How to drive Bloomberg’s Speed Desk to increase your brand’s visibility
On a rainy Tuesday in April, I had the rare pleasure of a guided tour through the Manhattan office of Bloomberg, one of the largest organizations in the world that provides business and financial news, data and analytics. In spite of the calming river carp swimming throughout the office walls, I haven’t seen any organization more obsessed with speed since my trip to NASCAR’s Charlotte Speedway.
As a consultant to investor relations officers (IROs) and corporate communications professionals, my first question was: How are they turbo-charging my clients’ press releases for maximum speed and earning potential? As we made our way through the newsroom, I answered my own question when I saw the sign for “Speed Desk.”
What’s a Speed Desk and what does it do?
The Speed Desk exists to provide Bloomberg clients (i.e., stockbrokers) with headlines within seconds (or fractions of a second) faster than other news organizations. These precious lead times give traders the chance to buy a stock at a better price for a period of time, which makes Bloomberg a source they’ll go to again and again.
How do you gain from this relationship? If your company can deliver its news in a format that makes the Speed Desk faster, chances are good that Bloomberg will use your content over other ones they have to take the time – even a minute or two — to format themselves. When that happens, your company news becomes a valuable resource that contributes to Bloomberg’s $6.9 billion annual revenue stream, which means more frequent Bloomberg coverage for your brand.
How can you please the Speed Desk gods?
Think of Bloomberg’s Speed Desk like a trip to the Emergency Room.
Would you want to show up to the ER at the same exact time that a bus-load of severe trauma patients arrives? No. You would wait for hours and/or be subject to less care and attention from doctors. The same principal applies to your news release.
If you are a mid-cap technology company, don’t send your news on the same day and time that Cisco releases their earnings so that you won’t have to compete with them. Do your research and identify the heavy-news traffic days for your industry.
Send your news on an “off-minute.” If 200 other companies “dump” their news on the wire at exactly 7:00 am, the 15 headline editors at Bloomberg’s news desk (i.e., Speed Desk) will be delayed in seeing your news or may miss your announcement altogether because of the other releases that are competing for their attention.
Be smart about when you distribute. Send your news consistently on a free day, on a free minute (Thursday at 7:18 am) and anticipate more immediate attention.
Think of your headline as a snapshot of your news.
If you believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, then you better believe that your headline is worth a million dollars. Between 10% and 15% of these headlines are simply copied and pasted from your news releases to a Bloomberg format. Many traders will execute their strategies based solely on the headlines coming out of Bloomberg’s Speed Desk.
Bloomberg can only see 65 characters of text for each headline. Keep it short!
Put your company name in the headline. The headline editors won’t get to know you unless they know who you are in relation to your news and industry.
Don’t get “cute” with your headline. If your headline reads “Let the Countdown Begin” and you are referring to your next big product launch, your “market gold” has temporarily been placed in the “market trash” basket.
Always write a simple, clear headline that includes your company name and try to keep it shorter than this sentence.
You are going to want to take this call.
Be available! If you send out an important company press release at 4:00 am, you don’t want to use your office’s 9-5 reception phone number as your “contact information.”
Always provide a direct line to an available IR or communications representative on your release. (If you are worried about spam calls, Marketwire can hide your contact information on public sites but display it to the media.)
Making yourself available is one thing, but you can also enhance the accessibility of the news itself by using a commercial newswire. While organizations like Bloomberg will make an effort to find your news on a company website or an e-newsletter, too many risks could present delays: server slowness, lack of pre-disclosure editorial review or extra steps that prevent the media from gaining access to your news. (In an industry that measures productivity in milliseconds, try not to slow-down the process.) Releases that are distributed through a newswire will be delivered to places that editors will look: feeds, email accounts, even directly to corporate online newsrooms.
Accessibility is key. Make your company’s information easy to find by distributing it through a newswire and ensure contact information is valid.
At the end of the day, Bloomberg strives for what Matthew Winkler, co-founder and editor-in-chief, calls the “Five F’s: Factual word, First word, Fastest word, Final word and Future word.” By creating a strategy around how you write and distribute your press releases, you’re not only helping Bloomberg reach their goal, but you’re giving them, and other outlets, a reason to pick up your news.
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