From the July 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

More PR firms are using technology not only on behalf of their clients, but also to offer them better service.

Clients of Zigzag Net Inc., a Philadelphia marketing services and web development company, can log on to the company's password-protected extranet to check up on the status of projects, review finished graphics and even give approvals online.

"We used to have to rely on FedEx overnight. Now, if we finish something at 3, the client can see it at 3:45," says founder Mark Norris, 45, who believes immediate access to project status will become the PR industry norm.

At Springboard Public Relationsin Marlboro, New Jersey, a blog keeps clients in the know about general PR issues. Springboard also records conference calls with clients (with their permission, of course) to get more mileage out of the calls. A conference call introducing a new product to the company's sales team may be edited into a product overview for retailers or a media briefing. Digital re-cordings can be posted to a password-protected website and are available as limited-access podcasts.

According to Springboard founder Domenick Cilea, 39, "By capturing that valuable information, we can make one call or interview keep working for our clients."

Get Moving

Road warriors need technology beyond smartphones and laptops to stay productive. If you're faced with the task of choosing technology to fit your mobile sales force's needs, check out these portable devices, which just might do the trick:

  • Aircharge's $200 (all prices street) AirSwipe attaches to the side of your mobile phone, making it a portable card-processing center.
  • Operating off the phone's power supply, it allows salespeople to accept credit cards for purchases. It can also recognize ID cards, turning your phone into a registration or validation center. See www.aircharge.com.
  • For multimedia presentations that won't break the bank-or your back-the $749 EpsonS3 Multimedia Projector offers ultrabright projection at just 5.6 pounds.
  • A quick, five-second start time keeps your presentation running smoothly, and password-protected security features, including timer, logo and key lock protection, prevent theft and unauthorized access.

  • The PlantronicsVoyager 510 Bluetooth Headset is compatible with Bluetooth-enabled phones and PDAs. The $70 hands-free device features voice-activated dialing (when supported by your phone service), a noise-reducing and wind-canceling microphone, and a range of up to 33 feet from the connected device. An optional adapter lets employees use the same headset for their desk phone, eliminating the need for multiple products.