The ABCs of an Effective Online Press Room

Sep 01, 2009

Many businesses budget tens of thousands of dollars a month, or more, for public relations programs but ignore the most effective PR resource in a company's arsenal: its own web site.

You have well designed web pages for your customers - you need well-designed web pages for the press as well. Your online pressroom markets your company to the media 24/7.
Think about how powerful it is when an editor spotlights your company as the leader in your space or as the source of information regarding a particular technology, product, or industry initiative. But an essential part of getting that kind of coverage requires having a user-friendly press page. What happens when a writer or an editor comes to your site; can she quickly and easily find what she is searching for, or does she move on to one of your competitors to get the needed information?

An informative, easy to use, well organized press room can make sure that all press inquiries are answered, thereby increasing your press coverage, your visibility, and hopefully that all translates to helping out the bottom line. Following these easy steps can help you manage your content and create a successful press page:

Easy Access-If a writer can't find your page, then it might as well not exist. By putting a link to your pressroom right on your homepage, you greatly increase your chances of coverage. Equally as important is making the content easy to use once it's been found. Don't require an editor to fill out a contact form to retrieve your press releases, or download PDFs. Make it easy for writers who like to cut and paste info by posting your documents as straight text on the web page. Similarly, do not convert your text content into images. Text is not only easier for writers to use, but it also makes your site more search engine friendly, which means better search results and more hits to your site.

Be Organized-Your pressroom is a place where your company should put its best foot forward by having your most important, timeliest news front and center. Be sure that all content is dated, and that contact information for the correct PR person is always easy to find. If you operate in several regions or your organization is very large with many divisions and product areas, make it clear who the correct press contact is. If you have changed PR companies or contacts over the years, update the contact information on your older press releases. Most importantly, make sure that there is always someone available to answer emails or pick up the phone.

Background Information-An effective pressroom includes a few essentials: a company history, corporate information, profiles of company leaders and management, locations of brick and mortar stores, etc. Product images, management photos, and logos should be available as well, in a variety of file formats and sizes. You may also want to provide suggested guidelines regarding your company's position on key topics and trends. You should definitely include a listing of various industry and standards organizations that your company belongs to, as well as awards and recognition.

Press Clips and Press Coverage Page-Include an archive of recent press coverage. It demonstrates that the editorial community is picking up on your announcements. The press coverage page can include articles written by third party editors and journalists, press release coverage, as well as white papers and articles that have been written by company representatives and then posted in important trade magazines. You should also post positive reviews and citations in reports. However, be careful to not go overboard in your press release coverage. If five different pubs posted the same copy of the press release, you do not need to include all five instances.

Stand Out-It's not just about press releases. You can create and post articles, blogs, short columns, and more about the latest trends, developments, and standards that impact your sector. Include articles about your products and how they are used. Customer case studies and testimonials are especially powerful. If your page is designed correctly, it can look like an online magazine in its own right, and the search engines will be able to find and spotlight articles.