What are the best strategies for brands to build their own social media newsrooms?

A social media newsroom should feature all key company information and make it easy for stakeholders to contact the business.

Panel

Andrew Bowins, SVP of external comms, MasterCard Worldwide
andrew_bowins@mastercard.com

Katie Burke, Director of media and analyst relations, HubSpot
kburke@hubspot.com

Anne Green, President and CEO, CooperKatz & Company
agreen@cooperkatz.com

Julie Murphy, Partner and SVP, PR, Sage Communications
jmurphy@aboutsage.com

Liya Sharif, Senior director of marketing at Qualcomm and publisher of Qualcomm Spark
lsharif@qualcomm.com

Andrew Bowins, SVP of external communications, MasterCard Worldwide
Storytelling is a buzzword that is critical to effective communications. But as the lines between traditional, digital, and social media continue to blur, how do companies create content that will resonate in each?

As a mentor once taught me, ‘We've two ears and one mouth so we should always seek to listen twice as hard before we speak.'

With this in mind, MasterCard has begun a journey that's causing us to rethink the way we communicate, how we share news, engage stakeholders, and establish an authentic voice in all we do.

Enter the modern newsroom. From a design perspective, it's engaging, designed for interactions, and rich with content and perspective that comes from the company and is curated from the Web. It's about bringing a point of view to life through visual storytelling, video, conversation streams, and infographics, and sharing information and ideas in real time.

Most importantly, it is about being relevant to the people you are engaged with at a local level and having customers tell their stories – that's when real engagement begins. It's only then that companies begin to earn the credibility to speak to communities about their vision, value, and benefits.

At MasterCard, we call this the Conversation Suite. The online newsroom drives our social enterprise strategy, which allows us to think innovatively about how we communicate and are perceived as a company and brand. It includes real-time listening, insights, and analytics in 43 countries and 26 languages that help inform our storytelling.

The traditional channels for telling stories may have changed, but what remains constant is the power of listening, of earning your way into a conversation, and respect for your audience.

These are not only the building blocks of any relationship, but they're also the foundation for a new communications contract between businesses and stakeholders that's based on genuine engagement.

Katie Burke, director of media and analyst relations, HubSpot 
Journalists who are breaking news in the social media era often need sources and quotes within minutes of a deadline; hours or days are out of the question.

As a result, it's vital that companies cultivate an approach to PR that makes it as easy as possible for media outlets to contact your organization, find what they need, and write a story within minutes of visiting your site.

For a social media newsroom to work, you need to start with the content that members of the press will most likely seek from your company. Journalists need a source who can credibly comment on the topic they are covering. Next, they need assets from quotes, to photos, to sound bites.

Great social newsrooms typically feature executive bios, buttons to follow RSS feeds and social media channels, logos, background on your company, and an easy and visible way for journalists to contact you.

Some corporate communications teams are concerned that putting all of this information out is dangerous, as it could exacerbate a customer service enquiry highlighted on Twitter or call additional attention to a misstep by one of your executives.

Your brand can no longer hide. You need to make it easy for people to interact with your company – the social newsroom is one critical component of this effort.

Creating an inbound approach to media relations at your company starts with relevant content. At HubSpot, many of our incoming requests come as a direct result of our company blog, e-books, and discussions on social media. If you're not engaging in conversations that customers and influencers care about, you're missing out on opportunities for additional coverage.

Journalists, like the rest of us, want to engage with brands and information that's interesting, accessible, and easily digestible.

Anne Green, president and CEO, CooperKatz & Company
We exist in a world of relentless information fragmentation. Social and content marketing strategies are a reflection of this reality, distributing streams of data, insights, and commentary across multiple channels. 

Organizations must connect with their audiences to increase the odds of discovery. Yet as a brand's voice splinters into myriad tweets, posts, videos, slideshows, lists, Pinterest boards, and, yes, press releases – there is a significant argument for aggregation.

As PR pros, we live this need for aggregation each day – given the challenges of analyzing multiple streams of conversation relevant to our industries. Aggregation of external communications streams at the organizational level is equally vital.

Fragmentation can be a barrier to those seeking insights about an organization – forcing them to hunt across multiple channels. A social media newsroom becomes the place to weave the disparate threads back together in a common context, allowing the voice of an organization to reconverge in a multimedia environment.

The concept of the social media newsroom sounds simple. But, as with anything, there are pitfalls. An organization must show genuine ownership and accountability. Agencies should be close partners. Vendors should share best practices in technologies and platforms. But most important is that in-house, senior communications pros have front-line responsibility for creating, nurturing, and engaging this space.

Organizations must also guard against over-reliance on automation and algorithms.

Finally, a visually driven and intuitive architecture – one that mirrors best practices in Web and mobile design and navigation – is a must. This will help users absorb at a glance the different flows of data and insights available to them.

Julie Murphy, partner and SVP, PR, Sage Communications 
The value of a newsroom has always been as a gateway or a launching pad to tell your organization's story. This includes the personality of the organization and all of the great things it has to offer.

However, in this 24/7 news cycle, a list of press releases and one-way communication has limited return.

Today, an organization's stakeholders can get information through many different facets. Due to this nuance of human nature, social media has opened up an entirely new world, which allows the consumer of information to customize how, when, and where they receive it.

According to The Washington Post, the lack of a social content hub on your site is one of the 10 mistakes that organizations make in social media marketing. The emergence of the social media newsroom has dramatically shifted the means to how an organization's prospects and influencers can assimilate information – for the better.

While the list of announcements is still relevant in highlighting company news, integrating components such as a Twitter feed, expert Q&A, RSS feed, company blog, and the many other channels in one place, gives your customers a 360-degree view of the company, its expertise, and offerings.

The key in building a successful social media newsroom is to keep the clutter in check and doing what you can well. Use the best channels to showcase your story, keep it easy to navigate and organize, and use it as a platform to engage customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

Liya Sharif, senior director of marketing at Qualcomm and publisher of Qualcomm Spark
Digital journalism barely resembles the landscape that existed before the eruption of Mount Internet. The Fourth Estate is being enveloped like Pompeii by emergent forms – blogging, citizen journalism, sponsored content, and co-creation.

Although there is still a place for classically trained editors and reporters, their roles are changing as the search continues to define the amorphous term, content.

There is one surviving concept that is being employed in digital journalism to great effect – the newsroom. The structure endures because it is the best way to ensure the team is clear on goals and tasks, and that content stays up to date.

In the realm of brand journalism, Qualcomm Spark, a site that focuses on technology and invention, has used the newsroom concept to build a bi-coastal content team.

Spark's newsroom holds a daily status meeting to go over top stories, priorities for the day, and workflow. The team also holds weekly status meetings to discuss analytics, site maintenance, and larger projects, as well as a monthly planning meeting to brainstorm future content and themes. Our newsroom also acts as a larger media planning and content production engine for our other channels, such as the OnQ blog.

The newsroom concept can also be externalized in the form of a social media newsroom where the content team can post press releases, top headlines, a media library, and promote social media presence. 

Finally, incorporating a newsroom structure keeps your team engaged and participating. These steps will keep your organization ahead of the game and not buried in the ash cloud that is the profusion of other content competing for your readers' attention.


The Takeaway
  • A social media newsroom should feature all key company information and make it easy for stakeholders to contact the business
  • Engagement and allowing consumers to tell their stories is critical. Listen to them and use insights and analytics from these conversations to drive your social strategy
  • Keep the clutter in check. Post relevant information that you know stakeholders will want to see and then use your best channels to showcase these stories

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