Ditch the consultants and do your online PR yourself
If you are trying to build a brand or launch a new product, online PR is a must in todays web driven world. One of the widest reaching and easiest to tap into is blogging. These days the world and their dog has a blog. Some good, some exceptionally bad!
As a business trying to establish a strong brand or build a buzz around your latest product you need to tap into the world of blogging and establish relationships with bloggers within your area of business. Building a good relationship with these writers is a great tool for your ongoing marketing success.
Unfortunately the approach to building these relationships is often wrong, whether you hire a PR consultant or a specialist online marketing agency. Old school PR consultants tend not to focus on online brand building tactics and pay little attention to an important side effect of successful online PR – search engine optimisation. Likewise, online marketing agencies (SEO’s) usually only have one goal – links. Their approach is often very impersonal. It is usually very clear they have simply copied and pasted a standard email often not even taking the time to try to address the email to a person or even trying to appear to have read the chosen blog. Most serious bloggers get tens or even hundreds of these requests a week, most of which end up in their spam folder.
The good news is there is a wealth of online tools and information available to help you become an online marketing master without the need for expensive consultants. Here are some simple guidelines to help you get your news noticed. 1. Don’t over automate! As a full time blogger the most annoying message to receive is an obviously stock email asking for inclusion in their blog. Do your research, find who is talking about your brand of niche and write a polite personalised email saying why you think they should blog about your product. Highlight past articles they may have published or items they may have missed in a previous post. Spending a bit more time will often reward you with far better results. Even if the blogger doesn’t wish to feature your product this time they now have your details and if you have taken the time to write a polite introduction they are far more likely to contact you in future.
- Offer something in exchange. I am not talking about financial incentives here but content. Guest posts or quality images work well here. If your writing skills are not up to much, consider hiring a professional writer to product ORIGINAL, quality content. Most bloggers will jump at the chance to get fresh, original, high quality content. Often getting profesional content written is far more economical than trying to do it yourself and the search engine optimisation benefits are well worth the additional expense if you select your target sites carfully.
- Run a competition or offer discount vouchers. Giving a blogger something of value to their readers if far more likely to produce results.
- Financial arrangements. Lets face it, most bloggers are not doing it for the fun of it. They are doing it for some kind of financial return. If you are selling a product or service consider offering some kind of commission based on referrals. This way the bloggers are far more inclined to do your selling for you. Other options include placing a banner ad on your site for their blog site or offering the services of your designer to produce a new theme for their site.
There are loads of tools out there to help you monitor user engagement and blogging trends. Here are a few examples
Facebook – The worlds most visited website. Useful to see who is talking about the things which matter to you.
Social bookmarking sites – Sites like Digg and Reddit are great for finding popular blogs. What is hot right now.
Twitter – Twitter and tools like wefollow.com allow you to see in real time what’s trending and what people are passionate about right now.
Hopefully with these tools and advice you can ditch the expensive IT consultants and marketing gurus and do a much better job of online promotion yourself.