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The Power of Public Relations in an SEO Campaign : Or How to Be Awesome at PR

Submitted on 12/15/2010 by Natalie Keshlear

 

This year I have become involved with the implementation and execution of Public Relation campaigns for our clients at Thunder. In the past we have pushed out free Press Releases at a bare minimum, but now we are starting to delve deeper into the world of Public Relations and press releases galore. At first no one at Thunder knew the impact that more in depth PR would have on clients SEO campaigns, but in the last two months we have seen first hand the effect that a good PR campaign can have on Google rankings, reputation management and branding.

So how do you go about customizing a great PR plan for a client? Well, each client is different and a good strategy will cater to an individual clients needs and that is what we aim to do at Thunder. I am going to outline the most important aspects of PR that I go through while formulating a PR strategy for our clients and I will also tell you what has worked for us and steps we have shelved. I am still learning how to take traditional PR practices and make them work in the digital realm, but day by day the two become more and more intertwined and it is obvious that Public Relations is an important factor when it comes to client management. So let’s get started, shall we.

(Picture via John Bell)

How to Write a Press Release: Or How Not to Sound Like an Idiot

When I first started doing PR, I had to figure out the best ways for my clients press releases to be picked up by news outlets. At first, I was at a loss. I knew how to write and I knew how to connect with outlets, but there was something missing that was not drawing in attention for my clients. It turns out, I was not writing the best possible press release I could. I did some research and with help from Inc.com’s Tim Donnelly I figured out some steps to a great release.

1. Make your audience care : Look up examples from PR sites (PR.com, PR Web..etc) and see what methods are working to make a press release stand out. There are millions of releases, you need to make your clients seem special!

2. Become a Master at Structure: This is something I have struggled with in writing classes since high school, but structure is really one of the most important aspects when it comes to writing a great press release. Check out Tim Donnelly’s article for more information, but in summary a press release should be no more than one page long, include the words “for immediate release” and be summarized in the first paragraph because many news agencies don’t look at anything beyond that. Your main point should be made in the first few sentences. If you can engage your audience in one sentence, your press release will be pushed out to more sites and get more attention. (Look what 37Signals Founder Jason Fried has to say about getting your point across).

3. Make your press release look on point (aka – make it glitter) : Make use of and optimize quotes, boilerplate information, contact information and multimedia.

4. Figure out your audience: Target your distribution and when emailing journalists make sure to make it as easy as possible for them to get to your press release. Don’t send your press release as an attachment, instead send it in the body of the email.

How to Distribute Your Press Releases Without Breaking the Bank

At Thunder we use paid press release sites on occasion, but in general we rely on the webs best free PR sites to get our clients message out. Below are some of my favorite sites that offer free distribution on the web:

1. Pitchengine.com – A socially integrated way to get your PR out and my top pick.
2. OpenPR – No signup required and easy to navigate
3. PR.com – The PR’s I push to this site always end up ranking in Google

(Photo via PositivityWorks.com)

The Power of Positive PR: Or How the Lyrics “Don’t Worry be Happy” Apply to PR

A new client of ours at Thunder came to us with a big brand reputation management problem. There were slanderous websites on the net about his company that were provoked due to a personal issue he had had with an associate in the past. These sites were ranking on the first page when his brand name was typed into Google. So we had a problem, because none of the allegations against our client were true and it could be easily proven. At first, we wanted to counter the problem with a campaign strategy addressing the accusations, but quickly realised that was not our best bet once our press releases highlighting their coupons and holiday guides were picked up by the press.

Immediately the bad reviews started dropping as the good press took their place. We realised by not even addressing the issue (this would have provoked the attacks even more) and focusing on positive PR about the brand that the rankings for the slanderous sites were dropping substantially. So we developed a plan to highlight the positive aspects of the business and the bad press has moved off the first page of Google. Top blogs in our clients field started to pick up the PR and began adding our clients coupons and guides to their websites as well as writing reviews. Thanks to the positive approach we took to the problem, it went away like that. (Note: this is not always the case)

PR Sources and Websites: Or “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends”

The methods on how to formulate a great Public Relations campaign change day to day, but I get by with a little help from my friends. For more information on PR and resources, check out the following sites:

1. Inc.com
2. PRnewsonline.com
3. PRnewswire.com         

and another great resource is John Hopkins University Professor John Bell                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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