1. Changed consumer behaviourIt may be obvious, but every company now looking to source a new product or supplier will turn first to the internet. If your company or product doesn’t show up on Google or Bing etc (and preferably on the first page), then no sale. It’s now about populating the web with compelling content, driving SEO and getting your website up the rankings. 2. Credibility Companies used to wonder why they needed a website. People, they said, can simply phone or fax through what they need, and we’ll send out corporate or product information. Now, every credible company has a website, and many are now adopting social media. The same argument applies: shortly, companies without a social media presence will look old-fashioned or out-of-touch. Again, no sale. 3. Social value Still not convinced by social media? Well, visitors to a website are some ten times more likely to make a purchase if they’ve come from social media. Indeed, a majority of social media users now prefer to connect with brands through Facebook, and over 50% of Twitter users recommend companies or products via Tweets. 4. Getting attention In a 24/7 media landscape, always also wise to keep an eye on the media in your sector – whether by logging onto trusted news sites or following the rolling news agenda on Twitter. Maybe the government is making a statement about the widget industry. As a widget manufacturer, you may have something to say. Become a commentator, not a bystander. 5. Content management But before all that, there’s no use developing traditional and online PR strategies without first deciding on message and content strategy. Writing good and compelling content for press releases, articles, blogs or social media remains – and will always remain – the most important part of PR. Not only does it have to be well-written, it has to resonate with potential customers, and be optimised for SEO. 6. Targeting messages The best way to target the press and media is to draw up a list of titles and the journalists who work on them. In the new media age, with more and more press material being distributed, journalists are looking for the human touch. More than anything, they’re looking for good information, and why they should be interested in your story. 7. Pull marketing The new PR is about publishing good information and drawing customers into your community: a “pull” strategy in which potential customers find you. Inbound marketing focuses on excellent content that attracts people towards your company. By aligning your published content with your potential customers’ needs, you will naturally generate inbound traffic. 8. Monitor Before the internet, it was hard to know what worked and what didn’t. Now, with the likes of Google analytics you can easily see how people have found your website – what publications they first saw you in, what pages on your site they looked at, or the keywords they used to search for you. Monitoring will help you refine your strategies and messages. 9. Engage and converse It’s no use having a Twitter or Facebook account if nobody in your company actually posts material to them or, just as bad, nobody keeps an eye on them to see what comments or Tweets have been received. Social media is all about PR immediacy and everybody communicating with you expects the same kind of immediacy in return. 10. Integration Taking all the above, it’s about managing reputation, using all available platforms to communicate messages and, by investing a bit of time and effort, building your brand. That means having a joined-up strategy between marketing and PR, to target the right people with the right message. Easy! Charlie Laidlaw is a partner in Laidlaw Westmacott and a director at David Gray PR.
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