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Digital Newsrooms: Think Like a Journalist

By September 1, 2015 No Comments

It’s quite possible that your company goes to great lengths to capture the attention of key journalists in your industry, sending press releases and following up with emails and phone calls regularly. How can you make the most of those efforts?

Think like a journalist: there’s a looming story deadline as you stare at ten equally interesting press releases. Make it as easy as possible for the journalist. Have all of the information they need at their fingertips on your website.

Digital Newsrooms

A website newsroom designed around journalist’s needs is the answer to providing that information to the press. Sometimes called a “media center,” an outstanding digital newsroom will include all of the key facts, figures and information about your organization, products and services. Let’s break it down, and describe what a fully developed newsroom might include:

  • Company Background – Provide more than they’ll find in the “About (Company)” section in the footer of the press release. Include information on the industries within which the company operates and the types of products or services it provides. Don’t ignore the organization’s history; provide an overview of how the company came to be where it is today. Also share information about your organization’s commitment to community involvement: philanthropy, social responsibility, etc.
  • Company Logos and Images – provide them in multiple formats and sizes. Remember, this is your opportunity to make their job easier.
  • Product and Services – Your new product and services are likely the reason the journalist is on your site in the first place. Build out a digital press kit for each key product or product category, to include fact sheets, digital images, PDFs and links to any relevant videos.
  • Key Executives – Present brief resumes of key leaders within the organization, including links to their LinkedIn profiles.
  • Contact Information – Provide full contact information not only for the company, but also for the marketing director and/or press contact.
  • Related Sites – If your organization has a parent corporation, sibling companies or stand-alone product websites, include those links.
  • Social Media – If you have a social media presence, journalists will want to know. Provide links to all.
  • Prepare for Crisis – Regardless of the size or scope of your crisis communications plan, you may want to consider developing a “dark site” that’s ready to go in case it needs to be activated. In the event of a crisis, this site will be ready to be quickly edited to address the crisis situation, and then made live. Depending on the situation, the crisis communication site might either supplement or replace the current newsroom (or even replace the site homepage).

That’s a lot of content to manage. Fortunately, current sites are generally built upon content management systems that are designed to help manage this type of information. Of course, each organization will approach the list above from a unique perspective, adding and subtracting content based on their individual circumstance. Regardless of the specific content that goes into your site, here are a few additional tips that will help your journalist “allies”:

  • Don’t Hide the Newsroom – Journalists don’t want to scour your site or look through your sitemap to find the newsroom. Just clearly label it (“News Room” or “For Media” will work) and place it in your site’s footer.
  • Provide Facts – Journalists love bullet point facts. They can quickly grab short factoids and deliver this content in their own voice.
  • Think Cut and Paste – Avoid excess formatting. Journalists will often cut and paste into their documents for editing; they don’t want to have to strip your formatting.
  • Optimize for Mobile – As with your site in general, it’s very important to make sure the newsroom is optimized for your visitor, whether they are on desktop or mobile.
  • Keep it Open – It’s tempting to place your newsroom behind a password wall so that you can identify your media visitors. But when asked, journalists overwhelmingly say they dislike newrooms that require registration. Remember, a deadline looms, and they want immediate access. Your newsroom content is generally info you want to share with the public, so we’d encourage you to default to making it public. If specific info has a need to be hidden, limit the password protection to that info only.

Journalists are the best friends of public relations departments. The strategies above can help them see that you feel that way about them and help you maximize your public relations efforts.

Author Cliff Callis

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