I’ve had the pleasure of working with many editors and journalists over the years. I’m always impressed with reporters who dig behind the headline of a story.
Their job is tougher than it once was. They have a 24/7 digital news cycle. Industry surveys confirm that reporters continue to take on more work with fewer resources. Many reporters and photographers are no longer supported by a team in a newsroom; they are freelancers paid by the story or photo. It’s up to them to do the research, follow-up, get a story right and submit it on deadline.
I try to be more respectful than ever of reporters’ time. One resource that can make or break reporter engagement and your company coverage, is your company website. Here are nine ways to make your website reporter-friendly.
1. Press Room. Reporters looking at your website are either specifically researching your company about company news or researching a few similar companies for a potential expert. By putting everything they need into a Press Room or media center on your website, you’re making it easy for them to research more quickly – and increasing the chances of your experts getting publicity. According to one study, 95% of journalists said they seek out and visit a website’s corporate newsroom at least once a month. Be sure the Press Room is accessible from your home page, so it’s clear that you welcome their interest.
2. Press Contact. Every page in the Press Room should show the name, email address and phone number of your press contact. This could be your communications director or a contact at your PR firm. Whenever possible, include the full name and direct line of your press person, to give reporters fast and personal access.
3. Current Press Releases. Include your most recent press releases on the home page of your website. In the Press Room, include easy access to current press releases – as well as to archived releases from previous years. Be sure they are in traditional press release format and easy to read across platforms. Journalists will appreciate being able to scan the headlines to get a sense of what’s happening with your company.
4. A Clear “About Us.” Reporters will want to know the correct spelling of your company name, where you are headquartered, who you serve (what kinds of customers) and what products or services you provide (in layperson’s terms). Don’t bury your company information behind your mission and values, which are less important to reporters. A typical boilerplate company description is about 50 words in length. It’s factual. Succinct. Free of jargon, and promotions.
5. Downloadable Company Logos and Images. Many journalists are on their own for finding images to support their stories. By providing high-quality images, you’re saving reporters on deadline time. In your Press Room, include easy-to-download company logos, spokesperson photos, product photos and artwork that you’d like the press to have. Include web (72 dpi) and print (300 dpi) file types for each.
6. Succinct Spokesperson Bios. Reporters looking for industry experts may scan dozens of bios to find the qualifications they need. Post short, professionally-written biographies and downloadable photos of your key spokespeople. Bios should be short, with the most important credentials first, including previous media appearances in TV, print or online.
7. Sample Video and Audio. If you’re looking for radio or TV coverage, include sample videos and audio files in the press room. Reporters will be reassured to see and hear spokespersons who are adept at handling interviews. Even videos of product demonstrations may be used to support a story.
8. Include Fact Sheets. One-page company fact sheets, backgrounders and FAQs can be great sources, providing pertinent information to interested media.
9. Social Media. Interested reporters may leave your press room to learn a little more about your company before calling you. If you’re active on social media, include a feed on your home page. Social media can reveal some of your company personality and thought leadership.
Keep in mind that a reporter’s goal is to get their information as efficiently as possible. The above elements are important. Easy, clear website navigation is crucial.
BONUS TIPS! Whatever you do, DON’T do these things – either of which could cause a reporter to abandon your site and not come back:
- DON’T force reporters to fill out a form to submit a contact request. If they can’t get in touch with someone right away, they will move on to another source who can help them meet their deadline.
- DON’T insert a pop-up Call-to-Action between the reporter and the Press Room. Such pop-ups are unwelcome intrusions that slow reporters. They are not your target for subscribing to your monthly newsletter, for example, so save that Call-to-Action for your web visitors who may be interested.
Are you looking for feedback on your website? Or do you need help pulling together the elements of a strong government contractor Press Room? Just let me know. We’d be happy to help!