They often work for a news conglomerate such as CNN, AOL, Hearst, Tribune or Gannett. More and more, they independently broadcast, promote and criticize within their chosen themes, industries or topics, interacting and following through blogs, feeds and Twitter posts.
It doesn’t matter who they represent or how they operate: online journalists who report news about your company or organization don’t care about your tree-killing hard copy press kit. They may or may not open the releases you send them via email or distribution services. They DO want to find exactly what they’re looking for in written, audio and video formats within a click or two into your web site.
Sometimes regarded (and avoided) by journalists as a filtered corporate mouthpiece, the online newsroom is being re-born. Companies are beginning to use their online newsrooms to employ brand/corporate journalism strategies and positioning themselves as media outlets. As blogger David Henderson puts it, brand or corporate journalism is all about developing “a brand narrative or brand chronicle … a way to record ‘what happens to a brand in the world.’”
In other words, your online newsroom is not only a hub for financial reports, leadership bios, fact sheets, sell sheets, releases and prepared statements, but it must also offer unique and credible insight for your consumers and within your industry. Like social media platforms, effective online newsrooms offer visitors two-way dialogue.
Bulldog Reporter and BusinessWire recently released a survey that reveals how organizations develop and manage their online newsrooms today. They discovered that most companies are still not getting the “automatics.” Almost 80 percent of those surveyed issue press releases through a wire service, yet only 22.8 percent posted those releases to their online newsrooms. Further, only 29.3 percent of respondents said they had the ability to set up email alerts from their online newsroom, and only 8.3 percent said they could distribute SMS (text) messages from it.
Nearly 30 percent of surveyed companies said their biggest challenge is a lack of resources – people, budget and time. Sixty five percent said they rely on their IT departments to develop and maintain their online newsrooms. Scary! Those surveyed also cited the inability to self-publish content (11.7 percent) and integrate social media (10.3 percent).
It IS possible to shift your online newsroom from hidden, static and boring to exciting and relevant (and even entertaining!).
Consider these elements:
- How ‘findable’ is the newsroom on your web site? Do visitors have to dig four pages deep to locate it? Consider placing the words NEWS, PRESS or MEDIA in the top navigation of your site.
- Make your organization’s media contacts easy to find…and to reach, 24/7/365.
- Incorporate a Search function.
- The ‘vitals’ — size of company, products, customers, branches, backgrounders, milestones — are all still important and make journalists’ jobs easier.
- Incorporate media request forms (and make sure someone’s assigned to route the queries!).
- Incorporate an email alert / RSS feed so people following your company are automatically notified when you issue a release or announcement, or post a new product video.
- Press releases (the shorter the better – 250-500 words) should be in html (not PDF) format. Search-optimize releases by using keywords relevant to what’s trending in your industry or product category. Embed hyperlinks, audio and video to tell the story. Encourage readers to check out your Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter posts in the release’s boilerplate.
- Releases should be uploaded to your newsroom the instant they are distributed to media.
- Maintain a chronological release archive (most recent first) by month and year.
- Maintain an archive of media coverage (clips, video, audio).
- Offer quick links to your company’s product or service pages.
- Incorporate multimedia galleries (logos, photos, audio, video), webcasts and audio conferences.
- Include an event calendar, or link to the calendar already on your site. Be sure to keep it updated to keep journalists coming back.
- Offer story angles. Better yet, like Facebook’s pressroom, ask your followers to suggest stories!
- Highlight what matters to your organization: its green practices, social responsibility, clean ingredients. Have a bank of stories that talk about why these initiatives are important and how they’re being carried out.
- Connect your newsroom to your other social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn. Connect your readers on those platforms back to your newsroom for more information.
- Incorporate “dark” pages that can be activated in case of a crisis.
A final word: What applies to your social media platform also applies to your online newsroom. Develop a plan, schedule and team to keep its content current and compelling.
What do you like (or not like) about these companies’ online newsrooms?