The idea that electronic media – Web sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – are important for your company's image and public communications is not exactly new 12 years into the 21st Century. Yet as an editor I am constantly surprised at the number of companies in IT and related industries, that I would expect to be very sophisticated in their use of electronic media, but that in fact seem to have not yet grasped the basics. So here are some basics that every company should follow.
First publish all your news releases and other announcements on your Web site first, before you distribute them. Social media are more sexy and certainly important, but your company Web site remains the primary public record of your company. Many publications will extract a paragraph from your news releases for their news briefs section and then provide a link back to the full release on your Web site. I am constantly surprised at the number of companies that either do not publish their releases on their site at all or do not put them up until days or weeks after distributing them to the media. Obviously if they aren't there, the publications cannot link to them. Also, your Web site is the first stop for anyone researching your company. If your press releases aren't there, they will not have important public information.
Once the releases are posted on the company Web site, then e-mail them to your publicity list. Not before. And when sending releases and other communications to editors, put the long list of e-mail addresses into BCC or otherwise mask them. One good approach is to publish them through an online service such as Constant Contact that personalizes each message and manages the distribution list in background. A huge list of addresses at the top of your e-mail just gets into the editor's way, and may violate the privacy of some recipients. This is true as well for all business communications to long standard lists of recipients, such as all investors in a public company or all employees. Again this seems basic, but I receive press releases with long lists of addresses every week. It is just not professional. And always include a link back to the copy on your Web site, preferably at the top of the release. This is seldom done and much appreciated by editors. And if other material surrounding the announcement such as video of an event or of a company officer talking about it is available, obviously include links to that as well.
News releases should also be published on social media – your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and similar sites – of course. And the bare bones of the announcement also should go out on Twitter – with a link back to the full release and any supporting information on the company Web site, which is another reason to post it on the Web site first.
Blogs are also important, but only if they actually say something. A blog is a less formal form of writing. It should reflect the character and interests of the blogger of record – even if it actually is being ghosted by a PR person. It certainly can focus on the same market issues that form the basis of the corporate strategy, but it should be about issues and events, not company products. Blogs can be excellent traffic builders for a site. Corporate leaders are experts in the issues in their market areas, and people are interested in reading what they have to say. Blogs should be kept short, however. Few readers have the time or patience to read more than about 750 words. And new blogs should be posted regularly, a blog that hasn't been updated for months does not attract readers and gives the impression of a moribund site.
Action Item: While apps are “cool” and can play an important part in a corporate publicity campaign, the company Web site is still the basic public site of record for companies in the Internet age. Press releases, announcements, video of important company events, presentations by company officials, and similar material should be published there first and then publicized through other media such as social media. This provides a single, central place to access all public material from the company and provides new material to reinvigorate the site and encourage reasders to check back regularly. And that builds company and brand presence in the marketplace.