As part of my work, I am constantly researching on the web, looking for background info on companies, contacts and other information. I am increasingly amazed that, in this age of communication, so many companies make it very hard on their web sites to actually find someone to contact.
Based on my experience, Singapore organisations, some even government departments or quasi-government enterprises, are among the worst offenders.
It is very frustrating for a journalist, seeking a contact for an organization, to have to spend so much time trawling through a website to get a name and telephone number or e-mail. And corporate communications departments top the list. Too many actually publish media statements, intended to be used by reporters, but they fail to provide any contact information at the bottom of each statement. This leaves me with an impression that the organisation is arrogant and uncaring; that it would rather not talk to journalists, even though the whole point of a web site is to encourage interaction and communication.
Id like to give them the benefit of doubt and assume that they simply forgot, or dont realize that reporters often need to check facts in a media release, even ask questions about it. But, my fear is that this practice is deliberate. Omitting contacts from a media release is very bad PR, which is quite ironic because the whole reason for a media release is to generate positive publicity.
Banks, too, are notorious for failing to provide contact numbers on their websites. Just check yourself next time you visit a bank web site. In this age of fascinating technology to enhance customer relationship management, it is a great pity, and also somewhat self-destructive, for organisations to have their cake and eat it too by using the web to spread their message, while tacitly discouraging people from telephoning or emailing them.
Ross O. Storey, currently the Managing Editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia, is responsible for the editorial content and production of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia magazines. With a lifetime fascination with innovation, IT, science and communication, Ross has previously directed his own public relations firms and was formerly a Western Australian Government media strategist and adviser. He has worked in corporate and government public relations, providing strategic communications advice, media training, editorial and marketing services to corporations, government ministers and departments, plus the Australian science and tertiary education sectors. Ross has a news media career spanning some 35 years, having also worked in Australia as a news administrator, editor, reporter, journalist and freelance writer for newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.
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