KISS an Online Newsroom

By Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communications Services, Business Wire
Ibrey Woodall

Ibrey Woodall, VP, Web Communication Services


“What I’m hearing is KISS — Keep it Simple, Stupid — correct?” exclaimed one of the 70+ attendees during Business Wire’s “Meet the Media” luncheon. The discussion for this Atlanta-based session covered how the media uses online newsrooms. As moderator of this session, I turned and looked at the panelists to answer this outburst. All three replied with vigorous, affirmative nods.

The panel consisted of Anita Sharpe, Bureau Chief, Editor-at-Large for Bloomberg News; Jeremiah McWillams, Business Reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Stephen Brown,EVP/Managing Director, Cohn & Wolfe-Atlanta. Each panelist shared their personal insights about challenges and usage of online newsrooms by the media. This included keeping the online newsroom simple and straightforward with easy access to news specifically about the organization.

For many years, I’ve surveyed journalists on what they want in an online newsroom. I’ve also surveyed communicators on how they manage their online newsroom. I use this valuable feedback to make sure that Business Wire’s NewsHQ product contains the best features and functionality. I enjoy listening to the horror stories, and seeing journalists get worked up about obstacles in some of the online newsrooms that they visit.

Atlanta "Online Newsrooms" media panel

(L-R) Jeremiah McWilliams, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Anita Sharpe, Bloomberg News; Stephen Brown, Cohn & Wolfe-Atlanta and Ibrey Woodall, Business Wire discuss how media use online newsrooms.

Although all agreed that an online newsroom is a necessity for any organization, below are simple points that have caused frustration for these particular panelists.

  • Excessive clicks from the corporate site to the newsroom
  • Complicated navigation and design
  • Uncategorized press releases
  • Absence of press releases distributed via wire services
  • Dearth of historical press releases
  • Press releases in PDF format only
  • Omission of dates in press releases
  • Lack of fact sheets
  • Insufficient birth dates for executives
  • Missing subject matter experts
  • Unavailability of email alerts
  • Forced registration/password-protected content
  • Inadequate updates during a crisis situation
  • Failure to provide media contact phone numbers and email addresses

All of these frustrations are easy to avoid with a proper online newsroom. There was one request made; however, that I’m not sure will ever be available in an online newsroom – cell phone numbers for chief executive officers.

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