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23rd October 2009

Social Media Newsroom – nonsense or necessity?



Online newsrooms first made their debut about 5 or 6 years ago.  Only the very early adopters had one back then, but over the years we’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of journalists who say a newsroom on a company website is absolutely essential.

Three years ago the idea of a social media press release was first discussed at the inaugural meeting of Social Media Club in Palo Alto.  The handful of us who attended that meeting,  including Tom Foremski who wrote the blog post Die! Press Release Die! debated the need for a new format.

Soon after that meeting Todd Defren of Shift Communications created the first Social Media Release Template, which got tons of downloads.  And he got lots of calls asking how to use the template – How can I fill this in?  Most PR peple are not geeks – we don’t know how to code.

Smart wire services started to offer the format as an alternative. But there still remained the problem of how to get a social media press release onto your own website.  Unless you had programming skills this was not possible.

If you have programming skills, or your IT department has the time and the inclination, you can customize a blog platform like WordPress and make a nice social media newsroom.  But it can take several months, sometimes even more than a year,  to get it  done.

Or you can use one of the media room platforms on the market and get one up in a few weeks.

Many of them are now adding social media elements. The one feature that tops the wish-list is the ability to easily make a social media press release with multimedia elements that a journalist can take and use. 

Journalists are increasingly expected to supply multimedia elements with a story.  Bloggers always want images and video.

If your social media newsroom offers them content in this format, with images andvideo that have embed code that journalists and bloggers can just cut and paste, your chance of getting coverage is that much better. And it’s one thing to have it on the wire, but you need it on your website too.

Nine out of ten reporters use the Internet to search for information when they write a story.  And they say they find the information they need less than 75 percent of the time. 

Make your newsroom more user and search friendly – get your press releases out of those PDFs.  Google does not like them and neither do journalists and bloggers.

In a recent survey from Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR),70% of journalists said they use social networks to assist in reporting, compared to 41% in last year’s survey.

69 percent of respondents go to company websites to assist in their reporting, while 66 percent use blogs, 51 percent use Wikipedia, 48 percent go to online videos, and 47 percent use Twitter and other microblogging services.

A big part of this jump is the result of newsroom cuts. Journalists have to wera more hats, they have less help to do their jobs, and they’re required to produce more content across various formats in near real-time. Journalists have no choice but to use these tools to find information fast.

Why not offer them everything they could possibly need and want in one place on your own website. It may seem like nonsense to many died-in-the-wool PR people.  But a social media newsroom has become a necessity in this new world of real-time access to information and news and changing communication models.

And as the media landscape changes, the practice of PR has to change too.


 Image Credit: Rabbie Radio

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