Cisco launches new comms site

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco has launched a new site that mixes press releases and corporate communications with original editorial content about technology.

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco has launched a new site that mixes press releases and corporate communications with original editorial content about technology in an effort to further engage customers and shape conversation around topics important to the company.

The site, named “The Network” based on votes by the company's 187,000 Facebook followers, will focus on topics chosen and curated by Cisco staff, but readers can also filter the news that they want to view. Crucial to the website's philosophy is triggering discussion around its content, according to John Earnhardt, director of social media communications at Cisco.

“The name has a double meaning. We want to make the site a network where people interact, and Cisco is the network,” Earnhardt said. “Ultimately our goal is to show how important that network is.”

To promote the initiative, Cisco plans to contribute content to other websites frequented by its target audience, as well as using brand advertising, but will focus its efforts on social media, Earnhardt said. Links to the company's social media sites are built into every section, giving readers the opportunity to share articles or start conversations through Facebook and Twitter.

“Social media is core to what we're trying to achieve,” Earnhardt said. “We want everybody engaged — customers, investors, media, analysts — anyone who can say, ‘This is interesting to me. I want to share this.'”

Technology journalists will create original content for each of the site's six topic centers — Data Center, Core Networks, Video, Collaboration, Cisco Culture, and Social Media — most of which will not focus on Cisco, Earnhardt said. Cisco press releases and company news will also be woven into the site, but the article types are distinguished by different icons; a megaphone represents a press release, for example.

Readers can tailor the site to their preferences by choosing to view articles by type, topic, location, or industry. They can also choose to read only the most popular stories, as each article displays the number of views and shares.

The idea for the new site was born when Earnhardt came on board with the company more than a year ago, he explained. Cisco began revamping its communication efforts last year by adding Twitter and Facebook features to its old corporate site and recruiting freelancers to write original content. With the creation of The Network, Cisco hopes the site's open environment will lead to discussions about the company's other initiatives and products.

“It's just another touch point for customers. We want to be transparent and accessible,” Earnhardt said. “Hopefully our audience will see that Cisco is innovative and want to take a look at what else we're doing.”

The next steps for the site will be to develop a mobile strategy and expand coverage into other regions beyond the company's headquarters in San Jose, California, Earnhardt added.

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