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Everyone knows Google…even the audience!

12 April 2021

The Internet as we know it is 30 years old this year. Although it wasn’t publicly available outside of research institutions until 1991, it didn’t mean computer users weren’t communicating. According to geek site Cloudflare, in the era before the Internet, the general method of communication between computers was with a modem. Each computer has unique info and then created a ‘path’ from one machine to the other. Fine for point-to-point connection. But what happens if we all want to share information at the same time? Well, that’s where Professor Tim Berners-Lee came in. The British born inventor of the world wide web created the URL – all the http stuff – in 1992.

In the early days of the Internet, comms professionals felt the need to suggest to their charges that unless they detailed the entire website address, the audience wouldn’t have a clue where to go to find out more. Slowly over the years, the URLs became more and more cumbersome until you ended up with the ludicrous spectacle of acres of airtime being taken up with the ‘colon, forward slash…’ nonsense in the intro. But what no one had worked out was that the audience – in sync with the broadcasters, comms professionals and spokespeople – had also been working on their Internet knowledge. It seemed unimaginable to go on the air without having an army of URLs tucked up your sleeve to be spewed out in evermore complex nerdy fashion. It reached its peak about 2005 and since then – thank goodness – sense has prevailed.

So, for any comms or PR professionals planning media campaigns, be comfortable with the simplicity of the phrasing around the gratuitous website plug. By just saying ‘search…’ followed by whatever it is, the audience can probably find you. There is absolutely no need, requirement or aesthetic reason why a long, contrived website address peppered with slashes and sub-domains need ever find its way into your planning for a media interview. The more insidious sub plot to this tale is that an interviewee who appears to struggle with – in its broadcast form – ‘modern technology’ can appear out of touch or irrelevant to the consumer. Technology keeps moving forward, fashion changes, progress is inevitable. Your grasp of the simplest form of ‘label’ for your firm or organisation needs to sound natural, uninhibited, comfortable.

Don’t’ signal to the audience it’s all a mystery to you. Embrace it. Believe in it. Keep those URLs off air!