Creating an Internet Strategy
The Internet provides a unique opportunity for victim advocates and service providers to reach out to victims, raise public awareness, and (for nonprofit organizations) generate funds. It can also provide an opportunity for crime victims and survivors to tell their stories unfiltered and on their terms.
In developing or updating a Web site, you must first determine your target audience(s) and messages (see “Audience and Message” in “Developing a Media Plan”). It also helps to strike a balance between content and graphic design. The information you present should be brief and current; easily accessed through simple navigation; and spread out over individual web pages within the site (this also allows visitors to load information faster).
You can use your Web site as a source for reporters as well:
- Create a media section. Include a link to a special media section in your Web site navigation and on your sitemap, and also consider putting a small banner on your home page so that reporters can easily spot the section designed especially for them. You want the media to know that you care about and can address their needs.
- News items. The more fresh content you provide, the more useful and vital the section will be for reporters and editors. On the Web, brief is best. A short headline followed by one paragraph with short sentences about recent events is often sufficient.
- The latest statistics. Reporters also want the most recent numbers to include in their stories. Add new national, state, and local information as soon as it becomes available, or provide links for easy access.
- A calendar of events. Make sure reporters know what your organization is planning so that they can get the information onto their calendars.
- Speakers bureau. Showcase your media-savvy representatives. Show a picture and explain the topics they can talk about, and provide brief biographies. Note the availability of speakers who can talk about their own victimization.
- A director’s blog. Depending on your organization, it may be appropriate for the director to comment frequently on national, state, and local news, as a way to build a relationship with the community and the media. A blog (“Web blog”) provides an easy way for a trusted expert to share information quickly.
- Links to other sources. Hyperlinks to other reliable sources—such as the Office for Victims of Crime and national victim assistance organizations—help visitors find additional information and establish the “network nature” of victim assistance programs in America. Make sure to regularly update links (which often change or disappear).
- A sign up for an electronic newsletter and alerts. Make it easy for reporters and other visitors to sign up for your electronic newsletter and news alerts. Issue a news alert with your organization’s views and comments when a high-profile case occurs in the community.
- Archive your news releases and reports. Reporters often want to compare today with yesterday, so you want to make it easy for them.
- Include your contact information. Put your telephone number on each page of your media section.