Internet Research

Internet communication is becoming a vital tool for public relations professionals. The Internet is a way for practitioners to post press releases, let the world know what services public relations firms perform, demonstrate past work, research competitors' work and do research on clients. Dozens of new tools are now available because of the Internet. Background information on companies can be found as well as news stories about the company. Research on the Internet is fast, and normally free. Practitioners can also subscribe to research services that provide a full media report on the company.

ProfNet is a service from PR Newswire that is becoming useful to practitioners. Journalists post upcoming news stories or research questions and e-mail notices are sent to public relations companies. The companies then notify clients, which contact the journalists if they are qualified to be a source. This lets the clients be sources in real news stories that will be published. Increasing the coverage of a client is always important.

Many Web sites offer services that are essential for accessing online news and new ideas for the public relations profession. Tracking down information can be key in researching for a public relations program. Hotsheet.com , refdesk.com and snap.com are all Web sites that many practitioners use to conduct research on the Internet.

More public relations companies are establishing a presence on the Internet. A Web site can be built with a low cost and access to the site is available around the world for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Technology today enables practitioners to distribute news and information to target audiences quickly. Many companies have made just a presence on the Web and have not gone beyond that. Some do not understand the culture on the Internet. The Web site for a company should outline the business goal and mission.

There are many steps to develop an efficient public relations Web site, which include: create, launch and promote. The following is a list of steps and questions to research before creating a Web site.

  1. First the company must decide if a Web site is necessary. Some questions to ask include:
    • Where are your target publics?
    • Do you need to enhance the relationships with your publics?
    • Will a site help reduce communication costs?
    • Will the site enhance your reputation?

  2. Develop a plan for creating and promoting a Web site.
    • Select a team.
    • Research other sites that appeal to you.
    • Identify target publics and what they need from you.
    • Decide how to make your site different from competitors using the latest technologies.
    • Develop a final plan, with the budget in mind, and promotion strategy.

  3. Develop the site.
    • Make sure the site is functional.
    • Use creative themes and graphics.
    • Launch it!

  4. Have a launch event to promote the site.
    • Have a planned program with partners and executives.
    • Invite people key to the success of the site, especially the media.

  5. Have an ongoing program to promote the site.
    • Continue media relations.
    • Use Internet advertising.

  6. Keep up the site.
    • Update the site and add new technology.
    • Stay on top of interactivity, especially customer service.

  7. Measure online traffic.

Created by: Amy Colson
Questions or Comments: E-mail me
This site is © April 2001, Amy Colson