The Internet is the New Frontier of Public Relations
A research project at UCLA last year found that "72.3 percent of Americans have some type of online access, up from 66.9 percent in 2000. Users go online an average of 9.8 hours per week, an increase from 9.4 hours in 2000."
Many -- probably most -- of those are connecting from work. As one political consultant puts it, you can reach them on radio during drive time, when they're angry... you can reach them on TV during prime time, when they're relaxed and looking to be entertained... or you can reach them at the office, when they're focused.
Every complete PR campaign now takes advantage of at least four of the following five basic Internet elements:
A website, for one-way and two-way communication of your PR messages.
Advertising strategies, for promoting your website -- where to place banner ads and links online (as well as traditional promotion).
Email strategies, for mass communications as well as individual communications with media, clients and others.
Text messaging, for real-time control of your campaign tactics (this is particularly useful in political campaigns).
Database management of your contact lists, for all purposes. This takes place primarily on your own computer.
When you publicize your client through a website, you're not simply using a new medium -- you are using a new technology, one that is still writing its own rules. Just as movies are more than plays on a screen -- and TV is more than film in your livingroom -- so the Internet is more than just a new means of communication.
Some ways that the Internet can help your PR campaign:
- It can help you reach people in the workplace. This can be an advantage over other PR channels.
- It can help you provide information quickly and completely without your having to produce reams of press kit materials when the reporter or client may need only one fact.
- It can contribute to your client's image in a way that would be very expensive to duplicate in printed materials. You can achieve a professional look with just a little design -- without having to spend a fortune on heavy paper stock and four-color printing.
- It can provide feedback information from users. When they log on to get information, or when they complete forms or check radio buttons on your site, they can send you useful information automatically. It provides a means of linking to or from multiple other related sites. With automated email forms, users can pass your information or location easily to others who might be interested.
- It gives you 24-7 connections with reporters and other users who might otherwise be cut off at critical times. Search engines linked to your site may steer reporters to you as a source for breaking news at midnight.
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