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Building a website that any PR agency can control

Published: 12 September 2012

In a previous article I discussed the importance of blogging as a PR agency. Today I discuss the best ways to go about building a website that an agency can have full control of.

Building a website that any PR agency can control
By Artwell Nwaila

PR pros are seen as digital pioneers, the fore runners of social media strategy, and the mechanics of the online world. However, one digital element that PR pros do not have control of is their own website. Building a site is all good and well but not having the tools or skills to update the platform contradicts the mission of those otherwise digital savvy agencies.

There are four options agencies can take when planning to build their own website. They can hire a full time web developer, contact an independent contractor, simply build your own website or get a developer to set up a website on a CMS platform. Let's take a closer look.

Hire a full time web developer to build the website:

Hiring a full time web developer is probably the best solution as you have the capability to keep your platform both healthy and regularly updated. The only problem with this is that developers do not come cheap. Also consider how often this person has to fix your site. Christene Lagorio from inc magazine says in her article, "Is adding a full-time developer to your team necessary? If your business is primarily online, or will incorporate a lot of mobile technology: certainly. If not, and you and your current staff are equipped to handle site maintenance and upkeep, you might consider retaining an independent contractor."

Get a independent contractor:

Many small to medium sized business will hire a freelance web profession and contact them when content needs to be updated. The down side in going this route is that PR professionals are generally digitally active and they may want to upload information immediately. In this case, maintenance and updating will only happen according to the web persons schedule.

Build your own website:

This option is not recommended at all. An unprofessional website will do more damage to your company and brand than good. As the initial touch point between the client and you as an agency, it has to be built and designed extremely well.

Get a developer to set up a website on a CMS platform:

This is probably the best option as it incorporates all the positives of the above options. Webmaster and designer, Jerry Cobbs explains CMS: "CMS stands for Content Management System. It is a way to build flexible, powerful websites that are easily maintained and provide all of the interactive Web 2.0 features that users have come to expect."

CMS platforms allow PR pros to hire a web developer/designer to set up the initial website on top of the content management system. Content Management Systems like Wordpress, Joomla!, and DotNetNuke come fully equipped with easy to use dashboards, which gives full control to you as a PR agency. They also use ‘skins’, which means the look and feel can be changed by a non-tech person. "Template sites are static, meaning to make changes to the site your web designer has to edit the pages themselves. While many CMS sites are based on design ‘skins,’ they offer much more in terms of functionality and design," explains Cobbs.

The flexible nature of these platforms allows the average person to have a professional looking platform, which has social, blogging, mobile and another other features at the click of a button. Companies like MTV, eBay, CNN, and Yahoo have successfully created well polished platforms on the back of CMS. Maybe PR professionals should do the same.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Do you have any other tips to share? Let us know below.
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