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Monday, June 7, 2010

The Blog is Moving

Heads up Newswise Blog readers! This blog will soon be moving to its new home on the Newswise site, at

We will leave this Blogspot blog up and accessible as an archive of our previous posts, but all new posts will go up on the site.

Three for the Price of One
The Newswise blog is going to be divided up into three categories, by topic. The Hot News blog will feature the best stories on Newswise and items about breaking news events around the world.  New @ Newswise will include updates about Newswise services, as well discussions and tips about media relations strategies.  And finally, the PRwise blog will focus on discussions for the media relations and public relations community, especially about press releases and the new media role in PR. 

Head on over to the Newswise blogs and let us know what you think!  Thanks for reading Newswise, and see you over on the new blog!

~Thom and all of the Newswise team

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Video in your News Release? Why Bother?

As the use of embedded video in news releases has risen in recent years, we wanted to initiate a discussion and keep our finger on the pulse of how it’s working for our colleagues in media relations, particularly for higher-ed institutions. There has been an interesting discussion about this topic going on over at the PIOnet group on LinkedIn.

The comments we will discuss hit on three major points that make a clear case in favor of using video in your news releases whenever possible.

  1. Video can draw more attention to your news
  2. Experts should be coached to give good soundbites
  3. Even raw, imperfect video can enhance your news

Examples of Good Video on Newswise
Before we get into the discussion from PIOnet, take a look at some good examples of video posted on Newswise that illustrate the first two points:

In this story form the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the embedded video gets to the hard-hitting news quickly, and effectively. The video illustrates how larger teams of firefighters participating in the research study were able to perform at significantly higher levels than teams with fewer firefighters.

All three experts in this video from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, exemplify good media training for experts and researchers. They speak directly to their main points without using a lot of technical jargon, and they provide simple explanations that most lay people would understand.

Both of these news releases have video that, we think, are good examples of why video is a valuable tool, and we would encourage any media relations professional to learn from and emulate these examples.

As a fun experiment for us, we recorded the following short video where Newswise colleauges Thom Canalichio and Zakira Beasley discuss using video in news releases. (Keep in mind we did this video in about 30 minutes, with minimal technical resources.)

Hope you enjoyed seeing us discuss these points! Keep in mind, again, we did this in one take, with minimal processing and editing. Learning from this experience, we want to encourage others to throw caution to the wind and give video a try.

Video Feedback from our PIOnet Colleagues
In order to have a good understanding of how video is working for our media relations colleagues, Newswise President and PIOnet group administrator, Roger Johnson, posed the question for discussion on the PIOnet group’s LinkedIn page: Has your office made much effort to incorporate video with news releases? Are you doing it? How is it working for you? We will discuss some of the most poignant comments, after the jump.

An immediate, positive response by one group member reinforced what we’ve already found; video tends to raise the profile of otherwise ordinary news releases. He writes:

We've had some pretty good luck using video in our advocacy efforts... We've produced some, students have produced others...Interestingly, the videos have been by far the most popular links in our electronic newsletters. We use video on our blog and Facebook now as well.
We can see two interesting factors in these comments. First, they have used video in news releases about advocacy efforts, primarily announcements about student financial aid programs. These are, to be frank, not normally the kind of news release to get an extraordinary amount of attention. The correlation of video to increased exposure for their news is a good sign, at least for this institution.

Second, they have been willing to de-centralize the production of the news videos, giving access to students to create the content themselves. Relinquishing total control may seem daring to some colleagues, but it does speak to a common problem of limited resources; who is the right, capable person to capture and produce video to accompany a news release? The conclusion is that the advanced technology and easy-access of video sites such as YouTube are leveling factors. Even amateur users, with a little training and guidance, can produce something worthy of distribution.

Another colleague commented about a more subtle challenge in news release video: getting good sound bites from your experts.

One of the biggest challenges is getting the researchers to speak in soundbites without using jargon. This is particularly difficult [for], but in no way limited to, non-native English speakers. YouTube allows you to upload a transcript, which becomes a caption, and that helps a lot. It's also time consuming to record video and edit it into something that looks decent, especially in this new "do more with less" world that many of us find ourselves in. Heck, I'm having trouble doing the same with less.
Reminding your experts and researchers to speak in clear, brief soundbites is one crucial ingredient in the successful use of video in your news releases. It may be enough to just keep that in mind and give a constructive suggestion or two. There is also the option of professional “media training,” but that may be too costly to be practical. As an alternative, if your institution has communications experts, they may be a good resource to coach your expert before and during a video interview. It is also worth noting the suggestion to upload a transcript when an expert’s comments are difficult to follow.

Because of the technical barriers involved, some of our colleagues are reluctant to do video because it is too costly or time-consuming to produce a good, professional-looking finished product. The last comment we wanted to highlight here turns that caution on its head:

We've had some good results/luck incorporating pretty raw "in the field/in the lab" video into our news releases. Remember, good video isn't always polished, edited and/or have great soundbites: an image or scene that's compelling in its own right can stand out and get noticed…I'm finding more and more researchers have this stuff - they often just don't think of it off the top of their heads, and/or think raw video won't cut the mustard.
In a nutshell: just try it! Even if it is imperfect, video is just another way to convey information and enhance the overall value of your news. The video referred to in these comments included raw footage of in-the-field research, animations, and voice-over narration giving detailed description of the process involved. The news was picked up by a nationally distributed radio program and posted on the show’s website, among other successful pickup.

Video Services with Newswise
Newswise members may already know about Newswise services including video embedding. If you are not a Newswise member, or if you do not currently have video as part of your Newswise membership package, you may be interested to know that we are coming up with creative, flexible ways for you to try it out. If you are curious, or would just like some information, please contact us at and we can discuss some of your options to join and add video to your services.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Debunking an Immigration Myth: Immigrants Commit More Crime

From the Immigration Policy Center:

Arizona's Punishing Law Doesn't Fit the Crime
Studies Show Decrease in Arizona Crime Rates Over Time

April 28, 2010
Washington, D.C. - Supporters of Arizona's harsh new immigration law claim that it is, in part, a crime-fighting measure.  However, people like Republican State Senator Russell Pearce of Mesa, the bill's author, overlook two salient points: crime rates have already been falling in Arizona for years despite the presence of unauthorized immigrants, and a century's worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native-born. Furthermore, while much has been made about kidnappings in Arizona, law-enforcement officials indicate that most of these involve drug and human smugglers, as well as smuggled immigrants themselves - not the general population of the state.

The Immigration Policy Center releases a fact sheet which shows the decrease in Arizona crime rates over time. The fact sheet also indicates that states with high immigration have the lowest crime rates and that unauthorized immigration is not associated with higher crime rates.
Highlights include:

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crimes in Arizona fell from 512 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 447 per 100,000 people in 2008, the last year for which data is available.

According to a 2008 report from the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates are lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates, such as Arizona. From 1999 to 2006, the total crime rate declined 13.6 percent in the 19 highest-immigration states (including Arizona), compared to a 7.1 percent decline in the other 32 states.

Although the unauthorized immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2004, data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 35.1 percent during this time and the property crime rate fell by 25.0 percent.

Combating crime related to human smuggling requires more trust between immigrants and the police, not less.  Yet the undermining of trust between police and the community is precisely what Arizona's new law accomplishes.  In the final analysis, immigration policy is not an effective means of addressing crime because the vast majority of immigrants are not criminals.
To read the fact check in its entirety, see: 

Arizona's Punishment Doesn't Fit the Crime: Studies Show Decrease in Arizona Crime Rates Over Time (PDF) (IPC Fact Check, April 28, 2010)

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Health News on Newswise Health Marketplace

More than a year in the making, the U.S. Congress and President Obama have completed their reforms to the health insurance system.  It has been extremely interesting to watch the developing debate - sorting out fact from fiction, and reading copious expert analysis in the Newswise Health Care Channel

The heightened interest in health care has lead reporters to seek more sources for health news than ever before. Granted, a lot of that is focused on the politics, but as more people are talking about health care, more people are looking for health news. 

And, studies have shown that more and more consumers use the web to research health information.  Trends suggest that web users are finding relevant info on the internet to inform and educate their health decisions. 

All of this growing demand for health news - both in terms of media coverage and all the way down to each individual consumer of health care - has an increasing influence on the health industry. In response to these trends, Newswise has developed a new category for medical news called Health Marketplace.

The new Health Marketplace section provides Newswise users with a resource for medical product innovation, news about developments in the health care industry, and consumer-focused information. Journalists can use the Health Marketplace section to find leads for their health news reporting, and consumers will find information about new developments in the technology and delivery of health care to inform their own health decisions. Health Marketplace will also include product announcements, clinical trial news, health experts, and announcements regarding meetings, conferences, grants, and funding.

To learn how to participate in the launch of Health Marketplace, see this one-pager on submission and eligibility requirements.

This new category is a significant expansion of Newswise services in medical and health news distribution. Newswise has been delivering high-quality news, including research results, feature pitches, trends and experts since its inception in 1991. Current opt-in subscribers are now more than 20,000 strong, and all major media outlets are represented. Health Marketplace will now add a new level of granularity to the organization of Newswise content.

“The opportunity for journalists to receive a single daily email with health care and medical news, and select and focus on those stories of most value to their constituents, is greatly appreciated,” says Roger Johnson, PhD scientist, former science writer, and founder of Newswise. “Journalists at a wide variety of media outlets, from broadcast, print, and the web use Newswise source material for their coverage.”
Recognizing the challenge of reaching reporters in the current dynamic media environment, Newswise has also invested heavily in social media, and is expanding its reputation as a reliable news source through developments like the addition of the Health Marketplace section.

Where to find Health Marketplace News
Consumers, reporters, and knowledge-seekers have access to extensive news resources on in the Medical, Science, Business, and Life News sections. Users will find Health Marketplace stories on the home page, the Medical News page, and as its own unique Health Marketplace section. All news releases appear in multiple locations on by category and topic, and they are permanently archived for access through our search engine.

About Newswise
Newswise provides quality news for journalists and media professionals, and anyone interested in knowledge-based news. Subscribers get research results, feature pitches, breaking news and experts delivered directly to their email. Newswise members are innovative, influential organizations worldwide, including top medical schools, universities, research institutions, public relations firms, government agencies, non-profit organizations, associations and advocacy groups.

To find out more, please contact with any questions.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thinking about Spring

My colleague, Zakira Beasley, writes in with some hopeful thoughts for the upcoming Spring season, and shares some info about Newswise Theme Wires.

It’s been a rough winter here in the Mid-Atlantic region. We haven’t seen bare ground since December, and temperatures at night remain in the 20’s. This is nothing for many areas of the US and Canada, but for us in Virginia the snowfall has broken all records, and frankly, we’re weary of icy roads and snowdrifts covering the sidewalks. Public schools were closed for almost two weeks, while working parents scrambled for child care.

I’m an outdoor person at heart, and enjoy daily walks, and dinner on our deck overlooking the meadow and creek. I also love to grow flowers, and last year at this time the early daffodils were showing green shoots at the edge of the woods. My ambitious gardening friends are placing their seed and plant order. Here at Newswise we’re planning the Spring theme wire, which will be distributed on February 26. Here’s a recent comment from a reporter about our theme wires:

I am a weekly newspaper editor who has had access to your service for a couple of years now, and I want you to know a couple of things.
First, you provide a real service to those of us out in the hinterlands who don't have reporters available (here, it's just me) to track down some of these stories using the local community as sources.
Second, it is difficult to use even some of your material because my space requirements are mainly reserved for local material. But the heart month selection of stories I have just now reviewed is excellent, and I do try to take a considered look at what you are providing.
As far as I am concerned, your service is an important source of information that would be of benefit to any newspaper, and I thank you for what you do.
Are you also thinking about spring? Send us your spring themed feature pitches and experts. Past topics have included Spring Break, Mothers Day, Gardening, Tax Time (ugh), Daylight Savings Time, Outdoor Activities, and Seasonal Allergies. Here are some examples:

Cheers for spring. It can’t come soon enough. -Zakira

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Olympics News

The 2010 Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and I can't help but get excited. As a big-time ski-enthusiast, I'm especially looking forward to my favorite events like the Giant Slalom, Snowboarding, and all the other alpine events. I have fond memories of the time I was able to go to the '02 Games in Salt Lake City, where I watched Apolo Ohno skate his way to gold, and I saw Russia and Belarus face off for Ice Hockey bronze.

So it is with a little bit of personal excitement that I share with you the Newswise 2010 Olympics and Winter Sports wire. [This image is just a preview, and the official wire will be sent out at 1 pm today.]

All stories in the 2010 Olympics and Winter Sports wire are also available in the Newswise Feature Channel on Sports, available here:

To get Newswise wires, including special wires like the 2010 Olympics and Winter Sports wire, just register with Newswise and select your subscriptions:

If you are a media relations professional, and you would like to know how to post a news release on Newswise for inclusion in a special wire, write to us at and request membership info.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Media Relations in the Online Newsroom

My Newswise colleague, Zakira writes in with a recommended link about media relations and the online newsroom. -ed.

This concise article discusses the essential and optional components of an online newsroom. Perhaps obvious to media relations professionals, these points are still valid for any organization, whether non-profit, higher education or corporate. Also discussed are newsroom best practices, and the importance of transparency in leading journalists to the information they are seeking. The writer includes promotion of her fee based services, but this does not detract from the information offered. I also enjoy her complimentary weekly “marketingminute” emails.

Read the full article here

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Monday, January 4, 2010

5 Tips for Successful Non-Profit Public Relations

There is a lot of talk in the PR world about the evolution of the press release – gone are the days of print-outs and mailings – and some even herald the waning influence of the emailed press release (though my inbox provides copious evidence to the contrary).

Savvy PR professionals know that exaggerations about the “death of the press release” are premature, and they know that newswire services are quite useful to promote the mission of their non-profit clients. Services like Newswise, by distributing news to a targeted media audience and providing in-depth effectiveness reporting, can augment a PR strategy to serve the non-profit’s mission. Whether the goal is to increase awareness, promote a campaign, influence consumers, or raise money and secure sponsorships, PR for a non-profit should follow these 5 essential tactics for success

1. Distribute content to a targeted audience
2. Achieve prominent results on search engines
3. Pitch experts and spokespeople to media outlets
4. Drive users to an action, such as to donate or sign a petition
5. Monitor effectiveness through reporting tools

Targeted Audience
The first goal for any PR campaign is to get the message out to the media. Simple, right? We'll explain how that's not targeted enough, and get into tips 2-5 after the jump.

Although it might be relatively easy to get a press release out to all of the media, the hard part is getting the info to the right media.

Newswise gives journalists the opportunity to filter the news they receive with more topic-specific focus. Health reporters can choose to receive only medical-based news, for example. This can serve a non-profit client’s goals in particular because these highly-focused media personnel are unencumbered by excess information in which they are not interested.

In any case, the advantage of using a newswire service is that at least some media are going to be interested in your non-profit client’s news. That includes broadcast and mainstream print media, all the way down to very specific regional outlets and trade publications.

Search Engine Optimization
Using a service to post news releases adds SEO effectiveness in several ways. First, newswire services like Newswise tend to achieve large amounts of daily traffic, and therefore are ranked well by the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A press release posted to a newswire is likely to appear high in the search results for keywords related to your non-profit client’s content. Furthermore, any links you include in that press release tracking back to the non-profit client’s website should provide an uptick in their site’s ranking as well. Done effectively, this can have a lasting impact on the inbound traffic to your client’s content.

Pitching Experts
If your non-profit client has experts and spokespersons ready and willing to talk to the media, a newswire press release is a great way to promote them. Newswise even provides an "experts available" feed of stories, with the expert's contact info available only to verified, logged-in journalists.

For an effective expert pitch, Newswise recommends your press release should include the following:
• Who is the expert and why are they a credible authority in their field?
• Provide quotations and a brief description of the expert’s work on the topic.
• Describe the expert’s media experience and their availability for interviews.

An effective expert pitch can position your non-profit client to broadcast their message more directly to a wider audience.

Driving Action
A non-profit client often has some type of advocacy as part of their public relations goals. Whether that means something vague like influencing consumer behavior or something concrete like collecting donations, an effective press release can play an important part. This is probably the most obvious area where PR for a non-profit client is different than for corporate clients. A driving action might mean linking to an online donation form, persuading people to support a cause (sign a petition, call your congressperson), or even a creative bit of viral multimedia messaging (PETA’s vegetarianism PSA featuring a very sexy, and very naked Alicia Silverstone).

Whatever approach seems right for your non-profit client, do not neglect this crucial ingredient for success.

Monitor Effectiveness
Finally, no PR strategy is complete without a plan to monitor effectiveness. This can be done by setting up a Google News alert on keywords related to your non-profit client’s press release, by carefully tracking media clips, and through incoming requests from the media for more information.

Newswise offers several effectiveness reporting tools with different levels of membership, including hit reports on each press release, and online media clippings for an additional fee. A combination of several success monitors can be used to determine if a message is on-target or needs tweaking, and give predictions for long-term media impact of a release. Keeping the non-profit client’s goals in mind, effectiveness monitoring can help evaluate current and future public relations strategies.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Week's Site Issues Resolved

Last week, was experiencing some intermittent server issues, causing slow response times and long delays on pageloads. It was frustrating for all of us, including you, dear user.

After a lot of hard work and some expert diagnostics, the site is working at normal speed and the issues seem to be resolved.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work out the kinks. And thanks for using Newswise!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tamiflu Metabolite Measured in Japanese Sewage Discharge, River Water

Tamiflu Metabolite Measured in Japanese Sewage Discharge, River Water - This story, posted to Newswise on Monday, September 29, has attracted quite a lot of attention, particularly as the H1N1 flu virus continues to affect concerns about the upcoming flu season.

Tamiflu is arguably the most popular over-the-counter treatment, and is considered a viable option to at least speed up recovery if you've already come down with the flu. One potential complication, however, is that trace amounts of Tamiflu's active ingredient, oseltamivir carboxylate (OC), is now showing up in treated sewage and river water.

From the article:

"[I]n the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), researchers measured oseltamivir carboxylate (OC), the active metabolite of the popular anti-influenza drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), in samples of sewage discharge and river water collected near Kyoto City during Japan’s 2008–2009 flu season."

The results indicate the potential damage these trace amounts of OC could cause:

"...the peak drug concentrations observed in this study may be high enough to promote the emergence of drug-resistant influenza strains in waterfowl exposed to OC-contaminated waterways."

Researchers continue to examine the possibility of drug-resistant viruses, so watch Newswise for the results of those future studies. Follow our Feature News Channels on Drug-Resistant Superbugs and a Breaking News Channel on H1N1 Influenza.

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