~ Ten Tips for Building an Effective Online Media Room ~

By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®Visit Maine Media Room

Anytime journalists are looking for information on you or your company, they will inevitably start by looking at your website. If you have a tab for “Media Room” or “Press Room” right on your homepage, it immediately signals the media that you welcome their attention, and you want to make it easy for them to report on you.

How might this happen? In a variety of ways. Perhaps your company has experienced some kind of a crisis and the media wants to accurately report on the history and background of your company and use some photos or video in their story. Or, perhaps you have sent out a press release to the media that has sparked their curiosity, so they want to learn more.

If one of your leadership team members passes away, the media would want quick access to a head shot and bio on that person. You can be sure that there were a lot of media clamoring for photos and bios on Leon Gorman of L.L. Bean when he passed, and a media room would expedite that process. (May he rest in peace. He was a great man with a great sense of what PR truly means….paying attention to your customers!)

You want journalists to be able to quickly find accurate information when they are looking for it. Here are ten things you should include in an online media room.

  1. A company or organizational backgrounder.
    A backgrounder, or fact sheet, lists all the vital information about your organization, including its industry sector, the history of the company, the names and background of the management, and
    a listing of products or services. This is a one sheet overview of the most important info you would want to be included in a story about your company in the media.
  2. High resolution images of your company logo.
    In an ideal world, when the media reports on your organization, your logo would show up clearly and vividly to connect the story with your company’s brand. These should be JPEGs and/or GIFs, not static PDFs.
  3. All your press releases, posted in chronological order as they are issued. These should be Word documents, not PDFs, so they can be easily copied and pasted into the journalists’ articles. They should also be searchable by some kind of search box on your site so the journalist doesn’t have to slog through all your information to find what they are looking for.
  4. A selection of high-resolution still photos and videos, including head shots of management team.
    TV stations will want video that shows what you do and how you do it. Newspapers and magazines will want photos, and they may also want video for their online editions. Select images that are iconic to your business. What do you most want people to see? Your products? Your customers? Your retail establishment? Your hotel or restaurant property? Think about these icons and make sure there are photos to show them. For example, when I worked at Sugarloaf we wanted to show the iconic 11th hole on the golf course in summer and the fast, steep Narrow Gauge Trail in winter. We also wanted to show images of people having a great time since the Sugarloaf experience is all about people having fun together.
  5. A map or directions to reach your place of business or retail locations.
    If the media is going to travel to your location, you want to make it clear where they are going, since they are always cramped for time. Likewise, if they are describing where you are located, you want to help them include accurate directions in their stories or articles.
  6. Press clips and press coverage.
    Share the coverage you have already received so the media can assess how you have been covered by other media in the past. You would provide links to the publications and broadcast outlets where you have already been covered.
  7. Backgrounds of the management team members.
    Organizations are assessed by the strength of their management, so it is wise to put their backgrounds and capabilities right out there for the media to see.
  8. Contact information for all PR people, especially those who are authorized to speak to the media.
    It is vital to provide daytime and off-hours contact information so the media can reach out to the PR team as needed. I highly recommend NOT requiring the media to log in to receive this information because that is annoying and slows down their process. They don’t have time to create an account and log in, and they are likely to provide fake contact information if you require them to do so.
  9. Evergreen story ideas.
    These would be ideas for stories that journalists could cover anytime, regardless of what is currently happening in the news. For example, if you are representing a school or college, you might want to suggest a story about the latest technology in your classrooms for teaching students. If you are representing a tourism destination, you might want to list the top ten things to do around your venue. If you are representing a bank, you could suggest a story about your charitable outreach initiatives.
  10. Links to all your social media networks.
    If you are posting on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and other social networks, make it easy for the media to look at who is in your community and how much engagement you receive on a day-to-day basis. Community and customer engagement is the hallmark of a strong personal brand.

Your media room is not a static page on your website; it needs to be constantly updated to reflect new news coverage and significant recognition and accomplishments. Make sure to add new press releases, new product information, and new personnel backgrounds.

Regardless of whether you have an online media room or not, the most vital function of any PR team is to reply promptly to requests from the media, so as to allow them to meet their deadlines and get accurate information and quotes from your organization.

You can Google “online media rooms” to see examples and best practices from around the world.