With its focus on reputation, the public relations team within the business world has been an important cog in the wheel for many years. Across the last two decades, the forum for PR activity has changed significantly with the introduction and expansion of technology, but the premise remains the same—to build relationships between the business and public that are mutually beneficial.
As the internet continues to progress, a significant section of public relations has moved online and this is going to be the topic of conversation here. With so many tools and websites available, how are you supposed to spend your time efficiently? Well, we’ve listed three of the most effective tools. With just these three ideas, you can manage the relationship between your business and the public effectively.
#1: Google Alerts
With nearly fifteen years of experience in the market, we’re sure you’ve all heard of Google Alerts but it remains as one of the most effective tools for PR in 2017. Sure, the program has experienced its issues in the past but Google hits back time and time again. Back in 2013, they were having problems with the depth of searches but Google always fixes the problems and this sort of reliability is essential in business.
If you haven’t yet heard of Google Alerts, the idea is that you set up an alert system for a particular name, phrase, or term. Whenever a new hit has been detected online that carries your chosen term, you receive an alert via the program itself or through email. Before technology, just imagine having the ability to track every single mention of your company name across the world’s newspapers and magazines—this is what Google Alerts offers but in a modern context.
When it comes to public relations, this is the ultimate tool because you can see exactly what people are saying about your brand whether it’s good or bad. When good, you can share this with the world or simply smile at a job well done. If bad, you can address the issue to keep the damage to your reputation at the very minimum. As we know, the PR team have the main objective of keeping the reputation of the business high. If they can address false information or potentially damaging write-ups early, the damage to the brand is limited.
Using Google Alerts: As we’ve just seen, the most basic method of using Google Alerts is by setting up hits for your business name. This way, you’ll see all the important mentions of your business online. If you want to take it one step further, however, you could increase the scope of your searches by including key employees, your domain name, and possibly even companies with which you work.
If one of your employees is named in conversation, you’ll receive the news and be in a position to react accordingly and the same goes for your domain name. With affiliate companies, you need to be up-to-date with their activity. If they receive some bad press and there’s no real way back for them in the market, you might need to cut all ties depending on the situation. The earlier you act, the more you can minimize the damage to your own name.
Finally, once you’ve mastered the process of managing these terms, you might want to include your most important clients as well as the clients you’d like to team up with in the future. For the latter, you can remain updated with their activities so you’re ready when the time comes to pitch your ideas.
#2: Social media
Why go through the media when you can address your customers directly? With a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other important websites, it’ll be easy to monitor the attitudes towards your business. On Twitter, for example, this is perhaps the easiest of the lot since you can keep up with mentions and hashtags. If you start to notice a trend involving your business, it’ll be easy to join in or deal with the issue.
With social media, there are several benefits for PR so it really doesn’t make sense to avoid these websites any longer. First and foremost, it gives you a direct route to all customers. If you’re a food producer and there’s rumours swirling that you haven’t been honest with your ingredient lists, simply post a statement across all profiles proving otherwise. In other cases, it might be damage limitation as the priority and social media provides the perfect outlet for a public apology rather than going through the media.
On the flip side, it might be that bloggers and the public are all talking about how good your new product is. From here, you can interact with customers, learn what they like about the product, reward them for being loyal to your brand, and show your appreciation.
Press Releases: Once we move away from dealing with positive/negative comments, social media can also be used for press releases and revealing new products. If you manage to catch the attention of the public, you’ll see great results with this. Since journalists now rely on social media heavily, your story will soon be shared with the world.
General Communication: Before moving onto our third and final effective tool for online public relations, we should also discuss social media for general communication. Even if nothing is really going on, social media serves as a hub for interaction with your customers. Whether it’s getting their opinions and ideas, thanking them for tweeting about your business, replying to queries, answering questions regarding your industry, or just spending time with your customers, it all adds up. Nowadays, people look for personable brands so your reputation will improve greatly with simple interaction on social media.
#3: Blogging and SEO
Although we have two fantastic tools for online public relations so far, we now need something to pull it all together and complete the trio of tools. At the moment, we see every time our company name is mentioned online while managing relationships on social media. However, sometimes social media just isn’t enough when trying to explain certain decisions or get out of a sticky situation. For this reason, we recommend blogging and SEO.
If you don’t have a blog on your website, you’re already missing out because this is essential for every marketing strategy moving into 2018. Despite common belief, a blog is more than just a place to spout opinions though because you can use it for more detailed press releases, details of your latest charity drive, information on how you’re helping the environment, and to dispel recent myths that have been circulating about your brand.
In truth, blogging and PR are a match made in heaven and it’s all made possible through the use of SEO. Known as Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the process of getting your blog to the highest position possible on search engines. By utilizing keywords, links, and other strategies, you can expand your reach and have your blog posts read by more and more people.
Managing reputation and relations: While social media is great for short updates, blogging really allows you to take control of your narrative. Suddenly, you can introduce a character to your writing and this reflects on the brand itself. Within seconds, you can publish a written piece and this is powerful when attempting to steer the public towards loving the company.
In terms of managing relations with the public, this can be achieved by addressing negative stories but you can also give readers an insight into your business. For example, every week you could talk about a hard-working employee or explain another process in your business. If you show behind-the-scenes, the public start to see you as more than just a name online. Instead, you become a face, a voice, and a real business. With this connection drawn, the audience feels compelled to support your goals.
Soon enough, readers will discover what you’re all about and what makes the company ‘tick’ (so to speak!). With the right blog posts, the customers can learn about how you contribute to helping the environment through efficient packaging. As long as the blog is updated regularly, you’ll soon build a readership and the reputation of your business increases. If negative stories do arise, the audience will be less inclined to believe them because they know the real business.
With Google Alerts, social media, and a blog, we believe this is the foundation to any great public relations team. With these three tools in check, maintaining a positive image will be easier than ever before. Over time, your reputation will continue to increase and there’ll be opportunities to surpass competitors along the way!