Tim and Steve:
The article, The Even Darker Side, written by Catilyn Coverly, tells an interesting story – but an incomplete one with key facts left out.
In the article, my former partner at The News Group Net, David Henderson, is quoted as though the Imperial Sugar Company turned to him alone to formulate the ISC Newsroom: “executives at Imperial Sugar turned to Henderson,” as he explains, to “develop and manage ISCNewsroom.com — a news site that openly presented legitimate and balanced company and industry news.”
In fact, Imperial Sugar turned to The News Group Net, a partnership of three senior communicators that included David as well as:
• Springfield Lewis, a former director of communications at EDS and an expert in organizational “storytelling” and content development;
• And myself, a former People magazine photojournalist and founder of the reputation management company, Newsroom Ink.
The partnership name, The News Group Net, was not created in 2002, as reported. Rather, it was a collaboration among the three of us formed in June 2009 and registered by me as thenewsgroup.net on GoDaddy.com. This partnership continued for more than two years, with Springfield leaving in the summer of 2009 to become director of corporate communications at a FORTUNE 500 technology and communications company.
David and I kept operating the Imperial Sugar Newsroom. Against the backdrop of the BP oil leak disaster, we also launched the Louisiana Seafood News site for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board in May 2010. The seafood newsroom gave a voice to local fishermen and others affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill.
As an author and speaker, David is well known in the communications industry. He has done an outstanding job in promoting brand journalism and the use of online newsrooms for reputation management. However, lessons learned and promoted by David are not uniquely his. The strategy behind the ISC Newsroom was the result of our collective work as a partnership. Lessons learned on the award-winning “storytelling” platform and brand journalism are leveraged today at Newsroom Ink for new clients. I am proud to have been a part of the conception of the Imperial Sugar Newsroom. David was more than accurate when he stated “the site became the most popular online site in the global-sugar industry, beating out much larger competitors and taking ISC to a whole new level in the marketplace.
Through the use of journalists, be they called brand or not, the dynamic online newsroom is like inviting someone into your operations so they can clearly and accurately see your business – from the inside out.
A communications tool born in response to a crisis, online newsrooms are becoming a cost-effective asset to not only reach the media, but also connect employees, customers, vendors, legislators and shareholders. In short, it is the new homepage for corporate communications and reputation management.