Good Online Press Centers: Key to getting a reporters’ attention

By Barry Forward

A successful Web site needs to create interest, maintain customer attention and generate the desire to purchase a product or service, motivating customers to follow through with an order. An online press center or virtual newsroom — where you inform users about new products and announce events — allows journalists and your customers to see that you’re a professional in your industry. It will also help deal with emergencies and offer you opportunities to lend your voice to issue that affect your business.

A virtual newsroom is a must for small businesses who want to raise their profile and build their reputation. Journalists often use the Internet to source stories and conduct research into a news story. If your Web site comes up as an authority on an issue, the journalist will check out your Web site and be impressed if there is an online press center that contains the information needed to write a story. It also establishes your business reputation if you take the time to build an online press center, because not only journalists will access it.

There are several key things to consider when your setting up the online press center section of your website. Your online press center should at the very least include the following elements:

  • News release(s)
  • Photos and illustrations
  • Fact sheets
  • Backgrounders
  • Biographies

Biographies provide a quick summary of the relevant background of an individual, with the objective of building credibility.

Visuals that might be included in an online press center include a downloadable logo — the identity of your business — and downloadable online photographs of your key executives. Photographs are especially useful as they put a picture to a name and can be used by the press to accompany a news story.

In addition to background information and fact sheets here are some additional suggestions for creating a “virtual newsroom” that works:

  • Offer real names and contact information including street addresses and telephone numbers right up at the top of your online press center. Nothing drives a reporter crazy more than having to drill down into the news section of a website only to find an e-mail address to some non-descript media center such as
  • If you have a brochure or defined press kit make ALL of it available online. You’ll be providing reporters with most of the information they want and the calls that do come through will be from informed reporters
  • Reporters love calendars of events. But they have to be updated regularly. If you’re not prepared to make these changes weekly, if not daily, don’t bother including a calendar section
  • An archive of news releases on a Web site sorted by date and title is extremely useful for journalists and customers, as it places news in context

Now that you have your press releases online remember to make sure they get posted to your site before or at the same time you release them using traditional methods.

Barry Forward is the Executive Vice-President of Reputations Inc and has an extensive background in public relations. He has also launched several companies, including high tech ventures and products. You can read more PR related articles like this one at

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