Thursday, February 21, 2013
PR Can and Should Co-Exist with Social Media
During the last three years since social media went mainstream, there have been countless epitaphs mourning the death of public relations, but that just isn’t the true state of affairs. If international brands have PR plans, why shouldn’t other businesses? In the current economy where budgets are slashed and employees perform more than one job (too often two or even three), PR is a cost-effective marketing strategy – especially for midsize businesses.
Here are five ways that PR can help promote your business:
 Create an online press room on your company’s main website featuring press releases, media alerts, fact sheets, newsletters, annual reports, virtual press kits, articles featuring your company in the news, logo style guides, and social media sites. This will be the place where the latest company news is highlighted. Refer back to this section of your site from your Facebook business page, LinkedIn company page, Pinterest company page, Google Plus company page, and more.
 Write and distribute press releases based on a strategic plan based on topics appropriate to your industry. Check the calendar and determine news that would be appropriate based on the time of year. For example, a florist may wish to share news about specific flowers in April and May leading up to the most popular wedding months of June and July.
 Build relationships with journalists that specialize in your industry on a national, state, and local level. Send introductory emails and share interesting details about your company. Follow up but don’t be a pest. Send content that has value, for example, an interview with your president or other expert. Over time, the journalists will remember you and possibly reach out if a story about your industry needs verification.
 Rally your employees. As a midsize business, take advantage of the tools at your disposal. Your employees are your best brand advocates, and many, if not all, have social media accounts and digital footprints. Create a social media policy that clearly explains the “do’s and don’ts” for commenting about the company – hold a few training sessions for employees so that they understand how important their feedback is. Then, invite them to participate in social media to promote your company. For example, they may comment on LinkedIn that your company is a great place to work. Or, they may comment on Facebook or Google Plus that your couches are the most comfortable and compare to others that are more expensive.
 Pay it forward. If you think you are challenged as a midsize business, think of non-profits. They do more with less people and smaller budgets. So pick a charity and become its partner. Empower your employees to volunteer. In fact, go one step further and set up a weekend day or a week-day afternoon for all employees to work at the charity. This can be a win-win, because the next step is to alert your local media. You never know who will hear the news, if a video broadcast will go viral, and if a billionaire hears the story and wants to invest in your business.
In the words of playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
To see what others have to say about public relations, visit my Pinterest PR board:
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Posted by Debbie Laskey, MBA