A story breaks. Reporters call seeking interviews and information.
You can barely keep up with the calls, and the last thing you want to be doing is chasing down IT folks to add updates to your website.
That explains a major shift in organizations’ web presences in recent years. No longer are communicators content to leave the keys to their online presence in the hands of those beloved but harried folks in the computer department.
“In today’s 24/7 news cycle, a brand’s online newsroom needs to be updated constantly,” says Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations. “You don’t want your updates to be just another item on IT’s long to-do list. Giving the communications team the ownership can streamline the process.”
Here are some reasons comms, and not IT, should own the organizational newsroom:
1. Simplify news updates.
Consider Blue Sky, a news site of Pittsburgh International Airport. As federal workers missed their first scheduled payday due to the government shutdown, the airport cranked out a story on serving staffers a free lunch as a thank-you.
Duke University produces stories from its campus that the community of Durham, North Carolina, and others can read. Not only do employees learn about their campus, but resources-strapped news media outlets have picked up Duke-written stories.
2. Get news outlets to pick up the stories that you write and produce.
You can pitch stories all day, but thinned-out newsrooms just don’t have the staffing to cover your organization the way they used to. If you write or shoot stories in a journalistic style, however, news outlets often are willing to publish them.
“Uncovering Duke’s mysteries,” explored 12 questions on the Duke University campus, asking why people were buried under the chapel crypt and why mist rises from the ground in one area. After the piece ran, a local newspaper ran the same piece.
3. Facilitate newsjacking.
After Amazon announced its sites for its new headquarters, Blue Sky cleverly newsjacked the national coverage by publishing an open letter to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
“One of the biggest brand marketing campaigns in history is finally over, and you picked not one, but two cities for your additional Amazon headquarters,” Blue Sky reported. “And neither one of them is Pittsburgh.”
“There are some situations where it’s absolutely vital that additions be made to an organization’s newsroom immediately,” Garrett says. “For example, if you decide you want to hop on a breaking news story with your organization’s take—a.k.a. newsjacking—you may need to publish a blog post or press release right away. You can’t expect the IT team to drop what they’re doing and come running, when they’re likely being pulled in many directions.”
4. Boost brand management.
Proactively managing news is crucial for reputation and brand management, says Grace Platon, communications and PR strategist with Communicate Grace.
“To remain competitive and top of mind with audiences, marketing communications and PR teams should be allowed to ‘own’ the digital newsrooms on their websites,” she says. “By converting the digital newsroom into a communications hub—including videos, infographics, product sheets and more—organizations benefit by offering immediacy, relevancy and thought leadership on trending topics.”
5. Efficiently get b-roll, photos and other assets to journalists.
Suppose you luck out and get a reporter to write up your new factory, product or CEO. How do you quickly deliver supplementary materials, such as video, photos or infographics?
Control of your own newsroom enables you to provide videos in a place where reporters know they can consistently find them. Car manufacturers such as Nissan and GM do a good job of this, knowing that reporters covering the topic are eager to publish such materials.
“When communications and PR pros own digital newsrooms,” Platon says, “the organizations’ customers, partners, investors and communities will get the most up-to-date and accurate information.”
6. Establish editorial calendars.
When publication is out of your hands, it’s harder to control your publication schedule. By contrast, when you can hit the “publish” button for your own work, planning becomes more straightforward.
One of Platon’s technology clients is establishing a robust digital newsroom for just that reason, she says.
“We are currently developing an editorial calendar that aligns with industry events, company milestones and anticipated product launches,” she says. “The strategy is to complement those news releases and thought leadership pieces by offering expert commentary when key topics and breaking news occurs.”
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