We offer online PR services at Vitis Public Relations and this article shares some basic tips for any companies looking to use online PR to generate more traffic to their sites.
Firstly, online PR is different from traditional PR which often targets print publications and broadcast media to reach buyers and also influencers, such as analysts. Online PR helps to reach the masses, both locally and globally, via the internet and is quite sophisticated with many options to generate awareness for SMEs of all sizes – and often at no cost. These include: company mentions on online news sources, twitter company presence, targeting mainstream media with online presence, blogs, forums, podcasts, virtual worlds and social networks. This list is not exhaustive but gives a few ideas of what can be done.
Search engine optimised press releases
Press releases written using your top keywords and distributed via a good quality newswire, can often help with your SEO efforts as well as reaching customers directly.
By using online news distribution services, companies can reach online journalists, some mainstream journalists and bloggers, and often find their name included in Google and Yahoo. In the UK, Webitpr has an international reach and good blogger contacts whereas Sourcewire can sometimes get international coverage but also proactively targets UK journalists – both print and online. There are also a growing number of free newswires which can also generate higher rankings but they don't include back links to your websites.
Depending on the product or service you are promoting, a press release template has been developed for the online PR community – it's called a social media press release and can be found at: http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smprtemplate.pdf.
The online press release template allows a company to offer supporting content all in one place. There's a lot of discussion about whether this is really useful, but I still need to be convinced. I think that picking out the top bloggers/online journalists in your space and striking up a dialogue is often a better avenue to generating awareness online.
By developing expert opinion articles which can sit on your website, or better still be accessible through credible third party sites, then even more customers will have access to your company’s products and services.
Using Twitter for PR
Many journalists and influencers have a presence on Twitter and some journalists are even asking to be pitched via Twitter (mainly in the US at the mo), so keeping your message short and sweet with no corporate spin is an art form that needs to be perfected. Twitter is also great for keeping up to date with what journalists are writing about and what your competitors are doing.
Podcasts and videos
Companies can start to develop their own broadcasting platforms through podcasts and videos, which are more engaging than the static text on a website. A regular weekly podcast on interesting themes is easy and free to create and distribute, so can be a cost effective PR tool.
A company’s online newsroom on its website is also useful for journalists or bloggers to find information on a company whenever they need it. The newsroom should be, if possible, more than a list of press releases. Instead include media coverage, background information, photography and media contacts and keep this information updated on a regular basis.
Business blogs are also a great way to establish yourself as an expert in a field, but if you are starting a business blog, you must be committed to maintaining it. Our PR blog is generating higher traffic than our website currently and seems to get indexed by Google much faster than our website, so a business blog is a highly valuable tool.
Measuring PR success
Also, I would suggest that any companies implementing online PR should set up some form of measurement to track the websites and online PR initiatives that are attracting visitors. Often press releases and news stories will increase visitors to a site and this will be reflected in visitor statistics. Simply using Google Analytics is a popular method.
One final thing companies should consider before undertaking online PR is to optimise all materials and include the keywords that work for the company already in other online marketing activity.