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Critic’s Notebook: The Father-Daughter Bond at the Heart of Opera’s Greatest Epic


At the core of the “Ring” is the relationship between Wotan and Brünnhilde. The Metropolitan Opera’s old and new stagings offer divergent approaches.

Board Sued Over Google’s Exit Package for Accused Executive


A shareholder lawsuit claims the directors of Google’s parent company approved a payout for Andy Rubin, who was accused of sexual harassment, in order to “keep the matter quiet.”

Is GDPR an opportunity or a concern?

GDP what?

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. It is a new European legislation that is designed to harmonise data protection rules across Europe, creating consistency in how organisations must deal with personal data. In the Netherlands, our existing data protection law is quite strong, but in some other European countries it was relatively weak. GDPR creates a ‘level playing field’ across Europe.

In essence, GDPR is all about getting organisations to give due respect to the personal data that they process. It’s not about stopping companies from processing personal data, but ensuring it is looked after properly, kept accurate and not abused. By creating a clear set of rules across Europe, the hope is that this will help organisations provide better products and services and add value to the economy, without breaching the rights of individuals.

How GDPR affects PR

If you think GDPR is strictly related to PR (since it is in the name), you are wrong. GDPR is a legislation that affects all organizations, regardless of what industry they are in. Everyone needs to be aware of what it entails, how it affects them and how you can prepare for it. However it is interesting to see what effect it has on public relations.

There are a few areas within GDPR that have a direct influence on PR, namely Accountability, Transparency and Consent.


There is no doubt that GDPR affects how organizations collect, process and transfer personal data. It is important that organizations not only comply with GDPR, but also demonstrate this compliance. This means creating a culture in which all relevant elements of the organization comply to the GDPR, including a good awareness about this within the whole team.


Being transparent about how you cope with data is another aspect that is important, but the first step here is knowing what personal data you store, why you store this, what you do with it, where you store it and who it is stored by. Is this data that you really need to store? The more information you store, the bigger the risk. So make a good evaluation of what information you need to store and how to make sure you keep this safe.


And last, but not least: Consent. The aspect that got at least a lot of Sales and Marketing people to freak out, because they were afraid that they could not do their job the same way they were doing it before. Well...that is maybe not completely true, however, the fines that could be associated with not being compliant can really make you nervous.

All aspects mentioned are directly related to Sales and Marketing, but they also affect PR professionals directly. Think about sending press releases unsolicited to journalists. That is not an option anymore after 25 May. From the moment GDPR is being applied, you will need to start with a personal e-mail to the journalist that you contact for the first time in which you ask if you can send them press releases in the future. The journalists that you want to add to your press list, can only be added if they have given their consent.

Outsource Communications also has 5 more GDPR tips for PR:

  1. A PR database is more than a press list: You should be open about the data you store and use, and why? If a journalist wants to inspect the data, you should be able to deliver it in a readable format. And perhaps even more important if someone wants to be removed from the database, you need to fully remove their data from your database.
  2. Choose your PR tools with care: When you send out press releases yourself or use an external tool, the responsibility still lies with you as a sender. You have to know what data is collected, where and how it is stored and when it is removed.
  3. Do not pass on press lists: The data in your system remains the property of the journalists. This means you may not pass on information on to customers, partners or other parties without the journalist's express consent.
  4. Limit your press list: Of course, it is a good idea to send releases only to the journalists for whom they are relevant. However, from now on you must keep your press list even more up to date and be more selective about the people who receive each press release. This prevents journalists filling in complaints because they feel harassed.
  5. Protect your PR infrastructure: All systems on which journalist's data are collected, processed, or stored should be made as secure as possible.

PressPage & GDPR

As of May 25, 2018, every company doing business in Europe will need to be GDPR compliant. Although it is fast approaching, organisations still have time to work on their compliance.

The PressPage platform is also affected by GDPR, and so we have been busy on ensuring it’s alignment with the new regulations. It is key for us to ensure our clients are GDPR compliant when using our services. For this we are doing numerous things, like:

  • Ensuring all personal data in the PressPage Mail databases is encrypted at rest and in transit.

  • Making sure that the right processor agreements are in place so that all transparency with regards to the processing of personal data is provided.

  • We have also worked hard on updating protocols and procedures surrounding PressPage’s GDPR readiness.

  • And finally, we have had multiple internal meetings and have enabled our team to be fully aware of the implications of GDPR.

So... what now?

In general, many fear the implications of GDPR. There are many aspects that an organisation needs to address, which inevitably means more work.

Christa Hemelaar’s, PressPage’s Marketing Manager, the first reaction was certainly not one of joy when hearing about GDPR. Sales and marketing tend to look at GDPR as a restraint on how they go about their business, especially when considering than non-compliance can lead to fines.

However, after studying the regulations and understanding its reasoning, she did conclude it could have some positive effects. Christa indicates that “on the other hand, the ones that provide consent should be seen as a very relevant audience for us and will only receive the information that is relevant to them.

Christa’s view is concluded by the social impact GDPR will hopefully have in light of recent data and privacy breaches. When keeping the recent Facebook leaks in mind, Christa believes this law comes at a perfect time to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected in our society; in her view a plus for both sides.


The evolution of mainstream media and the need for every company to become a media company

1. How has the media landscape changed? What are some trends you’re seeing evolve over time?

Bart: “Here’s what hasn’t changed: The first press release was written by Ivy Lee in 1906. He represented the Pennsylvania Railroad when one of their trains derailed off a bridge in Atlantic City, causing more than 50 deaths. That was 112 years ago and guess what? In this digital age, many, many brands are still using press releases to connect their stories to media outlets. Some just use press releases as website content. It’s hard to believe.”

Jeff: “Our friend Dan Lyons, working at Hubspot at the time, found this stat: In 1980, the ratio of PR professionals to journalists in the United States was 1.2 to 1. By 2010, three decades later, there were four PR professionals for every journalist in the U.S.

It’s just a fact of life. Fewer reporters are employed by fewer media outlets with far more fragmentation in the audience space than ever. The world has changed.”

2. Are we seeing the demise of the traditional newsroom in favor of more automated measures?

Bart: “Demise is probably a little too strong. News reporting is going to be around a long time. It serves an important social need and legacy media like the Washington Post are showing that really good journalism can make a publication viable even in today’s fragmented market. The print edition of the New York Times alone reaches more people than the Huffington Post, so great newsrooms can still live in this digital environment.”

Jeff: “I’m good with demise, and I blame the Associated Press. AP was an early, and substantial investor in natural language programming, a precursor technology now being perfected via Artificial Intelligence in the form of robot reporters.

Services like WordSmith, Wibbitz, News Tracer, Buzzbot and Heliograf are serving today as robot reporters – and they’re hastening the death of legacy media. Here’s a scary stat I read in Wired magazine regarding national election reporting: In November 2012, it took four employees at the Washington Post, 25 hours to compile and post a fraction of the election results. In 2016, Heliograf created more than 500 articles in the same time frame. Can we really expect news organizations to compete against that?”

3. What brands are going to rise and fall in this new landscape?

Bart: “Bet on the ones who view reporters as customers, that is, who have digital newsrooms that make a reporters’ life much easier by helping them do their research much faster. Reporters are going to naturally gravitate to brands who are serving up content they can get to and use quickly.

Also, bet on the brands who get this: The audience now decides what “news” is. The audience now assesses how much news depth it wants. The audience determines when it will take news in, the format in which it will accept it and with whom they’ll share it.

Brands who understand these two sides of the same storytelling coin are going to prosper. Those still intent on faxing out press releases are going to be in trouble."

Jeff: “Bet on the ones that create content robot reporters will eat, then re-publish.”

4. How can brands take a stand and stop their over reliance on pitching media via traditional PR efforts?

Jeff“It’s pretty clear – brands have to make their own news. That’s how they can reach an audience that cares about them, and to borrow a phrase from the scientist Stuart Kauffman, reach an adjacent possible audience that can be recruited in as a customer or interested stakeholder.”

5. How does a digital newsroom differ from content marketing?

Bart“Content remains king but a digital newsroom is its queen. Through a digital newsroom, you’re displaying your own content and you’re using an integrated set of distribution tools, like email and social, to push a message to your subscribers. The content itself is rich enough to also pull in interested eyeballs, so the two-way transaction, along with the fact that the content is served up to reporters in a very friendly way, distinguishes a digital news room from simple content-push marketing.”

Jeff“Content marketing isn’t much different from advertising – it’s always rainbows and unicorns – nothing but happy stuff. Brand journalism is the key to a killer digital newsroom. When a brand tells stories about itself, even ones that may be about difficult topics, they’re embracing a whole new level of authenticity. That’s very hard for brands to do – they’re too protective, too insulated – but authenticity is the key to relevant content people want to read vs. easily delete-able content that’s nothing but advertising in a different package.”

6. What should brands start or stop doing when it comes to garnering news coverage?

Bart“Well, one START is diving deep into your audiences to find out what they care about. What interests do they have in your brand? Why should they read your stuff? With a good understanding of that, you’ll be able to create an editorial point-of-view against which you can develop content. If you don’t have this, then you’re as good as a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear you.”

Jeff: “I think brands, especially those who often find themselves inside of sensitive topics like labor practices, sustainability issues or even the ethical treatment of puppies and kitties, have to STOP putting themselves in front of reporter microphones where they’re exposed to knuckleball questions that have the potential to make them look stupid. Why create that kind of exposure? Take control of your news by making it, and breaking it yourself.”


3 ways PR pros can win with content after Facebook’s algorithm changes

Andrew Brown, director of media relations and online content for Kalamazoo College, warns PR pros not to panic. He says:

The brand managers who are best at their jobs are data driven from the start. Stick to your social media plans, analyze the new data, and make adjustments where you see your reach slipping, assuming reach is your most important analytical target.

Here’s how brand managers can follow Brown’s advice—along with tips from other savvy communicators—and win with content despite the change in protocol:

1. Start with your own assets

Facebook is a crucial part of PR and marketing efforts, but that doesn’t mean PR pros should post content only there or on other platforms. Instead, start by crafting content on your organization’s newsroom or blog, and then tailor content to fit multiple channels outside your owned venues.

Brown says: If you don't yet have a blog, or if yours has been forgotten in your marketing strategy, get one going. They're vital for search engine optimization, audience engagement and contributing owned content to social media. They also can provide additional reach when content managers see it slipping.

A recent CooperKatz survey revealed that 45 percent of Facebook users in the United States glean their news from Facebook—and after the algorithm change, 65 percent said they’ll go directly to news sources, not other social media channels. If you’re housing your organization’s news and important information on your newsroom or blog, you stand to win big with increased traffic and interaction.

Amy Burke Friedman, president at PR firm Profiles, says a “multi-channel marketing mix leading with PR” is crucial to increasing your stories’ reach and getting your content seen.

Friedman suggests using your organization’s own website as the “home base” for your content, and says by using your own assets and “taking ownership of [your] expertise,” brand managers can “see huge benefits and increased reach.” Those assets include online newsrooms full of photos, video, copy and other elements that tell your story.


2. Create compelling content

Whether content is housed on your organization’s website or newsroom and then shared across social media platforms or it’s created directly on Facebook, PR pros should focus on high-quality text, images and video—rather than the number of posts created.

“Great content is still just as important as it was before, but good storytelling is paramount,” Friedman says.

Rachel Blanks, account manager at ARPR, says Facebook’s algorithm change is forcing brand managers to evaluate whether their content efforts are truly what audiences want:

Brands will need to step back and look at their content from their audiences' perspective and ask, "What can we share that is actually useful or interesting or will facilitate conversation?" At the end of the day, when done right, this is how social media content should always be approached.

“One thing that brand managers can do to combat decreased reach is to make content customer focused rather than having content that is always self-promoting,” says Cassie Gonzalez, community manager and marketing coordinator for OnePitch. “Social media should be used as a platform to connect with customers on a more personal level rather than to make an immediate sale.”

Using data and analytic insights, PR pros should seek out the questions audiences are asking and then create valuable content providing the answers, Gonzalez says. PR pros can also incorporate popular subjects or trending hashtags into their writing and conversations for added relevance.


3. Test purposeful tactics to achieve your goals on Facebook

After creating content that will resonate with your audience, you can then test methods for gaining more eyeballs and engagement on Facebook.

Andy Jelic, social media specialist for Re:Group, shares several tactics PR pros can employ to boost their Facebook pages’ reach, including swapping posts, getting sponsors involved and tagging local businesses. He also suggests having employees share your content, writing:

By motivating your coworkers to share content, you can turn them into effective brand advocates. Brand advocacy is one of the best methods of social media marketing. According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83% of people trust recommendations of friends and family, and the same percentage take action on these opinions at least some of the time!

Jelic’s insights are shared in a blog post on Re:Group’s website, ultimately underlining the importance of housing your content, stories and expertise on your organization’s own digital property.

PR pros should aim for moving past superficial interactions (views and passive “likes”), instead persuading their organizations’ fans to engaging meaningfully with posts.

Friedman says:

With Facebook giving more value to engagements like comments and shares, and even testing down-vote buttons, it’s important to give users a meaningful reason to react that isn’t just superficial “liking.” Comments have always been more valuable than “likes,” for example. Achieving these more valuable reactions from users means you have to share or tell a great story without presenting problematic content, which Facebook penalizes.

Posting several times a day won’t solve your problems, either, Friedman says:

It’s not a best practice anymore to flood your feed with 10 posts a day that receive no engagement. We’ve seen clients who post one to four times a week achieve higher engagement rates and reach, and publishing content strategically is important for optimization. Timing can be everything.

Brown says brand managers should think twice about throwing money at the problem of declining Facebook reach, as well:

It’s important to remember why you're on Facebook in the first place. Is it for word-of-mouth or is it for engagement, driving traffic to your website and boosting sales? Content managers should remember what provides them with a return on investment, especially if it's something other than reach. Then, target that return rather than assuming that reach is the end-all, be-all of social media success.

The platform’s algorithm change certainly has caused PR headaches, and it will continue to do so as brand managers battle to gain consumers’ attention and encourage audiences to act.

However, you can overcome this digital content setback by focusing on a stellar newsroom or organizational blog as your foundation, crafting outstanding content there to then push out across channels, and testing posts for what works. Blanks cautions PR pros not to focus only on one platform.


This revised article has been published before on PRdaily.com on February 22, 2018.


The impact of content rich newsrooms

7. Miami International Airport

MIA launched their revamped social newsroom in March of 2016 switching from a native newsroom -driven by their website’s standard CMS- to a dedicated newsroom solution for digital PR and media relations.

On November 7, 2017, the industry awarded Miami International Airport the 2017 Peggy G. Hereford Award out of over 300 entries. This was made possible due to the launch of their sleek, easy-to-read News Room site that better showcased the airport’s press releases and marketing material, offered seamless integration for social media sharing and search engine optimization (SEO), and generated an exponential increase in online visitor traffic and engagement.

8. Johnsonville Sausage

The Sheboygan Falls sausage maker uses their newsroom for web posts and social media sharing, boosting the reach of a cooking stunt and broadening the search for a multi-skilled spokesperson.

The newsroom allows reporters and other audiences to download images and interact with video content from Johnsonville's owned web property. The metrics demonstrate what works online and what doesn't. "That helps me be smarter in terms of what kinds of content we put up in the future," Dlugopolski says.

9. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

KLM’s communications team was growing increasingly discontent with the Content Management System (CMS) they were working with to publish news to their native newsroom. “Within KLM there was a corporate mentality, resulting in a workflow with little flexibility. Platforms that were chosen at the time were functioning satisfactorily, but changes in the communications industry were so drastic that we felt we were lagging behind”, says Lars van Straten, Online Communications & Reputation Specialist at KLM. 

It is the result that counts, and in this regard too, KLM is very pleased with their newsroom centric comms strategy. The use of the newsroom platform has provided the airliner with a growing number of visitors.

Leveraging your digital assets: 3 brands achieving great results with their online newsroom

4. The Shepherd Center

Even though the work that is being done at the Shepherd Center can sometimes remind us of the fact that miracles do exist, it is not everyday that a hospital specializing in brain and spinal cord injuries, gets the opportunity to make the evening news or the morning headlines.

Atlanta-based Shepherd Center has used its hybrid content strategy effectively, attracting attention of news media and the general public alike.

5. Ohio Health

The Ohio based healthcare organization's editorial philosophy and communications workflow is a stellar example of how to run your organization's online newsroom. 

Finding traditional news media harder and harder to reach in the modern age, OhioHealth saw an opportunity to showcase their internal communications stories alongside their media relations efforts to truly create a one stop shop brand journalism website.

Two years ago, OhioHealth, a not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Ohio, switched their newsroom over to PressPage. Within the first year, their total viewership jumped from 11,588 visits in 2015 to 114,697 visits the next full year on their new PressPage newsroom. That is a meteoric 889% increase!

6. Manchester University

The University of Manchester is the UK’s largest single site university with almost 40,000 students. It is also one of the world’s top research universities with 25 Nobel Prize winners. See video.

6 ways to build a great mobile newsroom

Organizations are increasingly aware that newsrooms must be like the news media they are designed for, delivering great content.

Yet as the mobile revolution takes hold, it is no longer wise to think primarily about desktop users when designing a newsroom.

Mobile use is skyrocketing, and beginning this year, Google will move to mobile-first indexing when it ranks results, as opposed to the desktop-first it currently employs, says Jared Hoffmann digital content editor at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, whose organization uses a PressPage newsroom.

How then should organizations think about their newsrooms, given that reporters and stakeholders access them on the go from mobile phones? Here are a few tips:

1. Think about the mobile experience.

The current trend in developing newsroom websites is “responsive design” – that is, designing newsrooms which detect and adapt to the screen size of the user - thus creating a pleasant experience regardless of device.

Yet contrary to popular belief, responsive design does not mean fitting the entire newsroom site on the user’s screen. The information provided on a desktop view of your newsroom, such press release teasers, are unnecessary and hazardous to creating a positive mobile experience.

As a result, an important part of developing a responsive newsroom is deciding which information to prune for mobile users.

This is cumbersome to manage from a governance perspective, and it is difficult to keep key information consistent.

Nevertheless, nowadays you must think beyond responsive design to “mobile experience,” or architecting one’s website in a friendly way to get people the information they are seeking as conveniently as possible, Hoffman says.

Here’s why. A newsroom might still be responsive—scaling for smartphones—annoy mobile users with endless navigation and icons users must scroll past to find what they’re looking for.

“The tasks that someone might complete when they come to a given page are not necessarily the first things that you see,” Hoffman says.

Children’s Mercy is redesigning with a goal of anticipating what most people are looking for, and placing that information up top. Most of its patient families are looking to make an appointment, and to log in to the patient portal.

2. Make it sticky, not a pogo stick.

There’s an additional benefit to thinking about what your site users are searching for: It boosts search engine optimization, Hoffman says. “Pogo-sticking” is the term for when people Google up your site, click on it, can’t find what they need, and bounce back out to the search results page.

If people then go to elsewhere and spend more time there, Google begins to favor that other destination. Think, therefore, about giving your users what will keep them there.

“By making it easier for them,” Hoffman says, “we’re making it more competitive for Google to rank us in the long-term as well.”

3. Create great content.

It is no longer sufficient to dump text documents and a staid photo in press releases. Newsroom content must be more dynamic, and that includes mobile newsrooms.

At Nissan, the newsroom posts are not just text but also video and cinemagraphs, or photos with motion built in, such as the one at the top of a story headlined, “Nissan and DeNA unveil Easy Ride mobility service in Japan.”

Marketing can be a source of imagery content such as photos or videos that are useful to communicators at Nissan. The challenge, Nevin says, is not looking like an ad.

“We think of it as a real home run when a third-party [such as an auto magazine] uses these,” he says.

4. Don’t overdo the bells and whistles.

Google prefers sites that download more quickly. When designing a page in your newsroom, don’t use a 13-megabyte image where a smaller one will work, Hoffman says. It’s also possible to have too many outbound links, potentially confusing visitors.

In producing a page, Hoffman says, always ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the value we’re delivering in this page?
  • What do we expect the user needs?
  • What do we want them to accomplish?

“All of your content should architect around those very specific goals, and then nothing else,” he says. “Don’t be tempted to throw in too many extra things in case somebody needs it. Start with the core things you’re delivering and make sure that is displayed in a prominent way.”

5. Create an app.

Because mobile devices use public software platforms, anybody can create an application to use for marketing and public relations purposes, says marketing strategist David Meerman Scott. He has an app that includes blog posts, his Twitter feed and videos, and they link to his online bookstore on Amazon.

Reporters are active on mobiles, so Scott urges those in public relations, analyst relations and investor relations to create apps that reach their constituents. 

Scott adds, “When a reporter or analyst has an application for the company, or music artist, or nonprofit she covers on her mobile, then she can easily check what’s going on, as well as generate alerts for things like press releases—all on her device of choice.”

6. Survey or hold focus groups.

Not every news media outlet wants information dished out in the same way, says Whitney Drake, manager of the story bureau and analytics team at General Motors. That’s why GM offers a variety of content to serve the needs of various reporters.

For starters, ensure that your media contacts are easily located. “In terms of contacts, the ability to click on a phone number and dial out is important,” Drake says.

Surveys and focus groups can provide valuable information about what reporters need. The GM newsroom offers picture and video galleries that reporters can pull from. Though it wouldn’t be easy to drag in a reporter from many newspapers and magazines, GM has other experienced journalists it can consult.

This revised article has been published before on PRdaily.com on January 19, 2018.

Newsroom ROI: 3 examples of successful newsroom centered strategies

1. Curacao Tourist Board

Although Curacao is a well known holiday destination, their PR team does not sit on its laurels. In an effort to make the transition in their marketing efforts towards digital and inbound marketing, the team adopted a newsroom centric approach. Some key indicators of their new strategy being successful are:

  • Referral traffic from the newsroom to main website has increased with over 180%.

  • Paid search expenditure has been reduced by 20% due to newsroom success.

  • The overall bounce rate has decreased to below 20% (Bounce rate metrics for average website = 40.5%).

2. Cook Children's Health Care System

Cook Children's has made its newsroom an online destination for not only parents, but the industry and media alike. In record time, Cook Children's Health Care System gained a large loyal audience with a (visitor returning rate) of over 89%.


The Fort Worth based hospital’s brand journalism strategy has direct bottom line impact as its stories made one Detroit family decide to fly cross country for surgery after reading an impactful story on Checkupnewsroom.com.

Another article that broke readership records -by garnering over one million readers in less than three days- was “7 dangerous Apps that parents need to know.” The article scored very high on reader engagement with over 800 comments and thousands of shares.

3. Marathon Petroleum Corporation

The MPC newsroom launched early 2015 and coincided with the company’s rollout of its first social media activities. The newsroom became instrumental in Marathon’s rapid growth to 3,000 followers on Facebook and 34,000 on LinkedIn.

Social analytics showed that 15-20 percent of the people exposed to a given post followed through to the newsroom where they spent an average of 1.5 minutes reading the article. Additionally, due to the seamless visitor experience between the newsroom and the rest of Marathon’s website, a higher number of visitors than ever before click through to explore the rest of the main site.


The Silicon Valley Watcher to publish on PressPage

In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to become a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the blog Silicon Valley Watcher — reporting on the collision of media and technology.

Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!

In 2006, Foremski published one of his most unforgettable blogs titled Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! This surprisingly influential 4 am rant about on how to improve the press release for the digital newsroom led to the creation of the Social Media Release Template; a first format of what is today the norm in modern PR.

In the wake of this blog, Foremski also proclaimed that Silicon Valley had become a Media Valley as the changes in the media landscape forced companies to publish their own news.


Every Company is a Media Company

The media landscape has changed drastically. The evolution of media and Internet-based media technologies, have had such a deep impact on the workings of journalism and news consumption, that as a result, many organizations, and their communication departments, are in need of re-strategizing the best way to approach PR.

Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times journalist and pioneer blogger, signalled the disruptive effects of the Internet on the media landscape as early as the mid 90’s and was quick to announce that Every Company is [now] a Media Company (EC=MC). In essence he saw early on that the Internet was one massive, accessible and affordable digital printing press. It has completely removed cost and logistical barriers to becoming a publisher.


Corporate communications is no longer a one-way broadcast process, that follows a linear publication process: from press release - wire service - newspaper / broadcast conversion - to audience consumption. Instead, there are now different rules for participation, messaging, tone, format and channel.


As of today, the Silicon Valley Watcher blog is driven by PressPage's newsroom platform.

Within this changing landscape, businesses need to focus on the content and media strategy. The technology, however, can best be outsourced to specialized companies. To quote Tom Foremski: "why would we want to reinvent the wheel when there is PressPage?"


8 ways to boost your newsroom’s SEO

The answer isn’t gaming the system, but creating a smart newsroom that offers vital topical information that scoops up interested journalists and members of the public.

“If you’re doing what’s most natural and right for your readers,” says Jared Hoffmann, digital marketing manager at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, “that’s in Google’s best interest as well.”

Here are some tips:

Create original content

Whereas companies once cranked out mostly text stories, search engines nowadays also look for videos, images, sound files and other digital assets that tell a story.

Sorry, your press releases don’t count—not if you are spreading them far and wide through distribution services. Even if your organization created that snazzy story and video package, it’s not exclusive when it appears all over the web, says Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology.

Holtz cites Cisco’s newsroom as one that produces not only press releases, but also original content designed to appeal to journalists. Microsoft, too, generates feature stories, videos and other content. The company recently offered information such as, “On the soccer pitch and in the classroom, feminism flourishes in ruralIndia,” and “With new Microsoft breakthroughs, general purpose quantum computingmoves closer to reality.”

“They think of themselves as a media company,” Holtz says, “and this is a good demonstration of that.”

Update often

It’s essential to add new stories and other content frequently, says Brad Nevin, editor-in-chief of Nissan’s global communications website platforms. Updates train your audience to come back. Though Nissan’s newsroom targets journalists, savvy fans have learned that car news often appears there before it does on Nissan’s marketing sites.

Holtz adds that for a small organization, weekly updates might be fine, but those with the resources to do so should add content more frequently.

Use your customers’ terminology

A contemporary newsroom allows you to publish content that you once might have confined to a news media pitch, says Jake Jacobson, director of public relations at Children’s Mercy. Now the hospital communicators say, “Why don’t we just publish it ourselves?”

That said, Google might not find you if people are searching for different terms from those you use. “Do people say ‘cancer’ or ‘oncology’?’” Jacobson says. “We want to make sure that we write in language that he [IT] is going to be using from an SEO standpoint—because why would we make our own teammates’ job harder?”

For example, there’s the contrast between the words “radiology” and “medical imaging,” he says. Searches of “radiology” tend to pull academic, peer-to-peer articles. “Medical imaging” is more directed to hospitals and out-patient information of the sort patients and families would search.

One recent story avoided jargon and offered useful tips under the headline, “Holiday Travel Health: 10 Ways to Avoid Germs on an Airplane.”

Include headlines in URLs

Headlines and kickers (a.k.a. subheads or deck heads) matter to SEO in ways both obvious and obscure. First, a headline with clear search words (“Brazilian made Nissan Kicks to bring excitement to Argentine customers,despite the rivalry on the pitch”) picks up traffic that hazier alternatives would not (“Friends and rivals!”).

Beyond that, Nissan’s global newsroom is automated to take care of important aspects of SEO, particularly headlines, Nevin says. First, most of Nissan’s stories include the headline in the URL, making it highly searchable.

“It mirrors the simple task of how to write a good headline,” Nevin says. “So you have the important words in your headline.”

Write ‘kickers’ for your headlines

When writing for your newsroom, Nissan adds “kickers” or subheads under its stories, Nevin says. A colleague of his in Tokyo researched this and proved that kickers help boost SEO.

The following headline/kicker combination adds information for search bots to scoop up:

Nissan and DeNA unveil Easy Ride mobility service in Japan.

Field test with local participants to take place in March in Yokohama.

Referring to his number-crunching colleague, Nevin adds, “He also says that helps the reader get a good feel for the stories really fast, instead of scrolling down and reading six paragraphs.”

Use tags that enable voice searches

With the growth of mobile, half of all searches are done by voice, and that number is increasing, Holtz says. Thus, you need h1, h2 and meta title tags in place to draw search engines to your content.


Deploy social media

Nevin places information on LinkedIn, and Nissan’s team in Japan handles the Twitter account. In the United States, however, marketing controls Twitter and Facebook.

The tweets tend to be more consumer-oriented and less hard-news in their approach. Because of that, Nissan is establishing a U.S. Twitter account for news, enabling it to boost its stories and better target Twitter-using journalists.


Cross-link within your organization—and beyond

One key metric search engines look for is, “Do other reputable organizations or websites deem your content as worthy to link to?” Hoffmann says.

When the communications team produces new content, Children’s Mercy looks for supporting information within the site. If the newsroom has a separate URL from that of your main organization, cross-links between the site can also support your content.

By Russell Working. Also published on PR Daily on December 19, 2017


'Mobilizing' your newsroom

In parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series on ‘optimizing your newsroom for global audiences,’ we discussed the importance of ensuring your newsroom was accessible, providing approachable contacts, and ensuring you localize content as much as possible. Part 4 dives into web technology; and the first essential part for a smooth running newsroom is optimizing it for mobile visitors.

The need for a mobile-friendly newsroom

As a communications professional, you are in constant competition to get any second of attention from your target audiences. This means catching them on-the-go during their commute home or as they flip through the phone during a brief moment on the couch. When you are lucky enough to actually get their click, a slow download or unreadable page will be a disaster for your news conversion rate.

With mobile traffic growing at an incredible pace (see comScore’s Global Mobile Report 2017), having a mobile optimized newsroom in and of itself still sets you apart from almost half of your competitors. Many organizations still work with PDF based newsroom repositories, that besides not being mobile-friendly, also deliver poor SEO results. Even those that do have have HTML newsrooms often lack a responsive design resulting in a cumbersome (if not impossible) readability experience.

The solution for your newsroom is to follow a few simple rules as you plan for your mobile environment.

Main pointers for ‘mobilizing’ your newsroom

According to Google, there are three main points that are essential in ensuring your newsroom’s responsiveness will be beneficial:

  1. First of all, and like any other webpage, blocking search engines from accessing your page files will not help your cause. The search bots need to be able to index web content, but also understand it is designed for mobile (see point 2).

  2. Clearly indicate in the page’s code that it is designed for mobile. If Google is signalled that a page is mobile-friendly, it is able to index the page better for mobile searchers. Effectively increasing your SEO results.

  3. Ensure your page design works on a mobile device. This is not so much a technical requirement, but is more about the user experience. Think about pop-up ads that completely block a screen and essentially freeze navigation, unplayable videos, and touch elements that are too close together and ultimately frustrate the user you are trying engage.

All in all, a better mobile newsroom will immediately increase your chance to reach the influencers you need to spread your message and the journalists you want to report on your story and return for future updates.


CIPR's revitalized newsroom strategy attracts devoted audience

How does an organization like CIPR handle its own PR?

For the CIPR, there is always plenty to communicate, because as an organization, they are constantly working on new and different things. “For example, one of our key policy issues is ethical conduct in public relations. A short while ago there was an issue with Bell Pottinger…”[a British PR agency], “which prompted a huge interest spike in ethics in public relations. This was good news, because people were interested in hearing to about ethics and ethical conduct,” Koray says.

Connecting time-lines to topics the CIPR already covers, is important. It just so happens that October was the Ethics Month for the institute, in which they published a podcast, welcomed a statement around a new global ethical conduct for PR by the Global Alliance and so forth. Koray played an important role: “My role was drafting the statement, gettings quotes from the Global Alliance, from our president, and then packaging everything into one press release. Alongside that, I am also responsible for getting our message out, so I upload the press release to the newsroom, contact people in the industry [social media influencers as well as journalists] to get them talking about it and covering it in their media."

Matching message to channel

For each type of message, there is a specific channel that is best suited as a 'carrier.' Koray explains: “Traditionally we see that for us Twitter is the biggest driver of traffic, even more so than trade press. However it can be very dependent on the story, but I usually start with Twitter.” According to Koray, Twitter plays the most important role in communications because the PR industry is obsessed with it. “It can be a bit of bubble sometimes. For a lot of PR professionals, it is the first thing they look at when they wake up.” Although this does not necessarily sound like the most relaxed morning ritual, it might explain why it is the primary driver of traffic for the CIPR's news releases.

Facebook is also becoming increasingly more relevant as a distrbution channel. However, it must be noted that for the CIPR it is best suited for non-controversial articles. “Since organic posting on Facebook is nearly impossible, we always boost our Facebook posts. Previously, CIPR was using Facebook exclusively for marketing, for example to promote awards qualifications, which works well due to the specific targeting options. This success got me thinking about using news on Facebook. Sometimes it has been really successful; some posts got hundreds and hundreds of likes, tons of shares, and has driven traffic to the newsroom. Unfortunately there have also been others that have just stimulated huge arguments and caused issues.”

The CIPR also makes active use of their Facebook Newsroom, a repository of news articles directly in sync with their online newsroom.

For the more business minded pieces the CIPR has opted to use LinkedIn. Statistics for the newsroom give the CIPR insight into what works and what does not. Koray indicates “it has given me appreciation that we have to use the right content for sharing in the right channels.”

The benefits of having an easy-to-use online newsroom

Having a central place where all news releases are easily searchable, accessible and shareable for different audiences is essential in modern PR. Luckily for Koray, when he started his role at CIPR, the organization was already using PressPage for the their online news. “When I first logged in, I found it very easy to use. To make sure I knew enough about the platform, I placed a call with our dedicated PressPage Customer Success Manager as to get the best out of all the features available.”

With the branded PressPage newsroom in place, Koray has no issues in taking a brief holiday when needed. A temporary hand-over is not a problem: “It is easy to train other people to use it. When I go on a holiday, I just make sure my colleagues are able to get on the platform and do the basics. They don’t need to know everything and the platform is intuitive enough for them to easily do what they need to do.”

The newsroom as an important traffic driver

Since taking on the role, Koray has led changes in how the newsroom is used. “We see a positive increase in the number of unique visits to the newsroom, due to a slight change of strategy. I have put much more emphasis on driving people directly to the newsroom.” Next to that, the institute now also uses the newsroom more to publish a wider array interesting PR-related news topics. “Over the past 12 to 16 months, there have been a range of interesting stories that we’ve published, which have led our key stakeholders coming directly to us for news.” As the discussion over PR's effectiveness lingers on, attribution and bottom-line contribution to an organization's goals are becoming key aspects of measurability. So, publishing relevant stories, distributing these through appropriate channels, and bringing them back to once central place, is making Koray's efforts quantitative.

The CIPR acknowledges the positive impact of including digital assets like videos and images into an online release. “Whenever there is a chance to publish a video, we try to do that. I really like the fact that it is easy to embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo, or a Podcast from Soundcloud directly in the release. This is great and it enables us to enrich the releases."

Improving based on experience and insights

The PressPage platform offers CIPR more insights not only into the amount of visitors, but also where the visitors are coming from. “We know that Twitter is more of a bubbled network, however, we wanted to reach people outside of that circle. Using Facebook to spread our news gave us the opportunity to reach a more international audience.

The CIPR uses this information to continually evaluate and adapt the content they create and publish. “We target different groups with different languages and content all the time. When we send out emails, we personalize the message to the group we are sending it to, to target them in the best way. But we also use the information gathered via the statistics in the platform to adapt our message or use different distribution channels.


When it comes to content… Go local!

In essence, a localized newsroom will allow you to gain more traction in a new market - and thus provide more exposure for your product and services. Here are 5 simple tips to keep in mind when going local:

1. Serve them well

If your business is serious about a specific geographical market, it should make a statement by taking its potential audiences seriously. By localizing content - not only its language, but also thematically - an organization demonstrates understanding the market they are in, and show genuine intent in building market relations, including the media.

In the past, localizing content would have been a major competitive business advantage. These days however, not having it can be seen more as a ‘disqualifier.’ The basic rule here is simple: If you are not doing it, you can rest assured your competition is.

But how does that work with media relations? Not much different really. The attention span of Internet audiences is short, however, that of journalists on a deadline might even be shorter. Translation and interpretation of news releases is not only a tedious, but also a time-consuming act. Having reporters translate your message for local publication will decrease the chance of earned media conversion tremendously.

2. Improved search ranking

For those of you new to digital PR, SEO (search engine optimization) has been an important factor in making your news easy to find, easy to crawl, and easy to categorize. It is about helping your audiences find your content from among other sources.

When done well, localizing your newsroom will increase your search ranking for a specific language (or geographical market). According to the Similar Web Search Report, organic search equates close to 95% of all traffic.

Good news for Anglo Saxon companies extending their business and media relations efforts to non-English speaking countries: in languages other than English, there is significantly less competition in SEO keywords. This would allow your newsroom’s localized content to contribute to bottom line web traffic a lot quicker.

3. Media and influencer lists

SEO and social are great ways to drive traffic to your website. However, in both cases, these require organic growth and thus a ‘warmup period’ before they become effective.

A good alternative is to also work with media and influencer lists. There are many global and local media and influencer database providers. In most cases they allow the user to select contacts by region, type of outlet and subject expertise. Besides these basic selection criteria, databases often also indicate the best - or preferred - way to get in touch with these contacts.

4. Establish credibility

Credibility is gained when newsroom visitors have a pleasant experience interacting with your brand’s news. Not being able to understand your content will hamper that goal. Therefore, before spending time and resources on ‘bells and whistles,’ ensure you get the fundamentals right:

  • Your newsroom should generally only include relevant news releases for the specific market it is targeting. All other news is effectively irrelevant and therefore distracting
  • Clearly present your media contacts
  • Ensure media kits, fact sheets and biographies are localized
  • Use tags with keywords for search engine optimization
  • Hire a professional translator to take care of translations. Not only for body copy, but also for photography, infographics and video captions
  • Make sure images -whenever possible- are market specific

For more tips: download the whitepaper Essentials of a Stellar Newsroom.

5. Make or buy?

Do you ask IT to build your global newsrooms? Or can you get a superior off-the-shelf product that looks like you built it yourselves and features a seamless experience in each of your regional markets?

The good news is that a global newsroom rollout can be done at a fraction of the in-house costs and with technology and workflow far superior to what your IT team can build.

For more information, read Should you custom-build an online newsroom—or buy one off the shelf?


Infographic: How to create a content calendar

This infographic is about creating a content calendar. There is a world of difference between good intentions and a working, and successful communication strategy. Start by going through at these five steps to help you create a content calendar.

Showcase your global media contacts

Provide reachable contacts

Believe it or not, reporters seeking contact names and phone numbers often can’t find them on websites (or even in press releases). The traditional pressroom tends to just feature the name, e- mail address and phone number of just one or two contact persons a journalist can reach for questions or comments on a story.

By contrast, Velux offers an easy to find list of spokespersons on topics and by geographical market. The contacts page also includes some simple FAQ’s that already might answer the most common questions.

It is vital that your newsroom allows you to feature online business cards of all your contacts. These cards should feature the contact’s picture, job description, telephone numbers, email addresses, and Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

The link to social media profiles of individual media contacts has become increasingly important as it helps journalists and influencers follow the spokesperson as a relevant source of news. In recent studies, 75 percent of journalists describe social media as “completely” or “to a large extent” necessary to promote and distribute content.*

Besides providing these contact cards, it would even be more helpful to clearly state what subjects, questions, or business areas that particular contact could help with – saving time for journalists and other influencers looking for the right source to get the needed information from, and increasing your brand's chances of earned media conversion.

However, providing contact details of your comms team does mean they need to be accessible. You probably know best of all if reporters can really connect with you? Meaning that besides the fact your contact details are clearly mentioned on the release page, think about your availability: is your daily schedule filled with meetings, your mobile phone on mute and your direct line places callers straight into your overflowing voicemail? If this is the case, then maybe you should indeed not put your contact details on display, but at the same time you might need to question your priorites concerning earned media. 

In this day and age of bot-phones and web-based artificial intelligence, your stories might just get better footing because reporters and bloggers can actually talk to a person while on the story.

*) Source: 2017 Global Social Journalism Study.

Measuring PR success in terms of quantity and quality

Sixty cold calls result in three new magazine subscriptions. Conversion: 5 percent. An email campaign sent to seven hundred customers makes fourteen of them buy your new product. Conversion: 2 percent. An in-depth interview with your CEO on her vision and goals for 2017 is picked up by several blogs and is widely read by your target audience. Conversion: no idea.

Though it should be obvious your PR practices play a vital role in promoting your organization and its products and services, you probably have a significantly harder time determining the actual value than your colleagues at the marketing and sales departments do. Their hard metrics of leads and sales are usually not applicable to your content and its success, which could very well match those cold calls and (semi-)anonymous emails. Still, there are several ways to quantitatively measure the ROI of PR. With the added value of qualitative analysis, it’s possible to keep track of your performance and use it to base future predictions and strategies on.

Quantitatively measuring PR results

What you should NOT do when describing your PR success in quantitative terms, is use the well-known but highly criticized Advertising Value Equivalencies (AVE). Putting a dollar value on media coverage and using it to compare with advertising costs is problematic for a number of reasons. In many cases no actual advertising rates exist, for example, and there is no factual basis for the assumption that a news story of a particular size has equal impact to an advertisement of the same size.

The Barcelona Principles, a set of seven voluntary guidelines established by the PR industry itself, calls for the specific exclusion of AVE metrics in measuring the efficacy of PR campaigns. Quantitatively measuring PR results, following the Barcelona Principles, includes tracking metrics like impressions among the stakeholder or target audience. You may consider tracking some or all of the following:

  • Detailed reach of media coverage: circulation for print media, number of visitors or specific page views for online media

  • Number of pageviews for publication on own website

  • Social media: impressions and (new) followers, using tools like Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights

  • Number of downloads for offered white papers, videos, infographics etc.

Qualitatively measuring PR results

Since PR efforts generally don’t (have to) result in direct conversions, keeping score of quantitative metrics will only get you so far. Practicing PR is literally more about building quality relations with your target audience and stakeholders, and you should incorporate this into your analysis accordingly. In addition to the aforementioned quantitative statistics, and again following the Barcelona Principles, media measurement should account for the quality of the media coverage, including but not limited to:

  • Tone

  • Credibility and relevance of key message delivery

  • Third-party or company spokesperson quotes

  • Prominence as relevant to the medium

Scores on measures like these can of course be negative as well as positive (or neutral). You may want to assign numerical scores on scales from 1-5 or 1-10 to facilitate comparisons between campaigns, channels or time periods.

The same goes for social media coverage. Being a trending topic on Twitter is one thing, but if it’s because you’re being ridiculed or criticized, it is of no – positive – value to you at all. Fortunately, there are many social media monitoring tools to track both quantitative metrics and sentiment. It’s exactly this combination of hard and soft data that will help you make sense of your PR efforts’ success. Comparing results through campaigns and time will ultimately enable you to predict future outcomes and adjust your strategy accordingly.

For more help with streamlining and optimizing your work processes, check out our article on useful tools for PR professionals.


Searching for El Dorado

Fifteen years ago, reporters probably found your corporate pressroom by typing in your company’s URL and looking for an “about us” or “contact” page. Today, they are more likely to arrive via a Google search or a snippet and link from a social channel. They might have run across your organization by means of a tweet, a relevant hashtag or a trending story on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Going global

The language barrier is the most obvious initial challenge for communication professionals when dealing with new geographical markets. Even though you can get quite far with English, cultural subtleties, tone of voice and local do’s and don’ts need to be taken into consideration. It is therefore key to ensure you have the right content translation processes in place.

Additionally, it must be acknowledged that addressing a market in its own language and with localized content can be much appreciated by local audiences, as it demonstrates commitment. Some important local communiqués are not worth placing on the global corporate newsroom, but do need a formal home for audiences from a specific market.

'Search' is another key issue for the need to localize newsrooms. A search engine will look for the language code in a page for it to be indexed on keywords. If you place German press release in a page that is set up for English, Google and other search engines will be confused to say the least (see the short video on meta geo tags on the right).

Therefore, setting up your newsroom infrastructure to accommodate the languages of key geographical markets is a critical first step.

Build and they will come...

Wrong! Your newsroom needs to be easily accessible, searchable and shareable. However, to make sure it is accessible, searchable and its content shareable, it needs to be found first.

Many companies still hide their newsroom in the ‘About Us’ drop down menus and refrain from showcasing their latest news articles on their homepages. In essence, hiding what they have to say and making the newsroom an El Dorado (the mythical Colombian city of gold that is yet to be found) of some sort.

It is best to place an easy to find button on your homepage that links to your newsroom. Avoid the word ‘Press’ or ‘Pressroom.’ The media landscape has changed so dramatically that most brands are now also writing for other audiences -think clients, partners, staff, influencers- and the word ‘Press’ would discourage them from clicking on it.

Feed your news

A great way of making your news more accessible is by feeding news snippets to the homepage of your website. The homepage, at many times a quite static page, will be automatically updated with each release you publish.

Furthermore, ensure that your newsroom can be found through search engines. For this it is imperative that you use the correct language codes for each newsroom and refrain from mixing different languages in one newsroom; this will confuse searches and can even lead to exclusion from search results.

Click here to see the homepage of the University of Manchester.

Socialize your news

By making your news socially shareable and directly pushing your content to selected social media handles, you are providing backlinks to your news articles, and thus your newsroom.

But it is not only this direct distribution to your timelines and feeds and the echoing of influencers that matters, setting up a Facebook newsroom can be a tremendous asset. The Facebook newsroom promotes your content in a significant manner by mirroring your corporate news and PR contacts.

Click here to see the Facebook newsroom of the Shepherd Center.

This is part 1 of a series of 4 short articles on how to best set up your newsroom for international audiences.