Corporate sites are not enough, as long as they are static, simply presenting a company and its products, and never actually engaging the visitors. The modern web is interactive, social and connected. Corporate sites are that mandatory online brochure people browser over by choice. But when a visitor wants more (especially the latest news about a company, buzz or other recent information), the best way to provide information is via a press site, a news site or a corporate blog. Still confused? Then let’s define each of the featured concepts.
The best press site I can think of right now is Nokia’s (which surely makes the job of Cohn & Wolfe that much easier.) Note that the press site is not that special category of a corporate site where the company lists information for the media (in Nokia’s case, like this). The press site is a total different entity, and it usually publishes the latest corporate news (latest products, mergers, product updates, miscellaneous). The news may come in form of a press release, press communique or other.
The tone is usually cold, corporate, and the site does not engage conversation. Think of this as your own press release distribution outlet. When the media is familiar with this site, other press release distribution outlets become unessential.
Concierge.com, a site for vacation ideas, travel guides and trip planning tools is extending its influence in the news sphere with Condé Nast Traveler on concierge.com – news site indexed by Google News and others. Condé Nast Traveler is a travel magazine published by Condé Nast Publications, which also owns concierge.com, Vogue, style.com, Glamour, Allure, Self, Teen Vogue, GQ, Details, Architectural Digest, Brides, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Brides.com, Lucky, Cookie, Golf Digest, Golf World, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, Bon Appétit, epicurious.com, Wired, Wired.com and The New Yorker.
The point is: a news site is not focused exclusively on a corporation or brand, but relates everything newsworthy in a certain niche. For Concierge.com the purpose of the business is to sell travel guides. The news site Condé Nast Traveler on concierge.com has no other purpose but to enforce the brand, and build a credible image with the customers (they will buy Concierge.com travel guides because the site is a valuable resource, trustworthy and popular).
But understand that this strategy is costly and it’s not fit for every corporation. Travel, fashion, entertainment, are highly profitable niches for news sites. If Tripadvisor, Tipit and others alike would run travel news sites, their customer outreach would increase dramatically. Every day millions of people around the Globe access Google News and Yahoo!News for information on various topics. Old school news sites like Condé Nast Traveler are among the most visited and the most trusted, but there is enough room for newcomers, and the need of real time information is there. So if you have the financial and human resources, and you run a business in any of these popular niches, do consider adding a news site to your corporate site.
Again Nokia. Under the title Nokia Conversations (the official Nokia blog), the company engages its consumers directly. Sure, the blog is focused on everything Nokia, from phones to companies owned, people and their stories, but the tone is a bit different. Despite the apparent corporate-clinical clichés, the blog is addressing the audience directly, with calls to action, encouraging comments, etc. The readers are free to comment, ask questions and even to express negative opinions. The blog also has some interactive elements, featuring podcasts and video. Nokia Conversation is not the only blog run by the company. You can find a full list at Nokia Blogs.
This is the perfect approach for companies that don’t have the resources, or the need to run news sites. Like with press sites, the information is focused on corporate news, but consider these news with a human touch. Blogs are a modern communication and interaction tool, still necessary for providing in depth information.
The purpose of running so many sites, aside the static corporate site, is to promote the brand and to attract customers. When customers access information about and from a company via one of the channels mentioned above, there should always be in place a clear link to the main site, and, to increase sales, a banner (or more) exhibiting a special offer, or simply inviting the users to visit the mother site. Ideally, customers should be able to buy a product or a service within two-three clicks – so don’t make access to the sales page difficult. Make sure the information you present on any of these channels addresses a real need, and you have a sure recipe for success.
In a future article we will be discussing (with examples) how to extend customer outreach with social media.