Want An Effective PR Web Site? Do What Your Users Do!By: Andy Marken
Sit down this evening at your computer…do a competitive round-up article with news, comparisons, illustrations. And you’re on a short deadline!!We just completed a detailed analysis of the reports we received on global editorial traffic to one of our clients press kits that were posted on Virtual Press Office following a recent trade show. Since we have known the founders for years we asked for some additional analysis access numbers by press release in the on-line kit.
We liked what we saw from the perspective of quality, quantity and global reach. But what happened after they read the releases? Did they get everything they needed photos, information? Did they do an article?
Some called or emailed us so we know they were taken care of. Did those who didn’t contact us go to the client’s web site for more information? Did others simply not go any further because…well just because?
With the VPO access report in hand, we email surveyed 180 of the editors/reporters we know in Europe, the Pacific Basin and the Americas who had accessed the online press kit. We asked them if they recalled using the online kit.
Every editor/reporter had used some of the information from the VPO on-line kits.
We asked them if they had also visited company PR web sites our clients and others that were at the show to obtain more information. We also asked them what they expected from a PR web site.
Everyone had his or her list of what a PR web site should contain. Everyone had his or her list of press friendly, “unfriendly” and abrasive sites.
PR Site Checklist
What company PR web sites need isn’t brain surgery…it’s journalism 101:
We received mixed signals from the responding journalists about PR sites that request members of the media to register for access to the web site and the content. Some were concerned about being inundates with “news” from the company. Others thought it was okay to register if they could select the areas of information they were interested in receiving. Others said they never registered for the PR web sites and got their information either from VPO or by doing subject searches using Google, Yahoo and other search engines.
Our Own Findings
Armed with the inputs from the press we used our journalism education and researched our own round-up article on the show. We set our own editorial deadline that the piece had to be started and completed in one evening. One product category using the web as the media does increasingly to gather the necessary information.
Some of the sites were good.
A few were a reporter’s dream. They made it easy for these people to:
We got so frustrated after attempting to get the information we needed from 10 sites we wondered how the press ever got rush pieces done. We got the information we needed from three sites. We got part of the information we needed from four sites. We gave up on three sites.
Three companies would have had excellent coverage in our “article.” Four would have had modest coverage. Three would have wondered why they weren’t included.
Lazy reporting? No!
Editors, reporters and analysts need the information when they need it. Not when it is convenient for public relations. They should be able to obtain general information round the clock and round the calendar. They shouldn’t have to “request” public relations to provide basic information.
Other Points to Ponder
Every company can benefit from having and maintaining an online newsroom to provide documents, graphics and press kits to the media. Public relations shouldn’t be a gatekeeper in today’s global access world. We should be facilitators.
Online PR materials are an increasingly important part of the mix. The problem is the PR site has to be easy to access, easy to use and be constantly updated. Public relations needs to be able to use the content management software so they can update information, add breaking news and deal with crises without waiting for IT or the web team.
You need their assistance to promote news, events and activities on the company home page and have links to more in-depth information. You need their help in understanding how you can track who accesses the press information and what news or areas are accessed and used most. You need their expertise in gathering data that can show the value of the PR web site and the return on investment the company gets from the site.
Were our client PR web sites equal to the challenge? The two clients that would have been included in the hypothetical article admittedly had shortcomings in their PR web sites.
Guess we have a little work to do with the companies and the web teams.
© Copyright 2005, Andy Marken
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.