When journalists want to find you, they're looking specifically to talk to an official at your company about product releases, company news, or new trends. Other times, they're looking to get in touch with any number of similar companies to comment on changes in the industry or to seek out an expert in the field for a broader story. Especially in that second case, you want the media to be able to navigate your website quickly and find out if the experts at your company are what they're looking for. After that, you need to make sure reporters and editors can get everything they need—from contact information to photos—quickly and seamlessly.
Creating a good press page or media center on your website is simple and quick if you follow these rules recommended by industry experts.
How to Design a Great Press Page for Your Website: Where to Put It
The media center part of your website should be obvious and identifiable from the home page. This could mean putting a link to it in the main navigation bar at the top of the page (next to your "About us" or "Clients" tabs, for instance), or in a navigation sidebar.
"You want everything to be easily findable," says Stacy Amaral Kauffman, radio publicity director for Annie Jennings PR, a national public relations firm that specializes in getting clients on Fox News, Good Morning America, and other large media outlets. "You don't want the media digging for anything, ever."
The media center warrants its own separate section of the site, but definitely needs to be at least partially integrated into the first page, or homepage says Bill Stoller, founder of the Free Publicity newsletter and PublicityInsider.com. Some companies choose to list a small section of press releases or previous media mentions on the home page to catch the eye.
"If they don't find for it right away they're just going to find some other contact," he says. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for a journalist."
Some companies choose to make journalists register or set up an account to access the media page. But many experts advise against this.
"You don't want to have anything hidden in here," Stoller says. "I think your website is an open document. Anything and everything you want to have on your website should be consumable by the public and the press."
How to Design a Great Press Page for Your Website: Key Elements
To make sure your bases are covered, experts say every press page should include the following:
Contact info: Put a direct phone number and e-mail address for your designated media affairs representative, or for the specific members of your company you want the media to talk to. If you're worried about the wrong people reaching out to those contacts, put a disclaimer on there that people who are not members of the press should call the customer support or another general number.
"Almost 90 percent of the time, the general public is smart enough to know they're not a member of the press and to not give you a call," Stoller says.
Putting a direct e-mail address is much better than putting a generic contact form that reporters have to fill out and submit, which makes it harder to follow up or to even know whom to address, Kauffman says.
"Who wants to fill out another form?" she says. "We all know that the media moves very, very quickly. If they can't get in touch with you, they're checking with the next person."
Bios: Particularly if you're trying to get members of your company in front of the media for interviews and expert opinion, providing some quick and easily digestible biographical information is important.
Journalists spend a very short amount of time—sometimes seconds—to decide whether the person they're reading about is what they're looking for, Kauffman says. You want to showcase the credentials right away so reporters don't have to dig for that info.
"The media has a responsibility to chose most qualified person for their story," Annie Jennings of Annie Jennings PR says. "They do their own research. The media page is what's in our control."
Jennings recommends a formula: include a professionally written biography, in the third person, and lead with the strongest credentials, advanced degrees and achievements.
"You never want to keep your Wharton MBA for the last sentence," Jennings says. "By then an opinion has already been formed."
You should also include previous media appearances in TV, print or online.
"You want to display that you're an expert who's qualified to comment in the area the journalist is looking for," she says.
Some sites choose to just put a snapshot of a person's credentials on the main press page with the option to click through for more detailed information. In this situation, Jennings recommends the experts list their best assets in bulleted lists so journalists can catch the gist of it quickly.
How to Design a Great Press Page for Your Website: Additional Elements
Press releases: Include a list of your most recent press releases and an archive of your past releases, in chronological order. Keep these in traditional press release format and make sure they're readable across all platforms.
Video and audio: If you're trying to get a company executive or employee on TV to talk as an expert in the field, you want to reassure journalists that the person knows how to handle an interview. Kauffman recommends posting one or two of your best previous media appearance videos that highlight your composure. However, loading too many videos onto the press page risks creating slow load times.
"At that point when they're viewing your video, they're looking to see you're capable of handling yourself on TV," she says. "You look good, you understand what it takes to be a media expert."
Videos can also include demonstrations of your product in use or b-roll footage TV journalists can use to help flesh out a piece—or simply understand your product, service, or business better.
Photo and graphics: Artwork on your press page can include company logos, photos of top executives, product photos, recent charts or other graphical data, Stoller says. He recommends providing two versions 72 dpi for online use and higher resolution 300 dpi for traditional print publications.