The web offers a wealth of opportunities to communicators. Greater engagement, communicating directly with stakeholders, better integration, clearer measurement, speed, cost-efficiency.
So what’s the problem?
One the one hand, traditional communicators don’t get the options. They often adopt an offline PR approach to the web: all about content production and having the right hook, but with little understanding of how the web works beyond being a publication tool. They ignore the importance of search and how people find information online, of how web users navigate a website, the value of hyperlinking and aggregating information from third parties, fostering interaction and perhaps most of all, using the web as a learning tool.
Then you have the other side of the coin. Web consultants who ignore the importance of content and building a story. They always start from a “web” perspective. They’ll dismiss a site because it does not follow best practice in navigation. They’ll say that a video is terrible without having even seen it because it hasn’t been embedded in the right way. They’ll say a hyperlink is awful because it’s too long rather than check what it leads to.
Clearly you need a balance of the two to be a good at online communications. Who fits the bill best? Usually young PR or marketing professionals who have grown up using the web and are very comfortable with technology. They get the content and message side and also get the web, but they see it as an end rather than a means.