Monday, January 11, 2010

Build a Better Online Newsroom for Yourself and Your Clients

Jeremy Porter of Journalistics blog has an excellent post today about the good, the bad and the ugly of online newsrooms. By examining ones currently out there creating an ideal online newsroom for your firm and your clients is as easy as following the formula.

What makes a great online newsroom? For starters, news. If you have plenty of compelling, relevant, timely, engaging, exclusive or otherwise sensational news to share with the media on a regular basis, it probably doesn’t matter what your online newsroom looks like (just take a look at Twitter’s online newsroom if you don’t believe me).

Twitter doesn’t have an online newsroom – but try to find an outlet that hasn’t covered the company in the past year. Twitter is an anomaly. It can get away with it. After all, Twitter is the media and most journalists are only a tweet away.

But what if you’re organization is slightly less popular than Twitter? What can you do to make your online newsroom more compelling? What information should be in your online newsroom to improve your chances of scoring an interview with your favorite journalist or blogger?

Rather than provide you with a checklist of content you should add to your online newsroom, I decided to take a look at the online newsrooms for some other top-of-mind technology companies. My plan was to find some ideas you might be able to use for your online newsroom. I hope you find a couple of good nuggets you can use to build a better online newsroom for your organization.For the purposes of this review, I looked at the online newsrooms for Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. I tried to single out three things I liked about each online newsroom (and at least one thing I thought could be improved). Of course, this is based completely on my opinion, so I encourage you to visit the newsrooms on your own to determine what would work best for your needs. You’ll also note I awarded some “bonus points” for features I felt provided a lot of value for journalists and bloggers.

Apple Press Info

Apple is a media favorite. The company gets an incredible amount of traffic to its online newsroom and is built to handle it with the following features.

What I Like

  • Apple Media Helpline – the most dominant element of Apple’s online newsroom is a phone number for its Apple Media Helpline (along with an email address for media inquiries). I can’t overstate the importance of having media contacts prominently displayed in your newsroom. Apple does a great job here – they’re basically telling journalists “call us.”
  • Latest Press Releases – the media might not be interested in your press releases anymore (a topic for another post), but many care what Apple has to say. The company’s press releases are always relevant and deserve to be the dominant element of their newsroom.
  • Search Press Info – Apple does a great job with their newsroom navigation. Providing search capabilities makes things even easier for busy journalists – especially if you have a lot of content in your newsroom, as Apple does.

Room for Improvement

  • Social Media – there is no obvious way to engage with Apple’s PR team via social media. I see this as an area that could be improved, as journalists and bloggers continue to engage with PR professionals through these channels. It would also be nice to see summaries of social media activity around Apple news and events – or the ability to share information easily across social channels.

Bonus Points

  • Product Pages – Apple deserves bonus points for featuring quick links to its product info on its site. Journalists can quickly navigate to Product Info from its Media Resources menu. They have a separate product section, with press releases, images and “quick links” to related information specific to each product.
Part Two tomorrow!

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