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Top 7 Ways To Create An Online Newsroom The Media Will Love

By Bill Stoller

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From time to time, people ask me how public relations has changed during the two decades in which Iíve been seeking publicity. My answer: technology. Twenty years ago, the fax machine was a newfangled novelty. Our primary means of communicating with journalists was the telephone and the US Mail. The advent of e- mail and the web has made life easier in many regards and tougher in others - namely, thanks to hordes of clowns with money making schemes and software that "blasts" press releases indiscriminately to reporters, itís become very hard to get your e-mails through to spam-weary reporters.

But thereís another great advantage provided to publicity seekers by the Internet -- the ability to create an "online news room". In the "old days", the press kit reigned. Big bulky folders loaded with press releases, glossy photos and slides were standard. They were expensive to design, costly to reproduce and required lots of manpower and postage to assemble and distribute. Today, you can simply direct a reporter to a web URL, where all your press materials and high definition artwork awaits, ready to be used. Itís a huge time and money saver.

Creating a useful online news room is really pretty simple. One of the main things a busy reporter wants is easy access to press releases, corporate and executive info and artwork. A well put together media room should provide a seamless walk-through.

  1. Where Should the News Room Go?

    There are two schools of thought on where to put your online news
    room. Some companies prefer to have it as a section on their main
    site, visible to all as a link on a menu bar or other
    navigational element. Others build entirely separate sites just
    for the media.

    There are pros and cons to each. Putting it as part of your main
    site allows a journalist to "poke around" your site, absorbing
    more of the feel and culture of your company and its products. It
    also makes it easier if the reporter wants more information about
    a particular product than can be found in your media materials.
    Of course, since youíll need to provide clear links to the online
    news room to help such reporters find their way back, anyone
    visiting your site can access your press materials. This is
    probably not an issue but, if you feel potential customers may
    become confused if they wander into the online news room, this
    could be worth considering.

    Creating a separate site allows you to tailor everything to suit
    the needs of the reporter and prevents the possibility of
    confusion for potential customers visiting your main site. The
    reporter however, will be unable to quickly "poke around" the
    main site as described above, so you may consider that in your
    decision. If you do choose a separate site, give it a name that
    incorporates your company (if youíre the Acme Company, go for
    acmepress.com or acmeonlinenewsroom.com). Also, provide clear
    links to your main site throughout, and code them so that they
    open in a new window, allowing the reporter to see your main site
    without having to backtrack to the online news room.

  2. What To Include in Your Online News Room:

    Personal Contact Info. The name, address, e-mail, phone number,
    fax number and cell phone number of your primary media contacts
    must be front and center. If you have an Instant Messaging ID,
    put it in there, too.

    Press Releases. Place press releases in chronological order (most
    recent at the top). Keep traditional press release formatting and
    use easy-to-read fonts.

    Executive photos, product photos, charts, graphs, and other
    appropriate artwork. Provide multiple versions -- 72 dpi (lower
    resolution) for online publications and websites, and 300 dpi
    (higher resolution) for offline publications. Put instructions
    such as To download, right-click and choose "save" next to the
    graphics. Make sure your pitch letters and press releases
    provide links to the appropriate artwork on your site.

    Backgrounders, executive bios, white papers, investor relations
    info (if applicable), fact sheets, speeches, awards, streaming
    media of: press conferences, product demonstrations, president's
    speeches, etc.

    Search Tool. Make it easy for journalists to find just what they
    want, by making all your press materials fully searchable.

  3. Offer the opportunity for journalists to enter their e-mail
    address if they wish to be kept abreast of the latest news from
    your company, but donít link it in any way to the ability to
    access any portion of the site. DONíT confuse non-journalists who
    may wander into the site. Make it clear at the top of your main
    page of your online news room what it and who itís for.

  4. Provide a link to your consumer FAQ page and an e-mail link
    for customer service to give non-journalists a place to go to get
    their questions answered. This will save you a great deal of
    time responding to messages from non-journalists asking "why am I
    looking at a press release? How do I download a new driver" or
    some such thing. Here's what Gateway says, "Gateway press
    contacts are only able to provide assistance for qualified
    members of the news media. They are not qualified to respond to
    product or technical support needs...If you are not a member of
    the news media, please feel free to visit our pages for Product
    Service and Support."

  5. Don't try to lay out the online news room if youíre not a
    talented web designer. Donít use flash, heavy java scripts and
    other doo-dads. The face you put forth to the media must be
    highly professional, and the ease of navigation and logical flow
    of the news room is vital.

  6. Don't force journalists to register or sign in for access.
    Theyíre busy folks and may very well decide not to bother. Make
    life as easy as you can for them.

  7. Online News Rooms to Study:

    The best way to learn how to put together an online news room is
    to see how some very smart folks have done it. Here are three
    outstanding examples....


Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades as
one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine
and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for
PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp
he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring
big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips and
much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive new site:

Source: http://Top7Business.com/?expert=Bill_Stoller

Article Submitted On: August 05, 2005