Today, public relations (or how you relate to your public/audiences) is more than just sending out a press release. With the decline in full-time media outlet professionals, and the rise of freelance writers, it is no surprise that the emphasis on search is so important.
PR is no longer "agency-centric." At my firm, we understand that we are going to generate good awareness through proactive, old-fashioned public relations, however, we also know that freelance writers are always searching and on the lookout (online) for new content and story ideas, and may find our client. Unfortunately, these writers tend to seem elusive and hard to track down. For us it is really a combination of factors that lead to generating positive PR opportunities, and one of those is an online press room.
The online press room is becoming a standard for any business and is one of the best ways to improve your website's searchability, as well as your opportunities for media attention. It allows you to add searchable content you might not put anywhere else on your website, and is as simple as adding a page to your website. Here are some tips for setting your online press room up:
- Follow great examples: There is one example that I always provide clients and that is Red Lobster. Why? Because it was originally created by a former media pro. It is clean, easy to use and a great example of the kind of content you should include. Others I recommend are Kids Caring 4 Kids and Bellybum Boutique.
- Content: Be sure to include everything a journalist would need from press release to backgrounder (or company history) to product fact sheets, graphics and video. You can add pages for each or make them downloadable. Of course, always make sure that contact information is very obvious, in case they have questions.
- Provide story ideas: Media and freelancers don't often have the time to take something general and find the story in it. That's why it is so important to make sure that you offer story tips/angles online or when you're pitching media.
- Make it noticeable: Be sure to set your main navigation to allow for a link they can't miss.
- Highlight media you have achieved: The reason PR works is because of the credibility it offers not just to customers but to media, as well. Seeing that your company is getting attention from media can make others say "we need to do something on this too" or "I have to buy this if XYZ news did a story".
- Use it: Don't just set your press room up and leave it. Now you have a link you can include when sending email pitches to clients, or to send media to from Twitter, Facebook or a service like @MyStorySource. The more you can get it out there, the better your search results and the more attention you can draw to your business.
Jennifer Fortney is president of Cascade Communications, a boutique virtual PR and marketing communications company in Chicago focusing on small business and startups. In her 15+ year career she has worked with some of the top Fortune 500 companies and a wide variety of small businesses and startups across the country. A journalism major with music minor from the University of Kansas, she is also the PR Instructor at SCORE Chicago and founder of @MyStorySource live media pitch feed on Twitter and Facebook. @SmallBizPRXpert