NEW YORK: PR Web sites are not looking good, according to a new assessment of sites from more than 80 industries, including advertising, automotive, gaming, and financial services.
Conducted by the Web Marketing Association (WMA), the Internet Standards Assessment Report benchmarks data from the past decade of the WMA's WebAwards.
Based on data from the past three years, PR Web sites rated below the WebAward average in design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting, and ease of use.
Worse, PR rated much lower than both the ad and marketing industries, which surpassed the average in most categories.
"For most agencies, [Web sites are] just brochure-ware on the Web to let potential clients know the services that they offer," said William Rice, WMA president. "PR is such a relationship type of industry that many firms have not invested in the Web site because they invest in the people."
John Berard, acting CIO of Zeno Group, noted that the findings reflect the classic tension within agencies between self- and client promotion.
"It's that inherent tension of the PR industry that leads to PR agencies sometimes having static, less content-rich, less vibrant Web sites," he added.
Christine Barney, CEO of RBB Public Relations in Miami, said PR executives need to be more hands-on and think of the firm's Web site as a tool not only for attracting new clients, but also prospective employees.
She added that she personally manages RBB's site. "Someone has to be in charge of it at the top of the house," she said.
Rice noted that because PR agencies deal with the media and a variety of different public audiences, developing a Web site that can support those efforts across myriad clients is important.
"PR pros should understand the impact that Web sites have on a company's reputation and really look to make their Web site a valuable part of their overall strategy," he said.