Got a content team? Doesn’t make you a newsroom

November 17, 2016 5:00 pm

This post was first published on 1st November 2013

The trend of the corporate newsroom isn’t going away. In fact, it is becoming more of a thing.

This week we tweeted this piece from Digiday about how Mastercard approaches its own content in this way. It isn’t alone.

newsroom 3

Many companies – instead of placing ads next to breaking news on media sites – are working on their own news output. Some have framed this as newsjacking (see: The Holy Grail of content marketing?) though we’d advise against an approach that wreaks of gaming breaking news – witness what has happened to content farms and SEO more generally.
But what counts as news and is this really what corporate newsrooms are delivering?

The other day we tweeted:

Note we add that both are positive. But we have worked with several large companies with very able in-house teams and some have wrongly thought of these as a newsdesk or newsroom.
Here’s the rub.

A newsroom implies the bulk (if not all) of the content isn’t about you. You, a company, are acting like a media organisation, reporting – often at speed – on what others are doing. There will be ample opportunities for this to benefit your brand, even help deliver sales, only resist the temptation to talk about yourself.

A great example is OPENforum from Amex (perhaps a rival MasterCard has its eye on). It is an online community all about helping small businesses. While it is clearly branded as being from American Express, a look at the most popular posts or contributors shows an independence and thought-leadership much more in tune with leading business media publications.

What do you think happens when a writer for OPENforum (staff or freelance) calls up a company and says they are reporting for a story that will appear on those pages?

This is the simple test, something we will address more next time. The answer: The organisation being called will most likely treat it as they would a media enquiry, possibly looking for PRs to coordinate what happens next.

What happens when companies with a corporate newsroom that isn’t as refined try the same thing? The writers are often ignored or flat out told that company B won’t help company A with its marketing. That’s a very different equation but by far the more common.

How do you evolve your content team into a corporate newsroom? Is it even desirable for most organisations? We’ll be getting to those answers.
* photo credit: Adam Tinworth via photopin cc

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