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Should you PR a new website? And how to deal with the board member that thinks you definitely should

You're so proud of your brand-new, about-to-launch website. So much so you want to shout it from the rooftops. But should you bother? Do you need to PR a website launch? And how do you deal with that board member who is adamant you should?

It’s a question we often get asked. Should I, and how should I PR the fact that we’ve got a new website?

It’s worth considering whether it’s in any way worth promoting the fact that a new website is about to launch. Is that a thing?

Let’s face it, the new site is always going to be way more interesting to you than anyone else. Only a relatively low number of people out there including your suppliers, your competitors and the hard and fast advocates, are going to be sufficiently interested to go check out the new website as soon as you mention it. But top of the list of who will be eagerly clicking refresh one minute before you launch will be that member of the board of directors or the board of trustees. You know the one I mean.

“How are you going to PR the new website?” is a classic board-member question, so you need to be prepared for how to answer it.

I was once asked to blow a very large sum of money on an event which would celebrate a notable anniversary of the organisation I was working for at the time. The date was made to coincide with a big international conference where we could lure top movers and shakers in for a unique experience. I decided to hire our the entirety of Madame Tussaud’s for the night and lay on a champagne reception in one of the rooms of celebrity wax. It was great, highly memorable and very, very talked about.

About a week beforehand, a member of the board of trustees breezed in asking how I was going to PR the event. I told them the event was the PR, because the thing to PR was our brand, not the event. That the people there would naturally amplify our brand because of what we’d done for them. I think I was right. I know when we put together a significant digital PR campaign, we’re definitely PRing the PR, and amplifying down every channel, but is that always the priority?

Back to the new website. Just because it’s cost you half your sleep and all of your budget for the last 6 months doesn’t mean it necessarily needs a PR trumpet voluntary in and of itself.

Again, I would argue that your new website is the PR for your organisation. The fact that you have just (hopefully) bettered it significantly means you’ve now enhanced people’s brand perceptions when they land on your site.

When it comes to the website, there are a bunch of considerations which are much more significant than whether your inquisitive board member will not only see the site the second it goes live, but also be able to read the announcement in the Telegraph moments later. If you're agreeable, kindly distract and dismiss Mx Board Member with the following lingo-laden lot:

Finance. Funnel.

The prime focus of the new site is to generate an uplift in engagement from a carefully targeted market segment, which should logically lead to more bookings. In parallel, over time we should see not only more revenue but also an overall improvement in profitability as we save time on up-funnel activities (like PR) and swap them out for better conversion where potential clients are much closer to a buying decision.

Analyse. Diarise.

We are also looking for a decrease in bounce rate though expect the time spent on site to decrease slightly as people might start finding what they want faster. By analysing the site traffic over the next 3 months, we’ll be able to make tweaks to the user journey. For this reason alone we’d prefer to do a soft launch until we’re totally confident. Shall we review this in 6 month’s time? Note - they will want to review it, and they’ve already made a note to ask you 6 months from today. Top tip - Add a note to your diary too to email them the answer 5 months and 3 weeks from now.

Prioritise. Flattery

Whilst we could PR the launch, there is a risk that with limited resources we’d be cutting off our nose to spite our face. The primary purpose of the site, through our extensive and highly successful collaboration with [insert SEO specialists here], has been to make sure our website appears in online search engine results pages when people type in the sort of thing that we can best help with. This involves the creation of pages of excellent quality content which will closely match the potential client’s search intent. Incidentally, since you’re an expert in XXXXXXXXXX, how would you feel about being interviewed for an article for the website?

PR. Digital PR

Be reassured that much of our PR takes the form of daily activity on social media where we regularly drive people back to the site. Obviously with the new one, they’re going to be delighted with what they find. Which social media do you use? I’ll follow you now. Do you follow us? Did you know that we have a total of X thousand followers, all of whom are exposed to our brand every day? Yes, that does take quite a lot of resource, but we’ve got proven ROI. Should I cc you on the latest report? Cc them. Forever.

Expand. Exit

By now, you’ve hopefully got them on the back foot. If not, give them access to Google Analytics and Google Search Console and ask them to tell you what they think you're doing wrong. They’ll realise they’ve strayed too far into the operational by the time they get home.

At some point, Disquiet Dog will put together a digital marketing introductory course for board members. I can’t wait to run that. Please ask if you’d like one for your board. It will genuinely galvanise support.

And remember…

If you are about to launch a new site, there are some serious checks you need to carry out to make sure you don’t see the site disappear without a trace from your hard won Google rankings. Our custom website audits mitigate against ranking losses and double check the work your website developers are just about to walk away from, allowing you to pull them back in and make any vital fixes before it’s too late.

Because the last thing you want is questions from the board that you actually can’t answer.