The Online Media Room: A terrific place to market directly to buyers (yes, buyers!)

September 13, 2007

When people want to know what’s current about an organization, it’s the first place your buyers go. Learn more about how to create a valuable online media room.

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I want you to consider something that is vitally important:

All kinds of people visit your online media room, not just journalists. Your buyers are snooping around your company by visiting the media pages on your Web site.

The online media room (sometimes called a press room or press page) is the part of a technology company or software company Web site that is created specifically for the media. In some organizations, this page is simply a list of news releases with contact information for the organization’s PR person. But many companies have elaborate online media rooms with a great deal of information available in many different formats: audio, video, photos, news releases, background information, financial data, and much more. A close cousin to the online media room is the online Investor Relations room that many public companies maintain.

Before I give you ideas on how to create your own valuable online media room, I want you to consider something that is vitally important: all kinds of people visit your online media room, not just journalists. Your buyers are snooping around your company by visiting the media pages on your Web site. Stop and really let that soak in for a moment. Your buyers, current customers, partners, investors, suppliers, and employees all visit those pages. Why is that? Based on research I’ve done (I often speak with people who are responsible for their organizations’ online media rooms about visitor statistics), I’m convinced that when people want to know what’s current about an organization, they go to an online media room first.

Visitors expect that the main pages of a Web site are basically static (i.e., they do not update often). They expect that the homepage updates a few times a year at best and the inner pages even less. But they also expect that the news releases and media-targeted pages on a site will reveal the very latest about a company. For many companies, the news release section is one of the most frequently visited parts of the Website. Check out your own Web site statistics; you may be amazed at how many visitors are already reading your online news releases and other media pages.

So I want you to do something that many traditional PR people think is nuts. I want you to design your online media room for your buyers.By building a media room that targets buyers, you will not only enhance those pages as a powerful marketing tool, you will also make a better media site for journalists. I’ve reviewed hundreds of online media rooms, and the best ones are built with buyers in mind. This approach may sound a bit radical, but believe me, it works. Give this article to your PR people and tell them you want to transform your online media room as a place to reach buyers directly.

One of the most important considerations for your online media room is to use the words and phrases that your buyers use when they search for answers to their problems that your company solves. When news releases and other content are posted to your online media room, search engine crawlers will find the content, index it, and rank it based on words, phrases, and other factors. Because news release pages update more often than any other part of a typical organization’s Web site, search engine algorithms (tuned to pay attention to pages that update frequently) tend to rank news release pages among the highest on your site, driving traffic there first.

An online media room is an important part of any organization’s Web site and a critical aspect of an effective media relations strategy. When done well, an online media room will turn journalists who are just browsing into interested writers who will highlight your organization positively in their stories. And more importantly, an online media room can move your buyers into and through the sales process, resulting in more business for your organization and contributing to meeting your organization’s real goals of revenue and customer retention. I’ve noticed as I’ve checked out hundreds of online media rooms that most fail to deliver compelling content. Sure, they may look pretty, but often the design and graphics, not the content that journalists (and your buyers) require, are in the forefront. Here, then, is a list of tips that will help your online media room work as effectively as some of the best ones I’ve seen such as the Cisco Online Media Room newsroom.cisco.com or the Google Online Media Room google.com/press.

Best practices for online media rooms

You control the content: One important consideration that many marketing and PR people overlook when considering the benefits of an online media room is that you control the content, not your IT department, Webmaster, or anyone else.The best practice idea here is that you design your online media room as a tool to reach buyers and journalists, and you don’t need to take into consideration the rules for posting content that the rest of the organization’s site may require. If you build this part of your site using a specialized online media room content management application such as the one offered by The Fuel Team www.drivetheweb.com or the Media Room product from PR Newswire www.mediaroom.com you will control a corner of your organization’s Web site that you can update whenever you like using simple tools, and you won’t need to request help from anyone in other departments or locations.

Start with a needs analysis: When designing a new online media room (or planning an extensive redesign), start with a needs analysis. Before you just jump right into site aesthetics and the organization of news releases, take time to analyze how the site fits into your larger marketing, PR, and media relations strategy. Carefully consider buyer personas of the people who will visit. Talk with friendly journalists so you can understand what they need.

Optimize your news releases for searching and for browsing: The best online media rooms are built with the understanding that some people need to search for content and others are just browsing. Many people already know what they are looking for—the latest release, perhaps, or the name of the CEO. They need answers to specific questions, and organizations must therefore optimize content so that it can be found, perhaps by including a search engine. The second way that people use content is to be told

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Categories:  Go-to-Market


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