A Tale of Two Press Kits

The synchronicity of this business never ceases to amaze me!

On the same day I heard a wonderful teleseminar about the value of electronic press kits from Michelle Tennant at Wasabi Public Relations as she introduced her new www.PressKit247.com site to host electronic press kits for the media, I received a startling email from a client who told me he won’t post his press kit online!

Why not?

Emanuel Errico III, president of STFB Inc. an accounting software company explains:
“When I went to do my press kit, I wanted to find a bunch of examples from other companies so I can make sure that I was doing the right thing, or, even to use as a template. What I found out is that no one in my industry publishes their press kit publicly anymore. I went to Inacct, NetLedger, and a few others, and while some of them had on-line press rooms with press releases and maybe a company summary, they did not disclose much information at all, and definitely not as much information as I have in my press kit.

“I can offer up some reasons for this. Maybe you have noticed testimonials and references disappearing from websites recently? I mean of course you can find them but they are not as prevalent as they used to be. Well the reason for this is that (and this happened to us by the way) other companies were contacting those people on the testimonial and reference list and using it as a “ready-made” prospecting list.

“If you take this one step further, a competitor can take a press kit and get a lot of good information from it, even use it to prepare a business plan (I have heard of this happening firsthand as well), and also find the reference information that has already been removed from websites (for prospecting). Yes, this industry is getting very ugly as it matures.”

Errico is not a voice in the wilderness.

For many years, I’ve spoken at conferences about web marketing and business people have told me that headhunters scour their sites and try to recruit their sales people. So they don’t list sales people on their websites. Others tell of poaching client lists of retailers from the section entitled “where to buy” our merchandise.

There’s no easy answer to this question, I tell them. “There’s always a balance between disappointing the thousands of prospects (and reporters) who visit you site looking for information that isn’t there, vs. the snooping eyes of a handful of competitors who want to eat your lunch.”

Where’s the balance?

It depends on who you are, what you do and how safe you feel.

Remember first, that you don’t have to put anything and everything on your website. Save that for the IRS audit (bad joke, sorry).

I figure that the competitors will find the information anyway, no matter what you try to do to stop them. Of course, you don’t have to make it easy for them, but I’d bet any company can hire any bona fide researcher to find out more than you know about your own company. Very little info is private, or can’t be gotten from someone in your supply chain or network of contacts who deals with both companies and has much to gain by sharing info about each company.

So the downside risk is there.

But if reporters can’t find info they need, you’ll probably never get written about.

I spoke to the National Football League about this issue several years ago and they said they had a “media only” area on their site that was by admission only. They didn’t want fans to clog up the network. The NFL can get away with this tactic since they have a ready supply of bona fide reporters who can be credentialed and will be thankful that restrictions are in place so they can do their jobs effectively.

However, for the company struggling to get every inch of coverage it can muster, hiding information behind password protected sites can limit their coverage opportunities at best and hurt them in the court of public opinion in case of a crisis situation, at worst.

As I said, no easy answers. You have to decide what benefits your company and what hurts it. The answers will vary by your own circumstances.

Dan Janal
Your Fearless PR LEADER