Introduction by LCI President David Landis:
One of my biggest pet peeves in the PR industry (and I’m sure a pet peeve for journalists) is to head to a business’ online press room, only to discover that the contact information isn’t a real person, phone number or email, just [email protected]_________. This practice is rampant in Silicon Valley. CEOs, Marketing and PR professionals should take note: if a journalist is on deadline and has to either fill out a form or contact a nameless [email protected] email address, said journalist will immediately go to a competitor (and you’ll lose a media opportunity).
I did a little online research and found Mark Shapiro’s thoughts about best practices for online press rooms to be illuminating. Thank you, Mark, for contributing!
Six Steps to an Effective Online Press Room for Your Business
By Mark Shapiro, SRS-Tech PR
Does your company’s web site work for the press and analysts that visit? What happens when an editor arrives at your company’s web site and tries to find information? Can they easily find what they need or instead, do they click off, instead visiting one of your competitors to get the info they need?
I have been involved with press and media relations for over 25 years – wearing both hats, and have seen and experienced far too many sites that did not work and were extremely frustrating.
So what are the Six Steps to an Effective Online Press Room?
Make Your Press Room Easy to Find
It seems obvious but many companies hide their news and press release. Even worse, some companies don’t even post the news releases at all. I don’t get it.
If you want to get covered by the industry press, it is essential to make your info easy to find. If possible, put a link to it from the front page and make sure it is listed on your web site map.
Obviously you want to include links to your press releases and announcements. However, make sure the list is up to date. I have worked for companies where the last three or four months of press releases had not yet been posted. Leave the dates on the releases so that a visiting writer has an idea of how fresh your news is.
I have heard marketing folk justify not posting the releases because they don’t want the competition having access to their press releases. If you have distributed the press releases and got some coverage, (which is the whole point of PR!), those releases and info should be available on the web anyhow.
Don’t post your press releases only as locked PDFs. Editors and writers need to be able to easily cut and paste from your press releases, data sheets and other online documents. Post them as straight text on the web page. You can provide a pdf download as well but don’t force editors to download a pdf before they can read it. They have to be able to read it online.
Finally, you may have heard of the “Long Tail” as applied to products. This applies to press releases as well. Unless there is a compelling reason to remove them, keep all your old press releases up on your site and available via a press release archive.
You HAVE to have PR contact info. It should be easily found on your press room page. If your organization is very large with many divisions and product areas, you may want to have a separate PR contact page to make it easy for a writer to find the appropriate contact.
Make sure that there is someone available to answer the emails or to pick up the phone for the press contact. A quick response to an inquiry is essential. If an editor or writer calls, you should be able to get back to them within 24 hours or less.
And, if the editor asks for some info or a document that is NOT readily available, respond back, confirm that you got the inquiry and tell them that you are working on it. Don’t leave them wondering if anyone is at home.
As part of the contact area, and maybe on other pages as well, provide a RSS link and News Links so that the editors can sign up and get automatic updates to the press room and/or to recent press releases. Also provide a Public Relations List contact form to enable editors, writers, analysts to easily sign up to receive updates and new press releases.
Photos, Images and Video
Editors and writers love photos and images.
If your press releases are product oriented, include a small thumbnail that links to a choice of product images of various sizes and angles. If you are using video in your PR and marketing mix, post a small thumbnail with a good description with a link to the video.
You may also want to create and maintain a standalone image and video library that includes company logos, company execs and managers, graphics and charts, in addition to product shots.
Background Information about Your Company and Products
Your press room should also include links to white papers, company backgrounders and corporate information, organizational history, profiles of company leaders and management, a list of upcoming shows where the company will be exhibiting or is available for interviews, etc.
If you want to position yourself as THE thought leader in your industry, your company should create and post articles, blogs, short columns, etc. about the latest trends, developments and standards that impact your industry sector.
Press Clips and Press Coverage Page
As a PR professional and as a writer, I really like to see an archive of recent press coverage. As a PR pro, this vindicates the work done and demonstrates that the editorial community is picking up on the news.
These press coverage lists can also be very useful to sales guys in the field to use as marketing collateral. “Check it out; XYZ Magazine is saying wonderful things about our company and solutions.” This helps the sales process. Your sales team will love you.
For writers and editors, the list of press coverage demonstrates that other members of the community recognize the value of your company and its products and technologies.
You don’t need to list every online publication that posted a copy a copy of your press release. Instead, spotlight the publications and writers that have written something over and above what was said in the original release.
Make It All Work For You
By creating an easy to access and easy to use online press room, your business will be able to more effectively leverage the work done by your PR and media relations group, as well as provide a modern outward looking face to the press. Don’t have a mystery site that ignores the needs of the world’s journalists.
Keep the press room updated – don’t simply post the releases and press coverage and walk away. Make sure new press successes are added, new product information is uploaded and maybe most importantly, make sure that all editorial inquiries are handled promptly.
What’s your top tip for an online press room? Leave a comment below or tweet us @LandisComm.
This blog was originally posted by Mark Shapiro on business2community.com.
Introduction by LCI President David Landis: