The essential ingredients of a brand newsroom

A revolution is supposedly afoot in the PR and marketing world—brands are creating actual newsrooms. Here’s what you need to know.


It’s become a common refrain for PR pros and marketers: Create a newsroom.

Not online newsrooms, where journalists go to find contact information and press releases from a company, but physical newsrooms.

At least that’s what everyone seems to be saying. Digiday has been all over this trend. It recently asked the question, “Should Brands Have Newsrooms?” (The answer was a general yes-ish for some brands, definitely for agencies). A few days later, the site published an op-ed proclaiming, “Brands Need a New Type of Newsroom.”

Even U.S. Cellular hung a banner during the Oscars proclaiming its designated workspace “2013 Oscars Newsroom.” But as PR Daily noted in an Oscars-related article earlier this week, it didn’t work for everyone.

If you’re thinking of making the shift to a newsroom environment, here’s a piece of wisdom, courtesy of my high school geography teacher, Mr. Dryden: A revolution is a process, not an event.

A shift in mindset

There are several things to consider before you and your employees start tearing down cubicle walls and dressing as nebbish as some of the people in actual newsroom s. It’s not as simple as saying, “Let’s make a brand a newsroom.”

While some may see it as a physical change, or adding some more meetings (on top of meetings) here and there, creating a more agile, adaptive, and real-time approach to content marketing is more of a mindset shift.

Here, for example, are three components of a brand newsroom that have worked for the brands with which I work:

  1. Approvals. For some clients, we delivered content calendars as far in advance as a month. We could create a whole magazine in that time, to say nothing of a daily publication. The problem is the multiple levels of approval needed. Difficult conversations with clients about the level of buy-in needed to be able to work in the ideal fashion will be necessary.
  2. Budget meetings. With some of the smaller brands, we have slowly started moving to the newsroom model and begun testing real-time efforts. The most success we’ve had is establishing morning “budget” meetings like you would find at a daily paper. This should be a 15-minute stand-up meeting where you talk about what was done yesterday (and how it performed), what’s planned for today, and what’s on the immediate horizon for each brand.
  3. Agility. Without a significant shift in mindset, no real change will occur. The mindset with most social media professionals is: “Post daily; take a look at the metrics at the end of the month; refine as needed; hope something sticks.” There needs to be a willingness and confidence on the part of social media pros to make it up as you go. The best work we’ve done for brands has come when we had the freedom to wake up with no clue what we were going to create that day, but having faith in our creative team to make content that would resonate at that moment. It’s not enough for brands to create ownable content anymore. Their content needs to be ownable and timely.

There isn’t a one-size-fits all answer

There’s no question that modern brands need a new approach to content marketing to make sure this happens. But that approach doesn’t need a one-size-fits-all model. Because every brand will have varying levels of approvals, restrictions, and quirks in its readership, every brand needs its own unique approach.

Think about it this way: Daily newspapers created newsrooms to keep up with the demand of reaching their audiences on a daily basis. But not all content was made for daily consumption. It’s the same with brand content. Not all of your content will be made for daily consumption, so there’s no catch-all approach to saying, “Our brand needs a newsroom.”

The declaration should be, “Our brand needs to meet our target audience in a timely fashion.” What that looks like is up to you.

Want to learn how companies like NASCAR drive engagement with content marketing? Find out about Ragan’s Content Marketing Summit by clicking here.

Topics: PR

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