In September 2000 LSI Logic, a global supplier of high-performance semiconductors, redesigned its website to more effectively communicate the value of its innovative solutions to potential customers and investors. As part of this online initiative, LSI Logic also recognized the importance of communicating to a third audience who would play a critical role in helping position the company as a leading supplier of communications chips: the media. LSI Logic turned to Brodeur Worldwide for recommendations that would help it organize and manage its online press area. Brodeur Worldwide conducted extensive primary and secondary research, including surveys of journalists, reviews of the Fortune Global 100 company online pressrooms, and an online pressroom audit of LSI Logic’s top-tier competitors.  This work yielded an actionable set of recommendations for effective online media communications.
The Brodeur-LSI Logic Web Assessment is worthy of recognition because of its use of comprehensive, original research into online pressroom strategies.  Online pressrooms can prove key to a company’s communications success and yet the subject is virtually ignored by industry analysts and experts. Brodeur’s findings not only created an opportunity for LSI Logic to move ahead of its competitors with the design of a pressroom but also create a strong reference point for any business to build effective online relationships with the media.
LSI Logic asked Brodeur Worldwide to investigate how and why journalists use online pressrooms and to determine what features and services journalists desire in an online pressroom. LSI Logic was also interested in how its top-tier competitors organized their own online pressrooms.
In addition to delivering a packaged report, Brodeur Worldwide decided to present its findings to LSI Logic at an open, casual seminar.  Designed to showcase Brodeur’s recommendations, the seminar also would provide an environment conducive to setting plans for the first stages of implementing improvements. In this seminar Brodeur would also present ideas on how LSI Logic could move beyond its pressroom to communicate its brand in other ways online.
The online pressroom audit was presented to the public relations program manager for LSI Logic, who manages the content on the website intended for the media. She, in turn, delivered Brodeur’s findings back to LSI Logic to begin redesigning the online pressroom for the company’s key press contacts.
Brodeur Worldwide utilized both primary and secondary research methods to determine journalists’ perceptions of online pressrooms and to make recommendations for LSI Logic’s own online pressroom. In late 1999 and early 2000, Brodeur conducted three separate studies to find out why journalists go online and what tools journalists need in an online pressroom. In addition, Brodeur drew upon existing secondary research from industry analysts and communications trade publications relating to general online news consumership trends.
In its first study, Brodeur spoke with 31 journalists to hone in on exactly what they expect to find in an online newsroom. This was done to assess journalists’ needs and preferences for researching companies online. As a second component of this study, Brodeur conducted a large-scale website audit of the Fortune Global 100 company websites, as well as an additional 27 sites recommended to us by journalists because those sites had useful online pressrooms.
Each site was scored based on 21 features - from basic archived press releases to personalization to live webcasts - expressed by the interviewed journalists as preferences. Oddly enough, Brodeur found that barely half of the corporate sites surveyed had a direct link from the homepage to the pressroom. Only two (latest news and archived press releases) of the top five desired features appeared in more than half of the sites. Inconsistent use of the word “news” led to much confusion among journalists as to what content was geared to the general public and what was intended for the press. Brodeur backed up these findings with a second primary research study, interviewing 22 editors at trade publications to assess their attitudes towards and preferences for new technologies in web-based communications.
Finally, Brodeur drew findings from an ongoing study of online newsroom activity - monitoring where journalists went in the pressroom and what they were looking for. This was coupled with a competitive analysis of other sites to define online pressroom best practices.
For LSI Logic’s competitive online pressroom audit, Brodeur developed a list of top-level features that cater to journalists’ preferences in navigation, ease of use and content.  Features ranged from basic content such as archived press releases to more innovative uses of the online medium such as media-rich content. Based on these criteria, Brodeur examined each site’s pressroom - LSI Logic’s and its competitors IBM, Lucent, Adaptec and Texas Instruments - and called out best practices, as well as shortcomings to avoid.  Brodeur also scored each pressroom’s navigation, ease of use and content on a three-point scale: substandard, average or exceptional.
Brodeur discovered that reporters have three simple requests for online newsrooms:
Speed - Reporters want to be able to find information quickly.
Clarity - Reporters want a site with intuitive navigation and direct links to the pressroom from the homepage.
Functionality - Reporters want pressrooms to contain the necessary tools – strong search engines, the latest news and contact lists, to name a few.
Companies with successful online pressrooms dedicate the time and resources to keep content current. However, a growing number of journalists expect companies to take full advantage of the medium. They want a more dynamic and interactive pressroom that supplements traditional news releases with photos, analysis, white papers, speeches, even audio and video.
Based on their findings, Brodeur proposed a detailed list of suggestions that would allow LSI Logic, as well as any other company, to create an effective and unparalleled source of online communications.
Companies should provide a direct, intuitive link to the pressroom from any area of the site. Small, poorly labeled and buried links could prevent journalists from finding the valuable content they are seeking.
Pressrooms should provide extensive contact information. Secondary research shows that this is one of the leading reasons why journalists visit online pressrooms in the first place.
A pressroom should be designed as a one-stop shop for media resources to ensure journalists have a positive user experience. Journalists go online to research; they want to find, not browse.
Sites need to provide direct links from the pressroom to corporate information, investor relations, product information, events and other pertinent content. Currently, few online pressrooms take advantage of the multimedia fanfare the Web offers.
Pressrooms should include media-rich content such as audio/video clips of presentations, webcasts, online press conferences, interviews and live chat.
Journalists need a comprehensive, packaged press kit as well as an à la carte list of the press kit contents so they can pick and choose from product photos, fact sheets or whatever information they may need.
Finally, companies should add personalization and automatic notification features so journalists can customize the news they receive.
In addition to these recommendations, Brodeur Worldwide shared its News ConsumershipÔ methodology with LSI Logic. This methodology defines the ways in which communications technology influences and changes the way consumers and others digest news and information. Brodeur Worldwide recommended LSI Logic consider looking beyond its pressroom to reach news consumers through InfoBytesÔ, sharp and brief news stories that provide an alternative to traditional news releases; e-zines; or customized newsletters to deliver key information to target audiences at their request.
LSI Logic is now incorporating Brodeur Worldwide's recommendations into its own online pressroom for the most effective online communications with one of its key audiences - the media. And because of Brodeur Worldwide’s research, LSI Logic has an opportunity to assume a strategic position ahead of its competitors by implementing the dynamic and interactive content lacking from other pressrooms and by supplying journalists with the information they demand. In turn, the media will be more likely to communicate LSI Logic’s positioning as a leading supplier of communications chips and help secure the company a stronger foothold in the industry.