Best Practice Online Newsroom Part I: Getting the Basics Right

With an ever-changing media landscape and the rise of social media, the need to be able to react quickly is greater than ever before. Online newsrooms have become an essential tool to allow brands to better manage relationships with the media, key stakeholders, the general public and therefore the company’s reputation. Having developed newsrooms for a large number of leading brands, I would like to share some best practices I have identified over the last few years. These guidelines will help you to increase your visibility online and make sure that your newsroom becomes a valued source of information for your target audience.

1. Identify your key audiences

Your online newsroom must be able to cater for a varied audience.  Increasingly, newsrooms are accessed by journalists, stakeholders and consumers alike so you need to have content readily available for each audience member.

2. Branding

The look and feel of the newsroom is important and must be considered carefully. It needs to be authentic and consistent to your brand and your main company website, using the same layout, fonts and headers.

3. Make your newsroom visible

  • First of all, I highly recommend that the newsroom sits seamlessly within the main company website. Otherwise make sure that your company site has a clear link to your newsroom.
  • Publish multimedia content – adding images, videos and other documents will help SEO and transform your newsroom to a valued source of information.
  • Adding email, social media share and RSS feeds functionalities is good way to let your audience disseminate your stories and assets for you.
  • Tagging all of your newsworthy content with key words is a great way of increasing the visibility to search engines.

4. Fresh content

Update your newsroom regularly to make it sticky.  Refreshing your content frequently will generate regular visitors and help SEO.

5. Clearly laid out and easy to navigate

  • Include a simple and advanced search functionality to allow your audience to easily find the information they are looking for.
  • Classify your releases by date and by category (if relevant).
  • Provide high and low resolution images that are easily downloadable.
  • Supply embed codes for your videos.
  • Allow your audience to enter their email address to receive a newsletter about your latest news.

6. Relevance is key

It is essential to provide information that is relevant to your audience. You should then monitor the most popular stories and assets to refine your communications.

A good way to access more data while providing more relevant content is by giving your visitors the opportunity to create an online profile within your newsroom. During the registration process you can ask them to select their preferences. This will allow you to reach them with targeted emails and even tailor the information that they see within your newsroom (when logged in).

7. Keep the engagement high

  • Wherever possible, make sure your stories are visually stimulating by including images, videos and other digital assets.
  • Enable your audience to react to your stories by adding some “comment” boxes under your articles.
  • Include some social media feeds to allow your audience to access a larger source of your information.

8. Regain the control of your communications

I would strongly recommend using some sort of CMS (content management system) which lets you take control of updating the content on your media centre, without the help of any IT department.

Some more advanced tools can also allow you create, distribute and publish your stories all in one simple platform.

These tools are very valuable. They will help you to increase your reactivity, achieve higher quality reporting and significantly streamline your processes.

PR and corporate communications teams are required to be more and more accountable for their activities. A good online newsroom can allow them to measure and report on the impact of their communications in terms of online metrics and coverage.

This type of information enables them to refine and improve future communications.

The second part of this blog will outline how you can measure the success of your online newsroom.