Achieving a public relations presence online
by Pete Prestipino
Follow the rules for Online PR Success
If you have researched your industry and developed a creative PR plan to promote your products, services or company you are ready to start promoting. Your research has indicated the best places to appear online and you're hoping that your creative PR plan will work and get you listed. So how do you achieve your online public relations campaign goals? Tenacity.
You know where you need to appear, right? So go get listed and don't take no for an answer. The key to successful online PR campaigns is the tenacity with which you approach your goals. Of course, without knowing the "Rules of the Game" for each medium you are trying to get your message to appear in you might be just chasing your tail. Each online medium has its own unique rules that you must abide by in order to be successful with your online PR campaign.
Here is a quick Rule guide for newsgroups/forums, press releases, email inquiries, etc.
Find the right forum - If you sell Widgets, it won't do you much good to spend time in the Gidget forum. Thorough research will keep you up to date on the most used and visited newsgroups and forums and you should participate in only those that might be constructive for your organization to participate. Instead of being a member of hundreds of forums, it's best to focus on those industry leading forums that can impact the image of your business.
Lurk before posting - Unless you have some social disorder which compels you to speak out of turn without knowing much about your audience or the topic at hand, you should always lurk before posting in forums or newsgroups. The reason for this essential rule should be obvious: if you know a lot of information about the topics being discussed and the people that are suggesting them you are better positioned to be well respected in that forum. Always take advantage of any "Introduce Yourself" sections and make an effort to inquire about other people, their products as well as the questions that they introduce for discussison in the forum.
Share only your expertise - If you've started a website you probably did it because you have some expertise in something. If you are contributing to forums or newsgroups, always present your site as an expert within an industry. Put simply, remember that "What you say, says a lot about you!" Focus on providing helpful information in a timely manner and you'll achieve expert status over time. Doing so can result in reams of qualified traffic for a long time to come.
Respond online and offline - Want to really be taken seriously? Send other members personal messages. Member forums usually provide some means of contacting other members. Build partnerships and relationships that are mutually beneficial; work together for online PR success.
Don't advertise - There are too many newsgroups and forums to count. Just a handful in fact for even the most popular areas of interest. So it's important not to alienate your audience. Take great care to craft a message that will initiate discussion and not directly advertise your products. People come to newsgroups and forums for information, not advertising. So take the first step and start giving the people what they want. That will put you right in front!
Use a Signature file - Remember to "Tell 'em what you told 'em" within a Sig or signature file. Signature files are what follows any message and is a excellent way to reiterate any point. Most forums and newsgroups enable you. This message is created by the, who else, creator of the message. This is the perfect opportunity to "sell" what you do. Promoting a new e-book this week? Mention it to your readers and date it. Tell them you'll give them a discount if they saw that ad and signed up with that week.
More mistakes are made with press releases in a company's communication efforts than any other. This is because of a deep lack of understanding about what press releases should accomplish as well as a deep lack of knowledge about how to go about accomplishing your goals through online press release distribution.
-- Follow AP Style - The AP Stylebook is a must-have when you write copy for online press releases. There are many good resources available to check your writing style with that of the recognized norm.
-- Inverted Pyramid - The Inverted pyramid style of press release writing means simply to include your most important information at the top of the press release. This is a hold-over from the non-digital days and still serves as an essential tenet of press releases that succeed.
-- Creative Presentation; but Newsworthy Releases - The single biggest mistake most releases make is not being newsworthy to anyone but your own organization. A creative presentation or outlook on something that is happening within your business or industry is much more likely to catch the attention of the media. Will new legislation affect your industry? How does your company solve some problem currently in the news?
-- Include Contact Information:
Make sure that media have access to your with updated contact information available on your release.
Succeeding with press releases online is simple when you also follow some simple guidelines that should be illustrated within your online pr plan. Collecting Media contact information and building media relationships with journalists, reporters or influential media people is essential and should be conducted with the utmost respect for the time and attention of the media. You waste both the media's and your own time contacting people that can't do anything for you When you know who the most influential people are within your industry (which is what your research should tell you) and build relationships with them, communicating freely with them at every reasonable opportunity, you are more apt to secure access to the select group of publishers and hopefully their larger audiences - in the least garnering some "eye time." Then, when you send newsworthy information to those that are open to receiving information about your company and its products or services, you'll see your site mentioned frequently within publications of your select industry.
When contacting any one via email; it's better to be safe than sorry. That's why you should follow these recognized principles when contacting someone via email:
-- Be Honest, Polite and Succinct, Be Flashy only in your words: There is typically very little need to send HTML emails outside of advertising. If you're looking for tips on sending unsolicited email, this article is not for you (plus, you should know better!). When you are trying to contact someone to make a proposal or mention your company to them, it's good to be honest, polite and succinct. The media is using email less and less to absorb information, so the more your message seems legit the more it might generate interest from your list of influential media. Make sure to let them know that you know who they are, what they write about and most importantly how they can help you. Don't make claims you can't support and make an effort to be as succinct as possible and ever-free of blatant advertising.
Peter Prestipino is the founder and principal of SCG - Swirling Circle Online PR Group providing Internet solutions to small and medium sized businesses through online PR efforts such as mini-website development, link building, press releases and product reviews. For more information, visit http://www.SwirlingCircle.com.
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