In Fall 2008, we rolled out a newsroom product in beta. The newsroom was a fairly lightweight tool that was initially envisioned as a hub for PRWeb news releases. The newsroom was developed with the intention of providing customers with a place to put additional information about their company that bloggers and journalists would find useful. On the newsroom, customers could upload images, boilerplate content about their organizations and hyperlinks back to relevant pages about their organization. Over the next year and a half, we had numerous customers experiment with the product and several began incorporating the product into their toolkit.
After hosting the service for just over a year and a half in beta, studying the results and engaging with customers we have decided to phase out the product. Our decision has been determined by the following factors:
1. The evolution of the news release into a destination – Simply put, the news release has come a long way. In its current form, it is a living, breathing Web document that contains video, visual imagery and is interconnected with relevant online destinations. When we stepped back and looked at what our news release was doing versus what the newsroom did, we didn’t see a profound difference. One could say that the news release itself has transformed into an online newsroom. We recently previewed the new PRWeb news release template, set to launch in the next few months, and we believe that this takes us one step closer to delivering on this claim.
According to one of our customers, Robb Hamic, “Sending news releases out over PRWeb is almost like creating a stand-alone Web site that appeals to my customers. On a single page they see the news release, a call-out quote, photos, graphics, my Web page and even a video. ”
2. Keeping the focus on the customer’s own Web site – From a search engine perspective, the hub and spoke model is an effective approach for lifting the visibility of the hub in search. For the vast majority of customers, the hub is their own Web site. Many customers use PRWeb because it helps increase the interconnection of their own Web property within the broader online universe and in the process, increases the visibility of their Web site in search. In some ways, the newsroom could serve as a distraction by creating a separate hub. Ultimately, PRWeb is first and foremost about building value for our customers’ Web sites.
This is not to say that customers shouldn’t have a section of their site built for the media. In fact, we recommend they do. However, we do believe that to really gain the most value from search engines, that section of their site should be hosted on their own domain.
3. Visitor behavior – In our research we found that most visitors to PRWeb news stories, whether they were bloggers or just people interested in buying a product, were far more likely to click-through to the PRWeb customer’s Web site rather than their newsroom. In our discussions we learned that if a visitor to a PRWeb news story was interested in learning more about a company, they wanted to go directly to the company’s Web site and start navigating around rather than visit a newsroom.
4. Shifting behavior in news consumption – One additional reason for rolling out the newsroom was to provide a place where news consumers could stay updated on news from a particular company. Over the past year and a half we have seen a steady increase in the volume of news consumers who subscribe to feeds through personalized home pages (i.e. iGoogle, Netvibes) and a drastic increase in the number of news consumers who follow companies through social media channels like Twitter. Both of these behaviors are already accommodated by the PRWeb news release through our personalized customer RSS feed and TweetIt feature, rendering their presence on the newsroom less important.
So in summary, we considered a variety of factors and ultimately decided it was time to phase out the newsroom. As always, we are more than happy to speak with you directly about the decision and we encourage commenting on this blog or if you would prefer a more private channel, through our help desk.