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Online PR – What is that, Anyway?

A public relations program can be an excellent way of positioning your company in the marketplace as “the” choice for your ideal customers. It gives you the opportunity to tell your story your way and, if your press materials are well written and consistent in their messaging, you have an opportunity to contribute in a very powerful way to the conversation about your industry. This is a particularly useful tool now that there are so many online publications and industry organizations providing a ready outlet for news content.

Years ago, when I first wandered into the PR/marketing matrix, I and my colleagues in the PR field focused on creating press releases and sending them to the media outlets that we thought were most likely to be interested in the news we were sharing. I can remember one day early on in my career standing at a fax machine (remember those?) feeling miffed about the fact that I was in charge of hand-feeding hundreds of personally addressed fax address sheets and an accompanying press release into the machine. It took hours. It was not glamorous. And it didn’t match my vision of what a thrilling career in PR should be like. But that was all part of it. Now we have email and push notifications. Thank goodness.

Once I had sent the press releases to our media contacts, it was also my job to follow up with a phone call. That part hasn’t changed – if you are serious about getting coverage for the story you are promoting, it’s a good idea to call the reporter(s) or news representative whose attention you seek, if you can get their number. News people are busy and there are days when it seems like the whole world wants their attention. They have a tough enough time getting the research done for the assignments they want or need to cover in a day, and they are not sitting there waiting for your news to show up…unless you are famous or have a lead on a story that is going to make them famous.

Here’s how that conversation might go:

“Hi I’m calling from ABC Company. I sent you a press release this morning and I’m just calling to make sure that you received it?”

(Reporter responds. Likely they will say no they did not receive your press release so you are going to have to tell them what was in the press release.)

“Is this something you might be interested in running?”

(A yes or no answer will be forthcoming.)

“Do you need more information?”

(Reporter responds.)

Along the way you will either have the opportunity to re-send the email containing the press release or you will be brushed off with varying degrees of polite communication. Don’t pester these people and don’t be rude. Don’t take anything they say personally. And next time you have something that might interest them, try again. But don’t waste their time with “news” that they feel their readers won’t find interesting.

If you do your job well, or you just get plain lucky, your business will be mentioned in the publication the next day or any one of a number of days thereafter. Following up on press releases is time consuming work and a lot of factors influence your success. Key among them is the question of whether or not the information you are offering is actually of relevance to the publication’s audience.

If you’d like more information about how my team and I might be able to support your online PR efforts, please get in touch!

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