The saying goes that any press is good press. While Facebook might disagree right now, in most cases PR can be an effective and inexpensive way to get the word out about your company.
Gone are the days of PR agencies being the only way to get in touch with journalists – these days anyone can find journalists online, build relationships with them and pitch story ideas.
Sure, your company is using social media tools to get the attention of potential consumers. But are you doing enough to attract the attention of the media? Here’s some advice for making your social media efforts PR-friendly:
1. Make your website press-friendly
Journalists are increasingly finding story ideas through social media channels like Twitter.
If a tweet about your company catches the attention of a reporter, you want to make sure they find everything they need when they visit your website. This means having a clear About Us page with details on the team, company, investors, and any milestones.
And it also means having a press centre – include contact details, a downloadable press kit, and any recent press releases or blog posts. The more accessible the information the more likely it is that a journalist will use it.
2. Have a social media-friendly press kit
Press kits are a great way to provide accessible multimedia information about your company – and while the traditional aspects like team bios and press releases should be included, a Web 2.0 press kit should include online-friendly components.
Include these media resources:
- High-res team photos
- Head-shots and logos
- Screenshots of your app or site
- Your demo video on YouTube or another video platform
- Links to any relevant online properties including your blog, Twitter account and Facebook fan page
Whether you make your press kit available for download on your press page or send it via email, it will help journalists flesh out anything they write about you.
3. Journalists are people too – get to know them
Just like you, journalists use social media tools for a variety of reasons. Sure, they look for story ideas and post their latest articles.
But they also chat about things like dinner plans and vacations, and blog about things that interest them. If there’s a journalist you really want to know about your company, take the time to get to know them and interact online.
Your first interaction with a reporter should not be a pitch about your product. It should be a blog comment, a Twitter reply to something they’ve posted, or a comment on one of their articles. Take the time to actually build a relationship with someone before trying to pitch so you’re not just another PR pitch in their Twitter stream.
4. Don’t try to boil the ocean
There are a lot of journalists on Twitter, and the majority won’t care about your company.
The key is to target the journalists that write about your industry. Make a top 20 list of the media outlets you want to cover your company, and find out which of the outlet’s reporters are on Twitter/blogging/etc.
Create a Twitter list of the journalists in your industry, and subscribe to RSS feeds of the outlets you admire so you can keep up on what they’re writing about. Keep it targeted so you can actually build meaningful relationships and stay informed about what different outlets are covering.
5. Position yourself as an expert online
Sure, a profile of your company in a big daily newspaper or on a well-read blog will do wonders for your brand awareness. But it’s a one-time occurrence – you’ll see a one-time spike in traffic, and who knows when that outlet will find your company newsworthy again.
One way to avoid this is to position yourself as an expert in your industry so you can provide commentary on an ongoing basis. Social media makes it easy to build online expertise – blog about your industry, Tweet great topical content, and find ways to weigh in on conversations in meaningful ways.
6. Capitalize on current events
When big events happen in the news it seems that every newspaper, blog and social media site is consumed with chatter about it. While you shouldn’t try to jump on top of every news story for your company’s gain, sometimes you can add a relevant, newsworthy layer to the online buzz.
Take the recent example of social media monitoring company Sysomos. When Osama bin Laden’s death was announced, there was a ton of chatter online. Community Manager Sheldon Levine saw an opportunity to use Sysomos to measure it – he wrote a blog post called How Fast the News Spreads Through Social Media, and looked at the number of Tweets, news and blog mentions.
The blog post caught the attention of mainstream media, and resulted in coverage in The New York Times and NPR.
And don’t forget that while PR is a great way to build awareness about your brand, you don’t need it to build a community. You can build an engaged, relevant community of Twitter followers, blog readers or Facebook fans without ever having a press mention.
Pay attention to PR, but don’t forget to use social media to talk to existing and potential customers – at the end of the day, they’re the ones you’re trying to reach anyway.