Web Savvy? Turn Your Knowledge into a Granted: Even Small Shops Are Looking to Master the Web, Which Presents a Bright - and Confusing - Picture

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So you're a blogger. You write, you link to other bloggers, and you create a dynamic dialogue about current events. Believe it or not, you're part of a very tiny audience of dedicated blogophiles. But even if you've never penned a blog entry before, an understanding of how these web journals are affecting PR is invaluable.

Sure, the blogosphere has blown up to allow anybody with a computer and an Internet connection to have a blog, but most of these aren't maintained. In fact, the vast majority of blogs litter the Internet, creating a virtual graveyard of good-intentioned web content.

It's the blogs—and bloggers—that are consistently updated and linked together that matter. And if you can convince an employer of the power of the web and your ability to harness it, you are a priceless commodity.



The question is not whether or not the web is a viable marketplace in which to create buzz for clients. The question is how to do that. If you can demonstrate knowledge of how to tap into the blogosphere, your value as an employee skyrockets.

And it's not just blogs that hold power. Social-media tools are shaping the new landscape, too. From MySpace and Facebook to YouTube and Digg, the user-generated outlets are far more powerful than any placement in a newspaper.

Following are things to consider:
  • Knowledge is power: Present your employer, or go to an interview, with ideas about opportunities via the web. Be proactive in your discussion, and relate the web back to a PR philosophy.

  • A track record: Show details demonstrating how you have achieved success with blogs. Create a discussion of how you identified appropriate outlets, how you identified blogs that are valuable, authoritative outlets, and how you pitched them.

  • What's next: Be prepared to talk about how blogs and other web outlets are changing the face of public relations. What challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them? How did you track the effectiveness of your web efforts?

  • A little research can go a long way: If you're interviewing for a new PR job, there is no doubt you are reading about your potential employers and their clients before you go in for the interview. Dig up some dirt on web outlets that are appropriate for their clients. This gives you the ability to discuss how you could help the firm break into the blogosphere.
Even though this field is comprised of media-savvy professionals, many of whom have no problem calling the Wall Street Journal and placing a story, the Web is still a problematic phenomenon. Many questions exist about the legitimacy of blogs and their overall effectiveness, not to mention the difficulty in trying to track where the conversation leads. The word-of-mouth trend via the web is an incredibly important development, and the next generation of great PR people—not to mention media outlets—is going to make its mark on the Internet.

If you're reading this and have no idea what we're talking about...well, don't panic yet. There are lots of resources—on the web!—that you can turn to in order to learn more about what is commonly referred to as PR 2.0 and social media. The key point to understand is that PR people no longer control the direction of the conversation (which is what the web turns your pitch into); PR people are simply the initiators of discussions.

There are very few experts in this new media field. But if you can outwardly demonstrate your ability to maneuver the murky depths of the Internet, you are a step ahead of most people and on your way to mastering what is perhaps the most important development in the history of public relations.

For more information on the power of PR, check out these blogs:
  • The Fight Against Destructive Spin, run by Gini Dietrich at Arment Dietrich (www.spinsucks.com)

  • PRSquared, run by Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications (www.pr-squared.com)

  • PR 2.0, run by Brian Solis, founder of the Social Media Club (www.briansolis.com)

  • Social Media Club, a collection of PR pros dedicated to furthering the understanding of social media (www.socialmediaclub.com)

  • BuzzMachine, run by blogging pioneer Jeff Jarvis (www.buzzmachine.com)
Visit our blog, The Fight Against Destructive Spin, at www.spinsucks.com.

About the Author

Alex Parker is an account executive with more than four years of experience in industries including home and garden, packaged goods, food and beverage, nonprofit communications, finance, hospitality, and more. At Arment Dietrich, he uses his media relations skills and expertise to craft compelling story angles, and he has helped the agency embrace new media tools, including blogging. He maintains the FireRANT! blog for Over 'n Out Fire Ant Killer and leads the account for Kelly Registration Systems, an e-government software vendor. He also works for GE Capital Solutions, Franchise Finance; Gettys; KeyLime Cove; Bartlett Tree Experts; and Sprint/Nextel.

Prior to joining Arment Dietrich, Alex worked at Dome HK, a branch of Hill & Knowlton, where his experience included working with clients such as Cold Stone Creamery, Hershey Foods, the U.S. Apple Association, Cingular, and more. His experience has also included stints with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Chicago Children's Museum. He is a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University.
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