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What is a digital newsroom?

What's a digital newsroom?

It seems like such a simple question, until you start pondering the potential answers. The question arose the other day in discussion with an agency client. We were discussing the competitive landscape and how a variety of digital agencies, PR agencies, and the brands they serve are all beginning to establish digital newsrooms.

But what does that even mean?

Do these entities create news? Media relations? Branded content? Social media? Advertising? Native advertising? Brand journalism? Native advertising? Some, or all, of the above?

"Real" newsrooms aside (à la New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other news outlets), the term "newsroom," like so many digital marketing terms, means many things to many people.

Conduct a search on Google and some media relations sites rank high, such as the Intel Newsroom. Red Bull's Content Pool ranks high as well and is constantly updated with a rich variety of extreme sports material, much of it premium and available to license to commercial media companies for a fee.

The Cisco Newsroom, also ranks high for the term "newsroom." It's a hybrid technology news and company news site. Other tech brands run what you'd consider more traditional newsrooms. Dell's Tech Page One is considered branded content. But it is also the only branded content site that has passed Google News' rigorous hurdles for qualifying as "real" news and making it into that feed.

Marketers at one major brand I know of were touring digital news publications last year and studying how their operations worked, in advance of setting up their own newsroom operations, while a direct competitor was hiring seasoned journalists to do exactly that in-house.

Those same journalists are also decamping to PR firms, which are setting up their own newsroom operations. Weber Shandwick's Mediaco and Edelman's Creative Newsroom, which both launched last year, are newsrooms staffed by former newspaper, television, and magazine staffers, as well as digital and content strategists, planners, analysts, and syndicators. They're not just creating "news," but also content for owned and social media, as well as multimedia production.

Agencies can get hyper-specific with the definition and focus of a newsroom. Deep Focus' social media newsroom, Moment Studio, creates Facebook content for Pepsi and Purina.

Adidas recently announced it will establish "digital newsrooms around the globe" for its shoe brands to tap into trending topics and real-time marketing.

Clearly, there is no one definition of a digital newsroom. There is not even a single defined purpose or function. Unless you're an actual news organization, the purpose -- even the reason for being -- of a newsroom is governed by one principle only: content strategy.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst, digital advertising/media, for Altimeter Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. Follow Rebecca Lieb at @lieblink and Altimeter Group at @altimetergroup.

Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field.  As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands...

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