Don’t Allow ‘Contact Us’ To Be A Wall Of Confusion

Nothing is more important to a local newspaper than connecting with readers, advertisers and supporters.

So why is it so hard for people to learn how to contact us?

I spotted this Relevant Point by Judy Patrick, New York Press Association’s vice president for editorial development, in her weekly note to newsrooms:

As the coordinator of a Christmas event in my town, I needed to reach out to media outlets last week. I was stunned at how difficult it was to find phone numbers or email addresses for some news organizations anywhere on their websites. This isn’t limited to the media; I’ve hit similar walls with colleges, public entities and non-profits. But media companies especially need to make it easy for readers to reach out. While I understand the logic of forms that require the sender’s name, address and email, they’re off-putting.

Looking for a worthwhile project to jumpstart 2021?

If you are an association, consider reviewing — along the lines of a secret shopper — each of your members’ “Contact Us” information and offer suggestions on how to improve. Tout it as an added service.

Bonus: Consider a contest to celebrate who does it the best. Share the top practices and tips.

While you’re at it, make it a point to update the association’s ABOUT US page. When is that last time that was done? (Don’t worry, I’ll do the same for The Relevance Project as well.)

If you are a newspaper, raise the effectiveness of how outsiders can engage you.

Make it clear.

Make it simple.

Make it easier.

And while you’re at it, review how you respond.

Nothing frustrates readers or people trying to give you money more than not hearing back after they’ve knocked on your door.

No excuses.

I’d like to know what you find out from your new 2021 project. All ears here.
One more Relevant Point:

Don’t forget to update your copyright year online and in the paper on Jan. 1.

—TAS

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