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Taking Public Relations Online

Taking Public Relations Online

The Internet has dramatically changed both the cost and reach of public relations firms and public relations divisions within companies. It has allowed for an increased ability to reach many more publications and their readers while reducing the time and cost normally associated with such public relations efforts. News releases and newsletters have been widely used for a number of decades but the electronic dissemination of this information has fundamentally changed the public relations industry.

Online News Releases

The purpose of a news release is to allow a company or organization to share pertinent and timely information. While technically, news releases can be distributed directly to the public, this is often counterproductive and expensive. Similar to marketing and advertising efforts, it's best to only inform consumers who already have an interest in your business. The most effective way to issue a news release has always been to contact publications, normally newspapers and magazines, and provide a copy to a specific editor. Which editor to contact is important because many publications have multiple divisions each focused on certain aspects of business or society. If you're a home builder issuing a news release about a recent quarter's earnings it doesn't make sense to send this information to the lifestyle section editor. While it may be important it is unlikely to get read let alone published.

Providing news releases online has made it easier for publications to locate and find more information about an announcement. It is also quicker and cheaper to e-mail news releases but keep in mind important news release etiquette. Never attach a news release to an e-mail as many organizations train their employees to avoid attachments for fear of viruses. Paste the news release into the body of the e-mail to ensure it does not get flagged by automated e-mail protection systems and filters. Avoid contacting editors or reporters directly to verify receipt of said news release. Finally, avoid sending a mass e-mail which lists all groups in the e-mail's header.


Public relations firms and departments have commonly used newsletters to provide more direct information to consumers and other interested parties. Instead of crafting and sending a news release to specific publications, those publications and consumers can instead subscribe to a newsletter. Well-crafted newsletters are often viewed less as advertisements and more as valuable information provided directly from the company to the public. It is important to maintain this credibility to avoid getting flagged as SPAM and have your company's IP address blacklisted.

There are two key aspects to running an online newsletter which are important to remember. First, build your list of e-mail addresses by providing a sign-up form directly on your website. This allows consumers and visitors a chance to "opt in." This is a key aspect of successful newsletters because it shows a willingness on the part of consumers wanting to hear what your company has to say. Second, as required by law and also common sense, is to include an unsubscribe link from within the newsletter e-mail which recipients can use to "opt out" of receiving your company's communications. The idea in both respects is to provide consumers full control of their newsletter experience.


Traditional public relations tools have been modernized for the Internet era allowing greater exposure for less money. Technology isn't a panacea and there are still certain tried-and-true techniques for crafting great news releases and newsletters. If used effectively, news releases and newsletters are still two of the best ways to announce a new and exciting product or other important company event.

Image by: Ingo Meironke