These days, every company must be a publisher.
As traditional news outlets shrink, organizations are learning to tell their stories in a journalistic fashion through text, photographs, infographics, videos and other means.
Yet in pursuing that mandate, organizations mustn’t overlook a related task: to ease the job of journalists and bloggers by making newsrooms as reporter-friendly as possible.
“They have to, because there are fewer and fewer reporters are out there, fewer people that can tell their story for them,” says Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times journalist who publishes the influential Silicon Valley Watcher blog.
There’s a lot of information out there, and if you don’t provide what reporters, bloggers or others need, they are likely to snag non-corporate images or pull videos from YouTube, says David Erickson, vice president of online marketing for the Minneapolis public relations agency Karwoski & Courage.
“If you put your head in the position of the reporter or the podcaster or whoever and figure out what they want,” Erickson says, “you can provide it instead of somebody else providing it, and you can better control your brand.”
Here are some ways to do that:
1. Streamline your newsroom for harried writers.
Many communicators—perhaps most—have experience in journalism. Give your site a look-over with the eyes of a harried reporter on deadline. These days journalists have even tighter deadlines than in the past, and some produce as many as five or six stories or updates a day.
“If you have a newsroom that’s a mess, they’re not going to spend very much time looking around for what they need,” Foremski says.
Foremski has long called for organizations to “deconstruct the press release into special sections and tag the information,” so that writers can pre-assemble some of news story and make the information useful.
Can an industry blogger quickly find boilerplate about your company? Do you provide financial information in many different formats for that business reporter? Do you offer publishable graphics and photographs of your products? Are names and photos of your officers and experts available?
By contrast, are your press releases in a PDF that prevent writers from cutting and pasting quotes and figures? That slows the writer and increases the likelihood of inaccuracies.
Is information updated and are names spelled correctly? Few things bother a reporter more than getting a phone call from an organization requesting a correction on information taken from the official website.
2. Think like a reporter, page designer and video editor.
At Nissan Motor Corp., newsroom staffers strive to post interesting assets that news media outlets can use, says Brad Nevin, editor-in-chief for global communications website platforms. The challenge is to give it editorial integrity and not have it look like a glossy marketing brochure that journalists and bloggers might not wish to use.
At the same time, images and video must be dynamic. If Nevin just slapped up text and staid photographs, “I think it would put a lot of people to sleep,” he says.
A recent story noted that Nissan will become the first Japanese carmaker to compete in the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E racing championship. The story included interviews, behind-the-scenes video, and cinemagraphs, or images with motion that plays in a loop.
The approach, Nevin says, is, “How can we make our stories rich and colorful? We use the video. We use the cinemagraph. We use the sound files. We use the social media video. We use the Instagram series of images.”
Nissan encourages industry publications to grab and use what they like. “Sometimes I’ll go to stories on Road & Track or Car and Driver or The Wall Street Journal and see if they use some of the things that we put on our site,” Nevin says. “When they do, we’re very happy.”
3. Update frequently.
People won’t visit your newsroom if you haven’t posted since last August. Besides, search engines will decide you aren’t a player in your field if you don’t update regularly.
“Google loves active pages,” Foremski says. “They’re not going to index your pages if you update it every two months.”
There’s a reason: How often posts are uploaded can tell you about how active a company is, he says. Regular updates also help you build a readership that’s interested in your industry.
“It’s good to keep the frequency going,” Nevin says, “and then that trains people to come back and see what’s new.”
4. Offer different angles on your big stories.
When a company as significant as Google announces quarterly results, journalists and bloggers around the world write up the news. Often they search newsrooms and archives looking for different angles or color they can add, Foremski says.
“Especially around blogs, those can provide some really interesting clues or information,” he says. “Sometimes you can find stories that have been overlooked by others.”
5. Offer the right audio, video and search options.
Corporate newsrooms often have a search engine that scans the entire website, rather than searching a narrower field relevant to journalists, such as the newsroom assets, says Erickson.
When creating a press release, think multimedia, he adds. Offer audio clips of quotes from your spokespersons for podcasters, video for other media, he suggests.
“Both audio and video content are on the rise,” Erickson says. “People are preferring it, and podcasters are doing video casting more and more. So it makes perfect sense to have as many multimedia formats as possible.”
PressPage is an online newsroom software provider specializing in the creation of advanced social newsrooms, virtual press centers and online media hubs. It enables brands to publish and distribute rich content, and provides direct insights into the results. PressPage empowers PR professionals by adding efficiency and effectiveness to their daily work routine.