Public relations is how a business conveys information to the public to build good will, credibility, name recognition and prestige. PR activities include:
Press releases, articles and newsletters;
Company-sponsored events and activities;
Speaking engagements and interviews, and
Trade shows and conventions.
Web site PR is all about news, and top companies rely on the Web to spread it. As newspapers shrink in size and circulation, on-line news outlets multiply. Though often overlooked, Web site PR is surprisingly easy, affordable and effective, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
The first step is to make sure your company Web site is media-friendly. Journalists begin research by cruising a target company’s site. They look for PR contacts, basic company facts, corporate position statements, financial information and images to download for the story. With that in mind, a powerhouse PR site will have:
Clear, concise and jargon-free content;
Current news and archived press releases;
A “Media Room” with photos of key executives, personal contact information and newsworthy charts and graphics;
Financial data, and
A consistent and compelling overall message.
Follow these guidelines and all visitors – not just journalists – will develop a clear and favorable impression of your company.
After giving your site a PR tune-up, tell the world what you are all about. Companies can submit news stories directly to on-line wire services, where industry news sites, blogs and message boards regularly pick them up. Stories on “hot” topics can rapidly circulate among blogs, providing the company with highly effective – and free – viral marketing. If direct submission is not practical, the company can work through an on-line PR firm that specializes in article placement.
PR submissions come in many flavors, such as technical white papers, press releases, customer success stories and opinion-editorial pieces. Each type requires a different emphasis and style; properly crafted submissions quickly will grab the attention of editors and readers. Above all, articles must have real informative value; otherwise, they get lost in the shuffle. For example, EzineArticles™, a popular submission site, receives nearly 9,000 articles per month! Despite the proliferation of news, analysts see nothing but growth for Web site PR; in fact developing technologies such as “podcasting” open up whole new vistas of opportunity.
Companies that fancy themselves sharp Web marketers because they do effective search marketing and pay-per-click campaigns often miss the public-relations boat. PR does not replace on-line advertising, but compliments it. Article placement can enhance optimization, and PR reaches targeted market segments with information-rich content. This means when a qualified prospect spots your ad or scans Google results, they will recognize your name – and click.
Aaron Wittersheim is president of Whoast Inc., a suburban Chicago search marketing firm. For more information, visit http://www.whoast.com.