Many nonprofit and public agencies hope and pray that reporters will cover their issue, mention their specific agency (or not!) and maybe even source a quote from their staff. Media outreach or media relations are usually part of the communications mix (the PR function) for these organizations. Applying some marketing know-how to better understand and serve this priority audience, and not simply blast faxes or emails at them, is something I find few organizations spend much time thinking about or working on (see who is critical for success?).
By now you probably know that many reporters find their stories and background information on the internet just like everyone else. If you don't have an internet presence, you are already at a great disadvantage for media coverage. If you do have a website and use it for media relations, you are likely doing much of it wrong. Or at least that is what Jakob Nielsen concludes from three years of research with 40 journalists from around the world.
He reports that the 5 top reasons reporters will visit your website are to:
- Locate a PR contact (name and telephone number - always give them a 'live option').
- Find basic facts about the company (the official name of the organization, spelling of an executive's name, his/her age, headquarters location, and so on).
- Discern the company's spin on events (it's important that all of your press releases are posted in a clearly marked area of your site and are kept up-to-date).
- Check financial information (budgets are important, regardless of the sector you work in).
- Download images to use as illustrations in stories (be sure your logo is easily downloadable and reproducible, invest in charts and graphs that tell your story, avoid pdf).
Your management team may find upgrading your website to be more reporter-friendly a low priority use of resources. In that case, have them consider this:
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."
And his book that tells all: Designing Websites to Maximize Press Relations.