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Reach Out and Touch Someone

Do you know the difference between information and communication? Information is putting your message out there—communication is getting through.

When visitors come to your web site, you obviously have an opportunity to communicate with them during and after the visit. The trick is to take the opportunity to use your site content (and any electronic communication after the visit) to communicate with—not just inform—your visitors.

Your site not only should provide information about who you are, what you do, and how you do it, but also should make visitors comfortable with relating to your organization and/or doing business with you.

First, let's look at communicating the information on your web site.

The communication process includes the "packaging" of your site content. When your IT staff designs or retools your organization's online presence, the architecture should include not only a well-thought-out, navigable web site, but also the packaging of that site into two stand-alone areas: a Frequently Asked Questions page, and a press room.

  • The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your web site should be an easy-to-read summary of the web site itself. It should include information from your other pages: About Us, Contact Us, How-To, Products and Services, etc. The difference is that the material in the FAQ is presented in a question-and-answer format that lends itself well to personal communication. Though you may have all of this information on other pages of your site, it's still a good idea to gather all the most important pieces into the FAQ. Site visitors find this kind of presentation very useful; it gives them a fast overview of your organization—what it does, how it does it, and how your visitors can use it—all in one place.

  • A proper online press room can be a source of publicity about your company and an important resource for journalists. When journalists write about companies, the first place they turn to is not a stack of press releases (which often are ignored), but the web. Since this is true, your company's web site designer(s) should give serious thought to how journalists can quickly and easily access the information they need from your web site. This demonstrates the necessity of an easily navigable site with a clearly labeled press room that quickly satisfies the journalist's need for basic information.

    Your press room should use clear, concise language to describe your company and what makes its products or services unique. List the key people in management and detail each person's professional and business backgrounds. State what position he or she holds in the company and his or her qualifications for that position. Provide a press contact. Then ask whether the journalist would like to receive future notices about your company and products, and provide a choice of contact method—email, fax, telephone?

    Finally, list all your latest press releases and media mentions, most recent first and then going backward in time.

One important thing to remember: Never ask reporters to register, or require a password to enter your press room. If you do, you can count the time they'll stay on your page in milliseconds. Sure, you run the risk of making your press kit available to people other than the press—such as your competition. But that's the nature of the Net. When you create an online presence for your company, you open your kimono for the entire world to see.

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