May 28 2009
Online newsrooms have become vital for companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. In the past, public relations professionals faxed and mailed press releases. Mailed press kits are still often an essential part of media relations campaigns, but they can be time consuming to produce and expensive to distribute, especially when the media list is lengthy.
Online news rooms can change all that. Once the Web site is complete with a media relations section and an online newsroom, a URL can be shared with a reporter instantly over the phone or through email. The online newsroom can save significant time and money for PR practitioners and journalists. The traditional press kit is not gone completely, but the online newsroom is beginning to take over.
Creating an online newsroom is fairly easy once the Web site is in place. Here are the five most important elements to add to an online newsroom:
- Press Releases – All press releases should be posted in chronological order for the current year in the newsroom. You may also set up an archive with press releases from previous years, depending on the amount of data and space available.
- Backgrounder / Fact Sheets – Include background information or fact sheets for reporters about the company. Also add FAQ sheets, white papers, investor relations documents, speeches or other relevant information that is available.
- Media Request Form – This form provides a way for the media to request more information or an interview with a company executive. The form should provide a place for the journalist to fill in their name and contact info along with the specific request. Online requests should go to a designated media relations contact who can respond quickly in case of tight news deadlines. Along with the request form, provide any contact information for media to reach the public relations office, including a 24-hour contact phone number.
- Hi-res Photography – The newsroom should include high-quality images available for download. An image gallery may have executive head-shots, company logos and images of relevant products. Provide multiple versions of each image with lower resolution for online and higher resolution for print.
- Executive Bios – Biographies of top executives who are available for interviews should be included in the newsroom.
- Subscribe to Updates – Provide a way for journalists to subscribe, either via email or RSS feed, to updates about the company, including new press releases and other information.
Journalists now expect companies to have online newsrooms and will come back to visit them often if the information is valuable. A centralized location on the Web site is essential for success.
The online newsroom helps the company because it allows for measurement of communication efforts through traffic to the site. However, it’s wise not to ask media to register to enter the site. They’re busy and it should be easy for them to retrieve the information.
All companies can create an online newsroom. It’s an invaluable tool for enhancing media relations efforts and ensuring that the media can more easily and quickly get accurate, up-to-date information about the company.