Internet PR: Riding the Wave of the Future

Today’s public relations campaigns are drastically different from those of even ten years go. Using the Internet, companies can target specific market segments and talk directly to their potential customers through Web sites, blogs, online videos, social networks, news aggregators, forums, and search engines. This has led to a more personalized brand of PR that can grab greater attention for less money.

Once upon a time, public relations required hiring expensive agencies. These firms had built close relationships with traditional media outlets such as newspapers and controlled the information that the public received. When a client needed press attention, the agency would shower its media contacts with various perks, and in return these gatekeepers would provide news exposure.

The rise of the Internet changed everything and signaled the decline of traditional media. Nowhere was this more apparent than with newspapers. As the Web grew, an increasing amount news and information appeared online, much of it entirely free of charge. “New media” sources such as Web sites, blogs, and forums attracted millions of viewers, all hungry for the next article, post, or upload. Soon search engines and aggregators began collecting news into portal locations, making it easy to find specific topics and other information. Most recently, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, media sharing sites as well as social networks have facilitated the quick exchange of ideas, pictures, and movies.

As a result, traditional media outlets have lost their ability to hold shut the gates, making it easier to reach people than ever before. Companies can submit news directly to Internet news portals such as PRweb and Digg. Sites like YouTube and Flickr have simple tools to post PR videos and pictures. Still other sites such as Facebook and MySpace let people distribute messages and media virally over social networks. And, of course, Google with its ubiquitous search engine and news feed enables anyone to locate the latest articles and information.

So it’s a cinch to grab lots of attention for mere pennies, right? Not quite yet. While the advertising middlemen are disappearing from the PR equation, it still takes skill to have your news ride the Internet wave. In fact, each type of Web channel, whether a blog, search engine, or social network, requires specifically tailored submissions to maximize distribution. Over my next few articles, I’ll be exploring the most popular venues for Internet PR and how each of them can provide personalized, targeted exposure for your company.