In May 2006, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web stated:

“People keep asking what Web 3.0 is, I think maybe when you've got an overlay of scalable vector graphics - everything rippling and folding and looking misty - on Web 2.0 and access to a semantic Web integrated across a huge space of data, you'll have access to an unbelievable data resource.”

So what does this mean to international public relations?

We’ve hardly got a firm grip on Web 2.0 and already we have to understand and utilise Web 3.0. Well don’t start to get too tense – there is still a wide variation as to what Web 3.0 really is or means. But at this point in the middle of 2008 there does seem to be a trend emerging in the form of the semantic web.

“The semantic web is the extension of the world wide web that enables people to share content beyond the boundaries of applications and websites." 

To help appreciate Web 3.0’s applicability to PR, BurrellesLuce suggests we consider the following relational statements:
* PRSA is a well-known organization for public relations professionals.
* Jane Doe is a member of PRSA’s Detroit chapter.
* PRSA publishes a monthly journal called Public Relations Tactics.

It’s easy for humans to process such concepts, but for computers it’s a very different matter. Since computers and machines do not understand syntax and logic the way we do, they are unable to link ideas together. The semantic web seeks to “describe the relationship between things (like A is a part of B and Y is a member of Z) and their properties (like size, weight, age, and price)” in a language recognizable to computers.

Unlike the Internet, which relies on human editing of documents, the semantic web allows information to be digitally pulled from a variety of sources and synthesized with precision.

BurrellesLuce continues to suggest three ways Web 3.0 could improve the work lives of public relations professionals

1. You’ll be able to spend less time searching for relevant information. Web 3.0 will permit you to do what you do best — craft and disseminate your organization’s or client’s messages.

2. More-focused messaging will increase the odds of pinpointed delivery to your intended audiences. The ability for your audience to “pull” the appropriate information as needed (think RSS on steroids) means less “pushing” of your ideas onto a general audience.

3. Reaching the appropriate targets will allow for the development and maintenance of deeper, more-productive relationships.

In an effort to create an interactive dialogue between businesses and consumers, many public relations professionals heavily use online technology, including social media, podcasts, and viral video. For those who are just beginning to take the plunge or who haven’t yet considered doing so, using these communication channels can stir up some anxiety.

With Web 3.0 capabilities in place, PR professionals could, in theory, cross reference data both in and outside a given social network, as well as other sources — helping to zero in on a targeted audience. Each audience member, in turn, could use the same method to find providers most closely aligned with its needs. The high precision and speed offered by Web 3.0 will enable PR practitioners to create closer one-to-one relationships, shedding the one-to-many approach common to traditional outreach efforts.

Which of course all good PR professionals know, means we have to get increasingly personal with the media we interact with. One press release email spammed to 100 contacts is not going to cut it. If you work agency side you have to understand the client deeply, understand the media deeply and marry the two in a personal manner.

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