Corporate Eye

This Is Not the Post I Meant to Write

I started out to write about the role of print media in employer branding.  Then I followed a link to the website of an industry group.  Let’s just say the association has something to do with publishing/communications.

There is no content on their home page.

Let me repeat.  No content.

There are links.  There is a (rapidly) revolving banner.  There is a navigation bar.  There are icons.  There are images.

But there is no information at all about the organization or its purpose.  In fact, there is not a single complete sentence.

My reasons for devoting a post to this?  As follows:

  • This may be an emerging trend that I just haven’t noticed before.  Maybe a new approach designed to make the visitor curious.  If so, it seems like a terrible idea.
  • This may be an example of no one watching out for the visitor experience.  If so, it’s a cautionary tale.
  • This may be an example of companies participating in an association but not bothering to check up on how they are being represented.  If so, it’s another cautionary tale.
  • This may be an example of web developers driving a website—focusing on gimmicks without understanding the fundamental responsibilities of the site.  And that’s one of the most common hazards in online corporate communications, whether development is inhouse or outsourced.

The takeaways for those in charge of corporate sites (careers and otherwise) are fairly obvious.  Pay attention, take or assign responsibility, remember the visitor.

But I have to add one more painful point.  I went through several pages of the site referred to here, and every one of them contained serious errors in grammar and syntax.  Not nit-picky stuff, really obvious mistakes.

A reminder:  This site belongs to an organization that represents companies in the communications/publishing industry.  Plus:  The organization is located in an English-speaking country, has been around for more than ten years, and claims to represent dozens of companies.

So I really wanted to track down the apparent gap.  I followed the “site designed by” footer link and made my way to the portfolio of the web design company.  I won’t overcomplicate this story, but I will say that more than a third of the sites shown in their portfolio had the very same sort of language errors.

I’m not sure what to make of all this, except to say . . . it’s easy to lose track of quality in online communications.  Tech wizards think they can write and nobody stops them.  Approvers look at the site but don’t read the words.  And tight budgets prioritize fast and flashy development over well-written content.

In some quarters (discount merchandise, extremist propaganda, etc.), marginal website quality might not make much of a difference.  But in professional associations and employer branding—there’s just no getting away with badness.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
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