Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — Make your digital newsroom better for journalists?

TODD SMITH — Make your digital newsroom better for journalists?



Media relations are still essential in public relations, but many communicators are missing the mark by not delivering with user-friendly online newsrooms.

A recent survey by Isebox revealed that only 6 percent of journalists say digital newsrooms meet their expectations, with more than 65 percent saying that most online PR resources fail to meet their needs.

PR pros might think their organizations’ newsrooms are set up to make journalists’ lives easier, but 69 percent of reporters said newsrooms they check out don’t have updated and accurate contact information – a feature that 90 percent say is the most important for newsrooms to have.

However, the failure to provide current phone numbers and email addresses isn’t the only area of digital newsrooms that PR pros should improve.

More than half of reporters (65 percent) said most current newsrooms lack images and video content, 54 percent said newsrooms’ search tools were subpar, and 53 percent said a lack of current information is the cause for frustration.

Free download: 11 Essentials for a Stellar Online Newsroom

Other journalists said nonexistent press archives, a lack of media kits, the inability to schedule interviews, a paucity of social media information, and poorly written press releases also stand in the way of PR pros’ securing coverage for their organizations or clients.

“We see too many cases where Media Centers [prioritize] brand image over journalists’ needs,” says Isebox CEO Marc de Leuw. “While most digital newsrooms look great – far too many lack the functionality and content to do a good job.”

Though the survey’s results paint a grim picture for current online newsrooms, PR pros who improve their offerings can seize a huge opportunity.

The survey revealed that 80 percent of journalists said they would use a company’s newsroom if it carried sufficient resources. Most journalists (95 percent) visit company websites at least once a month – or more often – and 41 percent visit online newsrooms daily.

Digital media is evolving at lightning speed, and it’s important to develop newsrooms of the future by giving journalists what they need today – and what they have always needed – resources to tell their story better.

If you can tell your story better, you can connect with your audience more effectively – and build your brand identity in the process – which is what every company and C-suite wants.

Story telling in a digital age – tap into brand journalism

Today – more than ever – companies and brands are looking for ROI through comprehensive media measurement analytics. It’s the best way to reinforce the brand promise. How can you make that happen?

Brand journalism, which allows brands to discover and create their own news content, can help companies achieve PR objectives and drive real results.

Traditional Media & Traditional PR Measurement

How to make storytelling work: telling your brand’s story so well that it gets picked up by traditional media outlets is still one of the most effective ways to get your story in front of your target audience.

To increase your chances of media exposure, think like a journalist and understand their needs. Follow the Brand Journalizer Criteria and “unbrand” your content, which means stripping down all brand references to only those that a journalist might mention.

In today’s visually-centric world, public relations professionals should also offer multimedia content to journalists. Like I’ve mentioned, a dynamic online company newsroom is the best way to deliver your content to the news media, however, be sure your system makes it easy for journalists to find and acquire your content.

PR pros also need to broaden their definition of a newsworthy story by paying attention to what’s trending. Keep your pulse on what’s hot by setting up monitoring systems for national news organizations and their social media channels. Look for ways to insert your organization into the news cycle as a thought leader on trending topics.

How to measure: With traditional media exposure comes traditional PR measurements such as audience numbers, impressions and advertising value.

Although these measurements are becoming less important in today’s communications environment, it’s still the gold standard for effective PR measurement – and it allows companies to continuously compare brand exposure from year to year. You can obtain these metrics through media monitoring software. Many services also evaluate the content, defining the tone and other characteristics of the coverage.

Company-Owned Media Traffic

How to make storytelling work: storytelling content that is featured on external websites, such as news media outlets or paid distribution services, can be used to drive consumers to your website and other company-owned channels.

Consider creating company owned data to include as part of your story. Host more information about the data on your website, encouraging viewers or readers to visit your site for that specific content after seeing the media coverage.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center implemented this tactic by commissioning a survey in order to create company-owned data about women and strokes. The hospital then used the survey results to generate multimedia content and an infographic for their company-owned channels that also garnered widespread media exposure.

How to measure: To measure company-owned data create landing pages for your content and campaign-specific URLs to track the traffic that your campaign drives to your brand’s website.

Social Media Engagement

How to make storytelling work: social media allows brands to directly engage with their target audience. When producing content for social media keep the individual social channels in mind. Understand the specifications for each one and create multiple versions of your content that are customized for each channel. Always remember to keep the focus on your audience as your content’s shareability will increase if it’s of interest to your audience.

How to measure: To measure social media interaction, watch metrics such as number of followers, likes, retweets and shares. In the world of audience engagement, comments and shares are the holy grail. With new social media platforms constantly emerging, experiment to see which offer the most value to your company and campaign.

With new measurement goals, PR pros need to continue to help break down walls within their organizations, promoting a team approach to storytelling and analytics for today savvy media.

Snuffed Mic | President Obama Holds Last White House Correspondents’ Dinner

President Obama held his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner last week – appropriately known as the “nerd prom” – and he held his own once again as the class clown.

In his final run as comedian in chief at the event last Saturday, President Obama closed his speech with “Obama out,” and a mic drop before receiving a standing ovation from Washington’s bigwigs and Hollywood.

That’s right, Obama pulled a Kobe Bryant in a nod to his own retirement from correspondent dinners, and soon the White House.

In his roasting session, the president united celebrities, journalists, politicos and his potential successors by taking them down. Known for his comedic timing and one-liner delivery, Obama didn’t disappoint. He likened Hillary Clinton to an aunt who couldn’t figure out how to use Facebook, and called Bernie Sanders “comrade,” poking at his Democratic socialist status. And of course, Donald Trump, and the Republicans.

Obama ended his appearance on a serious note to salute the press corps, including Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter was released in January after 544 days in an Iranian prison. This week’s Golden Mic goes to freedom of the press – and press that has been freed!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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