Maintaining a content-rich blog is one of the more powerful public relations tactics a business or organisation can implement.
But maintaining a dynamic branded digital newsroom can be an equally smart move from a communications perspective.
What is a digital newsroom?
A digital newsroom — also known as an online newsroom or digital pressroom — is a dedicated content hub integrated into a company’s website. It will include such things as:
- Real-time news and information about an organisation
- An archive of press releases, media announcements and other corporate stories
- A repository of supporting videos and images, including high-resolution logos and the like
- Fact sheets and backgrounders, infographics and charts
- RSS feeds of company blog posts and the official tweet stream
- Biographies of senior executives and internal experts, including links to their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts (preferably written with personality, not bland template bios)
- Up-to-date contact details of key spokespeople and PR representatives, including links to their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts
While a newsroom’s main function is to provide the media with up-to-the-minute information about a business, it would be folly to think journalists are the only people who read it.
As author David Meerman Scott reminds us in The New Rules of Marketing & PR, a company’s online newsroom is for prospective buyers, not just the media.
And of course, don’t forget your other stakeholders: employees, partners, suppliers and investors.
Why have a digital newsroom?
One could argue that having a newsroom-style content hub is more important today than ever.
Why? Because traditional newsrooms all over the world have been downsized to within an inch of their lives, and journalists in many cases are stretched to the limit.
Put simply, they have less time to build relationships with communications professionals, company spokespeople and subject matter experts. Instead, they’re chained to their desks, where they do a lot of their research for stories.
Research studies confirm the importance of online newsrooms.
According to 2019 research undertaken by the online newsroom software provider TEKGROUP, 100 percent of journalists surveyed said it was “important” for an organisation to have an online newsroom available to the press.
Other key findings from the TEKGROUP 2019 Online Newsroom Survey included:
- 93 percent of respondents visited an organisation’s online newsroom “frequently”, while 29 percent said they visited “every day”
- 79 percent visited both large and small-to-medium sized organisation online newsrooms
Meanwhile, in a survey of 248 journalists undertaken by multimedia content provider, TheNewsMarket, 85% of respondents agreed that online newsrooms were a useful source.
So clearly there’s a need for digital newsrooms.
Who should have a digital newsroom?
Major companies and organisations should have one, for sure. If you’re a publicly-listed company, undoubtedly you already operate an online newsroom because of the requirement to make publicly available any information that’s pertinent to shareholders and the financial markets generally.
A digital newsroom isn’t just for big corporations though.
Fast-growing companies and public organisations, particularly those with multiple stakeholders, can also benefit from having a dynamic news and information hub on their website.
Big companies often have complex websites and asking the IT team to develop and integrate a digital newsroom may be met with a shrug of the shoulders. If your tech folks can build one within your current website structure, that’s optimal.
But if they can’t or it’s all too hard, don’t despair. There are numerous online newsroom software providers that will help your organisation get up and running with a fully formed digital newsroom that blends seamlessly with your corporate website.
If you’re building your website from scratch, talk to the developers about the possibility of including an interactive news hub within the site.
But make sure the content management system (CMS) used is easy for a nontechnical person to navigate. The last thing you want is a whizzbang online newsroom that no one updates because the backend is too difficult use.
Blog versus digital newsroom
Should your business or organisation have both a blog or online publication as well as a newsroom?
The answer is yes. But only when it makes sense to do so. As always, it completely depends on your goals and what you’re trying to achieve.
Certainly if you’re a large organisation, the argument for having both a blog (or blogs) plus a newsroom becomes more compelling because of the sheer number of stories (and other information) that need to be published and shared with potentially a broad array of stakeholders and target audience groups.
The key is to understand the purpose of each channel: What are you trying to achieve? Who’s the audience? What sort of content are you going to produce, and how often?
An example of this multi-owned-media approach is The University of Manchester.
The University of Manchester online newsroom is produced by the university’s media relations team; it’s comprehensive and well organised, obviously designed this way to help visitors, including journalists, find the content that’s interesting and relevant to them.
The University of Manchester Magazine, on the other hand, is published seasonally and contains a mix of features, profiles and opinion pieces that collectively paint a picture of the university in action from a non-news perspective.
Having both an online newsroom and a blog or content hub housed on the one corporate website is something we’re seeing more of as companies and organisations embrace the concept of becoming their own media channel. The key, of course, is to ensure each has its own content strategy and that what is published is professionally produced and provides value for visitors.
Lack of useful information
Just because your organisation has a digital newsroom, however, doesn’t mean you’re providing a useful service to journalists.
According to research by digital communications platform ISEBOX, corporate newsrooms are failing to meet the media’s needs.
Indeed, just 6 percent of journalists polled say that online newsrooms meet their expectations. Other key findings of the research included:
More than 65 percent of journalists said the majority of online public relations resources were insufficient. Poor contact information (69 percent) and lack of multimedia content (65 percent) are the biggest failings, according to journalists; poor search tools (54 percent) and lack of current information (53 percent) were also significant factors.
What do journalists need from a digital newsroom?
According to ISEBOX, journalists ranked the following as most important:
- Updated and accurate media contact information, including phone number and email address (90 percent)
- The ability to view and download multimedia content in various formats (76 percent)
- Current news and information (71 percent)
- Easy search tools to find what they need (55 percent)
- Media kit with logos, bios and standard images (52 percent)
According to research by TheNewsMarket, 97 percent of journalists surveyed said press releases were the “most useful” asset.
This statistic is supported by a similar finding by the TEKGROUP 2019 Online Newsroom Survey, which found that 98 percent of journalists believe it is important to have news releases within an online newsroom.
Interestingly, according to ISEBOX, while 70 percent of journalists said that most online newsrooms did not meet their needs, 80 percent of those polled indicated they would seek out company newsrooms more often if they were improved.
Therein, of course, lies a massive opportunity for PR and communications practitioners in large and medium-size companies and organisations.
Examples of online newsrooms:
- Alabama Power
- American Heart Association
- Chartered Institute of Public Relations
- Lufthansa Group
In summary, as reinforced by the TEKGROUP research report, an online newsroom can be a critical component of an organisation’s digital PR and marketing strategy. Journalists are constantly looking for trusted sources of news and information.
By establishing your brand as a leader in generating consistent, relevant content, you can be a news source, the survey concludes.
- A digital newsroom, a.k.a. an online newsroom or digital pressroom, is a dedicated content hub integrated into a company’s website.
- A digital newsroom’s main function might be to provide media with up-to-the-minute information about an organisation, but it will also be checked out by employees, partners and stakeholders, investors and members of the general public.
- A number of companies provide hosted digital newsroom solutions, with all the necessary back-end technology required for an organisation to get its information hub up and running efficiently.
- Research studies confirm the importance of online newsrooms.