by Michael O'Neill
August 19th, 2013

A great recent post from George F. Snell from the Weber Shandwick Boston office on how to run a digital newsroom. In the article, he concludes by offering five key strategies media companies should utilise to build a more effective and engaging online presence:

  • Less is More.  The cram it all in strategy doesn’t work anymore. Newspapers should look at how the Huffington Post, Politico and other all digital news outlets present their news.  Big, provocative visuals combined with big, provocative headlines. The blog style lets readers easily navigate down the screen without becoming lost.
  • Go Live. Newspaper newsrooms are hives of activity. Bring the readers right inside with live video updates everyone hour. Reporters and editors discussing news, headlines, trends and cool things they are working on. Have the camera roam with the host. Make it feel unscripted and raw. Embed the live feeds right onto social properties. Newsrooms should be the content.
  • Go Graphic. Polls, infographics, photo art, images, GIFs, cartoons, chart, etc.. Make them all as interactive as possible. Illustrate and visualise the news. Nothing explains the news more powerfully than a striking visual representation.
  • Get a Brand. When readers are on the Huffington Post or TechCrunch or Amazon.com or Facebook – they know it. Those sites have a visual brand identity. You don’t even need to see the logos. You know where the content is from because of its design. Newsrooms should do that.
  • Build a Community. Stop talking at everyone. And why bother with having anonymous commenting when the reporters don’t participate and there are no rules? That’s just providing a cesspool for the trolls. Build a real community by asking for participation. By using user-generated content as part the news packages. Newsrooms should be a place of active (but civil)

Some of Snell’s points — such as building a brand identity and using multi-media content — seem obvious, so it is surprising to see so many newsrooms still not active in these areas. Others, such as making the newsroom the content, make sense but I do wonder how keen a busy journalists would be to become part of the story.

Of course it is not just media companies that should be heeding this advice. Many companies, organisations and brands would also benefit from a rethink of their current digital platforms. By thinking and acting like publishers, and adopting some of the strategies above, they would have more chance of developing an interactive, engaged and immediate connection with their customers and other stakeholders.

What do you think?

Michael O’Neill is digital managing editor, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick

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