Today we ran across any number of PR companies online that appear to be having identity problems. Some cannot decide which super hero they want to be; Ad Man, EMarketeer or Captain PR. In review of several sites, we discovered that the smaller PR companies face some of the same challenges of their bigger brothers with regard to building a reputation online. To be fair, not everyone has the time and money to build a killer Website, and their is no excuse for the larger firms, but even a minimal presence is mandatory to at least be taken seriously.
Here are some examples of how NOT to brand yourself with a Website, and some helpful tips as well.
One thing about trying to make things happen, even if you want to simply “claim” to know what you are talking about, is that some tidbit of evidence is going to be necessary. You don’t have to have $10,000 to build a decent digital representation of who you are online, but some people think they can just throw up a banner and the world will flock to their door. The interesting thing in discovering some of these agencies, is that they actually have a list of clients. As for their Web presence, most should have just done a blog on WP.
Nectar Communications – This may be the worst example of a Website for a PR company we have ever seen. It not only conveys a lack of attention to detail, but a virtual certainty that the company behind the portal is clueless. Like their bigger counterparts, this company claims to know something about social media and media relations, when anyone dropping by this site will instantly have a “huh?” reaction. There is nothing there! Three pages and some links does not an icon of industry make. Nectar claims to be a full service PR company, but beyond a list of “we can” text in bulleted form, not even a clue as to who these people are exists; no founder, no worker bees, no client profiles, not even a physical address.
Identity Marketing and Public Relations – This company, and it’s website are a perfect example of how superb talent and great ideas can be conveyed improperly. Any company named “Identity” should show no signs of having an identity crisis right? This website is nearly the perfect conveyance of positive and effective talent, which the casual viewer might find compelling. This is where Identity began to put their worst foot forward, so to speak.
Advertising, in our opinion, is a complimentary, yet someone distinct, component of an overall marketing strategy. While Identity places greatest value and emphasis in a company’s ability to position itself through earned media—media relations, marketing, speaking, SEO, etc.—we do not dismiss the value and effectiveness of a well-executed advertising campaign.
The company’s compliment of talented designers shows through brilliantly on the simple and eclectic site, but too much attention has been paid to ancillary tasks of the PR or even marketing professions. Interjecting direct mail marketing, and especially straight out advertising throws mud on any idea these people know what PR should be. Are you an ad agency or a PR firm, come on, which is it? A personalized approach is adequately conveyed by the casual demeanor of the company’s officer, but it is actually too casual an approach. Even the direct mail graphics displayed (quite nicely I might add), says volumes about an almost child like approach. Cuteness has its place of course, but Mickey Mouse has never been considered a “power” figure has he. The balance is simply off, way off. This site is actually much better in design than many of the huge firm’s examples, but for the message, it appears Identity needs consulting.
Maxim PR and Marketing – The term maxim means to convey the greatest weight or authority, and in this case meaning (I think) Maxim PR as a greatest truth. The identity crisis arises in this case also, in that Maxim conveys experience and an online presence, but no real sense of who they are. No blog, not white papers, no media, and especially nothing about how they intend to turn salesmanship into PR. Maxim is not a small firm by any definition, so I expect they have even less of an excuse than some of the other examples.
People, labeling a company is the easiest and most difficult thing in the world. Just putting the words public relations in front of anything, does not mean this is your area of expertise. In this case, Maxim PR and Butchery would have sufficed better to convey the company’s interest and experience in the digital age. Terms like Buzz and “Pitch” are so prevalently used, it is easy to tell the ad men from the reputation builders of the world.
Stop Pitching And Start Hitting
it is not our job, nor is it our intent to overly criticize other firms. This in itself, done for the wrong reasons, is bad PR. We do it for all the right reasons; to offer suggestion, to inform both companies and individuals, to learn through our investigations, and sometimes to add a little humor where a tear might be more appropriate. We started our firm in much the same way the others did. We made mistakes, we still make mistakes, and sometimes we had our own miniature identity crices. We always knew who were were and what we wanted to accomplish though.
The firms above have some fantastic talent, professional skills and potential – the problem is they do not know how to convey this. If we cannot tell our own stories, if we want to be ad agents, if marketing has anything to do with our focus (aside knowing who to recommend), how can we be the public relations people for anyone? It is just bad business to claim things that cannot be true, or to try and offer services that may be mutually exclusive of one another.
Sales has nothing to do with PR and marketing not much more – Superman is hopefully not Wonder Woman, companies cannot have it both ways. Online PR is knowing social media, engaging traditional media when necessary, and being “in” the conversation. Not many firms understand what this means, and they should call someone who does, or stay offline all together. Stop pitching the online world and step up to the plate – otherwise, stay in the bleachers – the bull pen is full of relief.