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08:29 AM

Making your newsroom newsworthy

How to earn credibility with your audience and journalists.

At Ragan's 4th Annual Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Disney World, Jeff Calaway and Kim Griffith --from Cook Children's Health Care System-- provided great insight on how to make your online newsroom... a newswothry online resource. Especially with a small staff.

Cook Children's has made its newsroom an online destination for not only parents, but the industry and media. The Fort Worth (TX) based hospital even helped one family make the decision to fly in from Detroit for surgery after reading a story on Checkupnewsroom.com.

Jeff Calaway, Senior Content Specialist at Cook Children's Health Care System
We reached 96,000 people on Facebook and 11,000 views and growing on the newsroom on day one. I didn’t want to go overboard patting ourselves on the back in the story, but this truly shows the impact we can make.
Jeff Calaway, Senior Content Specialist at Cook Children's Health Care System

The brand journalism strategy has changed the way the nonprofit hospital handles news; the hospital no longer must go hat in hand to reporters and beg for coverage. The new PressPage software allowed communicators to take charge of the site without relying on IT. "We're a very small staff," Calaway says. "But I can post myself now, and it takes a matter of minutes to get it out there."

Analytics help prove the value of the brand journalism site to skeptical staffers. Calaway says: "I've had a pediatrician going, 'Does anybody actually read this?' And so when you can come back and say, 'This story was read by 120,000 people or 50,000 people or even 3,000 people,' it's big, because it shows that people are actually getting the information."

It even becomes a stronger case when the local county public health authorities (TCPH) contacted the editorial staff at Checkupnewsroom.com to publish their announcement that the Zica virus had been confirmed in Terrant County. It really proves the fact that Cook Children’s brand journalism site is a legitimate news source that has gained enourmous reach in less than 24 months.

Kimberly Griffith, Media Relations Specialist at Cook Children's Health Care System
We believe that with the newsroom we can tell our own story. We can control the message and not have a journalist miss key elements we think are key.
Kimberly Griffith, Media Relations Specialist at Cook Children's Health Care System

So, how have they come this far? How have they gained such a large audience with a returning rate (= loyal audience) of over 89%?

Key take-aways

Some of the key take-aways for a newsworthy newsroom presented by Jeff Calaway and Kim Griffith are:

Editorial news

They hold their editorial meetings early in the morning to coincide with the process of the local media’s editorial meetings. Key aspects of this approach are to discuss:

  • What is the news or what is tending? Locally and across the world.

  • Who will be the best source?

  • Deadline?

  • Other elements to consider include format:

    • Infographics

    • Video

    • Images

Find your voice

  • What can your experts (doctors) contribute to the conversation?

  • The key - say what no one else is saying.

  • The goal: tell a story with a new and newsworthy hook.

Be a credible source

  • Do not PR yourself to death. Leave the ‘horn’ at home.

  • Find a champion.

  • Do not shy away from the controversial topics.

The champion at Cook Children’s is Dr Justin Smith, better known as @TheDocSmitty. He even has his own section on the newsroom.

Speak the media’s language

Kimberly Griffith thought she would be sending out press releases everyday, but she does not.

  • Give them intelligent, authoritative, inspirational and ready to re-print stories.

  • Media relationship is best through Twitter (link to the newsroom story).

The Hub and spoke approach

The newsroom has become the origin and destination of their content. Using the community, media, social media and the e-newsletter as both sources and magnifiers of the news.

Credits: Jeff Calaway is the senior content specialist and Kim Griffith is the media relations specialist at Cook Children's Health Care System, located in Fort Worth, Texas.

About PressPage

PressPage provides a SaaS PR platform with additional services for creation of advanced social newsrooms, virtual press centers and online media hubs. It enables brands to publish and distribute rich content, and provides direct insights into the results. PressPage empowers PR professionals by adding efficiency and effectiveness to their daily work routine.