Does Your Online Newsroom Suck? Here Are Some Ways to Fix That

We all face two big challenges: a flood of information at our fingertips, and less and less time to make any sense of it. So if your online newsroom isn’t visually appealing, easy to quickly navigate and useful, it’s likely you won't reach the audience and media you're targeting.

As PR specialist Paul Maccabee, president at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, asks:

“Is your online easily-navigable, content-rich destination that rewards journalists with the information they seek and reinforces your brand’s reputation for transparency and accessibility? [Or is it] a swamp of digital confusion?”

Key to being the former and not the latter is to view the newsroom as an aggregator. That doesn’t mean all the content has to “live” in your newsroom; a link to its location is all that’s necessary. That content can and should be a healthy mix of infographics, videos, case studies, blog posts and white papers. For example, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, Maccabee points out, has mastered this approach using widgets to pull updates from its brands, corporate blog and social media channels onto the newsroom homepage. "Not only does this keep Lilly’s content fresh, it shows a journalist the diversity and depth of your business,” he said.

The best sites offer profiles of company subject matter experts and links to their research or white papers and instructions for how reporters can arrange interviews with them.

Imagine an online newsroom with no direct phone number and email address for a spokesman, available, (ideally 24/7), to quickly answer a reporter’s questions on deadline. Yet many offer only an email form to fill out, giving harried reporters no clue when or even if someone will answer them. They’ll just skip to a more helpful site, and company. This is the definition of a lost opportunity.

“Newsrooms are a great resource for a variety of audiences but when thinking about layout and design keep your journalistic audience top of mind,” advises Karen Mateo, chief communications officer at PRSA. “Job seekers, investors and prospective clients will at some point visit your site to research your organization. Talk to the journalists you deal with most often to learn what works best for them. They can also recommend sites they find most successful and easiest to navigate.”

Review content frequently, Mateo warns. “Logos change, executives leave and links stop working.” Make sure “a reporter doesn’t use out of date information in their story.”
And mobile now rules; any online newsroom that doesn’t work efficiently on a mobile device is essentially useless. “Sites not optimized for mobile will frustrate reporters working on the go,” Mateo says. “Eliminate the barriers that will force them to search elsewhere for information about your company.”