by helen on August 25, 2011

I think last week’s news that Google has appointed an agency for a PR drive to get more UK businesses online is good on a number of levels.

Google reckons there are around 1.5 million businesses that aren’t already online. And it makes the point that many of these organisations’ customers are online – with over 41 million people in the UK using the internet.

Now that’s an opportunity.

Great news for businesses who haven’t yet jumped on the Internet bandwagon

According to the story in PR Week on 17 August, a series of nationwide events will give:

“businesses 40-minute one-to-one tutorials with Google technicians, the opportunity to have a website for free in 15 minutes, as well as guidelines on how to market and advertise themselves online.”

The campaign aims to develop new talent by encouraging SMEs to develop a web presence through Google’s free site creation service. It will also increase their use of other free services such as Google Maps.

Many businesses don’t want to invest in a website as they see it as an unnecessary expense. The GBBO campaign will hopefully persuade them to see how the Internet can help them build their business for an investment that suits their budget.

A great opportunity for PR/social media freelancers

Some people may see the Google campaign as competition. How can web designers and marketers compete with a company which is giving away advice and websites (building, domain names & hosting) for free?

On the one hand that is true. We can’t compete.

But let’s look at the plus side.

I don’t have the sort of PR/advertising budget that Google obviously has. But if they have appointed a PR agency for a UK drive I am certainly going to do my best to capitalise on the resulting publicity and increased interest in this type of service from SMEs.

As Google itself points out – the initiative may actually stimulate demand from businesses who decide to explore the world of Internet marketing, but who need more support than this campaign is offering.

Google is moving them “along the sales funnel” for us.

A boost for the UK PR industry

It would be pointless for Google to promote their campaign online. After all, they are targeting businesses that aren’t in this space yet. But their choice of a traditional PR campaign to reach British businesses is a great endorsement for the UK PR industry. Let’s hope that other businesses remember that even in times of recession, they need to keep their brand in front of potential customers creatively and cost-effectively.

And what better way than a PR campaign to do just that?

Do you think GBBO is a good idea or do you think Google will mess up and instead of converting businesses turn them off Internet marketing due to insufficient support?


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