PR agency needs a time travelling Tardis for its “latest news”

Italy lifted the 2006 World Cup

Latest News?

How old is too old?

What would you think of a business which hadn’t updated the news section of its website for four days? Four weeks? How about four months?

What if that business operated in the media? If its success and those of its clients was dependent on being bang up to date and totally immersed in the news agenda and other fast-moving media, such as social networks?

Might you then have higher expectations for that company to demonstrate relevance, to understand immediacy and to showcase topicality?

Surely the ability to make simple, regular web updates should be a basic competency for communicators in 2010?

Apparently not. Today I visited a Scottish PR website where the Home Page included an invitation to “download our latest newsletter” – unfortunately the “news” was four years old. No, that’s not a misprint. It dated from winter 2006. No, really.

This wasn’t just a bit gamey. Hell, it had even progressed beyond the whiffy stage. Nope, this “newsletter” was actually mummified.

A quick recap on 2006: Tony Blair was still in Downing Street, the World Cup took place in Germany and was won by the Italians and Aussie crocodile hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray. All events that seem a lifetime ago.

It’s not just the news agenda that has moved on dramatically in the intervening four years. The online world is almost unrecognisable thanks to the rise of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the relentless demand for fresh, updating content.

Now content is king, search engine ranking is crucial and communicators have to clearly demonstrate an understanding of how the internet works.  An outdated newsletter would have looked bad in 2006. In 2010? Words fail me.

If you are an existing client of a PR company you might want to take a closer look at the website of your provider. Likewise if you are thinking of hiring a public relations agency in Scotland, be sure to think carefully what a PR company’s website says about it.

A large part of a PR agency’s work is to share its clients’ stories with the widest possible audience. If an agency doesn’t use its own website as an additional channel to showcase client successes, photos and video, you may want to ask why .

A failure to do so raises questions about how well an agency understands the internet and the absolute essentials of building value search engine value through links, traffic, content and relevancy.

Put simply, I’d avoid engaging with a company which has a static “brochure website” with no updates at all. Indeed I’d think twice about hiring a firm which hadn’t updated its website in the past week. I put my money where my mouth is – at Holyrood PR we update daily, including client  image galleries and video.

As for any PR firm which hadn’t updated its website newsletter in four years … well I’d assume they’d gone out of business.

In this case the agency (which I won’t be naming) is still operating. But without a radical update, I’d be amazed if they were still around four years from now.

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