01 October 2009

 

By Steve Momorella
 
The pace of public relations, marketing, and advertising is becoming almost unmanageable. Go to bed at 11:00 p.m. at night, wake up at 6:00 a.m., and your whole world could have changed overnight. Perhaps, a negative story broke about one of your products, or rumors began to swirl about your organization’s inability to meet earnings, or a bad report is due soon about your company’s past misgivings.
 
Sleep? Who has time for sleep?
 
In order to stay on top of your day-to-day public relations activities, campaigns, events, and the anticipated (and unanticipated) crises, you need to make use of five existing tools, and best practices for each, to help you effectively maintain and distribute your message.
 
Tool #1: Online Newsroom
The online newsroom should be the centerpiece of your public relations and communications efforts. By having all of your press assets readily available (releases, photographs, videos, press kits, backgrounders, executive biographies, events, speeches, white papers, research reports, and news mentions) you can quickly address any issue or question that mainstream media, bloggers, and consumers might ask. If a crisis breaks, you can take advantage of a built-in “dark site” that contains prepared statements, information, and important contact information pertinent in the handling of the crisis.
 
Ensure that within the online newsroom all of your press materials are categorized, display a release date and contact phones number and email, and are associated with related assets. This will allow people to find your information quickly and easily.
 
Tool #2: Facebook
When looking at the most cost-efficient way to reach a large amount of people quickly, it is hard to deny the case for using Facebook. With a rapidly growing population of more than 300,000,000, this popular social network is a great place for you to maintain a presence. By integrating Facebook with your online newsroom, you are able to instantly publish any of your press materials directly into your Facebook web site by utilizing their sharing tools and your online newsroom’s RSS feed.
 
Facebook allows you to create a Business Page (Fan Page), as well as a Group Page that deals with your organization’s particular industry or product. You can also join specific Groups to contribute information, tips, and ideas, while at the same time offering thoughts on your organization and others similar to it.
 
Tool #3: Twitter
The seemingly most talked about and fastest growing social media outlet is Twitter. Twitter also offers a very effective, cost-efficient, and somewhat automated way to get your press materials out to a large, targeted audience. By integrating your Twitter account with your online newsroom, you are able to simultaneously publish press releases, links to photographs, videos, and press kits. This saves time, and also gets your message out to a unique, consumer-based audience. By answering questions on your Twitter account, or by responding to information posted about your company, you are engaging with your potential customers. This is definitely an art that takes some time to cultivate and grow, but by automatically flowing in content from your online newsroom, and mixing it with personal and editorial content, you’ll reach a growing audience that is more than likely to be passionate and connected.
 
Tool #4: YouTube
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth 10,000. Setting up a YouTube account and putting even the most basic of videos up will undoubtedly increase your exposure. Most organizations have video that include commercials, speeches, product demonstrations, B-roll, press conferences. Sharing that video on your corporate YouTube channel is a good way to extend the use of that video, while reaching interested audiences.
 
Another great feature of YouTube is its “embedability.” This means that you can easily include your YouTube video within a press release in your online newsroom, or link to it from your Facebook and Twitter sites. YouTube makes it easy to share and embed your video into other areas, giving you more powerful press releases, and cross-linking traffic between your online newsroom and your YouTube channel.
 
Tool #5: Flickr
Similar to YouTube, Flickr makes it very easy to manage large galleries of photos that can then be integrated into your online newsroom. These can include employee photographs of corporate events, logos, product shots, or any picture that you think someone might find interesting. These pictures can also be embedded into the press releases and press kits within your online newsroom. Likewise, people searching Flickr for products or photographs can find your photos, which will direct them to your online newsroom where they can find additional information about your organization.
 
The key is to start somewhere. Conversations and comments about your organization are happening - on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. At the very least, having an online newsroom where all of your press materials are housed, and then integrated with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, will get you on the right track. Having a centralized location for all of your press materials, and then distributing those out to networks of hundreds of millions of people for an efficient cost, is certainly something that today’s public relations practitioners should be doing.
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