A Media-Friendly Online Presence

Aug 4, 2010

The enabling resource is likely sitting right there on your desk. Chances are you’re working your business through the electronic magic of your computer-posting, searching, doing your financials and communicating with others.

We live in an electronic world that has revolutionized the way we gather information and communicate. And the more activities your business is involved in, the easier it is to let people know, thanks to the magic of the personal computer and handheld wireless devices.

Every company has a stream of information that is fresh, important and should be available to your customers and even the media. You can do your business a favor by making it easier for anyone seeking information to find it quickly through company updates, photos and other resources right on your website, as well as electronic communications you send out.

Putting a well-organized, useful tray of information online is a great way of showcasing your company and establishing yourself as a player and/or expert in the local performance market.

A number of media tools are available that allow you to tell your company’s story through email press releases, blog/column updates, photos and videos that you can send out and/or host on your website. And you never know who might see them.

Email News

Issue press releases to your customers and even an email list of journalists and editors you think might be interested. Some companies use public relations specialists to work as independent aides and provide seamless and direct connections to the people with the power of ink.

While it costs money, this method also cuts your distribution time and provides expert crafting of your release information. It is a best practice to include the release in the body of your message, rather than as an attachment that may block up inboxes.

Create a News Alert Service

This is a posting on your website that is topic-related as a news feature, audio or video clip and so-on that tells of your recent company activities. This may sound like work, and it is, but keep in mind the effort is worth the result.

In addition to distributing press releases by email, it’s a good idea to upload edited copy to your website by adding a directive button or navigation tool. You can regularly prune your copy and remove or archive out-of-date releases.

If you set up an archive, remember that people will still need a quick and easy way to retrieve the information they want, so have the releases appear in date order and offer a simple search function so your readers can look for key words, phrases or names.

Online Photo Library

While it may not be appropriate for every aftermarket company, in some cases you’ll get better coverage in the press if your story is accompanied by a powerful or particularly apt image.

Note that if the photograph has been sourced outside your company, make sure you have the rights to use the graphic or image. If you own a series of good images, you may want to include them in an online photo library.

Again, for ease of use, make sure the photos are indexed and that they have a short caption or description. If a certain phrasing needs to be used such as, “Reproduced by permission of ABC Holdings,” make sure this is noted clearly and prominently on the Web page.

Offer Contact Information

If customers or journalists need more specific information on an issue than your press release can offer, or if they want a quote from your company, they’ll need to know the best people to speak to.

Make sure your website lists the name of a press contact that can either answer the question or put the journalist in touch with the relevant staff member. Or, you can provide a complete list of specialist contacts, so that journalists have easy access to a specific person.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to include both phone and email information.

It’s also a good idea to offer some background information somewhere on the site, so that journalists can use it to add context to their stories. For example, you could include a brief history of your company, a profile of staff members, an overview of your product range, and a list of racing pedigree or other industry involvement.

Publish a Media Diary

As many aftermarket companies know, this is a 365-day industry. Your company may be attending or exhibiting at events, or have a speaker at a special venue. Thus, an online schedule of key appearances can plant the seeds for future news coverage or feature articles.

After-the-fact reports on these appearances can be put into press release form, or into a blog or other type of post. This allows you to bring some personality and your own unique perspective to an event, and experts agree helps establish you as a “thought leader” in your particular market-”increasing the chances that someone will turn to you in the future for comments or advice, and thus increasing your exposure.

Advanced Offerings

Depending upon your individual business model and product/service mix, technology allows for other types of advanced information exchanges and offerings. These are not for everyone, but can be helpful particularly in business-to-business type interactions, or to convey technical data or training.

They include:

Organize Email Press Conferences. Inviting journalists, customers or peers to a press conference by email is an efficient use of resources. But, take care not to bombard people with messages if the event won’t be of interest to them.

Target your invitations carefully, or people could start ignoring your messages altogether. Remember to:

  • Invite journalists and editors from publications that reach your most important customer demographic.
  • Give invitees as much notice as possible and try to plan the timing so that editorial coverage will appear in a suitable issue.
  • Confirm dates, times and locations.
  • Explain the reasons for the conference in advance and ensure that journalists understand the importance of the event.
  • Send out a press packet or release promptly to anyone who couldn’t attend.

Consider Briefing Online. Rather than going through the time and expense of holding a physical press conference, it may be worth briefing selected journalists online. They could watch the briefing live via a Webcast or download it from your website later.

Send all invitees the date, time and Internet address they’ll need, remembering to include a password if you feel access should be restricted.

Once the briefing is over, post a downloadable version on your website, along with a summary of the content and links to any sources of further information or related items.

Feature Online Interviews. To make online briefings even more effective, you can make them interactive by offering interested parties the chance to hold a question-and-answer session with a product specialist or senior members of staff. The Q&A could take place over a video or phone link.

After the online event, you could post an audio or video download of proceedings on your site, as well as written transcripts that can be saved and edited without too much fuss. Make sure the transcript includes links to relevant biographical or corporate information.

Create Press Packs. Producing an online press pack that collates all relevant information will save time and cut down on stress levels for both you and the press. The final makeup of your pack will depend on what you’re offering, of course, but you could include any or all of the following:

  • General introduction
  • Press release giving details of the product or event
  • Audio clips or transcripts of press statements
  • Photographs
  • Background information
  • Contacts for further information
  • Supply the materials as Word documents or another easily edited format so that it can be dropped into other packages simply by the press.

Finally, we realize that all of this takes work, and time, to make happen. But the amazing tools that are now available allow your shop to craft an easily identifiable image and establish you as a credible source for information in the performance aftermarket.

Find what works for you and stick with it-and the good news should follow!