Australian brands ‘failing to engage with journalists and customers through company websites’

Australia’s top 20 brands brands are failing to make the most of newsrooms on their company websites, resulting in missed opportunities to engage with journalists, bloggers and their customers.   

The latest findings are from a Burson-Marsteller survey of the top 20 brands in the country as ranked by Interbrand, which include the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, Woolworths, Macquarie, ANZ, Harvey Norman, David Jones, Myer and St George.

The survey, carried out at the end of last year, found that the majority of the brands only offer static press releases in their online newsrooms. They are not providing rich media content as a means of enriching company news, while supporting materials such as executive photography, logos and video content are not generally available.

It also found that online newsrooms are not very user friendly, with very few offering search and sharing functions.

Telstra stood out as the only exception in the survey, providing users with sharing capabilities, a search function, video and image downloads, and other supporting materials.

The Burson-Marsteller findings concluded that online newsrooms in Australia are “generally ineffectual”, with none of the brands surveyed competing with global best practice.

Journalists are increasingly turning to the internet as a primary source of information and story ideas. Providing easy access to news content and rich media assets can provide an organisation with a ‘competitive’ edge in their PR efforts,” the report said.

Effective online newsrooms can ‘automate’ many media relations processes (i.e. provision of photography and supporting information) freeing up Corporate Communications professionals to focus on strategic and proactive programs.”

The survey conclusions also pointed out that traffic to corporate websites is in decline.

News content provides an opportunity for brands to create a more engaging, compelling and interactive presence via their online newsrooms. Newsroom capabilities can be easily enhanced at low cost using existing social networks, such as Flickr for photo archiving and sharing and Twitter for ‘broadcasting’ news.”

Key survey findings:

  • Only 15 per cent of the top brands offer any kind of image download via their corporate newsroom
  • 10 per cent of the brands surveyed offer video downloads
  • One out of the twenty brands surveyed offers search functionality within its news room

The report closely follows a call by Renai LeMay, founder of tech newswire service Delimiter and former news editor of technology site ZDNet, for PR professionals to rethink press release etiquette.

In an email sent out to industry contacts during his tenure at ZNet, he said:

In short, we feel that the age of plain text journalism is dead.

In our Sydney offices at CBS Interactive, all of our journalists have Adobe Photoshop installed on their computers, as well as audio editing software. They are issued with high-end digital SLR cameras when attending press conferences.

In addition, we employ several full-time video editing staff that work across various sites, and we have broadcast quality cameras, sound equipment etc, dedicated video editing PCs and even a green screen.

Our journalists are expected to file each and every story with an image attached. And we are making increasing use of audio and video in our publishing work.

So please, if you are thinking of sending us high-resolution images, audio or video of any kind, please do so. If we publish a story on a statement you issue, there is a very high likelihood we will include rich media.”


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