The Information Age has ushered in a whole new array of methods to market a reseller’s business to its target audiences. Whether it is using the latest technology to communicate with potential customers, or turning to Internet communication strategies to serve the needs of the news media, a consistent

effort around the use of technology in its marketing efforts can bring positive results for a reseller’s business.

The World Wide Web, having already changed the way businesses interact with their customers, has been freeing customers -for years now- from their traditionally passive role as receivers of marketing communications, giving them much greater control over the information search and acquisition process.

Customers have become active participants in the marketing process allowing businesses to reap the benefits of innovation in interactivity by being closer to the customer than ever before.

Rich media ads, for example, has allowed advertisers to take traditional media assets like video, audio, animation, and photos, and combine them into a multimedia branding experience that streams from an ad server to a publisher site, such as this publication’s IT Business.ca web site.

What has made rich media advertising truly unique, and sets it apart from the GIF format, is its interactive nature. Instead of creating a one-way presentation like a television commercial, rich media ads invite the consumer to interact with the ad to gain additional information or insight into the advertiser’s products or services

For marketing purposes, the use of rich media – whether streaming video, animation, Flash or audio – where a company can deliver a newsletter, for example, to an e-mail box and then draw the recipient’s attention into the client’s Web page, is emerging as a novel way of getting more attention. Web developers and banner ad creators may have been the first to jump onto the animation bandwagon, but today even public relations players are finding a way to utilize rich media, as well. From product pitches to invitation to media briefings, rich media’s dramatic visual effects can certainly gain the attention of the most indifferent journalist.

But if resellers plan to include a rich media strategy into their marketing efforts, they must ensure it’s the most prudent use — and that they’re not just wasting viewers’ bandwidth. The last thing companies want to do is to become too intrusive in their efforts to gain more exposure.

Electronic public relations, is another example that illustrates the use of technology in today’s race to get mind-share among audiences. Electronic PR uses Internet technology to facilitate the exchange of influence between an organization’s constituent parts and publics. While traditional media largely deal with passive audiences, Internet media deal with very active ones.

There are some important issues to understand before a company designs an electronic PR campaign. It must be recognized that when answering one person’s question, a company may address a readership of 150,000 potential consumers. To be effective, companies using online communications must be comfortable within the online communities. Besides understanding the technology, they must understand the cultures, know how to handle flames (argumentative responses) and possess good damage control skills. The Net rumor mill is fast and furious. Messages must be correct and backed up by solid in-house support to offer immediate answers to inquiries.

The key difference between classical business to consumer communications and Net communications is how information is given to the consumer. Hype, sales pitches, and rehashes of stilted press releases don’t cut it online. However ongoing availability to a company’s publics and providing a genuine resource to appropriate stakeholders does. Bringing a company’s message, in its own words, to its audiences is extremely successful in realizing communications goals.

Monica Salvo is an IT freelance public relations practitioner. Bringing with her a decade of experience, she has provided strategic communications direction and day-to-day management of public relations activities for key technology companies in Canada and abroad. Also, Monica was formerly a senior writer with Computer Dealer News and Computing Canada

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