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The Case for PR in a Web 2.0 World

The Case for PR in a Web 2.0 World

By: Jordan Weil, Intern, D.C.

I recently read an interesting article in The New York Times titled, “Word of Mouth, and How to Get It,” discussing the value of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. Surprisingly, it did not mention Web 2.0 as a tool for viral marketing. Web 2.0, as we all know, is word-of-mouth at its finest. It is taking over the internet, and scaring the pants off traditional marketing and advertising firms.

After all, there is no such thing as a Web 2.0 ad – regardless of popular opinion. Advertisements can be interactive and can even contain video and sound, but at the end of the day, ads exist primarily in side bar and pop-up formats, requiring users to click on them.

The question begging asked by Madison Avenue execs remains, how do advertisers grab the attention of the ‘younger generation.’

Personally, I consider myself a fairly jaded younger consumer, impervious to most forms of advertising. I don’t listen to the radio and I change channels during commercial breaks on TV. I skim over print advertisements without a second glance and have computer programs installed to block internet ads. I do, however, read the newspaper often. And although the decline of the physical newspaper is largely credited to the generation I so lovingly call my own, we love news. Not only do we like to know what’s going on, but we have to know what’s going on. As such, we turn to the internet.

What does this have to do with Public Relations? Public Relations drives news. A press release, a product review, an interview – these are all tools PR professionals use to create news. So how can I, a young consumer, directly access the information that PR professionals are carrying?

Behold Web 2.0! Someone who reads even more news than I do discovers the press release, due to its clear and succinct headline :). He then “diggs” it or blogs about it, which, in turn, allows someone else to stumble across it and post feedback using any number of popular Web 2.0 sites, so on and so forth. Before long, mainstream media picks up on it, and the reporter who deletes press releases on the spot and NEVER picks up his phone is calling you to set up an interview.

So somewhere between the original release and the news story, I find out about it. So why is this good for PR? Because of all the web pages that I look at on a day-to-day basis, I have yet to click on a single advertisement. I theoretically cut through thousands of various forms of advertisement every day just to get right to the story that PR professionals help instigate.

This is why PR isn’t going anywhere for a very, very long time.

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