BC Tip: ITV - Not loving islands of information

British broadcaster ITV fails to make the most of a significant new strategy

ITV plc corporate home page

ITV plc corporate home page

The Feature

UK-based broadcasting and production company ITV plc announced a major new strategy in June.

As of early August, the corporate site home page http://www.itvplc.com/ has a rotating carousel promoting the 2018 Interim Results, the 2017 Annual Results, and information on ‘What we do’.

The new strategy is mentioned, but in an area under the carousel and below the ‘fold’ on many devices. Along with an overview, there are links to find out more by downloading the 2018 Interim Results presentation or the Interim Report.

The home page strategy area also offers link buttons relating to ‘Broadcast & Online’ and ‘ITV Studios’, but – as with the presentation and report links -  these open PDFs without warning although at least they do appear in new browser windows.

The home page does not link to the new strategy page, housed at About ITV > Our Strategy.

The Takeaway

At a time when ITV has a higher public profile than usual – thanks in large part to the popularity of its Love Island programme in the UK  - the corporate site misses an opportunity to sell its new strategy, and how the company will capitalise on its current success.

The site still feels as if it is in ‘news’ mode rather than presenting a consistent, integrated view of the new strategy. This might be understandable in the immediate aftermath of a big announcement that the web team may or may not have been privy to, but they have had enough time to rectify matters.

Many users on smaller screens might not scroll, and so miss the strategy area on the home page. The strategy could have been promoted in the carousel as a main item. Even though the timing meant it was competing with the Interim Results part of the announcement, some mention of it could have at least been made on the Interim Results panel.

The PDF links were probably a temporary measure when the announcement was made and perhaps before the strategy page existed. But linking to them now, instead of the strategy page, does not makes sense.

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If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.

BC tip: Intel - Breaking news on a blog

The computer chip manufacturer shows another potential role for a resurgent online channel.

The Feature

Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, announced on Monday via a company blog, policy@intel, that he was quitting President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. This followed the resignation of Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, a higher-profile event in part because the US president attacked him personally on Twitter.

We could not find any reference to the resignation anywhere on Intel's corporate website, or even a link to the policy blog (including using the internal search engine). This goes for the online newsroom too, and we could not find an official press release.

The New York Times linked to the blog post directly in one of its stories about the resignation. 

The Takeaway

Intel using a blog to break news, rather than an online press release, makes sense – a blog is direct, easy for journalists to link to, and (usually) more readable for the general public than press releases.

In this case Intel had a ‘go to’ channel - it maintains a blog on public policy and so it was a natural fit.

The fact that we could not find the blog post or a link to it on the website is interesting, but it is not unusual for corporate sites to be silent about controversies. A big reason is often legal caution (although the Intel policy blog is run by Intel’s lawyers). 

We have noted how blogs have been making a comeback, although in some corners of the IT world they are well established. Google has long-favoured using blog posts over traditional press releases to disseminate company news. But not in every corner – Apple recently launched its first-ever blog, for technical discussions about artificial intelligence).

The point for other digital comms teams is that breaking controversial news is one more potential role for this ‘old is new again’ online channel. 

http://blogs.intel.com/policy/2017/08/14/intel-ceo-leaves-manufacturing-council/

 

BC tip: Honeywell - Innovation without usability

The US manufacturing conglomerate’s online newsroom shows the perils of prioritising visual and technical innovation while forgetting basic usability.

The Site

Honeywell’s online newsroom has a mega menu of filters organizing content according to four categories – industry, topic, region and ‘media type’ (fact sheets, infographics, photos, etc), and a number of sub-categories.

The responsive newsroom landing page has several image panels promoting stories. Clicking on the filter button opens a mega panel that takes up the entire screen on a standard desktop monitor (and pushes the image panels further down the page). Clicking on a sub-category in the filter menu changes the panels. If there are no stories in a given sub-category, a message says ‘No results found.’

The Takeaway

The visual presentation of the filter is innovative, but journalists – who are notably impatient – will likely be frustrated with basic usability problems. When there are results to show, it is not obvious how to view them (users must scroll down and recall whether the set of panels are the same or not). We had to click the filter twice to make sure a new set of panels was being displayed.

When there are no results – eg, when clicking ‘Media Statement’ – seeing the ‘No results found’ message also requires scrolling. It was also not clear why there are no results for media statements, when there is a separate section on the website populated with statements.

The tool is a near miss – almost splendid, but confusing labelling, poor usability and incomplete tagging let it down.

www.honeywell.com/newsroom


A new channel for corporate stories

I’ve spent some time this week playing with the new Apple News mobile and tablet app, which arrived in the UK (via an operating system update) at the end of October.

It’s a news aggregation service like Google News and Flipboard – allowing users to create a personalised feed of articles from a wide range of newspapers, magazines and blogs.

Like Google News, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But it’s certainly prettier than Google’s offering, as well as good old RSS feeds, and is easy to personalise.

Importantly, publishers and readers alike will also be pleased with the fact that each publication’s fonts and layouts are preserved via the Apple News app, rather than merely poured into a crude ‘feed’ template.

I mention this app because it got me thinking about the fashion for corporate ‘stories’ –using journalistic and other ‘traditional’ narrative techniques to convey an organisation’s messages in more engaging ways.

If traditional publishers are increasingly using third-party services to widen the reach of their output, shouldn’t corporate web managers be thinking more about this route too?

Some companies have already been experimenting with this. The former head of Coca-Cola’s corporate site worked hard to get his team’s material syndicated by the likes of The Huffington Post.

Unilever has a media partnership with UK newspaper The Guardian to spread the word about its sustainability agenda.

Professional services firm EY has a “content marketing” tie-up with Forbes’ site.

But many companies’ efforts to produce more engaging online editorial material remains confined to their own channels.

For sure, there is a good reason for using your corporate website as the hub of your company’s editorial output: it’s the one channel over which your company has complete control.

But third-party news outlets may have a powerful future role to play – alongside a company's own Twitter feed and other channels – in ensuring that more people find your company's stories in the first place. Something to muse over, perhaps, if and when you get the chance to play with Apple’s latest app.

- Jason Sumner