Web usability guru Nielsen’s latest Alertbox post emphasizes the imperative of press area usability for journalists, finding that plenty of the Web sites reviewed don’t provide adequate info for media (traditional or “citizen journalists”).
He cautions that poor site usability and missing info in online press areas can turn journalists away from covering your organization or force them to get their information from third-party sources (definitely not your messaging and likely to be incorrect). A shabby online press area is a lost PR opportunity.
Once journalists get to your site (you have to make sure they can), they need access to:
- Easy-to-find online newsroom: Make sure you have a clean site with a clearly-labeled section called “Press,” “Media” or “News,” where journalists can get quick answers to their questions.
- Press contacts: 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.
- Basic facts: Reporters often need to confirm dates, spellings and more. To help reporters get that information quickly, make sure your sections are clearly labeled.
- Your org’s perspective and actions on your issues: This is the stuff that differentiates your organizatons from colleagues and competitors. Make it easy-to-find, succinct and clear.
- Financials: A core credibility meter.
- Images to use in articles: Also, video and audio for online media. This is the stuff that enages readers which is a journalist’s ultimate goal.