30 March 2009
As printed in PRWeek, March 30, 2009
 An online newsroom should no longer be limited to members of the media.
Given the evolving media landscape, it's important to make online newsrooms accessible to not only reporters and editors, but also consumers and non-traditional media.
And as these newsrooms are flooded with more users than ever before, companies must stay up to date on the newest and fastest ways to keep their various audiences informed.
“The main thing you're seeing now is that PR people are marketing their news; they have to tailor the message and have it in a centralized location,” says TEKGROUP's director of marketing communications for TEKgroup International, which has created online press rooms for companies like Delta and Ford. “It's a newsroom that carries all news, which encompasses news for analysts, journalists, [and] consumers.”
She adds that in the digital age, where information travels at such a fast pace, it's become increasingly important to give consumers and the media a place to find answers directly from the source.
“You want people to be able to go back to the official source [and see]... customer testimony and video and blogs,” TEKGROUP explains. “It's hard enough as it is with all the different information sources. Our goal as PR [pros] is to make it very easy for people to get this information.”
Woodall stresses that with newsrooms now reaching a vast amount of people, it's imperative to utilize social media and digital elements. She suggests incorporating Facebook, Twitter, video, audio, blogs, and RSS feeds, among other elements.
Dee Rambeau, product specialist for PRNewswire's MediaRoom service, echoes Woodall's suggestions about newsrooms. He emphasizes the importance of having “as many assets as you can put in there from an information standpoint.”
Rambeau adds that online pressrooms should be just as easy to manage for PR pros as they are for the public to access.
“The PR team needs to have access to that newsroom to be able to put up that material,” he says, noting that easy access becomes especially vital during crisis situations.
Another important factor for online pressrooms is SEO capability.
“Making sure that all content is tagged correctly is a very important part because... if an online media person looks for information on your company, likely the first place is going to be Google, followed quickly by the corporate Web site,” says Tim Roberts, president of Wieck Media, which has worked on online newsrooms for Verizon. “If they don't know you have a newsroom, sometimes the only way they can find it is Google.”
“You can now have each individual press release for [a] particular message, so it's even more optimized,” Woodall adds. “If someone is reading a release, [they'll] be able to share it... automatically with [their] Facebook account. You're creating the opportunity to get the message spread out by other people.”
Above all else, PR pros should keep content in mind with all aspects of online newsrooms. By targeting materials and press releases for individual groups, companies will be able to better reach the variety of audiences visiting their sites. Rambeau suggests thinking “broader” and expanding what is written about on the site.
“Write content about products and other things your company's doing [for] audiences beyond the media,” he says. “With good writing and a social [media] newsroom, you can use that tool to keep a campaign in motion.”
Technique Tips
Target all messaging and information for a specific audience
Link all social media aspects back to the corporate newsrooms, and vice versa
Create content that goes beyond normal press releases
Lose focus of media relations; strike a balance between the media and public
Forget to tag and meta tag all articles to create high SEO
Create a newsroom that is difficult to find; make it easy to access
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