Integrating Online Public Relations with Other Media

What are online media? What are the principles of integration with other media?
When should I integrate online public relations with other media?

What are online media?

Online media are communications tools. They join hundreds of communications tools in use. Online media allow:

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Multimedia: Voice, visuals, animation, data and text are all part of online.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Push and interactive communication: Online media are used as mass broadcast OR individual interactive communication. "Push" or broadcast approaches frequently appear in delivery of news and information and in mass delivery of e-mail (especially junk mail). Some web pages are broadcast vehicles with no interactive component. They are on-line brochures. Interactive communication invites participation, such as personalized e-mail, bulletin boards, chat rooms, on-line news conferences, etc.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Speed of delivery: On-line is faster than ground mail, as fast or faster than faxing, nearly as fast as the telephone, radio and television. As communications links upgrade, on-line will equal the speed of telephone, radio and television. On-line telephoning and television today are crude.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Wide choices in formatting and presentation: Online includes text and data with little formatting and highly stylized and animated web pages.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Localized and international reach: Online media can be localized to an individual or a group through use of a restricted medium (such as an intranet) or sent to everyone with on-line access, such as a Web page, bulletin board or chat room.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Timely and timeless: Information resides online in files that remain until removed.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) A variety of technologies: On-line includes commercial and public providers from America OnLine and CompuServe to the Internet and Web. Each delivery medium has specific technical requirements.

What are the principles of integration with other media?

Integration of online media begin with the understanding that "business is a subset of communication. One may communicate and never conduct an economic transaction, but one cannot conduct an economic transaction and not communicate." (from Integrating Corporate Communications).

Integration is based on communications principles that include:

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Communication starts with the senses -- sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Online uses sight and sound, but not taste, touch and smell.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Communication occurs between at least two parties but is not always bi-directional: A message may be intended for a specific person or no one in particular. On-line is both broadcast and interactive.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Communication is informational or effective: Informational communication transmits data. Effective communication has a message, intended receiver and intended result. Online is both informational and effective communication.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Communication is a craft: Online requires skills and grammars just as writing, motion picture production or radio talk shows.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Communication is affected by environment: Communication is affected by culture, personalities, group dynamics and more. Online communication is no different.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) A message-receiver and not a message-sender defines the acceptability of a message and medium: If a target individual or group have no access to on-line, then use of online to deliver a message is ineffective. If a message-receiver rejects a message, communication is ineffective.

Green_Ball4100.gif (257 bytes) Corporate Communication should be:

Simple: The singular focus of messages and media on survival and success of a company.
Timely: Ideal timing delivers delivers information at the exact moment needed to support economic transactions and employees.
Open: The right message reaches the targeted external or internal individual through a proper medium without barriers.
Defined: Defined corporate communication determines who communicates what messages through which media to message receivers individually identified both inside and outside and organization.
Flexible: The organization adapts messages, media and audiences, as necessary, to achieve results.
Individual: In all effective communication, choice and action rest with the individual. Corporate communication does not persuade groups. Rather, it persuades individuals, who accept a definition of self and of group norms.
Meaningful: The intent and purpose of the communication is clear and, as far as possible, without multiple meanings and subtexts.
Measurable: All communication uses resources and competes for attention. Measurement learns what corporate communication works and what does not.

When should I integrate online public relations with other media?

When other corporate media are integrated and directed toward a specific result, online public relations should integrate with them. When other corporate media are not directed toward a specific result, online public relations activities need not integrate with them.

Ideally, corporate communications media are integrated. In practice, few are. Integration usually occurs around a specific task such as product promotion or announcement of a new mission. Organizations communicate in so many directions at once both internally and externally, they are inherently chaotic. Cost-effective corporate communication requires a structured and disciplined approach to communication that few companies have time or resources to undertake.

On-line public relations can be used as a supplementary or principal communications medium to reach targeted audiences. It is important in both cases, however, to show that using online directly supports a company's survival and success whether or not online is integrated with other company communications media.

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