Public relations is changing or at least the way information is distributed is. The basics of public relations is relationships so this article is going to outline who to engage with, how to engage them and how to get them to spread your message, all online. That even includes traditional channels of media. The most tech savvy journalist and media channels are online and they are listening along with trying to find stories. Your story can  be told through the use of social media and social networking channels.

The first step is to build the media channels in which you control the content. When you control the content and have a large enough audience then your audience can spread your message for you, that is basically free PR once your program is going. The channels that you use may be based on the industry that you are in but most elements remain the same.

Starting with your website, you should have a blog and post often. In traditional blogging you might try to inform the public of a product sale or a giveaway, these small items are needed to keep people coming to your blog on a regular basis and you are establishing your own company as the source of information so that the consumer  does not have to look elsewhere for their information. The blog can be a key tool to communicate to your stakeholders. Who are your stakeholders?

Internal

  • Employees
  • Family Members of Employees
  • Board of Directors
  • Union Leadership

Your stakeholders may want to get their information through some other channels also. Our theory on this is simple, use every major channel available. The top channels we will include detailed descriptions and other major networks will have a summary.

External

  • Investors
  • Customers or clients
  • Suppliers
  • Referral Sources
  • Influencers in the investment Community (if your company is public)
  • Community leaders
  • Regulators
  • Legislators
  • Media serving all of the above
    [1]


FACEBOOK AS A SOCIAL PUBLIC RELATIONS TOOL

Facebook is an invaluable tool to connect to your stakeholders. For one thing, you can post your blog link in your feed to reach anyone who is not subscribed to your rss feed or gets email updates on your blog. This is good for anything that may exceed Facebook’s character limit. Facebook shows posts based on how much interaction your page has so we recommend adding a post engagement ad or sponsored stories ad. This is a high rate of return ad if you target people that have already liked your page and it will increase your engagement which means that you will get free advertising in the future. Just plain good PR. You can also do an ad for getting likes, this is better than buying likes on other sites because they will be real users that have an interest in your company or product, since they like it they are more likely to engage your post thus increasing the amount of people Facebook with show your post to.

Other ways to create engagement, especially on new accounts are to have the person running your account closely related and passionate about the industry. When a post is made get your social networker to share to their personal page and tag industry specific friends. Be careful a lot of people do not like this, we usually get permission first. For everyone that you tag your post will appear in their feed.


TWITTER FOR SOCIAL PR

Twitter is a face paced world but you can slow it down a little with the proper tactics. Start by creating interesting tweets that tell your story and keep it to about 119 characters, this will help your message remain clear when your audience retweets with RT @username. Then you must narrow that down further if you are including a link. Most people follow under a hundred users so reaching them is as simple as tweeting on a regular basis.

There are a number of power users, some circles call them influencers if their audience reacts to them. Influencers can go either way with your story which is one reason to carefully craft your message as it may be misinterpreted  One way to engage them is to follow and retweet messages relevant to your industry. They are often a little egocentric so this will make them feel good and they will start to notice you more often but even more important than a retweet is a reply. A well thought out reply may get them to hit the follow button. Your reply can be an affirmation of their tweet or contradicting it, it doesn’t matter if you disagree as long as you have a well thought out reply. The idea behind this is to build a relationship so that they keep an eye out for your tweets. This will hopefully increase the natural number of retweets and replies.

When someone does a search on Twitter for a hashtag or even terms and phrases the default sort order is “Top” then “All” and finally “All People You Follow”.  Top shows up for everyone first. The secret to being among the top results is recency in combination with retweets and replies. The very top result is mostly by retweets. To get there We normally tweet then get employees or influencers to retweet, it takes about 30-50 retweets to hold that spot for most keywords (as much as 3,000-5,000 for a viral topic. It is important to know this and I will give you an example,  Let’s say there is a bad post about you and you would like to respond to it. You could just hit the reply button but then your post still appears under theirs. You could tweet your message using the same hashtag as the negative post then look at the top results, simply get more retweets than them and you own that hashtag till someone creates a more popular tweet.

GOOGLE PLUS – A PR AND SEO GIANT

Google plus is unique mainly because it has the capability to modify search results for someone searching Google while logged in. Facebook has a similar effect on Bing but that search engine is not used as much. Gain exposure by connecting to users by getting them to add you to circles and get them to +1 your important posts. Then when any user that is connected to them searches Google their is a high chance that your post will appear on the first page even though it might have not naturally appeared there. This serves two purposes in public relations, first the article has more credibility because the searcher knows the person who plused it.Second since that person is on Google plus they are more likely to share, again it is called multiplication.


Google Plus Hangouts – A Public Relations Press Conference

Google Hangout allows you to have up to nine participants so this is a great public relations tool, you can invite some experts for your company and some journalists if you want. If there are journalist, choose them wisely. Watch other hangouts the might have participated in to decide if they might ask some questions you may not have agreed to. Ask other companies that have dealt with them to get an understanding if how the handle situations. You can also use this medium with just people from the company since you can have the most control and invite the media to watch or even have them email some questions to you before hand. This will give you an opportunity to craft a good response for the question.  Depending on the message you may need to address your stakeholders, inform them of the event and welcome questions from them. For difficult questions just say at the end “due to time constraints we were not able to answer all questions, or another similar response.

You can publish your event on other social networks, your blog, or even do a press release about it.  Giving it the exposure it deserves. The people involved should be media trained or at least briefed in advance before hand by your public relations team. This is needed for some messages that need to be visualized  for example it may be difficult to express compasion via a written message. After you can publish to YouTube for reference.


PINTEREST FOR PR

Pinterest may seem a little daunting for some and may be hard to get a following started but there are two tricks that you can use to get your message out to a broad audience. Join a board that has multiple users. When you do this everyone that posts in it will have their post appear on your page and the same goes for you. If you post and the board has 50 members then your image will appear in 50 pages. You can also create your own board, this is a little bit better since you control the users and can give some guidelines. Create the board then have your employees join, now all of your employees audiences will see your pin. It is a basic that is taught in third grade called multiplication.

PR FOR TECHNICAL DATA

Sometimes you need to present data in a more visualized manor to get your message across and this may be by the use of pdf’s, infographics or powerpoint slides. The information you may be sharing could be financial, comparitive or  technical in nature. This can present a problem on the internet because or the use of different operating systems and hardware that people use to access the information. In that case some of the best ways are to use websites that have taken all of those (or most) items into account. Some sites that you can use to get your PR message out are:

Slideshare:

  • Presentations: pdf, ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx, pot, potx (Powerpoint); odp (OpenOffice)
  • Documents: pdf, doc, docx, rtf (MSOffice); odt, ods(OpenOffice)
  • Videos: mp4, m4v, wmv, mpeg, avi, mov, mpg, mkv, ogg , asf , vob , 3gp, rm, rmvb, flv

 

Slideshare is owned by LinkedIn, you can connect your account to increase your audience fast. I recommend connecting via a the person with the most Influence on LinkedIn. More free PR but there is a paid option which I use. The have different levels but the features of pro accounts are analytics, lead capture and meetings. All great features to measure ROI, see I always say ROI can be measure with PR and Social. Some basic features are Embeddable slides

Scribd:

  • Supported File Types: pdf, txt, ps, rtf, epub, key, odt, odp, ods, odg, odf, sxw, sxc, sxi, sxd, doc, ppt, pps, xls, zip, docx, pptx, ppsx, xlsx, tif, tiff

Reach Scribd’s audience of 90 million monthly readers. By publishing on Scribd, your content can be seen by up to 90 million people from all around the world who use Scribd. Make your content social and get distribution on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

 

YOUTUBE:

  • File Formats .MOV .MPEG4 .AVI .WMV .MPEGPS .FLV 3GPP WebM


YouTube for a PR Crisis

If you are using YouTube for a Public Relations Crisis then start advertising your video on YouTube or you can also pay for views and another option is to use Empir Ave to increase the number of likes and views. YouTubes search function ranks result by the number of views, comments, likes and the number of places it is embedded. Increase those and you can beat out the negative video. This may not be an easy task, the advertising option is the easiest way to get the top result. If you want to bump the video to the second page of the internal YouTube seach then you will have to create multiple videos and do the same steps. You can also use the caption feature and put a good title along with a good description using the keywords you are trying to rank for. Once again this may not be easy because some YouTubers can get a lot of views and comments fast depending on their audience so you must move fast and it will most likely not be cheap to get the result down. You can also post a response directly to the video, it is up to the YouTuber to approve it but that is a great way to hijack their traffic.

YouTube for regular PR

YouTube can be a great medium for getting your story out. I am surprised by how many companies spend thousands of dollars on commercials that will reach a small portion of the potential audience of YouTube. YouTube videos come in high for many results and a lot of the time the result is from a regular YouTuber instead of the actual  company, just plain bad PR. Now someone else has control of the message and the traffic, they may post a link to anywhere they want and direct traffic away from the company instead of towards it.

Engaging YouTubers with an audience can be a great way to get your message out. If you want unbiased reviews then you can provide a product or a limited service to a YouTuber to get the word out and having direct contact with them may make them a a brand advocate with the correct communications. Free of close to free PR.


Livestream – Great for a Public Relations Crisis

Livestream enables you to present your case for a Public Relations Crisis. If you were to do a press conference them the press may use all of your statement but most likely they will use the portion that fits their headline. With livestream your ebtire message can get out and you can counter any claims by the media that may have been spun. This is an invaluable asset. In addition you can use your own network to communicate to your stakeholders so they can get the full picture. Remember the best and most controlled content is that which you control.

Livestream has different plans to choose from. I will not seperate them all, choose for yourself according to your needs. Livestream can be used to get a message out that is to important to be done in a written statement.  The spokesperson for the company should be chosen according to how much media training and expierience they have. You can do this with out the media present but the media training is important because the spokesperson will not only be judged by the words spoken but also by the facial expressions and body movements.

Livestream distribution is the key, you can send notices out to other social networks such as Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter to name a few. Your blog or newsletter can also be a means of announcing it. Through these mediums you can take it a step further by adding a Facebook event or adding a link so people can add it to their calendar. Livestream can integrate with your Facebook page having its own tab so viewers can watch directly from there and finally they have an option for analytics so you can know a little bit about the audience you engaged.

Additional features worth noting:

  • Hd Recording.
  • Mobile recording with Livestream Broadcaster in combination with a compatible camera and a 4G hotspot you are live from anywhere.
  • Apple and Android App as a remote control.
  • For PR, this is a good public relations platform because it is easily deployable and can integrate nicely withjust about any current program options.
  • Make sure you choose the appropriate program, they have different ones that are not necessarily compatible with each other.

Ustream

Ustream is good for live event management. Ustream can be as simple as connecting via Facebook and broadcasting using your webcam. It can also be used for more complex broadcasting such as multiple cameras.

David vs Giliath

Sometimes we may need to take all we know and put it together to make an impact and make it fast. This may be a crisis or even a product launch that you need to get the word out. For this we might be battleing mainstream media to get a message out. We could engage our audience that we have created over time and we can add a few networks that reward people for donating their influence. A Different tactic is needed for each type of influencer network. Each are outlined below.

Influenster for PR

Influenster is a network that rewards users for interacting, not quite like Klout. They are a little cheap on that end but what they are good at is trending on twitter so that is what I would use them for. They invite their users to chat on twitter for about an hour using a hashtag, you should choose your hashtag wisely, don’t let them choose it for you. This is after all your public relations program. In order to get your hashtag trending you will probably need a good reward, they might not announce the reward but they will probably  say something to the effect that it is big.

Klout 

When Klout offers a reward they do so to select influencers or based on topics that other people give them K’s in. This is almost useless because you will get either a tweet or a share on Facebook about your program but they do have a great engine for determining what users dominate for a hashtag so I would give a perk and then have a contest for the most engaging content on twitter. This way the users will be tweeting about you often in order to get the reward, make the reward big so you get a lot of engagement. Choose your own hashtag, don’t leave it up to them.  From a public relations standpoint Klout may not be the best option for you because Klouters are  just as likely to post negative feedback about your product as a positive response. If you are going to use Klout make sure it is a great product.

Kred for Public Relations

Kred may be talked about in circles as a good way to reach influencers but the system can be worked even more than Klout and I have taught hundreds of people how to work the system. The audience that is on Kred is similar to the audience that is on Klout. They do have access to twitters Firehose at the moment which is a great tool. I would use them with a thorough discussion of what types or responses you will get. On a side note you can access the users of Kred for free via the communities and view how active the most influential people are on the network if they suite you then hire Kred, if you only see a few that are active and influential then you can try to connect with them individually.

Wahooly for Start up Public Relations

Wahooly does not yet have a good program. They have great potential but are just not ready yet for mass producing influence. I hope to update this later with some good feedback, they have a great idea and I hope it works.

Finding Influencers on your own

The search engines are one of the main items to try to dominate for. You may want to try to come in for your own terms or you may want to come in for topic based keywords. Bloggers dominate the SEO field and are a great audience to engage to get your public relations content out. Finding them can be as simple as searching for them on Google. Search for the keyword you want then see if some blogs come up.  Bloggers are normally easy to spot they typically  inject their opinion into the posts but then again so do journalist. Bloggers will normally have some share buttons and sometimes have an author box at the bottom of the post. You can contact them sometimes through the contact form and also via twitter or Facebook, most bloggers are on multiple social networks and are almost always easy to connect to. Be careful with bloggers from a public relations standpoint because they will post exactly what they think of your product good or bad, if you give them a free product in exchange for a review…expect an honest review. If your product is crappy (technical jargon) then expect a bad review. I would try to control the information given to bloggers and for the top bloggers I would give them some exclusive content such as images or information that may be valuable about a product before release.

On Facebook it may be a little more difficult to find an influencer but it can be done, one method I use is Hootsuite, Hootsuite has a search function that can be used to search within pages for a particular subject. Take a moment to look at the page and measure the engagement, not just likes but replies. It is an art to create engaging content on Facebook. There are many other option to find Facebook influencers but Hootsuite is a cheap and effective option. Everyone in PR should be using Hootsuite anyways. Hootsuite enables PR Professionals to set up teams and searches for many social networks and the product expands at a regular basis.

Influencer marketing can have its own post but hopefully that is enough to get you through a crisis or at least get your public relations program rolling. You can also find influencers on Klout just looking through profiles and at all of their networks. Klout is also launching Klout for business as we speak, that should be interesting for social PR.

This is not an all inclusive post but it is pretty thorough  My hope is that you will get some ideas and begin to put the keywords back to use in “Public Relation”, it is not media relations. You need to engage a broad audience and there are many people that can help you achieve that. The traditional media is great but you can get even more exposure online with the same or even less effort than it takes to get a journalist to grab your story and without the delay that it takes to get on television and a lot of print media.

FORUMS WITH GOOGLE ALERTS AND TALKWALKER

With these two programs you can set up searches for specific keywords which you may want to narrow down over time so you don’t have to waste so much time sorting through irrelevant data. From the searches and they will track down posts in forums, websites and blogs.  This is great for a couple of reasons. I set it up for real time results so that the information is presented right away. A once a day update can lead to a public relations nightmare.

  1. Crisis Management – Learn about negative information right away and your PR team will be able to respond fast. Maybe even preventing an item from going viral.
  2. Influencer Identification – Find out who writes about your products and present them to your PR team for a possible connection.

Join Forums as your company and have your social team create profiles. Have your social team participate in conversations that are not related to your product, this will make their profile appear more natural. Have your social team join in on conversations about your product and post a somewhat neutral point of view. As your company profile always answer questions right away but make sure you have some guidelines set up by legal and your PR team to keep you out of trouble. This is good PR on a continual basis and great for crisis prevention. It may thwart an issue that could go viral and makes it easier for a public relations crisis since the forum members are already familiar with you.