Division C: Audio / Visual Tools of Public Relations
Category 9: Web site
Get Pushing – the Website

RESEARCH / SITUATION ANALYSIS: Pushing the Envelope (PTE) is a mixed marketing communications firm offering public relations services. In business for 2.5 years, the firm owned a domain name, but did not have a Website. The target audience for the Web site was current clients and potential clients, specifically small to medium business owners or marketing directors in need of marketing communications services in Southwest Florida and beyond. Formal research indicates the Internet is recognized as the primary research tool for Americans and people worldwide for products and services. It was recognized that to efficiently promote PTE to potential clients, a Web presence utilizing a company Web site, was necessary. Informal interviews of current clients via phone calls and emails were conducted to determine that sites with easy maneuverability and legibility with little or no Flash was preferred. They also indicated that providing added value through continually updated tips and information would draw them back. In early 2009, PTE researched local Web design firms in Southwest Florida via Internet research and word-of-mouth recommendations from colleagues. Staffers met with Charly Caldwell II of Internet Services Group of Florida (ISGFL) and agreed upon using them as the site designers in April 2009. PTE collaborated with ISGFL for the design and launch. The Web site was to be used as an ever-changing advertisement, proof of skill and continued value-added offering for our clients. Its existence is solely to promote the PTE brand and garner new clients through service listings, experience portfolio and evidence of skill while keeping client and potential client informed through regular updates.

OBJECTIVES: 1) Create a Web site by the third quarter that was consistent with the PTE brand and expressed the firm’s skills and the broad variety of services offered 2) Incorporate 3 primary social media accounts for consistent communication with existing and potential clients and generate over 100 Facebook fans, 500 Twitter followers and 200 Linkedin connections in the first 12 months 3) Develop a blog and connect it to the site, maintaining at least 20 visits per month and reaching a page rank of 2 within 12 months 4) Ensure the site stays current and always contains timely company information by conducting monthly updates. 5) Fully optimize search engine by being in the top 2 pages for “public relations Bonita Springs” and having a page rank of at least 2 within 12 months. 6) Secure at least 5 eBook downloads and 5 Contact Us form completions with 12 months.

IMPLEMENTATION: Work officially commenced on the Web site in July 2009. PTE met with ISGFL to determine the basic format of the site. They would work on design and functionality while PTE worked on content. PTE compiled current and past client and colleague recommendations and drafted all the copy for each page, keeping in mind ISGFL’s keywording recommendations for optimal search engine optimization (SEO). A news section including recent news releases and newsletters was compiled and is updated monthly. A portfolio page was also created, showcasing a variety of work from video coverage of a press conference to national news coverage for clients and graphic design work. A complete list of services is included as well as a comprehensive “About Us” corporate page which includes the PTE mission, core values and client testimonials. Once content and design was completed, the site was tested with a small group of people not working in the PR field, for functionality, ease of navigation and visual appeal. Additionally, a select few colleagues and long-time clients were asked to critique the site before roll-out and minor last-minute changes were made based on feedback. Once the site went live on September 1st, a news release was drafted and distributed to local media with a link to the page. All subsequent news releases distributed included a link to the Web site. Realizing the power of social media and the Web, PTE simultaneously launched a social media campaign, directly leading traffic to the new site. PTE created Facebook and LinkedIn pages and Twitter accounts, with 216 fans, 264 connections and 1,002 followers respectively (as of May 18, 2010). Links to each account with status boxes are prominently displayed on the homepage for easy visitor access. Added value is key to clients, so PTE developed a blog, which is updated weekly or more, containing industry and company news and tips. It’s connected to the Web site, showing recent posts and links to the page on the home screen. To attract further traffic and offer more added value, eBooks containing PR and marketing tips are created and posted monthly to the site. Each new posting is announced via company newsletter and social media updates. New guests receive the eBook in exchange for their email address that is automatically added to our newsletter database with a personal thank you email sent within 2 business days. Additionally, a Yelp business page with “coupon” blurb about the eBooks and a link to the site was created, assisting with in-bound link value and traffic. PTE also successfully submitted 2 articles for Twitip, a heavily trafficked Web site about best practices for Twitter, adding to the Twitter following and sending new traffic to the site, as shown in the weekly analytics. Frequent posting of new information and accurate keyword usage to achieve higher page rank has become routine business.

EVALUATION: All objectives were met or exceeded! 1) The Web site went live September 1 and uses PTE’s signature PMS colors, font and includes a design style reflecting the firm’s other promotional styles all while including detailed information about the firm, its offerings and core values. 2) Icon buttons activated as links to profiles were included for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well a link to the blog garnering 216 fans, 1,002 followers and 264 connections. 3) A blog was created and linked to the site. The homepage depicts a sidebar including the most recent blog post titles and first sentences. It receives an average of 69 visits monthly and has a page rank value of 9, higher than all competitor sites. 4) The site is regularly updated through connections to all the social media accounts and the blog. Additionally, it’s updated monthly with the newest newsletter and intermittently with current news releases or other material. 5) PTE is the number 1 listing for “public relations Bonita Springs” and reached a page ranking of 2 in only 6 months, ranking above all, but 2 local competitors both of which have been in business 12-19 years longer than PTE. 6) Both goals were met as PTE received 8 completions of the Contact Us form and various available eBooks were downloaded 24 times to date.

BUDGET: A budget of $3,000 was set for site development and $100 or less per month for hosting. The actual site development cost was $2,500 and monthly hosting costs $85, both coming in under budget. Approximately 10 hours were spent drafting and coordinating with ISGFL staff. An additional 5 hours were spent setting up the social media accounts and approximately 1 hour per day is currently spent maintaining them. As this is the firm’s site, there was no charge for the time.