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BizReport : Internet : May 27, 2011

10 tips to make your online newsroom journalist-friendly

Is your online newsroom an afterthought? Is it somewhere to bung the odd press release, maybe sprinkled with a few relevant contact email addresses? If so, you're missing a prime opportunity to connect with and engage today's connected news makers. Here are ten things you need to do to keep your newsroom visitors engaged, informed, and able to write a better story.

by Helen Leggatt

The change social media has made to the way news is sourced and reported has led to new opportunities for forward-thinking businesses and PR professionals.

Now is the time to make sure your website, and more importantly your newsroom, is tailored to include up-to-the minute information that is readily available and easily shared.

Don't send a journalist away empty-handed from your newsroom or, worse still, with a negative view of your company. Instead, give them the information and resources they need to do a better story. Here's how.

1. First things first - make sure your online newsroom is easily found. Don't hide it behind an "About Us" or "Resources" link.

2. Provide a list of press releases in reverse chronological order and, more importantly, keep it bang up to date. Often a news story will appear on the newswires but nothing appears on that company's online newsroom making it difficult for a journalist to cite a source other than a newswire.

3. Don't rely just on boring old press releases to catch the eye of news makers. Make the newsroom welcoming by encouraging interaction and providing engaging content in the form of podcasts, images, video, and audio.

4. Use RSS feeds. Journalists love RSS feeds, it means they don't have to keep checking and re-checking individual websites and your news is pushed to them.

5. Put together a comprehensive press kit and offer it for download or online access. Ensure the press kit is kept up to date and relevant.

6. Providing press releases in several languages enables your news to spread internationally.

7. Give journalists access to a panel of experts so they can source their own quotes and story insights. Northern Arizona University provides an experts database in their online newsroom. They allow journalists to search by topic to find a list of professors who are "experts" on a given topic. They receive a list of matches and additional information on the expert that includes phone and e-mail contact information.

8. Harness the power of social media and integrate the newsroom with your Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets. Allow the sharing of information direct from your newsroom, and provide links to any relevant online blogs or discussions.

Daryl Willcox Publishing, a company that connects journalists and PR professionals in the UK, recently released study findings that show three-quarters of journalists rate social media as an important tool.

9. If a report is available for download, that's great. But if it has to be requested by email, make sure that email is sent out immediately on request. Journalists have deadlines and a late arriving survey may be pipped at the post by another delivered by return.

10. And finally, don't require a journalist to register or subscribe to your newsroom. We've got enough key-bashing to do as it is, thank you very much.

Tags: journalist, newsroom, online press, PR, press kit, public relations

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