Running your company’s digital presence is like fighting a tug of war.

On one side it is you, hands burning, grip slipping, as you struggle to stay upright and avoid a face-plant in the sand. On the other side, you are pulling against the combined strength of all of your stakeholders, with their competing and contradictory demands.

I’ll focus on four ways the tug of war shows up in our clients’ organizations, then look at some strategies the best in the world have adopted to succeed.

Platform tug of war

The HR department is keen to build a separate new careers site with a different visual identity, photos of fake employees, and convoluted journeys to three different application management systems. 

Content tug of war

The sustainability team wants you to transcribe the PDF report onto the corporate website, along with its legalistic language and unreadable infographics, no questions asked. The investor relations team refuses to budge on your request to stop splitting the quarterly results material across three different sub-sections or to add their LinkedIn details and photos to their contact details.

Users get lost

The digital presence is so convoluted, it is telling visitors to “get lost”, literally. You may have some vague data hinting that people don’t know where to go on the site. You know the menus don’t always make sense and the information architecture needs a serious overhaul. On top of this, the lawyers are warning you that the company will be sued if you don’t get the website into compliance with the new accessibility standards.

Bosses tossing grenades

Maybe you have even just started to get things joined up, when the leadership team announces a net zero pledge that is more style than substance, and (if you are honest) pretty unconvincing, but still needs to “go up on the website” as soon as possible. The next month it’s the same drill but this time with the new corporate purpose or a glossy new corporate video.

What the best do

If the company’s digital presence is going to work at its best for the company and its audiences you must take control and get everyone pulling in the same direction. That is your job, and it can be a lonely one.

I want to give you some inspiration though by looking at three strategies the companies with the best corporate digital communications adopt to deal these issues.

The best win support from the bosses

This is in the “easy to say, harder to do” bucket, but indispensable. Honestly, looking at the companies at the top of the Bowen Craggs Index, most of them got this support years ago, but don’t despair. Look for the spark to light the fire. Just the fact that you are reading this means that your organization has seen a problem that needs fixing. Bosses want their organizations to be high performers by every measure. Sometimes they need to see the bad news to get their competitive juices flowing. Show the detail on how the digital presence is under-performing, and prove your expertise with a roadmap to turn it around. Maybe start with tightening up digital comms on an issue close to the board’s heart – net zero and diversity and inclusion are the obvious ones of the moment. 

On the plus side, once you get the high-level support and your bosses “get” corporate digital, it rarely goes away.

Pick one great chart to avoid the data rabbit hole

The problem with so-called key performance indicators is that they aren’t really key. The best love delving into visitor data (as we do at Bowen Craggs!). They would never think about taking their colleagues down the rabbit hole with them. Try the discipline of just one chart. We have one that shows how a visit to the corporate web presence improves brand perception even for those who arrive with an unfavourable opinion (yes, your “haters”). This is the aha moment for many of our clients, their colleagues and bosses.

Shoulders to cry on 

The business world is finally waking up to the importance of mental health and support networks, and it’s long overdue. See above about the loneliness of corporate digital. Hopefully you can find like minds inside your organization, but corporate digital peers are usually found outside. The best find people who give them space to think and shoulders to cry on.

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Our Bowen Craggs Club membership has enabled us to benchmark all aspects of our digital presence against global all-sector best practice, share lessons and ideas with peers, and get both quick-win and longer term recommendations for improvement. Bowen Craggs is also providing us with valuable advice on our approach to online communications following the acquisition of G4S by Allied Universal.”
 

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