PR Practitioners Tapping into the Web

Although the Internet and World Wide Web have provided activists with a virtually limitless forum for information distribution, recruitment, and instruction, they have also provided public relations professionals with the unique accessibility to the communications and strategies of activist publics. In 1995, practitioner Craig Jolley wrote that online information has "intrinsic advantages of breadth, depth, speed, comprehensiveness, and accessibility. " He also commented that using online information allows practitioners to develop programs and communications that respond with greater accuracy (Jolley, 1995).

Many public relations practitioners instinctively know that online information and research can be a valuable tool - especially where monitoring activist groups and activity. However, it is not always easy to convey those "instincts" into a message that is convincing to the CEO or Board of Directors. Fortunately, Jolley's article provides quantitative data that might be more persuasive. According to Jolley, a 1992 Mead Data Central/Maritz Marketing Information, Inc., study documented that public relations professionals using online research methods spend 38 minutes finding information compared to 107 minutes for those using traditional methods (1995).