Online Public Relations - Tips and TricksPress releases are not going to go away, whichever new technologies come to the forefront. But there is a methodology to sending to them that will guarantee a higher chance of response and which should become a key part of your marketing strategy.

Firstly, you must build up an audience. This means getting in touch, via whichever means the journalist, publication or promoter prefers, and establishing a rapport. It is no good sending a PR out into the cold. And good relationships take time to establish.

Secondly, your PR must have substance. It needs to be newsworthy, timely and include links to further information to allow the author of any piece relating to that press release a chance to write a piece of value. Press releases should include links to video, audio, references, and if at all possible personalised and in-depth content. So, a Skype contact for a quick video conference, a Twitter handle with hashtag for a broad range of input on the subject matter or event, Youtube URLs, audioboos etc should all be included.

Top Tip: Add a QR code for a personalised page for that journalist. Relate some of your information back to previous pieces they have written to give a background or insight.

Thirdly, you must sell your story. The vast majority of press releases are simply puff pieces because the marcomms department thinks it is time there was a column inch or two about the company. Do not fall into that modus operandi. Only send out stories when there are meat and bones, when timely, and when you have a valid reason to see the company name in print.

But do not miss opportunities. This is where a great PR salesperson will come to the fore. A good marcomms person will be able to spot an opportunity eg when something is trending on Twitter, contact the people with whom they have established relationships, have a great piece that can be customised by the journo to suit their publication (without being yet another “Read similar stories” on Google) and who can push the whys and wherefores of this particular story to a specific publication.

Understanding how Online PR works in this fast moving environment where a story may die in a day is vital. And it requires fast action and slick processes in-house to work correctly, backed up by valuable content that is regularly added to your website. But get it right, and you could be viral for a few hours with a long tail audience for many months to come.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology