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The Press Pack Is Chasing You - Give Them Room


There's good news for public relations execs, marketingprofessionals and even one-man-band entrepreneurs: journalistsare surfing your sites looking for news.

It's true - while some PR people spend months trying to win overcynical reporters in order to wrangle a company profile or CEOinterview (and get nowhere), an army of journalists areproactively hunting for facts, figures and interview candidates.

Now the bad news: these same journalists say most online pressrooms suck. Big time. If you're thinking to yourself: 'Uh-oh, wedon't have a press room,' chances are you're missing out onimportant media opportunities. If you're thinking: 'What's apress room?' you need to act fast.

In an ideal world, a press room is a vibrant, constantly updatedsection of your corporate website including companybackgrounders, executive profiles, news releases (with acomprehensive, searchable archive), media mailing list and -perhaps most importantly - clear and concise contact informationif journalists need to get in touch.

Want to see a great press room? As usual, Google pulls it off bykeeping things nice and simple:

http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/index.html

If you haven't got the time or resources to put together aworld-class press room like that, here are a couple of strategiesthat can help you in the short-term. But keep in mind these aresuggested as temporary measures - an accessible, professionalpress room is no longer a luxury for a company that considersitself professional, it's an absolute necessity.

? Blog It!

Sign up for a blog at one of the big free providers such asBlogger (http://www.blogger.com). These services are templatebased and you can have their standard layouts look and feel likeyour own site in a jiffy. To be honest, even if you use thestandard template, change the title and give it the odd tweakhere and there you've still covered the important bases.

Then place a link on your corporate website to the new blog(perhaps label it as 'News Blog' or plain old 'News Room' or'Press Room') and you're ready to promote your news. Be sure toinclude full contact details in the blog's bio section -remember, journalists are always on one deadline or another andthey want your input NOW! If you're worried about spambotsgathering your email address, include them as 'name domaindot com'. If a journalist can't work that out you probably don'twant to hear from them anyway!

Once your blog is up and running, turn it over to one or two keymembers of your staff. Have them post news releases - and shorternews updates - to the blog as often as possible. The beauty ofthis solution is that you get free XML/RSS feeds thrown in viathe Blogger engine. If you don't go for Blogger, be sure to checkon XML/RSS feeds before you select a suitable service.

? The Single-Click Press Room

Even if your corporate website is a few pages of plain HTML afriend knocked together as a favour and you're unwilling to makeany drastic changes to it in order to add a press room, you canstill provide visitors with a full list of your press releaseswith the addition of a single link to your main site.

First of all, ensure you're making full use of one of the freepress release distribution services. For the sake of this exampleI hope nobody objects if I use our own, ClickPress(http://www.clickpress.com).

Enter your company name in quotes as a search term - forexample: "Vegetarian Society". Hit search and you will bepresented with the results: press releases about or includingreferences to your company. Click on the link below for a liveexample using "Vegetarian Society":

http://www.clickpress.com/cgi-bin/releases/search.cgi?query=%22Vegetarian+Society%22

A search for "Your Company" will look something like this:

http://www.clickpress.com/cgi-bin/releases/search.cgi?query=%22Your +Company%22

Copy that URL (with your own company's name, of course) and thereyou have it. Well, almost, you still need to add it to your site.Add a link to the URL, label the link 'Recent Press Releases' andevery time you add a new press release to the news distributionsite it will be included in the dynamic search - you've got anautomatic, single-click press room.

? Contacts, Contacts, Contacts

Perhaps the most regular criticism made by web-savvy journalistsis a lack of media contact info on most corporate sites. If youdo nothing else to your site you should add a few linesexplaining who journalists should contact at your company and howthey should do it.

If you're worried about spam, encrypt email addresses asexplained above or include them as a graphic rather than a hotlink. Provide a landline number and explain between what hourssomeone will be available to take calls (and be sure to includeyour time zone, unless you're happy to field calls at three inthe morning from a journalist half way around the world).

There are a wealth of additional cost-free additions you couldmake to your site to make it media friendly (a press releasemailing list hosted by Yahoo! Groups or Topica perhaps), so besure to check out what other companies are doing.

Best place to find them? In the results of a news search engine,because they're the ones who have probably secured media coveragethanks to a proper press room.

Copyright 2005 George Hopkin

George Hopkin is a freelance journalist and CEO of ClickPress(http://www.clickpress.com), a free press release distributionservice which distributes content to some of the world's mostinfluential news and web search engines. ClickPress is a properyof Pressventures, a provider of free and fee-based services to PRprofessionals.

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