Waggener Edstrom: Being Second Means Trying Harder
Evaluating high dollar PR agencies is, well, it is fun. No matter what field you are in, there is a standard set and one to be reached. I ventured into the Edelman camp a few days ago and found a marvelous icon of communications might, with only a slight oxidation on its chain mail armor. Today, as I promised, I went down the list of the most successful agencies in the world to number two Waggener Edstrom. Interestingly, though these giants of media bear some resemblance, there are striking differences as well.
Waggener is led by CEO and President Melissa Waggener Zorkin. Since 1983 her vision has been on a skyrocket from a two person operation to a house hold name in the industry. According to O’Dwyer’s, the firm took in over $100 million in fees in 2007. One interesting note for me is the fact that the company was chosen the best agency to work for in 2006, an affirmation for a large entity in my book. However, like Edelman and virtually all the big firms, Waggener is not perfect at everything.
Doing The Digital Thing
Our focus is, as it should be, on the Internet primarily. It is our area of expertise, it is what we do. We are not perfect, but we know what perfect looks like. Waggener has a wonderful digital footprint in their site. Aesthetically, it is superb in my mind. However, much like Edelman, but in some different was, it is flawed. This is not the worst thing in the world, but for a company that represents Microsoft, and professes to be cutting edge, it does send the wrong message.
Where Edelman’s site was replete with massive amounts of information, it was none the less outdated and not indicative of a leader. Waggener’s though better in the aesthetic and practiced Web trendiness, lacks content and an engagement that even Edelman had at one time. The blog has no comments, and it as not been optimized to meet the criteria of completeness as far as a corporate blog should. Simply put, it speaks to no one just like Edelman’s did. This conveys a façade where actual community should exist.
Waggener is technically superior to many others in their display of “Twitter” connectedness, but in fact the mouseovers and connects to various Twitter and Facebook accounts for Waggener do not even work in FF. As I said, anyone who “does the Web thing” would instantly either recognize the façade or simply write Waggener off as “trying” to play the game. The second most powerful PR agency in the world cannot do better than Alexa half a million on their site’s blog, and their links to social networking do not work? Huh?
Everything critical I have to say about this great agency’s website and online image can be summed up by examining this statement from their editing manager of WE Studio D:
As a strategic communications agency, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide values innovative storytelling enough to staff WE Studio D with a team of copy editors like me. Besides a steady stream of traditional press materials, we review many other types of agency and client documents, including Web sites, interactive graphics, digital press releases, speeches and, yes, even blogs.
I wonder in their review of this blog, if they noticed no one was there? The Studio D aspect of the site is superb. It is simple, elegant and very refined. But, it is fairly obvious that it has been taken for granted almost as much as that of Edelman’s digital showcases. The picture we are trying to drive home here is not one of ov er criticism, but that these people are the best. It is their duty to act on what they profess even at cost. So, there we have the second in the series