10 February 2015
This year in our annual Online Newsroom Survey Report, we took a deeper look at the types of content, features and functionality journalists value in an online newsroom. When asked about the importance of newsroom components, journalists gave high rankings to both the most traditional elements of public relations and to the “new media” elements of an online newsroom—things like mobile access and social integration.
 
If you’re trying to make your online newsroom more hospitable to the press, you’ll want to think about making simple changes, like adding PR contacts to every page of your site (or at least making the link to PR contacts more prominent) and investing in a newsroom platform that offers features such as a built-in email tool and best-in-class search functionality. Ideally, you’ll want to include all of the features that ranked high among journalists, but for now let’s focus on the three content elements that are the cornerstone of any online newsroom—PR contacts, press releases and breaking news. 
 
#2: PR Contacts—simple, but often overlooked
For a reporter researching a story, an online newsroom should be a place to find PR contacts for a company or organization. While this may seem like a simple thing to provide, it’s surprising how many organizations bury media contacts, forcing the site user to work harder than necessary (or advisable) just to find the name, email address and telephone number of a communications professional.
 
Considering that 98% of journalists said PR contacts are important, making them the #2 feature overall to have in an online newsroom, it’s worth the effort to take this simple newsroom component seriously. Two news sites that manage PR contacts exceptionally well are news.lenovo.com  and news.prudential.com. Both newsrooms make PR contacts easy to find and then offer detailed contacts organized by type/subject.
 
 
Prudential's online newsroom offers detailed contacts organized by subject/type.

#3: Press releases for a digital world
News releases, more traditionally called press releases, are as old—and as necessary—as public relations itself, but they can be served up in a way that feels contemporary.  With 97% of journalists saying news releases are important, they’re the #3 feature overall to have in an online newsroom. And it’s not just today’s releases journalists are looking for when they visit—98% of journalists want to be able to search archived releases in your online newsroom.
 
Contemporary news releases go beyond text—they can (and often should) include photos and videos. Moreover, they needn’t be composed in a terse, personality-free manner. Even when the subject matter is serious, there is room for a human touch, for the brand’s voice. Two sites that get an A+ in news releases are pressroom.toyota.com and newsroom.t-mobile.com. Both offer frequently updated press releases with engaging photos, and both include videos in or with press releases when appropriate.  
 
 
 Toyota's newsroom provides frequently updated news releases that include photos and videos.

#5: Breaking news for a 24/7 news cycle
When a story breaks about your company or organization, the first thing journalists and news consumers are likely to do is to turn to Google. If they search your company or organization’s name, your website and newsroom will come up high in the search ranking and, yes, your site will be visited. In our survey, 93% of journalists said that breaking news is important, making it the #5 feature to have in an online newsroom.  
 
Clearly breaking news matters to them, and it should matter to you. If the breaking news story is about your company or organization, it’s important to get out in front of it and provide a unique, insider’s point of view—along with the facts that may be missing from other accounts. Offering breaking news content from other outlets also shows that you’re on top of what’s happening, whether the news story pertains directly to you or not. Examples of breaking news done well can be found at news.uhhospitals.org and newsroom.devry.edu.  
 
 
The University Hospitals newsroom serves as a leader for health-related breaking news.  
  
The University Hospitals news site offers a carousel of top news stories, all with compelling photos, on relevant topics such as the recent measles outbreak.  The Devry University newsroom also uses a carousel for top stories and publishes news updates frequently. On the newsroom homepage there is also a link allowing the user to sign up for an RSS feed.
 
To find out more about the other top features journalists expect you to have in your newsroom, download our 2015 Online Newsroom Survey Report today.
 
 
 
 
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