Thursday, November 27, 2008

Online PR Hypecycle - where are we?

I have been wondering where online PR has got to in the Gartner Hype Cycle.
It would be nice to believe that it has already arrived in mainstream practice in the UK.

But, I don't think so.

The tale begins with the 1995 CIPR annual conference in, I think, Warwick when Jon White, Reggie Watts and I expressed opinions about the future of PR. We were sked to look ten year out. Reggie and Jon were about right with CSR and the role of PR in management. I, on the other hand was about five years to ambitious.

The CIPR/PRCA Internet Commission did brilliant work only to be sidelined by the year 2000 internet bubble crash and it was only when the 'Web 2.0' hype began to bite that the PR industry began to look at online PR again.

Now, with to research published by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) showing that 25-34 year olds spend 13.9 hours per week online (up from 13 in 2007), 36% are heavy daily users and almost two thirds are online daily there is considerable incentive for companies to shed Web 1.0 and take part.

Even more compelling is the latest AOP research, released this week which shows business websites emerging as a highly valued and indispensable source of information for business decision makers. The survey, conducted in association with IPSOS Mori, revealed:

* B2B websites are ubiquitous among business decision makers, 97% stated that this is the media most used for work
* 60% ranked business websites as an essential source of information in their work
* 60% consider business websites as providing information that they couldn’t get elsewhere

Of course, there is a lot more similar data showing how important online selling, marketing and opinion forming has become. The evidence is now overwhelming and inside many companies is the uncomfortable feeling that they are now very wrong footed.

But we are not there yet. The demand is building but not compelling.

The focus is on how the economy will survive the 'Festive Season' and then the cold reality of January will make people look much harder at where their future lies and that is when there will be the big change.