Are Your News Releases Making Business Editors Happy?  One AP News Editor Explains …


Happiness is a big subject these days, but not one usually affiliated with editors and publicists.  But why not?  Our jobs are intertwined and the better job we do of supporting journalists, as well as our clients, the happier, we all will be.happiness 2

My favorite information source, BusinessWire, held a webinar, featuring Philana Patterson, AP’s Small Business and Breaking News Editor, who gave her tips on “How to Make a Business Editor Happy” – here are 5 tips that I hope you find helpful.

  • Reduce industry jargon and use clear, crisp writing. Make sure your releases don’t get counted in the annual SHIFT Communications Top 50 Most Overused Words in Press Releases Stick to the basics and make sure your release could be easily understood by any reader.
  • Use subheads throughout your releases to organize news. Breaking up your release into easily-digestible chunks, clearly labeled with explanatory subheads, makes it easy for editors to locate the topics most relevant to their beats or areas of interest.
  • Consider using bullets to highlight key items. Much like subheads, bullets make it easy to see at a glance what the key takeaways from your news are.
  • Include a phone number on your release. If it’s important enough to send out, it’s important enough to get asked about. Make sure interested media can get in touch with you. Business Wire makes sure your contact info is available to all of our receiving media points.
  • Make sure the contact person is working all day the day your news moves. If your usual contact person isn’t going to be in the office, make sure there’s an alternate contact available. Nothing’s more frustrating for editors than trying to do follow-up only to be told the contact isn’t in that day.

Tip #6 – Patterson also offered one very important tip for making sure your news gets noticed in the first place:  Include a photo.  According to Patterson, many of their subscribers tell the AP that they mostly use stories that carry photos.  Visual elements are particularly important for mobile and online users who gravitate towards visual-based reporting.

happiness 3Bennett notes: I hope this kind of dialogue will help some corporate PR departments to understand the old AP style of no images, no subheads, just plain facts in black and white might not be what works today.  And if we could convince CEO’s that their industry jargon is not making for useful copy … now that would make me very happy too.

With thanks to Phil Dennison, Business Wire for making this information available.




headline blog imageheadline image 2Headlines are bait to capture the attention of a journalist and the reader/viewer.  On newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, and, of course, press releases, this is what you see first.

According to a recent survey by Copyblogger, 80% of readers don’t read beyond the headline. Thus, your headline better be a catchy one if you want your audience to remember you. Can you get that Meghan Trainor song, ‘It’s All About That Bass’ out of your head?  You can tell I can’t!

So with big thanks to Agnes Deleuse, Senior Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Paris, here are a few tips from her column on Business Wire to help you craft the perfect headline.

1/ Provide real information
No jargon.  Your headline should imply an interesting and relevant question.  You can include figures/data.

2/ Opt for short phrasing
It is a necessity.  Today, titles must be short. Think social media. Write headlines like a tweet or a post. Also, remember that if your release is going to be translated into foreign languages, English is one third shorter than French, for instance!

3/ Write your release first and finish by crafting the headline
It will help you focus on the main message you want to highlight.  You want to target the brain of your reader.  Don’t focus on news release discovery at this stage. To do this, integrate the keywords your audiences use to find your company information in the sub-headline or the first paragraph.

4/ Write at least three headlines, adjusting the order of the words and see which one has more impact.
Work like a sculptor. Add words, remove them, change them, move them around.  You can test the headlines on your colleagues.

5/ Think like a journalist! 
If you want your news to catch a journalist’s attention, write a headline that is snappy, informative.  To think like a journalist is also a way to approach a subject the way a journalist would.  Journalists like it when they sometimes just have to copy and paste headlines and body texts directly from a press release!

headlines breaking news 3Quality content, including well-written headlines, contributes to the entire process of delivering information to your right audience.

For additional information on how to craft an effective news release, click here:

Newspapers Expanding Into Marketing – Watch This Important Trend

DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION is the title of this piece by Steve Gray in the American Press Institute piece below.  With thanks to API – I am including this in my blog.
PR and marketing firms and corporate professionals have long known the value a journalist brings to our side of the business.  Most of us have journalism degrees and great respect for the intelligence and skills it takes to be a working journalist.  See below how the tables are turning and the press industry is seeing the value in using a marketing model.
This is an important trend to watch and I predict will change our business.
Disruptive Innovation

8 marketing services your news media company should offer local businesses

13 September 2015 · By Steve Gray

Traditional media needs to begin expanding its offerings with services that could include content marketing, promotions and events, and beacon solutions. Here’s why your company should embrace the “local marketing agency” model.

When your comfortable, well-established business model is being disrupted, one of the toughest challenges is looking beyond your old business model to visualize what you must become.

In past posts, one by one, I’ve pointed out a host of new opportunities that are emerging in local media markets. In this post, I’m going to roll them up into a single new business entity we can visualize and work to develop.

Metaphorically, you could say we used to dominate our markets with a burger-and-fries kind of business. The burger was the media channel we owned – the space in the newspaper or the air time on our television channel or radio station.

We sold the burger to almost all of our accounts. And we also tried to sell them some fries on the side – such as banner ads on our Web sites and other ancillary products and services. But really, it was all about the burger.

Today, our audiences are consuming vastly more kinds of media than ever before. They still like burgers, but they’re all over the Web consuming offerings we didn’t create and probably can’t. To reach their target audiences, the businesses in our markets need more than just our burgers and fries.

And, as I wrote in my last post, we’re living in a direct-access world now, where businesses need to deploy a wide range of solutions to speak directly to the consumer.

So, in the traditional media, we have a choice: We can stay focused on selling ever-shrinking orders of burgers and fries, or we can radically expand our offerings to become a one-stop marketing provider for local businesses.

In the bewildering profusion of digital and non-digital marketing techniques now available, each local business needs a coherent plan. Few have the time or savvy to work this out for themselves, so there’s a need for someone who understands the business and the market, and who knows how to deploy and coordinate the right solutions to reach the right potential customers.

That’s what I’m calling the “local marketing agency” model.

This graphic depicts this as a single store able to deliver a wide range of local marketing services. It’s not a newspaper or a radio or television station. It’s a group of sales people who understand a wide range of solutions, backed up by a set of fulfillment people to carry out the programs they sell.

I’ve written about most of these solutions before, so I won’t go into depth on them here. However, I’ll link to the posts where I’ve described them in more detail.

  1. Digital marketing solutions. These are the basic building blocks of a competent marketing and advertising program for any local business. More and more traditional media companies are now offering this cluster of services, often calling it a “digital agency” approach.
  2. Content marketing. A huge opportunity. In a direct-access world, a business can present its own case directly to consumers, using all kinds of media. But to do that, it needs to develop high-quality content and figure out how to get it in front of its most likely potential customers. It needs help with both of these tasks.
  3. E-commerce. Amazon and the big-box stores are selling huge amounts of inventory online, leaving local retailers in the dust.
  4. Business systems. A new wave of in-store point-of-sale systems is coming – systems that will capture customer data and make it usable for post-sale marketing. We could be the ones to offer them – and to supply the marketing expertise needed to capitalize on the data.
  5. Data services. Everybody talks about Big Data, but who helps local businesses figure out how to use it to increase their sales?
  6. Beacon solutions. I haven’t written about this new solution yet, as it still seems early in the development of powerful ways to use them for customer behavior tracking and customer communications. But as those become clearer, beacon services would be a natural fit among the solutions offered by a local marketing agency.
  7. Promotions and events. In-store traffic is declining fast, and we could be the ones to help local businesses figure out how to buck the trend with custom promotions and events in their stores.
  8. Recruitment services. Job listings are only the most basic need of an employer who’s trying to fill jobs. Employers want and need more sophisticated help, and a local marketing agency could provide it.

As this list shows, there’s no shortage of marketing sales opportunities in local markets. Lots of businesses have lots of needs we’re not meeting today.

No media company would want to tackle them all at once. Each one requires learning a whole new kind of business. But at Morris, we’re at various stages of progress on four of the eight.

A huge question in each case is should this be part of the core sales effort, or should it be separate?

With most of these opportunities, it would be foolish to think that the people currently selling our burgers and fries can take them on. In fact, they haven’t done all that well selling fries so far. In these new areas, there’s too much to learn; the technologies are too far removed from standard advertising solutions.

And we wouldn’t want to distract our current sales people from selling the burgers and fries.

That’s why I think we need to picture something like the graphic above – a separate, stand-alone agency under different leadership, with different skill sets and technologies. Not necessarily in another building, although that would probably help. However, we would probably want to keep the agency under the umbrella of our well-known local brand, to provide credibility.

Within that agency, the best structure would be much like a traditional ad agency. That is, having account reps on the street (or on the phone) with good knowledge of the solutions we’re offering, backed up at the office by subject-matter experts on each of the solutions.

That way, the experts can help the reps fashion the right program for each business. And the agency could help the core sales reps present these new solutions to advertisers who are buying burgers and fries.

Many media markets probably are too small for that structure. But in the first opportunity on the list above – digital marketing solutions – vendors have emerged to provide turnkey back-end services to support small-market local sales reps.
Some of those vendors already offer e-commerce and content marketing. If local media companies start selling other solutions on the list, maybe they will diversify to support those, too.

The bottom line is, once you take off the blinders of our old burgers-and-fries business, it’s clear that the businesses in our markets need and want lots of other kinds of solutions. They will buy them from someone – why not us?


If They See It – They Believe It! You Tube Shows Marketers Why


YouTube logoSales are where the rubber hits the road and recent research shows that YouTube is the medium that converts “browsers” online to “buyers” online and in stores.

Why? Well according to a new study, which tracked 15 million transactions in the first quarter of 2014, YouTube works because it is visual, offers details and is helpful.

Helpful? That’s it! It’s like a friend not only telling you the features of a new product, but why they love it.

Remember when J.D. Power announced that research often came down to one question? And that question was: “Would you recommend this product to a friend?”

Well there we are, a YouTube video is like a recommendation to a friend telling you not only the details of the product but the ”why” !

YouTube forward iconThis is the fundamental difference between advertising and PR or marketing. Advertising is all about fundamentals like size and price, where PR and marketing speak conversationally about benefits. Add to this a video that might include music and actors and visual demonstrations and you have one super winning combination.

You might be wondering what else can sway a consumer to move from browser to buyer? The study said Facebook was second and Google+ is third.

Be sure to add video, testimonials and a helpful tone to your marketing campaign elements, and yes, up your budget for YouTube too!

Ready to get started? https//

TED Talks to YOU through these 5 Favorites for PR and Marketing Professionals


ted image 2015

We all need a little inspiration from time to time and on days where I’m feeling stuck and need to come up with the next “great” idea I will often turn to TED Talks to help me break through marketing mental blocks.

TED stands for Technology, Education and Design.  TED is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to sharing ideas and inspire through the use of short talks.

Here are five TED Talks that will truly change the way you think about marketing, give you a fresh perspective and perhaps even get you thinking about marketing a bit differently.

TIP from BENNETT ABOUT MARKETING:  Go to and put the word ‘marketing’ into the search engine in the upper right hand corner, wow – you will be hooked on what is available to keep you smart and inspired.  

  1. Morgan Spurlock – The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold
    Recorded in 2011 this TED Talk still rings true with misconceptions and even confusion when it comes to brand marketing. Morgan Spurlock wrote a documentary called The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and exposed the ways that popular media is almost solely sponsored, leased, bought, owned and branded by powerful corporations.  In his very humorous 19 minute TED Talk Morgan Spurlock dives into the influential world of brand marketing and how he furthered his experiment using “pure transparency.”
  2. Sheena Iyengar – How to Make Choosing Easier
    As consumers we want we want experiences and products that are customized.  Every day we are bombarded with choice overloaded.  Sheena Iyengar, a psycho-economist brings a different perspective to the table in this TED Talk.  She shares insight on how when we as consumers or even marketers are presented with too many choices, we tend not to choose anything at all.  Can you be overloading your consumers?  Her four simple techniques to managing choices are refreshing and can be used to help your consumers choose what you are offering.
  3. Derek Sivers – How to Start a Movement
    I’ve always been a fan of Derek Sivers, especially after reading his story about the development and evolution of  CD Baby.  In his TED Talk Derek keeps it simple, give him 3 minutes and he’ll show you how to start a movement and get your audience to take action.   His key point – have the courage to follow and show others how to follow and when you find that lone nut doing something great, don’t be afraid, but have the guts to be the first to stand up and join in with him.   Derek Sivers, truly a man with great marketing inspiration.
  4. Matt Cutts – Try Something New for 30 Days
    As marketers when we hear of Matt Cutts we immediately think Google, since he is one of the most known engineers there. He is a powerful mind behind one of the largest brands, but he is also a man that inspires us to try something new.  Doing so may just help you set and achieve your goals, after all it did him.   What are you waiting for? Perhaps this is the first day to trying something new with your marketing for the next 30 days.  After all, we can all do anything for 30 days, right?
  5. Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action
    This list would not be complete without adding Simon Sinek to this list. He’s the man that challenges us as leaders to ask the question- why?    By asking this question we can often get to the core of what it is that we want to accomplish whether that be in our marketing, personally or even as a game changer in  the organizations that we work in.  He shows you how to get to the answer using a golden circle and explaining that everything has to be solidified in a why, the how and what comes after.

TED talk recommendations 2015


Thank you to Laura Lake, the marketing expert on for this article and great advice.  I am a fan of Laura’s and highly recommend she be one of your go-to resources.

Mid – 2015 – Check-Up 15 Ways To Tune-Up Your Business

Mid – 2015 – Check-Up  15 Ways To Tune-Up Your Business


marketing roadmap 3 used June 2015Mid-Year is when marketers should take a breather and spend a day on some fundamentals.  Stepping back can give you proactive insight and make your marketing plan far more important and useful.

Do a day of role playing “Today I am a customer of my own organization” and you might ask 5 friends or members of your team to do the same.  TIP: Choose a time at the end of that one day to come together and compare notes.  Don’t skip this step as it is where the value of this day comes together. Your compilation will provide a powerful look at what you need to know and what your boss or client might need to know too.

Here is a 15 question road map for maximizing this mid-year ritual:

1.  Are you easy to use? You won’t know until you try.  Try your own website without your auto-log in.  Is it easy?  Or a pain? Come in the front door and see if the door swings open easily, or whacks you on the shoulder.  What is the first thing you see when you enter a website or walk in the front door?  And so forth.

2. Do you offer self-service options for your customers? 

If you are in retail: Many customers want them today: unless you’re open 24/7 or at least all conceivable business hours in all time zones in which you have customers, you need such options. And even if you are open ‘round the clock, many times customers today just want to handle it, or at least be able to check up on it, themselves.

If you are a service business:  Think about a component you can do immediately, tell the client and then give a plan for the rest of the task. Do your self-service options include escape hatches? For when the self-service isn’t working or the customer isn’t in the mood–there should be an easy way out, to reach a human.  Make it obvious, like hitting “O” on the phone.

3. Do your customers have to ask you to answer questions for which the answer should be obvious? Customers don’t like to be burdened to contact you for items that could easily be provided for them on a self service basis.  Do your FAQ’s actually include the questions that customers want the answers to?  Or were they written six years ago by your web developer?  Do they get an auto-confirmation when they order or do they need to call to ensure their order wasn’t lost in the ether?  And so on.

4. Timeliness: Are you considerate of your customer’s time? This is a big, big, big one.  A perfect product or service delivered late is a defect.Commit to continuous customer service education.Education is an investment in your marketing success and in organizational development.Define a simple service recovery process. Things will go wrong. Either objectively (whatever that means) or in the eyes of your customer.  Either way, you need a plan.  What would you do right now if something went wrong to demonstrate your leadership and love of the customer?

5. Fight actively–every single day –against getting in a rut. The principle of hedonic adaptation means that your hundredth day on the job, naturally will not be as intense–as exciting, stressful, and so forth– as the first day.  This is good to some extent, but it means that you have to actively strive to remember that this same day is the first interaction your customer has had with your company, and you need to keep your attitude fresh to match theirs.

6. First impressions matter.Walk up to, and into, your establishment with the eye of a customer. A customer perception is his reality, and a first impression is important because it tends to linger in a customer’s memory. Ditto if that first interaction is on the phone, via chat, or via mobile. You know smiles can be felt online too right?

7. Impressions before the first impression matter. Of course, there is no “before the first impression.” But the first impression is very likely happening before you realize it: how you’re portrayed online, how your grounds look well before the front door.  Disney even obsesses over the route to their parks for this reason.

8. Last impressions matter.It’s so easy when you’ve “completed” an interaction with or project for a customer, to rush on to the next one with the next customer.  Doing so can erase all the goodwill you created.  The “goodbye” is an important stage, one of the most important, because (like a first impression) it tends to linger in a customer’s memory.

9. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.

12. Reward and Recognize.Acknowledge the contributions of individuals and teams with formal and informal recognition.

13. … But don’t think that’s why they’re working for you: Incentives for your customer-facing employees can’t replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.

14. Benchmark outside your industry.If you sell furniture, don’t just benchmark other players in the furniture industry to figure out how fast, easy to use, nice your company should be.  Your customers’ expectations for manners, timeliness, quality… come as much from Starbucks, Apple, and other great consumer brands as they do from the others in your particular field. This is where working with an agency has real power – on any one day I am talking to a theme park client, someone in real estate, a mall operator and a futurist – it all comes together every day.

15. Commit to continuous improvement. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “What is the thing I’m going to do tomorrow to make my team better?” Make this the last question you present to your team at the end of the check-up day roadmap 2 also used June 2015

 P.S.  By taking the time to do a check-up you will go farther, be a better marketer, better leader and exemplify what it takes to think around corners.  Great job!



With big thanks to Micah Solomon as this blog began as an article from Micah Solomon, bestselling author most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service.