I recently spoke at the Sussex Enterprise’s recent event on the topic of Online PR. There was a lot of interest so I though I’d post a couple of the key points here on a topic that is very broad and often misunderstood.
The key difference between traditional and online; other than that online PR is online, is that instead of just influencing the influencers you can also target your audience directly using various Social Media techniques.
So how do you start? Well say you have a news story you think is of great interest and you want the world to know. How do you get it out there? There are a few routes you can take in areas we cover elsewhere on this site; You can optimise your release so it gets picked up and ranked in the search engines. You can use Pay Per Click to make sure that your news article appears for certain search terms. But what else can you do?
Firstly you need to identify where people that would be interested in your news will be looking. What are the key blogs that your target audience may read? How about discussion forums and communities they may be a member of? What will they be searching on when you think your story will be relevant?
This key identification stage is massively important. You need to work out where you target audience is reading and engaging online and then you need to get yourself in that space. You can use your search engine of choice to see what the key sites are for your key search terms. You can also use tools like Googles Blog search, Technorati and Ask to see what the key blogs are.
A fair bit of creative thinking is needed to work out how you can get yourself into the blog, newsite, etc that you need to target. Influencing bloggers is generally a matter of ego or content. Essentially the popular bloggers are freelance journalists (whether they think of themselves that way or not) so the normal rules apply. Flattery will get you everywhere and bribery will get you further! Corporate gifts, events and invitations to press events can really help you get to know and influence your key bloggers. We all love a complement and anything that drives more traffic to a blog will keep a blogger happy. Providing exclusive and useful content is a real winner.
News and community sites are different. You need to provide something of value to the audience and a plain old news item may not be what they are interested in. What content can you provide to interest the audience and how can you get your news into that content? A great example is Sony’s approach to releasing its Bravia ads online, publishing excerts and info on the ads creation in various forums and blogs.
As well as getting your information into the right places you also need to monitor the impact of your efforts and see what else is being said about your business or story. You will need to look at your own website as well as the places that you are being discussed or have published your story. There are various tools that can help you with this such as Google Analytics, Google Alerts and Technorati. Make sure you are searching for reviews a, comments and feedback as well.
Online PR can be a thorny issue because it can be so effective. Because bloggers tend to comment on each others blogs, one story can very quickly explode into a very big deal. You need to make sure its the right story.
Online PR offers many opportunities and just as many pitfalls. You need to be creative, target carefully and above all be honest and open.