According to the recent Neilsen report, “Most PR sections of sites studied fail to support journalists in their quest for the facts, information, and contacts they can use to write stories about companies and their products.”
Actually, I’m not that surprised. I’ve been through my fair share of website, micro-site designs and re-designs and know first-hand how more often than not the marketing folks commandeer the content and turn the website into a company brochure. Not to say there weren’t a few marketing execs who understood the importance of the company website as a resource to not only customers and potential customers but to the media as well. It’s the first place they turn to for information about your company, your executives, your products, your services, your news releases, contact information, customer service, etc. why not make it easy to find the information they seek.
In today’s interactive world, everyone including the media seeks instant gratification. They not only want to know how to reach the right person at your organization, they want to be able to easily download headshots, product shots, bios, relevant videos and news releases without having to go through four of five people before reaching the right one who can help. Furthermore, it will soon be critical for organizations to provide more than just email or phone to get a hold of you in a hurry. Meaning, IM or Twitter will also need to be viable options. If you don’t do this, it may impact whether or not your client gets covered.
According to the report, journalists repeatedly said that poor website usability could reduce or completely eliminate their press coverage of a company. For example, after having a difficult time using a site, one journalist said: "… I would be reluctant to go back to the site. If I had a choice to write about something else, then I would write about something else."
Another journalist described what he'd do if he couldn't find a press contact or the facts he needed for his story: "Better not to write it than to get it wrong. I might avoid the subject altogether."
Us PR professionals aren’t completely off the hook either; we need to make sure our press release headlines are written with journalists in mind so they’re able to quickly grasp the gist by reading only a few words if reading it on the company website or via BusinessWire for example.
One last point, we should also look internally at our own agency websites as well and make sure we’re practicing what we preach.