Your website is often the first place that people visit to get updated information. When events are being postponed, moved to a virtual format or canceled, it is not enough to provide updates on social media.
Why do businesses and organizations sometimes fail to update their websites?
“The biggest roadblock is the lack of knowledge about how the site works on the back end,” Moxley Carmichael Senior Web Developer John McCulley said. “Someone first has to know how to change the website. The second issue is that the website can be forgotten amid everything else.”
A quick visit to the websites of some organizations and businesses showed incorrect event information, service hours and menus. One site still had a purchase feature open for tickets to an event that was canceled, but the announcement of the cancellation was posted only to Facebook.
Earlier this summer, I wanted to take my husband and son, who are both car buffs, on a Father’s Day weekend outing to a museum. I visited the venue website, noted the hours and set out – only to find the location temporarily closed due to the pandemic. A handwritten sheet of paper in the window relayed the news. As we sat in the parking lot, I cursed myself for not calling ahead and the venue for not updating its website.
To event managers, organizational leaders and anyone tasked with updating websites and social media right now: We know it’s tough. Details change quickly and the ways we conduct business are vastly different than earlier this year. You have so much new information coming in and probably not enough staff or resources to get it out.
The website can be your front door, though, so organizations and businesses must keep customers and supporters informed. Here are five tips:
- Don’t depend on “your IT person” to update the website. Have at least one person on staff trained to make updates.
- When you post updated information to social media, don’t consider the task complete until the website is updated.
- Have you posted information anywhere else, such as an online community calendar or bulletin board? If so, update information there, too.
- If the event is canceled, do not delete the page on your website. Note the cancellation and add content about looking forward to the postponed event or a new one in 2021, as applicable.
- Keep an appeal open for donations – include instructions or a donate now button.
As events got postponed or converted into virtual ones – and in some cases canceled in 2020 – Event Check Knox took the approach of leaving the old listing, updating it and adding the new date, too.
Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael handles the calendar at EventCheck Knox and likened it to a game of Twister as 2020 events shifted from spring to summer to fall or got canceled entirely.
She opted to leave the original event on the calendar, note the change and add a new listing. That serves both practical and promotional purposes.
“It’s practical because a lot of events, especially the annual galas and such, tend to occur at the same time of the year,” Cornelius said. “If I removed every postponed event from March to August, those months basically would have become blank. A planner of an event in 2021 may look back to 2020 to see what other events typically are held at that time. Had I wiped the slate clean, that would have eliminated some key historical content on the calendar.
“It’s promotional because the event – and an organization – still gets exposure. The content not only remained intact, but it also provided updated information if an attendee wanted to know the status of the event going forward.”
In the meantime, everyone also needs to take a moment to praise your favorite businesses and organizations for their communication efforts during the pandemic. They need and deserve our encouragement.
Tina J. Knight is the brand storyteller for Moxley Carmichael. Previously, she served as manager of internal communications for Discovery, Inc., and became a seasoned event planner. She is unapologetic about the size of her cookbook collection.