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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!

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Who’s Important in the Greenpeace Newsroom?

greenpeace-logoThe 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.

arketi-b2b-journalists-internet-use

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Who’s Who in the Online Newsroom

All of my blog posts to date have taken you through the what, when, where, why, and how of online newsrooms. Ford is a great example of a who in regard to successful online newsrooms. Ford has been awarded the 2009 Brand of the Year by the Society for Communications Research for their use of social media to better the dialogue with customers and other stakeholders. In a post on The Big Fat Marketing Blog, Scott Monty, global digital and communications manager at Ford said that social media is about humanizing a company and creating a presence that’s more than just dollar signs.  The Ford newsroom connects you through a short, media related, URL to the world of news within the Ford Motor Company.

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a screen grab of the Ford online media newsroom

The Ford newsroom, which was created, using TEKgroup software, imitates the color and feel of the Ford corporate Web site. As the viewer scans across the top of the page they see tabs for specific links to the corporate page, news, products, biographies, facilities, photos, video, audio, and contacts. These are all things that we know, from the 2009 TEKgroup’s survey, are vital in today’s corporate social online newsroom. After clicking on a specific section on the right side such as e-news, you’re taken to a page that gives other options like the history of the company and financial reports. If we were to create a checklist, Ford matches up with what I have defined as a successful newsroom.

The one thing that Ford’s newsroom does that I do not like is password-protect photos and video from anyone who is not an accredited media source. The user cannot view any thing in these areas if he or she is not a media journalist. I think in this Web 2.0 world there needs to be availability for all. Instead, for consumers, they link to a different site called The Ford Story where visitors who are not part of the news media can view customer stories, the Ford Twitter feed, and vote in different types of polls about what they like in a car. This site is much more specified to the needs of the customer or future customer, rather than the news media but it would also be a good place for a journalist to explore.

Ford’s newsroom is organized to say the least. Clicking on a product or link to the e-news on the right side of the page will take you to a realm of endless story options if you’re a writer for anything car. They offer a briefcase function where you can save files that you find interesting or useful to your story and they have the availability for email alerts and RSS feeds. Ford has created an organized, easy to navigate, and user-friendly newsroom that should be used as a model for other large corporation newsrooms.

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How To: Part 3

This is my final section about how to create a successful online newsroom. This second half (items 11-20) of TEKgroup International’s 2009 Top 20 Elements to Have in an Online Newsroom continues to talk about the social media aspects that online newsrooms should incorporate.

11. Media Credentials Registration
This is all about giving the journalists the most opportunity to put your news story in their blog or whatever medium they are reporting for. By giving them special access to high-resolution materials, they will be more likely to write about your company. I personally do not find the registration necessary. I think that all information needs to be available for anyone who wants to see it.

12. Financial Information
Financial transparency is important. People that own stock in your company and future investors need to be able to see the financial choices that the company is making. In addition to financial reports being posted here, it would also be a good idea to post product pricing. Online price comparisons are of significant value to the customer.

13. Info/Interview Request Form
The media, as we have extensively covered, are your primary target. They need to know what the best way to contact your public relations department or the department that would be best suited to them for an interview. The more information you are able give a journalist about contacting you the more likely they are to do so.

14. News Coverage
While this is near the bottom of the list, I believe that this needs to be at the top of your newsroom’s layout. A newsroom is about your company’s news and when the company is mentioned somewhere, this is where it needs to be noted. Having this area in your newsroom shows that your company is concerned with scanning the environment for your name and keeping up with current information is important.

15. Video
Here’s where we start getting into the social media aspect of online newsrooms. The capability for the company’s

screen capture from Dell's online newsroom

screen capture from Dell's online newsroom

newsroom to have video makes it possible for your company to post videos on different things like how to use products, video news releases that reporters can download and incorporate into their stories, and products commercials. Provide the ability to for the user to give feedback on the videos. Do they understand what you’re trying to get across? Does the video answer their questions? In Dell’s online newsroom they have video footage about how to recycle your old PC.

16. Social Media
The user needs to be able to see what other social media sites they can find you on. If they want to find you on sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, don’t make them search for you, provide them the link and make this information available. The more your company’s name pops up on a journalist or blogger’s social media sites, the more likely stories are going to be posted about your company.

17. RSS Feeds
Give your users the capability of subscribing to your RSS and seeing your updates. It prevents them from having to check your Web site everyday and look for new information. Give them what they need, it’s all about accessibility and ease.

18. Audio
Similar to video, this feature in your newsroom will optimize the user experience. By providing the option of listening to a company’s podcasts or listening to a press conference the newsroom is allowing more options for the reporter to report on a story. As with video, giving the users the ability to give feedback here is essential. Negative feedback is always a possibility, but if your company’s newsroom is not serving the interest of its users, what’s the point? In an online news release for Cincom’s social media online newsroom launch, Steve Kayser says that the most important part of the social media newsroom is the ability to give and receive feedback and begin a conversation with their different audiences.

19. Blog
If you have a blog (which your company probably should) you need to be linking to it here or posting excerpts. If it’s a CEO or an executive blog, linking to it in your newsroom is only making the company look friendly and continues the sense of transparency.

20. Twitter Feed
Twitter is relatively new, but it is also growing quickly. Everyone is on Twitter and they want to know what you’re doing. When launching a news product, like Apple did this week, linking your newsroom to Twitter or putting your Twitter updates in your newsroom will help you give quick updates on what’s going on with the launch. Twitter is not just good for new products. Many journalists are looking at Twitter for stories and consumers are on Twitter following their favorite people, TV shows, and companies. It’s another way to reach the audience and link them back and forth from your corporate Web site and newsroom to your social media pages.

Shift Communications released a social media newsroom template that helps to illustrate what a newsroom that has many of these elements looks like. But while all of these things are important, they mean nothing unless they are updated frequently. Don’t let your online newsroom die! In her blog, The Proactive Report, Sally Falkow says that 60% of journalists expect companies to have an updated online newsroom on the company Web site. As I have said before, news is constant, updating your newsroom with these twenty capabilities and updating your newsroom often with information will lead to newsroom success.

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How To: Part 2

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 Importance of Search Archives, From TEK Study

The Importance of Search Archives, From TEK Study

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.

6. Photographs
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.

7. Help/FAQ
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.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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How To: Part 1

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.

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When To Post

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.

toyotaThe 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.

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