The Future of OPR

The Internet has generally made the work of public relations professionals easier. They can reach people more quickly with the use of e-mail lists, Usenet, and Web sites. They can interact with public relations colleagues a little easier through a variety of mailing list forums.

However,the Internet has made life a bit more complicated. Technology changes almost daily, making "keeping up" almost an impossibility. The Internet has increased the urgency with which CEOs and clients want results -- the faster people can get information, the faster people want it. While the internet has made it easier to reach more people, the Internet has also splintered audiences. Mass communication is falling by the wayside in favor of very targeted communications strategies. One public relations expert called this segmentation the "narrowing of the audience demographic to one." More and more companies will join the online world -- at this point the ones who have not yet established a presence on the Web are truly the diehards. Corporate Web sites will become more integrated with other communications activities -- more and more television commercials will end with URLs.

Technology that makes it safer to conduct business transactions will improve the public's trust in the system might take a while -- they'll need some good pr for that! So companies will use their Web sites as communications tools for their key audiences until the public is ready to order from Spiegel through the Web. By then, customers will come to expect some helpful information on the Web and although companies will be working toward making money from Web sites, they'll be remiss in abandoning this communications strategy.

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mailto: Shachea A Christie
College of Journalism and Communications
University of Florida