Most would be surprised that BP these days could be a winner at anything, particularly anything related to PR or its reputation. Nevertheless, this article on Forbes.com puts BP near the very top of the list of companies leading the way in web-based communications. Written by David Bowen who prepares the Financial Times Bowens Cragg Index of corporate web effectiveness, points out that effectiveness in the web arena does not necessarily translate into overall communication effectiveness nor a spotless reputation. But, in this age of growing reliance on digital communications of all sorts, being effective in this area is a vital part of corporate communications management:
If you want evidence that a group’s website is now its most important
communication channel, go back to the spring and summer of
2010 and the Gulf of Mexico. BP made a hash of its reputation on
television, an outlet it could not control. It did well on the web because
it did control that channel and because it understood how to use
it. BP and others at the top of the Index are mature users of online
communications. Large organisations – in business or not – can learn
much from studying them.
I’ll let you do a detailed study of the Bowens Cragg Index to determine the criteria used and how BP could end up looking so good. (full disclosure–BP a client for whom we provided web communication technology and services so you can understand my satisfaction with this). Whether you agree with their conclusions and their criteria or not, this kind of in-depth analysis is incredibly helpful in understanding the landscape of web communication as it exists right now.
One important question Mr. Bowen deals with is the future of websites. With all that is happening in the app world, smartphones, social media, etc., is the corporate website already a Model T? I agree with Mr. Bowen’s assessment:
Corporates websites will not die. Unlike what some have said, they
will become more important in absolute terms. But they will be suns
at the centre of a group of planets with names such as Facebook,
Orkut, YouTube and Twitter, and satellite apps on Android, iPad
and iPhone. These last are not even based on web technology, so our
terminology may have to change.
Indeed, I used to refer to web-based technology or web communications. I find that shifting to the less precise but more inclusive “digital communications.” Whatever we call it, it seems to get more interesting, complicated and challenging every day.