With physical newsrooms shrinking and the need for engaging content growing, the time to transform your news site into a successful online newsroom is now. According to a recent survey, 85 percent of journalists agreed that online newsrooms were an increasingly important tool for sourcing content and building news stories; however, 65 percent of online newsrooms are not meeting media expectations.
Simple, quick and engaging newsrooms with easy-to-find information, appealing content and downloadable visuals attract and engage media – and, can accomplish other business goals as well, such as engaging employees, generating leads and establishing thought leadership.
Here are 5 easy tips for creating a successful online newsroom:
1. Storytelling is key
Effective storytelling is the foundation of PR and journalism. A good narrative is based on the “a-ha moment” that emotionally resonates with a reader. When interviewing someone for a story, look for the facts or anecdotal details that will connect the story with your audience. When in doubt, follow the Disney/Pixar approach: “Once upon a time, ____ did ____ then went on to do ____. Then one day ____ experienced a conflict and overcame it. Then ___ lived happily ever after.” Keep it simple, concise and relatable to keep your audience engaged and connected to your message.
Where do most content creators go wrong? By focusing on the brand or product, rather than drawing the audience in by connecting on a personal, emotional level. No matter how boring or dry your information is, it is your job to make it interesting. Find a personal or emotional element and let that drive your story, then layer in your product or brand throughout the rest of the story.
2. Focus on visuals
Admit it, we’ve all seen them – a company’s online newsroom (media page, news page, press release page or whatever you want to call it) full of lists of company press releases. These are what we call the press release graveyard. They’re ugly, clunky and most of all BORING! In today’s world, people refuse to settle for boring. To attract readers, whether they’re clients, future customers, employees, journalists, etc., your content must be engaging. Eliminate the clutter and replace them with videos, photos and captivating headlines. Video is becoming increasingly important, and projected to make up more than 80 percent of all web traffic by 2019.
When it comes to headlines, readers love lists and how-to’s. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would make you want to open an article? Give your readers short, catchy, bite-size previews of the content you want them to read. For tips on the formula for writing successful headlines, visit Hubspot.com.
3. Run your communications department like a newsroom
The key to managing a successful online newsroom is drafting your “A Team.” Identify the key players in your organization who can help streamline the process of creating content, posting it to your website and amplifying it across your various communication channels (i.e. email, social media, etc.). When it comes to running your online newsroom, adopt the newsroom mentality, which includes brainstorming, developing an editorial calendar, breaking down the silos by involving other departments (i.e. marketing, human resources, PR, internal communications, IT) and pushing out good stories with engaging visuals. An online newsroom isn’t just a temporary campaign – it’s the way to communicate both internally and externally.
4. Re-think how you pitch content
If a journalist won’t write your stories, then do it yourself! Figure out the right way to tell the story and then pitch it. Instead of blasting a hundred reporters and news desks, do your research and carefully think about your target audience and the outlets they’re interested in. Instead of sending long-winded pitches or press releases, write and post a compelling story paired with engaging visuals and pitch the link. Send this with a personal introductory note to the journalist about why you think they’d be interested. This makes the journalist’s job easier, and increases your chances of having them share your story.
5. Importance of metrics
Before implementing a new online newsroom strategy, establish your business purpose. For example, is your goal to increase sales? Generate leads? Become a thought leader? Whatever your business purpose may be, it’s imperative to identify metrics to measure the success of your online newsroom. For example, if your company is putting out a monthly email newsletter linked to your online newsroom, establish a quantifiable goal for open rates to measure the value of doing this.
Online newsrooms aren’t for everyone, so if it doesn’t make business sense, don’t do it! However, if done correctly, this tactic can add tremendous value and help you achieve your business goals. An online newsroom isn’t just a communications strategy – it’s a business strategy.