It's time for comms teams to take control of the web

Just as cobbler's children go the worst shod (sorry Erica), corporate web sites are often at the bottom of the list of priorities for marketing departments of major corporations.

Just as cobbler's children go the worst shod (sorry Erica), corporate web sites are often at the bottom of the list of priorities for marketing departments of major corporations.

How else can you explain the fact that Apple, a company bang in touch with the zeitgeist of modern communications, scores so badly on a new survey of corporate web sites by FT Bowen Craggs?

Apple does fine when it is reaching out to its customers, but falls down badly when it tries to address other key stakeholders and the media. So do Microsoft and Google.

Apple was among the worst in the US for media relations, general contact information and investor relations.

So what, the Silicon Valley firms would no doubt say – if they reached out to journalists, that is. Our customers are our main priority and we pour all our efforts into catering for them, they would note.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. Customers and consumers are of course vitally important. But, actually, all of a company's stakeholders are important if firms are to present an integrated and consistent image to the outside world.

Report author David Bowen's contention is that the solution is to allocate responsibility for company websites to the corporate communications department rather than marketing people.

He points out that US firms in particular tend to concentrate more efforts on social media than pure web, which is unwise because the latter is the only environment where companies have a direct channel of communication to their customers without external intervention. Of course social media is important. But it isn't the be-all and end-all.

Lots of fmcg and manufacturing firms have been busy on the web development front recently, and are proudly shouting from the rooftops about their brand spanking new CSR web sites. Often these have, in fact, been put together by the companies' comms teams. But I do wonder if they shouldn't be better integrated with overall web strategy, rather than stand-alone sites that sit in isolation. Look at MillerCoors for example. It has a CSR web site at www.greatbeergreatresponsibility.com, and a separate brand web site at www.millercoors.com.

It smacks of CSR being an add-on to a company's business strategy, rather than the integrated, CEO-led approach that it should exhibit.

Perhaps it's internal politics and this is another reason why communications teams should take over the whole show and wrest the online mantle from marketing departments.

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