Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

High-Tech Firms Launching Clients into Cyberspace

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

High-Tech Firms Launching Clients into Cyberspace

Article excerpt

Cutting-edge technology has changed the way practitioners communicate with clients and the media

Making their clients into cyberheroes is the aim of leading public relations firms today. Most have cut their technological teeth working for high-tech clients in rapidly changing, highly charged businesses. Technologically astute public relations specialists today become superheroes when they not only transmit on-line messages to clients but also help clients create and transmit messages that key audiences download and respond to.

To get and remain up to speed in cyberspace requires an ever-expanding arsenal of high-tech tools. Modern firm stake advantage of e-mail, broadcast fax, video and audio teleconferencing, one-on-one multimedia presentations, on-line databases and World Wide Web home pages on the Internet. In the case of the latter, both firms and their clients are scrambling to keep up with the race into cybermarketing on the Web.

Almost every day, another public relations firm announces its own home page or starts one for a client. All of the U.S. firms represented in this report are already on line in one way or another. These firms are using new-wave media and cyberspace connections to achieve their own and clients' objectives. The breakneck speed of modern communications and the world of possibilities posed by the Internet has changed the way firms do all of the tasks of public relations (see Glossary of terms, page 34).

Our sources cited these trends:

* The Internet replaces proprietary electronic mail (e-mail) systems and improves firms' communications with clients and the media, and vice versa. In fact, most people respond more readily to e-mail than to voice messages.

* The Internet provides instant global reach.

* Customers and consumers can be sold in cyberspace. Key publics also respond to multimedia approaches.

* Online databases, media lists and other research tools help users become "instant experts" on an infinite number of subjects.

* High-tech tools will augment, not replace, a firm's arsenal of communication methods.

Partnering for success

The Internet is already the talk of the trade. Many public relations firms have connected to it. Some, like Porter/Novelli, have made strategic alliances with high-tech specialists to extend their technical reach. Others use electronic means to build national and international networks with company-owned offices, affiliates or independent firms as partners.

Porter/Novelli formed the New Media Group in March "to help clients understand, manage, and utilize electronic communications," according to Amos Kermisch, vice president, Brodeur & Partners in Purchase, NY. He directs the new group. P/N merged with Watham, MA-based Brodeur in 1993. The New Media Group is offering a range of CyberServices[TM] - analysis, monitoring and "real-time" issues management, new media messaging, interactive expertise and advice and counsel on cyberspace - to be used on the Internet as well as commercial on-line services.

P/N formed a national Consumer Technology Group in mid-1994 "to help bring technology-based products to the consumer," said P/N President Bob Druckenmiller, based in New York City. It combines P/N's "traditional consumer marketing experience with the extensive high-tech expertise" of Brodeur, he said.

"As PCs become accepted in the consumer marketplace, we help [high-tech] clients distinguish themselves from competitors," said John Brodeur, president of Brodeur & Partners. "We help them talk to new audiences and use both the traditional media to transform their images from pure technology providers to meeting specific consumer needs."

"Everyone of our clients is connected electronically," said Andrew Eberle, manager, new media, at The Weber Group, based in Boston. Today's technology, particularly via the Internet, streamlines electronic connections between clients and firms, he told PRJ. …

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