Published: Jun 4, 2020
Last Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Many if not most PR firms offer web design services today. And that's a positive development—because the right PR firm just might be the best choice for creating your site, if you value building visitor trust.

You see, when you listen to the pitches of many website design firms today, they usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. Some agencies attempt to impress you with visually acrobatic designs that have an appeal similar to Fourth of July fireworks. Bang. Boom. Pop.
  2. Other firms focus on short-term lead generation to the exclusion of other considerations. They make your brand's story sound like a mathematical equation. Input content, output sales. It rarely works that way.

The reality is this:

If your visitors don’t trust you, nothing else matters.

That means your first priority should be to find a web design firm that understands visitor trust and how to achieve it. And securing trust at scale has been the mission of PR for more than a century.

Evaluating PR Firm Web Design Capabilities

Unfortunately, many PR firms are just not that good at web design. It's not their strategic focus and it shows in their results.

So, if you are looking for web design by a PR firm, how do you know you are looking at the right agencies? One way to evaluate PR agencies that market themselves as web design firms is to take a close look at their own websites.

Idea Grove has been designing websites for our clients for more than a decade, including awarding-winning sites for CA Technologies, Omnitracs, EXL and many others. Several years ago, I wrote Idea Grove's first blog post comparing the websites of major U.S. PR firms. We've rebooted that post a few times over the years, and this is our 2021 update. 

We've based our rankings on the analysis of Nibbler, a tool by U.K.-based Silktide that gives a numerical rating to websites based on web design, development, SEO and other criteria. The free service has graded millions of websites on a scale of 1 to 10.

This week, we ran O'Dwyer's 20 top-ranked independent U.S. firms by revenue through Nibbler. These firms range from $840 million in 2020 revenues (Edelman) to $38.9 million (MWWPR). 

The results are in the table below, with agencies listed in order of Nibbler ranking. 

  1. Coyne PR 9.6
  2. Prosek Partners 9.6
  3. Crosby 9.5
  4. French | West | Vaughan 9.5
  5. APCO Worldwide 9.2
  6. Finn Partners 9.2
  7. Edelman 9.1
  8. Evoke KYNE 9.1
  9. Padilla 9.1
  10. ICR 9.0
  11. Zeno Group 9.0
  12. Kivvit 8.8
  13. Real Chemistry 8.8
  14. Hotwire 8.6
  15. imre 8.1
  16. Spectrum 8.0
  17. MWWPR 7.8
  18. Hunter 7.6
  19. Ruder Finn 7.4
  20. 5W Public Relations 7.2

Idea Grove (ranked 85th nationally by O'Dwyer's) came in at a solid 9.0, and is highlighted by one of best PR blogs with a long history as well.

Should You Choose a PR Firm for Web Design?

Few things are more important to a brand's reputation than its website. And no one understands brand reputation better than an experienced PR firm.

Too many companies, particularly as they get caught up in the day to day of running a business, forget just how central their website is to public perceptions of their organization. Fairly or unfairly, visitors to your brand's home on the web make conscious and unconscious judgments about your company based on their online experience.

A quality PR firm can be the partner you need to make sure your online image is always top of mind and keenly focused on securing trust at scale with your customers and other key audiences.

Just make sure the agency you choose is also good at web design. 

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About the Author

Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell is CEO of the unified PR and marketing agency Idea Grove, one of the top 25 technology PR firms in the United States. His first book, Trust Signals, is scheduled for publication in 2021.

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