Thursday, February 21, 2008

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Web Site is Useless to Journalists

I've just completed another one of those writing assignments that reminded me that some organizations need help making their Web sites useful to the journalists they're courting for coverage of their events, activities or services.

With that in mind, here are three ways to make sure you keep people like me from giving you priceless free media exposure:
  1. Let your ad agency design your Web site. Ad agency-designed sites are often the worst sites when it comes to information-gathering. Sure, they're nice looking -- maybe even nice enough looking to win a design award. But they tend to have minimal content, what's there is hard to find and in teeny tiny type, and the information can't be copied and pasted into a Word file -- making it useless for those of us who need the info and don't have time to retype it (if we can find it...).
  2. Include a "Press Information" button that isn't active.
  3. Make sure there's no phone number -- anywhere -- that we can call for information when we don't find it.
What gets in your way when you're trying to do research using Web sites of smaller organizations? Tell me about it. Let's whine together.


Jen A. Miller said...

There's a "press" button, but it leads to stories there were in the press and no actual information on what to do if you are the press. I'm building my website with "In the Media" and "Press" buttons to get around that issue.

Sandra Beckwith said...

Hey Jen, that's a good point. I've seen that on more than one site and you're right, it's confusing.

While some sites might use "Press" as shorthand for "We've gotten some 'press' -- view it here!", when journalists see "Press" they think "Click here for information *for* the press." I try to eliminate that confusion at with "For the press" and "In the news" -- the latter being links to articles where I'm quoted, etc.

Mollie Cox Bryan said...

I really don't like a lot of fancy graphics that slow down my computer. (Okay, I have an older computer.) But if it takes a LONG time to load all your graphics, I outta there!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Mollie, I agree completely. Lots of graphics and flash animation not only make a site difficult to load, they also create a delay between when the user goes to the URL and actually gets the information that sent them to the site. Why postpone that gratification? Why make it possible for the visitor to say, "I don't have time for this"?