No longer is it enough to limit PR activities to submitting press releases to traditional media outlets. Social Media has become a HUGE part of today’s public relations. But Social Media alone isn’t enough either. For the most effective approach to public relations for your business, you need to incorporate an integrated approach. You need to communicate with your target audience in a variety of ways and across a variety of platforms.
At its most basic level, public relations is defined as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (according to the Public Relations Society of America).
It’s strategic in that it’s planned, intentional, not haphazard or willy-nilly. It involves communication, which is the “exchange of ideas.” It is a process: it takes time to build and grow. It builds mutually beneficial relationships (it’s a two-way street) between an organization (you) and its publics (your target market/audience).
By implementing an integrated PR approach, you are still incorporating the foundational principles of public relations. For example, you are still engaging in media relations; however, media relations now includes communicating with editors and reporters via Twitter, as well as reaching out to bloggers. The gatekeepers of yesterday are still one (big) way in, but they are no longer the only way in.
An integrated public relations approach includes the following:
Traditional PR Activities
This includes submitting press releases and alerts and pitching stories to traditional media outlets (print and broadcast). This is still a valuable practice; however, competition for space in dwindling print publications is fierce. So, you have to be right on target. Your story must be newsworthy, timely, unique, and relevant to the audience of that media outlet. You must know who to pitch it to, when and exactly how to pitch it. For press releases, good writing goes without saying.
Social Media is defined as social networking using websites and applications. For businesses, it is a way to connect with your audience, communication directly with target markets, gatekeepers (reporters and editors) and influencers, build relationships and enhance word of mouth marketing.
Social Media’s viral nature, and potential to reach many potential customers makes it an invaluable part of the PR mix. Social Media’s outreach can be targeted, garner widespread attention, and get people talking about your brand. It gives you a direct way to engage in and monitor the conversation. It also allows you to listen and to learn what customers and prospects are saying, what they want, and how you can better serve them.
Blogging is great way to get target market attention, position yourself as a thought leader, and increase SEO. Creating and regularly posting quality material (that is interesting and relevant to your customers) to your company blog is an important part of the PR mix.
Marketing Communications and Collateral
This includes the material on your website, your newsletters (email and print), e-blasts, informational materials, brochures, catalogs, online store, sales letters, and so on. All of these pieces are also important in getting your marketing messages across to customers and prospects.
All of these activities work together to round out a good, comprehensive public relations plan. Remember, you still have to have something of value to say. You just have lots of places and ways to say it. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to PR for your business.