Is your online press room a boon or a boondoggle?

A great press room leads the media to the information they need quickly and effortlessly.

You may think your online media room looks slick. But is it really serving its purpose and providing optimum benefit?

Is the press room easy to find or hidden deep in the maze that is your website? Are journalists able to cruise in, find what they need and thereby promote your company’s products and services? Or are writers finding a press room that is obviously out of date and lacks essentials such as contact information, downloadable photos and product specs?

These may sound like silly questions, but during a roundtable session at the recent Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) annual conference, that’s exactly what attendees found in many cases. The problem is, you may never hear communicators complain about your online news room because they’ll head over to your competitor’s site instead. In today’s economy, one lost media opportunity is a big deal.

Like all journalists, outdoor communicators juggle a lot of deadlines and time is money. As one writer said about online press rooms, “I want to be able to get in, get the information and get out with a minimum of time and effort.”

To prepare for the POMA annual conference’s Bring-Your-Own-Laptop Tech Roundtable session on Online Press Rooms, I surveyed several prominent outdoor communicators. Based on their responses, here is a list of the top features journalists want in an online pressroom.

Top 12 features of online press rooms (in order of importance):

  • Contact information for PR specialists (especially email addresses, but phone numbers, too)
  • Product lists/descriptions/specs/catalogs (even if that information is located in another part of your site, make it available in the press room, too)
  • Well written news releases that indicate the release date
  • Contact information for company executives and spokesmen and spokeswomen
  • Downloadable high resolution photos
  • Detailed fact sheets
  • Downloadable low resolution photos
  • Media kits
  • Information about the company (history, mission statement, executives, etc)
  • MSRP
  • Event calendars
  • Suggested photo captions or captions that ID individuals in the photo

With press releases being the meat and potatoes of every newsroom, outdoor journalists had some suggestions on how to present these important tools.

  • Don’t offer your news releases in a PDF format. Nothing says, “Please don’t use me,” like a PDF file. They may look pretty, but when it comes to cutting and pasting, a word doc is a much easier format to use.
  • Provide the information the media wants — not the boss or client. Well-written press releases are important. They should be no more than three paragraphs and answer the questions: What is new about the product? Why is it better? And why should the consumer have it? Don’t write press releases to satisfy the boss/client. Provide the information the media will use.
  • Offer downloadable images that illustrate the press release. Offer high- and low-resolution images to satisfy print and electronic media.
  • Deliver lifestyle images too. Static product shots are necessary, but companies can increase visual coverage by providing the media with action images. People using the products in the field.
  • Help the media find your information and find you. Make sure the online newsroom is easy to find. Put the link on the website home page. Don’t hide it under some obscure link like “About Us” or “Corporate Info.” Also prominently feature PR specialists’ names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers on the home page of the pressroom.

Now is the time to take stock of your online newsroom. A few tweaks can keep the outdoor media coming back for more.

By Tammy Sapp, POMA Treasurer and Director of Communications, Kalkomey.

About POMA: The Professional Outdoor Media Association is an organization of communicators (writers, editors, broadcasters, photographers, videographers, content specialsists) and industry profesionals (corporate and organization PR and marketing professionals) committed to ensuring the future of the traditional outdoor sports. POMA’s mission is to help members grow their businesses, connect media and industry professionals and mentor the next generation of traditional outdoor sports communicators. If you’re a communications professional or represent an outdoor industry company or organization, look at the many benefits of POMA membership.

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