So you’re thinking of having a Social Media Newsroom?

There’s no doubt that nowadays Public Relations is getting exponentially harder, Social Media has opened up a new front in the world of PR and people are now joining the industry with a whole different skill set to those who have traditionally been drawn to the dark arts of mass relationship and media management. Personally I think this is a good thing (well I would wouldn’t I?), bad PR and bad PR Professionals have had it far too easy for far too long. Much like its stablemate advertising, PR is all about aspiration. In this case it’s about the client’s aspiration for the reputation of their company or brand.  It is undoubtedly one of those games where clients can often be intimidated by a wise talking, sharp suited and well groomed individual that they have paid handsomely to entrust with the reputation of the company who ultimately put food on the table of their families. That intimidation can lead to a reluctance to challenge the results of a campaign.
I have been involved in campaigns – and heard stories of ones – where the Corporate Communications or the PR Consultant blame their clients for the failings of the campaign, the standard excuses generally tend to be around people “going off brief” or legacy issues like “irredeemably damaged” brands. These issues should have been tackled, and strategies made for mitigating the issues, when the response to the initial brief was being developed. If they weren’t identified or tackled at that point then you both really are – to use a tired old cliche – preparing to fail by failing to prepare.These excuses were easy to trot out once upon a time but they are thankfully now becoming harder to make. The advent of Social Media has made it harder to trot out these standard get out clause lines now most campaigns have more of a social focus and the hub of any Social Media PR campaign is the Social Media Newsroom. As we’re constantly being told now, Social Media is moving the  goalposts of how campaigns now work and a good Social Media Newsroom will provide you with a map and compass as well as a yardstick for your campaigns.

So what exactly is a Social Media Newsroom? Well, the newsroom is a bringing together of several elements that already (should) exist disparately into one place on a corporate website. SM newsrooms do an important job of representing the breadth of a modern corporate presence, they bring together the old style Media Room (Press Releases, or in this case Social Media News Releases, contact details for key Press & PR contacts) with multimedia content like viral videos, pod/vodcasts and slideshare or prezi presentations. They also provide crucial Social Media service signposting information for corporate and professional Twitter, Friendfeed, Digg, Delicious services.

Rather than just ‘frontending’ everything your company does though, the Social Media Newsroom should act as the springboard for your measurement of a story, item of content or campaign. Everything in your SN Newsroom should be monitored as much as practically possible. The content you are putting out there needs to be tracked and monitored for responses. You need to know where each item is going, what it is doing and what people are saying about it and there are great services available in today’s marketplace which allow you to see the reach of your content and gauge the responses to it. If items receive negative feedback then that needs to be tackled, blogs panning your product need to be replied to and – if the feedback is serious enough to warrant it and budget allows it – changes to that content need to be made.

So what do they actually do? In contrast to old school Press Office/Media Centre areas of sites Social Media Newsrooms provide a more immersive and immediate experience for Press and PR contacts looking for information on a company, project or individual. They also allow a more iterative, longer lasting relationship with these key contacts – who are effectively key markets for corporate Press and PR staff -allowing a more personal, fertile relationship to start both on and off line. That said, SN Newsrooms don’t just serve a specific, media focussed niche but also work perfectly for the Social Media literate customer/client allowing them to sign up and receive information much in the same way as a journalist would.

The Social Media literate customer can be just as important as the journalist – in some cases more so – as they will be very likely to share news, content or new product information with their peers via reTweets, blog posts or Social Bookmarking Services thus boosting the Word of Mouth Marketing credentials of the company. It’s therefore very important to manage this relationship, these people will in all likelihood be promoting your company brand far beyond what can be achieved with normal press relationships. If you treat these people right, as we’ve seen with Apple, they can be the best evangelists for your product or service money (or rather no money, save your investment in a Social Media Newsroom) can buy. By the same token though, these “evangelists”can be the biggest threat to your brand image so, rather than treat them just like you would a journalist, they require their own strategy for cultivation. Keep them happy, keep them fed and above all keep them engaged. Listen to them, reply to them when they query you and above all make them feel special.

Resources:

GM Europe’s Social Media Newsroom:

Pretty much a case study in how a Social Media Newsroom should be, this nicely laid out SMNR aggregates feeds, shows tags, signposts useful GM blogs and even feeds recent comments.

SHIFT Communications Social Media Newsroom:

Probably the grandaddy of them all when it comes to Social Media PR, SHIFT pretty much pioneered the idea of the SMNR. I was lucky enough to see a presentation by these guys a couple of years back and I’ve been amazed by how influential their thinking has been as I’ve been hearing it parroted back to me ever since.

First Direct Social Media Newsroom:

Banks generally get a lot of bad press and they don’t help themselves in perpetuating the stuffy image, apart from First Direct the only person who is trying to counter this image is Cristophe Langolis, former Social Evangelist at Lloyds TSB and author of the Visible Banking blog. First Direct are pretty much leading the vanguard action in changing this and can lay claim to the title of the UK’s only Social Bank.

Fathom SEO Social Media Newsroom:

Fathom are an ethical SEO and internet marketing company and they live the ethics right through to their Social Media News Room. They are so ‘right on’ in terms of being open and social they even provide you with a free WordPress theme for you to have your own SMNR. Beautiful.