Online news optimization, social networking, more

What can I do to optimize the interactivity and visibility of my news online?

What can I do to optimize the interactivity and visibility of my news online?

There are a few easy steps you can take before submitting a release to your newswire for distribution, says Tom Becktold of Business Wire. "First, use your word-processing program to embed hyperlinks into keywords (known as anchor text) that are important to your news," he adds. "The links should jump back to specific, relevant pages on your Web site."

Another way to optimize a release is to include bulleted, easy-to-scan highlight lists that make it simple to grab key messages quickly. "Succinct, bolded subheads between sections also improve readability of news," Becktold adds.

He notes that with the advent of XHTML (eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language), news services and Web sites retain this key formatting when transmitting your news.

"Search engines weigh these format and anchor-text elements in their ranking algorithms," he says. "And the aesthetic look and usability of your news will be enhanced for journalists and consumers alike."

To further optimize the content of your news, Becktold suggests using an optimization tool that will analyze and offer suggested modifications to your release's content.

Social networking

What does the social network phenomenon mean for "traditional" PR?

That dealing with social networks has created even a ripple of fear among PR pros is absurd, says Rachel Honig of Digital Power and Light. "We should be staging an Edward Bernays-style parade down Fifth Avenue celebrating that the rest of the world finally gets it," she adds. "We wrote the theme song for third-party validation. To think PR people, who own buzzwords, are afraid of these: 'user-generated content.'"

Honig says that the crowded media market has made it harder to make a placement than ever before - journalists are too busy, too focused, or too broad. "Now, we can finally do what we aspire to do - public relations," she says, "with media relations as just a tactic, a tool, a small part of our day."

This nirvana, however, may come at a new price. Honig says some examples are the proliferation of social networks and the bumblings of those marketers who are either dabbling with or throwing themselves head-first into, say, MySpace and other broader networks.

"While MySpace has strengths, it's about as targeted as outdoor advertising," she says. "In thinking your 'circ' is 106-million-plus, you're wasting messaging on profiles of my neighbor's labradoodle. PR pros must now claim the social network user group, the blog, or build their own 'networks' to do what we've always done best: target and build buzz."


What makes a radio sound bite exceptional?

Great sound bites are expressions of human emotion - from passion about an issue to the joy of success or victory to the sadness of tragedy, says News Generation's Martha Sharan.

"The most meaningful and memorable sound bites are those that reflect emotions and passion inside a person," she says. "Feelings, instead of dry facts, are sound bites radio listeners can identify with and those that tend to influence us," so it's important to encourage spokespeople to be human.

Also, for radio, Sharan says that sound bites that create a visual make a difference. "Instead of illustrating the length of something in yards, create a visual by saying 'when stretched from end to end, it wraps around the world' to put a true visual in a radio listener's imagination," she says.

Send your questions to Please contact Lisa LaMotta if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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