Public Relations

Not just nice to have, but necessary to stand out from the online crowd

Jan searches for a plumber to replace a leaking, outdated shower fixture. She types into her mobile device, “plumber near Minnetonka” and a series of websites appear on screen. As Jan scans the list, she notices one name, Professional Plumbing.

Something about the name rings a bill. “Oh, I know that name. Where have I heard it before?”

Was it at church last weekend when she casually mentioned to a friend in the ladies’ group that she was looking for recommendations for a good plumber? At the salon while she was getting her hair cut, listening to the chatter among the stylists and their customers?

Frowning, she suddenly remembers — she’d printed an article from a home decorating website.

Sure enough, after rummaging in her kitchen drawer, Jan finds the article she printed out last week. It’s a recent online article about redecorating outdated bathrooms and she loved the ideas in it for changing her clunky 1950s showerhead to something new.

Yes, there it is – Joseph Smith of Professional Plumbing, Minnetonka, is quoted in the article. She reads more and thinks to herself, “I’ll call him first. He seems to know exactly what I’m looking for.”

Joe ends up getting the business thanks to his savvy use of public relations as part of his digital marketing strategy.

What Is Public Relations?

Call it PR or public relations: just what is PR in the modern age of Google?

In the dinosaur era of B.G. – before Google – public relations consisted of pitching traditional media on story concepts. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television journalists received information from public relations professionals who carefully crafted story concepts for their clients and matched them to the journalists’ beat.

Today, a digital PR strategy is that, and much more.

A digital PR strategy now includes similar tactics, but to a much bigger audience. Modern public relations professionals are more likely to reach out to a blogger, YouTube video channel producer, or social media influencer than to traditional journalists, but they still craft their stories just as carefully, matching the business to the journalists’ beat.

Pitching, or the art and science of reaching out to a carefully cultivated list of potential journalists, is a large part of the role of the modern digital PR strategist.

Unlike cold calling, pitching isn’t “once and done” to a list of strangers. Instead, it is a conversation, a relationship cultivated over years, sometimes decades, of providing valuable leads to sources and their expertise.

Journalists always seek new, fresh ideas and experts to bring those ideas to life in interviews and feature stories. Public relations professionals know just who to connect with whom to get their clients’ stories before the most receptive audience.

A PR specialists’ value lies in both their extraordinary knowledge and in the extensive contact list they have built up over years of matching sources with journalists.

Digital Strategy and Public Relations

A healthy digital marketing strategy should include public relations as part of the overall plan. Although challenging to quantify, the awareness effect should not be underestimated, as in the example of Jan, our fictitious homeowner who needed a local plumber and ended up hiring one who not only had a website optimized for online search but who had also worked with a digital PR expert to gain online exposure.

Small and mid-sized businesses can reap many benefits by incorporating public relations into their digital strategy:

  1. Exceptional link-building benefits. This is the addition of valuable earned media and backlinks to a website that Google values very highly. Link-building boosts a site’s place in the search engine results page.
  2. Awareness among the target customers, who after seeing, hearing and reading about a business, are much more likely to patronize it.
  3. Consolidated boost in overall online recognition. Once one journalist covers a source, other journalists are more likely to quote the original piece or seek out the source to interview for other pieces. This builds an overall wave of positive recognition online.
  4. More web pages with positive mentions of a business or business person means fewer mentions of competitors, whose websites are driven further down in the SERPs by the positive mention of others.
  5. The potential for exceptional exposure, which can be expensive to achieve through paid advertising alone. One press release sent through a respected newswire may yield over 1,000 placements on various digital news outlets, which can lead to massive traffic to a site.

As you can see, there are many exceptional benefits for small to midsize businesses who include public relations in their digital marketing strategy. If you’re interested in finding out what a PR strategy can do to boost your company’s online awareness and, by extension, its website traffic, leads, and sales, give Dashboard Internet Marketing a call: 762-242-2454.