ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Can PR people afford to ignore the Internet?

Richard Edelman, Edelman Worldwide

Richard Edelman, Edelman Worldwide

‘The Internet has multiple uses, including as an archiving facility and

for the exchange of information between offices and countries. But of

more urgency to people in PR is the role of the Internet as a marketing

and crisis management tool. Greenpeace spent dollars 2m sending images

through the Internet from its base on the Brent Spar oil rig. Meanwhile,

Shell was mailing out the occasional press release. If you want a level

playing field, you’ve got to play where your opponent’s playing.’

Mike Beard, Lucas Industries

‘The Internet is a new and remarkable weapon in our armoury of

communication techniques. But we should remember that it’s no more than

that: it doesn’t take away from communicators the job of identifying and

targeting audiences or of articulating messages and selecting the most

cost-effective routes to reach those audiences. A computer can inform

but it cannot persuade.’

Katie Kemp, Text 100

‘Just as people today couldn’t imagine being without a telephone, soon

people will think exactly the same way about the Internet. It’s not just

a new medium, it’s a way of having a genuine dialogue with mass

audiences. It’s one-to-many but without being traditional mass-

marketing. The Internet is what PR people have always dreamed of. I was

surprised by how reticent and dismissive people were about the Internet

at the IPR conference. That is a very foolish attitude that can only

harm them.’

Rosie Featherstone, Audax Communications

‘The Internet is either the biggest happening in international

communications or the biggest red herring. But, we cannot afford to

ignore it. The opportunity to communicate directly and personally with

individuals offers enormous potential. As a consultancy, quality

control, audiences, results monitoring and evaluation are the areas that

we are debating.’

Jill Coomber, Grant Butler Coomber

‘At this instance, yes, some PR people can ignore the Internet, but in

two years’ time the answer will definitely be ‘no’. As the number of

people adopting it increases, it will become all the more necessary to

use the Internet. It makes communications with clients or co-ordination

of PR campaigns with European offices so much easier. I’m afraid that

advertising agencies are using the Internet more aggressively to market

their clients and themselves and are ahead of what the PR agencies are


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