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Public Relations and the Internet: Friend or Foe?

Posted on February 26, 2009

Public Relations (PR) has always been a dominant and valuable marketing communications tool. Not only can it increase public awareness for a company, it can also shift an established perspective with one simple article spun the "right way". These days, however, the Internet has stepped in to become a viable and widespread media outlet by itself through the large amount of consumers it can reach on a daily basis. The Internet provides opportunities to reach thousands more than an advertisement would in your local newspaper, and for a much cheaper price.

So, how can PR practitioners and Internet gurus work together? Are they truly "friend…or perhaps… foe"? You be the judge.

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Social Media has exploded into our world and it's only getting bigger. Blogs are on the loose and while some, like TechCrunch and Publication Blogs like those found on The San Francisco Chronicle Web site, can be informative and helpful, others can truly diminish a company's credibility. If writers and their followers are allowed to leave unfiltered remarks, the public opinion of a company can be ruined with just one click of the "post" button. If done in a classy, respectable style, blogs can be the number one way to increase public awareness.

The Internet is also forcing PR practitioners to care about what people need and want. These days, no one has time for stories that are simply F.Y.I. Consumers are interested in issues or products that will benefit them one way or another. Without the benefit-factor, no one will care.

Credibility is another issue. PR is supposed to increase awareness and credibility of a company. However, as more and more Web sites pop up each day who's to say which ones can be trusted and which ones can't? Obviously major sites like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal are taken seriously, but others aren't trusted as easily. The Internet can be used to learn about new information, but consumers should be aware of the credibility-factor and continue to do their research rather than just relying on a single site.

Saving time is a useful aspect of the Internet. PR practitioners are able to take advantage of the Internet when attempting to contact a large number of people in a short amount of time. For example, Press releases can be distributed online via e-mail or through blogs (the right blogs that is) rather than being sent through news release sites that have the tendency of racking up a pretty hefty bill. Sites like Placeropolis.com and many other news-posting-sites, and blogs provide the opportunity to share your information with the public for free.

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Search engine optimization, an un-necessarily large term for the process of improving traffic to a company's Web site, is something else the Internet has to offer. Say I do a Google search for "Infuze Marketing." The first page of results is all links back to the company Web site. This is the ideal situation should your company name be entered into the search box. Search engines can be the quickest link between your company and a consumer.

Friend or foe, this much is true: PR remains a vital component in successful marketing. When utilized effectively, the Internet will come hand-in-hand with PR. If it's not being used carefully, the Internet will provide practitioners with nothing but crisis management.

About the Author

Stacey Heater Infuze Marketing is a full service marketing, public relations and event management firm comprised of cool people from numerous industries. Infuze, and its subsidiary company Quorum360, are honored to promote GIVING first, positive attitudes, hard work, ridiculous amounts of laughter and whimsy…and tasty wine and cheese parties on Friday afternoons. http://www.infuzemarketing.com




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