Tag Archives: Alex Reichenbach

Beyond the headline

by Alex Reichenbach

There is one writing tool that all PR practitioners know like the back of their hand — the press release.

This basic “who, what, when, where, why and how” document has always been a major component of the public relations industry. But many of us fail to realize there is a science behind this straightforward, informational piece.

Dan Zarella, social media scientist at Hubspot, shared secrets in a Webinar that go beyond the simple writing components and into the actual data behind the effectiveness of press releases.

We all know press releases are distributed to a variety of media outlets. But how can we really determine whether or not viewers are reading the press release? Hubspot has partnered with PRNewswire and gained valuable information that has made a great impact on the effectiveness of press releases.

Zarella believes looking at the total views will reveal statistics of the release that will help publishers reach a higher number of viewers.

According to Zarella, the total views represents the total amount of times someone has looked at a release, whether it was through RSS feeds, e-mails, search engines or other outlets. An important aspect of the total views is the fact that it calculates the number of times someone reads the actual release, NOT just the headline.

Now let’s look at a variety of ways you can publish a release to reach the highest number of viewers.

What day should you publish?

Every day of the week has a different number of total views. Surprisingly, the most effective day to publish a press release is either Saturday or Sunday. This seems shocking to me, being that Saturdays and Sundays are considered days of leisure for many. But Zarella has a very interesting reasoning behind this.

“If everyone at a party was screaming and shouting, you would have to yell just to be heard,” Zarella said. “But if you say something awkward, you will be heard.”

In other words, it’s not the norm to publish a press release on the weekends, while it is extremely popular in the middle of the week. If you choose to publish on these seemingly awkward days, you will most likely be noticed.

What time should you publish?

The time of day you choose to publish a release may be the most important factor when calculating the total views. For those of you who stay up late, you’ll be happy to know press releases published between 12 and 1 a.m. are correlated with a higher number of total views. If you think about it, when publishers arrive to work early in the morning, they are most likely going to see your release before anyone else’s.

Zarella mentioned a benefit of publishing at these hours that had never crossed my mind. If your press release is intended for viewers across the world, these hours are very accommodating to time zones outside of the U.S. Your press release will capture a global audience.

How many characters in a headline?

What’s so important about the number of letters in a headline? Believe it or not, the headline is the most important aspect of the press release. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, there is no reason for them to read what you have to say.

According to Zarella, the secret behind an effective headline is to stay between 120 and 140 characters. This is especially important when promoting a release through social media outlets. Social media users would understand how posts more than 140 characters are boring and most likely overlooked.

To be effective with your headlines, stick to the basics and know how to appeal to your readers.

Are pictures really worth it?

Publishing a release with photos is correlated with much higher total views. This shouldn’t surprise any of us. If we are browsing the Internet, we are prone to click on a picture to read more, rather than a bunch of words.

Publishers who include a picture with their release are setting themselves apart from other publishers and will be more successful in reaching their target audiences.

The successful press release

Press releases are writing tools that are used on a day-to-day basis. In the public relations world, publishing your press release can be extremely competitive. By following these Hubspot secrets, you can be certain your release will not only be published, but also read by your viewers.

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Banking on good PR

by Alex Reichenbach

If you’ve been watching the news for the last few weeks, you’re probably familiar with the complaints Bank of America has been receiving. On September 29, Bank of America publicly announced its plan to charge customers a $5 monthly fee for those who use debit cards to make purchases.

The bank faced backlash from customers only a day after the announcement was made.

According to a Washington Post article, “the debit card change has sparked fury on the Web and cable channels. Consumers complained on message boards and in the social media, vowing to take their business elsewhere.”

It’s no surprise customers are going to be outraged with this additional cost in the current economy. The last thing people want is another fee to worry about. The result of a TIME Moneyland poll indicates about 75 percent of customers plan on switching banks if Bank of America follows through with the charge.

When a crisis like this occurs, it is the public relations practitioner’s job to find a way to turn the negative publicity into an opportunity for the business. One of Bank of America’s initial attempts at recovery was seen in an October 18 Bloomberg Businessweek article.

In the article, Brian T. Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, stated that the reason for the charge was to build consumer relationships.

“The company’s new $5 monthly fee for debit cards may attract business by encouraging customers to use more services so they can avoid the charge,” Moynihan said.

By enforcing the monthly charge, Bank of America hopes to build stronger relationships by providing various other services to clients. Moynihan could have easily dwelled on the fact that his so-called “loyal” customers were turning on him, but because of successful public relations tactics, that was not the case. Instead, he publicized the new opportunities that will result from this monthly fee, in hopes that it will change the negative feelings of the bank’s customers.

Bank of America is not the first bank to enforce this monthly fee.

According to a USA Today article, “SunTrust began charging a $5 debit card fee on its basic checking accounts this summer. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month. Chase and Wells Fargo are also testing $3 monthly debit card fees in select markets.”

So why is it such a big deal if Bank of America decides to join in on this current trend? This announcement sparked much more commotion because, according to the USA Today article, Bank of America is the largest U.S. bank as measured by deposits.

The customers of Bank of America also tend to rely more on their debit cards rather than their credit cards, compared to other banks.

According to a TechNewsWorld article published on October 25, this reliance will drastically change if the monthly charge is put into effect in early 2012: “Thirty percent of U.S. consumers would leave their bank over debit card fees and another 43 percent would move to paying with cash or credit.”

It has been about a month since the initial announcement and public relations practitioners continue to deal with backlash from Bank of America customers.

Moynihan’s explanation in the Washington Post article was a successful first step in the recovery process. But how are public relations practitioners going to turn this crisis around once the charge is put into effect in a few months?

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