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Tips for Creating Your Online Newsroom

Need some positive publicity? Make it easy for journalists, bloggers and other influencers to reach you so they can spread the word about what you do.

By Ellen Hartman

It’s a fact that the news media have fewer reporters and fewer resources these days and are being asked to produce more stories, tweets and blog posts than ever before.

While that’s a burden for most news journalists, it is an opportunity for public relations professionals to make it easy for media to write about your brand. A robust online newsroom on your brand’s website is the “go-to standard” to help media and the facts and figures and story ideas about your restaurant. Not only is it a way to organize your media assets (releases, photos, videos), it keeps the necessary information all in one place.

I recently talked with an editor who experienced an online newsroom that was not up to par. She expressed her frustration with online newsrooms that don’t provide even the basics, like company background information. But her No. 1 complaint, and one that is common among journalists, is missing media contact information. One of the most important things you can do is have a designated media contact email and phone number included on your website … and make sure it is monitored and responded to ASAP! Without a specific email and phone number, journalists can get lost in the fray, and you might miss out on a great media opportunity.

Although so many brands miss out on the value of online newsrooms – or think they don’t have the time to dedicate to one – there are those who do it well. One brand who I think is an example of an online newsroom done right is Chick-fil-A. It has all the traditional components of a newsroom and is easy to navigate, but, most importantly, Chick-fil-A uses its unique personality to tell its story. Its newsroom is compelling, it’s engaging and it speaks to their brand.

While you don’t have to have an online media page that has all the bells and whistles like Chick-fil-A, there are a few simple tips for creating your own online newsroom that any journalist will appreciate.

1. Make it easy to find.
A link to your newsroom should be prominently displayed and easy to find from your company homepage. You don’t want media to have to waste time digging around on your website for the information they are looking for. If you make it too hard, you risk the media giving up and moving along to another company, which could mean the difference between your brand being featured in a news story or being left out.

2. Make sure it’s thorough.
A complete online newsroom has seven key components: news releases; video; photos; links to the brand’s social media handles (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram); company fact sheets; biographies of company leadership with their headshots; media coverage; and media contact information. The key is to make it easy for media to use so they can quickly copy/ paste and download information for their articles or reach out to someone who will respond and help them with what they need, whether that’s scheduling an interview, setting up a photo shoot or just sending a recent headshot of the restaurant owner.

3. Keep it up-to-date.
It’s important that you dedicate some time to keeping your online newsroom up-to-date with fresh content. It’s an easy thing to forget about but simple to do. This includes immediately posting the latest press releases; adding new photos so it’s not the same pictures you see in the media month after month and year after year; and removing outdated content that is no longer necessary or accurate.

4. Capture your audience.
If a journalist visits your press room, you already have someone engaged and interested in your brand. Take advantage of that! Make sure you include a form to capture the media’s contact information. You can use it later for sending out the latest news or events.

5. Consider an events calendar.
This is optional, but some find it useful to publish upcoming company events so the media is “in the know.” The events calendar can be used to list new store openings, trade show participation, executive appearances and any other company and/or community events.

No matter the size of your restaurant, be sure you at least set up a basic media page with contact info, whether that’s a phone number and email address to an in-house marketing person, a PR agency handling your media requests, or just one of the business owners.

You’d be surprised how many professional journalists, bloggers and more will reach out to you and help you promote your company if you just give them a way how!

Ellen Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the CEO of Hartman Public Relations, a full-service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice Industry. Hartman has experience working for Coca-Cola, Concessions International, Chili’s, Huddle House, Billy Sims BBQ and Uncle Maddio’s and many QSR brands including Popeyes, Church’s and Arby’s. An industry leader for more than 25 years, Hartman is active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Les Dames d ’Escof er International.


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