A Corporate Communicator’s Newsroom
For this week’s blog, we are pleased to have Mark Roberts from ViewMARK Communications share some of his insight on trends in corporate communications; specifically, lessons corporate communicators can learn from high pressure newsrooms. Mark has a rich history in both television news and public relations and we are very excited to work with Mark on a variety of projects as we continue our efforts to target our products to solve many of the challenges facing today’s corporate communications teams.
Five Things Corporate Communicators Can Learn From Newsrooms
As communicators of all kinds develop content for distribution to a specific audience, most are keenly aware they do so in the midst of a changing media landscape – subject to often radical changes in technology and approach.
Whether you are a journalist, public relations executive or news consumer, you know you live in a world of constant change — with the end of the media revolution nowhere in sight.
Sadly, the victim of all this change seems to be the public’s faith in news media. A recent Gallup poll found the public’s trust in newspapers, television and the internet as accurate sources of information is at an all-time low.
But as traditional media fights to discover a workable business model and the still-forming internet media seeks to find its way, today’s corporate communicators realize they bear a greater responsibility to tell their company story.
And many are delivering shining results. Today, many companies develop in-depth, creative content that rivals award-winning journalism.
But as corporate communications expands to deliver compelling content, it is important to reflect back on the best of traditional newsrooms to see what can be learned from the professionals who spent years refining their editorial and production systems.
1. Content is King. Simplicity is Queen. Consistency is Forever.
Corporate Communications is flush with buzz words like “Content Marketing.” and “Brand Storytelling.” Often these words help define what content should be created, but have little to do with the quality of that content.
Strive for quality over quantity. Producing reams of average content – even in an internal communications setting — will only bore your audience – and a bored audience will disengage.
A disengaged audience can have far-reaching implications. Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm determines your search ranking based (in part) on the strength of your content and the engagement of your audience. You will not significantly raise your search ranking by producing an over-abundance of average content.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be handcuffed at times by deadlines and resources. It does mean, strive to make the most of your resources and set the bar high. This is a winning approach for most newsrooms whose editors hope to build a strong audience.
Be aware, when it comes to content, style will never win over substance. A clean, simple presentation of quality content will win out over a dressed up piece of average content. Embrace simplicity and consider it a driving factor when producing your content.
Most of all, strive for consistency. A great piece of content followed up by months of average content will cause your audience to lose trust in your ability to deliver. Build your communication team and process so it can consistently produce quality content over time. Remember: You will ultimately fail if you only succeed once.
2. Find the right tools.
Software developers and News organizations like the Associated Press have designed content management systems that help journalists take their content from the creative process and move it through an editorial review system and on into production. Some allow a reporter to create a news story on a mobile device and then easily turn the content into a social media post or web story.
In the corporate communications world, a one-sized fits all solution for content production doesn’t currently exist. But many new and exciting software products work in tandem with corporate intranets to accomplish many of the same goals.
ElevatePoint offers a news production product that works on top of SharePoint, Microsoft’s Web application framework. ElevatePoint News allows corporate communicators to target, create and deliver news to various stakeholders, across various channels, and then measure the results.
3. Measure everything
Journalism is a bottom-line business. TV ratings and circulation/web figures are parsed down to the lowest common denominator. Patterns are identified and content is developed to maximize audience.
But in corporate communications, measurement is often the forgotten tool. Corporate Communicators spend so much time trying to develop content and the process needed to get there, they often forget to build in a process of measurement.
In today’s world you cannot develop quality content without defining your target audience (or audiences) and determining their level of engagement with your content. There are two reasons for this: Measurement helps set boundaries around the type of content you need to develop. It also helps define your success and ROI – a must in today’s bottom-line corporate world.
Start with Google Analytics and the data provided by the most common social networks. But don’t hesitate to develop unique solutions like employee surveys and responses to sales inquiries. Also, seek out new technology solutions that allow you to measure employee engagement impact like ElevatePoint’s ElevatePoint News which allows internal communicators to analyze important news information such as ratings, average article comments, total views and trends.
Once you have compiled your data, the hard part will be analyzing it. And while your results will probably be open to interpretation, there is one certainty in today’s world of corporate communications: don’t develop content if you can’t measure it.
4. Strive for engagement.
In recent years, the television ratings and circulation data offered up to advertisers has come in to question as media companies have been accused of manipulating or misrepresenting the numbers.
It’s one reason advertisers are starting to put greater weight on content engagement. But what is engagement and how do you measure it?
In a recent Forbes article, Kevin Kruse compared measuring engagement to measuring love. Impossible, right? Not necessarily. You can measure the level at which people “love” your content in several ways.
Author Avinash Kaushik, who wrote the best-seller Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity, says the best engagement metrics measure Conversation, Amplification, Applause, and Economic value. Some of this data can be drawn from Web and Social Media Analytics. Direct surveys will also yield results.
When measuring how much your stakeholders love your company or product, don’t hesitate to take an “all-of-the-above” approach. Try a variety of different solutions for measuring your success. But recognize you will only be achieving usable data if you combine content consumption’s statistics such as unique pages views and length on a page and develop data that measures emotions. This is the only way to discover how much you’re stakeholders are truly “feeling the love” for your company.
5. Become a Technology Evangelist.
While covering news can be exciting, producing news content all day, every day can drive even the best journalists into a rut. Good journalists develop a routine. But throw new software or new job requirements into the mix and newsrooms become an ideal environment to witness the disruptive effects of technology.
Newsrooms are not unique in this regard. But these dynamic, and yet repetitive work areas are often the first adopters of new communications technology. Corporate communicators can learn from their successes and failures.
Today, successful newsrooms often employ or designate a technology evangelist – typically a manager who can train new employees while also helping to educate upper management on the value of implementing new technology.
Often, the best evangelists do not work in IT. They are (hopefully) strong communicators who understand the journalism workflow and embrace technology. They are also capable managers who can maneuver internal politics and drive change.
Having someone like this on your staff used to be a luxury. Today, it is a necessity.
Mark Roberts is Principal of ViewMARK Communications, a public relations consulting firm in Denver, Colorado. He is a former news manager in several large television markets including Houston and Salt Lake City. Mark also worked in the technology division of the Associated Press where he managed implementation of new technology in newsrooms across the United States and in Europe.