Robert_Charlton - 7:56 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)
First, kudos to any 'big brand' that has an SEO on hand that's bright enough to do this.
Ditto. That said, this is not so new. Targeting "verticals" or channels is a technique that's been widely discussed and used in search marketing circles since roughly 2005, when Google started showing vertical results in the top positions. The underlying principles predate the web.
In addition to News, other verticals that should be targeted (and you don't necessarily have to be a big brand for these to be helpful) include Images, Videos, and Shopping. You might also consider Blogs and Social to be vertical channels. Using these channels, in fact, can help you build a brand.
You need to research what's likely to succeed for given types of searches, and how you can relate your product, service, or organization to those verticals. In the case of targeting News, what's current and likely to be searched and displayed as a Universal result is of course an important consideration.