How to Implement a Newsroom Mentality

David Tinson
David Tinson

As the communications landscape continues to evolve smart brands are embracing the opportunity to build deeper connections with their customers. There has been no shortage of recent coverage of trends, ranging from content marketing to so-called “Big Data” to multi-channel storytelling, but moving from theory to practice inside a large organization is not easy.

At EA SPORTS, we have refocused our communications approach to align with the new landscape by implementing a newsroom mentality. Our vision is to drive a daily connection with our audience through engaging content and conversations.

The approach is helping us deliver the right content to the right people in the right place at the right time. Here are five areas we’ve focused on to help bring the newsroom mentality to life:

1. Structure the team to reflect the new media landscape:

It all starts with the team, which might mean redefining some of the roles within your organization. We’ve redefined the role of the “community manager” into two functions: a social content specialist and a social conversation specialist. We think this is a more effective way to provide clarity and focus to both our clients and our staff.

With the overwhelming volume of content that flows in real time across our social channels and across the digital landscape, content and conversation each deserve the focus of one person and/or team dedicated to ensuring that we are driving a daily connection with our fans.

We’ve also taken the newsroom mentality into account in the hiring process. In the last year we have created several editorial positions that we’ve filled with people with strong journalism backgrounds. Today, everyone needs to think like an editor and must have the instincts to tell a compelling story.

2. Create a Conversation Engine:

While “real-time marketing” is the latest industry buzz term, being in a position to create compelling and relevant content in real time takes planning and editorial discipline. We create a concept or brief, put that brief through an editorial process to determine the right type of content and the right channel based on analytics [and] then distribute that content.

3. Leverage ‘Big Data’ to create relevant stories:

Newsworthy events give brands an opportunity to leverage “Big Data” in order to join the conversation in real time. If a brand creates a product or service that consumers can interact with around a newsworthy event, the brand can use relevant data to become part of the story. For example, this year we used in-game data from Madden NFL 13 to inject ourselves into online conversations about major sporting events, such as the start of the NFL season and the Super Bowl.

4. Activate your employees:

Employees are a brand’s best ambassadors, and in the digital age they have a bigger voice than ever. However, in order to harness their passion for the brand appropriately, they need to be equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to understand and navigate the always-on digital world.

We’ve launched Conversation Training Camps to equip our employee base with the guidelines, rules of engagement, do and don’ts and best practices of appropriate communication in the social and digital space.

We also created Conversation Guides, a simple but effective internal tool that arms our own employees with everything they need to know about what’s being discussed about our brand, including links and social media content.

5. Measure everything and adapt accordingly:

We have a laser-like focus on two aspects of our content: relevance and performance. We see them as areas as equally important. Judging performance means measuring everything, inlcuding content type, content subject, dayparting, retention rate, and tweaking our strategy, as necessary, based on what we see in the data.

We realize it’s a fine line, though. It’s a mix of art and science and we don’t want to be slaves to the data, but we certainly rely on it heavily to ensure our content performs at the level we expect to show it’s resonating and authentic with our fans.

Our focus on team structure, content discipline, use of data in real-time and measurement of content performance has helped us close that gap, but like all brands evolving in this space we know it’s a mix of art and science and strive to find that ideal sweet spot for our community. PRN


David Tinson is VP of integrated communications at EA Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @dptinson