Not Just for Giants

Online newsrooms are clearly a part of a major corporation’s PR strategy, as they have a lot of information that needs to be organized in the public sphere.  Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook are among the best practitioners of the media tool.

However, the tool can prove to be helpful not just the big players in the game.  Smaller companies can benefit from putting their content online in an organized fashion in order to gain media attention.

Jeremy Porter did a follow up to “How to Build a Better Online Newsroom” with “Part II“, and explores example of the best practices of smaller businesses.  He examines software company HubSpot.  Their most helpful aspect of their site is the chronological list of news coverage, complete with links, which he sees as a great tool for journalists and bloggers.  Atlanta-based MailChimp is an email marketing software company.  They do a good job with supplying customer facts, which tend to impress a journalist visiting the site.  They also have a “Most Popular Articles” section that also attracts journalists writing about the field.

Smaller businesses may not have the manpower or budget to create an online newsroom.  Fortunately, there are ways around this.  eReleases, a press release distributing site, offers free eNewsroom service to their existing clients.  Their belief was in the 80% of their client base that did not have the resources to keep up with the technology.  They set up the newsroom with their client’s brand, free of charge and subscription fees.  This is one way to help smaller companies from lagging behind the industry giants.

Another important way to utilize newsrooms is to stick to your industry.  When you are a smaller company, newsrooms can be used to focus on the market itself.  The Imperial Sugar Company does this well; the newsroom is a extensive forum for the entire sugar refining industry.  This brings them media attention from other similar companies, and shows their dedication in the field.

The PR business is changing, and not just for corporate giants.  Smaller businesses can learn from the larger ones, and adapt similar tactics.  Increasing technology, like free newsroom services, will only help all businesses increase transparency and stay current.

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The Social Media Newsroom- An evolution of the online newsroom

The importance of social media in society has certainly changed the nature of PR.  The growing popularity of these sites has shifted where and how news and content is distributed among companies.  First, the online newsroom was a place where journalists could have access to press releases, biographies, and links to a company’s social media tools.  With the implementation of corporate social media strategies comes the new development of the social media newsroom (SMNR).

The idea of the SMNR aligns with the high usage of the social media press release.  The traditional press release is changing; content is not simply viewed through the single website of one corporation.  Readers view feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and others.  Since journalists are expected to now find content this way, companies must make shifts to organize the information

In 2008, Deltina Hay’s post “Social Media Newsrooms: The Ultimate Web 2.0 Tool for Your Business” understood the need for this new development.  She notes the real advantage of using interaction with social sites.  Technorati, Digg, del.icio.us are ways to utilize social bookmarking and RSS feeds.  Still true in 2010, Social Media Strategist Sally Falkow explains that PR professionals need to see this change, and present their information in a clear concise manner for journalists.  She suggests certain criteria to what include on the newsroom.

  • Links to social content
  • Everything should be in social media format
  • Multimedia
  • Use Search Engine Optimization
  • RSS feeds
  • Provide embedding codes on content for journalists and bloggers

Sites like Press-feed offer services to companies on how to create their own online newsroom.  While they still offer the traditional newsroom format, the premium SMNR offers the most features for content uploading.  It makes it simple to upload a social media news release, and works with social media sites like Twitter to pull feeds on the site.  Here is an example of what a SMNR could look like.

SMNRs have proven to be useful for journalists, by making content easily printable and already uploaded.  The Reputationobserver Blog see these sites all you need for effective news coverage.  Since they are relatively new in development, there is a lack of hard research to prove the sites successful.  However, bloggers and PR strategist agree that the tools in SMNRs help journalists do their job.  The technology will continue to be used more as the direction of PR tends to lean toward social media.

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Twitter: Lazy News or Help to Journalists?

For journalists, the implications of Twitter have revolutionized a lot about the field.  The timeliness of the news cycle has become narrower as news can travel within seconds of the event.  This poses both new challenges and advantages for journalists; who can use Twitter to cover stories as they happen.

News organizations are highly utilizing Twitter as a outlet for information.  In Lauren Oliver’s post on the 100 Most Influential News Media Accounts, she notes the Wall Street Journal, BBC’s Breaking News, ESPN, and The New York Times are all within the top 25.  These accounts also hold a large number of Twitter followers.  CNN’s Breaking News account has well over 3 million followers.  However, she also adds that it is the quality of the posts, not the followers, which lead an account’s real influence.

CNN's Breaking News Twitter Page

 

Twitter can be a help to journalists, who follow a news site to stay constantly updated with the news of the moment.  Since Twitter does not have any real predecessors, it contains different approaches to how journalists look at it. Jeremy Porter’s post “How to Build a Better Online Newsroom“, highlights the close relations of Twitter as a main media source, and the closeness of journalists to the site.  He also claims a company’s Twitter accountant should always be linked on the online newsroom for easy access.

Another way Twitter can serve as a tool for journalists is through posts to press releases.  Journalists use press releases for story ideas and information.  This site has changed the normal functions of a press release, by creating free content for users.  “Distributing Your Press Release By Using Twitter” describes the press releases as the same PR ideas, just condensed to 140 characters.

With every new technology, there are always skeptics unsure of the real influence of the medium.  Kate Day questions whether these briefs snippets are decreases the quality of journalism.  Organizations are losing control over their content, since Twitter allows citizens to upload and post material.  She concludes in her post the importance of an open media.  The Internet opens door for every news outlet, and it is true this shift may create a more informed society.

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Is Journalism Really Dying?

Many critics of online journalism and Web 2.o claim that the nature of true strong journalism is decreasing.  With all the junk out on the web, credible sources can be hard to find.  They also think the fast- paced, blog style of writing and resources does not provide the reader with quality information, and nothing is ever as good as the old way.

However, there is hope in our new technologies to suggest that the industry can be saved.

In fact, online newsrooms can enhance journalism.  Since companies are going public with all their important information, journalists do not need to pull teeth for financial reports or even be at formal press releases.  They can simply watch the video online, and at their own leisure.

Journalists are making good use of their online resources, thanks to Web 2.o technologies.  According to PRCoach.com, journalists agree that their field is benefiting from the new practices.  The use of social media is also affecting the future of the profession.  The use of social media is high among journalists, at around 70%.  This increases communication between the companies and the people that report on them.  Journalists read corporate blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts and ‘follow’ or friend the companies they research on Twitter or Facebook.  This interactivity is different from past practices, and creates a better flow of key information.

Journalists know they cannot do it all alone.  There is evidence to suggest companies are working with journalists to provide them with the tools they need to do their job correctly.  Justin Pettigrew and Bryan Reber did a study on how Fortune 500 companies utilize online press rooms.  They looked specifically at the easy-to-use features on the websites.  A good feature is contact information. 58% of the sites contained PR contacts.  This makes it easy for journalist to have further communication with a company, and create a stronger personal relationship.   The press rooms also had a key factor, frequent updates.  92% contain press releases within the last 30 days.  This tool gives journalists the most current news, as well past information to learn more.  45% of these sites contained a press release search engine, to make looking through archives quick and easy.

There is obvious evidence that all of this information can only help true journalism.  An interesting thing I hope to research next week is the high use of Twitter among journalists.  I want to further develop ideas on this topic, and see the advantages/disadvantages of the microblog.  Stay tuned!

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Media Rooms- Not Just for Journalists

It is obvious that online newsrooms can be essential tools for a journalist to use.  They contain video, photos, press releases, and updates about a company’s newest ideas.  It is already suggested with critics that these new sites are best when they do not require a username.  Therefore, anyone searching through a website has access to all the media functions the company is putting out there.

Not only do media rooms help journalists write accurate information about a company, they do something else.  What do companies do when they know there are costumers on their site?  They market to them.  Companies are smart in this sense.  When customers are looking into latest breaking news of the company, they are most likely highly active, loyal customers.  This makes it a clear public to think about when creating a newsroom.

David Meerman Scott, author of  the book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, explains that an online newsroom is well done when it is created for the customers.  It engages them in the buying and selling process.  He also describes one of the most crucial things to do for a good news room is using terminology that customers use.  This will bump up the news and press releases in the search ranking, and direct customers to the PR site.  A good example of this is Cisco.  It contains valuable content, as well as links to social media sites for customers to follow and share the content.

While at first we may think that companies only want to sell us something, the presence of a customer-friendly online newsroom serves to keep the population well informed consumers.  When customers know more about the products they purchase and the brands they are loyal to, they are also more likely to stay customers.  Definitely a positive thing, and another way we can all be more transparent.

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Introduction to Online Newsrooms

Online newsrooms have developed as another outlet for a company’s online communication.  The resource mostly on a company’s main site, and is a way for journalists to sort through and check up on media outlets of a company.  It serves as an organized point to access information.  Companies like Microsoft have an interactive page, complete with links to corporate blogs, video/podcasts, press releases, and financial reports.  This makes it very easy for journalists to have a centralized access point in order to research and report on company activities.

There are criteria to what good online newsrooms should include.  Although companies are different, the services they provide to journalists are very consistent.  In this video, Pete Codella of Codella Marketing explains the list of what an online newsroom needs to include.  He takes note of the list of basic contents:

  • Contact Info
  • Press Releases
  • Press Kits
  • Executive Bios
  • Links

There are additional trends companies follow.  According to Bill Stoller of PublicityInsider.com adds that companies either have the newsroom accessible on their main site, or as a separate page.  An example is Microsoft’s easily accessible as a link at the bottom of the microsoft.com page.  Stoller also suggests not making journalists sign in to the information, as it makes it difficult on their already hard job.  The interesting part about the lack of user log-in is that the information is not only available to journalists, but by anyone with a computer.  The everyday user of the web has access to this plethora of information.  Talk about transparency!  This offers to perhaps even change the nature of journalists; they do not need to be employed by a media corporation to have inside access to write a good story.  In fact, almost any of us could do it along with other research.

On the contrary, Stoller does note the traditional press kit isn’t dead.  This is true with most forms of the media we learned about; there are always people who prefer to go the old school way.  They may not be laggards, but instead those who like to keep their credibility consistent with the old way of doing things.  Still, it looks like newsrooms play a large role in today’s journalism.  Just like corporate blogs, it is important to see who does it right.  Microsoft, Google, and Crayola are example of those companies that have taken the initiative to get ahead.

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Research

The topic I decided to research and blog about is Online Newsrooms. I chose it because I am interested in the changing nature of the news, and have never visited a online newsroom. It will be interesting to find out how one functions. Another idea I have on the topic is the overall changing of the nature of journalism. With new online technologies, journalists have certainly changed from traditional formats. One idea I have for a blog post or research topic is how Twitter affects news timeliness. News segments are becoming shorter and quicker, a large change from once lengthy articles. It will be interesting to research what new technologies reports are using and which traditional forms they are sticking with.

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