Article | Thu January 19, 2017, 11:53 AM EST
January 19, 2017 -- Reprint from PR Daily, January 19, 2017
By Arhlene Flowers | Posted: January 19, 2017
Is your online newsroom ready for global audiences?
Would journalists or consumers from your target markets be able to find news and content relevant to their geographic area? Although practically every type of organization and public figure today has a website, not all have customized newsrooms for diverse global markets.
Online newsrooms today serve as valuable virtual newsrooms—an important PR tool for providing updates on new developments, company background and visual libraries, as well as interactive features in multimedia. Recent academic and industry studies are showing that more journalists today are visiting online newsrooms as a source to build and fact-check stories.
With more than 46 percent of the world’s population online today, more consumers are also spending time on websites, and they can view content on online newsrooms if they are not password-protected for members of the media. Companies may find it beneficial to have consumers access this content, as long as the site includes different contacts for the general public and journalists seeking more information.
Here are five ways you can customize your online newsroom to make it appealing for global audiences.
1. Make the online newsroom easy to find.
It’s amazing how much effort can go into finding an online newsroom on a company’s website—and your desired audiences, including journalists, may give up trying. Some companies bury the newsroom in the “About Us” section.
Clearly name the newsroom, preferably calling it “News,” “Newsroom,” “News Center” or “Media.” Avoid using the word “press,” because some international audiences might think it means only print newspapers and magazines. Include the newsroom section in the headers or footers, as well as in the site’s table of contents, on your home page.
Users should be able to find your online newsroom by searching on Google or another search engine with your company name plus the word “news” or “newsroom.”
2. Add a table of contents and language menu to landing page.
Consider creating a main global newsroom in English—which would be in Webster’s or Oxford English, depending on the location of the headquarters. Offer scroll-down menus, with a clearly identified tab such as “Select a Location,” to make it easy for users to understand what choices are available, which can be organized by specific language, region or country. Content specific to the U.K., for example, should be written in Oxford English, regardless of the company’s location.
A table of contents can help the user understand the scope of available written and visual content. Welcoming messages can be brief, offering a few sentences that describe the organization’s resources and multinational reach. Here is an example of a heading from IBM’s global newsroom : “IBM's business spans the globe, and so do our resources for journalists. To visit our country News Rooms, please choose by the country name from the list below.”
Users then scroll down from a list of countries in alphabetical order. The site also includes a sidebar titled “News room,” with sections on news releases, media kits, image gallery, biographies and newsroom feeds, among others.
3. Provide media and consumer information contacts worldwide.
Users should be able to find contact information by country or region quickly—and non-journalists should be directed to resources for customer service or other general information.
Nestle’s online global newsroom includes a “Media Contacts” page, with subheads addressing two simple questions: “Journalist or media professional?” and “Not a Journalist?”
Relevant copy provides information on the global headquarters in Switzerland and lets readers know that the company has media contacts worldwide that you can search for by country and business sector. Directly below the search boxes, users can find a list of staff members with their photos, along with their names, titles, time zone, phone, email and Twitter handle.
All other inquiries are directed to the central switchboard with the phone number, hours of operation, and time zone, as well as an easy-to-fill-out online contact form.
4. Localize written and visual content as much as possible.
Beyond the companywide global news, written content on your newsroom should be customized, as much as possible, for the regional or country-specific markets. Include only relevant news releases for that market. Revise media kits with localized fact sheets and biographies.
Some newsrooms also showcase branded content with self-produced stories that read like newspaper or magazine articles. See Coca-Cola Journey and Red Bull Content Pool for inspiration. Sites also can include relevant speeches, white papers, online brochures and other written content, as well as links to company blogs.
Use tags with keywords for search engine optimization. Hire a professional translator to take care of translations. For the global English version, edit content for idiomatic expressions and cultural references that might not be understood outside your country.
In addition, make sure images with people reflect residents in that market—multicultural diversity, appropriate clothing and body language, particularly gestures that may have different meanings in other cultures (such as the OK sign and thumbs-up, which don’t convey positive meanings in certain countries and cultures).
Eschew religious symbols unless the organization has religious affiliations. Be mindful of numbers that could have negative connotations, such as the number four, which means “death” and is considered unlucky in many parts of Asia. Spell out months—what is 1/8/17? Depending on the location, it could mean Jan. 8 or Aug. 1.
5. Make the site interactive with social media popular in that region.
Many popular social media platforms in the U.S. have tremendous global reach. YouTube claims that two-thirds of a channel’s views come from outside its home country. You can translate YouTube video titles and their descriptions, add subtitles to videos or change the video language.
Facebook states that 84.9 percent of its 1.18 billion daily active users are outside North America, and it launched a "multilingual composer" tool in 2016 to help page authors and users compose posts in multiple languages. Other popular social media sites have global reach outside the U.S.: 75 percent of Instagram users, 79 percent of Twitter accounts and 45 percent of Pinterest users. Be mindful of other social networks popular in a given country or region.
Make it easy to receive content by email or RSS feeds, as well as to search and print out current and archival content. For example, Mastercard’s online newsroom lets users click on social media icons or click subscribe to fill out a quick form for email alerts or RSS feeds on news releases, blogs and news briefs.
Online newsrooms offer powerful ways to share content about your company beyond its geographic borders. Enhancements to an existing online newsroom can make it easier for international journalists and bloggers—and consumers, if desired—to find localized content, which could result in more stories and build awareness in target markets.
Arhlene Flowers is an associate professor of integrated marketing communications at Ithaca College and a former PR agency practitioner. Her new book on global PR was published by Routledge in 2016.
Article | Thu January 19, 2017, 11:53 AM EST
Arhlene A. Flowers joined Ithaca College in 2006 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2012. She teaches in the Integrated Marketing Communications Program in the Department of Strategic Communication. Her new book, Global Writing for Public Relations, was recently published by Routledge, a global publisher of academi