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Hidden away like some Cinderella before the prince discovered her, online pressrooms do not often attract much attention, much less a second look.

But like the fairytale character, online media rooms can offer a striking example of the power of Internet to transform a humble servant into an essential information hub.

Indeed, the ability to harness the power of the Web to market and communicate in new ways is the new competitive advantage—and companies that ignore that fact do so at their own risk.

What has happened?

The Shift from Mass to Micro Marketing

Until very recently, most companies used corporate Web sites as a kind of warehouse for official company documentation, and pressrooms as the attic where old releases were stored. However, information dissemination is traditionally conducted by mass communication, over mass media (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines), to mass markets.

This conventional approach relies on "pushing" information out to the broadest segments of users through advertising, PR, telemarketing and direct mail. These promotional tools don't go away in a world increasingly defined by the Internet. But, they are profoundly affected by the Web and a welter of new digital technologies, which are changing how we market and communicate.

This new marketing and communications model has changed how companies deliver information to their constituencies, and it has made this information easier to find, access and use. It combines both old and new communications approaches, media and tools.

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Robin Stavisky has headed her own Silicon Valley firm, New Venture Marketing, and provided strategic counsel to over 70 high-growth technology companies.