I was talking with a terrific high tech start up the other day about the importance of doing more of the PR function online when the subject of Online Press Rooms came up. "What's the difference," he asked, "between a typical online press room and what you are talking about?"
A good question. Today, most on line news rooms are no more than an a kind of attic for storing old press releases. Press releases are updated infrequently, can't be searched or interacted with, provide copy only in text format, and often identify no contact person to answer an editor's query. Press releases and other valuable company content are not optimized for search engines, and RSS is unheard of.
This in an era when content is king!
So many high tech companies fall into this camp. While their businesses live online, 24/7, their communications operations do nothing to leverage the power of the medium.
However, increasingly smart companies, large and small, are updating their old press rooms to take advantage of the new technologies.
Varian Medical Systems, a division of Varian Systems, provides an excellent example of an online press room which has been built to provide a real resource for journalists. On each page of the press room, there are communications contacts, from the VP of Corporate Communications to individual managers and an email address. Each page has a search button, a subject index, and link back to the home page allowing for easy search and navigation.
The Varian newsroom provides breaking news (and the news is current) and an archive of older materials. There are hot links to company facts and additional information, a library of articles and white papers and a place where media can make requests. There is a place where readers can opt-in for automatic updates -- on only the information they wish -- via RSS. a press release archive, investor relations package, and a high resolution image gallery. In short everything an editor might require.
Their Press Room explifies PR best practices:
. News content is updated frequently
. All content cn be searched
. Each page lists appropriate PR contacts and email address where they can be reached
. Images provided are in high resolution so that they can be immediately used.
. The Communications team controls the site and can post information as needed without going through a web administrator.
I'd like to think that press materials are also optimized for search engines, and that the communications team monitors traffic on their site. Varian Medical Systems Online Press Room demonstrates how to leverage the power of the Internet to deliver communications better.
[from a presentation I received from Dee Rambeau, Managing Partner of DVCO technology whose company sells its On Line Press Room throught PR Newswire and from a case story written by Meryl Ginsberg, a PR Manager at Varian Medical and 25-year veteran of PR.]