3 online newsroom snafus—and how to fix them

By: Brian Pittman
Published: Monday, Mar. 30, 2015

Online newsrooms can attract journalists, casual readers and search engine spiders alike.

Yet these PR-controlled content hubs often fail to generate adequate visibility for news and updates, because they fall victim to easily avoidable mistakes. Here are three of the most common blunders:

1. Putting tech before people. The first mistake is becoming obsessed with the channel’s tech features, says Sarah Hogeboom, head of brand journalism for global packaging company MWV and editor of the MWV Newsroom. She advises focusing instead on storytelling—and putting your people front and center.

Visitors are looking for your story, she explains: “Let the storytellers do the telling. Buddy up with scientists, engineers or employees at your company. Film them. Post their articles. Use this ‘story corps’ to put a face on your company.”

MWV’s story corps (shown below) includes contributors ranging from sustainability directors to managers in the company’s customer insights division.

Watch the PR University webinar, “Create an award-winning newsroom” to learn how to boost influence, SEO and coverage for your news.

2. Skimping on video. Many in PR are slow to embrace video, though videos are among the most highly engaged content in today’s online newsrooms, according to Ibrey Woodall, vice president of Web communications at Business Wire.

Joie Healy, senior manager of global social media communications at Cisco, offers these quick tips for crafting compelling video for your online newsroom:

  • Create authentic, engaging videos by appealing to emotions.
  • Keep videos short and sweet. (No more than four minutes.)
  • Experiment with YouTube GIFs to engage your audience.

Here’s how to use the GIF function on YouTube: Click the “share” button, click “GIF,” choose a start and end time, create a caption, and then share across your social media channels.

3. Ignoring trending topics. Many online newsrooms simply feature archives of news releases and corporate announcements. That’s not what most visitors are looking for, Healy advises. She says most visitors also seek commentary and context on news beyond the silo of your company.

“Leverage trending topics and timely themes to ensure relevance, credibility and shareability,” Healy says. She also recommends holding weekly editorial meetings in which team members can pitch and vet compelling topics to generate those timely and engaging stories for your online newsroom.

Brian Pittman is a consultant to Ragan Communications and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Ibrey Woodall shares more expertise in the PR University webinar, Create an award-winning newsroom: Boost influence, SEO and media coverage.”


3 online newsroom snafus—and how to fix them

By: Brian Pittman
Published: Monday, Mar. 30, 2015


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