ENSURING YOUR CORPORATE WEBSITE MEETS THE NEEDS OF YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
Catherine Joyce, communications consultant at Jones and Palmer, writes about the steps companies should undertake when creating a corporate website that both appeals to different stakeholders and clearly definestheir corporate story
A corporate website is viewed as a critical communications channel for stakeholders of listed companies. It can frequently be the first place that people go to find out more about a company.
Making decisions on the content for a corporate website can be tricky, as it needs to appeal to a number of stakeholders, each with different requirements. It is important for companies to take steps to ensure that they are meeting the needs of stakeholders with their website.
However, before considering the needs of stakeholders, companies need to define their corporate story and the key messaging that will form the basis of content on the website. This should be focused on the long-term sustainable competitive advantages of the company: how the business is uniquely positioned to create value over the long term. Focusing on these aspects will deliver a compelling story to stakeholders of the business on why long-term association with the company will be positive for them.
The company needs to list the key stakeholders of the business and their interests and goals with the website. This will involve considering which stakeholders will likely access the website. Generally, the stakeholders that need to be considered are investors and analysts, employees, customers, and the wider community. Defining the interests of stakeholders can be done by considering how the company impacts them, in both positive and negative ways, and also considering their informational needs. The informational needs of stakeholders will be what content they will want to access on the website, and the key questions that they would have for a representative of the company, if they were to meet with them.
Once the stakeholders and their key interests and needs have been defined, a company should consider how their core messaging needs to be adjusted to appeal to each of the stakeholder groups, and the content that needs to be on the website to meet their informational needs. This helps to establish the pages that need to be on the website and the viewpoint that needs to be conveyed in the content on those pages.
A crucial consideration for a corporate website is how users are guided through content on the website. This can be done by creating user journeys for each stakeholder group: establishing the general order in which a user should view the content on a website. Once this is done, the priority of stakeholders can be established. Some corporate websites give more prominence to investor content, with limited content for other stakeholder groups, whereas other websites will feature content appealing to a wider range of stakeholder groups, such as investors, customers, employees, suppliers and the wider community, with relatively equal weighting. The differences will depend on the existing communication channels that the company has, and also how broadly the company impacts external stakeholders. For example, housebuilders have a wide impact on various groups external to the business, whereas an investment fund will have a more limited impact on external groups.
Once this process is completed, the corporate website should communicate the key messaging of the company and be appealing and engaging for its stakeholder groups.