10 Components of Online Public Relations

The expansion of public relations into the online arena is essential, both for PR pros and clients who hire them. Public relations is broadly defined as “unpaid publicity,” setting it apart from advertising, or “paid publicity.” Thus, Internet ads, including programs such as AdWords, should be left to advertisers. However, many online activities are available at no cost and require original vendor-neutral content. Therefore, they can properly be undertaken by a public relations agency.

1) Blogs

Collections of short entries with a common theme, blogs provide original thoughts by the client and are often written or edited by a public relations professional. They should reside on the client’s website, contain contributions of 200-300 words, and be posted at least once a week.

2) Email marketing

The purview of programs such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, email marketing consists of a customized template with article snippets and an optional link, “click here to read more.” The link will drive the reader to the client’s website and thus increase traffic. Email newsletters are also useful in reminding prospects of your services by showing up in their email box every other month.

3) Social media

The “sexiest” element of online PR, social media gives the opportunity for visitors to post their thoughts and links to interesting articles, with the option of commenting on posts left by others, known as followers, connections, etc. The big three: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter should not be neglected, but social media is constantly evolving. Pinterest was all the rage for a while and more recently, Instagram has taken its place.

4) Website development

Creating new web pages is relatively easy to learn, and you can then use FTP programs to upload, download and edit pages at no cost. The ability to create new pages is essential for a client’s website to remain dynamic, react to recent developments in its field and stay ahead of the competition.

5) Media room

A media room gathers all the publicity about your client in one section of its website. It should contain categories such as press releases, email newsletters and bylined articles with a landing page for each one, a list of the publicity achieved and a link to the full document. A media room will grow as the public relations professional achieves publicity for its client.

6) Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization or SEO requires the creation of original content and increasing the number of inbound links going to the client’s website. Inbound links are simply clickable text on other sites pointing to your own. Google uses this parameter as a primary element in determining the ranking of websites.

7) Keyword research

Keyword research provides critical information in determining website content. You must find out what keywords or short phrases your clients’ potential customers are using when they are looking to purchase their product. Then, you can optimize for those keywords by including them in the clients’ website and “meta tags.”

8) Article marketing

Article marketing involves the creation of bylined documents and then posting them on “content provision sites.” These sites provide material for their visitors, but anyone publishing them must include the URL to your client’s (author’s) site, thus creating an inbound link and improving SEO.

9) Graphic design

Typically outsourced in traditional public relations, elementary graphic design such as cropping and resizing images is essential for website content and email templates.

10) Integrated communications

The ability to combine all the elements above, re-using content where appropriate (depending on copyright permissions), and using them in tandem with traditional PR, is essential to garner the maximum benefit from an overall public relations program.

Increase Your Sales 300% With Public Relations

Many small business owners with whom I talk simply don’t see the need for public relations – much less the need to hire an agency to represent them. I often hear small business owners say “I don’t need you, I write my own press releases!” That’s great, but if you consider “public relations” to just be writing a press release then you are probably missing 90% of the value.

The fact is, almost any small business can receive a positive return on investment if they manage their expectations and budget accordingly. Unlike advertising, you can’t dictate where, when, what and how often your message will be delivered. Public Relations is many things, but it is NOT “Free Ads.” Instead, one should view it as the ultimate “word of mouth.” Instead of one happy customer telling 10 of her friends, today’s Internet media can reach MILLIONS of people in a single day!

This is a great thing if you have confidence in your brand and patience with reporters who may have never heard of you, your company, products or even your new business concept. Ultimately, if you can sell the idea to an individual reporter he will talk about it – to his readers, co-workers and his friends at the TV station on the other side of town.

The long term benefits of public relations are what really create value. Unlike advertising, public relations campaigns aren’t always powerful immediately, nor do its effects fade once the campaign is over. Good press will last for months and years. It will also help defend your company from negative things that may come up. Additionally, positive press and public image can also generate increased awareness, leading to even more coverage … without you even lifting a finger!

For example, if you put a banner advertisement on a site that features a review of your competitor’s product, your message is delivered and that’s great. But what about two weeks or six months later when that advertising campaign is over? Your competitor’s review is still there … building value for their brand.

In fact, with today’s search engines, that review may actually become more powerful as people begin to link to it and treat it as an authority!

Last fall I created a campaign suggesting that as people upgraded their Xbox game consoles to the Xbox 360 that they might find a new home for their old console inside an arcade cabinet kit from Dream Arcades ([http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/11/prweb310903.php]). The results from this campaign are a perfect example of the power of public relations.

The news that their controls would work with Xbox was old – everyone in the enthusiast community already knew that – but people that read Maxim, Stuff, New York Times, NBC … even ESPN didn’t!

They all loved this pitch. It was timely, well crafted and most importantly, it stood-out from the thousands of “Coming soon, an even better Xbox!” articles that everyone was obliged to write.

As a result, traffic to DreamArcades.com exploded – and so did their orders!

You are probably thinking that sounds like the end, but in reality this was the beginning. The wonderful thing about public relations campaigns vs. advertising campaigns is that the impact just keeps growing … if you are able to keep feeding it.

A few weeks later I got a call from PlayBoy. They had heard about Dream Arcades and now wanted to feature it in their April 2006 feature “PlayBoy’s Ultimate Gameroom.” With nearly 2 million paid subscribers and who knows how many total readers, this is a MASSIVE achievement. If I had simply called them and pitched cold I would never have made it past the call screener. Instead, I had an editor CALL ME!

That article – and the media preceding it allowed Dream Arcades to increase the price of their products, while at the same time increasing their sales volume. The PlayBoy feature alone resulted in a sales increase of more than 250% and remains at a much higher level than it was prior to that.

The lesson that is important to draw from this is that sometimes PR takes months to generate dividends but when it does, it pays off dramatically. For the example above, the story began in Sept. 2005 and the feature came out in Feb. 2006 – five months later.

So what can a business owner do and, if she should hire someone, what should they help her with?

Anyone with time to spend, the ability to write clearly and speak English well can:

1. Write a press release

2. Write a letter to the editor of their local papers and trade media

3. Answer the phone when a reporter calls

4. Quickly and concisely provide the information the reporter needs.

Additionally, with access to the internet, most people can also research the contact info for national and regional media. Or they can use a service like PR Web to quickly, cheaply and easily send out a press release.

So why do you need a public relations agency if you can write a press release and talk to the media all by yourself?

The answer is simple; because a professional can usually do it better – generating more positive results quicker, with less mistakes.

A public relations agent can:

1.Provide access to pre-existing contacts, PR tools and media databases.

2.Provide an outside perspective – and the ability to suggest new ways of promoting the company, products, and services. I once had an article in the Financial Times and my boss called me in and demanded to know why I was “wasting my time” with, “some paper he had never heard of!”

3.Work with the business owner to maximize opportunities such as holidays, pop-culture news, or even political events.

4.Construct and polish pitches that are tailored to individual media and reporters.

5.Provide the experience of knowing what will and what won’t work – so that you make less mistakes. Good PR agents have already made and (hopefully) learned from their mistakes!

6.Help when the business owner simply doesn’t have the time to do it herself.

Should a business owner decide to brave the PR world all by herself, there are some quick and easy ways to make reach the public and the media – without spending a lot of money.

Make Friends with Trade Press!

If you are in an industry such as plastics, vending, gaming, dentistry, or even video games, find out who your trade media is. Almost every industry has trade media – websites, magazines, and newsletters. These guys are your friends. Your suppliers and your distributors probably read these. The best part is that if you send updates and news once per month you can build good awareness and even better – experience working with the press … a friendly press.

Make your Website Press Friendly!

You should have a website. Your website should be easy to navigate. Reporters should be able to quickly find a section labeled as “press” or “media.” This section should contain all the information that a reporter would need to cover your company and products.

This at a minimum should include: contacts (phone and email), product brochures, product and company logo images for print and online use, brief company history and accomplishments, press releases and a list of upcoming events.

Let People Know about Your Website!

All of your marketing materials should include a link to your website. This includes emails, business cards, and brochures. Today you can even buy personalized stamps (www.zazzle.com) to make your mail stand out even before it’s opened.

Learn from your Mistakes!

You will make mistakes. Don’t let that bother you. Most media people are very forgiving. Often, they want the story as much as you want to give it to them. Just remember, they are human too.

Talk, Write and Share Your Knowledge!

Write articles for sites such as this one. Hey, it’s free except your time! This creates your own PR. Just like an article written by someone about me; it will last on the internet. If you like my ideas and comments I am sure you will be interested to learn more about who I am and what my company does. This can work for you just as it does for me!

3 Public Relations and Marketing Lessons Inspired by Nature

Nature can teach us, if we’ll listen and observe. Recently, I was inspired to discover the amazing connection between what nature knows and the work we do in public relations and marketing. Here are three of the lessons I’ve learned:

You must get noticed

A peacock fans its feathers producing a show-stopping display of color. Sunrises and sunsets are so captivating that television meteorologists include viewers’ photos of them on their broadcasts and social media pages. A spider weaves an intricate web that gives one pause to observe, if you’re lucky enough not to walk through it first! Examples are everywhere in nature.

Likewise, in public relations and marketing we use a variety of strategies to get clients noticed. We work with the media to tell their story. We use social media to connect and build engagement with target audiences and influencers. We create marketing collateral to explain products and services.

Relationships matter

Hummingbirds draw nectar as nourishment from flowers while serving as pollinators. Cows stir up insects that egrets gobble up. Ladybugs eat aphids on daylilies, thereby enabling the flowers to thrive.

In public relations and marketing, our very survival is based on mutually advantageous relationships such as those found in nature. That’s why the Public Relations Society of America defines PR in this way:

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Sometimes we meet with stakeholders in one-on-one meetings. At other times, we gather a larger community together and ask for feedback. Regardless of the format, public relations professionals know that building relationships matters.

Change is good

Chameleons change colors. Crawfish molt. Deciduous trees drop their leaves. Butterflies burst from chrysalises. Just as nature changes, those of us in public relations and marketing must adapt and change with our profession.

In recent years, we’ve embraced new technologies and media channels. We’ve added permission-based marketing strategies to our toolboxes and become masters at content marketing. We more quickly and efficiently deliver news to information-hungry consumers who expect instant news. And as the influential voice of these stakeholders has grown, we’ve engaged them in meaningful dialogue to build valuable relationships.

I love this saying from Albert Einstein, as he obviously understood the power of nature: Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step outside for some fresh air. Maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to see a bird or a butterfly and learn a new lesson from nature about public relations and marketing.

Influencer Marketing Is Now Bigger Than Digital Ads

Everywhere you look people are online looking at their phones and interacting with different social platforms.

If you haven’t noticed we are surrounded by influencer marketing on all four sides.

We inhale and exhale influencer marketing constantly every day and still many of us are not fully aware of what it really is.

While the world is modernizing and the people’s voice growing, we have broken through into a new era of digital marketing, a more natural type of marketing done through influencers.

Influencer content may be framed as testimonial advertising where they play the role of a potential buyer themselves, or they may be third parties.

It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

“Marketing with influencers is turning influencers into advocates of the firm.”

Before we go into any details about this type of marketing, one should clearly know what it is.

What is influencer marketing?
This kind of marketing focuses on an individual, rather than large groups of consumers to advertising the brand’s message.

The individual here is referred as the ‘influencer’ who is hired to get out the word for your brand.

In this game of influencer marketing, these influencers may be the potential buyers themselves.

They usually play the roles of content writers, journalists, bloggers, CEO’s, creative people, advertisers or advisers.

They are connected to other people around them and are looked to for advice and opinions and are regarded as influential.

Content marketing and social media marketing are regarded as the two major forms of influencer marketing.

How does influence marketing work?
Nowadays, users give more reaction to ratings on social media or opinions of a person rather than believing in advertisements.

This is made the basis of influencer marketing where an influencer will write about the products in their personal and social channels.

People tend to believe what the influencers have to say about something, over the media.

Many marketing companies don’t even have influence marketing on their radar as it such a unique method of the product. In many cases, it’s out of their control as more of an individual voice takes hold rather than the standard static corporate ad.

Digital ads are not given the same interactive and emotional response by the consumer.

The feedback and ratings on social media about a particular brand or product also adds greatly to the product or brand being showcased and is the new product placement platform.

Why is influencer marketing now bigger than digital advertising? & How did that happen?

Trust and honesty is a very important factor in marketing.

We all know which media we trust and distrust and in most cases just simply by the subject header.

Traditional media is scrambled with misinformation and the general consumer would rather interact with their products or services of interest on a social level.

Consumers do not buy goods or services unless they are completely assured that the product or service is perfect for their needs in every way.

It is believed that if you influence the mind, you have the world in your hands and that’s what influencers are doing.

Influencers have built up relations in order to gain trust to become, influencers. Much commitment and nurturing have gone into building those connections.

When it comes to building up relations and creating a positive message around a specific brand that is where influencer marketing has a higher standard compared to digital advertisements.

Let’s throw light upon, Influencer marketing as ‘THE NEXT BIG THING.’

  • As seen on: “Social Media”.

As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look upon at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions.

Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities, who are consolidating massive followings on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms.

The rise of the social media influencer has created a world of possibilities;

It has opened up a flood of new waterworks for brands to connect with consumers directly and on a larger scale through more organic natural marketing method of influence like a new age word of mouth.

  • Provides a better description with an Interactive messaging platform. With each social media interaction or reaction, it promotes the possibility for hundreds of more people to view your message through the social connections in their network.

While digital ads are solely comprised of precise information about the goods, an influencer approach to the market has its own ways of attracting people with all the accurate description and information about the products and services in a more interactive, consumer arena, that has an organic life to the message.

Influencers are trusted to provide the updated details of the products or services they are dealing with and the message can also be slowly released over many days weeks or months.

It is considered the job of an influencer to gather up all the points about the marketing campaign and forward that message to the consumers.

To ensure this, the influencers are often paid for their job. If not paid, then they are provided with incentives by the company they are working for or in some cases sharing content with their readership for no other motive than to educate and to encourage interaction among the network.

Unlike digital ads most of the time influencers are “not selling anything” and are simply sharing information to create a more positive network of influence or to encourage participation and interaction on topics that can truly help. They might choose to follow up through other methods of communication like an email newsletter to promote products or services an advertising services.

When comparing social marketing to digital ads, I sort of side by side comparison, a static digital ad does not provide depth as they comprise of banners and poster type ads and do not have any opinion oriented objective.

The old and outdated information may soon turn away consumers.

  • People are more likely to trust other people than advertisements

Influencer marketing has the concept of ‘word of mouth.’ This pretty much sums up how people get to trust the influencers. Where advertisements could be nothing more than made up stories or exaggerations in the sight of many consumers, people are likely to trust their fellow friends and society when they tell them about a certain product.

That’s when influencers form relations in order to promote the market;

The influencer campaigns help a lot in the process The earned trust helps the market to flourish, after all, marketing is based on gaining consumers trust so let’s have the consumers interact with the message.

  • Much simpler

Influencer marketing is a much easier and simpler way of marketing than the digital ad marketing.

Not only is the way of attracting people simpler but the way of actually putting it up does not require many efforts other than the creative element.

In this era where everything is made simpler by the internet, successful marketing has been made an achievable task by the social platforms and online facilities.

You write about it and post about it online and within minutes thousands of viewers are peeking into your blogs and journals.

The online facility helps to connect people worldwide.

  • Market grows faster

Apart from being a simpler way of marketing, influencer marketing helps to boost up markets at a great rate.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

– Albert Einstein

The influencer way of marketing has an advantage of doing wonders online which helps to connect influencers with people from all over the world.

  • Any queries about a product are immediately facilitated and generally much more appreciated than an email, support ticket response or any other type Q&A delivery.

May it be social media or content driven market, people get the answers to many of their questions about a product immediately in influencer marketing and much more view the comment responses making the viewership quite extraordinary.

In the case of social media marketing where the advertisement is placed on all the frequently used social sites, people get to know about other opinions about products, which greatly helps them sum up any purchasing decisions.

Apart from this, they are also connected to other people on the social media (which in this case acts like influencers) who tells them about many goods and hence solves many queries.

In the case of the content driven market, influencers are already there to respond to any queries of the consumers. This way any doubts about a product are removed.

  • It’s powerful. Yet simple.

Influencer markets are powerful in their own manner. The content shared by influencers is powerful and authentic. They have the ability to gain people’s trust and reliance, all that is needed.

Thoughts and opinions are shared through influencer markets and better relations are created even with consumers that live miles away.

“The marketing roots with any social platform are quite strong and are not easy to cut down.”

  • The writings can do wonders

All those bloggers, journalists, content writers, CEO’s out there portrays the market accurately through their writings which depend upon proofs, opinions, and ideas of many consumers.

These pieces of writings are much more convincing than the digital ads that consist of a couple of pictures and slogans. The writings talk about the feedbacks and opinions of other people and influencers which is a quality that digital ads market surely lags. We just might have seen the peak of the market for digital advertising and ads.

  • The advantage of videos

Digital ads that usually consists of banners and posters have become very less influencing when the social media is filled with videos about the products.

Living objects are automatically more attractive than still lives. Influencers have started making use of videos in their contents to influence the people which is turning out to be another plus point of the influencer marketing.

  • Celebrities as Influencers

Consumers are influenced greatly when their favorite celebrities post about a certain product.

This has become a growing area of influencer marketing that celebrities are used as influencers to attract people towards a specific product. Like television commercials, where celebrities are used as influencers, they are made influencers on social media nowadays where they post about how they have become the customers to a certain product.

This practice does not even require any convincing as many people will blindly believe in the quality of the thing when their favorite celebrity buys it.

No wonder, influencer marketing is taking over.

  • Online feedback

When influencer market is on social media the feedbacks of the consumers becomes very important for marketing purposes. The market grows with positive feedbacks, and similarly, it shrinks when the feedbacks are not in the favor of the goods and services.

People today believe greatly in the ratings and online opinions of the consumers.

Influencer marketing is largely driven by this concept of online ratings and participation and thus is rapidly growing.

  • Honest opinions

Consumers value opinions and ideas more than advertisements.

In the world of influencer marketing, the opinions of people act as influencers on the social sites and are just as important.

If not all then most of the feedbacks and opinions of people about a particular service or product are honest.

Finding honest opinions about a thing, a person, or a company is able to purchase the product.

In the case of digital ads marketing, there are hardly any opinions shared as the ad platform does not allow for such interaction.

  • Time efficient

Influencer marketing is instant and is purely based on the established relationship between the influencer and their network.

The fact that influencer marketing is taking over digital Ads just might be happening now.

It has been estimated that in another few years influencer marketing will take over all the other marketing strategies and will become the biggest marketing practice by the year 2020