Paul Holmes 27 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
With the increase in technology, companies have been utilizing the World Wide Web to attract employees and businesses. It becomes a fighting battle amongst competition — who can produce the better Web site. Metzger Associates recognized this situation. The company developed what might be the first public relations site in 1991. Then in 1997, the company revamped its site, adding more information and graphics.
Between 1997 and 2000, new disciplines were brought into the Internet. These include flash introductions, response forms and link sharing between sites. Metzger Associates wanted to incorporate these technologies into its site, along with a new design. Without this change, the company would not be able to compete with other agencies in its industry.
The result was an easy to use site, giving visitors access to information within two clicks. It also opened the door to new clients and employees.
CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITIES:
There were a few challenges faced by the company during production. The first was time. Necessity gave employees and freelancers under two months to complete the project. The second was receiving permission from different companies to program links between our sites.
With the increase of employees and an East Coast media tour scheduled for October, the company created a tight deadline. The time frame gave developers under two months to rewrite content, create a new site map and develop a new design, not to mention new programming. Normally this would be enough time, however, business in the agencies was picking up. A few of our clients were going on media tours, plus we added six clients to our roster, all within the same time frame.
In addition, the challenge of new technology, like scrolling stock-ticker symbols and flash introductions took some time to resolve and complete, including permission to link to other sites. These included a Business 2.0 article and stock information on marketguide.com for six publicly traded clients. Before speaking with representatives from marketguide.com, Metzger Associates contacted two other financial sites for permission, but were denied access.
RESEARCH, PLANNING AND OBJECTIVE:
The main purpose for this project was to create an interactive Web site that was both useful, creative, withstood time and required minimal updates — this was very important for Metzger Associates to compete with other agencies.
Employees began researching the design and content of other sites in the public relations industry. It was also significant to see the different navigation methods used and how other companies interpreted creativity. After all the ideas were gathered, the company then selected those features or criteria that were most crucial and combined them with new ideas not being used.
Then using published statistics of what constitutes a good site, Metzger Associates’ site map was created. One of the most important values used in its development was time. The company wanted to ensure that visitors could find needed information within two to three “clicks”. If a visitor spent more time than that locating data, more than likely, he would leave the site. Metzger Associates never wanted to lose a visitor from accessibility.
Once the site map was created, content was written, then programmed on the site. Three rounds of edits were completed to verify accuracy of spelling and grammar. And finally, the site was launched in October 2000 as planned, the weekend before a scheduled media tour.
The details and steps used by Metzger Associates were innovative. The company combined statistics, industry norms and its own ideas to create a new Web site. Careful details down to the site map and proofreading of content were also completed. While these steps were taken, it was important, regardless of its outdated appearance, to leave the old site operational on the Internet, while building the new site in a separate location. The old site did offer contact information, a background on the company and recent news releases. We felt it surpassed the function and opinion of a “construction page”, which would notify visitors our site is temporarily down.
In addition, the new design on the site maintained the colors of the company logo. So while the appearance is now edgy, it still holds a classy tone to satisfy clients interested in our investor relations services.
After initial research and planning, Metzger Associates requested the service of a freelance designer and programmer to complete and upload the site. They produced selections from which the company made design decisions, including flash introductions, side bars, navigation tabs, flash headings, etc. Then, the old site was replaced on the Internet.
As previously mentioned, the launch occurred the weekend before a scheduled East Coast media tour. Metzger Associates’ CEO and president met with reporters from O’Dwyers PR Service Reports, Reputation Management, PRWeek and UpsideToday.com. During these meetings, the Web site was discussed, as well as other new services offered by the agency.
In addition, representatives from the company began registering the site on PR directories. These usually allowed Metzger Associates to provide a link to its site, as well as a general description. However, the company is still in the process of registering the Web site among top search engines on the Internet.
Due to the new visitor-response section on the site, Metzger Associates has received approximately 20 resumes and 23 informational inquiries, both from interested job candidates and clients, in the past two months. These are very significant statistics for the company because the old site did not allow for these capabilities. Now Metzger Associates is able to expand its selection for choosing professional employees in the public relations industry.
The company also received many compliments from members of the media, clients and interested employees. Many have labeled the site as the best in the industry. Not only are they impressed with the appearance and use of technology, but love the ease of use it provides to the public.