The public relations professional's traditional practice of going
through the established "editorial gatekeeper system" to disseminate
information and generate interest in a client's product or service,
is today challenged by an entirely new online environment.
Now, online communicators can directly reach your customers. And
that's really one of the great things about the Internet. If you
spend the time looking, you will find the perfect person your
message is intended for.
Today, online public relations has evolved from a wide "broadcast
to anyone who'll listen" discipline to a highly targeted one-to-one
communications process. For example, should Acme Shoes run a broad-
brushed online image campaign for a new marathon running shoe or,
should they conduct a personalized search to find every relevant Web
site, discussion and news group that directly reaches serious
runners? Well, the latter -- delivering the message directly to your
target -- is a key advantage to today's online communications.
So where should you start with online communications? Start with
your company's Web site and perform a communications audit to
evaluate your current on-line presence. An online audit evaluates
the likely acceptance of your site and your messages. Audits can
include market analysis, target audience identification, marketing
goals implementation, technology evaluation, competitive analysis, a
content audit and site upgrade and enhancement recommendations.
Gather competitor information and conduct research to solicit
reactions to your products or services. Millions of Web pages and
online offerings compete with the messages you are sending. Or
worse, they might communicate against your messages.
An online audit lets you find out what the market environment is
like before you spend time and money to publicize your products or
Update your Web site content constantly. The Web is an
interactive medium that builds relationships with individuals. You
need to nourish that relationship regularly through the information
and fresh content you provide.
Developing online content -- is and should be -- the job of
trained writers and designers. It is not a task for a webmaster or
committees. Your content should be presented clearly, persuasively
and in logical chunks that require creative wordsmithing and
presentation skills. Your goal should be to position your site and
its content as a key resource that your target audiences will
bookmark and continually use for future reference.
Next, be sure that your "proactive" on-line communication to
various news outlets, targeted sites, and chat rooms is simple,
timely, newsworthy, defined and flexible (adapt your messages and
media to your audiences). …