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What Can I Expect from Online Exposure?
It's not a fad - it's not a trend - it's a way of life.
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 by Marsha Friedman
EMSI Public Relations

Marsha FriedmanIt used to be that people went to a neighborhood
coffee shop in the morning, with their morning paper under their arm, ordered a large coffee and sat down to read the news of the day. Nowadays, the paradigm has shifted just a bit.

Today, they go to a Starbucks with an IPad or smartphone in their pocket, order a large coffee (just to have the barista tell them it’s not called large anymore – it’s called Vente) and sit down to check the headlines on their phone.

Years ago, if PR firms got a news placement for their client online, it was like a little bonus – a cherry to put on top of the sundae. Today, it is the very life-blood of PR, with online news coverage making up the majority of how people get informed today.

According to a study by the independent Pew Research Center for People and the Press, the Internet is a regular news source for a majority of Americans – 57 percent regularly get news from at least one Internet or digital source. Search engines, Facebook apps, iPhone and iPad apps, and other feeds that fuel the online and smartphone hunger for news.

The report also stated that the use of search engines to find news has also increased substantially. A third of the public employs search engines, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing, three or more days a week to search for news on a particular subject of interest.

What’s more is the way news is covered on the Internet. News aggregators like Yahoo, AOL and MSN always ensure that readers can identify resources, to find out more about any given topic covered in the news. They provide links to related stories, other news sites and to the Web sites of the sources they use in their stories. That means if you or your company’s spokesperson is quoted in a story, your Web site will likely be displayed as an additional resource.

I’ll say it plainly – you can’t buy that. There is no advertising solution that equates to the third-party verification of a legitimate media outlet quoting you and then providing a link to your Web site as an added resource. The story engages the readers with your message or your words and then places them one click away from your virtual storefront.

Even in the cases where your Web site may not be displayed, your audience is a Google search away from finding you, after reading about you. And, you don’t have to worry about them misspelling your name, because they can copy and paste it right from the story.

Further, that story will stay available and searchable on the Internet for months, if not years. In the old days of the print newspaper story, readers would have to clip the article from the newspaper, in order for it to have any staying power. Today, it’s point and click, and if they want to find you again, they can.

But, that’s not to say that regular newspapers are worthless anymore either. According to Pew, most traditional newspaper and magazine hard clips are repurposed on the Internet 8 to 10 times on different news sites, after they appear in print. Traditional print media, in fact, still makes up a large percentage of news coverage today. The only difference is that most of their audience reads that coverage online.

If you’re not entrenched in the media the same way a Public Relations company might be, it can be difficult to recognize the changes that have taken place, thanks to the internet. It’s not a fad. It’s not a trend. The Internet is a fact of life and it has truly become the way most people get their news today, and readers could be clicking on your coverage for months and years to come.

Marsha Friedman is a 21-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.

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