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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Changing Scope of Public Relations

The Changing Scope of Public Relations
How Web 3.0 is challenging traditional methods of Public Relations

The goals of Public Relations today are the same: build relationships, leverage media, get the story out, shape perception. But with the rapidly changing internet and the beginning of Web 3.0, everything method of reaching these goals has changed. Traditional Public Relations meant, at its basic function, creating press releases for media outlets so that they may publish their organization's story. Relationships were made through face-to-face encounters, and agreements were sealed with the shake of a hand. Facebook, Twitter and Web 2.0 were the first to rock these traditional methods. Web 2.0 encompasses the change in internet usage where a majority of the information available was user-generated content. Blogs, tweets and Facebook posts allowed for close business to consumer relationships to be established without ever having to meet the consumers in person. Customer reviews and the ability to monitor site traffic gave companies all they needed to know about what products would be well perceived and what products seemed to be of no interest.

Currently upon us is the third phase of internet usage, coined as Web 3.0. Web 3.0 describes our current situation of information overload due to the accessibility of user-generated content during Web 2.0. Companies can no longer submit a press release in one location on their website and receive the publicity they seek. Now, publics must be studied and understood more than ever before. PR professionals must know which outlet will reach their target market, and how their message must be tailored to fit that outlet appropriately. In essence, Web 3.0 means creating information so that specific markets will have a better chance of finding the information they're looking for. According to Cade Metz, writer for PC Mag, "The Semantic Web (Web 3.0) is a place where machines can read Web pages much as we humans read them, a place where search engines and software agents can better troll the Net and find what we're looking for. "

The internet's growing ability to sort through information means a lot for how PR professionals are changing the way they create information. Search Engine Optimization, one of the most important aspects of creating searchable information, must be tailored farther to use words that your publics would know and search for. Trends in you publics' online footprints must be closely watched to see what outlets they are using the most, and thus what outlets your company should be using the most. 

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