The Function of Manhattan PR in the Collaborative Commons

PR Trust and Collaboration Manhattan

In his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Jeremy Rifkin analyzes a new economic structure beginning to take shape in our digital world. He outlines how computers, the internet, and (soon) 3D printing are drastically lowering the cost to do business, share goods, and provide services. We see the collaborative commons in every facet of our lives, even if we do not immediately recognize it for what it is.

On sites like Craigslist, people sell, trade, or even give away books, furniture, clothing, and entertainment. People start craft businesses with the click of a button on Etsy, and authors self-publish books and make small fortunes, circumventing publishing houses that drain their bottom line. Uber, AirBnB, and Breather all let customers connect together and operate using the internet and social media. So how does PR fit into this new world?

PR Provides Awareness

Companies like Uber will always have the easiest time carving a hole in their niche market. A unique idea, like a taxi service run via app service, instantly catches the public eye and is shared millions of times through social media and news outlets. Plus, nobody is dedicated to a taxi service for transport right?  If a better service is created and cheaper, then customers will use it. What about the second company? Or third? Some cities have online exchanges like Craigslist, which provide a platform for localized trade. You might have one in your area, but did you know about it?

New businesses need PR and marketing, even in the collaborative commons, and especially if they are competing directly with an established business. Right now, the digital world is like the Wild West – open and lawless, waiting to hit equilibrium. As that field gets more established, even companies providing small services need exposure to survive.

Entrepreneurs and solopreneurs need exposure. Returning to AirBnB for a moment, there are literally thousands of people competing with one another in larger cities. As of today, there are “1,000+” listings in New York City. In Cleveland, there are 358 open rooms. As the creative commons expands, private enterprises mean stiffer competition, and every bit of awareness counts.

Trust Building

Craigslist has gained a reputation of “you never know what you are going to get at the other end.” Customers on eBay and Amazon, however, choose to purchase from companies based on hundreds or thousands of positive reviews. Trust is difficult to build with anonymous users from all over the country. How do you stand out? The answer: a positive image.

Marketing techniques are the mortar to the brick wall of trust. As brands catch on and begin to branch out, they need someone to control their image and establish them as a useful enterprise. In today’s fickle digital world, a single positive moment can propel an unknown private business to stellar heights, while a single bad move can destroy a reputation forever.

PR Engages Customers

For most businesses in the collaborative economy, public interaction is limited to three things:

  • Whether you post goods to Amazon or your services to Lyft, your listing is typically reserved to a star rating, a photo, and a brief description.
  • User reviews. Reviews can typically be found on 2-3 sites, but this again is public perception. The first reviews also tend to set the tone of your future success.
  • Even if you have a website, many customers will not visit it if they just need to interact with your listing. How many items have you purchased from Amazon without following up on a company’s site?

PR firms provide a service beyond basic interactions through stock company profiles and customer reviews. They can personalize your message and reach the intended target market. One company, PR Partners, comes to me to facilitate that message. They seek Perry Rogers (a sports management PR professional) and its associates to drive a customized, relatable engagement that assures consumers top-quality service. In this new world of collaborative commons, the means of engaging the public has changed, but in my experiences, the reasons why have remained the same.  Perry Rogers focus is on working with celebrity athletes but still must keep in mind of all the Internet and technology elements involved for each Client.

The Collaborative Commons Demands SEO

Search engines reign supreme when it comes to reaching the public. Companies striving to reach new customers and deliver their brand to the public need to compete on an opening marketplace. That marketplace – the internet marketplace – is tested by search engine rank. This works for online newsrooms, blogs, internet articles, and more.

How do you reach the public when everyone is competing in the same, small space? The internet is large, but the top searches of Google are decidedly small. Ten or fewer searches make it into the top, and few people click to the second page of search results to find the information they need and get the services they requires.

Today, PR is not just about delivering a message, it is about showcasing knowledge to internet with searchers. To build trust, companies must now provide information to prove they have the power and expertise to deliver exactly what consumers demand. Savvy PR firms attempting to keep with the times need to respect those changes and give the brands they represent heightened exposure, and with that exposure comes more traffic/search rankings. Welcome to the internet age.

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