Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The only bad PR is no PR? Journalists and Company websites

I'm not a journalist...though I did do time in journalism class decades ago.  Back then, there were no company websites.  Now, of course, what company can be without one? 

When we develop a company's online presence, we always discuss the value of a creating a special place just for journalists and what it should entail. 

If you expect journalists to cover your company, afterall, what is it that they need from your company website? We have a PR staff at R+K that includes former journalists and their insight into the utility and usability needs of a site is a key element of our efforts. And what do they have to say? 

Unsurprisingly, journalists want the same types of things customers want from a company website: what they are looking for, not necessarily what you want them to hear. 

In fact, usability guru Jakob Neilsen's organization recently summarized the results of their more formal research into 'PR on Websites' (here). According to JK, here's what journalists said they need-specifically- on a company's website:
  • Locate a PR contact (name and telephone number)
  • Find basic facts about the company (spelling of an executive's name, his/her age, headquarters location, and so on)
  • Discern the company's spin on events
  • Check financial information
  • Download images to use as illustrations in stories
That's it. No mission statement. No virtual tour. Not that they won't use these things, but they don't come to the site for them. 

And what do they do if they can't find what they need? Just like customers and prospects...They go elsewhere...or write about something else. 

If a company wants coverage by journalists (in all their emerging forms) then the company website must provide the users with what they want. To find out what someone wants, of course, you have to ask the question "What do you need?"

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