The Customer Effect

The future of bank media centers, as told by BNY Mellon

  • Bank media centers are due for a radical makeover.
  • “Great PR is not about press releases.”
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The future of bank media centers, as told by BNY Mellon

When it comes to social media, financial institutions can’t afford to be left behind. Banks are getting more involved in social channels – even Snapchat is getting some bank love. However, while banks are increasingly investing in building engaging – and sometimes, operational – social media presences, one media channel that has remained underdeveloped is the bank’s online media center.

Banks’ official news channels have been woefully neglected, leaving most, though not all, bank media centers resembling a standard Word document from the early 1990s. This layout is unlikely to excite investors, let alone the stray customer who accidentally stumbles upon the media center.

In 2014, BNY Mellon realized that this lackluster newsroom template didn’t reflect the innovative, modern brand the bank was trying to cultivate. “We realized that the way people consume news and information has changed rapidly,” said Colleen Krieger, vice president and director of corporate communications at the bank. “We wanted to deliver our insights in a way that was valuable and compelling for our audience.”

BNY media center

Defining the target audience of a bank’s media center is one that few banks seem to have given any thought. At BNY, the focus was broad: the firm wanted to reach journalists, clients, prospects, and employees across the globe.

“One of the biggest surprises for us when we looked at the metrics is the number of employees that are going to the Newsroom as well,” Krieger noted. The bank tries to meet the wide range of interest and needs generated by the size and diversity of its audience by creating a variety of content and a site that’s designed to make content discoverable.

With its target audience in mind, the media relations and digital marketing teams at BNY, supported by the bank’s design agency, created a newsroom whose visuals and content are styled after a digital magazine. This design enables the creative teams at the bank to produce and share multimedia content that’s more visual, global and shorter.

It’s not that BNY has completely done away with the Press Release, nor is it trying erase its corporate tone or language. The bank simply believes that PRs are just one tool in its messaging toolbox. So while it still issues PRs, the bank is focused on writing articles, producing videos and creating slideshows that are transitioning away from the corporate voice towards more journalistic and more conversational style.

The site’s metrics show that the bank’s vision of higher newsroom engagement through more innovative content formats was spot on. Press releases are no longer its top performing content, having lost the traffic and engagement battle to the bank’s original content series, including Behind the Scenes Q&As, summer intern articles and Expert Voices.

The viewer numbers have also experienced a significant bump: From the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016, external visits to the newsroom increased 32 percent, page views rose 22 percent and engagement is up 6 percent. The creative team takes its cues from how the media center’s audience is actually using the site, and the bank will be rolling out some updates to the media center late-2016 based on learnings from its user base.

Why aren’t more banks reworking their outdated pressrooms? Krieger thinks that stale pressrooms aren’t just a finance problem – they’re emblematic of official corporate content channels. “Great PR is not about press releases,” Krieger emphasized. “More and more amazing content campaigns are originating with PR teams, and that requires a fresh approach to the online newsroom.”

Not all banks are ready to take the plunge into this brave new world of communication. But they should consider it. Whatever the future of corporate media centers is, it’s not a bullet-pointed Word document. Krieger thinks that in the near future the bank media center will grow to resemble content hubs that have traditionally been owned by marketing.

The challenge of crafting that space will be rapid-response content. “How do you create and distribute timely content that responds to events in the news in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks?” Krieger asks.

“It’s an opportunity that we’re actively exploring.”

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