Fast, interactive, open, responsive global competitive and hungry for information, opinion and channels Its such fun. Cast your eye round the public relations industry and find young, attractive, intelligent and successful people re-inventing their industry.
In seedy offices filled with top of the range computers above even seedier shops, informally dressed entrepreneurs create the latest on the Web. Nerds are out netzines are in. They look to the Internet for a fast track future and they expect the Internet to be fast too.
The reputation of a company that is slow in Cyber Society must inevitably slide. Every organisation has to use the Internet and an inadequate presence will tell its own tail. Who wants to be associated with company that is doomed? Everything about the Internet is fast. Newsgroups and chat sites talk about which gigs are on, where to meet and what is fun and frantic tonight. AOL and ICQ report that 430 million Buddy List and Instant Messenger service messages and a further 330 million ICQ messages per day. Four years ago, these facilities did not even exist! It’s bigger than all the telephone calls in the world! As for watching television, forget it.
Nielson data tells us that on average households with on-line access spend 13% less time watching TV. As for videos… In every dimension, the Internet, and faster. With all this fast communication, being part of it seems essential. It shapes opinion and makes reputations. The number of users is growing fast. NUA8 ,a source of much research, estimate that from 98 million on line in 1997 there will be 350 million by 2005. The dream is to be part of this potential market. To have an Internet brand presence that offers rewards beyond dreams. The reputation manager has to be aware that their presence is there and international enough and in time.
Over 4,000 new Web sites appear each day. Per head of population, more people use the Internet in Finland and Norway than in the US. The UK has the 12th highest penetration of the population. Ten per cent population penetration was achieved by 11
countries last year and will have reached 14 countries when you read this. Waiting to develop and Internet strategy against this rise and rise in coverage means that catching up becomes ever more difficult. The reputation of a company falling behind will
It took 38 years for the telephone to achieve 50 million users and 2.5 years for AOL chat services to achieve the same number. So where is the 24 hour manned sales chat site? A capability no more difficult to set up than a tele-sales operation (and using the
same computers too!).
Consumer on-line spending at UK sites grew from $15 in 1997 to $400 million at the end of 1999 and it is predicted to reach $1940 by 2002 (Datamonitor). Standing behind a shop counter is out, being a hit counter is in. Web advertising started at $500 million in 1997 and two years later was over £1750 million. Who wants to be in newspaper advertising when you can be big on the Internet. The speed and frenetic activity of the net forms and shapes attitudes.
Successful Internet companies grow at a pace that is beyond belief compared to traditional organisation and become very big like Freeserve and Amazon. So no one makes money on the Internet. Wrong. From lingerie to wine, there is case study after
case study of profitable e-commerce. In fact many companies now derive most of their revenue from on-line transactions. Hewlett Packard was one of the first to say it did! Their reputation soared. The uptake of technology by Internet users is bewilderingly fast. However dynamic an organisation may have been in 1998, it is fuddy-duddy to netzines waiting for year 2000 Web sites to download.
One sure way to adversely affect reputation is to be seen to be slow compared to other users of the Web site. Technophobe reputation managers are now a corporate liability. The PR industry should be leading the charge, bullying the clients and pushing managers to get really confident and relevant to the Internet. At stake is reputation among 17 million on-line people queuing to buy Christmas presents on line at the end of the second millennium.