A Blueprint to a Better Online Newsroom

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By Mike Lesczinski, Public Relations Manager, Excelsior College; Past President, PRSA Capital Region

In October 2012, Excelsior College launched the Empire Award-winning Excelsior Life, an online newsroom dedicated to showcasing a vibrant campus and academic life – characteristics not readily associated with a distance learning institution. This week, I had the distinct honor to join PRSA Capital Region to discuss the development of Excelsior Life and offer a blueprint to local practitioners for building an engaging online newsroom that can deliver dynamic written, audio and visual content.

(For those that missed the event, the Prezi is online.)

As I tried to emphasize in my talk, even the most robust online news platform is not a replacement, but rather an enhancement, of your ongoing public relations efforts. The building blocks of success include:

  • Creating quality multimedia content.
  • Devising a strategy to reach your target audiences.
  • Utilizing a platform like WordPress built with the aesthetics of a news magazine in mind and the capabilities to deliver content and facilitate social sharing.

Excelsior Life’s impact has been undeniable. In July 2012, our former “news page”, which was basically a listing of press releases, attracted 45 unique visitors for the entire month. Forty five! Flash forward a little more than 18 months, and the site regularly attracts more than 3,500 monthly off-campus visitors and has led to more than a dozen earned media opportunities. The number of subscribers to our podcast series, Distance EDU on Demand, which I host, is growing everyday and each show averages 1,300 downloads.

The lesson? If you create quality content, utilize all of your distribution channels, track your progress and be willing to adapt your strategy to your readers’ interests, you have the chance to create something special.

Now, I also spoke about a few different software programs during my presentation. They included Audacity (for recording and editing audio), Libsyn (for podcast hosting) and HootSuite (for integrated marketing campaigns). While Audacity is free, open-source software, the other two come with a price tag – and a learning curve. However, for the serious content creator, they are well worth the investment.

Good luck. And don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. You can find me on Twitter at either @MikeLesczinski or @ExcelsiorLife.

And finally, here’s a few choice words from Twitter on the event:






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