Organizing strategic topic mangement in newsrooms

Introducing topic-based strategic communication into organizations is accompanied by a change process. Existing structures and procedures need to be analyzed and adapted, and new ones might have to be put in place.

There are three distinct approaches to organizing topic management: the traditional model, the Newsroom Light, and the Corporate Newsroom.


How to organize strategic topic management?

Traditional topic management: Topics are planned and dealt with in different teams, e.g. internal/external communication, online, social media, public affairs, etc. operating largely separately. This approach is being increasingly challenged because parallel processes and complex coordination loops complicate and slow down communication.

Newsroom Light: Topics are managed in a new, cross-departmental function with newsroom-like structures. Existing structures are not completely dissolved but supplemented by new processes. For example, employees from the press teams are delegated to work temporarily or even permanently in the newsroom team. This significantly improves the flow of communication and cooperation.

Corporate Newsroom: Topics are managed in a completely restructured communication function. Existing teams are largely disbanded. The employees work together in a flexible, agile manner as they plan topics and serve all relevant communication channels. Within this process, a change in expertise from specialist to generalist knowledge has been observed.


Success factors for efficient topic management

  • Within newsroom models you must blur or even abandon team boundaries and increase cross-functional collaboration.
  • In a virtual or physical newsroom, employees with different backgrounds are required who cooperate closely to identify relevant topics and plan communication activities together.
  • Trust of and among employees is indispensable, as is internal cooperation, communication and networking, and a clear focus on target audiences.
  • Always remember: Topics come first, the appropriate channels second.
  • Newsroom concepts go hand in hand with agile work models: flat hierarchies, flexible processes, independent project teams, and a new corporate culture.
  • Successfully introducing a new approach requires leadership, listening, dialogue, and understanding as problems and conflicts arise where deep-rooted behaviors are challenged.
  • Changes are usually slow and incremental, happening within an evolutionary process. Do not underestimate the time factor.