What’s the worst thing that can happen if reporters don’t like your website? The short answer is, they won’t use it. And that’s a real stumbling block for government contractors eager for earned media coverage to keep their brands, their executives and their thought leadership in the hearts and minds of government stakeholders. Especially now, as government contractors are creating COVID-19 resources and updates, a poorly designed website can get in the way of sharing your valuable content with reporters and their readers.

The truth is, reporters’ jobs have become incredibly challenging – today more than ever before. Publications were downsizing their newsrooms and staff photographer pools even before the wave of media layoffs and furloughs tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many reporters now are independent contractors/freelance reporters tasked with finding, researching, writing and submitting their stories – often with a photo or graphic.

In this new environment, reporters are visiting corporate websites daily for news, experts, and images to help them shape articles rapidly. If your website is friendly and accessible to reporters, you win! If not, you’re missing incredible opportunities to promote your company.

Little things can make a big difference. For example, here are three mistakes to avoid:

  1. Forms: If your site requires visitors to register before connecting with the media contact, journalists on tight deadlines will skip that barrier and move on to the next company.
  2. Generic Email Address: Public relations is personal. A generic email (press@mycompany.com) is impersonal and can be off-putting to journalists who want to reach a person – not a function – inside your company.
  3. Marketing-Speak: Reporters are trusted sources. The media industry was built on a practice of reporting facts, not opinions. If your website language is self-promotional or lacking in educational content, reporters will move on to a company that educates rather than sells.

On the flip side, there is strong agreement about what journalists want from websites. Your best options are to make your website easy to find, well organized and rich with useful content. Build your online press room to anticipate and provide everything reporters need all in one easy-to-access digital hub.

By creating and maintaining your website with reporters in mind, you’ll be on the right path to amplifying the voice of your organization through earned media coverage.

Now is the time to look at ways to refresh and update your website. Business is still open in our industry and these reporters are looking for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 stories from companies and PR folks that they know and trust.

NOTE: For more tips on what to avoid, or how to build a website that reporters will love, read our new white paper “Best Practices for Creating a Reporter-Friendly Website.”