MasterCard was selected as the winner of the Best Online Newsroom/Media Center category in PR Daily’s 2014 Media Relations Awards because of its recognition that its original newsroom and blog “were text-heavy and overwhelmed [readers] with content,” and its quick corrective action. MasterCard calls its revamped news center “The MasterCard Engagement Bureau.”
After a website traffic audit in the summer of 2013, its news team concluded that while the newsroom’s engagement and traffic as a whole were stagnant, its visual content consistently performed well.
MasterCard went to work. Members of its news team looked at visually outstanding newsroom pages on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and The Coca-Cola Company’s website. They searched for a visually led editorial philosophy to boost traffic and to motivate visitors to share MasterCard’s newsroom content online:
• They redesigned the newsroom to serve journalists, bloggers, and influencers.
• They posted images, videos, and digital press kits—quick shopping for busy journalists.
• They introduced the news brief as a dominant form of content.
• They created a new PR digital avatar that invites influencers to engage with the MasterCard communications staff on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and via email and the phone.
• They made a tremendous effort to avoid writing content “polluted” by pushy, sales-obsessed branding or marketing, asking instead, “Is this content useful to the reader?”
• They made just as determined an effort to host real conversations and share information beyond MasterCard news.
• They launched the “Cashless Pioneers Blog” to create buzz about employees, academics, governments, businesses, and others who embrace cashless payment technology.
• They set up an internal brand-publishing council of local and global MasterCard team members.
• They monitored conversations and ideas in 43 markets and 26 countries on MasterCard’s Conversation Suite, which tracks traditional and social media talk and opinion.
• They adopted as a guideline a Zabisco infographic that noted that 40 percent of people respond better to visual information than to plain text.
The real-world results justified MasterCard’s total renovation of its newsroom:
• In the first six months of 2014, monthly visits to the newsroom rose 104 percent.
• The time visitors spent in the newsroom in the first six months shot up 132 percent compared to the same period in 2013, from two minutes, 28 seconds to five minutes, 42 seconds.
• In the first six months, newsroom visitors shared its content on social media 22,000 times.
• MasterCard is the most visible company globally this year, with a 34 percent share of voice vs. competitors.
Congratulations are certainly in order for MasterCard newsroom staffers Andrew Bowins, Jennifer Stalzer, Bernhard Mors, and Rebecca Kaufman!