In 2005, Tom Foremski famously stated that “every company is a media company.” Fast-forward nine years, and he’s been proven indisputably right. According to Hubspot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, an estimated 60 percent of companies are creating content to attract new customers.
The smartest brands, though, do more than create content. They tell stories, not just for the traditional press, but for consumers, journalists, influencers, and anyone else who’s interested in them. When a global brand like Coca-Cola’s decides to ditch the press release and build a newsroom and digital magazine, you know there’s a sea change afoot.
At the center of this new brand journalism: the online newsroom. Your newsroom should act as a media hub for all your stories, videos, images, and other content you create to engage with your audiences. Here are eight ways to make sure your newsroom stands out:
1. Optimize for mobile. Smartphone screens are one of the primary ways that users interact with content, so make sure your newsroom works on mobile devices. For help, download this free mobile social media press release template.
2. Use visual storytelling. Press releases that contain images, videos, and downloadable files get nearly 10 times more views than those that use text alone, so put visuals center stage in your news releases. On your main page, use low-resolution images that load fast, and link them to high-resolution versions that can be downloaded in one click. Never hide your images behind password-protected image libraries.
3. Make it shareable. Add social media sharing widgets to your newsroom so that it’s easy to share your content. Make sure your images and videos are automatically embedded in social posts via Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards. Facebook posts with images are proven to get more engagement, and tweets with pictures are 94 percent more likely to be retweeted.
4. Make it easy to integrate into other web properties. Add an RSS or JSON feed, embed widgets, or even an API to your newsroom. This enables your media partners to integrate your content into their digital properties, giving you more visibility.
5. Do your SEO homework. Drive more organic traffic to your newsroom by adding relevant header tags and relevant keywords, helping you get found by search engines. Check out Woorank’s SEO analyzer for a free analysis and tips to improve your SEO rank.
6. Build it for speed. Google favors faster sites with faster load times, so take care that all your high-resolution visual content isn’t slowing you down. Pay extra for a fast server and make sure your content gets regularly cached. Aren’t sure how your load time stacks up? Use a free website speed test to analyze your load time and find any bottlenecks.
7. Build once, use repeatedly. If you work at an agency, you’ll need to manage multiple newsrooms for clients, each with their own logos and brand guidelines. Rather than reinvent the wheel for each new client, build a reusable template that can easily be skinned for a custom look and feel.
8. Integrate with a pitching tool. Building your newsroom is just the first step. You still have to pitch your stories to influencers, which is why you need to integrate your newsroom with a pitching tool. Choose a tool that includes automatic media previews so that you can tease your visual assets directly in your emails. Analytics and contact management are good to have, too.
All this may sound daunting, but launching an online newsroom isn’t all that complicated. With so many tools available to help you create newsrooms, setting it up is the easy part. Start small, use a good basic template, and most importantly, lead with great stories.