Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Should a business have a website?

It's hard to believe that question was seriously debated by companies not that long ago (OK, in the '90s). There was this newfangled worldwide web thingy and many organizations were just not convinced it was going to last.

I actually worked at a PR agency at the time where the senior partners felt it was too forward for a communications firm to have a website; they didn't want to give away 'proprietary' information like the fact we did media and investor relations.

No kidding!

I even wrote a site for the agency (on my dime) and bartered my hours by doing pro bono work for a design firm who brought it to life. And even when I showed the principals the finished product, it was still shot down (post Y2K, no less). Bitter? Not anymore. But I don't mind saying the lack of a website put us out of the running for a number of great accounts.

So why do I bring this up? Well, my very good friend, Gini Dietrich, wrote a post yesterday where she convincingly disputes a Newsweek story that contends there's no value in social network if you're a CEO.

And it took me back to the fearful, wrong-headed, backward-thinking, anti-internet agency I once worked at - and (thankfully) left.

Granted, change is difficult for many individuals and organizations. But ignoring an emerging trend is worse. Especially when that new technology can help you build and strengthen relationships.

Yes, it's important to be strategic, think critically, make smart choices, not fall for all the pretty, shiny things. But wouldn't we, as business leaders, want to embrace meaningful ways of engaging with our customers and actually having an honest and open dialogue with them?

I think CEOs are missing out on many potential opportunities if they're not listening, understanding and participating in social communities of relevance to their businesses and them.

Who knows what we might learn?

3 comments:

susan hart said...

As one who went kicking and screaming into cyberspace, I'm not one of its biggest fans. If you take the time to learn the basics of social media, you can use the tools to your professional advantage, whether that's a business or a cause. Remember the days before e-mail? Goes to show that the tools may change, but the platforms won't. Good post!

susan hart said...

Oops - that's NOW one of its biggest fans!

Gini Dietrich said...

Well, you obviously already know I agree with you. This is the age of transparency and authenticity and it irritates the snot out of me to hear "I don't have time for this", "My customer isn't online", "This is for my kids."

TOTAL BALONEY!

It's time to get on the bandwagon. This is NOT a trend.