2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Web Site

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for Web site.



Being a top design consultant for the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries, watg needed a Web site that reflected its brand; its current site was text-heavy and in dire need of a redesign. The team knew the most important elements of the soon-to-be made-over site would be stunning visuals, rich content, easy navigation and the ability for non-tech-savvy staffers to update the site regularly.

"We hadn't redesigned our web site in seven years, so we essentially had to start from scratch," says Robin Clewley, WATG'sPR manager. "WATG is a global design firm, so it meant soliciting information from all of our staff in offices all around the world."

From Concept to Execution

To conceptualize the revised web site, WATG executives conducted research on existing perceptions of the organization among its stakeholders. After surveying 250 people though a Web-based questionnaire, WATG asked branding consultant incite partners to perform one-on-one telephone interviews with an additional 20 clients, prospective clients and consultants.

In addition to these research elements, the team scoured hundreds of Web sites from related industries, and then hired the design firm electroglyph to help achieve its creative online vision.

The first step the team took was to incorporate a custom content management system that would allow the watg staff to update the content on a regular basis. Other distinguishing features included:

·         Large displays showcasing diverse design styles;

·         Use of rich media, including slide shows, videos and podcasts;

·         Ready-made story ideas for the media, in addition to press releases and articles; and,

·         The WATG blog: posts of ideas, photographs, opinions and experiences of staff members for others to read and comment on.

The new Web site generated significant roi for WATG. Not only did it account for a fivefold increase in qualified leads from prospective clients but, seven months following its launch, there was a 40% increase in page visits per month. Also, thanks to positive word of mouth and increased linkage to the site, 74% of users are new visitors.

Lessons Learned

"While it was smart to use an outside branding agency to help with the new web site concept," says Clewley, "we should have appointed an internal web site project manager solely dedicated to managing the web content distribution in the months/weeks leading up to the launch."