How to set up a newsroom
Publishing via a newsroom needs a different mindset and is crossing the silos. You become your own publisher.
The newsroom is the common playground of the corp comms, public relations, and marketing department. Or at least it should be. What is a newsroom actually?
In short: it is the central place where all news-related content comes together. The objective of this content is to inform, not to sell. Hence, originally the target audience for the newsroom is a bit different than for the .com. It used to be focused on the press. You feed the journalists with news with the objective the write about you. However, the world has changed.
From .press to .newsroom
In our digital days, the audience for the newsroom and for both departments is broader. Your external communications are not limited to the power of the press anymore. As a brand, you become your own publisher. Communicating with the broadest audience thinkable. From the traditional press, financial stakeholders, to interested customers, fans and followers, up to the skeptic frenemies. No need to further explain this, is there?
The impact on how you communicate is accordingly. You use your newsroom to show and tell your passion and why you do what you do as a brand. The most convenient way to bring structure to your newsroom is to use the topics within your content structure.
A great example by Nike with about.nike.com linking to news.nike.com. In the ‘about’ they bring their passion and their ‘why’ to live and explain what it means for them. Clicking on e.g. the topic ‘innovation’, it brings you to the latest news in the newsroom, arranged by tags.
Another best practice is news.airbnb.com. Mentioned before, they are doing an amazing job by arranging their content with tags. Up to date with recent content. Easy to digest and navigate, and written in a consumer and press-friendly tone of voice. Next to all this, their newsroom is alive and breathing. Keeping an eye on them for several years, I notice changes in their tags and how they bring structure to their (news) content. In line with slight changes in brand identity, they adjusted their newsroom accordingly.
A newsroom never is written in stone. You have your content structure as the fundament. Improve and optimize by learning and doing. If some tags do not fulfill the needs of your audience or by you, simply change them. Play around, have fun in publishing your news and capturing your audiences’ hearts.
Requirements for your newsroom
To get yourself going on the newsroom, a few basics have to be in place:
- Your content structure with tags, themes or topics.
- A modern and digital content savvy corporate communications and public relations department. Sounds like a no-brainer, in practice these two departments often tend to be a bit more traditional.
- A silo-agnostic mindset and culture. Use, abuse and re-use the content produced by all departments. You will be surprised how much of the content from marketing is relevant for corp or pr and vice versa. The same goes for HR and talent recruitment. Join the efforts with a central overview.
- A tool. You can build a newsroom yourself, or get some SAAS software for a fraction of the price. In all honesty, a bit biased, I a big fan of PressPage. I stumbled upon them in my search for newsroom software and pleasantly surprised by the platform and features. It takes a few weeks to set up your own design and UX, some days to learn all the tricks and then you can start publishing right away. From start to finish you can be live within 6 to 8 weeks.
- Distribution. The great thing about a tool like PressPage is that you can integrate your distribution in one-click-go. And you can make use of their worldwide press database, GDPR compliant.
Visual mindset for newsroom content
Publishing via a newsroom needs a different mindset and assets. It is visual. Therefore you need visuals. And getting engaging qualitative visuals can be a burden. And to combine the visual with the text, that's a skill. One that makes the difference.
This all sounds pretty simple and straight forward. In reality, it is a shift in mindset and ways of working. This takes time to learn, yet is absolutely worth the effort. And please... please stay away from the stock. Using the usual suspect stock photography does more harm than good. Insider tip: give communities like pexels.com or unsplash.com a try for free amazing visuals.
As you are sending out your news, use this moment to inspire your audience in the broadest way. Not only with your news item itself, but you can also combine it with related relevant content items. To touch, to educate and sometimes even to sell. For example, if you send news about a new travel destination, combine it with the top 10 tips for great restaurants at the same destination. Or combine with a long read on the cultural history of the destination. Easy does it. The more information you provide your (press) audience, the easier it is for them to write about you.
Once you have made the internal decision to embrace this new way news distribution, just start. Inspire the corp comms and public relations department with those best practices. Deep dive in the PressPage information to educate yourself.
Setup the requirements as mentioned above. Get a dedicated content consultant on board to get you started. After the newsroom and structure have been set up, this consultant is obsolete and can hand over the work to the daily team.
Steal with pride, learn from the best, and copy-past what works for you.
In all honesty, I am a bit biased. As I publish my content via the PressPage platform. They provide me with their software for thinklikeapublisher.com. Yet, me being enthusiastic about their services, is not affiliated in any way. There is no fee, no kickback or any financial compensation other than me being the lucky bastard using their software for free.
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