Even public relations web sites must be user-centered in design and content. Narcissistic, arrogant PR sites are counter-productive in the digital age of transparency, fault-admission, and altruism via shared information. Find out why Martha Talks is a web site failure from a usability and ethics point of view.
This research examines credibility in the discourse offered on the corporate Web sites of 60 British, Danish, and Norwegian public relations (PR) agencies. This study’s purpose was to see whether the North European PR industry moves in the direction of convergence or divergence in their corporate self-presentations. The authors have done this by unfolding the rhetoric and language of PR agencies Web sites. In this process, this study tried to determine whether the rhetorical strategies they use to achieve credibility show signs across the industry of becoming more focused on the responsibilities, enthusiasm, and caring nature of corporations and less directed at communicating expertise. Thus, the study expected to show whether PR agencies seek to build credibility by way of much the same rhetorical strategies and language, or whether they pursue different strategies in trying to build unique images. In analyzing the data, it is found that PR agencies across the three countries assign similar relative importance to expertise, trustworthiness, and empathy, and interestingly also that they strongly prioritize explaining their expertise at the expense of expressing their empathy for clients. To begin to understand this reluctance toward incorporating empathy in discourse, the authors investigate the linguistic representation of this one central dimension to explain its complexity and to point to the potential of an untapped resource for strategically managing self-presentation in business communication.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been developing an online list of major trends that are transforming public relations, with links to sites, articles and quotes that in one way or another prove the point and that I know I’ll someday want to get back to. It’s something like my own personal tagging system, maintained in a wiki.