If your organization’s news alerts are boring on a slow day, or if you remember they exist only during product launches and crises, you risk ignoring a vital resource. Corporate communicators who look beyond the basic utility and format of daily media reports can develop an intelligent view of opportunities and challenges while applying a useful tool for internal messaging.
What is a News Briefing?
A daily news briefing is a collection of the day’s most relevant stories. Usually delivered early in the morning, the collection of articles and social posts may go beyond company and brand news to include competitors, emerging issues, regulatory action and industry developments. The package typically features headlines, publication information and online article links; options include expertly written summaries, translated abstracts, cumulative data reflecting news trends and more. It can be presented in the form of a menu, delivered to the desktop and mobile devices wherever and whenever one does business. Copyright compliance is essential, with non-compliance carrying heavy penalties.
How to Achieve the Highest Value from a News Briefing
The foundation of a briefing often is the expertise of one person (or a team), translated into criteria for search engines, database checks, media scans and other methods for content gathering. Consistency tends to be the primary concern early, with goals such as capturing all high-priority articles on a target company or subject. The product’s value and insight can decline when those collecting the news go unchallenged for a period or the party receiving the news briefing fails to question the results or doesn’t require the product to include broader industry trends. The goals and priorities of brands change. Such changes need to be reflected in the type of stories that are gathered.
Close collaboration between the news team and recipients is required given the active nature of business and the always-on dynamics of news and social media. Consider a Wall Street Journal article that includes a single mention of a target company. This could be a minor reference, not worthy of top-level attention; it also could be a painstakingly placed article that tells the company’s story perfectly, albeit subtly. You know the difference, but your newsgathering team needs to know, too, and it must be able to make this distinction without you and to get it right every time.
To that end, foster critical reading, independent research and a broad industry vocabulary in reporting teams. Its members must be able to question what they read and view it in context, rather than scanning for easily found mentions. They also need to be able to track how story lines and media channels grow and change. In addition to supporting clearer, higher-quality reporting, this can build an element of exploration, enabling your news service to highlight conversations your organization may want to join.
When a big news day occurs, you’ll want more than a clip count. Whether your news service team is internal or external, make sure it’s up to date with positions on critical issues and plan ahead for how to handle sensitive topics.
Why News Briefings Matter
At its best, a news briefing presents an efficient communications tool that supports trust, coordination and a focus on organizational objectives:
- A briefing offers transparency when delivering newsworthy content, regardless of whether it’s positive or critical
- A briefing delivers emerging trends across business units, brands, industry areas and regions to equip executives to act and respond intelligently, cohesively and professionally
- Its structure reinforces the priorities of the enterprise, as the selection of the day’s top news should represent the organization’s goals
- Pairing a briefing with media analysis provides both a current and retrospective view to what is happening, why it’s happening and what can be done about it
How to Begin
Whether executed in-house or through a provider, it’s important to work with the intended recipients to identify their objectives for a news briefing. Some newsgathering organizations deliver multiple versions to satisfy the needs of individual business areas and geographic regions. Be sure to get sign-off before beginning, with the understanding that the recipients’ priorities for content and media may change over time. Become familiar with the rights available to you through your content provider. Double-check for pay-wall requirements and honor them.
Rather than being yet another company email, the morning news briefing is a chance to inform management and colleagues, help the enterprise make more informed decisions and reinforce the importance of the PR function.
Russ Schwartz is director and co-leader of PRIME’s news division.