3 Areas to Automate in an Online Newsroom

by Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services, Business Wire

Ibrey Woodall

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services

A few weeks ago, I was invited to join a panel that discussed “Smart Digital Tactics.” Since this conversation took place at the PR News Social Media Summit in NY, those particular tactics pertained to social media. Although all of the information was extremely helpful, I saw a lot of attendees sport an information-overload glaze after the first day of the two-day conference.

As the last presenter of the conference, my goal was to help ease the minds of overwhelmed and overworked communicators by illustrating how technology can be used to manage multiple communication steps. This can be done with one single tool – the online newsroom. It’s all about automation. Automation is the essence of digital technology.

I’m always amazed at how many different responsibilities fall under the realm of the public relations department, how few resources are available to that team, and how little time there is to meet all of the deadlines. Out of sheer survival, communicators must automate as much as is suitable within the online newsroom. Suitable, in this sense, means that it must have an actual purpose, be expedient, and alleviate some of the workload.

Below are three areas within an online newsroom that should be streamlined.

  1. Press release posting
  2. Social network posting
  3. Social media integration

1.       Press Release Posting

Online newsrooms are for multiple publics, but the core audience is still the journalist, according to the 2011 Communicators Online Newsroom Practices Survey results conducted by Bulldog Reporter and Business Wire. All press releases, self published or distributed via a wire service, should be available and searchable within an organization’s online newsroom. All press releases that are distributed through a wire service should always post automatically into an online newsroom. Depending upon the amount of releases, this automation could save a communicator several hours, days, even weeks of valuable time over the course of a year.

To facilitate the process even more, all wire-distributed releases should be organized into a selected category. Those categories should be labeled by subject matter. Organizing press releases by date alone is no longer sufficient. Journalists also have a very long to-do list with tight deadlines. They need to be able to quickly access a specific type of release related to their research. It’s much easier to find that release under “Product Releases” or “Financial Releases” instead of trying to remember if it is under “2012” or “2011.”

For greater efficiency, a communicator should also be able to feature that release and generate an email alert at the same time it is distributed, posted and categorized. A featured release is not only placed into the archive, but it is also highlighted on the Home Page of the online newsroom. Despite the date of the release, the communicator can choose to keep it featured as long as they desire, even if other releases are published after the date of the featured release. This tactic persuades journalists to view this release first upon entering the online newsroom. The email alert links to the releases, increasing traffic to the online newsroom.

Communicators should be able to simultaneously distribute and post a press release onto their online newsroom, along with categorizing and featuring the individual release.

So that the corporate site also remains current, the three most recent press releases headlines should also feed and display onto the Home Page. This is done through really simple syndication (RSS) feed from the online newsroom and fulfills two objectives – making fresh news available and again, directing more traffic to the online newsroom.

The most recent news posted onto the online newsroom can also be automatically displayed on an organization’s main site via an RSS feed.

2.       Social Network Posting

Now that a great deal of time has been saved by distributing, emailing, posting and highlighting a press release simultaneously, it’s time to delve even deeper into the benefits of online newsroom automation.

When self-publishing a press release within an online newsroom, the communicator should also be able to choose to post a message onto the official Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts without having to spend the time going to each interface to log in, prepare the message and then post.  This is even more important now that Twitter no longer displays tweets on LinkedIn.

When self publishing a press release, communicators should also be able to optimize the content for search engines, dispatch a message to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and generate an email alert.

3.       Social Media Integration

Now that content has been pushed out, it’s time to pull some content into the online newsroom. This is especially helpful if the social media accounts are managed by someone outside of the public relations department.

The automatic integration of social media content into the online newsroom will let site visitors know that the organization does indeed have official Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts, along with links to them. This creates an entire page of content in the online newsroom that does not require maintenance.

It’s a good idea to also link to the organization’s social media policy, as well as integrate the Twitter stream into the Home Page of the online newsroom as seen in the P&G Corporate Online Newsroom.

The P&G Corporate Online Newsroom integrates Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube content into http://news.pg.com.

In summary, if automation within an online newsroom is not present or utilized, especially in the areas of press release posting, social network posting and social media integration, valuable time is being wasted.

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