The online newsroom
It’s probably at the rate of once a week that I read a blog post or newsletter article wondering or asserting that the news release is dead. But that’s not exactly true. One reason news releases are still useful is the online newsroom.
The simplest form of an online newsroom is a place on a company website where an archive of news releases can be stored. Typically, it's a list of headlines and dates, with the most recent first. Each headline is linked to the full news release. The online newsroom page should be easy to find, typically as a link in the site’s main navigation bar.
Online newsrooms are useful for several reasons. One is that journalists who aren't on your contact list can find releases there, often by searching on a topic. The old news releases can be useful to journalists researching a story who want background information. Also, members of the public at large can access news from an online newsroom, even if the press release did not generate any media coverage. Various publics may have interest in your company or organization news, including current and potential customers, employees, investors, donors and others.
Locally, Meijer is a good example of a basic online newsroom. It’s a list of news releases by date, with a visual for most of them. An area for reporters is prominent, as is a way to subscribe via RSS or email to future news releases, so a journalist or interested person doesn’t have to keep checking the website for new updates.
Meanwhile, Dicks Sporting Goods is an example of how a public company separates earnings releases and general news releases. This is wise, given that the SEC has rigid guidelines about what information can be shared how and when that may be “material” in terms of stock value. Other companies may keep this distinction by having an investor relations page or section as a separate link from an online newsroom.
While basic online newsrooms are often enough, there are some more modern methods to enhance the site to make it more useful and to gain more readers of individual news releases.
Make releases easy to find by search
Most people, even journalists, will not spend the time checking an individual company website for news. Rather, they will enter a search term in Google or another search engine. So, news releases should be written in a way that optimizes or makes sure a specific news release is among the relevant search results. Called search engine optimization, or SEO, this form of writing means using terms and words that an average person would enter in a search bar, not the odd jargon of a specific company or industry.
Make releases sharable
It’s a social world now. If a journalist or any other person reads your news release and finds it useful, make it easy for them to share it via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social networks. You can easily do this by getting the code for share buttons for your online newsroom from AddThis. There are a variety of companies who offer the service of making your news release a social media news release. These may be helpful if you don’t want to make your own version.
Make your news releases easy to subscribe to
Add the RSS (real simple syndication) code to your online newsroom and allow people to subscribe to a feed or get an email whenever you add new content. Some web content management software have built-in tools to add an RSS option for viewers to your site or this tutorial will help.
Make your news releases interactive and multimedia
Make keywords hyperlinks to other areas of content on your website. You can even link to other content online off your own site, because these “outbound” links get noticed and could be reciprocated, drawing more traffic to your site. But even if not, readers appreciate the option of a quick link to related information. Multimedia content, such as a photo, video, graphic or audio file can be useful to print, radio and TV journalists. Regular viewers of your online newsroom are more likely to share information that has more rich media content.
So, news releases are not dead. If you do it right, you’ll find they actually can have more life than ever before.