here are angels in America.

Just ask Cate Riegner of San Francisco, who secured seed money last year to build ArtAngels.org, a site where people can make charitable contributions to art organizations online. Or query Mark Tribe of New York, who founded Rhizome.org, a virtual art community to exchange ideas and information. Both sites have grown significantly, thanks to $50,000 contributions from an angel investor.

The angel is Absolut Citron, which launched a program in 1999 to promote the brand by awarding grants to those who create innovative business plans that marry art and technology. The 500 entries received last year were judged by venture capitalists, and digital and art industry experts. This year, Absolut will award two more $50,000 grants. At least twice as many submissions are expected by the November deadline.

The online campaign is the brainchild of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide’s New York office, which launched the effort to leverage Absolut Citron among artists and consumers working in technology fields. The campaign gets print support from Absolut agency TBWA\Chiat\Day.

“Entries are solicited via an e-mail postcard campaign and directed to a select list of artists, designers and technology people,” says Cliff Berman, the evp and general manager of consumer marketing at Edelman who oversees the campaign. “One of the reasons we’re reaching out to the technology segment is because it’s growing and influencing a larger cross section of the public.” The print effort draws people to the Web site, www.absolutangel.com.

In fact, PR companies are launching more major initiatives online. The Internet is an effective vehicle to reach a large, targeted audience, and response is easily measured by the number of submissions received.

“As an agency, we believe in the importance of conducting both online and offline media outreach,” says Berman. “When we talk about e-publicity, we’re talking about targeting all media that exists online.”

Case in point: the Absolut Angel campaign.