. Work with your PR experts to get company news to the right reporters in a timely fashion.
  • Adding a blog to your Web site is the single most efficient way you can drive additional targeted traffic. The blog should consist of recent news releases, published articles, details on speaking engagements, industry news and more. Lend your company’s voice to breaking stories and important studies that clients and prospects would find interesting. Just summarize the important points in a short paragraph or two and link to the full article or additional content.
  • This final tip is more about business development than SEO, but while you’re creating that new blog, it’s a good idea to integrate it with your LinkedIn account. The posts will go beyond the search engines to your closest business relationships. And, don’t forget about Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to send out a Tweet of each blog entry and also share posts on your fan page.

To learn even more, visit  Google’s SEO help section.