Welcome to the world of corporate social media online newsrooms. Today companies are moving online to talk to their publics and they are using newsrooms to do so. The online newsroom is all about providing information for journalists, bloggers, future investors, and other audiences. This blog covers what online newsrooms are, when you should be posting, where the best place is for the newsroom, why you should have one, how to create one, and good examples of newsrooms. Thank you for reading and please, feel free to comment!
The online newsroom isn’t just for corporations; a New Communications Initiative report links to the newsroom of Greenpeace as a good example of how to make a successful social media newsroom. Greenpeace is a non-governmental organization known for their extreme measures to help save animals and the environment. Their newsroom is a great place for media representatives and publics to come to understand their organization and mission.
With only a glace the user will see their newsroom offers everything. The Greenpeace pressroom looks exactly like their Web site. The two sites are complementary of each other. In the newsroom, the viewer first sees the logo and how to donate or take action. Below this is the media center, numerous public relations contacts that have specified regions of expertise such as video or photos and are also organized by geographic region of the United States are listed with phone numbers and e-mail addresses. In the center of the page there are snippets from their latest press releases where there is an option to click, and read more. On the left side of the page they have links to Greenpeace news releases, press contacts, experts, pictures, reports, and a specified center for bloggers. There is also a box showcasing their Twitter feed and a corresponding link to follow them on Twitter. On her blog, Save the Media, Gina Chen talks about how when designing your company’s newsroom your first concern should be thinking about the web. Greenpeace’s newsroom is a prime example of this
The blogger center is the most interesting and innovative section. It perfectly illustrates the need for and attention to blogger relations in Web 2.0. Greenpeace wants to provide an area for people blogging about them. In the blogger center you can register your blog and see the latest stories, video, and images. Greenpeace understand that bloggers have become a huge influence. An article titled, How to Master Corporate Blogging stresses the importance of the blogger relating to the audience member and the corporate identity. The article also mentions that blogging is all about creating an identity and connecting. Greenpeace wants bloggers to relate and connect to their organization. According to a study from Arketi Group, blogs are not only important because consumers and other bloggers are reading them but also 72% of journalists are reading blogs and finding story ideas and facts from them. Blogging has become the new platform for news and information, Greenpeace is embracing this platform.
For the next two posts I will be using TEKgroup International’s, 2009 Top 20 Elements to Have in an Online Newsroom. This post covers the top ten must haves in a corporate social media online newsroom.
1. Searchable Archives
The newsroom needs to provide the ability for the viewer to look back at older documents on the Web site. This information is just as important as the current information and it will give them a sense of what the company is like. Transparency is the goal; a company should never give off the idea that they are withholding information from their publics.
2. PR Contacts
see How To: Part 1
3. News Releases
News releases are a given. The reason for the newsroom is so corporations have a space to always publish their new information. In Web 2.0 the information is immediate. The coming of this new online world has disintermediated the spread of information. There is no need for the middleman. Companies can post as soon as they get the information and journalists can find it.
4. Background Information
Let the journalist or blogger know what the company is about and who is working for it. They may have a special interest in a charity that the company gives to or they may just be interested in how the company got to where it is today.
5. Product Info/Press Kits
Provide the important information. Many companies send samples out to bloggers get them to endorse them on their Web sites. If a blogger doesn’t know what in a product they will come to your newsroom first.
Provide pictures. The switch to online has caused many people to become unresponsive to text heavy Web sites with no images. In her article titled, How To Create an Online Newsroom, Andrea Aker says that adding logos and downloadable images of your products will help journalists strengthen their story.
Always provide help or a Frequently Asked Questions section. These sections will reduce the amount of emails or calls about a particular subject.
8. Crisis Communications
The online newsroom has the ability to help lessen the impact of a crisis. It can provide all of the information about the issue in one place. Another positive is that the information will be the same. People can be directed to the online newsroom for information instead of individuals speaking out on the subject. Also, because it can be updated often, it is a good way to keep on top of the spreading of information during a crisis.
9. Event Calendar
The one problem I have with many sites is that I usually have a hard time finding a current schedule of events. Even on James Madison’s site I have had trouble finding event calendars. If I was a blogger writing about an upcoming event that a company was sponsoring and the event wasn’t listed in the newsroom, I might not list that company as a sponsor for the fear of printing wrong information.
10. Executive Biographies
Biographies are the next best thing to CEO blogs. Consumers want to know whom they are buying from. Seeing the CEO’s biography or an executive’s biography allows for the customer to place a face on a company. If I am a blogger writing a story about makeup company owners and I see that one company doesn’t have any executive biographies up I’m liable to wonder if maybe all of their executives are men, who never use the product.
The social media phenomenon that online users are participating in is not going to change. The online newsroom needs to embrace these new features to be included in the press. On the Pressfeed blog, post titled, The Importance of a Social Media Newsroom lists what factors are important to providing a relational communication tool for a company’s audience. They stress that finding all of the information that journalists, bloggers, citizen journalists, or freelance writers need should be stored all in one, easy to find place. What better reason to have a newsroom is there?
In the video below, TEKgroup’s, Ibrey Woodall, discusses online newsrooms and what are the most important items the newsroom needs to have.
The next three posts will be on how to make a successful online newsroom and what factors are important to include. The first thing to do is to make sure that the press room is in an easy to find area of the company’s Web site. It needs to be seen and easily accessed. Journalists will not go looking for the newsroom. In addition to being easy to find the site also needs to be easy to navigate. Steve Rubel posted on his blog about journalists and bloggers not writing articles and stories about companies because of the corporations exasperating newsrooms. He quotes from Steve Neilson in the Neilson Report saying that people would rather just not quote from the company at all than publish something that is incorrect.
Once the newsroom is created, the most important information needs to be added, the contact information of the public relations department for the corporation. If a journalist has a question about the company or about a news story in the newsroom this is the first thing they are going to look for. This contact needs to be a 24 hour contact. The company can rotate this contact around so one person isn’t always getting calls at 2:00 in the morning. News is 24 hours and your news needs to also be 24 hours.
After the contact information is added, the newsroom can begin to fill up. Posting press releases, videos, pictures, and the list continues, but what is important to post? My next few posts will explain the importance of posting specifics in the online newsroom like links to the social media that the company is using. Fletcher Prince created a video over viewing what a successful online newsroom contains. This video will set up the rest of the posts about how to create an online newsroom. Mary Fletcher Jones talks about the essentials to an online newsroom and reviews why a newsroom is important and who is using it.
One of the best things about an online newsroom is that it allows a company to post and post as often as they need to. There’s no waiting for the press release to get to whom it needs to get to and hoping that they post it. The role of the gatekeeper has changed because companies can now post whatever they want when they want. While companies still rely on the press, bloggers, and consumers to rate and purchase their product, the newsroom puts all of the information out there for them to decide. The newsroom provides a twenty-four hour communication tool. In a post from PR Newswire, Dee Rambeau stresses how important it is for companies to post often and optimize their keywords so search engines will pick up on their news stories.
The newsroom can be used for more than just news. Toyota used their press room to provide a live feed of their 2010 Pruis reveal at the Detroit auto show. They knew that many of their publics would not be able to attend this show because of the financial downturn, so they invited bloggers and journalists to come into their newsroom, without registering, to watch a live feed of the show in progress. The also gave bloggers and journalists a code to imbed on their sties that would lead their readers to the auto show as well. In a podcast interview with Eric Schwartzman, Toyota’s social media supervisor, Scott Deyager said that Toyota wanted to provide their audiences a way to still be there and in turn the 2010 Prius would still be written about in articles and posts. Toyota understands the importance of keeping their newsroom updated and keeping their audience informed about what’s going on in the company. If they had not streamed the reveal over the Internet, the car wouldn’t have gotten as much press coverage and posting their news immediately from the show helped them gain that coverage.