As printed in PRWeek, October 17, 2005
Online pressrooms and spokespeople
Erica Iacono - 17 Oct 2005
Online pressroom necessities, identifying overlooked promotion avenues, and more
What are some essential features of an online pressroom?
The essential features of a newsroom enable a corporate communicator to make changes to the site 24 hours a day, without an IT department, says Steve Momorella of TEKgroup International.
"Managing a registered media contact database and distributing e-mail alerts and event invitations are also required characteristics, along with a crisis communications module and integration capabilities," he adds.
The reporting tool should measure communication efforts, bringing knowledge to the table by allowing the corporate communicator to identify journalists who read delivered e-mail alerts and access press materials. "The ability to password-protect individual sections should also be an option," he says. "However, granting that blogs can be built within an online newsroom, they aren't necessarily a universally essential feature."
TEKgroup's Ibrey Woodall says that really simple syndication (RSS) is a feature that creates a third way to relay company information to the media. "In addition to accessing releases and receiving e-mail alerts, journalists are now notified immediately of new postings," she adds.
Ultimately, Woodall says, the features of a newsroom should empower the communicator. "Although corporate cultures differ, the usual primary elements that should be available in a newsroom include news releases, photos, executive biographies, audio/video, event listings, press kits, PR contacts, and a media request form," she says.
How can you directly reach a television and radio audience?
As traditional PR tools, broadcast news releases and electronic media tours are accepted means of delivery, but they have their drawbacks when precise audience targeting is desired, says Michael Hill of News Broadcast Network. "Much of the content that is offered to stations for their use is at the mercy of the editorial staff and, ultimately, the news of the day," he adds.
Secured placement features are a frequently used tool to ensure proper message delivery and audience targeting. Hill says placement packages are used as supplemental broadcasts to existing traditional electronic PR tools or as a standalone broadcast strategy to reach television and radio audiences.
"Packages can be designed to reach viewers of very specific programming on national and local levels, as a grassroots outreach to provide base numbers for a project, or as a recurring segment," he says.
How many spokespeople are too many for a VNR or b-roll/ sound bite package?
Spokespersons in a VNR add credibility and substance to the news story, says Michelle Harle of Medialink. "The number of them in one segment depends on the story topic," she adds.
With health-related stories, a doctor and a patient is advisable, while for feature stories, such as new tech products, consumer tips, travel, or fashion, you can include as many as three: one expert, one user, and a spokesperson if absolutely necessary. When adding a third spokesperson, Harle warns that the story has the potential of getting garbled with messages.
"If there are political reasons for adding a company spokesperson, one tip is to add the sound bite at the end of package and label the section 'additional sound bites,'" she says.
For a b-roll production, Harle says you have a little more room and can easily use three sound bites from patients, users, experts, or spokespersons.
"In the case of celebrity packages, like galas and awards, include as many headliners as you can get sound bites from," she says. "Stations love to pick up these stories and use the celebrity quotes."
What is one of the lesser-used ways for companies to get positive PR out?
Get your CEO to write a book, says Jessica Hatchigan, speechwriter and author of How to Be Your Own Publicist.
"I've yet to meet a CEO who is not a brimful of creative takes, insights, and hard-won wisdom - the stuff which business bestsellers are made of," she says.
Of course, the book must fit the company's overall communications strategy. "A top ghostwriter can consult with you and give you an impartial analysis on the book opportunities and the wisdom of pursuing this avenue," she says.