All Eyes Online
Best PR Strategies for More Visibility and Qualified Leads
By Lisa Buyer
What do you say when your customers ask “How come your company doesn’t come up in Google?”
Does your public relations strategy consider your buyer’s online ‘search’ habits? Are you coming up in key word searches related to your brand name, product or service? Are you participating in the online conversations and getting search engine visibility in Google News, YouTube, Yahoo News and reaching out to influential bloggers?
The answers should all be yes, without question, and if there was any hesitation in coming up with the answer, your public relations direction is very “yesterday”…impacting your bottom line tomorrow, if not today.
The public relations world is in a major transition offering more opportunity for sales and lead generation than ever.
Yesterday’s traditional PR agency focused on generating editorial coverage in the likes of print and broadcast media. Landing a story in USA Today or CNN was a measurement of success. Clipping books were the proof points. Print coverage does still have its place; the return on investment for online media coverage is the best bet.
Consider these statistics:
• A PEW/Internet and American Life study reports that the place Americans turn to most for answers is the Internet.
• Health is one of the topics that online Americans turn to the Internet for most, but also area in which searchers are most concerned about accuracy and privacy.
• Over three quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue
• News search engines are the major source for online news
• Press releases have topped trade publications as the top source for online news
• 80% of home buyers begin their search online and Real estate professionals say that search engines are the most popular venue for marketing
• Nearly 70 percent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis
• 44% of US consumers will use social networking such as LinkedIn, Facebook or My Space at least once a month in 2008.
• YouTube attracts the most online traffic and is consistently rated the favorite social media site by US Internet users, some say it will predict the election
• One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blog and about one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page
• Over half said that blogs were having a significant impact on the “tone” (61.8%) and “editorial direction” (51.1%) of news reporting
• Nearly half of all journalists report visiting a corporate website or online newsroom at least once a week.” *
• More than 85% report visiting a corporate website or online newsroom at least once a month
Most companies are adjusting and evolving based on this momentous shift in the industry and experts predict more will change in the next five years than have transpired in the past 50 years for media.
News is no longer delivered to the front porch and print ads are quickly losing the luster.
People are customizing the news they are looking for on personalized home pages with specific keywords and brand names subscribing to iGoogle or MyYahoo. They are following niche-oriented bloggers who are talking about topics and trends of interest. They are having online conversations and socializing in LinkedIn, Facebook and Twiiter. They are sharing experiences, stories, and photos, creating their own content, and acting as their own publishers.
So if PR is no longer merely the sources of content for the media and bloggers are out there publishing their take on the news, not to mention determining the news… what can you do to adjust your online PR strategy?
Companies today need to have a public relations plan that includes an Internet strategy. Without it, companies will quickly loose marketshare, exposure and opportunities to generate leads and retain business.
Online conversations are happening and businesses can choose to participate in those online conversations and take a proactive approach or they can sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
More now than ever, PR is redefined with the opportunity to communicate and interact directly with targeted audiences. Whether these audiences find their information at multimedia forums, such as YouTube and FlickR or they subscribe to a specific blog that feeds to their Google home page, online public relations is one of the most influential components of communications.
In April of ’07 IProspect.com did a social network user behavior study which is still highly relevant today.
“Social networking sites are influencing the purchasing decisions of a meaningful percentage of the Internet users who visit them, requiring marketers to identify the sites where the level of influence is high, and to devise ways to positively engage with the visitors of those sites (“communities”).” To download the full white paper from IProspect Click Here .
Online PR Musts
1. Optimized content – Optimized press releases and web content using SEO (search engine optimization) best practices such as strategic keyword phrases will help improve online visibility and can drive measurable traffic and sales.
2. Distribution – channels to push and distribute content include newswire services such as PRWeb, BusinessWire and PRNewswire, Flickr, Technorati, YouTube, Blogs and Search Engine News.
3. Social Media Relations – It’s matchmaking for business. Targeting and connecting to your target market is becoming easier as networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn add millions of new users each week. If you’re not on it, join it. Facebook actually has a group called Power Social Media Strategies that is a very useful resource.
4. Measure the Results – Online public relations is measurable with analytics programs that tell where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. Analytics tools from sources such as Google Analytics, Wire service reports and blog monitoring services can tell you a wealth of information from key word related results to map overlays and visitor trends.
5. Blogs – If you don’t have your own blog, start following the bloggers who are talking about your industry, interests or trends. If you want to follow more about search engine marketing and public relations, check out some of these SEO/PR Blogs http://www.thebuyergroup.com/blog , http://www.seomoz.org/blog/ , http://www.toprankblog.com/
6. Local Search: Hone in on the local market and get better results in a more efficient manner with avenues like Google Local Search and Local.com.
7. Online Reputations: Monitoring and interacting with reviews on sites like Yelp can drive traffic to your Web site and generate sales – pay attention to online conversations.
8. Learn from the Search Rock Stars – If you feel like you need to learn more, you should attend a professional search engine marketing conference and get ahead of your competition. Best bets include Search Engine Strategies , PubCon
and most recently, the leader is Search Marketing Expo
With today’s online public relations opportunities, the key word is measurement…and the measurement is in the key word.
About Lisa Buyer
Writer, publicist, brand junkie and SEO geek, Lisa Buyer is president and CEO of The Buyer Group, an interactive public relations and branding agency specializing in search engine savvy consulting catering to real estate, health, beauty and technology companies. A University of Florida graduate, Lisa has owned a PR agency for more than 15 years and regularly attends professional search engine strategy and Internet conferences to continue to deliver best practices.