Tap into the potential of corporate online newsrooms

Too many large companies use their sites to simply archive press releases, but a fresh approach can transform them into a key storytelling hub.

Corporate online newsrooms haven’t evolved much—if at all. Too many sport little more than a list of news releases.

Take a look at the newsroom home page for Kohl’s:

Not bad, if very basic, but when you click on “read more,” you get this:

Yes, that’s a Google doc of the news release. I’m not here to lay into Kohl’s. It’s just an example of the sorry state of too many large company newsrooms. The sites are serviceable for media outlets’ purposes but aren’t designed to reach multiple audiences or achieve greater results.

A handful of companies, though, are taking a progressive approach. These companies are not only thinking about these sites as places to house news for traditional media outlets, but also as content hubs where they can share stories via social media, e-newsletters and other communications. They’re transforming them into key storytelling tools.

This broader approach makes sense for three reasons:

No one actually wants to read a news release. Heck, even journalists don’t want to read them.

News releases (especially ones built on Google docs) aren’t shareable on social media.
When was the last time you saw a friend share a news release from a big company’s Facebook post? That’s what I thought. With social media being so important, this is a crucial consideration.

The visual Web is increasingly important.
News releases are traditionally text-driven; blog posts tend to be more visual. They feature photos. They use graphics and videos. In other words, how the public has come to expect it.

Three companies are doing this quite well:

1. Wal-Mart

At first glance, Wal-Mart flies in the face of my whole thesis. It does post news releases to its site, but they look and feel like blog posts. See below:

The big visuals and limited text make it look more like a Pinterest or Instagram page.

With most releases, Wal-Mart takes another key step. It links to another more fully featured blog post at the end of each release. In this case (see below), it’s a more consumer-friendly post about how folks can help in the fight against hunger, a smart way to bring the news to life for customers.

2. Best Buy

Best Buy posts zero news releases to its site (as far as I can tell). Instead, the company communicates through blog posts.

Though they look more like blog posts, they are also clearly newsy. Another example:

Notice the end of the post. It lists a media contact and a link to other downloadable media assets. That’s smart and slick. Best Buy gets it all: a story it can share across different channels, a version they can pitch to media and a file that reporters can find on the site.

3. Starbucks

Starbucks technically post news releases, but the site looks more like a blog than a newsroom. Look at this post about its newest stores:

Starbucks also is getting creative with more mundane corporate news, such as when the CEO speaks at the shareholder meeting. Starbucks turned this annual opportunity into a short post with an interesting graphic:

The post also included a video of CEO Howard Schultz talking about values-based leadership.

A version of this article first appeared on Communications Conversations.

Topics: PR

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