The Internet has caused a revolution in communication by giving a voice to those that previously could not have been heard. This has opened a whole new world of opportunities for both businesses and individuals that were unimagined in the era of the traditional media. These still play an important role in shaping the public opinion but with the entire globe moving to the online world to search for information and buy products/services, a PR that does not effectively communicate with the online community can no longer effectively shape and maintain the desired public image.
Challenges of the Internet for PR
Although the Internet is one of the greatest inventions in human history, it has dramatically changed the world and above all, the communication. The world wide web has opened a number of opportunities but it has also opened a number of challenges, especially for the PR sector that has mastered communication with and through the traditional media. While PR specialists virtually had no competition in the era of the traditional media, the democracy of the Internet has forced them to compete with the entire world.
The Internet has given just about everyone the ability to share their opinion just about everything with the entire world in a matter of seconds. The ability to reach thousands or millions of people in virtually no time gave PR specialists a powerful tool but it also made their jobs more difficult, especially in case of an attack on integrity of their clients. Just imagine restoring the client’s reputation if the first page of search engine results contains mainly compromising or damaging content.
The Importance of Internet PR
Why businesses and individuals who want to succeed in the modern world cannot afford not to utilise the Internet PR is clearly evident from the example of “anti-campaigns”. These can either be an unfortunate incident or a carefully devised plan of unethical competition. But regardless of who stands behind and why, negative campaigning can have a devastating effect on public reputation of a company or an individual. The risk of negative publicity, however, is not the only reason why the Internet PR is increasingly gaining in importance.
The Internet has a major influence on people’s opinion and the decisions they make, especially when they are uncertain. For example, let’s say Joe has difficulties deciding which anti-acne cream to choose. He will open his search engine and look for information about the creams he is considering buying. He will most likely take into account a variety of factors including the price and other people’s opinions but his decision will also be influenced greatly by the information he will be able to receive about a particular product. And if he finds little information about how the product is supposed to work, how soon he will be able to see the results, etc. there is a great chance that he will not buy that product.
In order to encourage Joe to at least consider buying your cream, he needs to be provided accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information about both the product and your company. And this can be achieved only through an effective Internet PR.