Firms still misnavigating the Internet, study reveals

KNOXVILLE, TN: PR firms have mixed feelings about their Web sites, a recent survey of 1,000 independent US and Canadian agencies has revealed.

KNOXVILLE, TN: PR firms have mixed feelings about their Web sites, a recent survey of 1,000 independent US and Canadian agencies has revealed.

KNOXVILLE, TN: PR firms have mixed feelings about their Web sites,

a recent survey of 1,000 independent US and Canadian agencies has

revealed.



But even the biggest technophobes seem pleased with the way e-mail has

revolutionized client and media communications.



Fewer than a third (29%) of respondents said they were ’very satisfied’

with their sites, while 64% reported being ’somewhat satisfied’ and 7%

were ’not at all satisfied.’ Eighty-four percent of respondents added

that e-mail has improved the ’quality’ of client communications, and 71%

said it has improved their communications with the media.



The survey was jointly conducted by Ackerman Public Relations and

Marketing and Al Croft, a Sedona, AZ-based management consultant.

According to Croft, the 1,000-strong response indicates an intense

interest in what PR agencies are doing on the Web.



Among those who reported being generally optimistic about the impact of

e-mail on client communications was Englewood, CO-based pro Pete

Webb.



’(E-mail) allows us to be even more accurate and precise,’ he

explained.



’DSL and computer upgrades have changed the way we do business.’



But Croft believes that one reason many pros are dissatisfied with their

Web sites is the difficulty in locating them. Croft randomly selected 12

agency names, including many of the industry’s biggest. Using Yahoo! and

AltaVista search engines, he was surprised to find that he couldn’t find

six of the 12 online.



’No wonder most agencies said they were only ’somewhat satisfied’ with

the results they’ve been getting from their sites,’ he quipped.



Croft added a caveat, however: ’One of the most interesting and

contradictory things about the survey is the large number of principals

who are positive about the current and future impact of the Internet on

their agencies, but who are not really satisfied with their own Web

presence.’



Added Ackerman president Cathy Ackerman, ’PR firms seem to be scrambling

to figure (the Internet) out and stay ahead, almost in spite of the

Internet.



There (is) a fair amount of nervousness relative to ... being able to

outsmart the competition and create a unique selling proposition on the

Web. I’m amazed at how many firms are still not focusing on the value of

having a really good site.’



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