Trend alert: How Companies are Transforming their Newsrooms
Soft newsrooms are the new newsroom in corporate communications
By: Katelyn Stevens
An online newsroom serves as the heart of a brand. Home to media coverage, press releases, company news and media contacts, an online newsroom serves as a place where companies can control their narratives. With that being said, a good online newsroom is key to successful public relations. In today’s digitally driven world, the model of a good online newsroom is quickly changing. Instead of a traditional newsroom that tends to just be a tab on the company’s website, some companies have turned to the hybrid pressroom, otherwise known as a soft newsroom. A soft newsroom is creative, audience driven, and includes much more than an archive of press releases. Sports teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and companies like Target and Spotify are leading the trend in reinventing newsrooms.
The soft newsroom trend began with sports teams. Even before Target and Spotify jumped on the trend, The LA Lakers NBA team was restructuring its online newsroom to intertwine entertainment and storytelling with news. Although LA Lakers’ newsroom is an extension of the company website and not an entirely different website of its own, it still
follows the model of a soft newsroom. It has news stories about the games, players, franchises, and community outreach, as well as multimedia content such as pictures and videos. According to a 2016 survey by ISEBOX, journalists said that the second most important feature of a corporate newsroom was the ability to easily view and download media content. However, journalists also cited that this feature needed serious improvement across most newsrooms. With a soft newsroom like the LA Lakers’, this need for easily accessible media content is met. This is a departure from most traditional newsrooms, where this need isn't met as they only provide the basics (press releases and media contacts).
A soft newsroom is about more than just being a place to link press releases or a journalist to find information. It’s about creating content that helps craft the brand and company reputation. Creative content in pressrooms allows companies to build reputation and recognition among all audiences, not just journalists. The main audiences for traditional newsrooms are usually clients, stakeholders, and journalists. However, a soft newsroom encompasses its supporters and consumers by turning a bland press release into an enjoyable story that appeals to everyone. In a way, it’s partly brand
journalism, but it’s an effective strategy for building a brand’s narrative. For example, Spotify’s newsroom, For the Record uses multi-media blogs and articles as a replacement for the traditional press release. While the content provides the same information that a press release would, it does so through converging media and storytelling. For
example, For the Record just released a story about a new audio book experience on Spotify featuring Dolly Parton and James Patterson. It’s engaging, interesting, and has a clip of the upcoming audio experience. While it acts as a press release, it is built like a blog, making it readable for all audiences.
Unlike the traditional model of an online newsroom, the soft newsrooms put a lot of focus on executive and employee communication. If one were to look at a well-organized newsroom such as Doctors Without Borders, they’d find what a typical newsroom has:
press releases, media contacts, and recent media coverage. However, when taking a look at a soft online newsroom like Target’s, there is not only information about the press. There is information about the brand, and most importantly the people that work there. Target’s pressroom, "A Bullseye View," gives an inside scoop of the interworking’s of the organization. This provide extra information a journalist might need for a story, but it promotes effective internal communication and it showcases the company leadership to general audiences.
The LA Lakers, Spotify, and Target are among only a few examples of companies adopting the soft newsroom trend. The hybrid newsroom model is quickly gaining traction among other large companies such as Adidas, Apple, and even American Airlines, who’s newsroom has historically been a staple for the traditional newsroom model. As the demand for digital creative content grows and more companies transition to a soft newsroom model, it’s only inevitable that the soft newsroom trend turns into a staple.
About the Author
Katelyn Stevens is a PR professional who delivers effective and innovative results through persistence, critical thinking and a detail-oriented work ethic. She will graduate in August 2022 from the University of North Texas with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in political science. She currently lives in Denton, TX.