Online Newsrooms Aren't Just for Journalists

by Joanna Braeckel

How to educate several target audiences from one place

Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

According to the 2013 Online Newsroom Survey conducted annually by TEKGroup International, Inc., 97 percent of journalists consider it important for a company to have an active and updated online newsroom. Eighty percent of those polled visit online newsrooms for small- to medium-sized companies as well as large companies.

The survey also stresses that members of the media are no longer the only visitors to your website’s newsroom. More than 60 percent of those polled believe an online newsroom should be for anyone who wants news about your credit union – members, employees, friends, bloggers, industry experts and even unhappy customers of a neighboring bank.

“So now you want me to add webmaster to my PR resume?”

No, we want you to build the business case for creating and reusing credit union content where more and more people find the information that impacts their financial decisions – the Web. Execution can come from either a solid relationship with IT or easier-than-before content management systems offered by website building or hosting companies.

Building the Case

Journalists require current and accurate information for their stories. Much like the rest of us, the first place they will look is Google or your website. A maintained newsroom updated with dynamic content provides website visitors with an informed insight into your credit union’s products, services and activities.

In addition, members want to know what’s happening with their credit union and what financial advice they need to know. A newsroom is how you can share recent efforts aimed toward their education and satisfaction.

EXAMPLE: $23.7 billion/1.8 million-member North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C., houses its press releases, annual reports, meeting topics, brochures and newsletters under its Publications, giving all website visitors complete, and archived, access.

EXAMPLE: $112 million/17,000-member Hermantown Federal Credit Union, Hermantown, Minn., has a News and Events section above the fold on its website with industry updates, community announcements and social media links. Instead of a traditional newsroom, where press releases are housed, it publishes at least three newsletters a year highlighting news, community involvement and holidays.

Executing on Content

Maintaining and updating an online newsroom is not as time-consuming as you and your staff would assume. No matter the size of your credit union, outlets like Wordpress or Weebly make it simple for businesses to build powerful websites that compete with international companies. Here are two aspects of your online newsroom that are simple to nurture and easy to maintain:

  1. Fresh News Content: Whenever there is news, update! Recent press releases, industry updates, community involvement and events are newsworthy to your members as well as media. Even if you’re experiencing a dry spell of news, a quick community announcement or holiday-themed posting will remind website visitors to continually come back for relevant content.
  2. Media Contact: Whoever is designated within your credit union as the media relations contact, triple check that this person’s name, title, phone number and/or email is clearly stated at the top of the newsroom page or on every news announcement. If a journalist sees your news, calls the appropriate contact listed on your website and it is found to be inaccurate, it will not only send that journalist to another source, it could potentially dampen your media coverage and relationship with the journalist in the future.

One Step Further

You’ve established an online newsroom or news-dedicated section on your website, but want to highlight more of your media outreach and communications efforts. Other components to consider when populating your newsroom include a downloadable press kit, your branch locations, awards, case studies, recent article abstracts and links, executive biographies and search functionality for past news. Dynamic website content is a simple way to share important credit union information.

In Times of Crisis

A final point as to why your credit union should have, or regularly update, a newsroom is to help deal with crisis communications. A newsroom is a direct outlet answering the media’s question as to what’s going on and your members’ concerns about how this crisis affect them. Your website will serve as your mouthpiece during a time of remediation to restore members’ confidence and explain to the media how you are combating the issue.

Your credit union can only benefit from having and maintaining an online newsroom. Journalists and members want to feel included in company announcements and seek news that directly affects them. Online newsrooms are a portal to engage audience members and showcase your newsworthiness to meet your business goals.

Joanna Braeckel is an account coordinator at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent financial public relations and marketing firm. Follow William Mills Agency on Twitter and check out its FinTech Marketing blog.

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