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Effective Strategies for Online PR
The six elements of web-enabled communications.
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 by Dee Rambeau
DVCO Technology

Dee RambeauBy now, can we all agree that Internet-enabled, networked audiences will force change upon the communications industry whether the participants like it or not? 

If you don't agree, skip the rest of this article. For the rest of you, let's discuss the six tools of an effective online communications strategy. 

This strategy assumes two key things:

Assumption 1: All online content publishing and management can be done by the professional communicator through an easy administrative interface that requires only the most basic computer skills.

Assumption 2: All media assets, contacts and content are stored in a server environment designed to suit the needs of the company. This material can be accessed from anywhere through the Internet given the proper security.

The six tools of a strategic online communications strategy are:

1. A Corporate Web Site. This is the first point of contact for all external audiences. The brand and the message should be consistent with all other offline marketing and PR material.

2. A Media Room. All information that anyone would ever want about the company, updated on a constant basis. Linked directly to the corporate web site and controlled by the PR professionals. Brand, message, design and navigation match corporate web site.

3. A Blog. This can in many cases actually replace a web site for a small company or individual content writer. In larger cases, a blog should be used to supplement or enhance the web site. Savvy PR professionals should not only be posting content to weblogs but should also be monitoring relevant weblogs for their clients.

4. A Crisis Site. Dark until needed for an eventual crisis, this is the online component of a company's overall crisis communications plan. An insurance policy, this site is controlled by the PR professionals. The message is prepared in times of quiet and published to the site in advance. When the crisis occurs, the site is made live and is used as a one-stop resource site for both internal and external audiences.

5. A Corporate Intranet. This is a vital tool for internal communications, both in times of normalcy and in times of chaos. Employees must share the vision, the brand and the message and be able to communicate it consistently to the outside world. Also allows for dynamic learning, training and presentations.

6. A Client Extranet. The company gives access to a secure area for its clients and customers. It is separate from the corporate website and password protected. It can be used for collaboration among account team members, for managing client billings and for commerce if so required.

Only by developing an understanding of the use of these tools can a PR professional truly call themselves web-enabled.

Dee Rambeau is the founder and owner of DVCO Technology, a provider of online tools to PR professionals and a thought leader in online PR and communications.

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