7th Nov 2011
No longer are customers an audience: they are people, a community. With social media and blogs dominating the web, in order to stand out from the freelance crowd you should take on board the following tips from PR expert Jess Suter.
Maximise your unique selling point
What is it that makes you unique? Write down your unique selling point, research your field and identify what it is that makes you different. If you have done this already, see how you fit in the online world.
Remember: it is still equally important to maintain your offline presence.
Research, research and more research
Once you are clear about your unique selling point look into the type of person you wish to engage with. Are you aiming to train your customers locally, nationally or even internationally?
Identify traditional journalists that communicate with your people, and research what they like to write about and see where you could fit in. Also look at blogs, which 'community journalists' (bloggers, online influencers) are engaging with your audience? Keep a list of the most beneficial media outlets, and follow their news. Then start building a relationship with them. You can also utilise your social media to further interact with your people and journalists.
Remember: PR is not about promoting a company or individual, it’s about finding a story that is relevant to the journalist and helpful/beneficial to the reader.
Consistency is key
When promoting your services/yourself, remember that in order to maintain a good media presence you must be two things; consistent and punctual. In other words, don't promote yourself and then hide for two months, and never miss a deadline for any media opportunity. In the media industry everything has to be done yesterday, so holding out on content or an interview will just make the lead go cold, which can be slightly damaging.
"When promoting your services or yourself, remember that in order to maintain a good media presence you must be two things; consistent and punctual."
You also need to remember that when promoting yourself, or if you hire a PR agent to promote you, you must make time for the media. If a journalist wants to interview you the next day at lunchtime, you should make sure you're available. It's a fast-paced industry, so to influence your people and raise your profile this must be taken on board.
To keep on track create yourself the following:
- PR Strategy: outline your plans for your first PR year and write down notes. What would you like to focus on? Search online for different ways in which you can promote your services. Or you can outsource this to a PR consultant for a small amount
- Social Media Strategy: identify who you are targeting, and plan how you will engage with your audience online. Again, you can outsource this to an online marketer, PR consultant or specialist in social media
- PR Timeline: create an annual timeline (hopefully from the time you read this article!). Under each month include a monthly focus - maybe you have a book/service/product you would like to focus your PR on? Jot down notes. This is very effective way to keep on track with your promotion.
It may also be beneficial to use a project management tool/software. I personally enjoy using: www.hitask.com – not only can you keep on top of your PR you can also keep on top of your workload in general.
Jump on the Business 2.0 wagon
Getting a reputation online has become just as important as an offline reputation. Create social media accounts and really interact with your audience. Search for people who may benefit from your training services, build a relationship, don't sell. PR is used to influence people to buy.
Start blogging. Don't just follow bloggers, be one yourself. Share your expertise, advice, and views on topical issues (relevant to your industry) This is a great way to interact further with your people, as they will get to know you that little bit more. The personal touch is always appreciated in the public eye.
Accept and embrace the new media age. This is one of the most easiest and money saving ways in which you can promote your services.
Learn the lingo
What comes with new forms of connecting with your people, comes new forms of communicating. Pick up a social media guide and learn the lingo. Get to grips with shortened sentences and various symbols such as; @ # they are much more important than meets the eye.
Mix it up
Mix it up, post photos, news stories relevant to your industry, and videos from you. The public appreciate a variety of materials – so give it to them.
It is also worth learning how to send out a news release via social media (a.k.a. Social Media News Releases). Long gone are the days in which PR agencies 'spam' journalists with a piece of news from their clients, keep in mind the media list mentioned earlier and make it appeal and suit each individual journalist, whether they be traditional or 'community'.
Remember: When writing or communicating keep in mind this one rule: KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
With all the above tips, I hope you feel a lot more comfortable with your knowledge of PR, and implement it into your workload.
PR is one of the best tools to influence your customers and in such an economy as ours, very beneficial in order to truly stand out from the crowd.
For more information, or if you would like to ask me a question please visit: www.thechangepr.com
You can also catch me on: Twitter, LinkedIN, and Facebook!
Jess Suter is director of The Change PR. The Change PR specialises in helping business owners on an international basis to get the most out of their products and services through the power of public relations. She also firmly believes in the latest drive in the industry of ‘Putting the public back into public relations’