Now Public Relations Actually Relates with the Public
I was thinking yesterday about some of the calls I used to take when I worked in corporate communications for a national retailer. Most of the time when my phone rang, a reporter was on the other end. Every so often, however, a customer with a complaint would call. Customer complaints weren’t really my department, but I would listen and try to help if I could. Quite often, I would have to transfer them to customer support. At times, this caused the customer to become irritated. I would calmly tell them that I worked in public relations, and I needed to send them to someone who could more effectively handle customer issues. On more than one occasion, this led to the customer to say something along the lines of, “You’re in public relations, and I’m a member of the pubic … why can’t you handle my problem?”
The PR Circle of Life
I’m probably not blogging anything that hasn’t been blogged before when I type this, but I’ll type it anyhow: There are more tools available to the PR professional now than at any point in the industry’s history. You probably think I’m referencing social media and social networking. I am, but there’s so much more to it. And, it all connects in a way that precious few public relations pros seems to realize.
If you look on the EndGame PR services page, you’ll see a pretty long list. There’s a reason for that. I want to be able to do everything I can to help my clients. I’m talking about not only social media, social networking and traditional PR tactics such as media relations, but also search engine optimization (SEO), web content creation, and even web design. Imagine these skills and tactics as part of a never-ending “circle of life”. Quality media relations campaigns can equal links back to a web site, which helps search rankings, which in turn can help a social media audience find you, which in turn can help you promote your quality web content, which can add links back to a web site, which can help SEO …. lather, rinse, repeat. All of these strategies and tactics work well together, and should not be stuck in silos, as they are in so many organizations.
Perhaps the best part of thinking about PR in this way is that you’re not reliant upon one single tactic. If your media relations campaign isn’t going as well as expected, perhaps another portion of the “circle of life” will kick in and help you.
While I’m not suggesting that all PR professionals should know what a 301 redirect is or what to do with the .htaccess file (I do, but I’m a geek), they should know the basics of SEO. They should also know how (or have access to someone who does) to create a basic web video. They should also have the writing skills to be able to write an entertaining and thoughtful blog post. Feel free to judge whether I possess that last one or not .. I won’t assume.
I am going to assume, however, that most everyone reading this knows at least a little bit about social media. You ARE reading a blog, after all. Not near as many have knowledge of the SEO basics. Here are a few, with an example at the end of how the circle of life works:
- Keywords: The basic strategy for figuring out which keywords to use is to think of what words you WANT web searchers to use on Google in order to find your content. Then, work those words into your title and copy (in a natural way, please .. no keyword stuffing). If you want to get more precise about which keywords to use, try playing with the Google Keyword Tool. Most important, however, is that you include those keywords in the headlines and copy of your news releases and other online content.
- Backlinks are king: One of the most important things you can do to improve your site’s search ranking WITHOUT digging into web site code, is increase the number of other sites linking to your site. From a PR perspective, this can be done two ways. First, create original content that people will want to link to. In other words, people will enjoy it and want to blog about it or post about it on Twitter or Facebook. Another tool in the SEO PR toolbox is online news release distribution. Check out my sort-of-annual review of online release distribution sites for more information about this.
- Promote your content on social networking sites: Obviously this isn’t ALL you should be doing on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and all of the others, but it’s one of the things you should be doing. Obviously, the more people who know about your unique content, the more people who could potentially link back to it from their sites. See?! Circle of life!
What it comes down to is that PR pros need to learn everything they can about these tools, even to the point of teaching themselves a little bit of HTML and even how to use CSS. These skills come in handy much more than you would expect, and can improve the service provided to clients or employers.
And, don’t blame me if you walk away from this blog post humming an Elton John song from a certain Disney movie. That’s your problem, and I accept no responsibility for it. It’s less annoying than Hakuna Matata, at least!
News Release Distribution Review 2010
This is the third installment of my running review of online news release distribution sites. If you’re finding these reviews for the first time, you should know that I’ll update this post as best I can throughout the year as sites change their offerings. Previous editions of my review can be found here and here.
This post has been a long time coming. Client work and family life keeps getting in the way, but the online distribution universe changes so fast, and I’ve received so much goodwill as a result of the previous two versions of my online news release distribution reviews that I had make the time to write this update.
Let’s take a look at a some good reasons to distribute your news releases online:
- By including a link in your release, you’re building inbound links to your web site.
- Your news is being spread beyond the boundaries of your web site, increasing the odds of it being seen by your audience.
- There is the possibility that it will be seen by new media or traditional media, leading to coverage from these outlets. This isn’t something I ever count on, but it does sometimes happen.
Disclaimer: There have been occasions where I have been given free “try out” release distributions. I do accept these because they allow me to sample different services, but I do my best not to let them sway my judgment in the review. I consider it the same as a product reviewer accepting a sample product. Disclaimers about specific services can be found within their reviews.
So, which is the best place to distribute your news releases to reach your goals? Below is a review of what I consider the best of the best, both free and paid. Feed free to add your own via comments!
PR Learning to Bypass the Media Filter
Public relations has always included business-to-consumer promotions in its arsenal of tools, but a large portion of the PR business has traditionally involved attempting to get stories placed in the media, in the hope that the consumer will then see those stories. Even highly public promotional stunts were largely, in the end, designed to gain mass media coverage.
But, what happens when the media weakens, and there aren’t enough reporters to cover even the most fascinating stories?
I happened upon two different articles this week that say essentially what I’ve been saying for some time — the answer is to create your OWN media. Blogging, podcasting, web videos, online news release distribution, Tweeting, and Facebooking all can take your message to your customers in an unfiltered way.
One of 100 PR People Worth Following
All day on Sunday, I noticed a flood of new Twitter followers. This is rather unexpected on a Sunday, as you might imagine. I couldn’t figure out what I could have possibly done to trigger it. Then, I figured it out. Valeria Maltoni, writer of the excellent blog Conversation Agent, named me one of her 100 PR People Worth Following on Twitter. I’m thrilled at this, of course, and want to thank Valeria … not only for naming me to her list, but for compiling the list in the first place. There are thousands (millions?) of great PR people on Twitter, and this list is a wonderful starting point for anyone who wants to join in the PR conversation on the micro-blogging site.