An impressively large room with many workplaces, a conference table at its center and countless screens displaying information of all kinds: this is the newsroom we’re familiar with from the media. But the concept of the newsroom as a communications hub is not the sole preserve of the editorial offices of newspapers or TV and radio stations – it‘s also finding its way into the communications departments of companies, and in very different forms. In July 2021, PostFinance launched its new newsroom – on a virtual basis and with no physical space, because working from home is part of everyday work practice at PostFinance. A newsroom is first and foremost a matter of the mind, says Taru Koch, Head of Communications & Branding at PostFinance. In the interview, she explains why she decided in favour of a newsroom and what it takes to get it off the ground.
“The newsroom starts in the mind”
Why does a bank need a newsroom? Taru Koch, Head of Communications & Branding at PostFinance, explains how the new newsroom works and how it contributes to achieving communication goals.
What reasons did PostFinance have to launch a new newsroom?
Because we believe that the newsroom helps us to target our resources towards strategically relevant issues, improve the transparency and planning of communication activities, respond more quickly to new developments, take advantage of synergies between disciplines, and ultimately manage our communication proactively. With the newsroom, we enhance the impact of communication and achieve our communication goals as effectively as possible. In a very intense phase lasting six months, we worked out an initial version of the new newsroom, which we are developing continuously. Our newsroom is a dynamic construct that we adapt in response to changes within the company or in the market.
Taru Koch, Head of Communications & Branding
“Launching a newsroom is always a process that starts with a change.”
The PostFinance newsroom is completely virtual. Why did you decide you didn’t need a physical home for the newsroom?
Because the concept of the newsroom is something that starts first and foremost in the mind, not with the infrastructure. With our newsroom, we’re changing the way we work together. We have set aside silos, defined new roles and introduced new processes. But having a newsroom is not only about organizational changes. On the contrary, it involves completely rethinking the idea of communication work. It takes a new mindset to accomplish the transition. Staff think in terms of themes and stories that we want to play out internally and externally. This necessitates taking a holistic view of the communication services value chain from the input to the output, looking beyond one’s own function or role, and also looking outwards or taking relevant inputs from the outside on board. Launching a newsroom is always a process that starts with a change.
The topic managers play a key role in the newsroom. What is their job?
Let’s throw some light on the topic of investment: the topic manager is responsible for ensuring that in the area of investment, PostFinance reaches the target groups it is focusing on with the messages it wants to send, and through the appropriate channels. To achieve this, the topic manager works very closely with the topic owner from Retail Banking Marketing, who is responsible for customer communication for the investment product. With a 360-degree view, the topic manager ensures that topics are taken up, implemented and played out whenever they serve to achieve communication goals. Above all, her work is advisory and conceptual. A particular advantage of the newsroom is its speed: thanks to regular, organized exchange with all roles across all topics and channels, close partnerships can be quickly established.
Which example provides a good illustration of how the newsroom works?
In early summer, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office published new figures on Swiss debt levels. When the information reached us in the newsroom, we quickly realized that we wanted to take a stance as a bank on this issue. First because it’s an issue of concern to a bank, and second because with “MoneyFit”, PostFinance has a commitment to training young people in financial skills. So we launched a small summer series on social media on the topic of “What does life actually cost?”, giving young people a very simple introduction to budgeting. The example shows that in the interests of integrated communication, we incorporate internal and external information into the newsroom, consider it holistically and ensure its targeted implementation in coordination with our core topics.
What were the biggest challenges in developing and introducing the newsroom?
That in addition to our day-to-day business, we wanted to keep resources free to develop the newsroom. All the more gratifying that almost every member of staff made an active contribution to shaping the newsroom. After going live, the challenge was the change: we all took on new roles, worked with new processes and in new bodies and committees, and found ourselves personally in different phases of the change process. In the meantime, the new way of working together is now well established and we’re ready for the next steps.
What are the most important next steps you are pursuing with the newsroom?
In the first instance, we want to strengthen our proactive communication. We are investing a great deal of energy in our strategically relevant core topics. Second, we are working to introduce a new planning tool, and third, we would like to intensify consistent impact measurement in the future. We do after all want to know how well we are achieving our goals in the strategically relevant topics and show how we are making an impact.