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If you were a king, how would you deck out your royal residence? Chances are you’d invest heavily to ensure your surroundings matched the importance of your status.
So (and forgive the far from subtle analogy), if content is king, then where you host your content surely needs a similar amount of thought, care and investment?
We recently embarked on a benchmark report to find out just how much care the world’s 100 best known brands (as identified by Millward Brown’s 2012 Brandz Top 100) put into the places they host their corporate content, their online newsroom.
While some brands (including Coca-Cola and Siemens, who topped the study) really excelled in providing a great all-round newsroom experience, many failed to reach these heights and the average score was a slightly disappointing 38%.
However, always keen to be an optimist, I thought I’d pull out five of the areas that we think are crucial when putting an online newsroom together and use examples from some of the shining examples from our study to demonstrate what ‘good’ looks like.
1. Provide value-added content
Despite the much heralded advantages of communicating with audiences beyond just the traditional media, only 22% of the brands we looked at offered added value content such as blogs, news opinion pieces, tips, customer advice or competitions.
One brand that bucked the trend here was Cisco. Constantly active and brimming with content, Cisco’s newsroom featured a good mix of information and resources, all designed to engage visitors.
2. Ensure multimedia content is high quality
The success of sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine should tell you one thing – multimedia content matters more than ever online.
Our findings here weren’t particularly positive, with 40% failing to provide even the most basic of image libraries - and where they did exist, they were poorly stocked. In fact only 9% included infographics and only 51% featured video content.
Microsoft, however, should be commended for providing a newsroom that contained plenty of multimedia content. The sheer quantity and quality of the resources on offer meant that if you ever required a Microsoft-related image or a video then this would be the only place you’d ever need to go.
3. Use social media to amplify your content
Social media can be a fantastic way of amplifying the stories and messages that a brand creates, with a newsroom being the ideal place to centralise a lot of their social activity. But, with many departments now managing social channels, it isn’t without its complications.
In total, 55% of the brands we assessed linked to some sort of social network from their newsroom.
The overall winner of the study, Coca-Cola, was a great example of best practice here. The iconic drinks brand placed large, clean social media buttons linking to its social media profiles at the bottom of each page in its newsroom, emphasising the importance and popularity of its social presence.
4. Make it easy to get in touch
As every good comms professional will tell you, sometimes people just want to deal with people. Even if you have the easiest newsroom to use, filled with a vast array of content, your visitors may just want to speak with someone directly.
Surprisingly, 24% of the brands we looked at failed to even list a phone number for a representative in their newsroom. Only 19% provided regional contacts and 45% failed to include contact details on press releases.
General Electric really stood out in this area. The brand provided a comprehensive directory of contacts by region and department, allowing anyone to quickly and easily find the right person for their enquiry.
5. Prioritise findability
No matter how complete, well designed or informative your newsroom is, if visitors can’t find it then all your hard work is in vain. Only 65% of the brands we assessed linked directly to their newsroom from their homepage.
There was better news when it came to visibility in search with three quarters of company newsrooms appearing on the first page of Google when we searched for ‘COMPANY NAME + news’.
Santander ranked well in search and gave its newsroom pride of place on the main corporate website, with a prominent link right in the top navigation bar.
You can download the full What’s the story? report here.