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Thursday, 21 May 2009

Online News Rooms

One of the first things I usually do for clients is sort out an online news room on their site with their web designer. Given all the wonderfully rich and detailed search engine content that can go up there, creating your very own online newsroom is too good an opportunity to miss. I'm amazed that even companies with internal PR advisers, or previous PR professionals, often have not got round to this. Indeed, some web designers that say they offer SEO services have asked me what an online news room is, and what should it contain.

It's really important if you want media coverage to have an online news room. Reporters rarely read releases these days: they are swamped by them. But they do what anyone does when they need information. When they're asked by an editor to write about a topic, they usually turn to Google to search for relevant information. So it really matters that you put useful content about key issues that are relevant to your industry up there in your online news room.

The online news room allows you to put up all your news releases and articles, plus background on your company, bios of key people etc. It builds up into a large body of highly relevant search engine friendly content that will really help the media write about you. And boost your website performance in online searches.

You can also add product and service background information. In fact anything a journalist might be interested in. Of course, if you have press kits, they should go up. And photos (but be sure to have a link or a request form for high resolution images as web pictures are far too small for print media). Maybe you run events that the media would be interested in? Or have good blogs, videos or podcasts that can be linked to? And financial information that you are willing to disclose - maybe about your backers (with their approval, of course).

If you run the analytics, it's amazing how many ordinary site visitors like to see what you're putting out to the media: the new room is a very popular page on a website. That means you are communicating your company progress and background to all sorts of useful people through an online news room: potential recruits, investors and clients, plus suppliers and advisers. Existing staff, friends and family will all be better able to recommend your business if they can tap into good quality information on the site. Especially if it is distilled into media-friendly factual nuggets stripped of all the marketing BS.

It's really important that people can find their way round the information in the news room, so it has to be searchable. A recent survey of journalists in the US showed well over 90% needed news search-ability on a site. At the most basic level you can put up a list of headlines with jump links to the release text below, but that will only cover a screen-shot sized list of headlines. Anything more needs to be properly searchable, but it is not rocket science as Google has a 'search this site' option you can highlight. I'm sure your web designer will come up with something more elegant if you wish.

And good PRs should be able to come up with an inexhaustible supply of ideas for releases to keep your newsroom fuelled.

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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