Make your online newsroom the best it can be

Top corporate digital news hubs provide useful content for journalists, not just stale press releases and outdated information.

Reporters and bloggers typically first visit the online newsroom when developing a story about an organization or brand.

They also visit corporate newsrooms when writing about an industry development or business issue. Two-thirds of journalists visit online newsrooms every week and one-third visit a newsroom daily, according to a survey by video content provider TheNewsMarket.

A first-rate online newsroom containing content that journalists seek opens the door to major media mentions, because journalists from national publications and trade journals are the most likely to seek out information in corporate newsrooms.

Yet many organizations treat their online newsrooms, also called press rooms or media centers, as a dumping ground for old press releases, frustrating time-pressed reporters and bloggers. If corporate communications professionals don’t post what reporters or bloggers seek, and in a place where they can easily find it, they’ll turn to other, less reliable places for information.

Here are the key attributes of an effective corporate or brand newsroom:

Updated information is essential. More than a few organizations leave names of executives on their websites after they’ve departed. Reporters may publish incorrect information they find on the website. Press rooms that are frequently updated show that the organization values good journalism and the media attention it creates. An active newsroom also helps boost search engine rankings.

Think like a publisher . With fewer news media outlets and fewer journalists available to report brands’ stories, organizations can become their own media outlets by publishing their own stories in their online newsrooms. Staid corporate press releases will bore readers. Creating content like a journalist can interest website visitors, including journalists who may use the content.

Nissan’s story relayed how the organization was 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 (images with motion that play in a loop).

“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,” Brad Nevin, Nissan’s editor in chief for global communications website platforms, told Ragan. “When they do, we’re very happy,”

Multimedia content. TV broadcasters, bloggers and many viewers prefer videos over text. Consider how news announcements can be transformed into videos. If not video, then create unique and interesting graphics and photography to illustrate news announcements, product launches and manufacturing processes.

Organization. Place elements reporters might use for a story on a single page, thenewsmarket recommends. Forcing reporters to find images for articles on a separate web page causes frustration.

Images. Include high-resolution images for downloading, including images of top executives and spokespersons, logos and products.

Social sharing. Make social sharing an integral feature of the online newsroom. When journalists find content in an online newsroom, they sometimes like to share the link directly with their audience.

Make the newsroom prominent on the website. A link to the newsroom in the organization’s top navigation bar allows journalists and others to quickly find it, recommends Ibrey Woodall, vice president, web communications services at Business Wire.

Follow SEO best practices. Use alt text for images, descriptive labels for images, an XML site map and proper page titles.

Other key elements for media centers include:

  • Detailed media contact information. “Rather than displaying a generic company email address, such as, be sure to include the specific person’s name, personal email address and direct phone number,” advises Claire Olech at Bianchi PR. To prevent scrapping of email addresses by robots, the actual email address can be hidden as a link from the person’s name.
  • Links to past media coverage about your organization.
  • An organization history or timeline.
  • Profiles of subject matter experts and links to their research or white papers, as well as instructions on how reporters can arrange interviews with them.
  • Factsheets or FAQs on the organization and its brands to quickly relay key information.
  • Organization logos in different formats with instructions on their use.
  • Executive bios—or at least links to them—if they’re located in the “About” section.

An online newsroom is a potent tool for winning media attention and promoting your brand’s messages directly to audiences. The best media centers employ brand journalism to create content that feels more like objective reporting than corporate marketing jargon. The common practice of merely posting press releases is likely to flop.

A version of this post first appeared on the blog.

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