Successful PR departments all have one thing in common: they have great online newsrooms. If you struggle with pitches that don’t get picked up, journalists that can’t seem to find your news, or poor quality coverage, it could be time for you to either get an online newsroom- or improve the one you already have.
- Definition of an online newsroom
- Ten reasons why brands need an online newsroom
- Key features of the best online newsrooms (and why they have them)
- Examples of good corporate newsrooms
- How do you build a good newsroom?
- How can I get the best online newsroom?
Definition of an online newsroom
Luckily, the definition is clear: an online newsroom is the home for media coverage and company news. It’s the public-facing heart of your brand, the place where you can control your own narrative.
When done right, your online newsroom makes it ridiculously easy for journalists to find your company news. They can find out what your company does- and why- in seconds. Which makes it very easy for them to write a story about you.
An online newsroom is often listed as ‘best practice’ in public relations for a pretty important reason- it dramatically increases both the volume and quality of your media coverage.
Ten reasons why brands need an online newsroom
Here are our top ten reasons why you should add a newsroom to your marcomms channels:
- Increase your media coverage
- Improve your brand recognition
- Increase audience engagement
- Appeal to Gen Z
- Build brand love and loyalty
- Provide social proof
- Keep your staff in the loop
- Increase web traffic
- Control your narrative in the age of AI
- Keep up with your competitors
1. Online newsrooms increase your media coverage
Although PR is much more than media relations, your relationship with journalists still matters. And, no matter how good your PR skills are, most journalists are fed up with traditional PR methods. They are overwhelmed by pitches and, to make matters worse, two-thirds of journalists say that the pitches they receive are irrelevant to them.
So while you might think that your carefully curated press list will land you the coverage you deserve, you’re in the minority of PR pros if you’re not spamming journalists. Remy Ludo Gieling, editor-in-chief at Sprout, explains, “In general, 99% of the press releases we receive are rubbish…most of the time they’re not newsworthy. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to know about it—they often provide essential context for other stories.” If your releases never make it further than an overstuffed inbox, then this probably makes for hard reading but Remy has a solution.
“It’d be much better to publish this news in the news archive on your website so that we can use it as contextual information for a bigger story.” What Remy describes here is the first benefit of a newsroom—they increase both the quantity and quality of your press coverage by drawing the press to you.
The best newsrooms even allow your audiences to subscribe to the updates that interest them, organizing themselves into beautiful contact lists. What better way to nurture relationships than by knowing that your audiences want to hear from you?
2. Company newsrooms improve your brand recognition
Great online newsrooms are branded just like the rest of your corporate website. So every user, whether journalist, shareholder, or member of the public, will be fully immersed in your brand when reading your latest news. Getting your newsroom branding isn’t just important to your design wizard (we all have one, right?). It’s important because it reassures your reader that they are reading a legitimate and credible source.
Your online newsroom should also allow you to publish curated media kits so that your visitors can download the files they need. By making your assets available to the public, you increase your chance of them being splashed all over your dream publications without worrying about expired media links and compressed files.
If media kits sound too public, some newsrooms allow you to password-protect your media kits—keeping your top-secret files safe and creating a happy medium that would even satisfy Goldilocks.
3. Online newsrooms increase audience engagement
Relationship building should never be one-sided. Thankfully, far from encouraging you to pump information into the ether, newsrooms strengthen your ability to engage with your audience. Features like Virtual Events allow you to hold online press conferences, webinars, and product launches.
A newsroom makes meaningful engagement possible without the commute with live Q&As, audience polls, and webchat.
It’s a convenient solution that is simply more interesting to consume than a traditional pdf press release. Break up blocks of text with audio recordings, high-resolution images, or video, and ensure that you capture your audience's attention from start to end.
Just like any gripping web content, newsrooms also make it easy for users to share your content on other platforms — Reddit, Twitter, you name it, your story can be shared there, further maximizing your chance of coverage and reaching new audiences.
4. Online press rooms help you to appeal to Gen Z
Speaking of new audiences, if you want to sell to Gen Z, you need to show them your values in action. Unlike the generations before them, ethical considerations are at the heart of their consumption, and they don’t differentiate between brands and their perceived impact on the world around them. Thankfully, according to McKinsey Gen Z are also communaholics which means they want to hear from you.
Your newsroom can become the backbone of this communication, where your claims of ethical behavior and sustainability are evidenced, and you prove that your values have substance.
5. Online newsrooms build love and brand loyalty
Brand love is what keeps your customers and supporters coming back time and time again, without even questioning why.
For the most part, your audience don't fall in love with your brand because of your product, service, or even your alignment with their values. They fall in love because they identify with the story you share about your brand.
Well-told stories evoke emotions, allowing your audience to build relationships with your brand. Your newsroom tells your story with every article, press release, and clipping. Rather than relying on outbound PR and a corporate website, having a newsroom creates many more opportunities for you to showcase your story. With every article, press release, and clipping, you can connect with your audience on an emotional level.
6. Company newsrooms provide social proof
Way before today’s #influencers, psychologist Robert Cialdini laid out six key principles of persuasion. He argued that one of these principles is social proof, or the way in which we rely on the actions of others to inform our behavior.
A good newsroom will allow you to showcase your success stories, news clippings, and press features. Not only does this add weight to your story, but its very existence makes it more believable and shows your audience that others are buying into your brand—persuading them that they should too.
7. Your online newsroom will keep your staff in the loop
It’s not just the public and journalists that will benefit from your newsroom. Your staff can too.
Keeping up with corporate changes in large, globally distributed, or complex teams can be hard. Yes, you can email them beautifully crafted updates, but how many staff read them or can find their way back to the information when needed?
Rather than doubling up and wasting your precious time, allow your newsroom to serve your staff too. They’ll thank you for it. Instead of hunting through a shared drive for what they hope is the correct version of a press release or product images, they can help themselves to your newsroom content. Like a self-serve checkout without the 'unexpected item in the baggage area'. Dreamy.
8. Online newsrooms increase your website traffic
Did you know that your newsroom could even increase your domain authority?
Your domain authority score reflects how often Google uses your domain in its search results. Simply, it reflects how easily internet searchers can find your website when researching you or a related topic. The primary way to do this is by publishing high-quality, unique, relevant content. However, improving your SEO, and increasing the number of links directed toward your main domain can boost your domain authority. A higher domain authority means a higher ranking in search engines, and therefore more traffic—on all your pages, not just your newsroom, which means that an online newsroom will boost ALL content, company-wide.
Your newsroom URL could look something like this: https://brandname/newsroom. Not only does this create a great user journey for your audience, but it also adds a ton of links to your domain—helping your newsroom and your main website come out top in search results more often. It’s a win-win for marketing and PR.
9. Company newsrooms help you to control your narrative in the age of AI
Machines might not be able to think like you and I, but they can certainly learn. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the internet is increasingly populated with AI-generated content.
To ensure accurate information is being written and shared about your brand, you need AI algorithms to find it. That’s where your newsroom steps in, giving the ‘machine’ all the data it needs to recompose a story about your brand.
10. Having an online newsroom lets you keep up with your competitors
Finally, according to MuckRack’s State of Journalism 2022 report, 44% of journalists believe that the way companies share information is outdated. This might sound like a lot, but it is actually a decrease from a whopping 61% of journalists in 2021. So, if you haven’t changed your tactics yet, there’s a good chance that your competitors have.
Key features of the best online newsrooms (and why they have them)
An online newsroom will not bear much fruit if no one can find it, it has no actual information, or it has a clunky user experience. When a journalist can’t find what they want quickly, they are more likely to abandon a story in favor of another brand. An online newsroom needs some key features to be effective.
Here’s what these key features are- and why they are so helpful:
A newsroom lets the media get to know what your brand is up to
Corporate news sections are where you inform journalists about your events, accolades, company updates, or anything else you are doing. Ultimately, you are what you do, so your company news is a great way to help others understand your brand story or philosophy.
"If something’s not newsworthy for a broader audience, it doesn’t mean that we don’t like to know about it. It’s often essential for the context of other stories. We, however, most of the time miss those announcements, since they don't survive the 'no-news filter' in our inboxes. It’d be much better to publish such news in the news archive on your website so that we can use it as contextual information for a bigger story.
Remy Ludo Gieling, Journalist and Editor in Chief @ Sprout and MT
As with every component in your newsroom, design it with the journalist in mind. While some journalists might be interested in financial news, others might be more interested in product-related news, or events. By segmenting your news in your newsroom, you can cater to each of these journalists specifically. All they have to do is navigate to the right category.
A newsroom provides everything a journalist would possibly need to tell a good story
In PR, as in all things, it’s good to cover all bases. A Press Kit combines all the elements of a product or story into one tidy, digestible package. It can include logos, PDFs, documents, reports; or any other assets that breathe life into a campaign.
Digital storytelling is increasingly visual, so easily accessible, high-quality Image Banks are especially important. By providing every asset a journalist could possibly need or want, you make it impossible for them not to write about you.
A newsroom puts you in touch with the right people
You will probably have had the experience where a customer service question accidentally hits your inbox. Clear Contact Information makes sure that people connect with the right people immediately, whether they are a journalist, an influencer, or an investor, so you don’t have to tell people to reboot their computer.
Your online newsroom is an obvious, dedicated environment for your media relations. With clear signposting your core team and visitors alike waste a lot less time, so it’s easier to cover you.
“Most important are clear links to contact details and spokespeople. I like to reach out on the phone and LinkedIn, some of my colleagues prefer email. A newsroom without any contact details would be a big miss.”
Remy Ludo Gieling, Journalist and Editor in Chief @ Sprout and MT
A newsroom lets journalists know who you are and what you stand for
A strong About Section gives context to a brand narrative. It is how a company explains the unique value they bring to the market and how their coverage fits into a wider company (and industry) story.
Brands like VanMoof have a great About section, with heaps of personality: sharing its inception story by two Dutch brothers, some big milestones, its mission, supported with beautiful photography.
A newsroom shows the media what people are saying about you
Your Clippings Section captures the history of your media coverage and the movement you’ve created. Visitors can clearly see conversations about you look like, and with clear logos from reputable publications who have covered you, you have that social proof that is foundational for brand reputation. Also, in an interview with a Dutch journalist we did a while back, we learned that journalists often use previous coverage as a source for information and quotes.
These testimonials or story angles can also be great inspirational content for future stories.
A newsroom gives journalists the opportunity to subscribe to your news
Media contacts who are already keen have the opportunity to Subscribe to future news directly from a press page or an online newsroom. This is a brilliant way of building contacts who are genuinely engaged and can be a powerful way to start a relationship.
A newsroom helps journalists find key information fast
By including a strong search functionality in your newsroom, you get company news and information to visitors and enthusiasts that little bit faster. Make sure to include all your content in your newsroom search: logos, media kits, press headlines- these full site searches can be particularly useful for big media centers or time-pressed journalists.
PR jargon got you scratching your head in confusion? We've got you covered. Check out our PR dictionary with 100 terms every PR pro should know.
Examples of good corporate newsrooms
WeTransfer’s online newsroom
WeTransfer has extended their colorful branding into their newsroom. The whole site is straightforward to navigate, making it easy for journalists to find the story or assets they need in seconds. The clear about section gives some extra context on brand identity and what products the company owns. Interestingly, with WeTransfer being a design-driven company, they've built a separate section showcasing their awards. The newsroom is set up separately from the rest of WeTransfer's website, entirely dedicated to its media contacts.
Titleist's media centre
Titleist is a good example of what companies with physical products can do with their online newsrooms - by turning them into a fully comprehensive media center. The advanced search within the media center makes it easy to find what you are looking for in seconds, despite the size.
In Dolby's newsroom, you'll find corporate news about all Dolby's products. In order to keep a clear overview, and give journalists an overview of product-specific news, all articles are segmented into different categories. There is also plenty of information for visiting investors, analysts, and other stakeholders, linking to investor resources, executive leadership, and corporate facts.
How do you build a good newsroom?
Essentially, the best newsrooms are built with in collaboration with your media contacts, not just on input from your marketing or communications team. What is it that journalists want to learn from our newsroom? How can we support them better than we currently do? What happens after journalists receive a press release? Ever asked your media contacts what they think of your newsroom? Or how they like the way you're currently providing them with news?
Ultimately, it’s your team that will use a newsroom every day. A good newsroom solution knows that you get flooded with media requests, that you need to be able to update your campaigns on the go, and that you are constantly juggling people from different teams and companies.
The company-facing software that powers online newsrooms is now getting more sophisticated, including everything from Content Management Systems, to CRMs and workflow tools to organize your contact lists and pitching history, to media monitoring services. Each company will have its own unique spin on an online newsroom but by putting everything in one place, you save a ton of time.
The public-facing part of online newsrooms is designed with journalists in mind. A journalist, like you, is a consumer of content and, unsurprisingly, wants a ‘low friction' experience where things look great and are easy to find. It may seem obvious, but if you want the media to seriously you have to take them- and their time- seriously too.
Should I build or buy my newsroom?
Online newsrooms can be built in-house or bought as an off-the-shelf solution from a specialized company. The decision is different for every organization, depending on their unique situation and functional requirements. We've written a comprehensive guide about the pros and cons of building or buying a newsroom solution. We hope it helps you make an informed decision.
Now, here at PR.co, we've created hundreds of newsrooms for strong brands worldwide. Don't hesitate to shoot us a message (on LinkedIn, by scheduling a demo request at the bottom of this page, or by sending our colleague Sjors an email, whatever you prefer!).
Carmen Guillen is Content Team Lead at OLIVER Agency. With over 7 years of experience as a copywriter and editor, Carmen has written for high-profile blogs and newspapers, and directed the content teams for fast-growing startups and NGOs, including PR.co’s blog and Unfold Magazine. Carmen is passionate about ethical business and artful storytelling.. Connect on LinkedIn or send an email