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The Basics of Online PR

Posted on the 20 July 2012 by Onlinere @onretailblog

Basics of Online PR

In a nutshell, Public Relations is all about managing your company’s reputation, influencing the media and generally increasing your brand awareness. Although it doesn’t provide a 100% guarantee of coverage, it can be inexpensive and provide the opportunity to be creative whilst integrating with your other marketing activity.

Here are five easy and cost-effective ways to get started and make the most of your online P.R…

Press Releases

Probably the best known form of traditional P.R is the old-faithful press release. The key to increase chances of coverage is to have an interesting, newsworthy and topical story, to avoid hype (such as saying you are the ‘market leader’) and have a memorable headline which hooks the reader in to read the rest of the story. Before you begin typing, ask yourself two basic questions;

  • What am I trying to say?
  • Why should they be interested?

Where possible, include keywords within your press release and include hyperlinks within your text so readers can be directed to the relevant page on your website if they want to find out more.

Distributing the little blighters is often a time consuming task (depending on the size of your contact list), so many companies such as Cision can take the job off your hands for a fee.

Online publishing websites such as PRLOG and PPWEB can also circulate your press releases free of charge or at various price tiers based on the extent of the coverage. These services also offer handy reporting tools where you can track the amount of views your press release has received, visitor sources etc.

Don’t forget to also upload your release to the media / news page of your website so journalists can access all current and archived news stories.

Blogging

There are two key elements to blogging:

  • Updating your company website blog regularly with information packed with relevant keywords.
  • Encouraging external bloggers to talk about and review your products.

The last few years has seen a plethora of new blogs appearing, all who are looking for interesting, relevant content. Before you get in touch with bloggers, ensure you understand who they are writing for and the top topics before you waste your time submitting something inappropriate.

Bloggers love to receive something topical and of course, who doesn’t love a freebie? If your product is one which can be easily sent to a blog editor (such as cosmetics or book), then set a budget, email the relevant information and get your samples in the post.

The golden rule is to ask for trackable website links when they are writing a review so you can monitor conversion using Google Analytics.

In an ideal world, website editors will approach you for content for relevant features, so develop positive relationships with bloggers by discovering how and when they prefer contacted to avoid annoyance!

Competitions

Competitions often go hand-in-hand with blogs, as many review-style blogs regularly run reader giveaways. All good magazines also have websites and are on the hunt for reader prizes, so get in touch and offer them your products. Don’t forget that as well as the usual company blurb and logo, you are looking to receive good quality tracked links in exchange for prizes. It’s always worth offering a unique promotional discount code so you can measure success in sales!

Partnerships

Tying up with other organisations with a similar target audience and ethos (although not directly competitive) is a great way of spreading your message to potential new customers. Both parties have a reciprocal understanding to endorse each other through emails, social media, providing prizes for online games and on-pack promotions (if applicable).

Before you contact the organisation to set up a partnership, the most important thing to establish is what you want to achieve and what you are willing to offer them in return. Devise a brief plan of the proposed activity which includes ballpark details of your database size, customer demographics, number of Facebook ‘likers’ etc. Avoid emailing the generic ‘[email protected]’ email address listed on the website and go direct by giving them a call and asking to speak to the partnerships / marketing manager.

Monitor, monitor, monitor!

After following these tips, you will no doubt be inundated with online coverage, so how do you go about keeping track of it and analysing how beneficial it has been? You have a number of options:

  1. Hope for the best / trawl through the web every day looking / hope someone else spots it (Not recommended – very time consuming and unrewarding).
  2. Set up Google Alerts which is a free service where you can register for ‘alerts’ to your inbox when new content appears online based on your keywords.
  3. If you have the budget and are likely to receive substantial coverage, you can pay for a news clippings service from companies such as Cision and Vocus. You have to pay a fixed monthly subscription cost and a few pounds for each additional clipping, which can be accessed from an online portal.

In conclusion, online P.R is a great way of increasing your brands exposure. The key to success is having a clear plan, researching and taking time to approach the right bloggers, web editors and potential partner organisations to get your message to the correct target audience at the right time – good luck!


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