Response Paper–September 22nd, 2009

20 09 2009

Communication 491

September 22nd, 2009

Response Paper—New Rules of Marketing and PR, Chapters 5, 14 and 15

The main focus of these three chapters was to show the how our information age has changed the way in which companies must attempt to reach consumers. Since the start of traditional media, it has served as the ideal form of mass communication. Companies selling a product would attempt to reach mass media outlets, the media in turn, would disseminate the information and present it to consumers. This form of spreading information was beneficial for some companies, but not for most. The media works under many constraints; specifically news priorities and deadlines. This means not every single company was able to get their products and information out to consumers. The few companies that did, had their information mediated and interpreted by another person, before reaching their consumers. This meant that some details were skewed or omitted. In other words, gatekeeping trends inhibited these efforts.

The arrival of the internet changed how this process works. With the internet people are able to search for the information they want, thanks to search engine services like Google and Yahoo. This means that inevitably a consumer may be exposed to the press release of a company as they surf the web. Therefore companies have to change the approach to how they release information. This change is beneficial for consumers and companies. Companies, both large and small, can use the internet as an uninhibited platform that enables them to post content to a mass audience. Instead of attempting to get their information through traditional media channels; competing with others for airtime and finding the right media for their products. Instead now they can reach consumers directly. Consumers benefit from this new way of communication. They can research and read about the products that interest them. Underlying this is the fact that they can shop around with more ease to find the best price and service for their needs and on their own time. In addition customers from niche markets can also find companies that cater to their specific needs directly. As an example discussed in Groundswell, if a person is looking to build a new cement fireplace, there are companies out there that can fulfill that need. By distributing news releases throughout the internet in addition to posting them to their own websites, companies are putting themselves out there, waiting to be found by the right consumer. The underlying benefit for this is that consumers can find out about these services on their own time when they need the services.

The preceding is not to say that traditional mass media and journalism are not important anymore. They continue to be an important aspect of any public relations strategy. In fact the author makes a point to say that news releases should still be distributed to the media. But there is a caveat; these releases should be formatted in a way that caters to consumers. As these releases get distributed, everyday consumers will reach them via the internet, and thus they should be the understood audience as one writes news releases. There is also the component of social media and its role in this process, namely bloggers. They too can now play a role in this process. Some bloggers tend to have a large audience and be just as influential as traditional media, Scott recommends that they get treated and respected as such, which includes providing them with news releases. Their influence with consumers and even traditional media should not be underestimated.

These three chapters were especially interesting to me as I have considered public relations as a possible career after college. Scott’s guidelines and tips throughout this chapter are solid and logical to the trends of the Web 2.0 era. The definition of public relations, says that “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” (pp. 62). Thus it makes sense that public relations professionals and its publics should communicate directly with each other. The only thing that has changed is the way in which this process happens. The internet serves as the perfect tool to facilitate this process. Public relations professionals should embrace it.

Success or failure with the new rules truly depends on attention to details. Minuscule as they may be, they add up to be important contributing factors. A significant detail is the inclusion of hyperlinks is news releases. Hyperlinks with relevant information that leads back to the company’s website increase traffic rankings in search engine websites. The higher a website is ranked; more people will be likely to see it. The use of social media is also of prime importance, websites like DIGG and del.icio.us can help spread the news release. Additionally the wording in the news releases is also extremely important. By understanding customers and their needs, public relations practitioners can produce the sort of news release that will be found by those in need of a service. The words and phrases that are included in the news releases should match the words or phrases that consumers will be looking for as they search the web. This increases the likelihood that a news release will be found by the right consumer.

Our marketplace is based on the simple concept of supply and demand. Public relations can facilitate the creation of demand for any type of product. The internet can facilitate the access of consumers to reach a specific need they may need to fulfill. Scott’s guidelines show how to make this happen in today’s information age. They constitute simple measures that any company can use to represent themselves in the internet in a way that will keep them significant and relevant. The only step left for many people is to acknowledge, understand and accept the new rules of reaching consumers via news releases. The internet is an effective tool to reach consumers from all markets. Action or lack thereof will determine how successful a company can be in this new era.

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