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OTTOCOMMS: more than a new newsroom?

The evolution of a PR team

7/10/2018 Editor Martin Frommhold Reading time: 3 Minutes
The “European Communication Monitor” is the largest transnational study on strategic communication worldwide. More than 30,000 PR professionals are regularly involved in it. So what it says must be true! In 2017, a third of the experts questioned were convinced that the link between communications and business strategy is becoming ever more important. Makes sense, when you think about it. And that’s why we’re focusing on this at OTTO right now.

With a new newsroom as the nucleus of integrated business communication. Starting with retailers, our business developed into a platform which is gaining an increasing number of active brands and suppliers. It’s about exchange, collaboration, the synchronisation of different perspectives – and a common goal. And we’ve used precisely this idea as a basis for setting up communications at OTTO in recent months, and we want to put it into practice in our newsroom.

The newsroom isn’t just for display. In fact, as well as looking at how we’re handling digitalisation, we also want to address themes that are sometimes more and sometimes less closely linked with our branches – and in doing so, represent different opinions, demonstrate discourse and adopt a clear position. To this end, we are inviting experts, influencers, opinion leaders and associates to speak out. The OTTO Newsroom aspires to be a place for stories about change, transformation and people. So it’s great that we encounter these things every day. Sufficient material is therefore guaranteed – and the invitation to participate: open to all.

Editorial thinking from top to bottom

A newsroom is not a tool for changing communications. In fact, it’s the result of the research that we’ve done in recent months. One such example is the adoption of a 360-degree perspective, which replaces our classic division between internal and external matters. Another is the tailoring of a flat hierarchy, which brings a lot of freedom, but also increased responsibility for all team members. In addition there is the agile, scalable overall organisation of the sector, which is inspired by an agency model.

OTTOCOMMS: scalable overall organisation with plenty of freedom, but also plenty of responsibility.

Engaging closely with the departments, the PR consultants will be working from now on as topic supervisors, in line with the self-regulated topic strategy. The focal points: brands and clients, technology, and business culture. Furthermore, colleagues are promoting and nurturing the production of “user-generated content” within the departments, i.e. the news and stories that our colleagues from the company largely prepare independently. A Managing Editor negotiates with the press officers in a centralised way as to how and where stories are told, and with which tone. And the editorial team ensures that the stories also become reality. In a cross-channel process, of course, which includes Twitter, WhatsApp, Intranet, etc. Efficient and synergetic. But... were newsrooms not already useful in the past? Is the development at OTTOCOMMS really the latest craze in matters of innovation within corporate communications? Or is it at the very least a little bit trendy?

The evolution of a PR team

No. And that doesn’t make a difference, either. Because communications must be suited to the business and not somehow “à la mode“. PR is not an end in itself, but a service of and for the cause. It’s not surprising that we admire the ‘content factory’ of our telecom colleagues. Or that thyssenkrupp, powered by thjink, implemented an in-house agency together with BOBBY&CARL. These trendsetters – some would even call them revolutionaries – can teach us a lot. Yet at the same time, we would do well to remember that communications can only be authentic if they are specific, suited to the originator and – above all – if they can be implemented independently. That’s exactly what we want to do here, together with many other actors from within our sector. Welcome to the new OTTO Newsroom.

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