I. Defining the Internet
The internet, technically, is a cooperatively run, globally distributed collection of computer networks that exchange information via common set of rules.
The Internet began as the ARPANET during the Cold War in 1969, developed by the department of Defense and consultants who were interested in creating communication network that could survive a nuclear attack.
The World Wide Web, the most exciting and revolutionary part of the Internet, was developed in 1989 by physicist Tim Berners-Lee to enlarge the Internet for multiple uses
By 2005, the Internet was used by 15 percent of the world’s people, more than 972 million.
The new Internet explosion has taken new forms: blogs, podcasts, wiki sites, RSS feeds, social networks, and others. This time, unlike the first time around, the Internet as a communications and commercial vehicle is here to stay.
II. The Internet as Communications Medium
The Internet has transformed the way that people communicate and make contact with each other, Virtually all organizations, from the largest corporation to the smallest non-profit today has a Web site.
Most of the time today, it is the Web site that serves as an organization’ “first face” to the public.
Journalists, meanwhile still the primary customers for most in public relations have also embraced the Internet as their primary source for research and reporting.
III. Public Relations Internet Challenge
Use of the Internet by public relations practitioners inevitably will grow as the century proceeds, for three reasons:
o The demand to be educated rather than sold
o The need for real-time performance
o The need for customization
Public relations has become prominent in several other areas:
o Web sites
o Online media relations
o Online monitoring
o Product promotion
o Investor relations
IV. E-Mail: The Dominator
E-mail has become far and away the most pervasive organizational communications vehicle. In most organizations, e-mail is the internal medium of choice for newsletters, bulletins, and internal announcements.
E-mail has also unseated the traditional employee print newsletter. Online newsletters are both more immediate and more interactive than print counterparts.
E-mail newsletters for external use-to customers, investors, or the media-are equally popular and valuable. These differ from their print brethren in several important areas:
1. No more than one page
2. Link content
3. Regular dissemination
V. Developing a Winning Web Site
In many ways, the organization’s Web site is its most important interface with the public.
The aim of any Web site is to provide information that visitors are looking for. The more you achieve that objective, the more “sticky” your site becomes.
How should you create a winning Web site? By first asking and answering several strategic questions:
1. What is our goal?
2. What content will we include?
3. How often will we edit?
4. How will we enhance design?
5. How interactive will it be?
6. How will we track use?
7. Who will be responsible?
Blogs: The Latest Phenomenon
o Blogs, Weblogs that communicate personal views on any topic imaginable, are proliferating at the rate of 70,000 a day
o There are two categories of blogs. One is the traditional Weblog in which a web surfer shares his online discoveries. The second is the Web diary in which a person shares his or her thoughts of the day.
o In terms of public relations use of blogs, organizations can use them to deliver information-product uses, sales data, consumer tips, and so on- in a more personal way.
Blogs also can be useful as an internal communications vehicle. Among possibilities for internal blogs are the following:
Dealing with the Media Online
The basics of online media relations include the following:
Web site newsroom
VI. Monitor the Internet….or Else!
The internet is free, wide open, international, and anonymous-the perfect place to start a movement and ruin an organization’s reputation. Public relations people monitor the internet consideration of the following:
Discussion groups and chat rooms
Rogue Web sites
VII. Product Promotion on the Internet
The Internet provides a virtual laboratory to mesh public relations, advertising, and marketing techniques to promote products.
On the positive side, buyers and potential buyers can access your information directly, without interface. On the negative side, you are competing with hundreds of thousands of other information providers for visitor’s attention.
One popular product promotion device is the adlink. The adlink is a small display advertisement that promotes another site or page.
Online discussion groups provide another potential source of product promotion.
Web-based integrated marketing can create a new relationship with customers.
VIII. Investor Relations on the Internet
The Internet also plays a significant role in investor relations, the public relations activity that deals with a company’s stockholders and the communities-brokers and analysts-serving them.
Public companies increasingly use the Internet as a more controlled communications mechanism to reach potential investors.
The government that watches over securities markets is less convinced that the Internet is such a blessing fro investors.
IX. Of Intranets/ Extranets, Wikis; Prodcasts, and RSS Feeds
Public relations practitioners should at least be conversant in the following Internet vehicles: