How to create an online newsroom that journalists love

For starters, think like a visitor in search of information. What will engage the target audience? Visuals? Which kinds? Also, how many will access your site via mobile? Read on for savvy tips.

Amid all the noise of viral social media stories and 644 million websites, it’s extremely difficult to catch journalists’ attention.

The Aslib Journal of Information Management highlights that:

“Journalists have a need for large volumes of information. They need the information to be relevant and trustworthy. You also need to deliver it quickly. The key problem they face is a shortage of time.”

That requires having an engaging and useful online newsroom.

So, what does your online newsroom look like? Is it evolving with technological advances to cater to journalists’ needs, or is it just a bulleted list of news releases and a mail-to form?

Your online newsroom might need an extreme makeover to help your company’s story stand out. Here are a few case studies to guide your mobile newsroom’s design and function.

The importance of visuals

In a case study by Nadya Khoja, VP of marketing at Venngage, she explains:

“Your brain processes and remembers images 60,000 times faster than words. The simple explanation is images often do a better job of painting a picture—telling a story—than text.”

Khoja further shares that infographics and original graphics perform the best for about 42 percent of marketers, followed by charts and data visualizations (26 percent), and videos (20 percent).

Infographics translate information that might be difficult to process on its own. Pictures of an event can trigger an emotional response. Images of your product or services in use can create an instant connection for the journalist.

The Verizon online newsroom, for example, comes across more as an online magazine, which draws the reader in.

Verizon online newsroom

Fitt’s Law and your online newsroom

A frequent complaint of journalists is that they cannot quickly and easily find the public relations contacts on a media website. On many sites it takes a minimum of five clicks to get to the public relations contact page, according to PR Newswire.

In a case study by Kissmetrics, it found abandon rates increase the more clicks a visitor has to make to find what they seek.

Fitt’s Law says the time required to move your mouse to a target is based on two factors: distance to target and size of target. Both must be optimized.

You can increase your click-through rate by making your target bigger. This can mean creating a button instead of a hyperlinked sentence. You must also place it where users will click on it, meaning where their mouse naturally is. If you line up all your buttons, the mouse moves minimally and click-through rate increases.

You can also decrease cancellations by using a smaller button for that function.

SAP wanted to increase trial downloads of its Crystal Reports software. Its winning design included removing distractions and adding a second click-through option at the bottom of the page. After the alteration, the download button is clearly differentiated from the rest of the page.


What does this mean for your online newsroom?

A lot of your traffic will come from search engine results. The journalist might not have landed on your media page, so make your information easy to find. This includes a visible tab for journalists that links to your contact information and latest reports.

Remove barriers between journalists and your data

When people click on your website, does it ask for your contact information immediately? If so, people are bound to bail out in a hurry. They can easily find what they’re looking for elsewhere without cluttering their inboxes with unwanted email blasts.

Though you might crave a list of journalists’ emails for future news releases, asking for their information puts up a barrier. This could bring two bad results: Either you’ll get a fictitious email, or they’ll flee your site. They probably don’t have the time to fill out a form and will delete or ignore random emails.

Also, don’t put articles or reports in PDF format. Reporters want to copy and paste quotations.

Mark Shapiro, a marketing consultant advises helping journalists to use your content:

Do not convert your text content into jpgs and images. Instead, make it easy for journalists to access and ‘borrow’ your content in order to promote your products and services.

It helps to make your site more SEO-friendly.

Cut the industry jargon

You might be using a lot of complicated terminology the average person doesn’t understand.

Think about your target audience and where you want your story to get picked up. That way, you might even be interviewed as an expert for a hot topic in the news.

Ilan Mochari explains in How to Introduce a New (Somewhat Complicated) Product to Consumers how Perfect Fuel, a healthy energy bar, was born.

The challenge was to explain the new snack in a familiar way. Using the word “fuel” helped customers associate the chocolate bar with a boost of vigor, similar to “Five-Hour Energy.”

The same thing applies to news releases. If you’re in the tech industry, you may be sending your story to tech reporters. However, you shouldn’t limit your audience with complicated wording.

Optimize your online newsroom for mobile speed

Slow downloads present an obvious problem. Sixty-four percent of smartphone users expect a page to load in less than four seconds.

Joel Gross highlights the increasing popularity of accelerated mobile pages (AMPs).

He states:

“AMPs use simplified HTML code that prioritizes page load speed and readability. While the code required to create these pages is leaner—restricts some formatting and design options—the benefits of a faster, easier, and overall better browsing experience cannot be overstated.”

By optimizing your mobile site, you elevate the user experience. Journalists are more likely to report on your story and return for future updates.

A version of this post first appeared on SpinSucks.

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Topics: PR

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