I was scanning some press releases and other news in PR when I ran across one of the best digital communicators out there, Horn Group, with their latest news dangling from the BusinessWire clothesline via a clothes pin (media outlet) not really fit for news from one of the world’s best digital PR firms. A strange occurrence, which led me to regurgitate the client news at least enthusiastically for BusinessWire and Horn Group.
Though YourStory managed to syndicate the text “almost exactly” as it was hung out to dry by BusinessWire (who cares about duplicate content and SEO anyway), close enough is as usual – not good enough. Here is the proper way to chew the virtual cud of release news.
Horn Group, one of the top digital communications companies in the US, has added four new clients to their online retail clientèle.
In PR news today out of San Francisco, Horn Group, Inc., announced the addition of four new clients to their online retail aspect. These new clients; Ebates, Cardstore, SquareTrade and WhiteFence may signal a shifting in consumer confidence toward online spending. Horn Group, which we have profiled before, is one of the top digital communicators in the US. One focus of Horn Group’s involvement is reportedly design and multi-media intergration, which from what we have seen, they are uniquely capable of.
Sabrina Horn, the brains behind Horn Group’s success has this to say about the news:
“eCommerce is one of those segments that has survived the recession and appears to be gaining momentum.”
Horn Group has expanded their team in San Francisco to better serve the eCommerce niche, as well as these new clients. We do not have the specifics on exact manpower additions, but from the profiling of these companies it appears the multi-media and design aspects at Horn Group may have grown of necessity. Below is a short description of the companies now working with Horn Group along with their probable areas of expansion or refinement.
- Cardstore.com – This is a greeting card site with some really nice offerings. However, the business has been hanging around for some time with very limited traffic numbers, and an out dated design. While CardStore appears to have engaged social media to an extent, 2000 followers on Twitter does not an eCommerce giant make. No doubt Horn Group will magnify this presence and upgrade the mundane eCommerce site.
- Ebates – Is just what the name implies, a site which gives rebates on e-purchases. The company is actually very successful and their traffic rank indicates nearly a million and a half unique visitors a month. Given the narrow focus of the site, one would think many of those visits convert. However, no one ever told the developers about opportunity costs lost to a crappy landing page. There is no doubt for me but that Ebates is about to go through cosmetic surgery and some digital media training. It looks like their last PR effort knew everyone at Newsweek and no one on Facebook.
- SquareTrade – This is a cool company which is the largest independent warranty provider around. Though their site is fairly crisp and clean, it lacks a real 21st Century approach to landings which engage. SquareTrade has no apparent communicative media aspects, nor any social media engagement evident. It is likely media outlets will soon be getting news of a revamped site and/or Facebook and iPhone apps. Something along those lines any way. This company should be much better tied in than it is currently. They have the right elements, just presented roughly and incongruously.
- WhiteFence – This is a deal portal something like PriceGrabber, only not as predominant yet. In fact the site aesthetics are not far removed from PGer’s either. However, one thing WhiteFence has already begun is their social media presence, a potential advantage of PriceGrabber does not follow suit. Of course WhiteFence’s 475 followers on Twitter won’t bring their competitor down. Horn Group will likely campaign to further engage for them, as well as some integrated media and possibly media outreach? A nice site, with a wide base of features.
These are reputable online businesses all, with some issues obviously. But, who does not have issues? The remedies for most of these are well within the sphere of what Sabrina Horn’s people can tackle. I expect much of what I have suggested is not news to either Horn Group or the particular companies. I do pity the former PR or consulting people once things get set straight for them all. There are no guarantees online, but if companies would do their research, listen to their consultants, and make the obvious choices, many more would succeed than do currently.
According to some research via this news, Forrester Research has already predicted 8 percent growth for online retail sales before Christmas. Close to 94 percent of 4,000 online consumers surveyed had made purchases online. A far cry from the research back when no one trusted online payment. It seems apparent that online deals like those on some of these sites, are more recession proof than many local and traditional ones.
The rub for real world stores has always been visibility, and the same holds true in the digital world. I know someone at Horn Group, maybe one of the new people, will gasp when they see this article. Their CEO knows the value of transparency though. It is a no brainer that companies who need digital expertise like Horn Groups aren’t paying for Sabrina’s pretty logo on their websites. A press release is not supposed to be regurgitated like some cookie cutter BS. Today’s consumers and businesses see through that sort of thing instantly. The good news here is that they companies got the right people to help. The greatest products and services in the world are not worth two cents without the right packaging and visibility.
Horn Group was founded in 1991 by Sabrina Horn. Her firm has been recognized as the best mid-sized agency and one of the best places to work for several years now. Their award winning video production and design capabilities make the company a “go to” resource for eCommerce businesses obviously. The only question I have is; “Why didn’t someone send me this press release in the first place? We make a decent clothes pin.”