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How do you sustain a great online newsroom?

Blog post   •   Mar 05, 2015 10:14 GMT

Most organisations are transitioning to the brand newsroom approach. What sets apart those who are succeeding from those who are not is investment in technology. A robust content management system, with blogging capability and social-media integration eliminates some of the tedious publishing tasks and enables you to create streamlined processes.

So once you have your online newsroom technology, how do you maximise it? Well it’s mostly down to the content hosted in it. So we’ve asked our customers to share their top tips on how to make the most of your online newsroom.

1. Don’t just know your audience, understand them

Targeting specific audiences means the chances for self-identification are much higher. If a group identifies with an experience or an opinion, they will share the content with like-minded people, and so on. In order to create this resonant content, you need to understand them. 

Start by creating and reviewing personas of the types of people you want to engage with is a fundamental element of content strategy. 

At Mynewsdesk, the business works together to review our personas every year. This means they’re consistent across the business and whenever people come up with a content idea, they test it against these.

2. Give them what they want

And maybe some things they may not yet know they need. 

Every piece of content you create, regardless of what its purpose is, must be interesting. 

If you hadn’t created it yourself, would you be interested in it? Does it pass the ‘so what’ test? One of our ‘Newsroom of the Year’ winners, Kristine Aakvaag Arvin, Communications Manager, Kiwi Minipris, shares her top newsroom tips. Kiwi has a chain of 620 discount retail stores in Norway and Denmark.

"To succeed with a Mynewsdesk newsroom, be honest and think about what the recipients think is interesting. Relevant matters are better than bragging. Opt for frequent, topical updates focusing on good and shareable content... Also, try not to treat your newsroom as a separate channel. All your owned media can be gathered here and shared from here. The owned and shared amplify each other, rather than compete."

3. Set a relatable editorial position

How do you make others care about what you do? That element of relatability may seem difficult to identify within brands and aligning yourself with what matters most to audience is often the biggest challenge.

Kristine Aakvaag Arvin says, "KIWI is open and honest, and we want to use content to generate debate or put items on the agenda. This applies the important debates close to our heart - people’s health, the environment, partnering with UNICEF and of course low prices."

4. Invigorate with video

We’ve all read the highly impressive engagement stats video attracts. 

We asked Teddy Falsen Hiis, Product Evangelist for cloud video CMS, 23 Video, how else video adds value in PR: 

“...more information can be consumed in less time - but only if the viewer doesn’t click away from the film...when editing, keep the elements that will have the greatest impact on your audience. And remember; one gets smarter through trial and error. My primary recommendation is to be brave and dare to find out what works for you when it comes to the use of online video for your business or organization.”

5. Identify your brand style

The best stories work at a human level, and use an informal, direct tone of voice. Whatever your established tonal values are, if you want to relate to your audience, use the same terminology as them.

Another tactic is to take inspiration from popular styles and formats too. For example, Cancer Research UK wrote Don’t believe the hype – 10 persistent cancer myths debunked, mirroring the popular BuzzFeed-style.

6. Let others speak for you

A major challenge for many organisations is a lack of resource. One solution is to galvanise what you have got, and there’s probably more than you think:

  1. Work with influencers. Industry experts, customers, event speakers - anyone close to your brand who has the ability and credibility to adjust your audience’s perceptions or mobilise them will be essential to your efforts. It’s more powerful when others speak for you.
  2. Look to across your business for hidden talents and knowledge. You never know, the guy sitting in finance or that developer may be a font of topical knowledge; an avid blogger, an ace at creating headlines or editing video.

7. Optimise for experience

A mobile optimised website is now a must if you want to be in Google's good books. Also, how you organise your newsroom and create the content in it will heavily influence your SEO:

“Have a proper structure in place from day one. Categorize content - text, image, video, audio and other documents...Make it easy for those who seek to find your content in the news room. Think SEO from A to Z” advises Hans-Petter Nygard-Hansen, CEO of communications advisory firm KommFrem. 

When it comes to creating content, the main principle is: don’t write for algorithms, write for your audience. This doesn’t mean ignoring SEO considerations, in particular these three for your newsroom: Avoid writing stories with little or no content (thin content), stuffed with links

Only embed body text link if it enhances the UX of the reader or helps them to better understand the context.

Make your images 'crawlable'. Adding "alt" descriptions to images improves their searchability and makes them accessible for non-visual users. Make sure that the ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

Add a transcript for longer videos (case studies, promotional videos) and text only descriptions as Google can’t crawl the video content itself. This is also good practice for making your video accessible.

8. Be ready to react

When done well, the news-jacking approach (mainly with a sense of humour) and capitalising on the wealth of trending stories you can source on social media, you can respond to or parody a newsworthy story. See IKEA’s iPhone 6 parody last year. Getting in on the hype around the launch - and using good-natured humour - meant IKEA's ad was watched almost 9 million times on YouTube in the first week. 

9. Take heed of your headlines

Did you know that Upworthy come up with 25 headlines per story? Because in the process of trying to craft so many titles, there will be a few pretty good ones.

Naturally this isn’t feasible in small brand teams, but the principle of paying attention to the headline is invaluable. A powerful (but not misleading) headline can create an effective pitch for the piece.

10. Measure, analyze, adjust and learn

Work out the content metrics that align best with your objectives and monitor those. How are your engagement metrics? How long on average was a piece read? Number of articles per session? Who writes about us the most? 

“Everything digital can be measured, everything can be analyzed, and therefore everything is also adjustable, customizable and repeatable”, advises Hans-Petter Nygard-Hansen.

But as Einstein cautioned, “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.

Having a good newsroom requires continuous work. The job is not finished when you have created the newsroom, it’s only just begun.

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