Will you be able to rely on your newsroom in a crisis?
An effective online newsroom should be equipped with the tools and functionality to quickly layout your message, easily locate the necessary media assets, seamlessly distribute a response to all your media channels, and provide stats about your content’s performance.
A whopping 7 out of 10 business leaders say to have experienced at least one crisis between 2014 and 2019 (PWC). After 2020, most businesses will be well aware that a crisis, whatever its nature, is just a natural part of running a company in an extremely interconnected, hyper-informed world.
When that time comes, your team should be prepared. Communicators play a crucial role during a crisis, as do your owned channels, including your online newsroom. Newsrooms are one of the owned channels available to PR teams, giving them full control over the content and messaging, this makes them incredibly handy when it comes to executing your crisis plan. You shouldn’t waste time trying to figure out if your first response can be put into your press site quickly enough – technology should help, not get in the way.
No news isn't always good news
Once a crisis breaks out, it might be a matter of minutes before the media reaches out to you for comments, your customers might have already picked it up and started asking about it on social media. You should be quick to gather information and be extremely careful while fact-checking, but you can’t afford to take your time to craft the “perfect” response while the narrative slips further away from your control. In case of a crisis, the best response is also a fast one – between 15 minutes and an hour, to be precise. A lot of PR teams depend on their IT department to publish statements on their press site, which can delay the process and leave room for speculation in the absence of an official statement.
According to best practice, your first statement should be issued within 15 minutes of a crisis breaking, and a maximum of one hour to retain some control over the narrative.
In short, your newsroom should allow your PR team to work autonomously so they can react quickly to new information.
Traffic spike and accident-proof
It goes without saying that your newsroom should be accessible at all times, but even more so during moments where key information should be available to the public and the media. In some cases, your response can make a huge difference for the community affected by the situation. A few years back, fires blazing in the San Diego area threatened California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), a school of over ten thousand students. Thanks to their rapid response, proactive communications, and robust newsroom, they were able to keep everyone safe and up to date. See how they used PressPage to effectively communicate during the incident.
Your newsroom should be able to stay up no matter the circumstances – whether that’s a power outage caused by nearby fires or a higher-than-expected traffic spike that could crash your server. If you expect a lot of traffic (numerous page requests at once), consider auto-scaling as a solution to prevent downtime, it will make sure your newsroom can adjust and stay up no matter how many people are trying to access it.
Crisis features designed for teams like yours
Your newsroom can be the place where the holding statement gets published as a PDF or it can be an asset to help you leave a crisis behind with as little disruption as possible.
Aside from generally letting you publish your releases quickly and withstanding larger numbers of visitors, your newsroom must adapt to the challenges of modern PR teams. While tools for crisis management are widely available, it’s important to think about the specific needs of your team.
- Dark sites: a set of landing pages or information hubs that you prepare in advance. While they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution, dark sites are useful when there’s a long-running crisis or when you just have some more time to prepare.
- Live feeds: things can change from one second to the next during a crisis. When it comes to building trust, it’s important to be proactive and transparent. Live feeds are a great way to convey that you’re committed to providing information as it arrives. Most newsroom software will allow you to integrate live feeds from your social media accounts. If you’re using PressPage, you can also create live news feeds and add them directly to your releases.
- Emergency redirects: when a crisis has just broken, emergency redirects can be a great feature to make sure traffic is redirected to where they can find all the information they need. Use redirects carefully to avoid making the situation seem worse than it actually is.
- SEO: not everyone will be following you and know exactly where to find what you have to say about the subject, so it’s important your newsroom content can be easily tracked by search engines.