VALUABLE REQUIREMENT FOR ANY COMPANY WEB SITE
By Jon Boroshok
Like any other
business these days, the press is overworked, understaffed and usually
under deadline. They're trying to work faster, and sometimes have
to cut corners to file a story on time.
When the press
calls for information, experienced PR practitioners know that they
must return calls or respond to e-mail in a manner of minutes, not
hours or the next day. The reporter's deadline will be here soon,
and you can bet that as soon as the reporter leaves a message, he/she
is calling your competition. With constant deadline pressure, reporters
need facts and figures as quickly as possible
Making a journalist's
job easier increases your chances of winning coverage, and it's
essential to have an easily accessed, informative online pressroom.
This can't just be something the marketing department adds when
they have time. It's both amazing and appalling that even in 2004,
many companies still don't know how the press uses a Web site.
a company's media contact, a journalist is likely to visit the Web
- Find a PR
contact (name, telephone number, e-mail address)
- Check basic
facts about the company (spelling of an executive's name or date
of birth, headquarters location, current financial data, type
of products, etc.)
the company's own "spin" or reaction to events, regulations,
and economic factors that impact its market and marketability
- Check financial
information, such as the annual report
images, such as executive photos or logos, to use as illustrations
a pressroom on a company Web site is not enough - it has to be easy
to find and easy to use. Too many company (and PR agency) Web sites
don't tell where the company is located until two or three "clicks"
into the site. Others actually require the media to fill out a form
to request information!
10-point usability test for online pressrooms:
1. Is it easy
to find? There should be an obvious "press room" link
on your home page.
2. Is it easy
to access? It should be plain HTML, with no flash or other bandwidth
hogging technologies. Many reporters work from home on old computers
with dial-up Internet access. The site should work with older versions
of Netscape as well as the latest version of Internet Explorer.
One click from the home page opens the pressroom. No passwords or
registration required - the media won't fill out forms.
3. Is your PR
contact the first item? The name, full street address, phone number,
and e-mail address of your primary PR contact should "jump
out" at a reporter.
4. Is there
a "press release" section? There should be, and that section
should only be one click away from the main pressroom. Releases
should be in chronological order, with full headline in plain view.
5. Are press
releases easy to access? One click should open the press release
on screen. Press releases should open as HTML files, with the option
to download a copy in MS Word, not PDF format. Avoid unnecessary
animations, useless graphics, and irrelevant headshots.
6. Is there
an online media kit? Again, just one click away from the main press
page, your online kit should contain a company backgrounder (who
you are and what you do), bios of key officers, stock/investor information
(if a public company), a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document,
one-click downloadable company logos and photos of products and
company officers. All photos and logos should be downloadable in
both a high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and low resolution (72
7. Is the pressroom
full of hype and buzzwords? This is not a marketing document. It
should be factual and hype free. The goal is to help the press do
their job, not "sell" them. If possible, don't let someone
in marketing develop the pressroom. Keep objective journalism as
the focus, not sales.
8. Is it timely
and up-to-date? All information should be current. Do you still
list a contact that is no longer with the company? Do all e-mail
addresses still work? The pressroom should be updated on as close
to a real-time basis as possible. If you put out a press release
this morning, it should be accessible on your Web site this morning,
not this afternoon.
9. Does it include
links to coverage you've received? The online pressroom should have
links to as much media coverage as possible, and all links should
be checked periodically to make sure they are still working.
10. Have you
included case studies? Nothing tells your story better than a happy
customer. If you've solved a problem for another company, make sure
you tell the story in your online pressroom. Case studies should
be one click away from the main pressroom. For more about case studies
as a PR tool, see www.marcomoutsource.com/studies.html
2004 - Jon Boroshok/TechMarcom, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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