Monday, November 17, 2014

Crain Communications: “About Us” Evaluation by Corporate

Crain’s is an American publishing conglomerate headquartered in Detroit, with 14 locations worldwide. It publishes trade magazines (Advertising Age, Autoweek, Plastics News, and many others) as well as papers such as Crain’s New York Business and Crain’s Chicago Business. Founded in 1916 in Louisville, KY, by G. D. Crain, the company – still privately held – has been run in succession by Crain’s widow and sons. The main About Us page is here.

The main About Us page is well laid out, giving teasers and links to separate pages on Our History, Our Philosophy, and Our Leadership.

Products/Services: C
Our main complaint about Crain’s About Us pages is that they have the feel of a collection that has been growing over time (good!) but has not been revised for consistency (bad!). The number of employees is variously listed as 825 or more than 1,000; the age of the company as over 80 or over 90. (In fact, Crain’s will celebrate its 100th business anniversary in 2016.) The company’s long-standing motto, “Readers first!,” is mentioned in the teaser to the Our Philosophy page (and emphasized on the Careers page), but not mentioned on the Our Philosophy page. Our Commandment 9 of About Us pages is, “Worship clarity,” which includes checking grammar, punctuation, and yes, facts.

Also: logos or mastheads of the many Crain publications would liven up the small, dense blocks of text on most pages.

Personality: B
Our History emphasizes that Crain’s is a family-run business, with only three chairmen and presidents since its founding—a potential theme for corporate storytelling that this company doesn’t quite exploit. Continuing that tradition, five members of the Crain family are listed on the Leadership page. The bio of Rance Crain, which focuses on his experience in publishing and his role in the company, is very good. The bio of Keith Crain, on the other hand, sounds as if it was written for a third-party site where the philanthropic activities are more important than work at Crain’s. A bio of a company leader on an About Us page isn’t just a bio: it’s a chance to show where and how a leader is leading.

Accessibility: D
The Contact Us page lists Crain offices worldwide, with mailing addresses and phone numbers, but no emails or names. This is substandard.

Few things make you look as unreliable as conflicting information on your website. It’s particularly egregious for a company in the publishing industry, where fact-checking should be the norm. Review the business history of your site regularly for consistency.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). To talk about your About Us page, contact us!
Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.