A guest blog by PR consultant, Katy Taylor of TT Communications Ltd

I’ve been involved in traditional PR and media relations for over 20 years, working with clients to raise their profiles and generate media stories for them. In the last two or three years online PR has started to play an increasingly important role. As social and online media grows and becomes more powerful, the number of outlets for generating coverage and connecting with potential customers becomes ever greater. No business should now be content to sit back on the sidelines and wait to see what might happen with the world of digital and social media. If you are not doing so already, now is the time to start engaging online and not get left behind. There are potential customers out there and online PR is a great way to engage with them.

My top tips for using online PR

Here’s a beginner’s guide to get you started and hopefully get you thinking about engaging with your customers digitally.

So you have a story you want to talk about. You’ve written it in the most interesting way possible and you want to make sure people hear about it. What next? In the traditional world of PR, you would call up a few journalists, email them the press release and hope that it gets used. In the new world of online PR, you have much more control over getting your story out into the public domain. You can use a variety of methods to make sure that it gets picked up by those people who might be interested in reading it.

  • Add links to your story
    Make your press release more interactive by including links to your website, blog, video or similar. That way people can find out more about you and what you do. It will also increase traffic to your website – and you will be able to measure where it has come from.
  • Don’t forget your keywords
    Make sure that your press release also contains your most important keywords. That way it should show up in an online search when people are looking for a relevant topic under that heading.
  • Target your audience
    Make sure you distribute your press release not only to traditional media, but to online media too. There are literally hundreds of thousands of websites/online magazines out there that may be suitable for your story. Do some research. If you have the money to invest in a subscription to a media database it will be money well spent. However, if budgets are tight, type your keywords into your search engine and see what comes up.  You can email the most important media direct. A personal approach will always be more effective than an anonymous press release with no personalised message.
  • Getting your message out there
    If you are on a tight budget there are companies who will distribute your press release for free. You can upload your press release online, add links to your website and tags for relevant search terms.  These free sites are not ideal as your release may not be distributed to a targeted list. However, they do help to establish an online presence and should improve your presence in the search rankings.
  • Using social media
    Make sure you have social media accounts set up for your business on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You can share links to the press release on your website with your followers on all these sites. You can also share related stories and blogs.
  • Blogs
    Have you thought about creating your own blog? Blogging is a great way of getting your message out in a more personal way. It’s less formal than a press release and allows you to express your own views in the context of other issues that you may be interested in. And again, any presence that you have on the internet will help you appear more regularly in online searches.

Once you start delving into the world of online PR, the possibilities are endless. My advice is to give it a go as the rewards are potentially great. Good luck!