After living overseas for five years, Patty McDonough was in for a surprise when she returned to the States last year. The Internet, which was still in its infancy when she left, had become a giant while she was gone: Web sites were popping up out of nowhere, targeting everyone from sports fans to bonsai-tree enthusiasts. But something was missing, thought McDonough, now 29: How in the world would anyone find these Web sites?
Convinced that there was a big need to fill, McDonough set to work from her New York City apartment, with less than $10,000, deciding to use her public relations know-how to launch her own consulting firm specializing in promoting online brands where people would listen: offline. Today, McDonough's company, McDonough & Associates, is just one of a growing number of companies helping to lure customers or potential investors to Web sites using traditional offline promotions, be it through advertising, public relations or marketing.
These kinds of promotional techniques are paramount in an age when the Internet still hasn't replaced traditional media. Although the number of Internet users continues to soar, most people are still more responsive to promotions and marketing initiatives that target them where they work, live, study or play rather than where they surf.
And the Internet industry is beginning to get the message. With the dotcom boom leaving many investors and consumers yawning and clicking their way through the Net--searching for those sites that stand apart--chances are, more and more money will be poured into offline advertising.