Intel reinvents its online newsroom as a dynamic hub

Chip maker’s information center encourages user participation and keys on social media connections.

Reporters and others who click the “press” link on Intel’s homepage may be surprised to find a lot more than links to news releases and a few contact phone numbers.

The world’s largest microchip maker worked for months to make its online newsroom a social media hub that integrates the company’s Twitter feed, Facebook posts and blogs.

“The goal was this: Build a news site that, while inviting, is built to enable every piece of Intel news to reach as far and wide as possible, carried by any means possible,” says Patrick Darling, Intel’s online media relations manager.

Since its launch in August, the Intel newsroom has amassed more than 100 pieces of content, including short news items called “Chip Shots;” news releases that include video, photos, slideshows and links to related content; and PDF documents of speeches given by Intel CEO and President Paul Otellini.

Using the ‘sandbox’

“Prior to the Intel newsroom, we had a basically static PR website,” Darling says.

Intel’s media relations staff had to develop customized components to update the site in a dynamic way, he says.

“As such, the site itself was a perfect sandbox for experimenting with one socially engaging feature at a time: commenting, rating, a Twitter share widget here, embeddable video there, custom RSS feeds, etc.,” Darling says.

That a la carte approach—and the amount of effort required to build another feature into the press room—made Intel staffers take a hard look at whether particular gadgets were useful or just trendy gimmicks. Many, but not all, of the features are included in the revamped newsroom, Darling says. Some, such as user comments on news items, remain “on standby.”

“The challenge [with comments] is multifold, but resources to manage the discussion and what to do with the feedback are two of the main ones,” Darling says. “We have this feature temporarily disabled on the newsroom while we ramp up other areas of the site after our recent launch and will turn it on when we’re ready for more experimentation.”

Intel staffers worked under the model of adding more and more features into the existing press room for about two years, Darling says. Then about a year ago, a group of Intel’s PR representatives met to discuss how a next-generation news and PR site might work.

“We felt we were ready for new frontiers, and so, in that one meeting, the course was set for building a whole, new, social-based online newsroom,” Darling says. “The research had already been done in all the experimenting up to that time, and the costs were really more in the form of time and dedication [than in] actual dollars.”

Boosting ‘findability’

In their quest to make news about Intel easier to find online, PR staffers at the chip maker have keyed on two main tools: social media widgets and search engine optimization.

“Share widgets and shareable content are always good we’ve found, enabling the audience to help carry the story wherever they go is a very valuable tool,” Darling says. “Making photos and video sharable is also key to helping them spread the story.”

Each content page on the Intel newsroom site includes share widgets for Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Google Buzz. Larger projects, such as the press kit for Intel’s 2010 developer forum, include an embedded feed of recent Twitter posts mentioning the forum, links to relevant blog posts and a feed from the event’s Facebook page, along with video and links to fact sheets.

When it comes to optimizing content for search engines, it’s “an increasingly challenging task,” Darling says, but Intel has taken some cues from blogs by tagging all content on the site and including a tag cloud on the site’s main page.

“I work closely with a few strong internal SEO advocates, supported by a quality SEO agency, to make sure every content contributor on the newsroom has both a basic understanding of search as well as the need to continuously improve in search optimization,” Darling says. “We’ve held training sessions for the entire PR team, and the exciting thing is that not only do they get it, but they want to contribute to our continuous improvement in that area.”

Measuring success

Finding out just how successful the Intel newsroom is will be an ongoing process, Darling says.

“We have no magic wand for this,” he says. “It’s also tough to measure, because in PR—as compared to marketing, for example—it can be much more who the content gets in front of as opposed to how many eyes.”

According to the site’s metrics, each Chip Shot piece gets roughly 2,000 views. Full news releases average about 6,000 views, though larger ones, such as this one announcing details of Intel’s new 2011 processors, get tens of thousands of views.

Over the past several years, traffic had declined nearly 50 percent on Intel’s old press room home page, even though traffic was increasing on individual content pages.

“We came to learn that this was due to the success of both our SEO work and our news amplification efforts using RSS, Twitter, etc., rather than a lessening popularity of our Press Room site, which the data might once have signified,” he says.

Topics: PR

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