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FT study exposes problems in finding media information on corporate websites

August 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, PR

A study by the Financial Times and web effectiveness experts Bowen Craggs has found many corporate websites fail to provide journalists with information and serve the media in a useful and effective way – which is often not in the company’s favour in terms of generating positive press coverage.

The study finds “many press offices simply do not see the online medium as an important” and this article (part paywall) in the FT theorises that this could be as many press officers are former journalists who left the industry before the advent of online and social media.

The FT Bowen Craggs Index looks at:

How well a site caters to four areas of journalistic enquiry: the news release service and archiving; the ready availability of good quality contact information; the range of background about the company and its industry; and the provision of publication quality imagery.

News release service

The FT article states journalists “do not want to be spoon fed”:

Give them a ready-made story, and they will either ignore it, or look for a way to put a different twist on it (not necessarily in the company’s favour). The last thing they want is to write the same story as other people. What they do want is leads, which explains the keenness with which they have taken to Twitter. Companies need to understand Twitter – both to feed journalists leads and to get early warning that a nasty news storm is about to blow in.

Contact information and background about the company and its industry

The FT article states:

[Journalists] tend to be in a hurry, and impatient. Their inclination is often to pick up the phone rather than trawl a site. Companies can make themselves unpopular by failing to make press contacts easy to find.

Provision of images

The study found that “one of the most significant trends this year comes from the image library metric”:

The big move forward is the increasing use of Flickr as a complementary library: see for example Nestlé and Novartis.

A remarkable number of companies do not provide an image library at all – almost a quarter of the companies in the Index, including most of the Chinese companies but also a slew of banks – Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Santander, Westpac and more. Why? If you do not provide images yourselves, media organisations will surely go to your rivals or to a library.

German company Siemans comes out on top and is heralded as an example of best practice of serving the media. It has an index of 28. An example of a lower score is Johnson and Johnson with an index of nine.

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