Woodall: The top 10 content types for today's online newsroom

After utilizing search engines, reporters then focus their attention on two primary destinations: the company website and the online newsroom.

Ibrey Woodall, Business Wire
Ibrey Woodall, Business Wire

Any reporter worth his salt must research thoroughly before putting pen to paper or finger pad to keyboard. After utilizing search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, investigating reporters then focus their attention on two primary destinations: the company website and the online newsroom.

Beyond these principal content stations, media steer their attention to additional avenues of exploration such as social media networks, spokespersons, blogs, the press release boilerplate, trade publications, and Wikipedia, according to the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey. Results from the survey also led to insight into just how important certain kinds of information and distribution methods are to 300-plus members of the media.

Survey answers revealed the top 10 types of content, in order of importance, that journalists look for when reviewing a corporate online newsroom.

1. Press releases
Press releases are the most desired component within the online newsroom. Because of this, it’s important to also know that journalists want them categorized by topic or subject matter, as well as searchable by date. Both Merck & Co. and Avery Denison heed this need by accommodating media with the ability to filter according to preference in their online newsrooms.

Although most of the media surveyed are satisfied with a minimum of one to five years of past press releases, almost a third want access to the entire historical archive in an HTML/text format. Notably, a journalist is more likely to review a press release that contains supplemental assets, particularly photographs, more than any other type of multimedia. Because of that, the P&G corporate newsroom supplies multiple press releases that contain varying amounts of logos, photographs, and video.

2. Breaking news
Veteran reporters are always in tune to breaking news. One of the most presumed features is for a reporter to be able to register within an online newsroom so he can then receive select email alerts that pertain only to specific interests or industry beats. Once a company posts breaking news to its media center, that reporter then expects to be notified immediately via an email alert delivered directly from the official company online newsroom. The Bank of America newsroom allows journalists to add themselves to a breaking news database.

3. Media relations contact information
Since media usually face tight deadlines, they expect to reach a company spokesperson quickly when needed. That means they want to know who to contact and how, with easy access to email addresses and cell phone numbers. Easy access also translates into categorization of media contact information, either by individual responsibility, geographic region, or brand if it is a parent-child online newsroom that hosts content for multiple, recognized brands. With products in almost every country in the world, Logitech groups its PR team information by US/Canada, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Japan, Europe, and Africa, and then defines it even more so with subcategories, such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico for the Latin America region.

4. Fact sheets
Misinformation is prevalent on the Internet. This could be one of the reasons that the fact sheet has risen in popularity as a desired content type within the online newsroom. Reporters consider the fact sheet as a convenient and quick way to get up-to-date and accurate data about a company and its products, such as number of employees, corporate headquarters, annual revenues, Fortune 500 ranking and technical specifications. Not only are at-a-glance details supplied within the GameStop news center, but also a graphic highlighting company milestones.

5. Images and photographs
The survey confirmed that it is beneficial to both reporter and communicator if high-resolution images and photographs accompany press releases. It also ingrained the need to make them available as downloads within the multimedia gallery section of an online newsroom. Reporters also look for logos, audio, and video files within the gallery. The Office Depot/OfficeMax newsroom houses an image library classified by logo images, company images, and store images.

6. Press kits
Reporters favor press kits for reviewing and digesting packaged content that showcases an event, product, or other promotion. A list of PDF files is presented within the 3M newsroom, while landing pages display a variety of related materials combined to highlight certain products in the Plantronics newsroom.

7. Executive biographies
Commander-in-chief profiles are a necessity in any digital newsroom including the Dish Network company information center. Reporters are looking for personal history, headshots, quotes, and video interviews of major executives in the organization. Birthdates are preferred so that the correct age can be calculated at time of publication.

8. History
Journalists need supporting historical data for articles and look for this information within the online newsroom under the about or company overview section, especially if the company is a subsidiary of a parent corporation as is the situation with Virgin Mobile USA or Tide, which displays a timeline that goes back to 1946.

9. Events
Reporters who cover specific companies need to know when that company has scheduled a press conference, product launch, executive appearance, or otherwise is involved in industry events. Both past and current events are meaningful to journalists whether displayed as a list of events or in a calendar-style format as seen in the Ryder System and Aetna Foundation online newsrooms.

10. Locations
Facility locations are helpful to media in determining regional coverage, size of company, number of employees per location, regional coverage, and more. The Vistaprint newsroom displays domestic and international locations, while the Securian Financial Group online newsroom provides photographs for their buildings.

Even though the 2014 Business Wire Media Survey identified the components above as what journalists desired most in an online newsroom, other content types including subject matter experts, case studies, white papers, newsletters, past editorial coverage, brand articles, and frequently asked questions can all be vital to editorial research.

Ibrey Woodall is VP of Web communications services at Business Wire. She is responsible for the company’s NewsHQ Online Newsroom and InvestorHQ Investor Center. Woodall can be reached at Ibrey.Woodall@BusinessWire.com or on Twitter at @IbreyWoodall.

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