The corporate newsroom – saviour of journalism or PR in disguise?
Spare a thought for those poor idealistic students studying journalism. Their graduation scrolls might feel about as useful as a black cab licence in the age of Uber.
The corporate newsroom is not – they stress – another name for a press office, media relations department or the news section on your company website.”
Yes folks, we live in a brave (scary) new world where fake information parades as news and blatant lies have been made over as ‘alternative facts’. ‘Journalism is dead’ is the cries ringing out from Fleet Street (and not for the first time either).
Except it’s not. Journalism is alive and well, if you know where to look. It looks a bit different (and possibly pays better) than the journalism of old. Like politics and the railways, it’s been reinvented by the corporate machine.
That might sound very cynical, but actually, the rise of the corporate newsroom represents a huge opportunity for internal communicators, and for corporate communicators in general. It’s also a chance for the failed journalists among us to exercise their storytelling muscle with renewed verve.
What is the ‘corporate newsroom’?
In their joint webinar – linked above – Emma Hanley from Newsweaver, and James Curtis and Abigail Levene of Stampa Communications, describe the corporate newsroom as: “A central team that communicates the organisation’s strategic content using editorial standards, practices and a journalistic mindset”.
The corporate newsroom is not – they stress – another name for a press office, media relations department or the news section on your company website. It’s an approach that demands we think and act like proper journalists.
This is the crucial bit – it means not simply sharing information that’s important to your internal stakeholders, but putting your readers first and delivering the content they want, in a way that is genuinely compelling.
Why does it matter?
In an always-connected world, we have to raise our game if we want colleagues to read stories about strategy. Taking a journalistic approach means we can better match the content experience they have in their everyday lives. Put bluntly, we’re competing with cat videos.
Coca-Cola has been experimenting (successfully) with this approach for a number of years. They’ve reinvented their corporate, external website as the Coca-Cola Journey – a content-rich, story-focused platform that’s far more human than your average corporate website.
It looks more like a digital magazine, stories are created by an internal team of journalists, and content is used and repurposed for internal and external channels, including social media. The business now has a never-ending flow of newsstand-quality stories, videos and content, all generated from within.
At Sequel, we’ve been talking about the blurring line between internal and external comms for a while, and we’re seeing some of our forward-thinking clients merge their comms functions in anticipation of this new way of working.
If your focus is great content, it makes sense.
A good internal story can build your brand externally, and likewise, employees are interested in content traditionally owned by the public relations department. Recognising this, Asda and Royal Mail have opened up their intranets to external audiences (though sensitive information remains password-protected).
With all our obsessing over storytelling, engagement and that blurring line, it somehow feels inevitable that 2017 should be the year when corporates revive those old-school journalistic principles.