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Friday Guest Column: Building Your Online Newsroom

Emily Murphy, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc.

An online newsroom is a separate page located on a company’s website. The newsroom is designed to communicate information to reporters and journalists, and serves as a valuable resource for anyone seeking company information. In this Web 2.0 age, an online newsroom facilitates two-way communication by providing a business with the means to exchange information with journalists, customers and other key stakeholders.

Having the right information on your website can make or break your media coverage. A recent survey found that three of five journalists said information found on a website influences their decision to include a company in a story. A well-run online newsroom provides the media with exactly what they need when they need it, producing better coverage for the business at a lower cost.

Online newsrooms:

• Function as a reference tool, not a sales tool.

• Position the company as an industry expert.

• Help media find a company’s website. Firm-specific information is indexed by search engines, increasing web traffic.

• Serve as one-stop-shops for the media.

• Supply accurate and timely news, and are easy to update.

• Facilitate instant communication. Reporters simply click a link for more information or to submit queries.

• Save time and postage. When reporters request a press kit, provide a URL.

• Demonstrate the company is on the cutting edge of technology.

Research indicates that only one-third of corporate websites provide the information journalists want. Here are some guidelines to help companies avoid this unfortunate circumstance. Online newsrooms should include:

Contact Info. Highlight contact information for easy access. The name, email address and phone number of the firm’s primary media contact should be front and center, followed your PR agency. After-hours and weekend contact information can only help.

Format.
Provide up-to-the minute content. Present information in concise, easy-to-digest pieces. Use simple, information-rich graphics.

Press Releases.
Post news releases in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Use traditional press release formatting.

Backgrounders.
Supply background information (executive bios, fact sheets, case studies, speeches, awards.)

News Coverage.
Link to recent articles about your company to demonstrate your company’s expert status.

Events Calendar. Identify upcoming events (trade shows, conference appearances and presentations.

Graphics.
Permit the media to download company-related images (executive photos, logos, product photos, charts, graphs, artwork) Provide 72 dpi (Data Per Inch) for online and 300 dpi for print publications.

Multimedia. Furnish online journalists with videos, podcasts and other online content.

Corporate Blog.
If you have one, provide a link.

Search Tool.
Make your online newsroom materials fully searchable.

Alert.
Offer opt-in registration for updates, announcements, and special event details.

Examples of good online newsrooms:

Google:
www.google.com/press/index.html

Crayola: www.crayola.com/mediacenter

Thinkronize: www.thinkronize.com/press/index.html

Palm: www.palm.com/us/company/pr/ ••••

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