Making Your Web Site Press-Friendly
Q: What are the most important things to have on the Web Site for Press usage?
Sometimes the simplest things can create the biggest impact. Case in point, many
companies don't put the most basic, relevant information front and center on their Web
sites or press releases. When the Press needs information quickly, or a user needs a quick
address or phone number, it sometimes takes a lot of digging to get the information.
As Randy Barrett, Senior Writer, Interactive Week Magazine said at the September
1997 Ask the Experts Panel on Public Relations, "Put ,what we call, an industry
"duh page" on your Web site. A "duh page" includes the name of the
company, address, telephone number, etc. I can't tell you the amount of time I waste every
day trying to find that information on Web sites. By putting it right up there, you'll
save everybody trouble and you'll probably get a reporter to call you." Rajiv
Chandrasekaran, Technology Industry Reporter, for The Washington Post added,
"In the How To Contact Us section, make sure you have a little button for
press and investor contact information."
Jim Pierobon, Vice President, Potomac Communications Group, Inc., and formerly the
Chief Energy Writer and Washington Correspondent for the Houston Chronicle agrees, adding
that netpreneurs should: "Consider providing names of senior-level officials
journalists can reach quickly. If, a company's senior contact changes, then simply update
your site to reflect it. If you post the name of a media relations person, she/he
shouldn't be just a gatekeeper but someone who can impart a lot of knowledge and then
connect the journalist with a higher-ranking official.
Stephen Miller, editor at the New York Times concurred. "The one thing that
has been driving me crazy is the fact that the people who ought to be using the Internet
better than anybody are really bad about press sections on their Web sites. When I'm on
deadline, and I need some information after hours, I go to the Web site, and still can't
get basic information." Mr. Miller believes a good press section includes names and
phone numbers for after hours contacts. If you don't feel comfortable listing this
information, you can make it for registration only, for the Press only.
Mr. Pierobon believes there are many simple do's and don'ts in making your Web site
Press-friendly. "Don't automatically design columns into your sites that limit the
amount of text that can be seen on a screen. As a former journalist, the more scrolling I
do the more of a hassle it is to find the info I need. Sometimes all a site needs is a
concise contents and tight, clear summaries of the text that can be easily clicked on. And
don't take up the first 'screen' of your home page with elaborate graphics and/or messages
welcoming users. Welcome them yes, but top-load your site to minimize the clicks needed to
answer questions that can communicate your message. Remember, the more elaborate the
graphics, the longer it takes to show up on the journalist's computer. Put yourself in
their shoes: the typical newspaper journalist may not be using more than a 66Mhz / 486
without a sound card. Have you tried finishing a project on deadline with that kind of
Another basic omission is not including a URL on your printed material, including a
press release. Mr. Barrett believes that including the URL is of utmost importance.
"Sometimes after reading a release, I want to find out a little bit more about a
company and not having a media kit handy. I go to the site and click in the About Our
Company section to see who the players are. It might indicate the partners, funders,
and other information that helps me gauge my interest level in a story." Neil Oatley,
of the Morino Institute added, "The number of Internet companies that send out press
releases that don't have their URL frankly astounds me. When you want to do a quick site
check just to see what is up, you're forced to start searching through Alta Vista or some
other engine. About 40% of the press releases that I see don't have a URL and
they're Internet-based companies."
So, make sure your URL is on every piece of marketing material you create, especially
press releases. And online, create a "duh page" including contact names, phone
numbers, and other vital information for the press. Doing so may convince a reporter to do
a story and contact you. As Mr. Miller concludes, "Make it easy for us."