The Web Heralds Brave New Dawn for Public Relations

Changes to the communication channel

image of .com

.com seems to have changed an awful lot

We as a human race are born communicators. Since the beginning of time we have engaged in forms of communication. The communication channel has always been the same: the sender, the medium and the receiver. However, within the communication channel it is the medium that can vary, with the Internet in recent years bringing a revolution in how we communicate, and summoning a transformation in how Public Relations (PR) is practiced.

Advancements in technology and digitalisation brought with it a shift where we as a people are moving away from printed text to digital text for consumption of information, communication with each other and learning. The web’s medium of communication, the internet, is a faster, more diverse medium than we have ever known before and for us, as PR practitioners, it has changed the playing field of mediated communication be it micro or mass communications.

Dan Edelstein made a presentation in Stanford University in 2013 entitled ‘From Gutenburg to Zuckerburg: Social Media in the Enlightenment’ where he spoke about how networking and communication has only changed slightly since the 17th and 18th century scholars, with the medium being what has changed. Where they communicated through letter writing, we today mostly communicate online. The differences of their network to ours being in their network there were high barriers of entry, it was essentially closed to the pubic meaning that it was difficult to circulate information. Today with the connections that the web allows us, we are all part of one huge network but with the demassification of the mass media and viral diffusion it is also difficult to ensure your message reaches into the media landscape of its intended publics.

 Demassification of traditional mass media

Traditionally to disseminate information to our publics we used both mass media and micro communications. Traditional mass media communicated in a mostly asymmetrical exchange, but media is costly and laborious to produce. Micro communications are more of a symmetrical exchange between PR practitioner and public, although less costly than mass media they also time consuming and laborious.

In 2005 Rupert Murdock addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington DC urging them to take notice of the demassification of traditional mass media and its potential dire consequences to the professions which utilised mass media. During his speech Murdock stated, ‘newspapers as a medium for centuries enjoyed a virtual information monopoly – roughly from the birth of the printing press to the rise of radio….But those days are gone.’ Murdock made a very valid point that newspapers and traditional mass media no longer held the monopoly on how news is consumed.

It used to be the case that almost everybody in your locality would get their news from a few select newspapers, radio stations or television channels, the traditional mass media, and so we as PR practitioners knew which channels to use to reach the general public. The PR profession had mastered communicating through traditional media but the emergence of the web meant the tools and tactics we used to reach our publics had to be developed quickly or we would be left behind.

How digitalisation has changed PR

 We know that we, as PR practitioners, act as the facilitator for communications between an organisation and its publics. We have had to keep up with the changes in transmission of communication in order to retain our roles. Now with the dramatically decreased cost of production and demassification of mass media choosing the right channel of communication to reach our intended publics has never been so crucial.

Through traditional media PR practitioners worked with marketing departments, directors and salesmen as the only conveyers of our organisations messages and did so without competition. However with the emergence of the voices of the public through social media, forums, blogs and citizen journalism, PR practitioners have to compete in order to ensure positivity and not negativity surrounds an organisation’s reputation.  (Phillips & Young, 2009)

The web as a medium is not only defined by time and reach, it is also defined by aggregation. This has prompted huge changes in how PR is practiced as we are in the age of consumer generated content so we have to be more strategic, more aware of which online and offline platforms are appropriate for which audience and message, interactive with publics, ensure transparency especially of an organisation’s corporate social responsibility policy (CSR) and be tactical through search engine optimisation (SEO).

With the web, communications between organisations and its publics has become more two way symmetrical than ever before, which is good as it promotes respect and mutual understanding, paving the way for both parties to be develop mutually beneficial relations. In 2009 Grunig wrote ‘many practitioners are using the new media in the same way they used the old- as a means of dumping messages on the general population’. Successful PR practice in this new age of digitalization realises that the communication of information and its outcomes depends on the responses and reactions of the public, which of course means that the a different level of strategy has been adopted by PR practitioners.

Grunig also wrote that, ‘PR has long been a professional practice where fads are common’. Grunig went on to write about the social media frenzy and how some PR practitioners feel that new media is so hugely different to traditional media that their practice of PR must be completely over hauled. Clever PR practitioners have adapted to embrace the huge possibilities the web offers and have done so in their stride. They are aware that the majority of skills and tactics used are the same just the medium the messages are conveyed through are different, and only slight alterations of their practice was needed.

What is interesting to note is that new media, a term with which we are all far too familiar, is no longer new media it is current media. Today this is how public relations is practiced so PR practitioners have had their transition period and should be well adapted by now. Whether the web is a fad or not, and I think not, communications throughout the world have shifted, PR practitioners must be innovative and forward thinkers in order to stay ahead of the game embracing all new elements of the web as they gain popularity amongst their publics.

The rise of citizen journalism, micro blogging and social media pose both the possibilities of risks and benefits to any organisation. Should we use these platforms to engage with our publics by listening first and then selling there is potential to increase our reputation as an organisation who cares about its publics.

But should we not engage with our publics online, or worse not be seen to care then we are giving citizen journalists and social media user’s free reign to threaten our organisation’s reputation. For instance in the case of ‘Dell Hell’ where one angry Dell customer, Jeff Jarvis, posted a negative SEO optimised blog post which in turn created a domino effect that caused bad critiques globally and significant decline in the success of Dell. This happened in 2005 when Dell’s PR practitioners had not yet commenced significant online engagement, but this incident spurred them into action. In response Dell commenced an online campaign which included transparency projects, the creation of blogs and engagement with publics to show that they were a company that cared about its customers while trying to rebuild their reputation and learn from their mistakes.

Dell Hell blog post by Jeff Jarvis

You can tell why Dell had to react to this blog post

The public interest in consuming information is as strong as ever

The emergence of the web has heralded a brave new dawn for all forms of communication not just public relations. Today the majority of people go to the web to find out information. This year HTC undertook a survey, which found that 65% of people surveyed felt they had a more rounded view of a news story because of the many online platforms, and offline traditional media that are covering news stories. 72% have an increased interest in news because it is more accessible which is positive for the PR profession as it means that the treasured press release still has a purpose, but not surprisingly only 34% of under 25s turn to traditional mass media outlets to find out news.

This poll proved that in order to remain as communication facilitators for organizations, PR practitioners need to understand and engage with publics on the web in a strategically planned manner. Worryingly for PR practitioners 55% of all people surveyed are more interested in the story than the source. This means that there is a greater potential for false information or slanderous information to be believed by publics, thereby increasing the need for positive PR.

Today’s publics have become information snackers with 52% of all people surveyed checking online for news more than once a day, reading snippets from a number of different sources. With the sheer amount of information available online and how it is constantly updated, it is no wonder that transparency, internet agency, internet porosity, content richness and content reach are the drivers of online communication now.

The web even affected corporate culture

 When Ivy Lee, who created the first modern press release, the style that we are still familiar with today, issued his Declaration of Principles in 1907 he stated that ‘This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open. We aim to supply news… In brief, our plan is, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply to the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subject which it is of value and interest to the public to know about’. PR practitioners used to have control, to a certain extent, of what information was shared with their publics. In 1907 Lee was promoting the need for transparency however, it is fair to say that he probably didn’t imagine that the corporate world would need to become so transparent.

Transparency traditionally is unfavourable by the corporate world because it can expose an organization to competitive disclosure and exposes intellectual property that may provide them with competitive advantage, but for PR practitioners we know the value of transparency; it allows publics to view organizations as open, communicative and accountable.

In 2003 Procter & Gamble (P&G) decided to move forward in business with radical transparency. P&G launched which allows everyone access to information about how P&G products are produced, about how P&G are being sustainable and also which P&G product is best for the task at hand. P&G made this strategically planned move and it allowed them to gain a competitive advantage. A reputable website which published a positive article about P&G’s move towards radical transparency was, this supportive article meant that P&G’s message would have filtered into’s network allowing their message to reach further networks through positive third party endorsement.  (Phillips & Young, 2009)

PR practitioners moving forward

With traditional media there was a tendency for PR practitioners to use Grunigs first model, however since the emergence of the web there is more and more opportunity for PR practitioners to use Grunigs fourth model, and engage with their publics in two way symmetrical communications, for mutual benefits.

Grunig made a point that PR practitioners must not treat the web as they treated traditional media, meaning they must be careful not to use the internet as a dumping ground. That the web creates the need for two way interaction and although as a whole is most a non-controlled medium, it has the ability to host both push and pull media.

However it is worth noting that although the web has become how we mostly communicate through mediated communication it is not only how we communicate, verbal and one-on-one communication has not died out. Communication will not die out because we as a human race are born communicators as Alastair Campbell said ‘Communication makes the world go around.’

The web brought with it the demassification of the mass media, meaning that PR has had to adapt it’s skills and tactics and adjust to the fact that the traditional mass media does not reach the masses any more, that a higher level of strategic planning must be used across multiple platforms of communication to reach it’s publics but mostly that in order to survive PR practitioners must be adaptable to change and outside the box thinkers.


Sources and references 

Phillips, D and Young, P (2009) Online Public Relations. London, Kogan Page Limited

Search Engine Optimisation – on page and off


Things that help SEO…

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is something with which you  will have to become well versed, if you want your website to be on the first page, or top of the pile on Google (or Bing or which ever search engine you use). The only thing is that SEO, similarly to social media, is something which needs to be constantly updated, unfortunately it’s not a once off job. What you will notice is that SEO is, without a doubt, one of the most important things you need for your website.

I know you’re beginning to think that being online is turning out to be an awful lot of work, but bare with me, once you take the initial first big steps, the rest is just keeping the ball rolling. A little bit on online activities and a little bit of offline activities and you will be rolling in no time.

When it comes to ensuring you are top of the list on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) there are a few things to consider online. For instance using keywords in the code of your website, make sure they are relevant to your target audience and they will work even better! if your not entirely sure how to do this don’t worry good have a fantastic AdWords tool that you can use…

Whats really important is that you make sure your URL ( makes sense that it is intuitive, you want to be easily found don’t you? Making sure your content is unique, interesting, good quality, useful and that its is updated frequently is important too. Then there is a few other things like an xml site map and robots.txt which will ensure that search engines crawl through your website correctly to index it in the search engines’ directory. Ok, so that seems a bit technical but if you say those words to your web developer I promise that they won’t look at you as though you’ve two heads.

There are things that you can do offline that will be of huge benefit too, like using your social media networks as social signals. Bet you are excited now that there are extra benefits to your social media efforts.Interestingly offline doesn’t necessarily mean offline in this sense, its means online but outside of your own website, so basically channels that you don’t have complete control over. There is one social network that I haven’t mentioned to you on this blog that will help enormously with your rankings is Google+, the only difference that it has over Facebook and Twitter is that because Google own it, they like it, and so it ranks higher on the SERP. Might be worth considering.

Online PR might be worth taking into consideration too, making sure that you have links to your website on other reputable websites, the more the merrier. Keep remembering though that heavy content is good in pushing you up the que for top of the SERP too so videos, pictures of events, documentation of offline activites ( offline does mean real life offline here) even infographics.

Joke about SEO

And that’s it..

All of this and a little pinch of perseverance will help get you right to the top of the list on the SERP.

Pay-per-Click or Display advertising – which is best?

Will you get those clicks?

Clicking a mouse

Getting the traffic that you desire on your website is sometimes a difficult task. You’ve had your website built, started using social media and now you’re realising it’s a dog eat dog world online. Especially when it comes to the link for your website showing up at the top of the search engine results page! Ideally you will want your website to show up at the top of the organic search list. How does that happen? well you make sure your page is search engine optimised. But, you can do more than that in the attempt to win those sought after clicks, you start using… wait for it… bet you guessed it…  Advertising! The only thing is, there’s more than one type to choose from and which one is the better option?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one option. The name is self explanatory, you pay a small fee each time your ad gets clicked on. How it works is, you place bids on keywords that are related to your business and then when someone searches for these terms, which ever company has bid the highest shows up top in the search engines sponsored links. Very straight forward. The difficulty is choosing which keywords you want to bid on and figuring out what people are searching for when they are looking for a business or service that you provide.

PCC advertising on google

PPC Advertising Example

Display advertising is the other option. Display ads can range from text to images to videos and even interactive ads, you probably will be most familiar with the term banner ads. These display ads then would be placed on websites relevant to your business or service, meaning that they would be displayed to people who might be interested, they would be targeted! What you will need to consider when you go down this route is who you are targeting, what your message is and will the contents of your display ad be effective.

Display Advertising Example

Display Advertising

An article on by Michael Blanding states that PPC ads can create clicks to your website by placing your ad in front of the internet user, which is more likely to get the clicks and translate to purchases be it online or offline. Display ads, even though they get less clicks and so create less traffic to your website, create awareness about your business or service and indirectly may translate to purchases.

Similar to all activity that your business has online I guess you will have to choose which type of online advertising is relevant to what you want. Do you want to gain traffic to your website or would you prefer to build brand awareness? Maybe you could use both types of advertising? Just ensure you have a strategic plan so that you can have the most success from you advertising ventures. Good luck!

How B2B marketers are successfully using LinkedIn

LinkedIn logo

Does your business have the LinkedIn factor?

Now that you have taken the first few steps into the social media world with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, you should consider about starting to use LinkedIn for your business. Another one? I hear you question, well this one is different because LinkedIn is the worlds largest professional social media platform with over 225 million users world wide. Their mission is ‘connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful’. More productive and successful  that sounds great actually doesn’t it, surely that is exactly what you want for your business. LinkedIn is about connecting your business with other businesses for everyone’s benefit.


LinkedIn is the preferred Social Network

How can LinkedIn do this? Well Business to Business (B2B) marketers agree that LinkedIn is the best platform for generating qualified leads and conversions, so in plain English to engage, to promote and to sell, and it gets better LinkedIn have pages dedicated to showing you how to build relationships and connect with professionals to help you be as successful as possible on their network. Approximately half of the professionals on LinkedIn are business decision makers, that’s 125 million people you could connect with. So it seems logical enough to want be a part of LinkedIn, as they say if your not in, you can’t win. Other features available for you to utilize just as the B2B marketers do are company pages, groups, ads targeted by role and sponsored mail. Sounds very straight forward doesn’t it but the tone you use on LinkedIn can make or break your success on the platform.

Marketing B2B is different than B2C (Business to Customer) in a few ways, instead of wanting to know how your product will make them feel, businesses want to know how logical your product or service is, how it will benefit them and if and how it might save them money, time and resources. It is important to be factual and informative when B2B marketing. To get this information across you should focus on the features of your product or service. Leo Ryan, head of Ogilvy@Social, says about LinkedIn ‘if B2B’s your thing, it’s the first stop’. The below infograph will give you a more detailed impression of how to differentiate your tone between LinkedIn and other social media platforms.


How using LinkedIn (your professional network) compares to other social networks

Getting a grip on how you should use LinkedIn? A video showing you how to use LinkedIn successfully to engage, promote and sell might help you understand a little bit more…

Krishna De has some useful tips not to forget when using LinkedIn: always remember your defined purpose for using LinkedIn, take the time to actively use your LinkedIn business account and promote your LinkedIn by integrating it with both online and offline sources of information about your business. If you remember these guidelines and actively engage with professionals then you are almost guaranteed success on this social media platform. Go on, you’ve already taken the first steps into the social media realm you may as well keep on going and do it right.

In the last 8 years YouTube has taught us that…


YouTube Logo

You’ve heard that ‘heavy’ content such as videos and pictures will boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and you’re considering utilizing YouTube to benefit your business? Did you know YouTube is the second most popular search engine on the internet after Google, hmm seems almost strange that you haven’t started using YouTube for your business already. This user generated video content sharing website was only launched in 2005, even though it seems it has been around a lot longer.

YouTube is a leader in the video sharing world, the first of its kind and leading by example. Whats interesting on YouTube is that online content inspires offline creation of content, which ultimately creates trends on YouTube such as ‘fail’ videos or ‘funny cat’ videos but this is mostly true for social users.

YouTube infographic

YouTube Infographic, Second Largest Search Engine in the World, by Mushroom Networks

Some things that we have learned from YouTube in the last 8 years and how you can utilize these to benefit your business are:

1. People like video – Video is the next best thing to face-to-face interaction when personalizing your brand. Where maybe a letter and a video could get across the same message, it is easier to build brand awareness through a video.  Watching a short video is simple, the less hassle the potential client has to go through to find out about your business the better, and the great thing about YouTube is that it doesn’t require it’s users to register in order to view content, which makes the video’s you share easily accessed.

2. Viral – Making a video go viral isn’t as easy as it sounds, fewer than 1% of videos on the internet go reach more than 1 million views. Typically viral videos are simply entertainment videos, for example the Chinese Backstreet boys or more recently Gagnam Style, but it is possible to create entertaining viral videos that also carry a message, Mekanism an American Creative Agency, have come up with a formula which they have proven to succeed in making your video go viral (or at least reach a bigger audience than just posting and praying) People + Platform x Snowball Effect= Results. Brendan Gahan, Director of Social Media for Mekanism stresses that majority of the focus needs to be on the campaign launch, that is how maximum impact is achieved. This is how they achieved viral success with the video for ASPCA called Hovercat. Basically, going viral isn’t easy but you can do it.

3. Promotion – YouTube is a great way to promote your business, and the possibilities of what you can upload are endless. Of course there is the obvious of uploading your advertisements for your product or service but you could upload videos of your office space or of employees to add authenticity, or videos of positive feedback to your company, maybe trips or roadshows you’ve been on, run contests. By showing your brand as being active online you are likely to engage with your target audience as they will see you as an active entity. You can also utilize advertising within YouTube so that your latest video content can reach the desired target audience, helping to make your efforts most effective while all the time directing viewers back to your website ans supporting the sales process.

4. DIY – People search YouTube to find out about products or services or how to do something themselves. Many companies are not using YouTube to provide this information to their customers. Why not be a leader your field and start video logging for your company to provide your customers with the information they need. For example if your are selling false eyelashes why not create a video showing how to apply those eyelashes, like GoVacuum who answered customers how to emails with video step by step answers.

5. Google and YouTube – Youtube videos are shown on Google search results. This means results of the second most popular search engine are found on the first most popular search engine in the world. Google is a parent company to YouTube and so by utilizing both search engines doesn’t it seem obvious that you could potentially reach a wider audience. Also YouTube videos are very easy to share across all your social media sites, just be carefully about cross posting the same thing on all sites a the same time.

YouTube lets your customers see you, hear you and connect with you, sounds foolish not to hop on the bandwagon and see your customer base grow. Still a little bit nervous of making your first video for uploading? Fear not its actually a lot easier than you might think.

10 ways small Irish businesses can use Facebook and Twitter

Are you part of small business and quietly thinking of tapping into the world of social media? Here you will find 10 ways in which you will see how Facebook and Twitter could be of huge benefit to you. It might be slightly (or dramatically) different to the forms of marketing that you are familiar with, it certainly has a conversational tone, but with the tools and possibilities available it would be a shame not to at least consider using Facebook and Twitter.

social conversation

Social media is conversational

  1. Online Presence – Establishing an online presence is important in today’s technologically crazed world. I know personally that ‘googling’ it is the first step when searching for a product or service, and as the saying goes if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. But you don’t have a website? Use Facebook and Twitter as platforms to create your presence. Erika Anderson of states that being online ‘can immediately create the sense that your business is a legitimate enterprise’. By simply sharing content and networking you will be enabled to engage with your audience and to grow your audience base.
  2. Promotion – Digital and Marketing Manager at Sage Ireland Avril McArdle says “word of mouth is the biggest form of zero cost advertising and managed well it can be what really sets you up in the early months and years”. On social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter people connect and interact quickly and often, meaning word of mouth is spread faster, further. By having an active online presence your fans/followers will increase your publics by simply sharing or retweeting one of your posts, increasing brand recognition.
  3. Sales – Not only can you have a booking engine link to your business on your facebook page, you have the ability to run promotions, advertise offers, offer discounts or simply advertise stock/services on both social media sites. Online advertising will feed both online and offline sales.
  4. Search Engine Optimisation – By using your Facebook and Twitter pages cleverly meaning using multimedia content such as pictures, videos, links, interactions with your audience and keeping your content ‘fresh’ will give you a better SEO giving you a better rating on Google. Ultimately giving you a better chance of being discovered by a latent audience.
  5. Customer Service – Using Facebook and Twitter to help your customers with queries is becoming a more common practice. An example of an Irish company who are using this successfully are the hosting company Blacknight. Cleverly Blacknight are using their social media pages to both answer queries, from the relevant help desk, and let their audiences know how they are addressing their service problems if and when relevant.
  6. Customer Retention – By being active online your audience is more likely to take notice of your business/company and stay engaged with your updates. Maintaining an interesting online presence will regularly and gently remind your audience of you. Just ensure that you vary your content updates and don’t bombard your audience by over posting.
  7. Customer Relationship Management – It costs nothing to be nice, ensure your tone on Facebook and Twitter is approachable, efficient and that your responses to your audiences are in a positive tone. Your tone and posts will vary slightly from Twitter to Facebook, Twitter being more concise and Facebook more lengthy. If you are seen to have good CRM then it improves the likelihood of other customers approaching you in the future.
  8. Social Media Insights – These is a feature which is available on both Facebook and Twitter which lets you see interaction your page receives  which and what type of your posts/tweets have the most engagement, what time of the day your audience interacts and engages with your page/tweets and who your audience are. On Facebook these are simply called Facebook Insights and are in plain sight on your business page, however on Twitter it is slightly different this is available through an app called Tweetdeck.
  9. Listening to Competitors – You can use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to follow your competitors. This will let you see how they are targeting and engaging with their audience, what competitions they are running, how often and what they are posting. You can use this as inspiration for your own pages, maybe you could target the audience better?
  10. Plan For and Measure Your Success – This can be easily done through social media insights over a longer period of time. You will be able to plan for the audience you have what they will respond to and interact with but also you will be able to see how successful you have been, what worked and what didn’t allowing you to constantly improve your online presence. Then when you have measured your success you can even post about it, for example BBC announced when they reached 3million likes on Facebook.
Facebook post

BBC Facebook Update

So now that you’re aware of some of the benefits of creating a Facebook and Twitter page for your business you might be more inclined to take advantage of the benefits. Just remember that it will take time to establish your online presence but it will be worth the investment in the long term. Why not maybe involve some employees to ease the work load just ensure they are aware of your digital strategy and brand tone. As the saying goes many hands make light work, just as Rosemary O’Shaughnessy’s youtube clip says!

Blogging Begins

Social Media

Social media sites work together

This is the first  blog entry on Lisa Moran PR. This is my professional blog for public relations digital marketing where I will explore and examine and learn about the world of digital marketing and social media.