College students have grown up with the Internet, and its difficult to imagine life without it. For centuries, the mass media controlled the flow of information. The new media characteristics involve widespread broadband, cheap/free, easy-to-use online publishing tools, new distribution channels, mobile devices, such as camera phones, and new advertising paradigms. The Internet, for the first time in history, has caused the democratization of information around the world. In brief, the internet was created as a tool for academic researchers in the 1960s and came into widespread public use in the 1990s.
1. Writing for the web. Two basic concepts are important when writing for the Web. First, there is a fundamental difference between how people read online and how they read printed documents. Internet readers can scan text online instead of reading word-by-word. Second, the public relations writer needs to know the basic difference between linear and nonlinear styles of writing. Printed material usually follows a linear progression; a person reads in a straight line from the beginning of the article to the end of it. Nonlinear means that items can be selected out of order; a person selects a note card out of a stack.
2. Building an effective website. You have 10 to 12 seconds to hook an Internet surfer onto your website, or else they’ll click onto something else. For this reason, considerable attention is given to Web design so a site can compete with the thousands of other Web pages that are readily accessible with the click of a mouse. The idea is to create a website that is attractive and easy to navigate and that offers relevant information. Marketing your website and thinking about your potential audience and their particular needs are important factors to consider.
3. Making the site interactive. A unique characteristic of the Internet and the World Wide Web, which traditional mass media does not offer, is interactivity between the sender and the receiver. One aspect of the interactivity is the “pull concept”. The Web represents the “pull” concept because you actively search for sites that can answer your specific questions. At the website itself, you actively pull information from the various links that are provided. In contrast, the concept of “push” is information delivered to you without your active participation. Traditional mass media- radio, TV, newspapers, magazines- are illustrative of the “push” concept, and so are news releases that are automatically sent to media. So are e-mails sent to you. Another dimension of interactivity is the ability of a person to engage in a dialogue with an organization. Many websites, for example, encourage questions and feedback by giving an e-mail address that the user can click and then send a message.