by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Supervisor; and Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Miami
As more and more companies are building their online news sites, many are faced with questions about how best to serve their consumers, employees and visiting journalists: When building your online newsroom, should you have visitors register to log into your company website? How far back should press releases be archived on an online newsroom? Should executive bios with age be included on the company news site?
The panel consisted of Bill Faries, Miami bureau chief for Bloomberg; Rick Hirsch, managing editor for The Miami Herald; and Jeff Tavss, executive producer for digital & social media for WPLG-TV. Ibrey Woodall, vice president of web communications services for Business Wire, moderated the panel. Each media professional shared his insights on online newsrooms and the challenges of their usage by the media.
When asked if they would visit a “password protected” company online newsroom where they had to register to gain access, each panelist said no, and had questions of their own on the matter.
“Why would a company do that?” Hirsh asked.
“How prevalent is this practice?” Tavss said.
Faries shared that you have to be a big company such as Coca-Cola for him to register for such a site. He even went further to say that once he is in a password-protected news site he should be able to find information that is not accessible by the general public.
“The act of password protecting content types within an online newsroom is not widespread; however, it can be very useful at times. It all depends upon the strategy and specific purpose of the online newsroom,” added Woodall.
Also brought up during the panel discussion was a timeline for press releases and searchable archives. Hirsch said, “Companies should keep everything up”. Faries agreed and added, “Keep it up for transparency.”
Woodall advised that the industry average is to provide a minimum of 2 to 5 years of press release archives. “If you can provide more historical press releases than do so,” stated Woodall. “But if you are unable to do so, at least provide milestone releases that affect the make-up of the company, such as a merger or acquisition or new CEO. You don’t necessarily need to provide a release about a small community event from 1973.”
Here are some other essentials a company should keep in mind when mapping out its online newsroom.
- It should be easily accessible, and made available from your home page.
- Full birthdates for executives should be listed, not just ages.
- Complete executive bios, including resumes, are preferred.
- Provide links to the executives’ LinkedIn pages.
- Phone numbers (very important) and/or email addresses for media contacts should be available.
- Provide cell phone numbers for executives if possible.
- Categorize press releases and include searchability functions.
- Sites MUST be optimized for viewing on mobile phones and tablets.
- Media does not like when they have to register to access the information.