By: Gavin Moffat
The World Wide Web is vast, made up of billions of pages of information, some of them useful and relevant to your interests and many of them simply not fit for anyone’s consumption. So how do you find your way around the Web and get to the info that you need quickly and efficiently?
It’s simple – you just need to master your Google-Fu. There is a range of commands and modifiers built into search engines such Google, Yahoo and Bing that will help you to track down the information you need without trawling through a lot of stuff that you’re not interested in.
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you will instruct the search engine to find all web pages that contain the exact phrase contained between the quotes. For example, typing in “Graeme Smith” will bring up pages that reference the cricketer. That can help you to search with a great deal of precision for the info you need.
Search within a site
Not every Web site has an accurate, user-friendly search engine, but most Web sites are indexed by Google. If you’re looking for the contact details for the Rosebank, branch of FNB for example, you could ask Google to search your bank’s Web site for the information. Simply type out the text enclosed in the square brackets: [contact details Rosebank Johannesburg site:
By putting a minus sign immediately before a word, you can ask the search engine to exclude pages that do not include the term from your search. For example, if you want to find out about ‘world’ and keep getting results that reference world maps, world music, and the World Series, you can enter your search as follows: [world -music -maps -series] (NOTE: no space between the minus and the word it refers to).
Fill in the blanks (*)
The * wildcard tells the search engine to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term and then find the best matches. Type in: [Jacob Zuma * speech], for example, and you’ll get results for ‘Jacob Zuma State of the Nation speech’ and ‘Jacob Zuma inauguration speech’, among others.
If you want to find out about retail trade shows in 2010 and 2011, you could search for: [retail trade shows 2009 OR 2011]. The OR modifier must be in capital letters). That will give results for both years.
Have you come across a piece of jargon you don’t understand? If you want a definition of a word, you can use the define: modifier. For example, if you want to know what a firewall is, you would simply type in the phrase in square brackets: [define: firewall].
To get the best search results, be as simple, precise and descriptive as you can when you’re inputting information into the search engine. Focused searches that use the modifiers above can be real time savers and help you to make the very best of what the Internet has to offer you.
@ingridlotze in a panel discussion with @art2gee and @MichBranco on Media Matters on SABC 3, Saturday, 4 December 2010
With the bastion that was printed media struggling to cope with declining advertising spends and the explosion of social media, campaigns that connect companies directly with their customers will distinguish spectacular PR agencies from the average, writes Ingrid Lotze, managing director of puruma business communications.
The announced closure of The Weekender and its subsequent last edition on Saturday is sad news. However, its demise is merely an exclamation point in a much larger tale that is playing itself out locally and abroad.
2009 has not been a gentle mistress for printed publications in South Africa. According to Ibis Media, almost 130 publications have been suspended, closed down or combined as of the end of October 2009. While nearly the same amount of new publications have been launched, presumably to exploit new niches, print media is precariously balanced on its pedestal, with declining advertising spend threatening to knock it off.
Globally, the trend is no different. Paper Cuts — a website that tracks the number of shut-downs and job losses in the American newspaper industry — estimates that over 130 US newspapers have closed so far in 2009.
The evidence seems to suggest that print media is struggling to remain relevant to audiences who are increasingly turning to the internet for their news and relying on niche communities of their peers for information, advice and guidance.
While print media remains a valid channel for specific messages clients may wish to promote, the power to define a clients’ brands, services and products has long since shifted out of these traditional mainstays and into the hands of the public.
Blogs, social networks, collaborative online information portals, such as Wikipedia, and easily accessible multimedia sites are helping individuals define and dictate how they interact with companies and brands.
More importantly, this shift has highlighted the importance of creating two-way ‘conversations’ with customers, whether it is through digital social media or more commonplace avenues.
A toppled wall
As audiences and communication channels have multiplied and fragmented, controlling the flow of information has become almost impossible. The mentality that divides public relations, the media and the public is the debris of a toppled wall that cannot be rebuilt. Nevertheless, this destruction is also beneficial and an invitation to PR agencies and companies to talk, directly and honestly, with the communities only understood via proxy for so long.
One only needs to look at the example of Frank Eliason, a Comcast service manager who suggested managing Comcast’s customer queries through Twitter. The move has allowed Comcast, with very little capital outlay, to see what people are ‘tweeting’ about their service and engage with these individuals one-on-one on a public platform where everyone is watching. Comcast and Frank’s success is not the result of leveraging a technological service, but through recognising that it is the people that matter, not the technological medium.
Printed media continues to offer certain benefits: the credibility readers attach to the publication and writers associated with it, a mature channel of communication and a platform for focused advertising campaigns. But PR agencies have always wished for an undiluted, efficient means of communicating with their client’s customers. As the saying warns, be careful what you wish for because you may receive it.
Also to be seen @: http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/18/41924.html