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Nielsen's latest Alertbox post this week looks at the issue of press area usability for journalists, finding that plenty of the websites studied fail to adequately provide information for such visitors.
Poor usability and lack of information in press areas will result in journalists deciding not to include a company in the article they are writing, or else force them to get their information from third party sources, and can represent a lost PR opportunity.
According to Nielsen, journalists are looking for five things in a press area;
- Press contacts,
- Basic facts about a company,
- A company's view on particular events
- Financial information
- Images to use in articles
I've had a look at a few websites to see how they cater for journalists:
Being able to contact a real human being is essential for journalists researching stories. Deadlines mean that information is needed within hours or minutes, so most people would be reluctant to use an email address or contact form with no guarantee of a speedy response. This means providing contact numbers is essential so that journalists can quickly find out the information they need, or get some comment on a story.
Northern Rock does this well, providing a list of press contacts, including email addresses and contact numbers. On the other hand, having looked at its Global, European and UK websites, all Flash-heavy and slow to load, I was unable to find any press contacts for Nissan.
DSGi, which owns Currys, PC World and others, does have a clear link to its press area, but financial information is less easy to find. News, images and contacts are all there, but apart from the latest share price, there is no link to financials, which there should be for a public company. Trading statements are there, but buried in the news section, and also displayed on PDFs, which Nielsen advises against due to their potential to annoy users.
Tesco does this better, providing a link to the Investor Centre which contains all the financial information you could wish for.
One major problem I had on most of the sites I looked at, was actually finding the press and media information. As outlined on this blog recently, journalists are looking for three specific links from a company's website: the 'about' page, 'press' and 'blog'. Blogs are hard to find as many major firms may not have adopted this as yet, but the other two links should be there.
As journalists may come via search engines, which will generally place a brand's e-commerce site above links to corporate info, these links should be available at the bottom of the home page where people expect to find these links.
For example, Next has a link to both 'the company' and 'media' on its homepage, but finding these links is harder on Tesco, though the media information is good once you find it. Making these links available and well labelled will help journalists find what they want from your website, and makes it more likely that they will give your firm some coverage.