One of the great secrets of the Web is that with a killer press center, you’ll be able to attract many more editors and reporters to your company site, and generate many more stories about your firm in the news media.
The trick to putting together a full-fledged digital presence is knowing how to trigger story ideas, knowing how to relentlessly promote what you’re offering, and being sure to post the equivalent of a neon ‘welcome’ sign for members of the press who stop by.
"News publicity costs you nothing,” says Thomas Wong, author of "101 Ways To Boost Your Web Traffic." “It often produces better results than advertising, because people trust news articles more than sales ads. Press releases often lead to personal interviews on the phone or TV or radio appearances, which can make you and your Web site very popular."
In fact, there are so many tactics and new Web technologies available for courting the media, building a killer press center on your company Web site can become an ever more sophisticated, ever more publicity generating pursuit.
For starters, here’s what you’ll want to do:
Offer Web-friendly press releases: While some text, quotes and contact info is a good start for a press release, you’ll get better play if you optimize press releases for the Web. This means embedding a relevant keyword in the press release headline, as well as in the text, if possible, so it can be easily found by the search engines.
It’s also a good idea to make it easy for others to spread the word about your press release by adding a social bookmarking tool like AddThis.
Including a social bookmarking tool like AddThis enables
a press release to be shared easily on the Web
Another good practice is to ensure visitors can effortlessly cut-and-paste your press release text into an MS Word or similar word-processing document. (On some sites, press release text is impossible to copy; others use Adobe .PDF documents, which are sometimes tough to cut-and-paste.)
Trigger coverage with other content: Editors and reporters are always hungry for story ideas, so you can never offer too much story idea content in your press center. The over-arching guideline here is to clearly state that all – or as much as possible – of the content you post can be directly quoted by editors and reporters. The importance of this practice cannot be overstated. Essentially, this little permission can save the press five days of phone or email tag with your company, and mean the difference between getting covered, and being skipped over for a more press-friendly company.
Specific content ideal for launching press coverage includes company white papers, as well as executive quotes on recent industry news, legislation or studies. The press also loves transcripts of executive speeches they can quote (always include a name and title), transcripts of recent company Webcasts, company case studies, industry survey results, and customer/client testimonials. (Always include a name, title and company for the testimonial.)
No matter what your content, basic information must be easy to find and should be cleansed of the marketese and excessive verbiage that smother the facts on many sites, according to Jakob Nielsen, author of “Designing Websites to Maximize Press Relations,”
Add dimension with rich media and still images: Once you’ve implemented the essential elements of your press center, mixing in esoteric rich media like Web video, podcasts and even virtual reality can bolster your message in an extremely compelling way.
Of course, you’ll also want to include bread-and-butter still photos in the multimedia domain of your press center, for the thousands of print and Web journalists looking for images to support the stories they write about your firm.
Besides posting your company video on YouTube for free like thousands of other firms, you can also embed a YouTube video player on your own Web site for free as well. For a how-to video on how to add the YouTube player to your Web site (takes a few minutes), check out: (http://www.youtube.com/youtubeonyoursite). There’s also a separate how-to video on how to customize your player at: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTwWEtVtu58).
YouTube offers an easy video tutorial on how to
its free video player for your press center
One caveat: have your attorney look at YouTube’s fine print before you get too aggressive using the player or the You Tube site strictly for advertising your company. As with many things Web, this area is still very gray.
Become a media authority: You’ll get even more coverage if you establish one or more executives at your company as a media authority. Blogs are one of the quickest ways for an exec to loom large before the press -- but only if the blog is interesting and insightful. One of the easiest ways to guarantee this is to simply hire a good ghost blogger.
Meanwhile, you can enhance the credibility of your media authority execs by publicizing them on the various “expert stables” on the Web – places where experts gather to be quoted by the media. Some of the more prominent include Profnet (http://www.profnet.com), Yearbook.com (http://www.expertclick.com) and About.com (http://www.about.com).
Other multimedia you can add to your site are high resolution digital images, podcasts (check out Podcast Directory (http://www.podcastdirectory.com/) for all the skinny on those), and virtual reality, or 3D-like moving images.
Be charming: Most companies 'get' that offering a name, voice and email contact info for all key public relations personnel in your press center is a good start. But the same contact info for key executives who are open to being interviewed is even better. A promise -- and practice -- to turn around all press requests within 24 hours will go even further towards winning you instant friendships in the press. And a stated openness to quickly respond to a media “email interview” will inspire reporters to wonder if they’ve died and gone to heaven.
Tweak under the hood: During the past few years, Google has released a number of free tools designed to help your press center appears as high as possible on Google search engine returns. Sign up for a free Google Webmaster’s account and all these tools are yours to use. Plus, once your press center is search-friendly for Google, the center will also be optimized for most of the other major search engines.
A free Google’s Webmaster’s Account offers a variety of press center optimization tools
While you’re at it, also be sure to ensure your press center downloads like quicksilver. For speed optimization tips, check out Andrew B. King’s book, “Speed Up Your Site.” Founder of Web Site Optimization, LLC (http://www.websiteoptimization.com), King also offers a free tool that will check to see if your press center is optimized for speed -
Promote relentlessly: One of the great equalizers of the Web is that a tiny, nimble company can leap ahead of the largest goliath with the right promotion. Offering press releases and a company e-newsletter gets this process started. But you can also offer the same information via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, for reporters who like their news delivered via that technology. (IceRocket will make your page RSS-friendly for free.)
Other tactics that work: Offer a news alerts sign-up list for journalists. Post a “send-this-page-to-a-friend” button on every page of your press center, and Web site. And establish a presence on social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, as well as in virtual worlds like Second Life if your target audience tends to cluster there. Circulate your news through professional press release distribution services, or via free services (use keywords “free press release distribution” to find these on the search engines). Establish an industry links directory on your site.
Measure your success: The quickest way to an increased press center budget, as we all know, is quantifiable results. Document how press traffic has increased on your press center with Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics), another free program.
You can get a critical review of even more robust analytics with CMS Watch’s (http://www.cmswatch.com/Analytics/Report/) most recent report, “The Web Analytics Report 2008.” It runs 340 pages, and thoroughly evaluates virtually every major Web analytics solution on the market today.
Safeguard your reputation: Once people start talking about your company on the Web – including editors, reporters, bloggers and others – make sure they’re not engaging in libel, slander or other image-tarnishing talk. Specific service providers who will help you with reputation monitoring include Dow Jones Insight, Nielsen Online; BlogSquirrel and WebClipping.com.
Reputation management services like Dow Jones Insight
will help protect your business’ good name online