A day in the life of a modern newsroom

Technology has transformed journalism much more than by simply replacing newsprint with websites. The immediacy of online publication and powerful analytics used by media outlets mean the traditional workings of a newsroom are changing quickly.

A page one story is no longer the most sought after by many newspaper reporters. Instead, they win kudos from editors for stories which meet benchmarks for online engagement – in the same way as reporters at digital-only publications.

These real-time analytics mean there’s no longer any doubt about which topics resonate most with an audience: granular data is often likely to determine the daily news agenda as much an editor’s gut instinct.

That’s why, for example, property stories continue to dominate local news coverage: click rates indicate it’s a topic in demand.

Some media can use colour coded systems to distinguish between items that attract readers and those topics that go largely unread, with stories ranked from “green” for the best read through to “red” for those that fail to gain traction.

Journalists can also be recognised for content which generates a new subscription – a customer journey which can now be tracked by the systems used by media companies.

Why it matters

For clients seeking press coverage, the implications of this shift are significant. Editors who focus on data can adjust websites to elevate stories generating traffic and relegate those generating no interest to the dark recesses of a site.

Giving a journalist a story which falls into the latter category is a sure way to limit your chances of successfully engaging the reporter on that same topic again, let alone generate meaningful exposure for your organisation. So, perhaps even more than before, it’s critical to know the elements of a good story:

  • A clear, sharp angle
  • A topic that resonates with a broad audience
  • Credible evidence to back it all up

Here are some other observations worth considering in a media relations strategy, or even your own organisation’s content:

  • Puns are out: Headlines of old based on clever word plays are less common. Today’s headlines are very literal and often short, perhaps because search engine optimisation is as much at play at news outlets as elsewhere. Journalists now often write their own headlines, unlike the past when sub-editors performed that role. And headlines may be changed if early traffic for a story doesn’t meet expectations.
  • Speed is key: The 24/7 news cycle means media comment needs to be delivered swifter than ever to get published – often within the hour (so forward planning is key if you want to comment on an upcoming event).
  • Remember trade press: The fact a story fails to generate clicks at a mainstream publication may simply mean that it’s targeted at the wrong audience. The financial trade press continues to give industry players a strong voice that reaches a dedicated readership.
  • Newsletters extend reach: Many news outlets wrap up regular coverage in newsletters to which readers subscribe by choice. More popular stories are included in these newsletters, which increases the chances of a story reaching the target audience. The Australian Financial Review, for example, has around 20 newsletters including Inside Property, Carbon Challenge, Wealth Generation and Before the Bell. The ABC’s weekly Your Money Explained newsletter is another example that directly targets readers with financial content.
  • Not clickbait: Relying on reader analytics doesn’t necessarily equate to clickbait. Authoritative and thoughtful comment remains in high demand for business news.

Media companies differ in their application of the above principles but the broad trend is evident.

Honner has strong relationships with mainstream media and the financial press that gives us a front row seat to the changing media landscape. To discuss any of the above in further detail please contact zoe@honner.com.au

Insights from Sam Rockliff, Senior Consultant at Honner

Sam leads relationships with some of Honner’s asset management and diversified financial clients.

Here’s what she has to say about changes she’s seeing in financial services communications.

Q: Give us a brief rundown of your career so far.

I started my career as a corporate lawyer in Brisbane and have a strong background in issues and crisis management as well as corporate reputation and project management.

I’ve worked across both institutional and retail wealth management markets, developing and managing communications strategies for a range of financial brands.

I joined Honner three years ago from AMP, where I spent a decade working in media and financial services marketing across multiple channels.

I’ve worked in financial PR, corporate communications and marketing for over 20 years (yikes!) in Sydney and London.

Q: You oversee a range of asset management and diversified financial clients. What changes have you seen in financial services communications in the past year?

One of the key changes among some of our clients has been a shift in focus from institutional markets to targeting wealthy individual investors and family offices – effectively moving from a business-to-business to sophisticated consumer audience.

From a communications perspective this has meant shifting the dial on style of content we deliver and the channels we use.

Getting messages out to consumers – even affluent and sophisticated investors – requires a more engaging and digestible style, using more diverse vertical channels. We’re using podcasts, video, infographics and influencers more often, as well as our clever written content for websites and target publications, for example.

Even visual content needs to be more engaging – people want diagrams and illustrations that visually tell a story in an interesting and engaging way. No one’s interested in a boring old bar graph!

LinkedIn can be useful in reaching people across a range of audience groups, but while we wouldn’t often use social media channels like Tik Tok and Instagram in targeting institutional investors, those channels can be valuable for reaching some consumer groups.

Q: What new skills or expertise have you developed recently?

It’s amazing how much you can learn in a short period of time. Five years ago, I can’t say I’d ever really thought about the advantages of investing in private credit, but I have literally dozens of conversations about it every day now! I even went to a wedding recently where I was sitting at a table full of private credit experts. It’s such a hot topic!

Q: What’s the best thing about your job at Honner?

My favourite part is getting to work with a large and diverse collegial team. We tend to work in groups of about three to five on each account but everyone in the broader team is always happy to jump in and support when needed, sharing ideas and opportunities. That might be sharing contacts or brainstorming ideas.

We’ve got such a wealth of talent, from ex-AFR and trade journalists to political junkies, platform and asset management aficionados, and branding experts. There’s always someone who has relevant experience and insights to contribute.

Learn more about Sam and our other team members here