The Vail Resorts online newsroom launched several years ago and since that time has become a case study in success. In addition to providing press materials for seven resorts, real estate and international properties, and the "summer season" site, the team at Vail Resorts also provides a fully integrated social experience. Below are eight areas where they have "socialized" their online newsroom.
Custom Social Icons. The Vail Resorts online newsroom makes use of large photography, animation, and video throughout the site, especially on the home page. It is important to provide a clear set of "social icons" that allow people to quickly find you on various social outlets. Typically, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube icons can be found, but you can tailor these to suit which social outlets you are most present and prominent. Vail Resorts goes the extra mile to add a stylish touch to customizing their social icons.
Categorized RSS Feeds. Most organizations have RSS feeds for their news content. Consider having multiple RSS feeds. Create categories based on topic or geography and segment your content into those categories. Then create an RSS feed for each category.
This will allow those eager to share your content the ability to really target their subject and get only the information that they want. Categorized and targeted RSS feeds are a good way to increase the chance of more people sharing your content.
Shareable videos and photos. Vail Resorts has several videos and various photos throughout the resorts. Each photo and video is available in a thumbnail and web-ready format (some are available in high-resolution) and are shareable with the ShareThis icon. This "shareability" gives people the ability to quickly post it on their Facebook or Twitter, or send an email to a friend alerting them of the new photo or video. Making your news content easy to share is one of the keys to a successful social media online newsroom.
Integrated Twitter and Vimeo. Vail Resorts integrates their Twitter account and Vimeo video streaming account right into the home page of their online newsroom. This gives people a quick glimpse into their tweets or mentions of @VailResorts on Twitter and also lets people have one-click access to a featured video, right from the home page.
ShareThis tool on news releases. As with videos and images, Vail Resorts also makes all of their press releases shareable with the ShareThis tool. This opens up the content to more than just journalists and extends the reach of the news story to customers, employees, prospects, investors, analysts, bloggers and other news consumers.
Facebook page. The Vail Resorts Facebook page, SnowDotCom, provides updates, photos, videos, and customer interactions for all of their major resorts including Heavenly and Breckenridge ski resorts. The Facebook page has nearly 85,000 "likes" and is updated frequently with snow reports, deals and discounts, and news.
Integrated Twitter account. The @VailResorts Twitter account includes a balance of interactivity andinformation. In addition to links to news stories and press releases, the team also engages with customers who have questions and frequently posts discounts and deals.
SEO-friendly, vanity URLs. Including keywords that people are searching on Google in your URL is important. It will help with SEO and also allows for pertinent keywords to be in a prominent location for ease-of-use. Having the word "news" in your online newsroom URL can also help. Creating short, easy-to-remember, SEO-friendly URLs will help your content be better indexed by search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo and will also make it easier for people to share via word-of-mouth.
Tag cloud. The Vail Resorts online newsroom tag cloud shows what the most popular content on the site is at any given time. The larger and bolder words are tags from stories, photos, and videos that have been viewed most frequently. This allows others to see what is trending on the Vail Resorts online newsroom on any particular day.
There are many ways to "socialize" your online newsroom. One of the keys is to provide great content including news stories, photos, and videos. Also, taking that content and making it shareable by anyone (journalists and general news consumers) so that your story can be linked throughout your social networks.