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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Changing Scope of Public Relations

The Changing Scope of Public Relations

How Web 3.0 is challenging traditional methods of Public Relations
By: Emily Petrini

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. Junior accounting major Jenn Leffler verifies this notion with her summary on social media marketing.

Web 3.0

Currently upon us is the third phase of internet usage, coined by
Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, 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."

Web 3.0 and Public Relations
The Internet's growing ability to sort through information has changed the way that PR professionals 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. Pam Wilson, Marketing Executive at the Press of Atlantic City, discusses how Web 3.0 has influenced her business. 

Brett Safron, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Cision. says that Web 3.0 is “…going where the influencers are – whether it will be a traditional news source, a blog, a weekly Twitter hashtag gathering, a Facebook group or tomorrow’s Twitter/Facebook/delivery method.” Web 3.0 brings upon a new era of user generated content in mass quantity. Instead of simply creating information for publics to find, public relations professionals need to seek out the social media pages that are getting the most traffic. The creators of these pages, or the “influencers,” have the ability to market products better than any traditional method of advertising, and for virtually no cost. Modern public relations strategy for Web 3.0 involves knowing your publics enough to know which outlets influence them. For example, if you are targeting a product for college students, you may find more success marketing your product on an application like Instagram than you would if you were targeting to adults who may not be familiar with this outlet. In this Web Era, it is more important than ever for companies to have an in-depth knowledge of their publics and what their publics are interested in.

Innovation in Business
In order for businesses to remain competitive in this unsteady economy, it is crucial for public relations specialists to understand the implications of Web 3.0. Our society is immersed in an overload of information and user generated content. For this reason, companies must work to seek out the outlets that will be able to influence their publics best so that their message is not lost in the shuffle. It is also important for businesses to stay up to date with the rapidly changing world of social media. New outlets are created every day, and understanding how to use these outlets is essential to marketing your product effectively. Jamie Hoagland, Events and Promotions Manager at the Press of Atlantic City summarizes how her department has been forced to innovate. 

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