I Heard It From The PR Girl

Chapter 12: Tapping the Web and New Media

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on April 6, 2010

The Internet

Traditional media

  1. Centralized, having a top-down hierarchy
  2. Costs a lot of money to become a publisher
  3. Staffed by professional gatekeepers known as editors and publishers
  4. Features mostly on-way communication with limited feedback channels

New Media

  1. Widespread broadband
  2. Cheap or free, easy-to-use online publishing tools
  3. New distribution channels
  4. Mobile devices such as camera phones
  5. New advertising paradigms

See Traditional Media vs. New Media in Tips for Success on page 307 for more characteristics.

How the internet allows PR professionals to do a better job of distributing a variety of messages:

  • Information can be undated quickly, without having to reprint brochures.
  • Interactivity is prevalent.
  • Linking allows online readers to dig deeper into a subject.
  • A great amount of material can be posted, because there are no time or space limitations.
  • It is a cost effective way of disseminating information on a global basis.
  • Audiences can be reached on a direct basis without messages being filtered through traditional mass media gatekeepers.
  • Information about your business can be accessed 24 hours a day globally.

Website Writing

Visually appealing homepage tips:

  • Define the sites objective.
  • Design the site with the audience in mind.
  • Design the material with strong graphic components.
  • Update the site constantly.
  • Do not overdo the graphics, because they take a long time to download.
  • Make the site interactive with buttons and links. (See page 315 for more information)
  • Use feedback.

It takes 50 percent longer for an individual to read material on a computer screen. Text on the computer is scanned not read in detail.

Online reading is non-linear, which means that items can be selected out of order. This technique is called branching. The basic idea of this is to eliminate the need for viewers to scroll down a long linear document.

Short Paragraphs

  • Helen L. Mitternight says, “Documents written for the Web should be 50 percent shorter than their print counterparts, according to the Sun Microsystems study.”
  • Jeff Herrington, owner of his own Dallas PR firm says that sentences should be fewer than 20 words long and that a paragraph should only be two or three sentences.

See other writing tips from Communication Briefings newsletter and Shel Holtz, author of Pubic Relations on the Net on page 311.

Building an effective website requires:

  • A “vision” of how you want your organization to be perceived.
  • A copywriter to write the text.
  • A graphic artist to add visual content
  • A computer programmer to put it together in HTML code.
  • A considerable amount of time thinking about your potential audience and their particular needs

Gordon MacDonald says, “You have 10 to 12 seconds to ‘hook’ an Internet surfer on your website, or else they’ll click onto something else.”

Additional design elements can be found on page 314.

Attract Visitors to Your Site with:

  • Hyperlinks
  • Search Engines
  • Advertising

Tracking visitors on your site is an important part of site maintenance. It answers the questions:  How well is it fulfilling its objectives? Is is generating sales leads? It is helping the organization establish brand identity?

Tracking Terms:

Hit – the number of requests a Web server has received, not the number of actual views

Page View/Page Impression – the number of times the page is pulled up

Unique Visitor – first-time visitors to a site

See also pages 322 – 345 for information on social media and blogs.

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)


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