The Internet is the biggest library in the world and has opened up countless sources of news and information, playing an indispensable role in the communications industry.
Communications consultants have embraced the Internet as the chosen research tool for their work, as it is both time and cost efficient. The Internet and email have brought unprecedented speed and efficiency to the research and dissemination of product and company news and in so doing, decreasing the need to flounder for company information and high-speed options.
One has to think long and hard about what was done prior to the Internet. It was a case of searching through copious amounts of newspaper clippings, reams of articles in magazines, files of company business profiles and annual reports, and relying on postal delivery services, before undertaking the task of presenting a proposal or strategy in a short spate of time.
Today communications consultants can access a potential client's company profile within seconds, search for competitor activity, research the history of a product or service and view media opportunities at the click of a button. This has resulted in high turnaround times.
The Internet has had a profound effect on the accessibility of information and knowledge, both locally and globally, and has resulted in fundamental changes for the news media and communication consultancies alike. It has become a powerful communications medium enabling companies to leverage their brands and build their corporate identity.
The Internet serves as a tool for finding information, is a medium for networking and conducting research, and is a means for the rapid and widespread dissemination of information. This communication model has irrevocably changed the nature of the relationship between an organisation and its public, to the point that business will never be conducted in the same way again - ever.
In this era of digital communication and high-tech hype, the dot.com phenomenon has taken the communication industry by storm. Consultants in the marketing, communications and advertising arena have recognised the Internet as an immediate media outlet. This enables them to increase media coverage in a different, but significant and more immediate media field to create a higher profile for their organisation. The immediacy of the Internet offers new avenues for exploration and opportunity and offers an instant return on information. Articles, news and product releases can now be immediately picked up by editors and publishers and transmitted to the web-surfing public almost instantaneously. The speed of the Internet makes the retrieval of this information and the communicating of corporate messages to key audiences faster and easier.
The Internet has allowed for easy accessibility to company information by creating an open door policy to company data, statistics, material and hence greater knowledge, understanding and awareness of the organisation. Communications consultants often utilise information regarding companies or products from the Internet. In a sense, companies have become their own publishers via online websites. Company web pages help to spread awareness and shine a positive light on current issues.
The Internet has however, created both opportunity and challenges for communications consultants. By offering an abundance of opportunity and knowledge they also present the difficult task of knowledge management. The challenge is coping with the overload of information and deciphering what is relevant and what is not.
Keeping abreast of the ever-changing marketplace is essential for communications consultants. The key to effective communications is research before, during, and after a campaign. Each year, tools to manage and elevate the practice of communications appear. When matched with communications expertise, these tools provide the foundation for a new age of communications, one that is aimed at providing a clear and impressive return on client investment and successful publicity.
Mastering the use of the Internet and using computer skills to maximize accessibility and networking opportunities, is an important aspect for communications consultants. The Internet is an indispensable tool for generating worthy media and analyst coverage and has created innovative and refreshing publicity avenues that have proven beneficial for the entire communications industry.
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