The first wave of corporate web sites was often the brainchild of marketing departments looking to do something – anything – to have a presence on this new thing called the “Internet.” As a result, a lot of those early websites weren’t what you would call functional. Sure, they were there, but they didn’t really do anything. Of course, over time, business has gravitated toward to the Internet and companies have been forced to adapt or suffer fading into obscurity. Surprisingly, though, one aspect of most websites has hardly changed after all these years of website improvement: the online pressroom.
Since, for some, knowing what to include in an online pressroom is a challenge, here is a quick rundown of the information that should be included in each companies pressroom:
1. Contact Information
Too many companies bury their contact information in never-before-seen corners of their websites. Those companies that do put up contact information too often only supply the address of the corporate headquarters and the phone number for the main switch board, nothing further. How, then, can the media find out who to ask for when looking for an “on the record” statement?
If you want to make friends with the media, make it easy for them to call (or e-mail) you. Whether it’s a link on the home page or an easily-found link in the “about us” or “news” sections of your web site, give the media what they need to get in touch with the right people without having to be transferred across an entire office. Providing names, titles, and phone numbers is great public relations for the media because it makes it easier for them to get in touch with the right person right away. As a general rule, the more difficult you make it for the media to get any substantive information out of you, the less likely they are to approach your for any information.
If you are concerned about e-mail overload, set up a special e-mail address for media inquiries and make sure that it is checked at least once a day. Same thing if you are worried about too many phone calls. Have a line that goes right to a public relations person who can answer any media questions or direct a reporter to the right person.
Might you get an inquiry from someone who is not a reporter? Possibly. But if a customer is either excited or outraged enough to track you down, don’t you think it would be good PR to make it easy to talk with someone inside the organization?
2. Archived Press Releases
This seems like so much common sense that I do not understand why many have foregone this courtesy. Not only is it a boon for reporters (90% say they use the Web for research) or others who are researching your company or industry, but it also allows you to let the world know where your organization stands on issues that you have addressed in the past. Think of it as self-publishing.
Search engines may or may not be a good idea for press release archives. I suggest taking a little time and organizing them in to annual archives as well as subject ones. Some releases will fall into more than one subject category. So? That’s the beauty of hyperlinks and the Web.
Your web site allows you to have a 24×7 presence for the media, which is especially crucial for firms with a global presence. Think about common requests that could be easily delivered via the web:
— Executive bios for news profiles or speech introductions. Ditto low-resolution and high-resolution photos.
— Corporate logos (color and black-and-white)
— Product images (photos or line drawings)
— Facility images (photos or line drawings)
— Audio (speech excerpts, for example)
One last word. If you set up a ‘special’ section for the media, as a general rule, don’t require registration or “credentialing.” There are exceptions to this rule, but they are in the distinct minority for most businesses, associations, and government agencies.
While there are certainly more things that could be included in an online pressroom, these are the absolute basics that ensure good public relations with the media.
This article, written by Kathy E. Gill, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.