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12.2 How It Works

Learning Objective

  1. Understand the basic fundamentals of Web public relations (WebPR).

The most important component of successful public relations (PR) is listening to your customers. They are telling you not only what they want but also how well your message is being received. In Chapter 11 "Online Reputation Management", the tools used to listen online were discussed.

If PR is about connecting with your customers, it should also be about responding to them by engaging them in conversation in the channels where that conversation is taking place.

WebPR allows you to build your own voice. Though you cannot control the message, you should lead the conversation through transparent communications.

Listen to Your Customers

Online reputation management (ORM)Ensuring that you know what is being said about you online and that you are leading the conversation surrounding your person, company, or brand. will enable a company to listen to what is being said about it online. Particularly important is to regularly monitor all channels that a customer might use to contact or talk about a company. This includes forums and consumer action Web sites, as well as personal blogs.

Not only does this allow a trend in general sentiment related to the company to emerge, but it will also highlight issues that need attention and areas that are being orchestrated successfully.

Respond to Others

ORM described the tools that can be used to find out what is being said about a company online. A key function of WebPR is to respond to those conversations with a consistent voice. Consumer-generated media can and must be responded to. Being publicly available, and publicly searchable, means that consumer-generated media (CGM) form part of the public perception of a company. As discussed in Chapter 11 "Online Reputation Management", search results often show CGM—messages that a company cannot control.

Blogs and forums are key starting points for responding. Responding in these mediums ensures that the company’s response may be viewed along with the original message—making the response more personal and thus credible in the eyes of the consumer.

What to Consider

Transparency and honesty are vital. Any semblance of “PR speak” or “spin” could see this worthy outreach backfiring and creating even more negative hype. An authentic voice works best, as does a thick skin. Respond to the good and the bad—it shows that the company is listening to all conversations.

Build Your Own Voice

Whether or not a company has a Web site, it most likely has a Web presence. Not only are businesses listed in online directories, but they are also mentioned in CGM. However, companies need to pay attention to the voice that is portrayed by their online presence and use the tools of the Internet to enhance that voice and meet strategic business objectives.

Establishing long-term, trusting consumer relationships through online article syndications, press releasesAlso called a news release, this is an electronic or paper document issued to the media with the intention of gaining news coverage. It follows established layout guidelines., and blogs aids a company to craft online credibility, placing it in a better position to respond to future criticism and receive future praise. These tools also help build links to a company’s Web site. And, of course, links increase traffic and have search engine optimization (SEO)Making sure that you are achieving optimal rankings by the search engines. benefits that can ultimately lead to conversion, sales, and an increased readership.


Social media, ORM, and WebPR are all intertwined—have you noticed? It’s all about conversations, how to listen to the chatter, and how to get involved in it as well.

While it used to be that messages were dispersed to journalists who would then broadcast them to a reading public, today that practice does not always exist to disseminate the information being transmitted. This provides tremendous opportunity for companies to be fully involved in engaging with their customers.

WebPR is not about throwing out the PR rule book. It’s about using the Internet to fully realize its communication potential.

Key Takeaways

  • WebPR is about responding and engaging with customers.
  • WebPR is best used for:

    • Listening to customers
    • Responding to others
    • Building your own voice
  • Being transparent and honest is vital.


  1. Why do you think it might be appropriate to respond to others when they are online?
  2. Why do you think it is important to respond to good and bad comments?