Approachability is a term not often used in defining social Web engagement, but it should be. Earlier this year we wrote an article spotlighting one of America’s fastest growing PR agencies, Padilla CRT out of Minnesota and New York. At the time, PSB was on the leading edge of branding themselves as new age communicators save one aspect, their Website’s refinement, as a both a social tool and a true communication of their brand. Well, this has changed – a lot.
To boil this idea of “approachable branding” down to its core element, the two way nature of digital communications not only implies that companies be approachable by their constituents, it demands it. For Padilla back in February the vision and jargon were there, but the practice was in its infancy. Perhaps it is better to quote Padilla Speer Beardsley on this aspect of branding than to go on myself describing its simple tenants:
“An approachable brand is human, humble and humorous.”
This is an impactful and revealing slogan, much more so than it may first appear. First of all the term human has deep implications I will not go into here. Secondly, humility is maybe the best indicator of pure excellence (at least in the traditional sense) there is. Finally, humor is an extension of the other two terms, and in a very real way a culmination of humanity meeting humility – in a perfect sense, the ability to laugh at one’s own humanity.
Well, being approachable is about listening more than anything else, and it is obvious Padilla Speer Beardsley is going just that. I do not want to take any credit for their latest revision of their Website, but I did get a super nice note from their Director Technology Practices Tony Morse. The message just thanked us for the feedback earlier and suggested we scrutinize their latest efforts, some of which you will see in the screens provided.
In the image above, the astute reader will take note of the simple message conveyed here. That message is; “Here is what we do, this is who we are – period.” Drilling down (navigating deeper into the site) the potential client will see a case study and various media elements refining the initial message. In short, a no nonsense but friendly symbol of an online brand – in this case using another brand.
The landing version above is a little more deep than it may appear. The same message is conveyed in its simplest and most meaningful way; “Here is what we did for them, we can do it for you – here’s how.” Aside this however, the deeper message is conveyed by a universally acceptable brand, Coppertone. Anyone who does not know who Coppertone is lives in a cave and never sees the sun. So, Padilla has not only shown the visitor a beautiful graphic (which is highly important), they have grabbed a little piece of credibility while letting anyone know digital capability. This is true at least for their online branding of themselves.
So What’s the Big Deal?
We are not delusional enough to believe our critique of Padilla Speer Beardsley reworked their online presence because we said so, but we know they listened. It is actually more likely they knew these elements all along, and maybe accelerated their design because of ours and other feedback. This is the “big deal” for Padilla or any other credible 21st Century communicator – again approachability.
Seeing what is needed and doing it may seem simple enough, but obviously not for some of the most powerful PR and Marketing companies in the world. But, they will eventually catch up to companies like PSB, maybe. Saying humor is part of the communication equation has nothing to do with being goofy, it is all about the actual act of being just what this agency says it is; human, humble, humorous – approachable. Like CEO Lynn Casey pictured (leaning on this text over there on the left), her email affixed to her profile means she is listening.
I have to blow the whistle on them a little bit though. As the reader will note in the last screen, PSB’s methodology and web insertion is not a new method. The most successful online marketing company in the world uses the same conduit and message. MediaWhiz’s site is nearly a carbon copy of PSB’s, at least in branding.
In closing it is important to note that emulation is not only the most sincere form of flattery, it is also the only method by which any company can excel. I believe it was Confucius who said;
If you see someone who is unworthy, examine your own character. If you see someone who is worthy, study how you can emulate them.
Take note digital communicators, people are paying attention. What else does PSB need to be the best PR company engaging the digital world? We will tell you later. For now let’s enjoy a company that really knows where it is going. Better yet, one that knows where to go and how to get there.