The Evolution of the Online Newsroom

Three Reasons for the Change

Is the online newsroom dead? We are constantly hearing about the morphing media landscape, the impacts of the 24-hour news cycle, the mass adoption of social media and other fundamental shifts that relate to our business and our world in general. All of these apocalyptic forecasts would then logically lead us to believe that something as simple and conventional as the online newsroom is dead too. How could something so traditional still have meaning? However, in reality, online newsrooms are far from obsolete, and continue to serve as a valuable source of information for stakeholders and an important tool in a communicator’s toolbox.

Just like anything else, the best quality products evolve over time to adapt in-step with the marketplace. Quality online newsrooms today (should) look very different than they did even a few years ago as responsive companies pay attention to three very basic shifts.

#1 – Journalists are now expected to cover more ground more quickly, so the need for them has never been greater.

  • Newsroom layoffs are ongoing, so the journalists who are retained on staff need to be able to gain quick access to important information. Helpful online newsrooms that include contact information that is up-to-date and easy to locate, help journalists be efficient.
  • An online newsroom still may be one of the first places a journalist visits when something about a particular company sparks interest or a story idea.  Companies who treat this area of the website as nothing more than a place to house a laundry list of press releases, don’t help themselves or journalists in any way. Those companies who clearly communicate why they exist and what separates them from the competition rise to the top.
  • According to a 2014 BusinessWire Media Survey, journalists expect online newsrooms to include press releases, breaking news information, media relations contact information, fact sheets, high-res images, press kits and executive bios. Many journalists also mentioned the importance of incorporating live feeds to a company’s social media channels, relevant event details, product information, subject matter experts, a list of locations and a company history.

#2 – A variety of stakeholders are becoming more interested in company news, beyond traditional media.

  • Because of the growth in an online newsroom’s audiences (prospects, customers, etc.), content now needs to fill a variety of different needs. Pieces of content should be well organized and vary in size/depth. White papers may make sense for one audience but not another, so including a sampling of sizes helps serve multiple visitors appropriately.
  • Even though many audiences need to be served, content should still remain strong and focused. At times when not sure what to include, companies include every piece of content ever created, which can make wading through it all extremely difficult. If a piece of content really doesn’t make sense to include, don’t. The beauty of an online newsroom is that you can link out to other areas of your site if your audience is interested in more fulsome information.

#3 – Media and consumers are strapped for time and are used to getting everything they need within a few quick clicks.

  • Multimedia is a must. More than 100 million Internet users watch online videos each day, so an online newsroom that incorporates video, podcasts and other forms of multimedia to illuminate concepts or stories is far more likely to engage users, which then provides an opportunity to direct them elsewhere within the greater company site.
  • An online newsroom should incorporate responsive design. Journalists, as well as general consumers, are accessing information on tablets, smartphones and other devices, so all sites should be designed with this in mind.
  • Everyone is experiencing a time crunch, so all content must be searchable. The content glut could be a barrier for engagement if access isn’t easy.

What are some other important considerations when it comes to keeping your online newsroom focused on delivering fresh, relevant and engaging content?

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    3 thoughts on “The Evolution of the Online Newsroom

    1. Nice post Hartley! An effective online newsroom can play an important role for internal audiences as well as external (media, customers, prospects, etc.) A robust, well-organized newsroom can help new employees and job applicants get up to speed and enable current employees better understand an organization’s direction.

    2. That’s a great point, Paul. The internal benefits are huge as well, and definitely worth noting. Anyone interacting with an organization, internally or externally, is likely doing so to gain some type of information, so well-organized presentation is always important.

    3. Excellent points. Good journalists appreciate easy access to information that provides essential background and key contacts.

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