[PODCAST] How to Transform your PR Department into a Digital Newsroom

How to Transform your PR Department into a Digital Newsroom


JSB Talks Digital Podcast #81

JSB Talks Digital is a weekly digital marketing and social media podcast hosted by author, strategist, consultant, speaker and trainer Joanne Sweeney-Burke. Each Friday Joanne shares her digital marketing and social media insights from her work as CEO of Digital Training Institute. 

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In this episode #81, the first of 2018, I discuss how PR departments need to evolve into digital newsrooms.

Coming up in today’s show:

  • In Social Media News
    • Facebook releases a study on mobile video techniques
    • Connecting Facebook and WhatsApp with ads
    • Snapchat introduces Lens Studio
  • I interview PR Agency owner and Digital PR practitioner, Kathryn Mason
  • Shoutouts
  • Ask JSB
  • In JSB’s column, How to Transform your PR Department into a Digital Newsroom
  • Find out what digital PR tool will save your working week                                 

Listen now:

LISTEN: How to Transform your PR Department into a Digital Newsroom | Featuring @KathrynMasonPR #JSBTalksDigital #Podcast Click To Tweet


Social Media News

Facebook’s study on mobile video techniques

Facebook has published a new study which examines the effectiveness of traditional video approaches – i.e. TV ads – when looking to reach modern, mobile consumers.

Working with MetrixLab, Facebook studied 759 video ads, from 300+ brands, across nine sectors, in 25 different countries.

They then categorised these ads to understand key characteristics.

Facebook says:

“We discovered that ads created for mobile first stand out on Facebook and Instagram, and perform better across a range of different metrics.”

The first area they looked at was brand recall, separating the video approaches into three distinct categories.

  • Adapted to mobile
  • Mobile first
  • Traditional narratives

Cluster Analysis of video ads to gain a deeper understanding of their performance

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprising, mobile first ads are watched for longer and are more memorable.

They also found that brand presence in the first three seconds significantly improves brand recall.

Brand presence in the first seconds significantly improves aided recallRead the full study here


Connecting WhatsApp and Facebook with Ads

Facebook has launched a new ad unit that will let businesses create a link between Facebook and WhatsApp which it owns.

Advertisers in some markets can now include a button on their ads so that people can call or message via WhatsApp with the click of a button.

This feature however is not in Europe because of data protection regulations which prohibit it sharing data cross platform. But that’s not to say it won’t happen.

Facebook tells us that more than 1 million Facebook Pages already include WhatsApp numbers in their posts each month, which implies that there is already a pipeline between the two companies being used by businesses more informally to connect with customers more directly.


Snapchat introduces Lens Studio

Lens Studio is a new way for anyone to create Lenses for the Snapchat community. The 2D animations can be created by downloading Snap Inc’s free desktop tool for Mac and Windows. They also supply users with easy to use guides.

Once your Lens is complete, you’ll be given a special Snapcode that you can share anywhere, which anyone can scan to unlock your Lens!

Download it now at https://lensstudio.snapchat.com


Interview | Kathryn Mason

Kathryn MasonIn this episode I interview Kathryn Mason, owner of Kathryn Mason PR & Marketing, a boutique agency specialising in the entertainment, retail, sports, and festival and events sectors.

Kathryn has a career spanning over 27 years in the entertainment industry– including being in charge of marketing Westlife from their very beginnings.

Recognising the ferocious rate of change in the digital sector in 2009, Kathryn completed a Diploma in Digital Marketing awarded with Distinction. In 2013, she gained a Diploma in Event Management with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII). Kathryn is a current and very active member of the PRII.

Listen to our chat:

My favourite quote from our interview:

Kathryn Mason Quote


Shout-Outs: 3 Organisations Who Have Mastered their Digital Newsrooms

In this part of the show I give shout-outs to individuals, organisations or brands that are remarkable online and worth talking about.

In this episode, I’m giving shoutouts to three organisations who have mastered their Digital Newsrooms.

1. NHS

The National Health Service in the UK has a very user-friendly digital newsroom on their website. My favourite features include:

  • You can use the filters to show only news items that match your interests.
  • News only content
  • Tagging news with relevant topics to aid search
  • Internal hyperlinking to other relevant content 

View their Digital Newsroom at https://www.england.nhs.uk/news/



The New York Police Department has very created sub-sections within its Digital Newsroom on its website which offers a great user experience. Their sub-sections are:

They also have useful social sharing options to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and email.

Find out more at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/media/newsroom/newsroom-landing.page


3. University of Oxford

I particularly like the Digital Newsroom from the University of Oxford.

They have niche areas for communications and news professionals broken down as follows:

Their find an expert search function is super and is exactly what large organisations should be providing to journalists and content creators.

Find An Expert offers journalists quick and easy access to Oxford academics who may be able to help.

Find out more at http://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events



In this part of the show I bring the voice of my listeners onto the podcast.

Don’t forget if you have a burning social media or digital marketing question, simply click on digitaltraininginstitute.ie/askjsb and leave me a voicemail.

Today’s question is from Sharon Campbell, Deputy Director of Communications at Trinity College Dublin.

“What do journalists expect from a digitally agile PR team?”

Listen to my answer to Sharon’s question:


JSB’s Column | How to Turn your PR Department into a Digital Newsroom

Joanne Sweeney-Burke

In today’s JSB column, I outline how PR departments can transform into an agile Digital newsroom seamlessly.

I work with organisations and communications team with different KPIs and this is where the problem originates.

A PR manager strives for traditional media mentions; a digital marketing executive is focused on web traffic, the digital content creator is hoping for increased lead generation and the marketing manager might have one eye of organisational goals. Already we have an issue – communication silos!

Organisational buy-in

So, the first step to transform your PR department is to ensure that everyone involved in communications understands why this needs to happen. I am assuming that management also support this but often you can get push-back from individual teams who feel their work load will increase or their positions are threatened by digital age skills and technology.

Aligning team and workflows

An audit of existing team workflows needs to be undertaken to assess who is doing what and when.

Data driven news production

The corporate news of your organisation will always be prioritised, but are you digging deeper to assess what your customers or service users wants? Are you analysing search on your own website and are you undertaking industry keyword research to assess what users want to know? Data driven news production is the future as news becomes more commoditised.

The online newsroom on your website

You must reflect the transformation of your PR department on your website. Take inspiration from my three case studies in the shoutouts section of this podcast.

Multi-media content

News is more than a press release, it’s a topic hashtag, an audio soundbite, a subject matter interview or piece to camera, a live-streamed press conference and a series of SEO-fuelled photos and blog posts.

Re-purposing the press release for search engines

Writing a press release for a journalist is different to publishing an article for the search engines. Your press release must be re-purposed for digital distribution before publishing it on your website, starting with the key-word rich headline that appeals to Google more than it does to a print journalist.


Software as a service (SaaS) will become your best digital best friend when scaling your PR department in the Digital Age. You need software to undertake social listening, brand monitoring, keyword research, performance and reporting.

This is a brief introduction to digital transformation for in-house communications professionals.

If you would like consulting or training on how to transform your PR department into a digitally agile newsroom then get in touch. Simply email me to [email protected].


Social Media Tool of the Week | Meltwater

The tool that will save many weeks for PR professionals is Meltwater.

Meltwater is a PR and social media monitoring tool that allows managers to interact on social media, curate content, track competitors and emerging stories, and measure the results of their efforts.

Meltwater Dashboard

Meltwater helps PR professionals:

  • Find the best journalists to amplify your message. Search based on their beat, name, publication, previous content coverage and location.
  • Generate presentation-ready reports. Justify your existence by keeping your stakeholders informed of every aspect of your communications strategy.
  • Share internal news using branded newsletters, plus, manage your outreach to journalists and influencers with sharing and analytics tools.
  • Easily review the latest media coverage when you are on the go with the Meltwater Mobile app. Smart Alerts allow AI to be your fresh eyes on developing stories.

Find out more at https://www.meltwater.com


I love feedback

I’d love to know what you think about this episode. So please get in touch by commenting below or tweet me @tweetsbyJSB or send me a snap to @jsbsnaps.

Review JSB Talks Digital on iTunes


Listen: JSB Talks Digital Episode #81

I would like to thank Eoghan Murphy aka The Galway Gamer for producing my podcast series and to Flirt FM on the campus of NUI, Galway where I am based for the use of their studio.

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