The Internet has made it easier to find media contacts and form relationships with journalists, but more importantly the rise of social media and online PR has meant bypassing the media and going directly to your audience. Online PR has changed the PR industry and it’s not going back. While many of the same PR principles apply (like the importance of developing and maintaining a good reputation), there are a lot of new expectations for PR pros. Here are some ways online PR has changed the role of the PR person:
1. The Line Between PR and SEO Continues to Blur.
Who should do your PR, your online marketing company? Your PR firm? Both? While traditional PR may be excellent at finding the angle or pitch and have relationships with the media, they may not be the best choice for SEO.
A big part of SEO is building quality links – including links from authority sites – like brand name news sites. A link in a New York Times blog or story is a trusted link. Who helps you get into those trusted sources? PR.
Another part of this is social media. People share and often include links to news stories, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. Google has added these conversations and given them more weight in search results, so those links can be valuable. They can lead to higher authority which is rewarded with higher search engine placement.
Example: Google is placing higher value on real time results. Which means tweets now show up and are ranked in search results. Your reputation – who is following you and who you follow - factors into your authority and therefore your rankings.
2. 2. Social Media Press Releases and Social Media Marketing Requires New Skillsets.
If you've ever discounted social media – look at this stat - Nielsen shows that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year. News is going social too – from social news site PitchEngine to newcomers Press Lift.
In social marketing creativity is key. Take the need breed of entrepreneur – the social networker. They have an email list, a YouTube channel, and a following on social sites. Plus they wear your shirt in real life. It’s a profitable business for not only the creative, but the technically savvy. Innovators like Evan White and Jason Sadler of http://iwearyourshirt.com or LoveJingles.com consist of only one or two people.
3. 3. Traditional Media is Tapping Into Online Networks for Story Ideas and Promotion.
Traditional media, often short-staffed and overworked, is depending more on online networks and the people who have built them for their stories. Recent research says 89% blogs and visit social sites to do research.
The media is actually nodding to online sensations. First a concept is proven when it rises to Internet fame. Evidence: HGTV is partnering with top mommy blogger Heather Armstrong (Dooce) to gain access to her strong following online. Frigidare signed on mommy bloggers with their Test Drive Campaign to promote their new line of appliances. After 23 years, Pepsi is taking their Super Bowl ad budget from traditional to online PR.
Interestingly enough, rather than hurting TV or traditional media the online networks and offline networks are simply feeding off each other.
In much the same way that TV is being buoyed by the Internet, savvy PR pros stand to benefit, but only if they capitalize on these trends and expand their skillsets. Some are partnering with online marketing companies. As they do this, they’ll become even more relevant to their clients.
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About the Author: Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.