The influence of Internet

If you still don’t know or have hesitations, be sure –

Internet is so powerful media.

Internet and its development have changed the life in the contemporary world. The World Wide Web has influenced different spheres of man’s life and has enormous impact on people and societies all over the world. The Internet public is constantly growing at the expense of the consumption of other types of mass media. The latest results of media researches show that there is downward tendency in the amount of time spent on watching TV. What is more, the statistics indicate that the press is not the most preferred way of being informed, too. The top leader in informing is Internet. On top of that, it has the most leading positions in these categories: spending spare time, entertainment, e-shopping and even working.
Internet has not only affected our lifestyles, but has also played a very important role in business - its functioning and its future ways of working and improvement. Nowadays the progress of the Internet and the big amount of people using this new type of media are very important factors which should not be underestimated.

The net era
The Internet century has changed the sphere of Public Relations, Mass Communication, Marketing and Advertising, and their ways of functioning. The specialists working in these areas are faced to a lot of new opportunities given by the benefits of the web, but also to a lot of difficulties.
The Internet organizes a big web society which is broadly spread around the world but the physical boarders are overcome by the connectivity of the web. Every piece of information is quickly spread around everybody using the net only with the help of several clicks of the mouse. This means that the users are reached by every kind of information no matter if it is positive or negative. The next very powerful characteristic of the web is its ability to connect with an enormous number of people by offering communication without borders and sharing of different opinions. This should be considered by everybody working in the field of PR and Mass Communication.

The real example
A good example of how the Internet and its users can not only form the daily agenda of the news, but provoke different actions and even changes in the social environment can be pointed out from the last several weeks in Bulgaria.
The case with First Investment Bank demonstrates that web society can change the rhythm of life by arising unexpected activities. Of course, the popularizing of different ideas, messages and news through Internet can be very helpful for PR organization, their campaigns and events. But in this particular case the use of the forums may lead to very serious and dangerous consequences not only for the bank but for the whole common market as well.

The beginning
“I heard that there are some possibilities of First Investment Bank going bankrupt. My husband was told so by a taxi driver who heard this from one banker.” These sentences caused panic on national level and endangered one of the biggest banks in Bulgaria. The words are written by a woman in the popular Bulgarian forum It is supposed that the woman just shared her opinion, which of course is not illegal. But after that a big discussion started in the forum and a lot of people expressed their points of view or shared what they have experienced. Some of them complained about the bank service, others said that there were some problems with the Internet banking and all those conversations in the web led to a lot of problems for the bank.
The rumor was spread amongst a lot of people in no time and caused negative excitement. In the bank offices were coming many anxious clients in order to ask questions or even to draw their money. The fear of losing capital forced people to draw cash from their accounts even in other banks. And those reactions could cause crisis on the market or even make it collapse.

The reaction
In the beginning the bank did not react. This was a part of the crisis strategy of the bank’s management. The immediate reaction could be interpreted as a feeling of guilt. Then the Communication department connected with different leaders of opinion such as analyzers, leading banker and even the Deputy Director of Bulgarian National Bank. All of them expressed their support of the bank. Their comments were absolutely positive and they considered that the bank has no problems and is actually in perfect financial state.

Investigators started examining people who participated in the forum conversations and their aims. The situation is very mystic because the publications in the web were made on the same day when the bank was presenting its financial report for the first three months of 2008. Experts shared the opinion that it is obvious that someone sought for these negative consequences. The action is represented as negative /black/ PR – public actions which aim to cause negative results or to mislead. Those actions may be undertaken by a competitive bank, for example.
Interrelation – the most interesting fact in the whole story
A Russian author named Sergey Minaev published a novel called “Media sapiens” in December, 2007. The book turned out to be a world bestseller. It is dedicated to two young Russian communication specialists who try to become rich in every possible way. They work for a VIP client who wants to bring down the Government. They intentionally cause rumor about a bank in Russia which is going to be closed down so that they can affect the publics. As a result enormous scandals are caused. A lot of people in the field of PR and Media remembered about this book after what happened with First Investment Bank.
Why is it happening?
The biggest question is how can two sentences affect in such a way?
Only half an hour after going home, everyone turns on the TV, switches the radio or logs in the Internet. In these moments we stop being individuals and we turn into an audience.* Nowadays the types of media are very powerful resource for influencing people. The new ways of mass communication and information are attractive because they construct other reality and other lives which affect the society and its everyday life.
Most people still don’t realize that the different types of media can manipulate them and their lives. The media controls also the social and business atmosphere in a country. This is the biggest positive and in the same time negative characteristic of the modern information sources. PR specialists are facing a situation in which it is hard to control the information reaching the audience.
But every crisis is an opportunity for development and evolution.
Good luck, dear Public Relations specialist!

* Media Sapiens

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