Public relations is converging with the
Web as a critical tool

January 18, 1999


This is one of an ongoing series of articles on the interactive marketing leaders who are doing things other marketers could learn from. They are not yet household names. The executives we profile are laboring in the trenches today and will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're the emerging leaders of an emerging discipline.

Name, rank and serial number: Larry Weber, 43, Chairman and CEO, Weber Group, Cambridge, Mass.

CV: BA in English Literature, Denison University, 1977; Master's degree, Antioch College, Oxford, England, 1978. Wrote brochures in Cleveland to make a living with a liberal arts degree. Moved to Boston. Mortgaged his condo to hire two employees and start a high tech PR firm in 1987. Sold Weber Group to McCann-Erickson and Interpublic Group nine years later. Hopes to revolutionize the practice of marketing-communications in 1999 and beyond.

Mantra: "The Web is going to affect marketing and public relations in a profound way. Public relations is converging with the Web to be a critical tool. Marketing as a whole is moving toward a 'relationship marketing operating system' built on (sophisticated technical analysis of e-mail communications with customers), database manipulation and the warehousing of customer data. We're moving toward information-based creative, not television-based creative."

Mistakes Marketers Are Likely To Make: "The Web was designed as a community-to-community-based medium that uses information as its common link. Marketers have to mirror that environment. People are not going to sit and watch a traditional 60-second spot on the Web. The medium is not monologue. It's a dialogue, interactive medium. You'll be marketing to one person at a time."

Career Advice: "The Web is a turbo-charged, visual telephone with extreme access to data. Understand the power of the Web. Don't be afraid of it. It's going to evolve. It's going to change. It's going to be the environment of choice.

"Stop thinking about getting rich. Build quality skills for an economy that's going to be open 24 hours a day. Don't try to be an immediate entrepreneur. Go and get skills from a company you respect. Avoid the largest companies. Even the ones that claim to be innovative are very bureaucratic and political."

In his spare time: Spends time with his three children. Reads voraciously outside the business arena- poetry, anthropology. Walks 18 to 20 miles weekly along the Charles River.

Regrets: Living in the wrong age. Sees our era as outstanding but a bridge between great technology ages, like the Rococo period. "It's not the Renaissance and it's not the Baroque.

"Our Age of Information has been a pain. I started with a traditional typewriter and a bottle of white out. Moved to an IBM Selectric. Moved to a Wang word processor. Then had to learn every word-processing package for the computer. My kids are just going to be able to talk to the computer."

Michael Krauss is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at







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